Churchill’s Dog

You using that leg?

You using that leg?

“That terrible mood of depression of whether it’s any good or not is what is known as The Artist’s Reward.” –Ernest Hemingway

Churchill’s “Black Dog” is sniffing around my leg again. He’s not hanging around to hump it or piss on it. He’s waiting for me to be done using it. Then, he’ll pick it dry and clear the bone of marrow. Who knows what next, but my liver is well preserved so–if he’s smart–he’ll go for the heart. It’s not getting any softer, dog.
In the past, I would’ve kept this a secret for a while. On account of my shame. I’d have driven myself crazy imagining people drawing a corollary, or even worse, the direct cause of my depression being my recent religious conversion to: godless heretical heathen, or–what I call: reasonable seeker (6 of one and all that rot). I spent the bulk of my thirties both worshiping the son of god and being profoundly depressed. I medicated with prayer, pills, and lots of sweet, sweet booze. Nothing worked. And maybe the cocktail was to blame. But I’ve neither the time nor patience for armchair shrinkery. I probably have the time. But: time sans patience is a cruel trick.
It’s been a while since the dog has tracked me so tenaciously. I’m still mourning the loss of Kauai in a strange way. I don’t harbor the delusion that I could get back what I had when last there. But I haven’t felt “at home” since I got back to The Evergreen State. We were squatting at a friend’s old house and now we are house-sitting for another friend until this spring upcoming. The house is beautiful and I’ve always felt comfortable here, but it’s weirdly unsettling. Like playing house–with hubris. I have a new job. I think I can say without fear of hyperbole: I fucking hate it. And mayhaps that’s the crux of it all. With one caveat, I fear leaving this job will give me no reason to get up…no goal to employ the “one foot in front of the other” trudgery which is a wickedly effective salve to the soul. I’m too close to chance it.
The job is as Sisyphean as any I’ve had. I run a front-end loader around a rock quarry, digging out of various piles of rock. I then take those scoops of rock up a hill and dump them into a feeder that services a rock crusher. I am literally pushing rocks up a hill. I will grant you: it isn’t the same rock over and over again. But in a freezing December down pour when the entire quarry turns slick and purple–like animal husbandry–it is impossible to distinguish one rock from the other. At least from where I sit.
Worse still, is the complete lack of imagination shared by almost every one of my colleagues. Good conversation is a welcomed oasis. But it is every bit as deep and engaging as a mirage. I am a pretentious asshole. I own that part without loss of sleep (usually). I whittle the hours of my life there listening to podcasts and engaging in tumultuous inner-dialogue.
I work really hard to not carry that frustration home with me. But it is impossible. On good days I’m disengaged from the rest of the house. But on days when I am engaged I vacillate wildly between lashings-out and sullen apologies. And none of it feels real. It is all forgotten by the next morning. I wake up with a vague sense of failure behind me and more rocks and hills in front. Kristy has been my hero through it all. I nearly lost her.
I had come to fear that our trust was beyond repair. I was wrong. A definitive stance on such a topic when both bodies are breathing and willing is almost always: premature. But I’m no marriage counselor…you do what you like. I had a couple of friends do their best to help through that situation. I appreciated their help, but–in the end–I had to weigh the loss. There is no easy way to sum up twenty plus years of life. It becomes a gut thing at that point. Thank god for small miracles. Whatever that means.
I can say that there was one standout text that I received during that time. That time when I was scared and confused about what the right decision was for the future of myself and my family, whom I love. And I am aware that there are those among you who feel as strongly as anything that there is no confusion to be had in the face of such a decision, to you I say: I envy your self-assurance…I’ve never had it. But this text was as succinct as it was dismissive. It read: “I heard the news; disappointed man”. That may not be an exact quote, but it contains the exact sentiments from the text which originated 2-sometimes-3 time zones west of Bremerton. One: the qualification of “the news”, he hadn’t heard it from me, I’m not sure how many sources he’d consulted, but–nevertheless– it was “the news”. And Two: disappointment, the bastard-child of outright condemnation. The term: “disappointed” carries not the authority of its unavailable father, but it knows how to appease its father without over-stepping its bounds. “I lack the authority to condemn you, but good luck trying to parse the difference within the distinction, asshole”. Message received.
I had hoped to end this post with an heroic assertion: “Fuck it, I’m quitting my job!”…that’s not happening. As I write these final words, it is 8pm on a Sunday night and I’m staring down the barrel of a dismal, albeit short, but dismal week…shortish: half- day on Wednesday–that’s Christmas Eve. Santa’s Birthday I get off, that’s Thursday. But then I work all day Friday and 6hrs on Saturday. So–yeah–shit-storm week. With no end in sight. But, after talking to my friend Matt, I realized that my job is not the problem. It is not the solution. But neither is quitting said. The problem is adjustment…I’m not adjusting well, and quitting my job would be useless and reactionary. I have no problem with being reactionary. But I despise being useless.
And to the dog: find another leg, motherfucker. I’m still using this one…

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