June 13, 2017 (Tuesday)

by Yule Heibel on June 12, 2018

It’s testimony to how badly I felt yesterday that I could only manage two pages. The day did not improve. I didn’t rage or cry, or throw things, or get in my car and drive at top speed down the highway (congestion permitting), wondering if I should just run off the road, run away, run into obstacles like giant rocks and be done with it. None of that. I just sat at home, hiding.

I sat on the couch wondering about what to do, and realizing I felt like one of those dogs, those poor dogs acquired by idiot humans who think dogs are cats, one of those dogs who’s left alone in the house all day, and maybe spends a few hours of that time howling into the air, the fetid, stale air, when what he really wants is stimulation, air from out of doors, companionship, packdom. In spite of my dog having a bit of the lone wolf in his nature, it’s not the loneliness of a well-appointed house he seeks.

My dog nature – and it’s a male nature I feel very deeply and very much right into my bones – is thwarted here. It’s thwarted by the climate: yesterday again was stinking, brutally hot – brutta, as in ugly – and I am neither an Englishman nor a mad dog, so I stayed inside. In winter, the extremes of icy winds going full blast also dampen the dog, although not as much as summer’s extreme heat and humidity. The sadness of winter here is in its sheer length, its ongoingness, to the point that you think nothing will ever again revive. It’s all dead, death all around, and you have to live with it. Climate – or weather, I should say – as a war zone.

A dog needs things for his nose, and extreme cold kills smells, too. My dog is thus thwarted by the climate, and as he ages, he sees more clearly – smells it! – just how short the good times are. An exceptionally brief awakening before summer springs ferociously on us; a longer autumn, true, but it really is Fall, a fall, before we lie once again for endless months in winter’s icy ditch.

So, climate.

Next, land use, spatial layout, urban development: they (and they’re all kind of all of one thing) get a big “F.” Land use, spatial layout, urban development conspire to separate people, drive up prices, drive people ever further out (a centrifugal force, in other words), and drive them to drive. Coupled with the famously clipped New England personality, which disposes people to a veneer of unfriendliness and disinterest (especially when annoyed, say, for example by the weather or the traffic – caused by all that damn driving), this means it’s necessary to make dates, appointments, for any and all social interactions one might hope could occur outside of work or school. If, like me, you don’t have a job (and I’ll remind myself here that, unlike Victoria, I couldn’t even get a volunteer gig, say, at PEM, which wouldn’t even have been remotely comparable to the brilliant volunteer work at the CRD’s Arts Advisory Council), or you’re not going to school, nor have a kid in school (which creates that parent network), any and all social arrangements have to be scripted in advance. For a dog, this is highly unsatisfactory.

Imagine your dog dutifully trotting down the hill to meet one friend at one place at one preappointed time for a prearranged hour of time (the time is always scheduled with an end, too: it’s like a doctor’s appointment). Anything could happen! NOT.

Actually, the exact same thing happens every time at these prescheduled “dates.” No variations. Predictable. Your dog likes a certain amount of predictability, but your dog craves news and experiences, too. Your dog also craves locomotion. Sitting down for coffee for an hour, forcing the yips and yaps from his throat – it makes your dog feel like he’s talking to a cat.

He goes home, he stays home, and quietly howls into the air.

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