Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My Subconscious Desires Are Retarded

So August is almost over, taking the summer with it.
I know, technically summer isn’t over for a couple of weeks, but even though I’ve been out of school for a long time I tend to measure summer’s end by whether or not school has started up.
In some places around here it started last week, mostly because the schools take so many snow days throughout the winter, so they end up starting early to make up for them.
While I am sad to see the summer go, I’m glad that all of the little monsters are back in kid prison for a while.
Of course, it’s not as though summer really means anything to me except for a lot of time spent sitting around not doing anything and sweating anyway.
When I was younger I loved the summer, but that was mostly because I hated being in school, though back in those days I did at least do some stuff in the summer. I spent a lot of time in the water
Easy access to a body of water was one of the benefits – in fact probably the only one – of growing up in a town called Twin Lakes.
These days I pretty much never swim.
My condo complex has a pool, but meh. I’m sure the water consists mostly of kid piss.
At my old place I used the pool once. They had a lifeguard on duty, and as I was the only person there swimming it kind of ended up feeling like that SNL sketch with Jim Carrey as the hot tub lifeguard, so I never went in the pool again.
I suppose that if I felt ambitious I could drive out to some beach on the ocean, but what are the odds of me feeling ambitious?
So really I guess what I’m saying is, “Screw summer.”
Honestly, as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to feel more of an affinity for autumn, though I have to say that I haven’t been impressed by autumn out here. For one thing, there isn’t nearly enough foliage to provide anything like the spectacular color show they get back home.
For another, it tends to stay a little too warm a little too long. I mean, we might very well have 70 degree weather well into December.
That’s not entirely a complaint, but autumn isn’t quite autumn without that chill in the air that hints at the coming of winter.
At least it does get cool at night, wich is one of the things that appeals to me about autumn: warm days and cool nights.
Of course, back home autumn generally lasts like a week and then winter starts, so I suppose can’t complain too much about it not being like home.
Speaking of winter, and by winter I mean real winter, with weeks on end of sub-zero temperatures, the kind of cold that makes it hurt to breathe and makes ice crystals form everywhere so that at night the light from the moon makes everything sparkle like diamonds, there seems to be some part of my subconscious, some deeply-buried part hidden off in some dark recess, some dark, retarded recess, that actually misses winter.
And again, I mean real winter, not the pussy bullshit that people think is winter out here.
The thing is, I hate winter, real or otherwise.
Oh sure, there can be a kind of stark, desolate beauty to it as the world is blanketed in white, but that’s not enough to make me miss having my nose hairs turn into razor sharp frozen blades as soon as I take a breath, or losing all feeling in my extremities. And that’s to say nothing about having to deal with driving through all of that white shit.
And yet, I keep dreaming about winter and having images of winter (mostly moonlight shining on a field of snow), and memories of winters past keep popping up, and buried somewhere in there under all of that waist-deep snow is a sense of – there’s really no other word for it – longing.
WTF? I mean, as I said, I hate winter.
I suppose that what’s at the root of it is the fact that I’m reading a book (rereading actually; the book is American Gods) in which much of the action, at the point I’m at in the book, is taking place during the winter in a town that’s very near to my (original) neck of the woods, and the author (Neil Gaiman) is very deftly and vividly describing the kind of winter that I grew up with and I guess there’s some part of me – some demented and retarded part – that is responding to the familiarity of it all.
On passage in particular stood out for me, in which we find our protagonist about halfway into a twenty minute walk on the day after Christmas:

He kept walking, revising his estimates of the temperature downward as he walked. Minus ten? Minus twenty? Minus forty, maybe, that strange point on the thermometer when Celsius and Fahrenheit say the same thing. Probably not that cold. But then there was the wind chill, and the wind was now hard and steady and continuous, blowing over the lake, coming down from the Arctic across Canada.
He remembered, enviously, the chemical hand- and foot-warmers. He wished he had them now.
Ten more minutes of walking, he guessed, and the bridge seemed no nearer. He was too cold to shiver. His eyes hurt. This was not simply cold: this was science fiction. This was a story set on the dark side of Mercury, back when they thought Mercury had a dark side. This was somewhere out on rocky Pluto, where the sun is just another star, shining only a little more brightly in the darkness. This, thought Shadow, is just a hair away from the places where air comes in buckets and pours just like beer.

And that’s what I’m missing? Again, WTF?
Reading this particular passage I was reminded of winter nights spent staggering home from the bar, walking against a wind so strong that I could almost lean into it and let it support my entire weight as it hurled dry, brittle flakes of snow that scraped across my face and made me feel like I was being sandblasted, and, insulated against the cold by a potent combination of beer and self-destructive stupidity, I would laugh and say, “Is that the best you can do?”
Anyway, of all the things that I could feel homesick about, I would have thought that winter would be the very last of them.
Oh well.
Today I decided that I really should venture out into the world, and so I headed out to Super Target to pick up a few things to make an early lunch and to grab some snacks for work.
Not much of interest happened there. I did notice a rather large woman with a gratingly unpleasant voice browbeating someone on her cell phone, leading said someone to, evidently, hang up.
I’m guessing that either she was talking to a child or a spouse whom she treats like a child.
At some point later on as I walked past her again she had gotten reconnected and was saying, “You hung up on me; you’re lucky you’re not standing in front of me right now!”
Being unlucky enough to actually be standing in front of her myself, I couldn’t help but agree.
On the drive home some jackass in front of me hesitated at a green arrow that had just turned yellow, demonstrating that the adage is not complete: he who hesitates is lost…and so is the schmuck stuck in traffic behind him.
I was behind the guy the rest of the way home, as he was actually taking pretty much the same route I was, ultimately heading to a row of townhomes just past my place.
Along the way he ended up cutting me off when he got in front of me to turn off of 15, and as he was turning up my street and saw that I was as turning as well, I think he decided that I was following him, as he hauled ass and narrowly avoided an oncoming car in an effort to make the turn and get the hell away from me.
I thought that it was kind of cute that he was afraid of me.
If he only knew how unlikely I would be to put forth the effort it would take to act out on my road rage.
In any case, I suppose I should do my “penmanship drills” for the day, and maybe start on a picture that I’ll never be able to finish before I go to bed.


Merlin T Wizard said...

So have you driven Rte 7 west of Leesburg in Autumn? I also hear Shenendoah is amazing for colors. I can't imagine that Michigan is that much more amazing barring a healthy amount of nostalgia.

Heimdall said...

The advantage that Michigan has is that you don't really have to go anywhere; the colors are all around you because there are trees everywhere. Just look out your window and it's like something off of a postcard.
Sure, there are some places where it's more impressive than others, and you can drive to them, but you don't have to.

Merlin T Wizard said...

Ah, so it's a combination of beauty and lazy. I should have known.