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Fifty and other mortal glimmers

I was hoping to update my profile, but that will have to wait for a better time (and a computer that’s a bit more up to date).

I turned 50 last Monday. It’s quite startling to realize I’ve lived half a century now. Not at all like 30, never mind 40. Bit of a head trip, getting membership offers from AARP. Not that that’s a huge shock: many of my musical/literary/cultural heroes are also older. I wonder if, like my mother, I’ll start browsing the obituaries.

But I’m not sorry to have hit this milestone. I’ve lived a lot, and I hope to live more. Who knows…?

Dog dazed, hellish summer

I’ve been depressed for a couple of days.

Woke up yesterday with a sense of unease and the sort of dread that comes from working a demeaning, low paying job where one repeats the same activities while pasting on a fake smile.

The day went from uneasy to miserable pretty quickly. I felt listless, drained, and sluggish. The paycheck did not help: I knew that I would be forking over $250 to my roommate, with the bulk of the next one going straight into her pocket. By the time I clocked out, I just wanted to vanish.

And as if work and the living situation weren’t horrid enough, I got caught in rain, with groceries in hand, and overwhelmed by noise. By the time I got back to the duplex, I just wanted to curl up in a little ball.

And when the roommate oh so kindly reminded me that, next payday, I would be living off my tips, I wanted to scream. (Bagging groceries is not a surefire way to rake in tips; you may make $50+ one day, and work yourself into the ground to get $5 the next.)

Right now, I just feel beaten, bled dry, and discouraged. Yeah, yeah, I’m not the only person on this planet in dire straits, someone else has it worse, I have to suck it up and keep going, yada yada yada. All the platitudes and motivational drivel. To be honest, these things just make me feel worse: how dare I not be cheerful, why am I not trying harder, what an ungrateful, spiteful bitch I must be…

Except, well, most days I can and do suck it up. I have days when I can smile. And I know well that I could be in worse condition.

It’s just hard, sometimes, going through, to see where or how things will get better. And if I wouldn’t dare tell someone “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle,” why would I want to hear that from anyone, however good the intentions?

If perhaps you recall this night, in a life
Whose future shape remains hidden from me,
Then simply think these sacred moments once
Returned to a stranger in a dream.

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966), from the poem cycle, Tashkent Pages. Cited in Anna Of All The Russias: A Life of Anna Akhmatova, by Elaine Feinstein.

Although written in 1959, the poem (from which the above is excerpted) is Akhmatova’s recollection of meeting the Polish artist Joseph Czapski in 1942, while in Tashkent.

I’ve said it before, but this bears repeating. Whatever else I may read, I return to poetry. And I return, always, to Akhmatova—her like may never be known in this world again. But she lives on through her poetry, and it reminds me, however terrible life may be, one must live, and live without shame.

Sour days.

I am at my wits’ end.

My roommate wants me to repay her for rent and utilities that she had to shoulder. Fine. It’s right and equitable. She tells me that if I can’t catch up, and don’t land another job, that she has to look for another roommate who can pay on time. She has the right.
But it all feels like an ultimatum. And I can’t stand the strain. I endure a job that I hate so she can get the money she needs. I apply for more jobs at every chance, so I can get out of this vicious cycle.
And it’s not enough. It’s never, ever enough. I’m trying to get out of this hole, and it feels like I’m getting kicked in the teeth at every turn. It hurts. It just hurts so badly. It’s been so painful, and I see no reason to put a good face on a horrid situation.

These past five years have felt less like life and more like a slow death. I don’t think I can carry on this way. Something is bound to give. And tonight, I’m scared it will be me. I feel like I’m being bled dry. And yet, the bleeding continues…

Perhaps in the morning I won’t feel so despondent, and there will be a way through. Tonight, however, I just want to shut the world off, or at least put it on pause.

I don’t want platitudes, and I don’t expect a magic solution. I just need to know that somewhere, someone is actually listening, and that I have been heard.

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