Petty Tragedies

My sinuses are packed with snot, but I don't really mind at the moment. I am in one of those states of mind that accepts any physical discomfort as some kind of equalizing force in an imbalanced life.

The cat kept stealing my socks this morning. I thought that I must still be half asleep when the first pair disappeared off the end table by the sofa. I was unable to find them, so I found a second pair and put them on the table next to the laptop. When they, too, disappeared, I knew Oskar was making off with them. I patted his little head and applauded him for the noticeable improvement of his thieving skills.

My life's balance gained a point in its favour.

I bashed my head into the cabinet door above the toilet, banged my tooth into my water glass, and dropped a tin of fruit salad on my foot in a subconscious effort to appease the gods of universal order.

And this was just before I went to work today.

It is January, and the weight of a thousand petty tragedies is bearing down upon me, coating me in a thick and sticky malaise with a note of dolor to round out the flavour. I would crawl under a rock if they weren't all covered in snow and I did not have such an aversion to the cold.

When the seasonal depression rolls in, I always get the distinct feeling that I am a huge asshole in a lesser asshole's clothing. I feel like an ass for being thankless, ungrateful, degenerate, lazy, dull, and lacking in spontaneity. I feel like an ass for letting friendships ebb and for not having the energy to bake potatoes after work and for cowering in the face of all authority.

I mentally slap my fingers for smiling when I don't mean it and eating when I don't want to and taking painkillers all day to quash the physical pain that always accompanies my depressions. Internally, I am giving myself forty lashes for even telling you this right now.

I start to feel like every petty tragedy visited upon me - oh! I am such a victim of fate! - is some kind of retribution for my endless small grievances.

Luckily, I have learned a few things over the many depressions I have weathered since I was three. I am allowing myself to step back from taking on extra responsibilities that would cause me stress. I have given myself a creative project that is simple, quick, and satisfying to my practical side. I am drinking less beer and eating more fruit. I allow myself indulgences like spending long enough in the bath to read the entirety of Persepolis 2: the Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi or having nothing but popcorn and milk for supper or watching the entire first season, that's twenty-two episodes, of "Veronica Mars" over two days.

I am starting to think that I should pick up one of those heating rocks and a sunlamp that they use for lizards. I'll set my living room up like a giant terrarium and spend my evenings sunning myself on a heated fake rock. I will while away the dreaded months of January and February under a full spectrum bulb, knitting fabulous purses of original design and diving headlong into savoury works such as John Fowles' "The Magus".

Hopefully, the universe will have extracted what it needs from me to maintain the universal balance at that point, because it would be so like my run of luck lately to be electrocuted by my own heat rock.



" by

John Burnside