September 20, 2000
Same Shidt, Different Day


My ex-husband is fond of the expression Same shidt, different day.

I thought it was pretty funny, too, the first couple of times I heard it. I found it mildly amusing the next twenty or thirty times he said it.

I grimly tolerated it, the 43,897,621 times following that.

The thing that bothered me most about the whole thing? I knew that, to him, this wasn't just a funny saying or an amusing bumpersticker or a groovy T-shirt sentiment ... it was a philosophy. It was the way he honestly viewed the world.

I suspect it still is.

Even now, when I talk to him on the phone, I get the sense that he still feels life is merely something to be endured. There is no joy in him. If you asked him about it, he would probably say it's because of money, or because I left him, or because his job sucks, or because of this/that/the other thing. But the truth is that he has always been this way, even when things are going well. He simply isn't wired for happiness. The way he sees it, life kicks you in the pants, over and over ... and you put up with it ... and you don't waste a lot of time thinking about it ... and then you die.

Same shidt. Different day. End of story.

One of the blessings -- and oddities -- of being a lifelong journaler is having ready access to every detail of my fabulous, foolish, ridiculously over-documented life.

Or at least the parts of it that I remembered to write down, along the way.

I can tell you what I had for dessert on the last day of second grade (strawberry shortcake). I can describe exactly what I was wearing the night I met my ex-husband (jeans, long-sleeved white blouse, black velvet vest). I can tell you my seventh-grade locker combination (19-7-3), and what song was on the radio the morning my boyfriend called to say he was moving to Texas ("Someone Saved My Life Tonight"), and how I felt the night I lost my virginity under a neighbor's tree ("It wasn't as much fun as I thought it would be").

I can transcribe, word-for-word, the last conversation I had with my grandmother, as she lay dying in the hospital during an end-of-summer heatwave. ("Don't forget your sweater, Terri Lynn," she whispered.)

I can share all of this incredibly important information with you because, at some point, I sat down and wrote about it in a journal.

Even so, there have been periods of my life when I didn't journal, for one reason or another: usually when I was busy falling in love, or when I was busy falling OUT of love, or when I was busy looking for someone new to fall in love WITH, or when I was otherwise malfunctioning emotionally ...

... or during the occasional periods when someone -- usually a romantic interest -- would convince me that journaling was weird or creepy or self-indulgent or unhealthy (unless of course I was writing about him, in which case could he read it?), and I would temporarily give it up in the name of "love" ...

... or during the long nights I was sitting in a crappy little apartment in Oregon, puking into a green metal wastebasket and doing solitary battle with alcohol withdrawal.

I didn't do any "personal journaling" during those first two or three weeks of my recovery. In fact, except for the occasional terse, cryptic reference here on my website * -- and e-mail to a handful of trusted online friends, including David -- I didn't write about it at all.
* can you spot the cryptic reference here?

I regret the lapse, of course. It would be an interesting *read* now, from the perspective of two years' sobriety.

You know what I remember the most about that awful time, though? Even without benefit of written record?


I remember waking up every single morning and feeling the exact same two emotions, one right after another: surprise (Oh my god! I'm not hungover!) ...

... followed immediately by intense depression (And I'm not going to be hungover TOMORROW, either).

In between, I merely existed. I got up and got dressed and walked to the bus stop, where I caught the #32, and then I went and spent the next nine hours at The Knife Factory, answering phones and mailing catalogs and trying not to think about anything too much. At noon I sat in the lunchroom for an hour, eating a vending machine sandwich and reading. At the end of the day I got back on the bus and I went home to my little apartment, where I ate my frozen pot pie and listened to Jill Sobule and worked on my website. At the end of the evening I talked on the phone with my friend David in California until midnight. Then I rinsed out my pantyhose and went to bed and got ready to start the whole process all over again, the next morning.

That was my life. I hated it. Everything seemed incredibly bleak for a while. If there was ever a time when I understood the concept of Same shidt, different day ... that was it.

But the difference between my version of Same shidt, different day and my ex-husband's --- besides the fact that I spell "shit" the FifiOToole Way, with the added "d" for comic relief -- is that he sees the situation as permanent.

Even during the darkest days of early recovery, I knew it was only temporary.

I feel like a giant hand is pressing me flat against the ground this week. Pretty soon I'm going to be nothing more than a big greasy Maybelline-and-Aqua-Net spot on the sidewalk.

"Do you know what's at the root of it?" David asked me gently, as we drove into work this morning.

I just shrugged.

I wanted to say, What's at the 'root' of it? Franz. Franz is at the root of it. And hating my job is at the 'root' of it ... and being paid to treat people like crap, and hating the icky way that makes me feel ... and wasting the best hours of my day and my life, every day, doing stuff that I HATE. That's at the 'root' of it. And my children are at the 'root' of it: worrying about them all the time, missing them all the time, not hearing from them nearly enough these days. And exhaustion is at the 'root' of it, and hormones, and heatwaves, and my ex-husband, and money worries, and impending grandmotherhood, and skin tags, and broken glass, and Bad Noisy Teenagers standing outside our bedroom window at 10 p.m. bouncing basketballs, and the stoopid goddamn NBC Olympic theme song, played relentlessly on TV, over and over and over. That's what's at the 'root' of my depression.

But I didn't. For one thing, I have learned from experience that all of this stuff is temporary. It passes. I'll figure it out. I'll be OK.

And for another thing ... it gives me something to journal about.

So I just looked at David and said, Same shidt, different day.

And I smiled.

two years ago: it's never fallen asleep on me, either

throw a rock