So ... not what I intended ... but I'm still happy with it. We'll see how long it lasts. According to the product info on the maker's website, the color washes out much more quickly if you don't bleach your hair pale blonde first. I'm not sure how gray hair fits in in this equation, so we'll see.
ThanksgivingWe had a great Thanksgiving, though we decided not to go to any of the large family gatherings we'd been invited to. In the end, Shannon's mom and her family decided to do dinner by themselves, just the immediate family, and we would have loved to have gone to spend time with them in that non-mob context, but we'd already made other plans with Crystal (who has no local family and had no T-Day dinner plans otherwise). So we stuck with our original plans, which were to eat out at a restaurant called Hs. Lordship's in the Berkeley Marina.
Shannon, Crystal, and I had a great dinner there, picking and choosing delicious items from their extensive buffet (Depakote makes me crave meat, so I particularly enjoyed the roast beef, ham, and turkey), then eating at our table which was situated with a gorgeous view of the entire Bay, with the sun setting bright orange over the city and throwing the Golden Gate Bridge into dramatic silhouette. (When I made the reservation on the Open Table website, I had written a note requesting a table with a Bay view, not really expecting that they would pay attention to the note, but figuring it was worth a try. Crystal opined that we ended up with the best table in the whole restaurant.)
The food was great, the view was amazing, and the company was warm and family-feeling. I haven't spent so much time with Crystal lately, since I've been going to La Cheim, but I definitely consider her "family," and so it was nice to have so much time to just hang out together.
Unfortunately, as the evening wore on and we started trying some of the desserts on offer, I began to feel sick (a Depakote side effect that has been plaguing me for months) and spent a while running back and forth to the bathroom. We left in a somewhat less celebratory mood than when we arrived, and I was even more determined to get off the Depakote ASAP.
When I was feeling better later in the evening, Shannon and I went for a long, fairly vigorous walk in the Berkeley hills above College Avenue, watching out for Christmas lights and constellations. It was lovely and romantic.
MedsI've been slowly reducing my Depakote dosage over the past couple weeks, and I finally went off it entirely on Thanksgiving night. The side effects (increased appetite, craving meat specifically, disliking sweets, frequent—and sometimes urgent—diarrhea) have continued, but I'm assuming they'll go away as the drug leaves my body entirely.
To replace the Depakote, we've been increasing my Geodon dosage. Right now I'm at 60 mg, but I'm still a bit hypomanic, so I plan to phone the Meds Doc tomorrow morning to ask him if I should increase to 80 mg.
When I was taking Geodon before, back in 2005-2009 or so, I was taking 160 mg, so we may still have a ways to go in increasing the dosage. But I might have been taking more than was necessary back then, since I was under the care of Evil Meds Doc, who seemed to overmedicate me all over the place, so I'll talk to Non-Evil Meds Doc tomorrow and come up with a plan for the next step.
Post-Thanksgiving SF OutingSince I'm still hypomanic (though not as bad as before) and therefore full of energy, Shannon and I decided to take advantage of the fact and have a big ol' San Francisco adventure on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. (On the Friday, we'd gone our separate ways: Shannon on a bike ride and me to see the final Hunger Games movie with Crystal.)
Our main plan was to walk in Golden Gate Park, so we took public transit out there, picked up some sandwiches for lunch, and picnicked in the Forbidden Fern Grotto. (I say "Forbidden" because it was blocked off with yellow Caution tape pertaining to some kind of construction work that is going on, but which wasn't happening at that moment, and so we ignored it and just ducked under the tape, found ourselves a nice bench among the ferns, and had our tasty lunch.) Then we walked all over the place, mostly looking for the smaller paths, instead of the big cement thoroughfares.
We eventually ended up near the Conservatory of Flowers, which we've visited together once before, and we spontaneously decided to buy tickets and go in. It was beautiful, as always, though not very flowery. The contents of the SF Conservatory of Flowers are mostly rainforest-type plants, so it's mostly green and humid. (That's where I took the selfie I posted at the beginning of this entry.) It was nice and warm inside after the cold weather outside, though! We both had to remove some layers of clothing in order to be comfortable.
After the Conservatory of Flowers, we decided that we were ready to start meandering in a homeward direction, but with no great urgency, so we walked the length of the Panhandle (a narrow strip of green that extends out the eastern side of Golden Gate Park), intending to catch a bus when we got to the end of it.
But we were still feeling energetic, still enjoying our walk, and so I asked how far it would be if we walked to BART instead of catching a bus. Shannon wasn't sure, but we weren't too worried, and so just kept walking.
Shannon showed me The Wiggle (a bike route through downtown SF that allows bicyclists to avoid the bad hills in the area), though we walked it instead of biking. He's biked it before, so he seemed excited to show it to me. I thought it was very clever, how they've worked out a route to avoid San Francisco's infamous hilliness.
And then we made it to Market Street and ... to my shock ... we were walking right past Flaxx, the coollest art supply store in existence, which also happens to be a place I have been trying to work up the energy to revisit for more than 3 years. And it was right there! And it was open!
So Shannon kindly indulged me, and we visited Flaxx (and the rather disgusting Flaxx bathroom), where I bought about $24's worth of coloring-book-related pens and pencils. (Two of the pens—the most expensive pens, at $4.49 each—unfortunately ended up being completely inappropriate for most coloring book use, because they bleed through the page. But I do have some coloring books with one-sided pages, and I'm sure I'll find other uses for the pens, too. It's not like coloring books are the only kind of art I do.)
Then we continued walking down Market toward Civic Center through the now-dark city, eventually arrived at a BART station, and made our way home. In the end, we'd walked about 12 miles total over the course of the day! And it was a wonderful day of hanging out with Shannon, enjoying nature, having adventures, and just generally enjoying ourselves together. My physical and mental health problems of the past few years have made days like this one priceless to me!
Today we've been much more relaxed, mostly hanging out at home and each doing our own thing, though we have watched a bit of an interesting Amazon original tv series called "The Man in the High Castle," which is based on a Philip K. Dick novel. Encouraged by our Fitbits, we went for a walk through the campus and up around "Holy Hill," and plan to take another walk tonight out to Ici, my favorite ice cream shop (where you get flavors like "Honey Curry," which was my favorite for a while). And that will be the end of our holiday weekend indulgences.
Tomorrow, I'm back at CWC, and then Tuesday back at La Cheim (where I haven't attended in 2 weeks, due to Depakote side effects!). Back to the salt mines!