Last night at this time the temperature was in the mid 60s; tonight it's in the low 40s and dropping. We've had a few warm days this month, but more often than not it's been downright wintry. Wintry by London or Northern California standards, anyway, which, apart from occasional brief visits to more arctic climes like Winnnipeg, is the only experience of winter I've had since the 1970s.
But the cold weather, combined with my new apartment having some cavernlike and Swiss chalet characteristics (it's a stretch, but go with me here), seems to have me feeling less and less inclined to set foot outdoors. Great, you say, then you can stay in and tackle some of those long-neglected but also long-promised tasks like creating a proper website, rewriting your book, unpacking and organizing the rest of your stuff that's still sitting around in boxes, maybe even (ahem) updating your blog.
But no, for like America under Jimmy Carter, I've been suffering from a great national malaise. It's not just the weather or the dwindling hours of daylight, though I'm sure that has something to do with it, nor is it just my own bad moods exacerbated by laziness and procrastination (though that probably has quite a lot to do with it).
Above and beyond that, though, there seems to be something in the air, a bleak cloud of not quite despondency, but certainly disillusionment and discouragement settling over the land. Perhaps it's just my imagination, but I felt something similar during the waning years of the Carter presidency and for nearly all of the first Bush (senior) presidency.
Am I trying to blame the government for my own lack of accomplishment or good cheer? Well, not exactly, though what good is a government if you can't blame your troubles on it? Seriously, I've had good times during some of the worst governments America's endured in recent decades, and miserable times during some of the best, so there's no clear correlation.
What I do note is that when things are going badly in my personal life, the sense that they are also going badly in the larger community certainly adds to the overarching gloom. That being said, I'm feeling a lot better than I was when I started this post (nearly two weeks ago). I finally reached a nadir in which nothing at all seemed appealing except perhaps playing computer solitaire and watching endless Law and Order reruns (you must understand, of course, that I'd never seen this show prior to my return from the UK, and that it is - especially in the episodes featuring Jerry Ohrbach, very good).
But as much as the prospect of being able to sit around watching TV all day might appeal to those forced to show up every day at jobs they hate, it does start eating at the soul after a while. I do know people who seem perfectly content to do nothing or something very closely resembling it, but I am not one of them. There are books to be read - and written, music to be played and listened to, people to talk to and see, but, as I'm hardly the first to observe, the more free time one has, the less of it seems to get done.
So I've had to give myself a rather firm kick in the ass, and one aspect of said ass-kicking involves returning to this blog with renewed verve and fervor. After a year or so of deep contemplation over what I should be doing for a living - or a life - I realize that there aren't a lot of things I know how or am qualified to do. A lifetime of work-dodging and angle-seeking has left me in that predicament, and while I'm currently mulling over the merits of becoming a New York City substitute teacher and/or a Starbucks barista (not sure yet which pays better), I keep coming back to one of the few things I do know, which involves putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and stringing words together in an artful or informative or entertaining fashion.
Do I have anything all that worthwhile to say? That remains to be seen. It hasn't stopped me saying volumes of it for the past 20 or 30 years, but the longer I go without writing, the more time I have to brood about my shortcomings if not downright worthlessness as a writer. So, it's up and out of my lethargy once more. Hopefully, anyway. I ran into an old friend on the subway yesterday; he asked me what I was doing and I reeled off one of my main projects/ambitions at present, only to have him respond, "That's what you were doing ten years ago."
Not too supportive, you might say, but then just a moment earlier I'd gratuitously corrected his French, so I probably got just what was coming. Not to mention that he was right: I had embarked on this exact same project - transferring and compiling all my old writing, photos, music, etc. onto the computer - way back then, and done little or nothing on it since.
Until now, that is, and if you want proof that I'm actually doing something now, check this out:
That's me when I was 17 or 18, just as lazy and sullen as I can be now, albeit with a bit more style and youthful good looks. It was taken around this same time of year, and is part of the first batch of photos from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s that I've now at least got on the computer, even if I haven't yet managed to get them onto my still-nascent website. Anyway, it's some small progress, as is the fact that I've actually succeeded in writing something on this blog again. I've resolved to try and do so just about every day from now on. Check back tomorrow and see how I'm doing.