By now, I expect most people have heard of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. When I first read about it, I had an “Ah Ha!” moment. I had been confused as to why the dark days of winter seemed to cause lethargy and a certain “down” feeling. The reduction in light entering the brain from the shortening of days, the overcast skies, fog and rain causes chemical changes in the brain. So now I don’t have to slink around guiltily while turning on lights; it’s my mental health prescription! I have lamps strategically placed in every dark corner. If something seems too dim, I yank out the 60 watt and replace it with 100 watts. My faves are the 200 watts.
At first I was all in favor of the new twirly energy saving bulbs. My reason was that now I could have a virtual 100 watts in outlets only rated for 60. But gradually, the wicked truth of these bulbs emerged. When it’s cold and dark, the time when you really need that blast of light, they have to warm up. I stagger into the kitchen at 6 AM and turn on the spots over the sink. Two anemic little eyes glow balefully back at me as I stare at them hatefully. Over the course of about 5 minutes, they come to something near their official lumens. When my husband comes into the bathroom he never fails to make the comment, “Time to light the torches!” as he flicks on the light bar over the counter. So I just leave them on most of the time. I have a fear that someday I’ll look for some nice warm incandescents and they just won’t be in the stores. So I’m starting to hoard them when I find them cheap.
Another curious prescription for this malady is food. Yes, food. But not just any food. You need foods that are all those things you don’t normally eat when you are trying to lose weight, to eat healthily, to exhibit self-control, etc. And this brings me to the day before yesterday…
It was a dark and stormy night. Actually, it was a dark and stormy day. The first big fall storm here in California, remnants of a typhoon somewhere else on the globe. It hit with a blast, but I was prepared with good plans. I was going to roll my coin stash while watching an action video. I had every light on the house on. I gave myself permission to open my husband’s big bag of M&Ms and filch a little cup of them. I had a couple of good books scattered around for later. Then, disaster. The power went off at 11:30 AM. And stayed off. It was dark and windy outside. It was dark and gloomy inside.
When I went to pick up my son at school, I suggested we pick up something for dinner, since the range is electric. He didn’t hesitate: Winco fried chicken. Deep fried. And potato wedges, seasoned and deep fried. I felt like an addict relapsing as I threw things in the cart. A replacement bag of M&Ms, since the other one was almost gone by now, and the worst of all, I kid you not, a box of Ho Ho’s. What was I thinking? I was not thinking, I was medicating.
When I was a kid, Ho Ho’s were my absolute favorite of the snack cakes. I loved how convoluted and complicated they were. Ding Dongs came out at the same time, but I disdained them. Simple little slugs of chocolate cake with a splat of crème and dipped in chocolate coating. But Ho Ho’s, they were thin little square cake-lettes spread with crème and then artfully rolled up and dipped in chocolate coating. You could dismantle them with your fingers and mouth, eating the component parts. The flavor was rich and chocolaty and sweet.
It had been a long, long time. After my son and I watched a DVD on my laptop plugged into my travel trailer, ate the fried meal, came back into the dark house and lit candles and oil lanterns, we dived into the box of Ho Ho’s. Contents: 12 rolls. 6 apiece. Would it be enough? But a funny thing happened. They didn’t taste as good as I remembered. They were sort of bland. It wasn’t as fun to unroll them and lick the crème off. Where was the rich chocolaty taste? Where were the good feeling tones? I should have gotten Ben & Jerry’s. I don’t know how many I ate, but I gave the last two to my son.
So the good and the bad. There’s one less medication to help me on the dark days of winter. But, I won’t be tempted when I push the cart past the tower of Ho Ho’s that has been next to the eggs for the past 3 weeks. Now I’m wondering though. Would this be the same case for those wonderful little cupcakes with the white swirly across the top? And the Twinkies? Should I mess with memory and see if they are still good, or use this chance to find out they are not and remove the temptation?
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