The Mean Reds


Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you're getting fat and maybe it's been raining too long, you're just sad that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

  • Brock started work last week and it freaked me out a little. For the past six years, being students was an integral part of how we identified ourselves as a couple. You'd think that not having that label would be a welcome reprieve from years of trudging our way to diplomas, but it shook me because I don't have a game plan for the Whenwheres that come along with this new phase of life. When/where I'll pursue a graduate degree, when/where I'll have kids, when/where I'll work, etc. The pressure to have answers for those things feels a lot more acute now that I don't have the excuse of studenthood to fall back on.
  • The prospect of living in Salt Lake City excites and worries me. I'm obviously excited to be near family, friends, and mountains--but the vast majority of work that I've developed skill sets for is located east of Eden. (A rather funny euphemism for DC, now that I think of it.)
  • I hate that I hate gender-jobs. (Y'know, low-level positions like "administrative assistant" or "office manager" that often go to women.) I shouldn't hate them because any one of them would give me $9 more in my pocket per hour than what I'm currently making, but I just do. Curse that pride of mine.
  • Speaking of gender issues, being home during the day gives me a huge feminist chip on my shoulder. For example, if I make dinner and Brock says "Mmm, this is good!" I can't just take that for the innocuous compliment that it is. I start thinking What--did you EXPECT this to be good? Do you EXPECT me to cook dinner? What else do you "expect" me to do? Are you secretly relieved that now I'm the one being domestic? Is that where my worth lies to you? and blah blah BLAAAAAH. Naturally, I am incapable of expressing these thoughts in a healthy way because of the guilt I feel for even thinking them in the first place.
  • The GOP race is beyond messed up and I've completely lost interest in it. After a certain point, it's a ridiculous waste of energy to expend so much effort analyzing current events because it's not like anybody will listen to sanity anyway. Especially from a nobody.
  • Maybe that's the heart of it all. My fear of being a nobody and the guilt I feel over having that fear to begin with (isn't it silly?). Forgive me while I wax existential, but do you know the name of your great-great grandmother? I don't, and that terrifies me. I am four generations away from being forgotten.

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know. 

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Where Ms. Dickinson and I differ is that I don't  think it would be dreary to be somebody. I mean, at least you'd probably have your life figured out and  a voice that people would listen to. Because nobodies only listen to themselves, which inevitably leads to wasted Sundays spent over-analyzing irrational mixed feelings of guilt, jadedness, worry, jealousy, sadness, insecurity, anxiety, and fear.

I need to learn how to be satisfied with where I'm at and to just accept  things, but that's difficult because I have this paranoia of satisfaction turning into complacency. In any case, gettin' to The Whenwheres is a helluva lot harder when you've got The Mean Reds, I can tell you that much.


  1. I've found that this changing identity happens every 3 or 4 years. Life changes and you have to change with it. The person I defined myself as 12 years ago is not the person I am now. I hope I'm better, but there are areas that had to be neglected. Good luck finding your balance and figuring out who you are now - and more importantly where you're headed.

  2. Kristi - I've felt the same way at times. Going from being the major bread-winner in our family to a stay-at-home mom was probably the biggest and most difficult transition. I kept wanting to get a job to help out, and I do have a couple kids I teach music lessons to... but it was more of a realizing that I can make a huge difference in my own sphere rather than looking at things through the world's eyes.

    As for you: you are amazing, and you are NOT a nobody. You help me see outside of my little world and look at the world as a bigger place and picture. You keep me apprised of many things I wouldn't have caught a glimpse of, if it weren't for you. Just know: you make a huge difference, even if you don't feel like you do.

  3. First, I must say I thoroughly enjoy your writing! Especially when I can almost completely identify with your Mean Reds...I mean, I came back to school to run another year of track and all I can think about finding a job, which is counterproductive considering how much chocolate I have to consume to ward off the accompanying frustration. are the last person I expect to be a nobody. It's an understandable existential crisis for people our age, but as another commenter said, what we mean to the world will change with what we mean to ourselves. Even if no one knows your name in four generations, the impact you make in your lifetime will match, if not vastly overshadow the impact you could make a century from now. This may sound morbid, but the people whose lives you touch on a day-to-day basis will pass on as well, and at that point, who cares who remembers your name? (At least that's what I'm telling myself...)

    Of course, you could become the first female president of the United States and lots of people would remember you for a long time. In that case, I will eat my words.


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