Archive for the ‘December 17th’ Category


December 17, 2008

The one redeeming quality of a heavy winter is the chance to unwrap a new conquest from his coverings of winter clothing in anticipation of the surprise underneath. Yesterday, on the train, I finally spoke with the man I’ve been making eye contact with for months. He boards and disembarks at the Chinatown stop, leading me to believe he’s an inhabitant of the South Loop where all the up and comers live. He’s got a football player build and a shaved Foucault head. He always carries his briefcase and gym bag. On my way home last night, I was engrossed in the book I’m reading when I looked up at the end of the chapter. The guy was looming over me, staring intently at my book. I initiated conversation about the book. By the time we reached Chinatown, he asked if I’d like to grab something to eat. Defensively, I answered, “I’m allergic to MSG. Another night, though?”

Seasonal Affective Disorder hits me differently every year. Sometimes, I feel it right away at the October time change. Other years, I’m fine until February when it feels like all of nature has turned against me, locking me in a freezing white box. For years, I would overcompensate by keeping the temperature in my apartment at 90 degrees. Culturally and genetically, I’m ill-equipped for winter weather. Both nature and nurture agree that I’m built to live in hot converted deserts.

I was born in upstate New York, but by the time I was three, my mother, baby brother and I moved to El Paso, Texas. From there, to Los Angeles where single mothers worldwide flock to escape. My first memorable encounter with snow occurred when I begged my mom and her boyfriend to drive us to the mountains. When we got there, I stuck an ungloved hand into the snow to make a snowball to hurl at my brother, and felt like I’d burnt it. I retreated to the car, groping with my hand, trying to find some way to warm it. Imperiously, I demanded we leave. My first winter in grad school, on New Year’s Eve I flew back from New York where I was visiting Dat. It hadn’t snowed yet, but that evening, Chicago was struck by a record breaking blizzard. Stoned, in my apartment, I didn’t notice a thing. New Year’s morning, I smoked a joint and went to get some groceries. As I took a step off the porch, I landed face down in three feet of snow. I wiped my glasses clean and looked around. The whole neighborhood was blindingly white. It took two days for the street cleaners to get to us.

This year is a relatively bad year. My reaction to the weather was immediate. I’ve been ignoring emails, blowing off blogging, not taking phone calls. I delete evites as they arrive. Spending nine hours a day in a dimly lit artist’s studio can’t be helping. Every day, it’s a struggle not to order dinner when I get home. I fight with myself to cook at least one hot meal a day, to remind myself I’m alive (a coping strategy I learned from Peter Hoeg). I try to go to the gym every day. In my apartment, I resist submitting to my general depression: I keep active and clean the place; I light up my $300 sun lamp; I make piles of books and then read them. This weekend, I decided to force myself to do something for the holiday season. A friend came over and we baked two dozen double chocolate pot cookies to celebrate winter. Once high, I breathed a sigh of relief. “That really hit the spot. I just needed to slow my brain down.” My friend, a social worker who treats substance abuse, was equally high: “Do you think you have a tendency to self-medicate?” Proudly, I said yes. As the discussion progressed, a realization hit me. “Are you using self-medication with a negative connotation?” She stared at me and nodded affirmatively. “I feel so stupid! I thought you were using it in a 90s D.I.Y. sense, like changing your own tire or cooking homemade cat food.”

After three days, we had each eaten our share of the cookies. I face this winter day without a crutch. Longtime readers know that I consider December 17th the worst day of the year – the most heinous of anniversaries. Part of me regrets not grabbing dinner with Mr. Clean, but the guy radiated pure heartbreak. I also know that if I can get through December 17th on my own, I can get through any winter day.


December 17th

December 17, 2007

No new content here today. Sadly, this is the anniversary of my own personal September 11th.

6:05 — blogs
6:10 — in mourning; pets cat
6:29 — takes out the trash; tears freeze on face
6:32 — misses bus; curses god
7:53 — arrives at work early; goes online; curses Harvard University’s website
9:14 — replies to j.m.’s email; cries
9:15 — tells co-worker about insane show on History Channel called “How William Shatner Changed the World”; cackles
9:38 — complains to l about tao lin’s latest fame-whore stunt
10:43 — still in mourning; can’t find staple-remover
10:44 — finds staple remover behind coffee mug; plays with rubber band; sniffs
11:34 — receives early birthday present; smiles
11:54 — wonders what to pick up for lunch (forgot to make lunch); hopes ex-boyfriend is not eating shrimps for lunch (because ex-boyfriend is allergic to shrimps); realizes that, because of time difference, if ex-boyfriend accidentally ate shrimps for lunch then he’s possibly already dead (feels sadder); weeps
12:17 — has “wedding” soup for lunch; it’s pretty good
14:39 — wistfully mails some letters
16:04 — feels masochistic; googlesmaurice blanchot blog”; sees a depressing number of entries; wonders what’s wrong with people
16:40 — sends suggestions on a syllabus to a friend; has reason to mention the inclusion of a piece by guattari sans deleuze; is pleasantly surprised at the chance to do that
16:50 — looks forward to shaving at home; hopes not to miss that same spot under the chin to the right that’s always so difficult to get
18:43 — comes home; pets cat
18:56 — looks up a piece where a bunch of academics take 911 personally; loves that Dreamboat TC‘s entry discusses how 911 personally affects her dog and compares the disaster to the spots versus stripes conundrum