Melancholy Medicine

by Kathryn Baldwin

For forty days each year, I remove a bad habit that should be removed year-round, and I reflect on ways to live a happier, healthier life. As of two Wednesdays ago, I haven’t had a single piece of dessert and I’ve only eaten after 8pm one…two times (Bows. Curtsies. Bows). As for the happier life, I have–Thank God?–noticed a trend. I can be the type of person who’s abs get sore from uncontrollable laughter, but I can also be one who gets nauseous over uncontrollable stress and unnecessary loneliness or depression. These waves of insanity are characterized as follows:

1) I can NOT do any writing while in this state unless I can find people who enjoy a twelve-year-old’s diary (if only I had a plastic, heart-shaped lock and a miniscule hidden key).

2) Lifetime movies never seemed so compelling, even with their horror-story commercials and the fake-grass growing, bump-it placing, couch-enforcement installing infomercials that I accidentally memorize.

3) Nothing is more cozy and liberating, nothing is more narcissistic and self-loathing than my door closed, my lights out, and my pink blanket wrapped around my cold feet.


Are you depressed yet? So, thanks to some Lent-style reflection, I have come up with my antidote to these embarrassing strides of wallowing in self-pity…


Sunday bike rides!!!


If you need a happier vision of life, I promise this advice will give you better results than any opaque, mustard-yellow pill bottle could ever award you. (Speaking of infomercials) Here are the two reasons this works.


1)    “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!”… Take it from Legally Blonde, if you hop on a bike, especially on the cruiser-capable, paved, Iron Horse Trail in the east bay, your muscles slowly heat up and your self-loathing steam disintegrates into the passing wind. Literally, my smile starts in less than a mile. Plus, the trail, especially on Sundays, is full of people who also have been letting off their own boiling insanity for a mile. These flashes of stranger-smiles, as you ding your bike-handle bell, force you to love your life.

2)    “An apple a day may keep the doctor away… but A Margarita a week is a God-send, so to speak.” (I love Lent) All bike trails pass a Mexican restaurant along the way. By the time you meet one of these Latin Lures (La Tapatia, Mi Casa, Randy’s Bar & Grill) your smiles have already begun and you may be motivated to wait for the next town down the trail. When you find one that looks particularly seductive, string your bikes to a tree, take off your helmet, let out your braid, find a bar stool or a window seat, order a house margarita on the rocks and start in on a heaping basket of warmed, salted tortilla chips (you earned it all!). It only takes one margarita (or one double margarita) to solidify your rediscovered love of life. Then you can race home with a warm tummy and start your week in a happier fog.


Of course, it occurs to me now that this Melancholy Medicine is much more enticing with a friend. My boyfriend is always up for a bike ride and a margarita, but I’m sure my mom, my sister, my cousin, shoot, even my dog would probably be down. Would yours?


Oh one more thing. If for some reason your Saturday night leaves you squinting at the site of drinking anything from the bar’s menu, I recommend either a giant glass of Jamaica, or my first love, Horchata (and there’s a whole other story there but I’ll save that for another time).


Pedal on and switch gears, my friends. (sips… ahhh.) Pedal on, and switch gears.


3 Comments to “Melancholy Medicine”

  1. You’re totally right, I would be down! And I could not agree more: even the thought of knowing I have some exercise planned on a given day improves my mood within minutes.

    Pedal pedal pedal!! 🙂

  2. This blog is not only well-organized but also very interesting

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