Catalog of Discontents; Anatomy of Despair (a bedtime story)

What did she eat today?

For breakfast, she made herself a smoothie: a cup of water, a handful of almonds, a big spoonful each of flax seed meal and oat bran; a small pineapple, de-crowned, peeled & cored.

For lunch, she had two small avocados, one kiwi, and a berry juice drink. For a snack later, she had another kiwi, and half a sea salt & almond dark chocolate bar.

For a later snack, she ate three pieces (not all at the same time; at intervals) of whole grain and seed bread, bare. For dinner, she used the same bread to make herself a grilled cheese & tomato sandwich, and a mayonnaise and tomato sandwich. It’s about an hour past dinner and her tummy feels stretched.

Yesterday she had a leaf from the garden and a bite of – what? – maybe it was an almond, and then for dinner she had some fried tofu & mushrooms, and some steamed frozen broccoli with butter. Also a very tiny amount of red wine – maybe a quarter glass.

She felt better yesterday.

Today she went to work; hour and a quarter commute time; some time spent creekside, standing barefoot in the grass and on the rocks. Before that, she did some Yoga & made the smoothie & said good-bye to M, who was headed for Wellington Lake to camp for two nights. The plan is for her to join him after work tomorrow, unless she’s too tired. She’s already so tired, and it’s only today, that she seriously doubts she’ll feel like a two-hour drive into the mountains after work tomorrow.

Today (at work) she tried to make meaningful contact with a lot of different people, with indifferent and infrequent success. She stood in one place for most of the day, though she did get to move around a little. She got off work at the peak of rush hour, so she went to N’s (currently absented) apartment to rest up a little – that’s where she had the three slices of bare bread – and collect her wits. She spoke a little with B as well. Wound it up, locked up, and drove home – easy drive, as they go, less than forty minutes, but she arrived home horribly tired, and lonely – here she is all tired out, and all by herself.

Writing the last eight paragraphs backs her away from the abyss somewhat; she no longer feels desperate, merely tired and physically uncomfortable in various ways. She thinks maybe what she needs is a good night’s sleep. Her hand bothers her, it’s a little sore, which is worrisome. The condition of the psyche is dull, rather than acute (does that revert it to chronic, technically? An interesting thought.).

Now that an idea has actually caught her constructive interest, she becomes more aware of how tired she is. She really should sleep, she thinks, if she can get feeling good enough to drop off . . . she heads off to bed to give it a try.


I listen to an MP-3 audio clip in German re Kerouac & Ginsberg, posted on FB by Michael (Kellner). I can understand it intermittently, it makes a good background to these reflections.

As K said goodbye on his way back to work from his lunch break, he said “indulge yourself in some way – go to a spa for instance if you feel like it.” (that’s a fairly good paraphrase, I don’t remember the exact wording). Ha, the tears commenced at that, though I don’t think he noticed – I’m getting good at hiding tears, from the kind of practice over the years you get if you cry ridiculously easily – My first thought had been, I can’t afford to indulge myself, I’m out of money; & I thought, why am I feeling so sorry for myself? And then I thought, “I don’t know what indulging myself is, I don’t do that, I don’t allow that, I have too much work to do, I – and suddenly I realized that, along with the easily recognized & acknowledged anger, I’m feeling a huge guilt over not getting this job, as if it was a personal failing. Possibly it has been a personal failing to not qualify for hire at a wide range and quantity of purported employment opportunities, but I hadn’t realized how much guilt I was feeling over it. Over everything, it seemed right then. I hadn’t noticed that that was one thing weighing me down, a major thing, in fact. It was suddenly clear that I felt compelled to make up for it in some way before I could feel good again.

What bullshit – as if feeling bad were going to fix anything. Totally contrary to my philosophy of life, which might be crudely characterized in part by the convictions that (1) if you’re not making mistakes, you aren’t learning; and (2) when you make a mistake, the useful response is not to feel bad about how dumb/incompetent/slow etc. you are, but to figure out how to do it right. That’s not actually how I was raised, however, so that may be why I have had such difficulty consistently practicing it, now that I think about it.

Of course, that last phrase (“now that I think about it”) is blatantly misleading. This isn’t the first time I’ve thought about it; on the contrary, I’ve devoted probably large pieces of my consciousness to trying to figure this out, and live it. Such the stubbornness of the human psyche.

Also published as private.