Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Doldrums

Not only people get the doldrums...
I am preparing for the doldrums. They usually arrive sometime in January and, based on the hollow stare that greeted me in the mirror this morning and the halting waddle that transported me down the stairs, I'd say they're right on time.

We'll all agree that the months before the holidays are, if we're lucky, pleasantly busy. For me, the fall and early winter have always been productive. Not having grown up with air-conditioning, my mother and I would emerge from the heat of summer and welcome the cooler months with great happiness. We'd get busy--school for me, creative spurts for her that yielded paintings,, the cooking

Right after Labor Day, she and my grandmother would simultaneously awaken from their malaise and nearly trample each other on the way to the kitchen (getting stuck in the door frame like the Three Stooges) and fight to use the pots, pans and baking trays. Summer's specialties--typically rich, cold Hungarian soups with creamy sour bases, full of beans or fruit--didn't require much stove-time. In fact, everyone in un-airconditioned Boro Park, Brooklyn seemed to awaken from the listlessness of summer and start bustling about. I loved it.

After the arrival of the new year, things quiet down. For me, back then, I'd hunker down with my schoolwork. Now, I hunker down with extra pounds and a bad attitude--anticipating a quiet stretch of gray skies and quiet rooms. Tom has already left---leaving a void and a messy room behind. Charlie leaves tomorrow. His absence will ensure that the silence will be broken only by the sounds of cats scratching around in litter boxes and me asking them why they must attempt to tunnel to China every time they need to go poo poo.

Tom leaves behind a gentle mess. I'm in and out of there in an hour after making the bed, tossing a few things into the laundry and standing to gaze out the window until the cyclical need for carbs (every half  hour or so, right?) rouses me. Charlie's room is epic. During the month off, he reminds me of his high standards for being a slob: never close a drawer, never put anything into a hamper, never take a used dish into the kitchen, fall asleep under mountains of clothing so that he cannot be seen in the room until search parties are sent in. Donning a reflective vest and tethering myself to a kitchen chair, I will attempt, often unsuccessfully, to locate him amidst the debris. When he lived at home, he would have periodic spells of the need for neat. In roughly twenty minutes, he would whirl about--shoving all his clothes, clean and dirty, into the hamper (therefore rendering them ALL dirty) and all his books and papers into his desk...all the while listening to music at top volume. We  received noise complaints from as far away as New Zealand.  How I miss those days.

I will try to make use of the post-holiday quiet. I will write, putter, have my jaws wired shut so I can fit into my spring clothes and hound the boys with emails and cards with sad kittens or puppies on the front. Soon my birthday will arrive, which is a temporary break from the blahs, replacing them with panic, horror and several trips to CVS where I purchase items that promise to erase fine lines and restore the elasticity to my skin. Using them for a few hopeful weeks, they will soon join their predecessors on a shelf reserved for crap that doesn't work.

Well, it's time for carbs again....doldrums, here I come.
Charlie, right before getting swallowed by his room.

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