Summer Stock

I know I’ve neglected my blog lately, but didn’t realize it had gotten quite so dusty over here. What’s up with that, you wonder? Damned if I know.

I think I have the summertime version of SAD. There’s light therapy for wintertime sufferers, but what’s available to those who are depressed by summer? Do I need to find a sympathetic grocery manager who will let me spend an hour every day shivering in the walk-in freezer? I’m so tempted.

This summer has been tedious and uninspiring and depressing. For many reasons. The economy is battered and sulking, politicians are mired in dramatics and self-interest, it’s hot outside, the day job is exhausting and unrewarding, friends and family members are sick or dying, it’s hot AND humid outside, publishing is full of uncertainty and overwhelming choices, and Mother Nature seems to have lost her damn mind. And that’s just stuff in this country.

The day after the earthquake in Virginia, this is what I encountered on my drive to work. It seemed symbolic, a physical manifestation of everything that is just WRONG lately.

That’s one of the bridges over the little creek that meanders through my neighbourhood. The city’s website says they found structural damage and that it’s not related to the earthquake. Probably they discovered it because they were out checking all the bridges the next day. Just in case.

Here’s what it looks like from the other side, on the drive home:

I’m sure you’re wondering why I would even BE on the other side, seeing as how I KNOW THE FREAKING ROAD IS CLOSED. Heh. You’d think I could remember this simple thing and go the other way. But no, several times a week, both coming and going, my mind is elsewhere and I have to turn around.

I was venting about all this, yes ALL of it, in a phone call with my older sister a few days ago. But you know how it is when you’re complaining to someone and just letting it all out and you realize that rather than agreeing and making sympathetic noises the other person is growing increasingly concerned about you and so then you start downplaying your own complaints because you don’t want that person to worry or stage an intervention or tell your mother and get her all upset? Yeah. That.

So I started backpedalling and saying things like, “But you know, it’s really not that bad.” And, “It’s not as if any of this is new. You know, just the same old stuff.” Sigh.

A man’s as miserable as he thinks he is. ~Seneca

Yes, I was placating her, but it’s true. The economy has been bad before and will recover and get bad again. Politicians have always been . . . politicians. I’ve never expected the day job to enrich my soul or feed my muse, people get sick and recover or sometimes die and then we grieve, nothing is ever certain, choices are only scary until you make a decision, and natural disasters are actually fairly common.

And summer is summer is summer. It never fails to depress me, just as the cooler weather of autumn never fails to rejuvenate me.

Now, I’m not trying to make light of depression or suggest it can be shrugged off. It’s a devastating illness that usually requires professional treatment. But what I’m suffering from is more along the lines of allowing negativity to seep into my view of things. Something a friend calls A Big Old Case of the Poor Me’s.

You cannot prevent the birds of sadness from passing over your head, but you can prevent them from making nests in your hair. ~Confucius

Speaking of hair, I’m in desperate need of a haircut but have somehow convinced myself I don’t have the time or energy to make an appointment. That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. I’ve allowed my annual bout with “the summertime blues” to join forces with my natural laziness and talent for procrastination. I’m perilously close to agreeing with Roger Daltry that “there ain’t no cure.”

So I’m calling myself out. There are things over which I do retain control and I’ve been letting them all slide. No, you do not need to see a list, that’s just embarrassing. But I do. So I’m making one. I’m going to stop focusing on all the negative crap in the world over which I have no control and focus on the positive. The things I can do something about, that I can cross off with big bold marks and say, “I DID THAT.”

The most important item on that list? I’m going to stop telling myself I’m too tired or too hot or too overwhelmed, too fucking enervated by summer, too uninspired and boring and talentless to write. And get back to it. Because, taking stock of this summer, the writing is what has suffered most. Well, that and my hair.

Anyone else feel like they need a swift kick in the rear? What’s on your list?


Filed under creativity, health and well-being, writing

10 responses to “Summer Stock

  1. Has your weather shifted toward fall yet? Maybe that’s what’s helped me the most–no more 90s.

    For me the bad zone, for a variety of reasons, is the month around back to school. And then this year it just . . . wasn’t. Summer was more disrupted than usual, so better in the contrast? I’m finally moving on? The kids actually transitioned back to school more smoothly than they ever have? I still feel like I could use 10 hours of sleep many nights, but it’s not the same grit-my-teeth-and-hang-on zone it’s been.

    So I’ll bounce right in to my writing fall, right? 😉


  2. Adrienne

    Hello, my name is Adrienne, and I’m a tired, overworked, sometimes cynical, sometimes cranky, (sometimes both at the same time…yikes!) perpetual procrastinator. That is a deadly combination, just ask the ever-expanding pile of dirty laundry. Or the clean pile that has yet to be folded. Or my WIP.
    If I’ve learned one thing, it is that the world is a bitch. I’ve had to stop watching so much news because it just makes me mad. I also have to limit how much reading I do about craft because, you guessed it, it makes me feel like a crappy writer. Am I crappy? Well, I don’t really know because I haven’t put my work out there yet. (I have some comma issues, but that’s a comment for another post.) But I know that if I allow myself to think that I’m crappy, I won’t get any writing done, and I’ll never really know.
    I guess my point is that I’ve had to teach myself how to filter what I can and to deal with everything else in stride. Like the laundry. It won’t hurt anybody if it sits for a day. Or five. Or whatever.
    I’m right there with you on the Mother Nature part and the dealing with sick loved ones part. I hope everything gets better for you soon.
    Oh, and get a little Skarsgard in your life. It’ll work wonders!


  3. Ann, we’ve shifted in the respect that we no longer seem to have 100s. But we have at least another month of summer down here, regardless of what the calendar says. I think a big part of my problem is that my internal thermostat has never forgiven me for moving away from Minnesota. The last year we lived in south FL, I had to turn on the air conditioning in FEBRUARY. And then I sat down and wept. Guess I should be glad I’m well north of there these days. And yes, I have a feeling all of us will be vastly more productive in the coming months!

    Y’know, Adrienne, I’m all those things too (and I secretly wonder about the sanity of women who say they’re not). And most of the year, I can handle whatever life throws at me. But summer? Summer adds a layer of sludge and despondency and this year it seems to have hit me harder than ever.

    I don’t worry so much that my writing is crappy, but that I haven’t done my best. And the more I learn about writing and how we’re “supposed” to do it, the more I’m driven to do it “right.” I can handle criticism (my dad was an English teacher; I cut my teeth on being critiqued). I can handle people being unimpressed with or not liking what I write. To each his own. I’m not so good with the thought that I haven’t learned enough to give it my best effort. So yeah, I have to filter all the “helpful” writing/publishing articles too. Sometimes knowledge just screws up the story that needs to be told.


  4. Adrienne

    Sending cool, crisp, pumpkin pie-scented thoughts your way! Yum. Pie. Think I need to go bake something.


  5. McB

    You’ve been away from Minnesota too long. But I know what you mean. I’ve been sitting here this morning feeling glum for many reasons. I need to get myself moving and do something, anything. Glum is not my natural state and I don’t like who I am when I let it happen. Okay, I’m officially going to move my behind and accomplish something just so I can say “It wasn’t a total waste, I did *that*.”


  6. I’ve pretty much stopped watching the news. When I get a job, then I’ll let it depress me again. Frankly, even when I was employed the job was so awful that it didn’t take much to make me feel sad.
    I think writing would help with the sad feeling, because writing is the work that you are meant to do; it’s something you’re good at. What you do to pay the bills is not fulfilling, but writing is.
    I don’t think I could stand living in Florida in the summer. Even Oregon is too damned hot in the summer. Spoke to my mother yesterday; she had the heater on. I think I need to move back to SF.


  7. Good for you, McB. And you’re right, you are one of the least glum people I know.

    Merry, I’ve stopped watching a lot of the news too. Hard to avoid it completely. And yes, writing is fulfilling (once it’s done). But this summer, it seems everything I’ve written is “off” somehow. I’ve started and deleted several blog posts and there a couple big scenes in the ms that need revision and I’m almost afraid to mess with them. Maybe it’s just my perception that’s off. Maybe it’s almost time for delta readers.

    Oregon is hot? Does it ever get above 85 degrees there?


  8. I am so there with you with the summer blues! I’m usually ok with summer, but somewhere around our 39th straight day of temps over 100 I just lost it. It does get depressing! I kept telling myself it’s a lot better than snow…at least I could leave the house if I wanted to. But who wants to when it feels like walking into an oven?! I have to admit even that 2 feet of snow is sounding pretty good right now. Don’t quote me on that in the winter though lol.

    Adrienne, you are not alone. I have a comma deficiency too! All my editor friends cringe when I send them things to proof. I wonder if there is a 12 step program or something.


  9. We were breaking records in JUNE for days over 100. I’d much rather have snow!


  10. I’m not looking forward to snow. It gets bad out here. Even when it isn’t coming down, it’s drifting into the driveway, requiring frequent plowing. (quarter of a mile of gravel drive with no wind break, brrrr) Last winter gave me severe cabin fever. I’m starting a new job next week and I’m already worrying about the snow. At least The Boy is back to school. I can work on my writing easier.