Tuesday, August 18, 2009

DF17: On the Road Again

"Ain't it great to be on the road again (not)? The life I love is making music with my friends (does singing along with my CD's in the car count??). It's great to be on the road again..." Hey, Willie Nelson's got nothing on me.

Yes, DomesticMuse is on the road this week, traveling to Maryland to work with a member library there. As I say this I am reminded of the Grey's Anatomy episode where Izzy and Alex had a patient who continually referred to himself in the 3rd person.... But I digress. Even though Grey's Anatomy is one my favorite shows ever.

I was worried about whether I could successfully avoid dairy while being forced to eat road food. My old faithful friend, Sonic, can't help me, as my strategy is usually to pull in, get a milkshake, and call it lunch. But so far, so good!

I stopped once on the 5 hr. drive here to beautiful downtown Waldorf, MD, where I am putting up at Ye Olde Country Inn and Suites. It's not bad as motels go. It even fulfills my one iron-clad requirement: must have interior corridors. When I'm driving, usually I don't stop or only stop briefly, but coming up on the 3 hour mark I started feeling that surreal Bell's Palsy exhaustion, where it seems like I'm underwater or floating above my body. Fortunately, there was a Cracker Barrel 5 miles down the road. So for lunch I had the Tuesday special: Meatloaf (sans mashed potatoes, sniff! sniff!) with salad and green beans and a corn muffin. As far as I know it was all dairy-free.

For dinner, I tied to eat at a Peruvian restaurant near my motel. But after making my way across the deathtrap of 3 lanes to make a lefthand turn across Highway 301, I could not find a restaurant anywhere in the shopping plaza. Curses!!!! My quest for Peruvian food is foiled again... no Papas a la Huancaina for me.

I am surrounded by Generica of the worst kind. The hotel clerk named off: Applebee's, Friday's, Ruby Tuesday, and Chili's. (I'm sure there has to be a Hooters here too.) All of which I detest, and it was taking all my energy to maintain an appearance of pleasant interest rather than asking to borrow her trash can so I could hurl into it. Just as I was about to despair, she said the magic words: Olive Garden. After the fiasco with the Peruvian place, I set my GPS to "Olive Garden" and it led me right there.

I arrived just before the rush. A careful reading of the menu revealed only a few naturally dairy-free choices. Spaghetti with meat sauce was one, and Chicken Marsala was the other. I picked the chicken. As I was blissfully munching away on breadsticks and salad, the following happy thought occurred to me: Since I am alone, I do not have to share this salad. Therefore I am entitled to pick out all my favorite bits and put them on my plate!! I get the olives!! Every last one of them! And the tomatoes, and the pepperoncini! Yay!! This is the best day ever!

The chicken marsala arrived accompanied by roasted green and red peppers and potatoes. It wasn't bad, but it had a weirdly Chinese flavor to it. I guess maybe too much salt in the sauce? It tasted like it had been marinated in soy sauce. But it was still good. The potatoes were delicious (I only had a taste).

Alas, dear readers: despite the fact that I brought my camera with me on purpose so I could document my road food, I forgot to take any pics at lunch and it didn't occur to me to take them at dinner until my plate had been cleared away. So here are a few photos to share the ambience (yes, I was relegated to woman-eating-alone-gets-worst-table-in-the-house land).

And a photo of my ultra cute waiter. The photo doesn't do him justice: he's much cuter in person.

Don't you just love it when gorgeous young men HAVE to pay attention and be nice to you? See h0w nice he was? He even let the crazy no-dairy lady take his picture!

On a non-food note, I noticed something interesting today. However, it may bore you, and it's kind of personal, so I'm warning you now.

I never really talk about this, but. I suffer from chronic debilitating clinical depression and have taken medication for it for years. And been living a wonderful, happy life for years. Until last September when I dragged myself into my dr.'s office, feeling of low moral character because I had let the blues take over and had not been able to vanquish them with all the power of positive thinking I could muster. My dr. listened as I whined about what a loser I was to let my life be governed by bad feelings and she then said one profound thing: "Your anti-depressant isn't working."

I blinked. And said, "You mean... I FEEL sick because I AM sick?" Yes indeed. So it has been a struggle all year trying to find the right balance of medication... that my insurance will pay for. We think we finally have it. Although the bad days still strike without warning.

I had one recently that was so bad, it's almost funny. I was convinced it was impossible for me to ever feel happy again. I felt depressed on a cellular level-- down to my bones, and in my skull, which even hurt. It was exactly like what Meredith said once on Grey's Anatomy about feeling so depressed you actually feel toxic, like you will infect the happy people around you. I felt that the best thing to do would be to get on a bus and go far, far away where I couldn't infect anyone. Of course, as utterly ridiculous as that sounds, at the time it felt like The Truth. Instead, I went and hid in my walk-in closet for several hours, because it's the only place in the house where you can't hear a thing. Not the TV, not DS's guitar, not DC's hooting Tweet Deck. It was so peaceful in there I actually fell asleep for a while! And when I woke up, I felt better.

Anyway, today in the car I was listening to one of my favorite CD's, Steve Tyrell's A New Standard, where he sings all the great old jazz vocal standards. I was singing along and having the best time. Before Steve I had listened to my Motown Collection (I'm real partial to Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) and been singing along too. I realized it has been FOREVER since I listened to mY music. We always listen to DC's because that's what's in the car, but today I brought my stuff along for the rental car. Who could be sad singing On the Sunny Side of The Street? or Give Me the Simple Life? or I've Got the World On A String?

I realized that while I've listened to Whoosiwhatsit Talkin' Bout His Gen-eration and hoping he dies before he gets old at least 100 times, I haven't listened to my happy music for months and months! One afternoon of listening to happy lyrics that make me realize how much I love my family and my life was incredibly therapeutic. I'm going to make a point to listen to happy stuff every day, and fill my head with happy thoughts.

The other thing that hit me like a 2 by 4 is just how utterly fitting it is that I should be stricken with Bell's Palsy. After months of sadness so deep I felt like I'd never want to smile again, what happens? I get a disease that literally makes me unable to smile! My body is telling me as clearly as it can that I need more joy and laughter and happiness in my life. Or really, that there is already so much joy and laughter and happiness in my life that I just can't see through the haze of depression. Well, today I got a glimpse of it-- and it was wonderful.

The lyrics from The Sunny Side of the Street are so true, and I am so blessed to have wonderful, supportive family and friends: "If I never have a cent, I'll be rich as Rockefeller. I've got gold dust at my feet, on the sunny side of the street."

Thanks for sharing my rollercoaster ride with me, my dusty friends!


  1. Thank you for sharing with us...that takes courage. I love happy songs...the most "recent" happy song added to my list was I'm Yours by Jason Mraz. I can't seem to listen or sing along without a big, stupid, cheesey grin on my face...and that's the way I like it! :D

  2. Heather, I've been wanting to get that song!! I love it too. I think I am the only person in the world without an Ipod! I'm going to download it and put it in my library. At my son's concert this year we heard a fantastic arrangement of that song that combined it with Iz's version of Over the Rainbow-- amazing how well they fit together!

    I just wanted to share for all the others out there struggling with depression. Thanks for reading!

    :) K

  3. Just keep pushing along & find out what makes you happy!

  4. So sorry you're stuck in generic restaurant land - hope the road trip goes well. Keep looking for the Sunny Side :)

  5. Karen, I was so enjoying and laughing along with your road restaurant trip, admiring the view (the cute waiter) and then you talked about your debilitating clinical depression. I have suffered with this (among other things) since I was a kid, and I so feel for you. I feel and think I understand everything you said and are going through. You are a strong couragrous person and I admire you for not only talking about it (I never ever do and feel like I shouldn't even here) but for the courage to get up and go each day, do the work that you do and do all that you do. Play that happy music and sing and dance along, keep having good times with family and friends, hide in the closet when you need to, but know that you are loved and appreciated for who you are. (sorry for the soppiness, but like I said, I get you)

  6. Jamie, thank you so much. I am sorry to hear you are a fellow sufferer. In my family, we all have it (my mom, my sister, and me). It's the family curse. I really appreciate your kind words! I think the absolute worst thing about depression is how it makes you feel totally alone, like no one could understand how you feel. Plus the weird stigma in this country about "mental illness." Depression is just a disease, but unlike a broken arm, it doesn't show. Thanks, Jamie for letting me know I'm not alone!

    :) K


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