Friday, January 8, 2010
mid winter malaise
I’m over the head cold and laryngitis I suffered through most of last month. I am glad about having received my flu shot for the season. I am gradually making my way back to a routine of 3 long runs per week. And I generally like the wintry crisp air and the prospect of time off for a weekend getaway of snow tubing or skiing. But I need to refrain from whittling down my vacation days at least until February. So, if you were to ask me how I feel right now, my response will have to run a bit negative if I value staying within the confines of the honor system.
My truth is that I feel an eerie connection with the character of Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray as he struggles to break a time loop in the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day. The short days and cold bite of winter have transformed me into a creature of redundancy. The arctic air and wind chills which have blanketed New York and most of The United States for the past few weeks have chiseled me into a lethargic creature craving monotony. I am stuck on routines and my brain cells are frosty.
After being jolted awake each day by the dancing of my new cell phone’s vibrate option against the hardwood of my dresser I am ready for duty. I peer out my bedroom window to view the frozen lawns and the expanse of the now lifeless, leftover and weather worn Christmas decorations that no one on my block, including myself, has any desire to stow.
I plug in the coffee pot and the déjà vu begins. I start toward the porch, methodically reaching for the hook that holds my coat and hat. I need to venture out and retrieve the morning paper from the withering basket of holly below the stoop. While outside, I dust snow off my car and warm up my wife’s SUV, as she has a longer commute and is the first in our family to get underway.
My son is in on the repetition as well. At 8am we simultaneously zip our coats, don our hats and reach for our gloves. He wears the school backpack and I carry the lunch. We walk along with frozen noses, whistling and engaging in chitchat over whose freezing breath is more visible. As we approach our last intersection, the position of the crossing guard triggers the day’s strongest allusion that I have landed in the shadow of Punxsutawney Phil. ‘Have a nice day’ we chirp and wave, passing her by, with her white hoodie up and her body planted between the exact same lines as she stood yesterday in the painted crosswalk.
Once on the go myself, I make an automatic stop at the corner delicatessen. As if ready for me upon sight, the owner puts together my buttered roll and coffee-decaf, dark and no sugar. As a sales rep I am on the road much of the day. My schedule has become bogged down by the need for an hourly stop to pick up hot tea at the nearest 7 Eleven or coffee shop. I sit in my car and use their parking lots as an outpost to make phone calls and respond to e-mails as the day proceeds.
Unknown as to why, I have become addicted to eating a brown bagged apple before lunch. I then follow with a sandwich-usually fish or chicken. Green tea is my other slight but welcomed variation. Once back on the streets, I intermittently listen to the news reports on my car radio as I drive. I jot down notes hoping to formulate my ideas later on when I get home. I begin tossing Post-it notes at a growing pile of musings.
As the hours pass and the end of my work day starts to draw near, I find a Chinese take-out restaurant and I switch from hot tea to wonton soup helping me bridge my appetite from my last appointments to home. As I take this final break, I become aware that I have no place left on my dashboard to post and so I begin to read my scribbled forethought's. I am left wondering if Yemen is on a watch list. Is Cuba off the watch list? Is Joan Rivers under surveillance? Have the repair crews fixed the surveillance cameras at Newark International Airport yet? Will our airports be first in line to receive full body scanners, or have the NBA locker rooms been given priority clearance? What crisis will Jack Bauer foil this year, and will my cable provider allow me to view it on FOX? Will health care reform get enacted, or should I proceed to the nearest terminal B for my annual physical? Should I wear boxers or designer briefs for my next flight?
I leave the unanswered thoughts on my console like an unsolved crossword puzzle. I have fallen victim to a global contagion and I cannot connect the dots.
Sometime shortly after 8pm, I pull into my driveway. I step over the emaciated holly and enter through the front door. I greet my love of 27 years with a kiss. I study her facial lines ever more carefully now. My timeline for going berserk from recurrent dreariness is becoming narrow. I fear not being able to indulge my late night cravings and sustain a supply of Mallomars that will last until spring. My current box is due to expire on January 19th. I need change soon.
I hold out hope that a chance NFL playoff win by the NY JETS, after a long hiatus will snap me into a new day. Otherwise, quite soon, I may need to test my facial recognition skills and render my dearest with a flattering ice sculpture at midnight as a way to reveal a new me and a new dawn.
For now though, I will apply a healthy dose of moisturizing lotion to my dried out hands, close my eyes and await the morning bell.
(c) 2010 Christopher's Views