December 10, 2007
Charles Schulz used to have Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy sitting on his doghouse pounding out a novel on an old typewriter by starting with: “It was a dark and stormy night.” The story never went further than that, but Snoopy was always rather pleased with the start. (The strip first used the phrase on 12 July 1965). It evoked writer’s block, trite, overused sayings and clumsy sentences, but still, a dark and stormy night is a dark and stormy night, and the perfect setting for mystery, intrigue, melancholia, and horror. (It was originally penned by Victorian novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton as the beginning of his 1830 novel Paul Clifford.) It did rain earlier today, and left a pool of deep water where I would normally park near my little house.
It’s the rainy season in New Mexico. We don’t get much rain all year, but nature makes up for it in winter. Rain is pelting the roof and windows, but the cats are snuggled cozily in an old recliner, and I have a pot of tea on the counter. I’ve little to complain about in my status as citizen of the richest country in the world. I’ve a warm and dry place to read, to write x-mas cards, to cruise the internet. I’ve food to eat, and a x-mas tree in the room. The radio is off tonight, but it’s available, as is broadcast TV, VHS tapes or DVDs. Vinyl records sit silently on the shelves with cassette tapes and CDs, directly across the room from a wall full of books covering all manner of fantasy, both real and imagined. But, I’ve set the stage tonight for melancholia.
My chest still tightens reflexively, as it has since my exile here pending the divorce. The divorce is now long since final, and I don’t sigh as much, but the tightness that grabs my chest from time to time makes me wonder if I have a heart problem or just unresolved emotional turmoil. My blood pressure is normal, my cholesterol is not high, and I’ve no history of heart trouble, so I suspect I still reel from being cast aside by a bitter old drunk, whom I loved dearly, but fell out of favor with. She is the one who said we should go our separate ways, found a way to keep our house for herself, and left me with nothing but a job I was due to retire from soon. No retirement for me now, of course, although when I do, at least I get to keep all of it and don’t have to support her in her house. I doubt she’ll stay there anyway. Even now she is probably planning to sell it, only waiting until I could have no legal claim to any part of that. It was her that wanted the addition I built, and the addition precipitated redoing the entire roof as well as the new section. All my work, but labor is community property, and that’s the way it goes. She hates the weather here, the windy season, the short, anemic rainy season, the cold of winter and the heat of summer. She thinks the weather in LA where she grew up is normal, and everything else sucks. She’ll probably move back to California some day. She never turned her college education into a career, has stopped painting, and doesn’t have much disposable income any more without my paying the mortgage. Her substitute-teacher job pays little, and will never change substantially. To maintain the house now she has to pay someone, but I left it in pretty good shape. She can’t really prosper, and will probably bail out, and head off to California to be with relatives, relatives who will tire of her on a permanent basis, not the fun visits full of parties and drinking she thinks of as California. Maybe she’ll get one of her sisters to move here. Who knows? It hardly matters what she does anymore.
Hoping to recover from my failed marriage, I foolishly set my hopes for a better new life, one of love and sex and laughter, on a younger coworker. That was a mistake, as she had no such interest in me, and cannot possibly be a close friend, my lover, my confidant, or my life-partner. I set myself up for failure, and knew it all along, but it gave me something to look forward to, to fantasize about, to live for. I know who the bells of melancholia toll for, and it is me. I have so much that the world envies in material goods, and security, but so? Given all that, it is the privilege of such comfort and (relative) security that I can even have thoughts of romance and love and happiness. So, I should be happy, yes? Why am I not? Depression, of course, strikes anyone, and certainly it haunts me from time to time, but the ennui I speak of in other writings still permeates me. I feel better, in a generally upward-sloping plot of happiness versus time, with ups and downs along the way. I suppose this is just another downward spike.
It’s still raining. It is just as well that the motorcycle won’t start, and I’ve no money to fix it, and haven’t had time anyway. It can be miserable getting caught in this weather, sopping wet and cold. I still have a car I can use, so I have little worry there, except now the price of gasoline is a concern. I’ve got to get the motorcycle fixed soon, or spend a disproportionate amount of money on commuting.
I thought I was finally caught up this month, financially, from all the expenses of moving, renting, deposit, one last mortgage payment, utility start-ups, and setting up a household. Still had to give the dragon money last month for the refinance so she could get my name off the house, and she made it sound like she was doing me a favor. As soon as I signed the papers and they were notarized, she said I could go. Dismissed me. So it goes. The Notary asked if this was for a refinance, and the dragon said no, even though that’s what she had told me. That’s why I think she could be preparing to sell it. Hard to believe. All that work for nothing. She didn’t do the work, so it doesn’t matter to her. I told her I should be compensated for that, but she doesn’t care, and I have no real legal standing, aside from a long, drawn-out court battle that just didn’t seem worth what would be left over from legal fees.
Got paid $690 less this month. I applied for a staff program for my step-daughter at the University that allows children of staff to have their tuition paid, but the IRS considers that income, and I was happy to have it increase my taxes, but not all at once. I can’t believe it is necessary to consider such a benefit as paid in one pay period! At least I had enough to pay the rent and utilities and buy food. But, already, with weeks to go before I get paid again, I’m broke and overdrawn again. Is it any wonder I experience melancholy?
Even the political circus of candidates wanting the power of the US Presidency is failing to excite me. Can I believe any of them? One Party has parlayed fear into political power at the expense of democracy and freedom, and the other Party has been ineptly complicit in the whole thing. Some choice.