In the January Slush

In the January Slush January 19, 2020

Friday night, I went to bed to the soft kiss of snow against the window. We’ve been having an abnormally warm winter, so I was pleased. I love the snow. But when I woke up, the snow was already being washed away by a thick, noisy freezing rain, halfway between water and ice. If clouds got runny noses, it would look as appealing as this weather.

It’s January. The Christmas lights are down. The winter gray is here– freezing rain congealing on top of thin snow on top of mud. The sky is the same gray as dirty ice, with no beauty anywhere, nothing to inspire.

The trouble with having no inspiration is there’s nothing to write about.

Well, that’s not true. There are plenty of topics going around the news. But being at home all day long makes my mind feel as gray and flat as the world outside, and it’s hard to write at anything like my normal speed. Besides that, the fibromyalgia is flaring a little in the winter chill, and that brings a tiredness and head fog. Michael does even more of the housework than usual in January. He cooks, meticulously but not artfully, mostly gluten-free noodles with browned hamburger and Ragu sauce from the value-sized jar because that’s what he knows how to do. I’m thankful for the help, but I wish I had the energy to cook something interesting.

Rosie is also bored. She’s passing the time before her after-school classes start up again at the end of the month by listening to hours and hours of The Boxcar Children audiobooks– and these are played through Scribd on my laptop, meaning I have Aimee Lilly’s spirited narration of mystery after dull, pedestrian mystery blasting at my face every time I sit down on the internet. I do not understand why Lilly decided to voice the little glutton Benny Alden in a scratchy goblin voice. That character did not need to be made more repulsive than he already was.

I was not raised on The Boxcar Children; I read the Baby-Sitters’ Club to get my share of badly written mass produced wood pulp. I have fond memories of The Baby-Sitters’ Club. I tried to tell Rosie that the two series are similar: weirdly obliging and helpful children with far too little adult supervision solving other people’s problems by meddling. But instead of describing bland meals in excruciating detail like The Boxcar Children does, The Baby-Sitters’ Club describes tacky outfits in excruciating detail. Rosie would like to listen to The Baby-Sitters’ Club, but Scribd only has The Boxcar Children. Hundreds of them.

The sheer breadth of the subject matter covered in The Boxcar Children puzzles me, as does how the ghost writers manage to make every single mystery take exactly the same amount of pages to solve and sound as commonplace and uninteresting as possible. In some books, the children investigate little mysteries such as who stole the flags at summer camp and who left the whipped cream out to spoil at the ice cream parlor. But there’s also a book, of equal length and equally bland writing, where the children seek out the saboteur who is trying to blow up their aunt’s uranium mine. It takes a certain type of writer to make the potential explosion of a uranium mine as dull as finding a bowl of spoiled whipped cream.

Bad writing blasted at my face for several hours a day, no color outside, nothing flavorful to eat, the ever-present tiredness and dull ache– it reminds me of C. S. Lewis’s vision of hell in The Great Divorce.

I wish there was something to do. Then I’d have something interesting to tell you about.

I wish it was easier to sleep at night and wake up during the day in the winter– Rosie, Michael and I all find it hard to sleep in January. Or rather, Rosie and I find it hard to sleep, so Michael stays awake in case I need anything, and then all three of us sleep in til noon and have only five hours of daylight, which makes the next night even worse.

I wish it would either be spring or winter, not a pile of slush that can’t decide.

Later this year or early next, I’m pretty sure I’ll finally have a car. This time next year, if the fibro allows, I’ll pack Rosie and Michael in and drive us an hour away to Pittsburgh. We’ll go to the Phipps conservatory and warm ourselves in a bright indoor jungle, admiring the koi fish– those fish are Rosie’s favorite part. We’ll go to a vigil Mass in Saint Paul’s Cathedral with that beautiful vaulted ceiling. We’ll buy dinner of a kind you can’t get in Steubenville unless you cook it yourself. Indian food, perhaps, or Thai. Some spicy and colorful meal that Benny from The Boxcar Children would turn down and ask for a wholesome grilled cheese. Food that doesn’t taste like January.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to when I should have been writing. This is just me checking to say that I’m sorry for the posts being so sparse. I’ll be back to my usual nonsense this week.

(Image via Pixabay)




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