Sunday, March 24, 2013

For No Good Reason...

Why things take these turns, I guess I'll never know.

I'm now officially two days behind in my 'daily' postings here, with no other excuse than a sudden, in explicable upwelling of deep sadness, dismay and self-loathing.  (This, in spite of the daily regimen of... let me see, nine pills a day, of five different medications specifically aimed at reducing my depression.  And not counting the occasional acetaminophen for that shoulder injury I've been so wild about...)  As, as seems always to be the case when these eruptions happen, no amount of logic or rationalization, no counting of blessings or comparisons of my enviable life as compared with those of so many other humans on the planet, will make a bit of difference -- any more than the application of even the most closely-reasoned logic will fend off a thunderstorm.

As for causes -- well, the search for these might seem to be just as futile as my attempts at effecting some kind of intellectually-powered mood reversal, but actually, I think that at this juncture, I can actually point to one or two possible motivators leading, possibly, to this funk.

Play rehearsals.  We're learning the choreography for one of about a billion musical numbers -- it being a musical, after all -- and I'm lagging behind everyone else, in picking up the timing of the chairs slamming against the floor, or when I'm supposed to tap my heels, or how many times I'm supposed to turn my head to the right...  And there's the flipping from the script to the score, and back again, hoping to find the proper place to note the twists and hops -- and then, when I've got the general trend of things noted, I can't see what I've written, because I won't be wearing my glasses in the show, and besides, I can't dance with my script in my hands.  Not that I can dance with the script out of my hands, but that's a different tale altogether.  I was so eager to be cast in this show.  What I guess I didn't count on was, having been cast, that I would actually have to... perform in it. 

My physical appearance these days.  I had thought I would be used to the nude upper lip by now, but I still shudder when I see myself in a mirror.  This is not fun.  This is not good.  This is not enjoyable in the least.  And in spite of what I've already noted, I keep trying to displace this gut reaction with the liberal application of half-hearted encouragements, none of which I believe in the slightest.  Even my recent adoption of a tanning regimen (well, in the script, someone asks my character why he's so brown -- and the idea of applying all-over makeup makes me cringe...) hasn't done that much to make me look, to myself at least, any less ghastly.  John says I have body dysmorphia, which may or may not be the case, but I've always experienced myself as visually disappointing, even as I am capable of spending inordinate amounts of time trying to make myself look just so...  And this focus on my appearance seems to operate more or less constantly, even when it seems as though I'm actually involved in something else -- it's like living in a sniper zone, and although I have somehow to go about my daily business, I'm always on the brink of cringing at the outbreak of gunfire.  Or, in my case, the flash of a reflective surface.  What do I do about this?  I might as well try to change my eye color.

My life in general -- or, more specifically, the lavishly disordered, multitudinously thing-laden, materials-populated life, over which I seem to have no control, other than the ability to make things worse.  Every once in a while, it seems as if a very bright light is turned on, and everything I've done, and made, and picked up from a dumpster or gutter, is shown in the harshest, most unflattering detail.  And even though I know better than to think globally, I am instantly overwhelmed by the enormity of trying even to impose a bit of order on this upwelling of stuff I feel incapable of using, but of which I'm too fond, to allow myself simply to throw it all away.  Denial sets in -- maybe I'll have a chance to use this old refrigerator coil before I die.  Maybe I'll be able to redeem that huge sheet of copper I cadged off a neighbor.  Maybe I'll be able to salvage some of the shellac that's been freezing and thawing in the garage for two winters.  What I have actually been able to accomplish -- clearing the garage end of the driveway of an accumulation of stuff that's been stacked there for two years at least -- seems pathetic, when compared with the sheer volume of work that would still lie ahead, if I were able to muster the strength to tackle what has taken, seemingly, no effort at all to create.  If I were more merciless, I would follow through on my feeble threats of pretending I'm already dead, and just calling in some junk dealers to simply empty the garage of everything, no matter what it is.  And then have them tackle what I laughingly call 'the guest room' -- available only to the disembodied, I'm afraid -- and the attic, and the basement...

(This reminds me of our move from Jersey City, eleven years ago.  I'd been packing and packing, as fast as my little fingers could manage, hampered of course by the ever-invisible free end of the transparent packing tape.  But still, by the time the movers we'd hired had arrived, and in spite of my assurances to them that, by the time they'd gotten the boxes and furniture into their truck, I would be finished with what was left, it was soon apparent even to me that I couldn't do it.  So I had to turn over the remaining packing to these strangers.  For whom nothing they touched had any particular meaning at all, of course.  How nice for them.

But it became clear that I was only in the way, as they worked, so I forced myself to take a long walk, around the block, and through the leafy entrance to Lincoln Park.  As I walked down the long hill toward the park itself, I realized that I felt as though I were having some sort of surgery -- that the skin and subcutaneous tissues of my gut had been cut and pulled back, and my innards were open to light and air, and to the poking and prodding of disinterested professional.  It was an uncanny sensation, and not something I'd be eager to experience again anytime soon.  Which feeling, of course, would most likely resurrect itself, if I really were to fling the garage door open, and let the trash men have their way...)

(I also wonder why I use parentheses here)

And, underneath all of this, I'm afraid, is my favorite, inescapable eventuality -- death.  Good old death.  It's almost as though I'm wearing the worst possible kind of magic glasses, that allow me -- or, more appropriately, that force me -- to see the question of death beside every face I see.  I'm worried, all the time now, that I'm going to get a call from New Brunswick, telling me that John's had a heart attack.  Even this morning, during the sermon at church (the choir I sing with had an anthem today, so I was in attendance, as is not usually the case), and without any particular malice toward the priest, I found myself marveling that we don't all just drop dead at once.   Or at least see, on a more or less regular basis, people falling dead all over the place.  I even worry about which of the cats will be the first to die.  The only things for whose mortality I don't seem especially concerned are the hostas.  And if I don't find the strength to divide them this spring, I'm afraid even they might be imperiled.  

The same old same old, I guess.  I had a relatively productive day, out at Combat Paper, and got a kind of revised schedule set, for producing this hand-made book I seem to be making, and David asked me how many copies I wanted to make -- 'What do you want to do with this book?' he asked.  And I was completely stumped.  In some ways, I feel more like a draught horse, harnessed to a goal that's largely someone else's.  I'm focused on hauling these bags of cotton cloth around, and hand-tearing the excess off the sheets of paper I've pulled, and trying to figure out how the text should be laid out; the notion of a finished product actually catches me by surprise.  And, honestly, almost annoys me.  Because, won't this just be one more thing (or three, or five more things) that I'll have to worry about -- where to put it; will it be safe where I put it; will I remember where I put it; will it make any difference, no matter where I put it?

This afternoon, on my way back home from Branchburg (at least I think that's where I was), I was trying to find a way to describe how I was feeling, and it came to me that it was as though I was trying to scream, but I was trapped in a bed of tar, that made it impossible for the sound to come out.  Just a kind of gummy, floating entrapment.  Right now, it's as though a boulder is lying on my stomach.  Not much fun being had by all.

But I'll bestir myself, and wash the dinner dishes, and maybe do one or two other things, and then take the last of the day's medicines, and go lie down.  Hoping that my sore shoulder won't keep my awake again.  And them, tomorrow, I'll get up, and face it all, again.

Oh rapture.

©         2013                 Walter Zimmerman     

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