Tuesday, November 29, 2011


The girls and I are still in St. Louis with my parents, hanging out in front of the fireplace, drinking "warm hot chocolate" (according to Lena), and vegging. I'm working desperately to use the time to catch up on months of unfiled, unedited photos, and emails, and newsletters, and phonecalls. I need to work, to get some more illustrations done, to write our Christmas letter. But mostly I've been drinking too much coffee and reading some embarrassingly light novels. It's been awfully nice.

I don't believe, when I was growing up here, that I really appreciated November in Missouri. It is so cold, and the trees are almost completely bare, only a few brown or golden leaves left on two or three varieties of trees that I wish I knew the names of (although I'm sure the oak trees are partly to blame - I remember the tall oak in our old front yard used to hang on to matte-brown leaves until the snow was thawing in the spring).

There isn't any snow to warrant the cold, really, in my opinion. But I miss those deciduous trees so much, now, that even in November I find them fascinatingly beautiful. I tried to get some photos today, but had to settle for shooting through the window of a moving car. Maybe tomorrow I'll get the shot I want: golden fields cradled by perfectly curved hills, the hills rimmed with the dark misty gray lace of thick barren trees against a silver white sky. I can't imagine I'll do them justice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I know there are a few of you reading out there who don't celebrate this American holiday, but I still wish you all a wonderful day, hopefully spent with loved ones, and maybe with a moment taken to reflect on the good in your life.
We've had a year dotted with several very difficult and unpredicted events in our family, but I think there is still a way to respect the gravity and the tragedy in those events while also finding so much to be grateful for. I know for myself, I am hoping to end this year stronger than I've ever been before - something that never would have been possible without acknowledging my own frailties.

But also, who am I kidding? I'm about to spend a lovely Thanksgiving with my family in the gorgeous rolling tree-covered hills outside of St. Louis. My mom is going to work her Southern home-style magic on a turkey that might be bigger than my 19-month-old, and I've already got dibs on a slice of pumpkin pie, a slice of pecan pie, and an entire tray of dressing. We are missing a few family members - Jimmy included, unfortunately - but it is looking to be a lovely day for us.

And even if it wasn't, I still have this:

and I will never quit thanking God for that.

(and for you - I am so thankful for you, too.)

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

- melanie

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

keep you right

I decided it wasn't fair, telling you about speeding on the 10 towards downtown Los Angeles with the windows down and the volume up, and all that, without sharing what I was listening to at the time.

Blind Pilot's album "3 Rounds and a Sound" has become sort of the sleeper hit on my playlist over the last couple of years, and (at last!) their new followup release "We Are the Tide" has not disappointed me in the least. I'm particularly in love with this song, enough so that Lena, at a whopping four years old, makes pointed remarks about how many times we've listened to it in the car, now. She fails to recall that day at Disneyland when we rode It's a Small World three times in a row. But I remember. And this cannot possibly be considered fair punishment.

Blind Pilot, Keep You Right:

(in full disclosure, i secretly adore It's a Small World. but i'm pretty sure three trips in a row is enough to make anyone insane. there's probably even scientific proof. somebody check wikipedia.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Just after noon, just last Thursday, I walked out of the back of a Westwood office building and out to my sun-warmed car hoping, more than usual, to keep my pace smooth, regular, unnoticeable. The small, folded, white square of paper tucked into my muted bronze-colored tote bag, shuffling around inside with a mess of other, larger papers - glowing lab reports and boring insurance receipts - felt like it would float up and out of the bag all on its own, glowing, growing, spreading out and calling to the strange group of international tourists bunched up outside by the parking lot, waiting for nothing I could discern except maybe to gawk at me and my new prescription.

My bag had felt so silly and light when I walked into the building. No diapers, no baby wipes, no bottles or sippies. I wondered if I would ever get used to traveling so light, when that becomes a regular routine. But of course when I left the building, my mostly empty bag felt so very, obviously, full. To capacity.

I climbed into the car and texted Jimmy, needing to coordinate picking up Lena, relieving Evie's babysitter, swinging by the pharmacy. Before I hit the 405 South I was giving him a quick recap of my visit. By the time I made it to the 10 East it was just me, my playlist, and an unbelievably clear path all the way to downtown. Nothing in my way, now, and nothing to slow me down. I turned up the volume. I cracked the windows. I wondered at the feeling.

Believe me, I know, I am SO aware, that I am not the first person on the planet to begin antidepressants. In fact, since I've been blogging about my experience here, it's been made painfully clear to me just how many people have done this. Have had to do this.

But I am not anyone else. I'm only me, and this is new for me. This is something I've known could be a possibility for me for, goodness, seventeen years? But I put it off, I tried to fix my problems any other way. And clearly, no matter where I've lived, what I've weighed, what I've eaten or given up, how much I've exercised, prayed, meditated, organized, gone to church, avoided church, worked, not worked, been single, been happily married, had beautiful children, vacationed, stayed at home, spent money, saved money, gone to yoga, had acupuncture, laughed, cried, yelled, or thought - thought and thought and thought about what it was and how to make it go away until I began to think my skull was made of thick brick walls on the inside. None of it has worked.

As I sped freely toward the tall glinting buildings downtown, I tried to pinpoint how I was feeling. And I think I got it. I felt like I'd been living on a cold, wet, black and craggy outcropping of rock, somewhere far from shore in an icy steel-colored sea, but not so far that I hadn't been able to watch the sun sparkling on the tops of green trees blowing gently on the mainland. And I felt like, after all these years, someone had finally floated by me on a little wooden rowboat, and said, "Hop in."

It didn't look one-hundred percent trustworthy, that boat. But I was sure as hell tired of trying to swim. Tired of being cold. Tired of being alone, and primarily, tired of being so completely and utterly stuck.

I made it to the snarl of intersecting freeways downtown and headed south on the 110, needing to navigate more traffic, now, and no longer able to see the neverending Los Angeles sprawl now that I was in the literal gray concrete canyon that is that stretch of 110. I held my breath, and thought about jumping into the rowboat. I hoped it could carry my weight.

By the time I'd picked up Lena from the old factory building where she had been working, (that story will come later. maybe.) and continued down the 110, circling across the 105 West and back to the 405 North, heading home now, I was feeling a bit less melodramatic. Less melodramatic, but equally as tentative.

So, on Friday morning, I marked 11/11/11 by taking my first antidepressant. Just a quarter of a tiny tablet, sticking to a slow scheduled building pace, just to be sure that all stays well. I think the crumb of white powder I swallowed must have been the tiniest portion possible - about the size of a grain of sea salt. Unbelievable that we could break a tiny pill into such tiny portions. I wasn't even positive that I had swallowed it - it could have dropped to the floor and I would not have been able to hear it, and I certainly couldn't even feel it going down.

I felt it later.

I felt it later when Lena asked me to get her a chocolate milk, for the hundredth time, after I had just settled onto the sofa to do something or other - maybe to check my email. She asked, and before I could think to chide her, to put her off, to let out the usual exasperated sigh, I found that I was up and moving to the kitchen to fix my four-year-old a chocolate milk.

I felt it later when Jimmy said he might have to work the weekend, and I didn't feel like my planet had been hit by a meteor, exploding it on impact into thousands of unmanageable, uncontainable, hurtling shards. My planet stayed intact, and kept on spinning.

And I felt it later when I caught myself in the mirror, and did a double-take. With all honesty, I did not recognize my reflection. And with total, completely unsophisticated sincerity, I sent this text to Jimmy:

I cannot tell you what a monumental relief it is to look in the mirror and not hate myself. I think the drug might be working.

To which he responded, Oh honey!

I hope he doesn't feel too bad. I didn't realize it had been so awful, either.



This is where I am.

To use my analogy, again, I would say that I'm in the rowboat, being rowed to shore. And maybe I'm laying flat in the rowboat, or close to it. Maybe I'm hiding under a thick scratchy wool blanket, hoping the icy waves don't lap over the side and find me there, not on my rock where I should be. Maybe I am occasionally peeking over the side, unable to stop myself from calculating just how much distance we've gained toward the shore, just how much clearer I can see the sun breaking through there. And then I promptly tuck back in under the blanket, rocking gently in the boat. Sometimes I close my eyes and try to sleep; be patient. I'm not entirely sure when we will get there, or what we will find, or how I will look or be or feel when we do. But I do think we're making progress.