“the beads of time pass slow / tired eyes on the sunrise / waiting for the eastern glow”

(WARNING: Here Be Spoilers. I talk about plot lines from all five ASOIAF books and the four existing seasons of GoT, as well as some spoilers for the next season that have gotten out via interviews and set photos. If you have read all that stuff, you’re in the clear.  I really don’t talk about the novellas or the World book. If you haven’t read all that stuff or watched all that stuff but don’t care and want to read semi-comprehensible nerd ramblings, you are also in the clear.)

This year I finally managed to finish all the books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. And by “all the books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series,” I mean “including all the prequel novellas, the new World of Ice and Fire pseudo-encyclopedia, tons of Tumblr meta and message boards and maybe just a few terrible Arya/Gendry alternate-universe fanfics,” because if you’re going to go fan, you might as well go hard.

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The reason there was so much internet ephemera available for me to consume is that the fandom is starving. Author George R.R. Martin has them (I mean US, I guess…ugh) in the palm of his hand, and that hand should really be typing faster. The fifth novel in the series came out in 2011 and landed with a similar critical thud to the fourth novel — the two were originally meant to be a single book but GRRM’s editor seems powerless to reign in his worst indulgences so they had to be split or they would have been unreadable. As it is they are so dense that various fans on the net have suggested different orders in which the chapters of the two books can be read to make them less of a slog. Myself, I just decided to to read all the chapters of each character in a row to get through the fifth book faster. Many of the plots don’t even come close to intersecting, and I adjusted for the few that do — reading the Theon and Asha chapters together, for instance, or the various things that happen in Essos save for Arya.

I suppose the question is, why do people keep reading, then, if both the books published in the last decade have been terrible from an editorial perspective and intermittently engaging from a plot perspective? Because we are taking him at his word that he’s going somewhere with all of this, that the world building is essential, that things may have gotten a bit labyrinthine along the way but he’s got an endgame in mind and he HAS A PLAN.

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Hm. You know who else supposedly had a plan? The Cylons. How did that work out for Galactica fans? Yes, those of us with an unyielding and unhealthy love for serialized scifi/fantasy have been burned before. How much time did I waste ruminating on the mysteries of Lost? Too much. How many times during the last season of Buffy did I mentally reassure myself that Joss wasn’t just spinning his wheels with the potentials plotline? Too many. It’s a sickness, it really is.

The TV show Game of Thrones, as a result, is about to turn an interesting corner. It is transitioning from a filmed adaptation to a televised fanfic. I’m not sure this has ever happened before, that someone has started making a movie or a show out of unfinished source material, presumably with authorial assurances that of COURSE he’d have finished the books by the time they’d caught up, or at least one of them, no way would it take him another five years…and the author then went “ehhhhh, you know what, it’s more fun writing all the backstory that the actual story; I think I’ll just do that now,” and left the producers high and dry.

Like any adaptation, Game of Thrones has already made its fair share of changes along the way. First of all, they aged up all the kids so it wouldn’t be so creepy to see, for instance, Daenerys getting married to Khal Drogo (although they undermined that by somehow managing to make their wedding night way rapier that in the book) or Littlefinger lusting after Sansa (whoops, still creepy).

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They made Tyrion a lot more cuddly and handsome than in the book because, y’know, Dinklage.

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They made various plot tweaks that overall served the narrative well and managed to trim GRRM’s sprawl down to a level that at least avoids the necessity of having a character flow chart mailed to every HBO subscriber. (“The coat of arms for House Waxley is three candles on a field of…” WHY DO WE NEED TO KNOW THIS GEORGE.) As an adaptation, it has been generally quite successful.

Things started to go off the rails a little last year in season 4, though. The reaction to making a particular Jaime/Cersei sex scene extra rapey was far more heated than the reaction to the aforementioned Dany/Drogo extra rapey scene, mainly because you’re supposed to put rape at the BEGINNING of a redemption arc, not smack in the middle. Didn’t these guys watch Luke and Laura in the late ‘70s?

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They ran through Bran’s entire plot to the end of the fifth book even though everyone else is still back in the third book — and it appears to have been inadvertent, given that producers Benioff and Weiss basically went “uhhhh, I guess Bran’s not going to be in the fifth season, oh well!” This leads to a further complication in that the character of Bran is supposed to be around 10 and is lugged around in a glorified Ergo carrier on a large man’s back, whereas the actor who plays Bran is now approximately 37 years old and weighs 180 pounds. (Also puberty made his nose grow faster than all this other body parts, which isn’t a problem from a narrative standpoint but is just kinda unfortunate. Maybe they’re giving him a year off in hopes his face will catch up to his nose?)

(OK, this next paragraph is about to get even more inside-baseball. You have been warned.)

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The biggest shock of the season came when the much anticipated final scene of the final episode turned out to be just Arya sailing away into a computer generated Narrow Sea rather than the epilogue scene from the third book where a previously brutally murdered character is revealed to have been resurrected by the one damn god in this whole theologically overpopulated series that seems to have any capacity for miracles at all. (I still hold out some hope for the Old Gods; the Seven are clearly bullshit.) Fans went absolutely apeshit when said previously brutally murdered character didn’t show up. They did backflips on the forums trying to think up how the show could sneak the character in during season 5. But Benioff and Weiss pretty much said, “Nah, we’re just going to cut that. Oh, and by the way, next season we’re going to cut all that Iron Islands shizz. And those new and seemingly important characters Tyrion hangs out with for a while. Forget that, too. We’ll have him meet up with Dany instead, because why not. That Prince of Dorne who goes looking for Dany? Let’s scrap him too. The immolation scene would use up too much of our CGI budget. In fact, let’s scrap two thirds of the Dornish royals. Let’s just send Jaime down to Dorne instead.”

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Lord knows what the crap Brienne will be doing in the Riverlands with Jaime now down in Dorne and Stoneheart eliminated entirely. It would be difficult to make that plotline more meandering and pointless than it is in the book, but maybe Benioff and Weiss are up to the challenge. How they’re gonna string out “Sam and Gilly bone on a boat” and “Davos hangs out with webbed-fingered Northerners we’ve never heard of before” plotlines over 10 episodes, I do not know. “Sansa walks down a mountain with random ladies and dying epileptic kid” is obviously going to get some heavy revisions as well. Really, the only characters who have enough plot to make it through 10 episodes are Jon, Theon, Tyrion (although they’ve apparently excised a big chunk), Cersei, and maaaaaybe Dany (even though everyone hates the Meereen shit), Arya (I fully accept that I’m the only one who hates the Arya-in-Braavos shit), and Asha once she runs into Stannis, because all the Kingsmoot stuff is gone.

So looking at all of that, it’s impossible to think of the final three seasons as anything that super high profile fanfic. By the end of season 5, if Winds of Winter isn’t out, they will be flying almost entirely blind other than the intel GRRM provided them on the “R+L=J” situation that everyone who’s read the books and isn’t in some boredom-induced headcanon idiocy spiral (“Hey, what if Jon Snow is actually Cersei’s first baby with Robert, and Dany is Ashara Dayne’s illegitimate child with Benjen!”) accepted ages ago. Oh, and some people are going to fly on dragons and presumably fry up some White Walkers. And Littlefinger will die horribly. (It is known.) But whatever ends up on screen, it’s going to bear about as much resemblance to the actual denoument of the books as any random fic written by a nineteen year old on a LiveJournal with a URL that includes a portmanteau of some unlikely coupling like SanSan or DanOrah.

Oh well. As long as GendRya live happily ever after, I’ll take whatever else we get.

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And Davos gets to retire with his wife on the Summer Islands. Then I will be well and truly sated.

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“I like getting older, I feel like I’m aging into my personality.”

Last week I made a series of mix CDs, which is a periodic necessity since I own what is apparently the last car ever manufactured without any sort of iPod input functionality. The theme of these particular CDs is basically ’90s/early ’00s R&B and rap, and I’ve put them together in an effort to avoid having to listen to the DJ I despise who does the Throwback Lunch on the local hip hop radio station. Seriously, if I had to hear this guy mispronounce Tony Toni Toné one more time I was going to drive off the highway in a blind rage. THEY SAY THE NAME OF THE BAND IN THE LYRICS OF THE SONG YOU JUST PLAYED, TONY TONI TONE HAS DONE IT AGAIN, LITERALLY LIKE 45 SECONDS AGO, THIS IS NOT AS HARD AS YOU’RE MAKING IT.

In the process of making these mixes, I’ve noticed a few things. Firstly, it turns out that much of the joy inherent in listening to the Throwback Lunch is unexpectedly hearing a song you had almost forgotten. It’s way more fun to hear “Da Dip” randomly on the radio than to hear it for the fifth time this week, always nestled between “Rump Shaker” and “Tootsie Roll’, because you just haven’t bothered to switch the disc out. Also a lot of these songs are legitimately terrible, which I knew at the time. I went on record in high school as saying “My Love Is The Shhhh” was the worst song of the nineties, and I stand by that assessment. But something about nostalgia will momentarily trick you into ignoring their flaws until you find yourself driving around, a grown woman in a sensible midsized sedan, crooning “LEMME WORK THAT BODY, BABY!” at the top of your lungs.

The last thing I’ve noticed is that, whereas 10 years ago I would have happily driven down the main drag of a college campus blaring embarrassing pop cheese with the windows down, more and more I keep the windows up. Why? Because it has started to sink in that the kids who are currently in college have almost none of the same cultural reference points as I do. The first moment this became clear to me was when a former co-worker, who was 21 at the time (and this was a couple years back now) heard Sisqo’s “Thong Song” playing in the store and yelled, “Aw yeah, this was my JAM…in second grade!” *record scratch* (Oh god, kids today must have no idea what a record scratch sounds like…this only just dawned on me…) Anyway, I actually really love this girl, but I was absolutely struck dumb by that. Second grade! And of course, she’s now graduated. The freshmen this fall will have been born in the same year that I… I don’t even know how to finish that sentence. They were born in 1995. The first year I did, like, EVERYTHING. Probably the single most formative year of my life. So as much as I enjoy blasting “Here Comes the Hotstepper” from my stereo, the kids looking at me sideways in front of the dorms were FETUSES when that song came out. So the windows stay closed.

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I’ve always been almost comically interested in the idea of “generations”, possibly because I started paying attention to cultural commentary at a time when the gestalt was overinvested in “generation” dialogue. In the wake of last week’s ludicrously unoriginal “Me Me Me Generation” cover of Time, it’s important to remember that we have been through this bullshit before.

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When I was an adolescent, Generation X was the focal point of pop culture. Reality Bites and Singles and Slacker and Clerks. Kurt Cobain. Marc Jacobs doing a grunge collection during New York Fashion Week. Those first few actually good seasons of The Real World. Friends sitting around coffee shops drinking from mugs that, in the words of one of Phoebe’s boyfriends, “I’m sorry, might as well have NIPPLES on them.” And the book itself, Generation X, by Douglas Coupland, which illustrated young adults of the ’90s as nothing more than essentially anonymous retro Fisher Price Little People wandering through the desert of modern society. (Honestly, having read almost the entire Coupland oeuvre, I think Generation X is one of his weakest books. Microserfs gets the same point across, with a fun Web 1.0 flavor, and is just more fun to read.) Douglas Coupland himself skirts the top edge of what’s generally considered the Gen-X timespan; he was born in 1961. Richard Linklater, director of Slacker, was born in 1960. David Foster Wallace was born in 1962. Cameron Crowe, who wrote Singles, was born in 1957 and was married to the chick from Heart, if you can think of anything less grunge than that. All the longitudinal studies I’ve seen about Gen-X tend to define it as being people born between 1961 and 1981, but anyone born at the top and bottom edge of that range would tell you that is absurdly broad. The idea that Barack Obama and I are of the same generation is ridiculous. But at the same time, Obama is clearly not a Boomer, and anyone my age would flinch at being referred to as a Millenial.

Doree Shafrir, who has written for Jezebel and Slate, coined the phrase “Generation Catalano” for the folks I’ve always seen as my cohort, people born between 1976 and 1981…basically people who were teenagers while My So-Called Life was on the air. We are the generation that aped grunge but could never truly be grunge; the generation that was raised on MTV but could still vaguely remember a time when it didn’t exist. Those of us who dragged enormous desktop PCs with us to college fall between the true Gen-Xers who used electric typewriters or went to a computer lab, and the Millenials who take the fact of having a laptop with them in seminars as a given. (I was always amused by the number of kids I saw at the Apple Store who would drop their computers off at the Genius Bar for repair like we were asking them to saw off their own arm, telling us, aghast, “But I have class tomorrow; what am I supposed to do without my computer?” I always wanted to just hand them a #2 pencil and a composition notebook and see if they would just stare, uncomprehending, like a neanderthal seeing fire for the first time.)

Clearly Generation Catalano is a stupid term, one that also reflects how much of this talk about generations is a white upper middle class thing…seriously, every article I’ve ever seen bitching about Millenials has been written by deeply myopic east coast media types about deeply myopic east coast media types, ignoring large swaths of the country that don’t have the luxury of complaining about how hard it is to find internships or arguing about how entitled Hannah Horvath is. But there is definitely a group of American thirtysomethings, of which I am a part, who were deeply influenced by the Gen-X media flurry of the early ’90s but can’t truly lay claim to the label.

I think one of the reasons I responded so strongly to the show New Girl upon discovering it this past season is that it’s the first show I can remember that’s about my peers, starring my peers, specifically addressing what it’s like being one of my peers. Like, Dawson’s Creek was people my age and older playing people three years my junior. How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory are both about people generally my age, but half the casts are pushing 40. (Will Ted meet the mother before Josh Radnor qualifies for social security? Stay tuned to the inexplicable season 9 to find out!) New Girl is often described as being another sitcom about twentysomethings sitting around an unrealistically large apartment, essentially Friends redux. But Friends was a bunch of thirtysomethings (and later fortysomethings; seriously, how ridiculous was that episode about how they all turned 30 when Lisa Kudrow was clearly almost menopausal?) playing twentysomethings, whereas New Girl is a bunch of thirtysomethings playing thirtysomethings. And that’s kind of the whole point of the show — they’re living like they’re still twentysomethings, coming to terms with the fact that their twenties are rapidly receding into distant memory. I can relate to that. They’ve basically established that the characters were born in 1981-82, but the actors were all born in ’78 and ’80, and I get the sense the writers are too. The music cues are for the most part spot on. The fact that Nick’s favorite songs are “Groove Is In The Heart” and “Call Me Al” really couldn’t be possible if he was a Millenial. I don’t think Deee-Lite translates for people who weren’t alive in ’91. Although I am still boggled by an anachronistic use of Titanic in a late season 2 episode. That episode as a whole had some weird pop cultural choices (“Stay” by Lisa Loeb at the senior prom in 2000? Probably not a thing that would happen), but that was the exception rather than the rule, and I am clearly way pickier about this stuff than the vastvastvast majority of the American viewing public. I’m worse than Comic Book Guy sometimes, seriously.

The other thing I sincerely enjoy about New Girl (or at least I did until the later part of the season got bogged down in a romcom plot that I enjoyed from a SQUEEEEEE!! perspective but not so much a humor perspective) is that the sensibility is just off-kilter enough that it doesn’t seem to be written from the standard sitcom playbook. Extended slo-mo chicken dances to Phil Collins, physical comedy set in a Chinese water massage parlor, Rusted Root-soundtracked threesomes with the warlock drug dealer from Buffy, Zooey Deschanel fending off a coyote in the desert by impersonating the Road Runner…it’s just operating from a quirkier, more improv-influenced base than Modern Family or Two and a Half Men. It’s not the surreal insanity of the first three seasons of Community, but it’s the closest thing we’ve got at this point.

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New Girl is a favorite over on the media review section of The Onion‘s website, the AV Club. AV Club comment sections have become my favorite place on the internet. It’s the sort of website where basically every thread descends into an extended “Dental Plan….Lisa Needs Braces” reference at some point. In other words, it’s populated with comedy nerds who are exactly my age with exactly my taste in humor. This is in contrast to a website that I keep wanting to like, Splitsider, which is the comedy-specific arm of the Awl/Hairpin blog empire. The Awl was created by Choire Sicha and Alex Balk, who are both around 40 years old; no one would contest them as solidly Gen-X, and Balk at the very least would probably laugh witheringly at the fact that someone born in 1980 bothered to expound at this length about something so pointless as “microgenerations”. And then he would drink more whisky and be glad that he’s one day closer to death, and that’s why I love Alex Balk. Anyway…Balk and Choire unfortunately hired a bunch of singularly unfunny Millenials to write Splitsider, which leads to me hate-reading a lot of that site the way I hate-listen to that clueless DJ on the Throwback Lunch. Any writer for a website that would describe Elf and Wedding Crashers as “classic movies” or, as triggered a tirade on my Facebook wall recently, willingly admit to being introduced to Michael Ian Black, David Wain, and Michael Showalter through Stella web shorts rather than from The State, is simply not someone I can take seriously as a comedy aficionado. There are people who watched Stella web shorts in their freshman dorm room, and there are people who watched The State Skits & Stickers VHS tape in their freshman dorm room, and never the twain shall meet.

I think there is a social context to how you encounter certain things that are considered comedy milestones that help define generational dividing lines. Someone who watched the first episode of Saturday Night Live as it happened, saw Belushi and O’Donoghue having a bizarre, contextless conversation about feeding someone’s fingertips to the wolverines, must have said, “Holy shit, we’re allowing 20-something nihilists to write and perform TV shows now??” They will always have a different understanding of that show within both the context of the time and the context of their own personal history than someone like me who randomly stumbled across it on Nick at Nite nearly 15 years later and got maybe a third of the jokes. For me, watching things like The State and Kids in the Hall and Mr. Show in their first run as an adolescent was incredibly formative to my appreciation of comedy and my sense of what is funny. Whereas someone who knows David Cross from watching Arrested Development on Netflix and goes to seek out Mr. Show years after the fact is going to be like, “Oh hey, this is funny!” But there won’t be the same sense of wonder as when your friend slips you a VHS they programmed to tape HBO Sundays at midnight, and your resulting astonishment that something so simultaneously ambitious and lo-fi and altogether bizarre is actually being shown on TV.

I will never be able to appreciate the Lenny Bruce obscenity trial as anything but a historical anecdote, but to my parents and other people their age, the fact that someone was talking about “cocksuckers” and “jacking off” in a comedy routine was shocking. Now it doesn’t make us blink. Carlin — not shocking to me. Bill Hicks — not shocking to me. Andrew Dice Clay — not shocking to me. Because I saw them all at such a young age that I just considered them the standard, didn’t understand the fuss. People who don’t remember a time before a 24-hour comedy channel are as foreign to me as people who secretly listened to Carlin LPs in the attic so their parents wouldn’t hear the words shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker and tits.

Me, I listened to a Divinyls cassette single on a purple plastic boom box in the attic, because even though I didn’t really know what “I Touch Myself” was about, I knew enough to know I didn’t want my parents to think I did. And my jam in second grade wasn’t “Thong Song”, it was “Push It”, which I learned all the lyrics to phonetically, clearly not knowing what a “baby pop” was. And I have plenty of friends who would cringe to hear that I was in second grade when Salt N Pepa first came out, because my god, they were in HIGH SCHOOL in 1987! And so it goes. What’s more disorienting than anything is that, after spending so much time being the youngest member of various web forums, I’ve suddenly reached the age where the “Things That Will Make You Feel Old” lists on Buzzfeed are being written by and for people at least five years my junior. Don’t even get me started on Thought Catalog; that shit is incomprehensible to me, across the board. The people I thought were the epitome of cool when I was an adolescent are now impossibly old. Jon Stewart used to host a show on MTV where he would wear a leather jacket as the Afghan Whigs performed. Now he’s 50, the epitome of the comedy establishment, and everyone in the Afghan Whigs really needs to start watching their cholesterol intake. Thurston and Kim broke up because Thurston wouldn’t stop running around with a 34-year-old he worked with while writing a book about “mix-tape culture”. Adam Yauch died of salivary gland cancer last year. Hell, Jasmine Guy plays the GRANDMOTHER of a TEENAGER on Vampire Diaries. I mean, clearly Whitley Gilbert was secretly closer to Byron’s age than Dwayne’s, but that was still a swift kick to my diaphragm when I saw it. Gen-X is turning 50, Millenials are having their quarter life crisis, and I…I still know all the words to “Shoop” and follow Thomas Lennon’s twitter full of Smiths-related hashtag wordplay and Instagrammed pictures of Prince-symbol-shaped pancakes he makes for his toddler. I’m cool in my own mind. And now, when I watch My So Called Life, I sympathize with the parents and want Angela to get over herself. Generation Catalano is getting old, man. And our namesake is a mess. Have you seen that guy lately? Talk about not aging gracefully.

Feed Your Head

As some of you who know me well have probably ascertained, I am and will continue to be in the thrall of everyone’s favorite boogeyman lobbying group, big PHARMA. Yup, they make more money by perpetuating the absolutely miserable state of American health. But you know what? I take pills, and they keep me from killing myself. My father takes pills, luuuuudicrously expensive pills, and they DISSOLVE METASTATIC TUMORS. And my daughter, my beautiful little daughter, takes a pill. A pill that when the doctor first suggested it, my body tensed up in reflexive disbelief, and I barked out, without even thinking for one second, “There is no way my husband and I are medicating this child.” And then we did. And our lives, her life, changed in a way that’s been so dramatic over the last year, it’s hard to remember what she was like before. Because before, she could recite entire books and entire movies, but she couldn’t have anything resembling a conversation. Before, she had close to zero functional play — you would hand her two toys and she would simply bang them together in an effort to discover how much noise they could possibly make. Before, I had no hope that she would ever learn to write because she perseverated so intensely on writing implements that it was impossible to teach her how to use them: “I will just hold the pen. I can have that pen. I just need the pen. I can just hold that pen. Wanna hold the pen. Me to hold the pen. I need to just have the pen,” clutched in a death grip in her fists, one in each hand, a vitally necessary symmetry.

Before, she spent three years locked inside a brain that never ever ever stopped spinning, whizzing, whirring, screaming for a single second. The doctor who prescribed the medication looked at me, and then looked at D, who was, entirely literally, bouncing off the walls. Bouncing. Off. The walls. And she said, “Obviously this is making you miserable. But imagine how miserable it must be for her.”

There’s a great book called, “We’ve Got Issues,” by Judith Warner, who used to write the parenting blog on the New York Times website. She got a book deal with a proposal about how America is overmedicating its children. This was not a particularly startling thesis. It’s practically a media meme at this point. OBVIOUSLY we’re giving kids too many psychiatric drugs. DUH. No one even questions it. Warner must have thought the book would write itself. And then she went off to do her research and started meeting parents, these horrible parents who just want to drug their kids to shut them up…and she was shocked by what she found. Because none of the parents she met, NONE of them, want to be medicating their kids. These aren’t people who went diagnosis shopping, or are too lazy to bother parenting their spoiled brats. These are parents who are beside themselves with grief, children who are in pain, families who are doing whatever they can to cope with the unexpected hand they’re been dealt while simultaneously being ashamed of themselves for doing what all of society accepts, as a given, is the worst thing you can do as a parent. Drug your kid?! Who on earth would do such a thing?!

Hi. *wave*

Two days before my daughter’s third (3) birthday, I stuffed a tiny tablet of Ritalin into a juice box straw and watched her suck it down. And it was easily the hardest decision I’ve had to make as a parent, and just as easily the one I regret the least. Because the D that exists today is not the D that would have existed without that medication, and I firmly, fiercely believe that. You can throw all the behavioral therapy in the world at a child, but what good could it possibly do if she can’t hear you over the constant din inside her skull?

The first antidepressant I ever took was the wrong one. In retrospect I can now see that it triggered me into hypomania, and no one pinpointed that at the time because the psychiatrist I was seeing didn’t believe that teenagers could be bipolar. So, that put a bit of a hiccup into the first few years of my treatment. But the second drug I tried worked. It didn’t work immediately. But I remember very clearly, I was lying in a bathtub, a few weeks after I’d started the med, and I suddenly noticed that the fog that had utterly encased me for as long as I could remember had finally lifted. And I jumped out of the tub and ran down the hall to tell my mom that for the first time in a very very very long time, I wasn’t sad. I know the difference it makes when a medication can lift the fog, or stop the din.

So now I’m looking for a miracle pill that makes me not hurt. But given that the story of my psychopharmacological misadventures doesn’t end with me dripping wet and jubilant in my childhood kitchen, I know it’s never that easy. And it won’t be for D, either. We’re both in for long bumpy roads of throwing meds at the wall until we see what sticks. It’s not a road I would have chosen for my child, obviously. But it’s one that I knew was a possibility, to one extent or another, when I chose to become pregnant. And I have always felt that at least I am prepared as a parent could possibly be to help shepherd their child through this particular type of minefield. I just hope that…I don’t know what I hope. I hope she ends up happy. I hope I end up not hurting. Simple goals, but somehow also lofty ones. My hand hurts too much now to write anymore, so clearly we have a ways to go.