|THE HEAT HAS COME AND GONE AND COME AGAIN. It's a nice
year for tomatoes -- the cherry tomatoes on our deck are sweet, thin-skinned
and luscious -- but thanks to a plague of soybean aphids that swept over
the city from the farms to the north, the scarlet runners are stunted,
the leaves green but shrivelled at the edges. Two whole bean pods -- with
one bean each in them. That's all we have this year, after last year's
cool summer and bumper crop. Nature is mean and capricious. Never trust
I'VE BEEN FEELING LOW, LATELY. Well, let's not be mealy-mouthed about it -- I've been depressed, well and truly down in the dumps. I'm
better now -- I think -- but last week, the whole week, was a write-off.
The funny thing is that it seemed, like a winter cold, to have been going
It was a week where I couldn't seem to get anything done.
K. would leave in the morning and I'd pick up e-mail, poke around the web,
then collapse onto the couch, reading fitfully, wandering the apartment,
bugging the cats, talking to myself in a disjointed, mocking mumble. At
lunch, I'd slice some turkey kolbassa into some toast with mustard, maybe
have a beer, walk around the deck inspecting the plants, then collapse
back down onto the couch. A few pages into my book (a biography
of Sergio Leone, Luigi Barzini's The
Italians, a hardback
novel I bought based on a New Yorker review) my head would droop
and I'd nap for an hour or two.
I'd wake up with the phone, or the doorbell, or when a
cat (Tado, naturally) knocked something over. My head would be hot, a headache
brewing, under the reading lamp, my shirt soaked with sweat, pooling on
my back. Swinging my legs onto the carpet, I'd slap them to get them awake
again, and limp to the bathroom. A quick pee, some water on my face, then
another wander around the apartment, past the sleeping cats.
If I was just killing time, procrastinating on a deadline
job, I'd have probably been downstairs, watching the t.v., or checking
out the local hardware stores, pricing wood for the bookshelf I have to
build. This was different. I really don't have a deadline at the moment,
or much coming down the pike, work-wise. Sure, one paper I work for has
five or six book reviews on hold, but they've had most of them all year,
and won't pay till -- that's if -- they run. I'm not hopeful. I'm labouring
on a pitch for a new "neighbourhood" feature, but with my editor going
on vacation this week, there's no pressure. There's another piece, but
I have to interview city bureaucrats, and it's August -- tradition vacation
time -- and no one is in the office.
I'm broke and I'm panicky and maybe that's why I'm depressed.
I can recognize the signs; the faint whine of anxiety in the back of my
head, the pressure on my chest when I lie down, like a fat pole is pushing
me into place, like a bug on a specimen tray. My feet are heavy and my
limbs are sluggish; even my thoughts, thick and dull and repetitive, are
lethargic. I keep skipping the gym, unable to summon the energy to leave
the house, nevermind spend a couple of hours pushing and sweating in place.