Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Dead of Summer

It’s like that point in the winter when you’re sick and tired of feeling cold all the time and watching the light fade at 5:30. Here’s we’re tired of sweating and feeling under siege indoors for the heat. And does it have to be so mercilessly, eye-stabbingly bright? The sunset, when it comes around 9:00 or so, is such a blessed relief! 

Me, all I can hear is this year’s Christmas music. I see the dead gray skies of January, me sitting uneasily beneath them, wondering what on earth happened.

There’s a lot of talk about seasonal depression in winter, and I can testify it’s a real thing. But it happens in the dead of summer, too. It’s perhaps a little more situationally triggered than winter depression—that is, an unexpected expense comes up, someone close to you falls ill, etc., before you start wondering how many Benadryl and beers it will take to put you past the point of resuscitation.

In the end you’re still Alice in Wonderland running as fast as she can to stay in one place. Except it’s been a long time since you were that young and cute. If ever.

I’ve got a friend of mine going through this right now. Been wondering what to say to him. “Hey, hope your wife snaps out of what damn near killed her last week,” doesn’t sound as encouraging as I’d like. Of course, I’m wrestling with feeling isolated and alone, 1,500 miles from the company of people I love, and wondering if we’ll ever pay down these debts, sell this house, and escape Colorado Springs. 

It’s been two weeks since I left South Carolina. My right knee still aches when I get in the Jeep to drive somewhere, but not as badly or as often as it did. I finally got a draft of Chapter 5 for Grace Among the Dead and got started on Chapter 6, which will close out Act One of the refit. Man, this thing is dark. Darker than I ever expected to make this, and I knew I had to dark it up for the second book. So progress is being made. It’s never as fast as I’d like (or need) but it’s happening.

On the latest draft I have tacked to my office door, I wrote at the top, in multiple colors of Sharpie: “THIS IS MY EMPIRE STRIKES BACK!” and at the bottom, “THIS IS JACK SKELLINGTON’S NEXT HALLOWEEN!” I had a couple of glasses of wine, a couple of beers in me. I’d just reworked some troublesome paragraphs in Chapter 5, got a little thematic unity engaged in Chapter 2. I was feeling encouraged last night.

As the Great Bukowski said, it’s War All the Time.
I’ve been up for a few hours now and already I want to go back to bed. Maybe I’ll feel better after a nap. Actually, I’ll be cranky and ravenously hungry, but what the hell. The body wants what the body wants. Or what a self-limiting mind tells it to want. Or something. I have to strike deals with myself, tell myself I’ll go lie down after I finish this post. 

I’ll sit up with a book in bed, and forcibly remind myself that Act One will be behind me, and I’ll be deep into the refit of Act Two by Monday. And try to forget that, as of today, Christmas is only five months away.

Recovering alcoholics aren’t the only ones who have to take it a day at a time. For anyone who seems to be at constant war with himself, who spends every conscious minute pushing back against his own negative thoughts and impulses, it’s a way of life.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go lie down for a bit.