Saturday, February 16, 2008

February Contretemps

Google "Winter of my Discontent" and in roughly .08 seconds you will find a far higher number of personal accounts of unrest than I imagine John Steinbeck ever intended to posthumously endorse or inspire. There they are in the thousands, mostly blog passages chronicling the vexation and woe typical of this vile season, crowding academic references to the Bard and Steinbeck into the farthest reaches of the search returns.

Obviously, then, I am not alone. I am dangerously dry-eyed in the face of tragedies this winter, nerves stretched tight as piano wire, a restless body helmed by an unhinged, seething, inflamed brain that manifests outrages everywhere. In the small, sleepless hours after running my neighbor's raucous, blotto, underage friends out of the house last night, I lay on my back, at war with the world. Shaggy opened the door with a half-empty bottle of Crown in his hand, a pimply, gangling, eye-rolling-drunk teenager who offered to show me identification that proved he was 21. He proffered such gems as were appropriate: "I'm young. I like to have fun." "Just don't call the cops!" "Thanks for being cool. Let's have a hug." And I went back to bed, Psalm 37:8 running through my mind. Leave off from wrath, and let go displeasure; fret not thyself, else shalt thou be moved to do evil.

A good part of each day, all I can dredge up is contempt for nearly everyone I encounter. The inept, inconsistent department supervisor above my boss. The predominantly young club of new police officers that speed by me as they race through town without lights or sirens or turn signals, assuming themselves above the law, infuriating. A few are the children of people I know. Then there are the inconsiderate people in my neighborhood, invasive children, ridiculous teenagers, uncaring adults who slump into the church across the street, pointlessly. The majority leave all theory of a Christlike life behind when they exit, completing that chore and continuing disreputable business practices and ingrained habits of emotional abuse throughout the week. Why waste your Sundays?

I want to take a crowbar to the universe. I am not really a danger to anyone, not even myself. I appreciate the very kind individuals who occasionally reconfirm my previous assumption that life is good. But I am frustrated, and I think things that scare me. I need change desperately. I've put in for various jobs in many places; I don't care where I go, as long as it's far away from here. I'll miss my family. (I'll visit.) I'll miss the Wyoming dirt. (I'll take a jar full.) I'll be high as a kite, frightened, but I am prepared for that. I was not prepared for the rage that crept up on me this winter.

I was not prepared to suffer this loss of control and reason. I keep hearing that exercise is the best remedy for such mental maladies, better than pills, but after half an hour of shoveling, an hour of skiing, and half an hour on the stationary bike, there are still not enough endorphins in the world to make this existence enjoyable, barely even bearable. There is no question that by getting me out of California when she did, Morgan saved me. But the last few years of living in this town have threatened to turn me into the type of mean, mistrustful, angry woman I feared as a child. This has very little to do with the town and many things to do with me. Square peg, round hole. Truly good days are few and far between.

Bud confided to me months ago that he'll be retiring sometime this year. Jeff will be a good boss, Jeff who speaks as if 'oo' is the only vowel sound in the English language (bamboozle-hoosegow-goofy-boondocks-boozer-loony-schmooze), Jeff of the well-timed elbow nudge and conspiratorial wink at me from across the table, Jeff of the simple, black-and-white world within a 300-mile radius from the Hillyard epicenter of his rough-and-tumble youth, Jeff of the gnarled hands and bowed legs and permanently windburned face and infallible horse sense. But that means a new operator to replace Bud and a new operator to fill the untimely position created Tuesday night by an uninformed City Council. And I don't want to go through this. I have no faith in the administration, no faith in their judgment of our needs or their ability to hire even one person that would make a good fit.

Or maybe I am the one who is not a good fit. There's only one way to find out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, February.

What you have described here I know all too well.

There was at least sun today.

February 20, 2008 at 6:46 PM  

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