“It is this deep blankness is the real thing strange.
The more things happen to you the more you can't
Tell or remember even what they were.
“The contradictions cover such a range.
The talk would talk and go so far aslant.
You don't want madhouse and the whole thing there.”
- William Empson, Let it Go
More things keep happening to me. I’m sitting here in the madhouse trying to decide whether to enumerate my resolutions for the new year and/or decade, or to make my predictions about what mischief will happen next. Then again, perhaps, I’d do better to predict what won’t happen next year. Here goes.
DOB won’t remain on her feet through January. I foresee another fall in darkness, a midnight call, another rambling tale that begins with “I don’t know how this happened…” a trip to the ER, and too much hospital vending machine coffee.
TCG won’t exercise, walk, take any preventive measures to forestall his own mental and physical decline, and accordingly, the gathering dark will increasingly envelop him and threaten me.
UCC won’t make the cut to appear on my new favorite reality show: Hoarders. This is apparently a recognized clinical condition in which the hoarder turns to the accumulation of stuff as a means of clinging to happiness. Which actually, gives me an idea for a resolution. I hereby resolve to use the stuff I have before buying more stuff for the same purpose.
Whatever compassion I may have for the mentally ill, I find I have none for losers diagnosed as hoarders. I have the opposite condition: crumbs on the kitchen counter, clothing draped over doorknobs and even doors themselves, and the alluvial clutter accumulating on side tables and other flat surfaces. These things drive me crazier than I should be, faster than anyone should be driven.
One hoarder on a recent episode was found to have not one, but two dead cats buried beneath the 5,000 pounds of garbage stacked three feet high in every room. Flattened and mummified to resemble cat-shaped pancakes covered with cat hair. Please. I live with roommates that would soon become eligible for this show if it were not for my heroic – but ultimately doomed – efforts to throw out the trash slightly slower than it accumulates. Isn’t there a law of physics that decrees everything is returning to dust and mummified dead cats?
In fairness, it’s two to one here in the Fortress of Attitude. As the inhabitant with the most compos in my mentis under this roof, I am the driver of the clown car that is our lives, struggling to keep this freak show on the road, veering more precariously toward the abyss on either side of the mountain of our collective lives. Picture that early Disney cartoon in which Mickey and Goofy are driving a car pulling an airstreamish trailer.
I think as we age, darkness at the edge of our vision creeps slowly in, narrowing the focus of our thoughts the same way that twilight shadows gather at the end of day, narrowing our vision into a gathering darkness. We can’t think as fast, or as broadly as we did in youth. Our awareness shrinks to exclude first the “complicated” plots of Law & Order episodes, then our ability to distinguish between actual “news” on TV and the garbage that spews from the talking heads purporting to be “opinion.” Next, we can’t distinguish between news and infomercials for exercise equipment, or Big Pharma ads for the latest prescription drugs to cure us of invented diseases like restless mouth syndrome. We have to have things explained at least twice. We gradually lose the ability to pursue imaginative flights of creative and interesting fancy to such heights as those we scaled with youthful energy and vision. In the end, our universe shrinks to fit the surface of our own bodies like a loose fuzzy bathrobe: we lose all sense of charm, ability to make pleasant conversation, all consideration, grace, not to mention habits of personal hygiene and polite table manners.
Eventually, we can’t talk or even remember what happened. We talk aslant, we contradict, misremember, and are overtaken by blind paranoia. We are reduced to the status of roommates in the same madhouse. So, happy new decade everybody. Let this decade go.