Friday, December 19, 2003

I was in a foul mood most of yesterday, and it stuck with me overnight. Yesterday was our annual holiday lunch, so maybe it was the result of eating slimy stuffing alone at my desk. Or the evil corruption they served us in the guise of pumpkin pie. But I think it's more that Christmas is coming, when the little voices go up to eleven, talking about things I used to have, or, more to the point, who I used to be.

I remember tossing the bow saw in the car and driving north of town to cut a tree. I remember gleefulling fashioning a tree-topper from a stuffed cartoon reindeer. I remember ornaments, garland and lights. And laughing. Sweeping up pine needles and smiling at the smell.

A few nights back, I went into the neglected corner of the basement where the decorations sit in plastic tubs, labeled with masking tape in a woman's handwriting. There were spiderwebs and dust, and scattered bits of fiberglass insulation from where the cat would sit on top of them and tear at the basement ceiling. The tub in front was labeled "Large Ornaments" which I set aside, unopened. Inside, I knew, were the hallowed Hallmark ornaments, each meticulously boxed and bagged year after year, such a contrast to my own mental picture of a tree like my parents' covered with clumsy, child-made ornaments. The next tub said "Small Ornaments, Garlands and Lights", and that one I set on the dusty weight bench and opened. The garland I wanted was at the bottom, as were the electronic lights she'd hated for their high-tech, flashy crassness. Once upstairs, I wrapped the one around the other with the set jaw of a convict braiding a rope from his torn up sheets, and hung them on the mantle in defiance of my own mind.

My thoughts are so loud these days that I walked flat out into a display at the hardware store last night. So loud that I can't structure the data queries I need to do my job. So loud that the characters in my head are drowned out, and I'm left unable to write anyone but myself. The novel is languishing as a result, as is my resolution to keep plugging away at it. But the gifts are purchased, soon to be wrapped, and some of the baking is done. The fact that I spend at least two days a week wanting to punch someone is just collateral damage.

I feel like this is something I should try and solve, but it happens every year as the demands of friends, family, and the season tighten around me. I worry that the people I love will read this and try to give me space, but when I get like this, I prefer their company to my own, provided I take the time to take care of myself. The problem is that I too often don't, which is why I usually end up with a migraine right after Christmas.

I feel like I'm writing a half-dozen entries at once, but I'm not sure my brain is capable of being coherent just now. Which means, I guess, that this dijointed entry is actually a pretty good evocation of what it's like inside my head today.

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