Monday, July 6, 2020

Hazy Thoughts in the Summer Malaise

Too much on my mind

Summer, true summer is here now. Those days when it's so hot that I don't want to be outside despite the sunshine and when I feel constantly uncomfortable in the outdoor heat or in the unnatural air conditioned interior. The un-cooled interiors, which become unbearably stuffy, manage to bring in the worst of both worlds. Afternoons on days like this are to be endured, rather than enjoyed.

Today I had the depressing realization that I am already fantasizing about next summer, since this one is going to be a wash and the coming school year promises to be the most dangerous and difficult one yet. So much of my mental space this summer is taken up by the fall, both in terms of work I am doing for the school and in the constant churn of anxiety that dominates just about every waking hour of my day.

Even in the best of times summer brings a case of the blues. After the trench warfare of the school year, which demands every ounce of energy I can give, the indolence of summer is hard to handle. I end up with too much time on my hands and too much time spent at home. It allows my mind to wander to things I was too busy to think about during the school year. Memories of old fuckups and failures come dancing right into my consciousness, replaying humiliations and mistakes from decades ago.

This quarantine summer means being at home even more and even fewer outlets. I've tried to channel my energy into cooking, cleaning, and gardening, which has helped a little. The challenge of putting my mind at ease is harder this time around due to my constant worry about the state of the country. If I sit around long enough I just keep thinking about how the pandemic is getting worse after a hundred thousand people have died. I think about how a mass movement for racial equality has ended up with yet another culture war about statues. The economic situation is bad and I know plenty of people who have lost their jobs. At times like this I almost long to be one of those millions of vapid people so disengaged from the world to be troubled by it.

And yeah, I know it could be worse. I had a family member back home with the virus but they're fine now. As tough as my job will be next year, at least I still have one. It's been good to have all this time with my wife and kids. I was able to go out to Pennsylvania last week and see two old and very dear friends and kayak on a lake, play cards, grill meat, and drink whiskey. Music has been an important consolation, as always. It's amazing how much great new music is out there right now. Be that as it may, no song is really speaking to me as much right now as a golden chestnut by The Kinks, "Too Much On My Mind."

All I want right now is something to look forward to. I have no clue when that will ever be the case again.

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