April 4, 2017 (Tuesday)

by Yule Heibel on April 3, 2018

I have a card, a reprint of a New Yorker cartoon by P. Steiner of two dogs, unleashed and un-humaned, walking side by side down a sidewalk bordered by a white picket fence with the quintessential dormered and clapboarded Cape behind, a deciduous tree, a shrub, and a pine tree in the yard. The dog in front is scowling; he appears to be a Westie. He’s saying to his slightly larger and much darker friend, “It’s always ‘Sit,’ ‘Stay,’ ‘Heel’ – never ‘Think,’ ‘Innovate,’ ‘Be yourself.'” I bought this card at the bookstore downtown when it first opened. It made me laugh out loud. Since I now have a mailing address for A. in Berlin, I think I’ll send it to him for his birthday, which is soon. If I manage to get it out today, it should reach him in time.

The “if I manage” part is tricky since we are once again in the midst of stormy weather. Mercifully, it’s too warm for snow and ice this time, so it’s all just coming down as rain and much bluster. Oddly, I find myself minding this less than I minded yesterday’s anomalous insertion of “nice” weather, which had me feeling low and weary. Wary, too. It was “too” nice too suddenly, therefore not really nice. On Sunday there was still the change in the air, the trailing and sailing off the currents of Saturday’s storm, gone already by Sunday morning but leaving behind traces, little access routes (those currents) for us to find our way from it (the storm) to the new calm. There was sky scenery, in other words. It felt moving. But by yesterday (Monday), the new calm felt old, and mightily stuck, unmoving, and not in the least bit scenic. It felt like a portend of settled weather, of the kind of conditions I call “the lid,” as in a lid on a pot. And we all know what’s in that pot set to boil: the foolish little frog. It’s weather I don’t like – even though it was sunny and “pleasant.” It made me feel stuck, and consequently I was in one of my worst moods ever for much of the day. I wrote a couple of emails because I had to, and it was probably a mistake to do so because I couldn’t have sounded more sour, I’m sure. I Skyped with E. in the afternoon, then A. joined in. That was nice. I listened to a podcast (conversation with Chris Arnade) while I prepared dinner.

W. had been in Cambridge to meet this guy from [company] in the morning, and had gotten back (with me picking him up) in time for lunch. It interrupted my plans – I had spent the morning on laundry, cleaning, then exercise and yoga, and had wanted, by 11a.m., to take a long walk (in spite of feeling low) to clear my head and maybe return to my desk in the afternoon. But he called just then to say he’d take the 11:20 and would want to be picked up at the station. So I took a short walk through the cemetery instead, which wasn’t a great idea. First, I was dismayed about my options for a walk. Second, there was a large preparatory thing going on for an interment, and I saw a couple of freshly decorated headstones on kids’ graves (“Happy Birthday,” e.g.), which made me even sadder. All I could think was, “I don’t want to die here.” I suppose everyone lives vicariously to some extent, and sometimes things happen to make that vicariousness less durable – or rather, expose its fundamental ephemerality. W. having a career here means he has a sense of belonging, albeit not to B., but more so to Kendall Sq./MIT. And I have a vicarious sense of sharing that – very, very vicarious (and unreal). Now, unemployed, that false illusion is doubly shredded, for him and for me. He might get a job again, but my illusion stays illusory.

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