Those who know me well know that my mood swings perilously downward during this time of year, and it's not at all a pretty sight. In the past, I have tried to explain it away by vague references to "seasonal affective disorder", a technique that no longer works now that there's a real disease by that name, with real symptoms and everything. Besides that, there's that perverse Oklahoma weather: the coldest day of the year is likely to be one of the sunniest, if only because the only thing keeping us warm lately has been the cloud cover.

Anyway, my particular sadness, whatever its chemical basis, is more pronounced in the winter because 1) I was born in late November and never quite recovered from that particular trauma, and 2) my financial situation has always been precarious, which means that I dare not observe the annual Pagan Buying Fest, and that any day I can't get to work because of road conditions is a severe blow to my alleged budget.

Actually, those should probably be 2) and 3) respectively. The real 1) has to do with our culture's perverse handling of family relationships, indifferent ten months out of the year and suddenly pumped full of artificial warmth for two. (Your mileage may vary, and I really hope it does.) Having always been somewhat disconnected from such things, I can usually get through the indifferent period with little damage, but the holidays bring on frustration, loneliness and despair, and the greatest of these is all three of them.

I mention this because I have been perhaps more affected this year than any since my divorce, and because what affects me inevitably affects anyone within earshot of me. Being around me during December and January is a decidedly unpleasant experience, and to those who must endure it — especially those who have actually gone out of their way to show me the occasional kindness — I apologize most sincerely. Come the spring, I should be somewhat less of a pain, at least until my vertigo flares up again.

The Vent

#34
23 December 1996

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