Al Bundy, cheese, and the cure for depression

Al Bundy once said, “Life didn’t pass me by, it sat on my head.”

Well, that pretty much sums up the last few weeks. (Of course, even as I write this, I realize I have dried oatmeal on the front of my sweater. Lovely.) Life has indeed been sitting on my head…and it’s been eating beans.

The truth is, lots of things have been going wrong. Some more enlightened folks may say it’s the universe’s way of telling me something is out of balance. Others might say I’m being challenged. I prefer to simply grumble and eat cheese.

In honor of my late-winter malaise, I’ve culled together a list of incredibly depressing, heartwrenching, “where’s the nearest ledge?” movies. Sometimes seeing folks who have it a whole lost worse really does make you feel better about your own minor tragedies. Um, don’t enjoy these.

• The Deer Hunter. I never cried so hard in my life as I did during this movie. It’s perfect and, yes, you have to sit through the wedding. It will be important later. (As a sidenote, Christopher Walken was in “Balls of Fury,” a movie about ping pong. It’s hard to believe he was ever in something so incredible as “The Deer Hunter.”)

• Requiem for a Dream. This is not a movie for Pollyannas. It’s a painful, graphic, and awful portrayal of drug addiction and mental illness, and it ends horribly. But, as completely horrendous as the story is, the worst part for me is Ellen Burstyn’s speech about the red dress. It will break your heart.

• No Country for Old Men. I firmly believe this is the best movie made in at least 10 years. It will make you question your values and loyalties, and what you know about right and wrong. It’s incredible and very, very depressing.

• Breaking the Waves. This is another movie with challenging content, but it’s a powerful story about love, faith, and community. Just when you think it can’t get any worse for innocent Bess, it does…and does….and does. Emma Watson plays Bess and her cherub face makes it all the more devastating.

What’s on your list?

Unclench…breathe…daydream…repeat

There are three things I’ve been obsessed with lately…on top of my usual obsessions. (Gosh, where do I find the time? Kidding.) Frankly, I chalk it up to stress. I’ve been so incredibly stressed out the last few weeks that my jaw is clenching in my sleep, causing incredible, persistent pain. It’s ridiculous! I don’t know how I became that stressed out person, but I think it happened about two months ago. So, to keep my teeth from gnashing, I resort to daydreaming.

Here’s what I’ve been distracting myself with lately:

• Manitoba Moose Man.

This is the guy! He's famous!

This is the guy! He's famous!

While working out one day last week, I watched a nature program about moose. Featured was a Manitoba man, a researcher, who has devoted his life to documenting the moose. He built a moose-head contraption with suspenders that he wears to convince the moose he’s one of them. (Apparently, moose only look at each others’ faces and don’t notice a man’s body attached below the neck with suspenders.) In one hand, he had a huge, old-fashioned moose call; in the other was an antler he raked against the trees. I love him. I want to be his moose wife and build my own papier-mâché lady moose-head with suspenders.

• The Ax Men on the History Channel. There isn’t one logger in particular that I’m in love with (they’re all fairly…ummm, well….) but I like daydreaming about being married to a logger. I like the idea of packing him huge lunches every morning, and feeding him hearty dinners at night. I like the dirtiness and the woodsy-ness of it. Plus, I really love the simplicity of that very basic lifestyle. Logging seems so perfectly simple and pure, just like the loggers themselves. They relate to each other in a very healthy way. It’s laced with expletives, but no one ever stays mad for long and they all look out for each other. They all know where they stand at all times and that’s incredibly comforting.

• Russell Stover’s Marshmallow and Caramel Hearts.

Heaven, thy name is Russell Stover Marshmallow Caramel Heart.

Heaven, found.

These are available in heart shapes around Valentine’s Day and in egg shapes around Easter. (The few weeks between these two holidays are dangerous for me since I love these darn things.) I used to be addicted to the strawberry cream ones, even though they violated my Fruit Must Never Touch Chocolate Rule. But, once I discovered the marshmallow-caramel combo, I haven’t had a strawberry cream heart/egg since. I’m trying to eat them only once a week. Trying. Curse Rite-Aid for making them two for $1! I can’t just buy one!

So, if anyone needs me, I’ll be making a papier-mâché moose head in my kitchen and stockpiling chocolate hearts. Oh, and not gnashing my teeth, I hope. Ha!