I am having a much better week than, let’s say, Mel Gibson. Frankly, not much to complain about besides the usual work related annoyances, more lines on my face and the need of a vacation still far away. Nonetheless, melancholy comes easy to me, sometimes for no apparent reason at all and I don’t mind indulging in it now and then, until it becomes wallowing and, as my best friend pointed out, hippos wallow and no one likes to be compared to a hippo.
The list of tried and true methods to shake off the blues has expanded over the years – more often than not, just one of the items will do. Two or three in conjunction are fully guaranteed to succeed.
- Chocolate. This started with consumption of. Copious amounts of Cadbury, sitting on a green couch in the freezing cold of a London ground floor flat, watching “Eastenders”. Poverty, broken heart, office injustices were all wiped away by my friendly Cadbury bars – I might not eat their chocolate any longer as my taste buds have changed but I am proud to report that Cadbury is still privately owned and recently successfully fought a hostile takeover. These days I still ingest copious amounts of chocolate, of the dark variety but, best of all, I put it to good use before it reaches my mouth in the form of cakes, mousses, cookies or anything else that might take my fancy. Few things cheer me up like the lustrous sheen of melting chocolate in a stainless steel bowl or cocoa powder clouding around my mixer. And the end result will also cheer up anyone in my proximity.
- Extremely loud music. My singing voice is diabolical, I am only able to hit the middle range notes, anything higher or lower is embarrassingly akin to squeaking and other sounds belonging in the animal world. Ditto for my dancing. But if I am home alone in a less than a stellar mood, I am known to blast old Italian rock, melodic rap or other “not quite my favourite genre” of music and sing along and dance around the kitchen much to Ottie’s dismay. There is nothing better to lift one’s spirits than looking completely foolish in private. Plus, you get a workout.
- Walk. Banal and definitely middle age but being dragged by Ottie at a very fast pace because I am too depressed to chastise his behaviour will also achieve the double whammy of burning calories and clearing my head. He likes this better than # 3, especially if followed by a long cuddle on the rug.
- Miserable books. Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking” (a masterpiece of grief and of wonderful writing) is so intensely depressing that any page will put my minor mood alterations into the proper perspective and remind me that I am wasting time I should otherwise spend being happy.
- My mother. Not available at all times because of the time difference but this is the woman who can find the silver lining in having a broken foot. She is so damned positive and cheerful all the time it can veer into an annoyance of its own but she can usually be relied upon to dispel my seemingly gigantic problems and my hypochondria.
- Having friends who compare you to hippos. Enough said.
- Sex. Not always readily available, which is why chocolate is still top of the list.