There’s a certain odd irony in that spring, when the days are getting longer, temperatures are getting warmer, and the world is getting greener also tends to be something of a difficult time for me–something of an inverse take on Seasonal Affective Disorder, I suppose.

This spring, it seems to be hitting me especially hard. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been battling a bout of depression, with all the usual symptoms. General listlessness, apathy, lack of motivation, etc., etc., yadda yadda, and so on. Not to the point of becoming self-destructive or suicidal by any means–in all seriousness, I honestly can’t envision getting that depressed–but definitely fairly far removed from my usual fairly chipper self.

The causes (or, at least, some of them) are easy enough to pinpoint, especially as I’ve gone through this for the past few years: the combination of my birthday and my anniversary of escaping Alaska and moving down to Seattle fall just about a month and a half apart (May 3rd and June 16th, respectively), and each trigger the yearly “and just what have I done with myself?” question (I had the same thing going on before I left Alaska too, only with the single trigger event of my birthday). This year, it seems to be harder than usual to come up with a satisfactory answer to that question.

(Warning: long, rambling, self-indulgent, and quite possibly slightly whiny babbling follows. You’ve been warned….)

This past year–especially the past seven months–has been pretty rough, admittedly. I went from having a decent job that I enjoyed and that could have led to more and better future opportunities to being suddenly unemployed. In the weeks following that I was dealing with becoming something of a mini-‘net-celebrity which, while at times quite entertaining, was not exactly a stress-free occurrence. Now, while I’m employed again, the drop in income has moved me from a position of realistically seeing myself able to climb out of debt back to living essentially paycheck-to-paycheck, scrambling to keep bills paid and my head out of water, financially speaking. It’s not something I won’t get through eventually, of course, and I’m perfectly aware of that — it’s just frustrating to have been that close to being able to clear my debts out, only to have had everything fall apart again.

The job I have, while certainly not bad by any stretch of the imagination, is also not all that great. I’ve worked in the quick print industry (copiers and the like, as opposed to printing presses) for just about a decade now. While in many job fields a decade’s worth of experience would be worth something, it seems like I in my infinite wisdom managed to choose one field where all the experience in the world hardly means much of anything. As technology has progressed, the machines have gotten “smarter” and easier to work with, and now all that knowledge and experience I have is essentially pointless.

It’s something of a clichè, but it’s almost to the point of being literally true that trained monkeys could run any of today’s copiers. After ten years, I may be a skilled trained monkey, but when the machinery is engineered to the point that any trained monkey can do the work, that skill doesn’t count for much at all — and my paychecks certainly reflect that sad fact.

Making it even worse is that the store I currently work in doesn’t even have the high-end equipment that I’m trained on, so what skills I do have that might actually do some good are entirely unused. While I found myself a paycheck, which was something I sorely needed, I’ve also found myself in the unenviable position of holding a position that doesn’t challenge me, where I’m neither learning new skills nor even using the skills I have, and where I’m bored — the death knell of any job.

Sometimes it’s enough to make me wonder about whether my escape from Alaska was necessarily a good plan. Before I left, I was living in a huge apartment in a nice part of town, splitting rent and bills with roommates so that it was fairly cheap, had my car so that I could get around (or out of) town whenever I wanted, and had some pretty decent paychecks rolling in (between $2 and $4 an hour more than what I’m currently earning).

I’ve also been finding myself missing my old friends of late. I left some good friends behind in Alaska when I left, and while I’ve got some old friends who have also moved down here to Seattle, differing schedules and commitments keep us from keeping in touch all that often. Not really a bad thing in and of itself, of course, and a perfectly natural thing…but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a bummer at times.

While I’ve met a few people since I moved down, I tend to be fairly introverted, and as such, often have a difficult time meeting people and forming new friendships. I may seem to be fairly social in some ways–heading out to go dancing at the Vogue at least once a weekend nearly every week of the almost three years I’ve been in Seattle, for instance — I’m not outgoing enough to have leveraged that into forming many new friendships. In nearly three years of going to the Vogue, while I recognize a good number of the faces there, I can count the number of people that I’ve actually put names to on my fingers, there are only a few that I even talk to on a semi-regular basis, and only one that I’d term a friend rather than an acquaintance. I’m glad I’ve met the people that I have, and I hope that that friendship I’ve found continues to grow (not only is it nice to form new friendships, it’s even nicer when those friends are attractive women…), I can’t help but wish at times that I were a little more comfortable with being more outgoing than I am.

Outside of the club, I’ve met even fewer people. Again, I’m very glad I’ve met those I have (some of whom I’ve only talked to online, one of whom I dated for about six months, and one who I’ve been seeing [though it took us a while to figure it out] for the better part of the past year), and I don’t want anyone who reads this, whether I’ve actually met you in person or not, to think that you are unappreciated in the least (far from it, in fact). I’d probably be doing far worse than I have been without the occasional kind words of support from all of you.

I’ve just been realizing how much I miss some of the things I used to take for granted about my life in Anchorage. The past few nights, I’ve had a really strong urge to grab a friend or three, find an all-night diner somewhere, and spend a good few hours kicking back, drinking way too much coffee, smoking way too many cigarettes, and talking into the wee hours of the morning until we realize far too late that we actually have things to do the next day and that we’d better drag ourselves home.

Oh, and the smoking thing–I’m trying (again) to quit. It sucks. Not at all easy to do. Cold turkey is really rough (though I’ll give it another shot every few days). When I have cigarettes, I don’t bring them to the club with me anymore, and I’m making it through work most days without smoking, but it’s the long evenings here at home when I’m just sitting in front of the computer reading or typing away…I’ll have another cigarette lit practically without even realizing it. Trying to quit while battling the blahs doesn’t help, either, to tell the truth. Either I’m stressing over money, the job, or general boredom and start jonesing for a cigarette, or I’ll just start smoking and then get pissed at myself for not being able to just put them down and walk away. Gah. Not an easy task. Some days I think I’m making progress…some days, it’s pitifully obvious that I’m not. I bounce back and forth. Still, I haven’t given up yet.

(And before it gets brought up, I’m not going for the patch–much of my addiction is the physical act of having the cigarette in my hand, rather than the drive for nicotine, and the patch is just so damn expensive anyway–and due to some dental work in the past, trying to substitute chewing gum isn’t an option.)

Sigh.

Anyway, that’s more than enough of this for now. A little seasonal depression, brought on by a general feeling of getting older and having nothing to show for it (thirty-one years old, barely pulling $22,000/year if I get my full 40 hours a week, which rarely happens because our store is so damn slow we keep getting our hours cut, dissatisfied with my job, barely scraping by paycheck to paycheck, and so on), enhanced by missing what little social circle I used to have, exacerbated by a so far not-very-successful drive to quit smoking, and probably a good few other things rattling around in my brain (at least one that I can think of off the top of my head which I’m just not going to get into on a public webpage).

It’ll all work out in the end, one way or another, I’m sure. It’s just been a rough few weeks, and in an unusual turn of events, I don’t seem to be kicking myself out of it as quickly as I normally do (usually this mood will last for a few days, not a few weeks, and it doesn’t seem to be improving). Ah, well. Life goes on.

And that’s it for my once-every-couple-months personal whine.

Now back to the usual linkage, political outrage, and humorous drivel.