Wednesday, February 4, 2004

"The Curse Has Come Upon Me...

...cried the Lady of Shalott." Good old Tennyson, always the right phrase. One might wonder at the sudden recourse to Romantic poetry, but I am trying to recover my elitist composure after those last two bouts with pop culture. Besides, I'm suffering from two or three curses myself at the moment, and the sorrows of the fairy lady with her mirror and her web and her Lancelot issues are exactly the company my misery loves.

So here it is February, time for my Antevernal Depression to take up it's usual stand. Trouble is, I haven't had any clear sensation of my Anteautumnal Depression ever leaving. It seems to me that, barring the occasional manic episode, my depression cycles are now consistently below the "normal" line. I've felt kind of low for a quite a while now, detached and listless so much of the time. I'm not excited about anything, and I don't seem to be enjoying things as much as I used to. Everything seems such an unnecessary effort.

On the one hand, it might be that I'm simply not living my life right, that I am suffering from wrong choices, and that I need to make some changes to regain my old happiness. On the other hand, perhaps the time for medication is closer than I had hoped. It's a good thing I'll be getting health benefits pretty soon... maybe therapy and antidepressants will be covered, or at least comfortably discounted.

Adding insult to injury, I seem to have come down with yet another cold, making a grand total of three this winter (not counting the stomach flu I also had). It may just be allergies making me feel congested, exacerbated by the depression making me feel tired, and a certain temper-tantrum I had yesterday making me achy; but I catch colds far too easily, so a cold is the more likely explanation.

I don't know for sure if it has anything to do with the fact that I'm short a lymph node in my head, the one under my chin having been removed after it was infected with tuberculosis from a cat-scratch on my neck; but whether or not it's that cat's fault I catch colds so easily, I still blame the entire species Felis silvestris catus whenever I get sick. The original cat has been dead quite some time, and the animosity has to go somewhere. I don't care much for cats anyway (some say because I am too like them), so they make a convenient scapegoat.

And speaking of animosity... the meeting between myself and my boss and our bookkeeper, to which I was looking forward with great hopes, surprisingly blew up in my face. Well, maybe that's putting it wrong: things did not go as I had hoped or even intended, but the only thing that "blew up" was me. Or as close as I get to blowing up, with a fury of verbal screaming and physical throttling strenuously supressed beneath the surface, betrayed only slightly by my clenched-up body language as I hastily left the room and took a long walk instead of killing the bookkeeper with my bare hands (to be completely accurate, though, my hands weren't bare, I was in fact wearing a rather chunky square-cut ring that would have left a very satisfying mark on the bookkeeper's smug asshole face).

As I wrote last week, I have been doing a lot of the bookkeeper's job (specifically writing checks, paying bills, and filing invoices) for the last year; what's more, I have done it badly, being constitutionally incapable of dealing with money, either my own or others'. What he has been doing is "monitoring" the check registers and payroll and reconciling the bank statements (for which I have to fax to him all of the check registers, payroll reports, and bank statements, often more than once); he is also supposed to print up monthly reports for the executive body, which he sometimes does do and sometimes does not. For his "labors" he receives about $165 a week, on the assumption of three hours' work. For my labors I receive nothing except the pleasure of trying to squeeze these extra duties into my already overloaded roster.

This is what we had hoped to change at this meeting: it was planned as a briefing to explain to the bookkeeper the importance of having one person performing all of the interrelated bookkeeping tasks, the importance of having somebody besides me doing said tasks, and finally how to do the tasks that were now being placed on his plate. Before I even got started into the why, much less the how, he started hemming and hawing a good deal, being the sort of person who invariably enshrouds his meanings in yards and yards of bullshit; the general thrust of his speech was that he had no intention of doing any more work than he was already doing and that we couldn't make him. His solution to our bookkeeping problem was that I should improve my performance of his job, and he would not be moved from that position.

I think he should be summarily fired, insuburdination and incompetence being but the most obvious charges; but that would leave us without a bookkeeper of any kind, which my boss does not wish to do... it means we'd have to make a big fuss to the executive body, advertise the position again (last time we advertised it, nobody responded), as well as probably running new elections for the executive body seat that the bookkeeper currently occupies and might resign if he's fired as bookkeeper. I think the boss just wants to hold his breath and wait for May, when he retires and shakes the dust of this union from his shoes forever, leaving the situation to his successor to deal with. I of course don't know who his successor will be, but I do not hold out much hope that any successor will solve the problem to my satisfaction.

The current solution is that I am going to get paid double-time for two and a half hours a week to be spent exclusively on bookkeeping duties, which is still less than the hourly $55 the bookkeeper receives for his part of the work (which I could do easier than the part I am doing... I can "monitor" and print out reports right up there with the best of them). I am trying to focus on the positive of the extra money instead of the negative of the bookkeeper's intransigence, but it's hard to do. Righteous indignation is mixed with cloudy resentments (I hate having my weaknesses continually belabored) and severe disappointment in my boss, on top of depression and a head-cold, and so I'm having a hard time letting go of the anger.

But let go of it I will, eventually. And eventually I will get over my cold. Eventually my depression will pass or be cured or be medicated. All things pass eventually. It's just a matter of waiting them out. Waiting for things to pass gets tiring, though... almost as tiring as constantly working on them. I would rather the problems just get up and go on their own accord, right now, and leave me alone. But that is not among my choices. I can only either chip away at them or sit still and wait for them to pass on by.

In the meantime I shall think about the Lady of Shalott and wonder what, exactly, her "curse" was. I think it was unrequited love, but then I might just be projecting. I am much like the Lady, you know; I see life in a silver mirror (television and other media) and weave what I see into my web (my writings and musings), but I do not come down out of my tower... and I fear that if I do, in my flower-filled boat with my name written all around it, I'll die (or at least be hurt terribly) before I get to Camelot and the object of my desire with his broad clear brow and coal-black curls.

It's better than thinking about Miss Jackson's Tit, anyway.

I was going to post the lovely Burne-Jones painting portraying the climactic moment from "The Lady of Shalott," a favorite theme with the pre-Raphaelites, but I couldn't find a copy... so instead I give you my favorite beefcake painting from my favorite pre-Raphaelite, Federick Lord Leighton

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