• DRINK TO THE LASSES: Notes from a Woman's College Womb
    DRINK TO THE LASSES: Notes from a Woman's College Womb
    by Mary Beth Ellis
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I'm unsettled tonight, missing people I've never met and places I can't go.  Feeling very much a bad writer, a worse wife, and an utter catastrophe of higher education. I've suffered extended, strident episodes like this since childhood, but at that point, I had the general excuse of childhood.  It's this sense of... I don't know, desperation-- every cell stuffed with yearning.  A "reeking of discontentment," as John Adams once put it.  I feel like I'm cramming information, data, and analysis into a black hole of... just... need, and it's sucking the light of day right down with it.

We all want our lives to mean something, and those of you with children or lives heavily marked by service are automatically there.  That's why I tear up when I walk past the gathering babies for Mommy and Me Yoga at the gym, babies who have been here so often that they recognize one another and smile, crawling down the aerobics studio to reach across the floorboards and puffy mats which separate them.  If I don't generate one of those... and if I don't reach the literary heights I've always assumed I could-- what good am I?  (Said the external locus of self-esteem to the endless stream of anti-depressants.)

Maybe this'll all pay off in a movie option in about five years.  Or not.  And then I can type about maladjustment to success.

In the meantime?  Wine.

red, white, doesn't matter at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com

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Reader Comments (17)

[...] It’s one of those awesomely cheerful self-psychoanalysis posts! Share and Enjoy: [...]

I'm hearing you. I think we all experience discontent, even when we've achieved our grandest dreams. Likewise, I've had similar conversations with myself about the pointlessness of a childless life. And then I remember that it's only society's dogma, shouting about children. I'm happy with my choice.

Trust your gut. Do the best you can and forgive yourself for your imperfections. And have another glass of wine.

August 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterlynD

I think that those of us with a tendency toward anxiety or depression tend to navel gaze and only find sadness or a sense of being unworthy. Why is it so easy for us to believe it? I don't know.

I also don't know where I'm going with this comment. I suppose I just want you to know that I understand how you feel. You have many people who follow you, for whom you make a real difference.

August 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnne from Iowa

Let me tell you, children are no answer to the doldrums and unsettlement we all experience from time to time, and sometimes they exacerbate it.

I think it is the sign of an introspective and motivated person, you feel unfulfilled and that eventually pushes you on to bigger and better things.

August 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

You (yes, you) have a published book. One that people have actually read. For a greenhorn writer like me, that's something huge to aspire and look up to.

August 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterj.s.

Holy crap. I was pretty much just feeling this way about 12 hours ago.


August 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermike the eternal seeker

Oh, Mary Beth! Please know that you are cherished by your The Readers - not for who you feel you "should" be, but for exactly the person you are, flaws and all. You may not be out there fighting wildfires or birthing dozens of babies with nary a batted eye, but what you do still has profound meaning for all of us. You write with such honesty and courage - two qualities about which we could all stand to learn a thing or two. Carry on the good work and remember that we are all rooting for you from the other end of the fiber optics.

August 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterreader from CT

You are a very impoirtant part of my everyday life, dear friend. You always make me smile. SO SNAP OUTTA IT!

August 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHollee Chadwick


That's what I call it. I'm not the originator of that term, but it is what I use. it's the idea that our hearts were built by God to yearn for more. Always searching for something better. Always working to improve. Improve ourselves, our surroundings, our loved ones, everything. Always searching for more information.

I take solace in knowing that I will achieve this understanding in Heaven. It is always difficult to put my trust in the afterlife. But, I know that I will do what I can to improve my life, and the lives of those around me and work to constantly improve throughout all the days that God gives me. Then, at some point, I'll die, and go to Heaven where I'll understand what I'm now going through.

Wow. That was really deep for a blog comment on a Monday morning. Time for breakfast!


August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMark the Reader

MB, I just turned 40 in July and have not had a date in...what year is this? I always feel like people look down upon me for not having a husband or children. The husband I want. The children? Not so much. Sure, I get the occasional stirrings but they come & go quicker than a hummingbird's wings. And I always know I made the right decision when I'm in Target & hear some kid screaming at the top of their lungs and I think "That's the best birth control EVER!"
Hang in there & know that you've brought a smile to my face more times than I can count!

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara N

Two weeks ago my boss asked me to come up to his office.

He then went to let me know that, after 9 years of loyally working for him at this Architectural firm —of enduring many work sessions of 10+ hours, sometimes staying until 2 am to complete a render; of working on Saturdays without enjoying a bonus for the extra-hours, occasionally performing duties that were outside of my job role (such as helping unload or carry equipment since there was no one else willing to do it); of proposing ideas that positively contributed in the development of the projects, becoming a significant part of the firm's creative force; after daring to criticize his ideas and confront him when it was needed; after enduring 2 years without a raise out of a sympathetic understanding of the harsh times we were facing; of standing his lousy temper because I knew it was his way of venting off his stress— that my reward for all this would be:

To see both my work hours and my salary reduced in half— basically returning me to square one of where I started when I began working for him.

So, to me it's not typical depression. I'm tired of fighting, but I'm also very angry. And I'm noticing that this feeling of discontent and rage is becoming universal and piling up all around me. Things are about to explode; and nowadays I don't think that's such a bad thing anymore —I guess when you feel you have nothing to loose...

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie

And then there are those of us with anxiety issues who have a child and now worry about screwing them up and creating an axe murderer . . . regardless of our station in life I think many of us share the same feelings. But know that you touch many lives with your humor and writings and I would consider bringing joy and intellectual thought to others a success!

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

Drink some wine and calm down! I don't normally comment because I assume you know how awesome you are. I love reading your posts. To me you have led a very interesting and fun life so far. Life is what you make of it. Feel better! : )

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaney

I thank all of you kindly for your caring and supportive comments. I'd type more, but it's kinda difficult while staring at my own navel.

August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMB

Hope you are starting to feel better today. I have those funks as well. It sucks!!!!

Remember, we are perfect, just as God made us. Perfect and deserving of every happiness. It's very hard to remember that in this land of self improvement. Who you are is perfect.

Lots of love to you.

September 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKris

Kris, your post just struck me in a very profound, positive way. I've just copied what you wrote onto a post-it note and put it up by my computer. Thank you. :)

September 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterzaftiguous

All the best!!

September 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKlein
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