some days the bear will eat you
some days you'll eat the bear

joan armatrading



Friday April 13. 2001

eating the bear

You know those days where you're just dragging, you feel like death and no matter how much sleep you got the night before and you're still dozing as you drive to school for an early morning class?

Yeah, I felt like that today in painting class. Anything I gained in the painting session on Saturday I lost today - things just would not gell, the colors wouldn't mix right and I just couldn't get into it. I ended up sitting next to my friend Dan and watching him paint for most of the period, half-dozing and trying to choke down a bacon, egg and cheese bagel. I try not to feel bad about this, some days it just doesn't happen and it doesn't do any good to force it.

As Chuck walked past me, he said, "Some days the bear eats you, some days you eat the bear."

I smiled faintly, thinking of the Joan Armatrading song.

It was a gorgeous, gorgeous day today. My Mom came down and we spent the afternoon and evening together walking around Olde City, talking and window shopping. We started at Arch Street Plastics, to get some more stuff for my metals project, and then walked downtown to the Army Navy Store. I keep forgetting how insane and massive that place is. Tons of Army surplus gear and consignment clothing, along with camping supplies, backpacks, boots, Swiss Army knives, anything you can think of.

I came to get a new bag, and was quite pleased when I immediately found one I loved - a "Danish school satchel" or something like that. In green, with many hidden pockets, large enough to put several large books or my laptop in it. When I took it out of the plastic when I got home, I discovered, of all the strange things, a yellow wooden ruler slipped into a narrow little slot near the top of the bag. And not only that, it was a crooked ruler.

I spent a lot of time in Philadelphia when I was younger, whenever my grandfather was at Jefferson Hospital, which is right in Olde City. So there are things we did and places I remember (like Penn's Landing and the Gallery Mall) going as a child, and it's rather weird discovering them again as an adult. As we were walking down Chesnut, I spotted the Polish Museum my mother, grandmother, sister and I had visited, I distinctly remember looking at large, somber paintings of important people and colorfully painted wooden eggs on display in there.

We ate at Philadelphia Fish & Co., a restaurant that had been recommended to me by several different people. The decor of the restaurant was very nice. The centerpieces of the room were two large metal fish sculptures, and they were mounted on a couch with 4 seats, each facing a different direction, and those couches served as a seat to four tables positioned around it. The waiter was painfully formal but courteous, and the food was to die for (I had a salmon steak with wasabi, Mom had halibut).

We were only a couple blocks away from Penn's Landing, so we ended up sitting on the benches right over the water, talking for a while about a bunch of stuff. I'm amazed at how well my mother and I communicate. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one she can talk to anymore. Sometimes I feel the same way about her. It almost seems like a vacation for her, and it seems like a vacation for me, too, to get away from all my work and be treated to dinner and some good conversation.

My mom's trying some new medication for depression. She mentioned this as we were walking through Olde City. She said her doctor showed her a list of 12 symptoms of depression, and of the 12, she had 10. She randomly ticked off a couple of the symptoms, and of the ones she mentioned, I had all of them.

"Maybe you should consider seeing a doctor about that," she said. "You know, to keep you on an even keel."

I am impulsive, I get stressed easily. Anyone who knows me knows this. But do I really need medication? These past weeks have been very stressful, but since I quit my job, I've felt much better. Is this a personality flaw in how I deal with things or this an honest to goodness chemical imbalance? Do I need exercise? Do I need yoga? Do I need religion? Do I need meditation? I don't know.

I had a panic attack a little over a year ago. I questioned my need for medication then, and I guess I still am. I just don't know. Is it a matter of self-discipline on my part, trying to loosen up, get centered and not be so stressed, to stop trying to be everything to everyone? Or do I need some chemical help? I don't know.

Some day the bear eats you, some days you eat the bear, I guess.

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One Year Ago:
"A small adjacent room revealed white shelves full of stuff...books, shells, glass globes, plants, dried flowers, small sculptures...everything you could think of that an artist would need. A small bathroom, which looked like it was rarely used, was next to that room, filled with small figure paintings."