One of the more amusing aspects of traveling around America’s little motels is the reading material you might find in your room. While staying at the Sweet Breeze Inn on my vacation trip last week, I ended up perusing a 1960s Ann Landers book encapsulating some of her life advice. I believe it was titled “Since You Ask Me”. Some of the advice was quite outdated–Ann took a firm stand against interfaith marriage, for instance. But other parts of the book sounded like they could have been written today. In particular, there was a section talking about how not everyone is meant to be married. Ann wrote about women who don’t have the desire to get partnered up–and how she rarely received letters from those women asking for help, because they were, for the most part, content with their lives.

As I get older, I’m turning into one of those women. In fact, I’m starting to suspect that I’m a person who’s happier when she’s not in a relationship. A relationship requires compromise, it requires a give and take. There’s no way around that. I get frustrated about having to give up time and space to a partner, and that’s not fair to either one of us. I like to spend my time doing the things I’m passionate about. I like writing. I like being involved in volunteering and politics and social events. Whether it’s because I’m the creative type or because I’m just plain selfish, I don’t want to have to sacrifice all that for another person. And I definitely don’t want to have to listen to a guy bitching and complaining because I want to go to a protest rally or want to go out dancing.

Our culture is in such a fevered rush to pair everybody up, as if our life isn’t complete unless we’re part of a couple. As if we don’t represent something complete as an individual. The problem is there is already so much going on in my mind and my soul that I have trouble making room.

So I have to say that it would take a lot to convince me to try dating again. I would have to be sure that my partner would recognize the real person I am, instead of trying to change me or make me over to match his tastes. I would need the freedom to still follow my passions. And I don’t know if any of that is possible.

Because inevitably, a relationship would require that I give and change as well. And like those single ladies who never wrote to Ann Landers, I kinda like my life as it is right now. Is this a bad choice on my part? Am I too self-centered? Am I settling for something less than? And if so, why do my wrong decisions make me feel so damn satisfied?

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For the past week or two, Facebook has been pressuring me to post my year in review photo slideshow, under the headline of “It’s been a great year!” Because it’s always a fantastic year on Facebook! Yay! I took a peek at my slideshow, and it looked like a year in the life of a fake person I don’t know. Which is my own fault, since when I’m on Facebook I’m a strict follower of the “polite small talk only” rule, and I don’t exactly show my true self there.

This is what the year in review would look like for a real human being, instead of one created by the Facebook-bots:

January: Working lots of hours of overtime. This is going to be a continuing theme for the rest of the year. My profile picture for the year in review should be a pic of the cubicle wall I’ll spend most of my time staring at.

February: Relationship falls apart. Insert adorable video of screaming couple.

March: Don Lemon spends the entire month playing with a model airplane.

April: Great vacation at the coast. Rented a room right above a brewery. Insert hangover pictures.

May: Fuck! Did I really just turn a year older? More hangover pictures.

June: The weather outside is finally getting nice! Another picture of the beautiful view of my cubicle wall.

July: Burned my fingers on fireworks, and the cops came looking for the illegal explosives. This was actually a great month!

August: Hot and bored. Nothing interesting ever happens in August.

September: This is the month when I always volunteer for the local arts festival, in a futile attempt to feel like I’m more than just an office cubicle monkey.

October: Another Halloween, still no idea for a costume. Insert selfie in bulky, unflattering sweater.

November: Election night. WTF, America?

December: It’s holiday time! Insert picture of people in a mall killing each other.

So yeah, it’s been a year. And it appears another one has started. Don’t know yet if it will be “great!”, but for now, I’m wishing all of us a 2015 marked by the absence of pain.

My life is a daily battle against pessimism. This is not because I’ve had it that hard–in fact, I’ve probably had it easier and have been luckier than most people on this planet. It’s simply because my mind has a natural tendency to move in that direction, to sink into negativity and worry. This means it’s a constant, moment by moment, day by day effort to refocus myself on positive actions and thoughts. Frequently, this effort fails, and then I get back up and start over.

That’s why if I come to you because I’m sad and depressed, it really doesn’t help to tell me to “think positive!” or “choose to be happy!” Because chances are, I’ve already been working on that. I’ve been trying and trying and trying to do that, and it’s likely that by the time I’m coming to you for help, I’m ready to give up. So just give me a sympathetic listening ear. Let me talk about how I feel for a while. It will be a relief for me, and then I’ll be ready to go back to fighting my mind again.

It’s been a nice change to hear depression and mental illness discussed so openly and matter of factly over the past couple of days. It’s sad that it took the death of a wonderful and creative person for us to get here. But this might be a good first step to understanding that there are real ways to treat and address these problems–and that it’s not enough to tell people to smile.

So it seems we are now deep in the doldrums of a presidency. I guess this is what people mean when they say the second term is always a problem.

And a problem it is indeed. I’m not happy about a lot of things. I’m not happy about the situation with Russia. I’m not happy with the IRS losing e-mails. I’m not happy about the flood of kids coming across our border, although in that case I’m unhappy with both sides for a muddled immigration policy. And I’m very unhappy about the conditions at the VA.

And, with all that being said, I still don’t regret my vote for the President’s re-election. With all the things I’m unhappy about, would I have voted for Romney/Ryan? Nope. I would not have voted for someone who would’ve done his best to repeal the ACA–definitely not voted for someone whose budget plan would have cut Medicare and Social Security. And I would not have voted for someone who would possibly have gotten us involved in another war with Iran.

Politicians are flawed, so they will not always make me happy. As long as I’m less unhappy than I was during the W years, it’s all good. Happiness, after all, is the absence of pain. It will remain to be seen what Obama’s legacy will be in the end, and we will not be able to determine that until his presidency is over and some time has passed. All I know is that one day, when we have a Republican in the White House again? I will miss this guy soooooo much.