Silent Night, Holy Mulholland

3 Jan

Happy 2015!

holiday door

If you have given me the honor of being a regular reader, you may have noticed that I haven’t blogged for a long time. I kept trying to do so, coming up with cute, funny, or ironic phrases and ideas about how I was feeling, and what I was doing. But it didn’t work; I kept going to bed early, sleeping late, cancelling fun activities with friends. A yearly occurrence: worsening depression.

Bow on sidewalk

One wouldn’t be able to see it necessarily; because I’ve experienced clinical depression for so many decades I know how to cover it. (Close friends see it, damn them.)

Me with tree on head My depression isn’t so serious that anyone worries about me hurting myself, but I do take meds, and I do see a (GREAT) therapist once a week. Twice during the months of November and December.

The (GREAT) “holiday season” and I are not on good terms.

devil santa

‘Tis the anniversary of my parents’ deaths, and a time I feel particularly alone. Goody for me, I know: A LOT of people find Christmastime depressing–because it’s a consumerist GOB STOPPER, and because of intense pressure to have fun, love your family, and celebrate with grand gifts,  delicious food, festive parties.

The Christmas cards start piling up: everyone seems to be healthy and successful and wearing matching pajamas. As for me, I am feeling bad about 1) my book manuscript being rejected without so much as a word of explanation, 2) my professional identity being uncertain (no word of explanation there either),  and 3) my love life having fallen into a chasm of nothing, weirdness, and more nothing (would you believe no word of explanation?!). There’s also a 4), 5), and 6), but I’m even more tired of my woes than the dear ones who listen to me talk about them.

Manageable, of course, my troubles: I have food, a roof, and great friends. And yet the depression this year was bad.

Estes Park

A lot of days I accomplished nothing but showering, and even that task was arduous. If you have depression or love someone who does, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, please understand that depression is not being sad. It’s losing a sense of self.
shadow self

On the days when I could get out of my apartment, I saw some things that cheered me up. L.A. has a refreshing “take” on  December:

X-Mas colors:
palms with stockings

Honoring the historical Jesus:

Me with tree on head

Stockings on the mantle:

palms with stockings

Other times I saw displays that made me feel like crawling down Rodeo Drive on my hands and knees.

Christmas happpiness on Rodeo

The day I saw a homeless guy actually crawling down Rodeo I gave him a dollar and chastised myself for being a big fat whiner.

When depression hits, I feel like an alien watching the humans. (Not like Scarlett Johansson in “Under the Skin”;  she is, after all, getting her needs met. GO SJ!) When not feeling alien, I imagine myself  a snake that cannot slither out of a suffocating skin. Or a small animal trying to claw its way out of a sink hole. To no avail.

This year, my brilliant new shrink, and my brilliant old friends– dragging me out of the apartment–provided solace and some relief. So did…Mulholland Drive.

Mulholland with Fence

I can’t explain this exactly, but every time I set out on Mulholland Drive for my tutoring jobs in Studio City and Bel Air, I felt as if I were almost able to wriggle out of the tight scaly skin around my soul, as if someone had offered a hand that might pull my rodent self out of the sink hole.

Mulholland with light and road sign

A road. Curve after curve. On High.

Mulholland love 2Driving Mulholland, I feel airy, light, an eligible flyer.

The view is surreal: waves of soft hilly terrain, enormous ocean of sky, congregations of cacti.

mulholland drive cacti view

On Mulholland, being an alien seems OK; in that lofty and arid setting, what a human is “supposed to be” seems as distant as the mansions embedded in the landscape. (Does anyone really live there?)

Now that the holidays–with their happy shiny expectations–are no longer being piped through airwaves and media narratives, I’m feeling better. I hope, Dear Reader, that  you enjoyed November and December 2014 as much as possible, and have fun stuff to look forward to in 2015.

I also hope you have  a spot where you are surrounded by light, a place on earth that reminds you that we are tiny beings in a grand design, a location where you see yourself moving forward,  even when feeling  stuck, or lost.

shoes, sad

Or absent.

Mulholland love 3

A path. Ahead.

Las Vegas # 3 feet on the way home

For everything there is a season.


22 Responses to “Silent Night, Holy Mulholland”

  1. Mary January 3, 2015 at 6:38 am #

    I so appreciate your honesty in this posting, Kirsten. You know I get what you mean. I wish we could suffer the holidays/long winter closer together!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elizabeth January 3, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

    Thank you for this, Kirsten. I’d missed your posts a lot, checked regularly (thinking I’d missed the heads-up on FB, though that was unlikely given how I haunt that forum), and now feel much better. *Whew* About depression I can’t say anything except what’s treacly and unhelpful, (Like “YOU! Depressed?! But. . . you LOOK so gorgeous and SOUND so together! I mean, as much as anyone CAN be, in This World.” See? Not helpful at all). As to holidays, well, that’d take a serious martini or several, so, they’re on me, next time we meet. Memorial Day for sure, if you’re available. And I wish it were sooner.

    I loved this post, as I do all of them. Is Cold Canyon Road evocative, for you? It sure was for me. Have you been to the Hotel Bel Air, yet? Good place for martinis. It smells like old people. Not in a bad way. I think it’s the resin in the wood for the fireplaces. Take a sniff. Tell me what you think.


    • kwasson2012 January 3, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

      Coldwater Canyon–yes, lovely, but doesn’t knock the wind out of me… We all have our special Canyon roads of the soul, I guess?! Thank you for reading and commenting so thoughtfully, Liz. I was at the Hotel Bel Air once–fabulous! But didn’t get the smell, will have to do a return-for-sniff trip. See you in May!


  3. Audrey F January 3, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    Kirsten, Thank you. I, too, appreciate your honesty in sharing this piece. I relate
    so deeply. So happy you wrote and shared this. I haven’t written a word in quite some time. It is inspiring to see it can be done, (and with humor, as well), in the face of depression. Lots of love. Oh and I love the title, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kwasson2012 January 3, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

      Thank YOU, Audrey. I thought of you as I wrote it, hoping it might resonate in some meaningful way…glad that you liked it.


  4. maw14747 January 3, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

    Dearest Kir,

    Wrote a long reply and lost it. And so it goes. I will try again.

    I cried reading this – remembering my own depression, feeling yours. Thank you for your bravery and honesty and clarity.

    That Mulholland Drive could be a heaven on earth – a place to get perspective on our silly little lives – is such a potent antidote to the blech of Christmas–whether Rodeo Drive style or something else again.

    The pictures make a beautiful point/counterpoint to the prose.

    You are a beautiful/talented/smart counterpoint to general idiocy and denial.

    Thank you for this new year’s gift and for you!

    Xoxo P

    Liked by 1 person

    • kwasson2012 January 3, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

      What a wonderful response, Peggy! Thank you. Counterpointedly, and with fresh popcorn, kir


  5. Margaret McColley January 4, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    i loved this…and to me it is a travel narrative….so i ask, what is it about getting outside of self and into the light that allows us to reconnect to self? i seek no answer to this question.


    • kwasson2012 January 4, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

      A travel narrative, wow, I didn’t think of it this way. Thank you for that idea. I suppose the journey is about getting out the mind and reconnecting with the soul?


      • Margaret McColley January 5, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

        yes..the soul…its connection to universe…the sun…light..source..depth..others….nature….the things that don’t have words..surely this is a travel narrative dear Kir.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. elainemansfield January 4, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

    Thank you for naming the place many of us visit or stay. I first experienced depression when I went to college. It was a bad time to unravel and I almost lost my scholarship, but made it through. I looked out the window of my 6th floor dorm room and watched all those regular people way down there having normal happy lives. Far away. Existential. I felt closer to Camus. As you know, depression is so much like grief, Kirsten. It’s easy to see why psychologists lump the two together.

    I love imagining you on Mulholland Drive. Nature’s wide and deep perspective kept me from sinking so deep I couldn’t claw my way back.


    • kwasson2012 January 4, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

      Naming the place…like that phrase. And I appreciate the image of you looking out the window on the “normal people.” Always helps to remember that probably not so many of them are “normal”?! Thank you for reading and responding!


  7. Marc January 6, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

    Kirsten, I’ve missed the posts and thank you for your effort to reach out with this very personal one. We all appreciate your openness. Based on the other comments here and my two cents, your words clearly touch others. Twain said “As a rule, we go about with masks, we go about looking honest, and we are able to conceal ourselves all through the day.” There’s a lot of truth to that which makes sharing without the mask so therapeutic for you as the writer and for us as the readers.

    So, I thought of you when I took my youngest (11yo boy) trick or treating on the state streets in the old neighborhood. It was a very windy, cool evening with that great smell of fall and the crunch of oak and maple leaves (THAT is Halloween).

    We now live in a newer neighborhood where there are no mature trees and no real history so when my son asked to go back to the state streets for Halloween I was quick to agree. Against the wind I was helping to hold one of the panels that made him the human calculator when I realized that I was in front of your old homestead. I thought about a lot of wonderful old memories including a birthday party there, some odd gift that my mom had picked out for me to give that wasn’t so cool but which you graciously accepted, and all of our grade school friends who played nearby. But, in looking down at that grinning, cold, and wind blown human calculator who was relishing his Halloween I realized something obvious. There are plenty of wonderful new memories still being made. I write this as a reminder that this process is not exclusive to magical Pennsylvania Avenue, but exists even on Mulholland Drive.

    It seems to me that part of the human struggle is finding strength in pain. It also seems to me (sorry if I do so much “seeming”) that you found the strength to make a new life in California and you continue to find the strength to make new memories out west with good friends and even with your own human calculator. So, big surprise, there is always room for hope.

    Since I’m a roll with Twain, I thought I’d pass along his comment about hope: “It is like any other agriculture: if you hoe it and harrow it and water it enough, you can make three blades of it grow where none grew before. If you’ve got nothing to plant, the process is slow and difficult, but if you’ve got a seed of some kind or other–any kind will answer–you get along a good deal faster.”

    Love that man. Please keep up your posts!


    • kwasson2012 January 14, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

      This reply is more than the blog deserves methinks, but how I appreciate it! I love Twain too..though did not know this thought of his on hope. So Twain. And so incredibly kind of you to take the time to write this wonderful response. You and your son being at the old homestead moved me more than you can imagine. Thank you very very much. (I’m sure the gift was way cooler than you thought it was.)


  8. robinbot January 8, 2015 at 1:55 am #

    Whoa- Kirsten. So great to “hear” your voice again. I was wondering what happened and where you were. I can relate. But the winter solstice passing means more light. And once the polar blasts die down we should be able to get out from under the weight of our winter coats and thrive. Professional status? Love life? What’s that? Time to come out of hibernation. Good to have you back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kwasson2012 January 8, 2015 at 3:07 am #

      This made me smile. Thank you Robin, Kindred Spirit.


  9. Nick DAlleva January 9, 2015 at 6:41 am #

    “it’s losing a sense of self,” thanks, K for this description for you depression, That is exactly what happens to me when the depression strikes, Things that I usually enjoy doing, to read, to smile, to relate to family and friends–it all leaves me. Sure I take ongoing meds for anxiety and depression, but like the slug from a sniper, the depression suddenly is on me like red on kidney beans. It is tough to live through–walking around the streets like a zombie, not enjoying the usual flow of life. Feeling like an alien is another good description. Thankfully, I no longer have specific times to expect it. Something will precipitate it. Meeting a woman who I could really enjoy being with and then realizing I am in an unhappy marriage—that one really really hurts when it happens.

    So good to read you again—sorry it had to come after your trial of depression. I reread your latest tonight while sitting and listening to “Ghost Stories” by Coldplay.

    Happy new year and wishing you health, good times and happiness, Nick D


    • kwasson2012 January 9, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

      Thank you, Nick. Perfect music accompaniment. Happy New Year!


  10. thenakedpenman January 14, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    Kirsten, this piece was so moving and so brave! You will always be such an important person in my life and a professor who truly shaped me my last few years of undergrad. I remember, during last semester of senior year just being an absolute quiet mess and you bumped into me in the hallway, an awkward moment for me as I had just skipped class (due to just being a wreck and not having the emotional energy to leave the house) and there were no questions asked and you simply rubbed me on the shoulders and said something to the effect of “Don’t worry about it, I understand.” I remember listening to you in class and observing how you would make these lovely self-depricating quips and I just was enthralled by you, because you made me realize in my weakest and saddest moments there could be humor and you always were such a fan of therapy and self discovery, which might have been why I started going senior year! Anyway, I don’t think I ever told you it, but thank you. Thank you, for even in your moment of not knowing totally what was going on you were there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • kwasson2012 January 14, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

      Thank you so much for reading; you don’t know how much that means to me. Let’s know one another for a long while, please!

      Liked by 1 person

      • thenakedpenman January 14, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

        A long, long while it will be! Trust me.


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