Blue Monday, 2022
where I've been, where I'm going
Letter from Blue Monday
It’s been a while since I wrote anything. Well, anything that I’m not being paid to write. I’m sitting here on a national holiday, in the full gloom of January in Minnesota. It’s cold and cloudy and I’m bored and tired.
You can probably imagine, as you’re probably tired of the same types of things. Fill in your weariness with my weariness; it is all the same flavor of desperation and hassle. To enumerate it feels fruitless and also cruel. I want you to read to the end. I want you to feel better having read this. I want to feel better having written it.
So, Blue Monday was an advertiser’s idea. An cumulative concept based on the calendar. It never really took off as a real thing, though I sure as hell am feeling it today as a real thing. Supposedly, the factors into making the third Monday of January the worst day of the year were a combination of weather, distance to celebratory holidays, lack of money, lack of motivation. I learned about Blue Monday through research I did for one of my writing clients - national holidays and awareness weeks are big if you work in digital media - but have never ever used it in a campaign, as acknowledging depressive feelings feels inimical to a brand in some ways.
On this Blue Monday, I will share with you what’s been going on. This is counter to my instinct, as I tend to assume people don’t want to read lists of minutiae. That’s my self-deprecating side talking; it’s okay to make writing that’s just newsy. (Thanks, Therapy!) People used to do that all the time; it was called writing letters.
Anyway. I will temper my embarrassment about presuming your interest in my foibles by also inviting you to share yours with me, too. There. We are square.
What’s Been Going On
Marshall graduated from high school. We had a big yard party for him and zillion people came and it felt very hopeful and festive.
Marshall got a job. He works at this swanky boutique that sells $500 indie designer shoes. You’ve probably driven by it if you live in St. Paul. He also got his first tattoo. It’s Atlas holding up the world with the golden mean and some other stuff, on his forearm. Very cool.
Adrian also got a job. He works in our basement, doing project management for a medical device company. One of the devices is this gross thing involving veins and I can’t even talk about it. Sometimes we have lunch together. He has way more meetings than I have, with people in faraway time zones.
Pablo got dementia. Well, he already probably had dementia. What’s changed is that I don’t get up and tend to him when he’s having what we call his Night Barks. I was getting up every few hours until I realized that he’s barking at nothing, and no, he doesn’t need to go out. Also, now he only wants to eat wet canned dog food, which is extra gross.
Jelly is still his basic Jelly-self. Naughty, chubby, excellent. His main gross thing is that he will drink too much water after he eats and then he barfs everywhere. He doesn’t do that very often but often enough so that Marshall and Adrian and I are like, “Whatever, you big barfbag.”
Dogs, though fountains of love and comfort, are just super gross.
I still have my basic job of writing copy for marketing companies. I have three clients, and a rotating cast of weird things they pay me to make. It’s still amusing to me, to make money from taglines or whatever. What remains hard is adopting corporate jargon. I am stumped by it and consequently, all my communication sounds super emotional in comparison to others.
CARRIE: I’m glad we talked that through. I’ll get that made for you, just like you asked.
COWORKER: This was productive, Team. Good to align on the direction of that copy.
Also, I’m never using the word “learnings” or “learns.” I can’t believe that’s still going on. Is there some higher authority I can appeal to about this?
I haven’t written any fiction since last spring. I can’t bring myself to fret about that, as I have income streams at this point, so delivery payments aren’t the motivator they once were. But I don’t feel that bad about not writing. It’ll come when it comes.
That said, there are two fiction projects that I’m not working on. One is a young adult novel. The other is less clear as to genre. Maybe it’s women’s fiction? Who knows. I don’t know. What’s cool is I have an agent who tells me, “You write what feels good to you and I’ll figure out how to sell it.” Also cool? I have an editor who says, “But I like what you make” when I express my concern that nobody will ever want to read what I make. Dunno how I got both of those people in my corner, but they’re there and that’s good.
Read fewer books these past two years than usual. I don’t know why that is, really. Some of the books I read were difficult or longer than usual. And I haven’t read that much romance. Mostly I read nonfiction, same as last year.
Swimming laps really tanked this year for me. It’s been so hard to gauge when it’s “safe” to be breathing near strangers. Also, I was just too tired to haul my carcass out and establish the habit. Maybe when it’s warmer? Or when people get vaccinated more? I wish I could be more dedicated to this, as it truly does feel good to swim. But I gotta let it go. I am trying to uncouple swimming from the twin notions of health and guilt, which isn’t going to happen overnight.
We went to Puerto Rico this fall. It was humid and beautiful and also everyone wore a mask, everywhere, and asked for vaccine cards. I didn’t want to come home to Minnesota after that, where half of the world was expressing their liberty by letting COVID replicate and mutate. We toured the Bacardi distillery and it was fun, even though I think rum’s basically gross. Also, there’s “the good side” of Puerto Rico when it comes to the beach, and we were not on it. Next time I go, I’m going on the other side. But we had good pool time which served us well.
Christmas was lowkey this year, though probably more stress than it should be. For Christmas dinner, I made chicken mole, Mexican bean dip and tres leches cinnamon bread pudding. The mole slapped, though it was a pretty drawn-out process in producing it. The bread pudding was a flop. If you’ve ever eaten my Mexican bean dip, which is my friend Amy’s recipe, you know that shit slapped. I bought Mars a million things; it was perverse but felt good.
In the last two years, I’ve had two BOILS that had to be LANCED. Given that I’m not a character in a Civil War novel or a heroin addiction memoir, I cannot figure why that happened. Also, they hurt a lot. And were probably caused by shaving. Maybe shaving, like bras, can get fucked? I never wear bras anymore unless I’m going out around people I don’t know well. Anyway, my doctor told me to stop feeling bad about having boils, because unlike most of the concerns her patients present with, she can actually fix a damn boil in one visit, providing relief quickly. Which was what happened. The big takeaway is don’t waste time having Boil Shame. Dr. Pimple Popper is popular for a reason.
Like with bras, I’ve given up on coloring my hair. It’s now brown and grey. That was a whole journey. Maybe I’ll narrate it one day.
As of this minute, none of my family has caught COVID. That could change after I hit send. We’re all vaccinated and boosted and masked. If I could do more to help the situation, I would.
Recently, one Saturday morning, I woke up and had a really distinct thought: What if I could start from the premise that my body and my self were good? Spent days tumbling over the ramifications of that.
What’s In The Hopper
Marshall just started classes at Minneapolis College. He’s taking an online math class and an in-person one on Deaf Culture. He really likes it so far.
Recently, the Library Board of our city made a push to eliminate overdue fines. I’m on this library board and removing this policy became a priority, as overdue fines:
a) are imaginary
b) have no cost to the library
c) present a barrier to access
d) are stupid
e) represent a structural policy that discriminates against poor people
After many conversations, many meetings, many articles, much research, our Library Director proposed this to the City Council and they approved it. Unanimously, too! I was shocked, and very pleased. Excited to do more good things in support of reading and learning at our library.
I’m going to see my friends Christa and Sharon in February. Right after I have my first colonoscopy! Well, not right after. A week later.
Adrian just joined the health club where I never swim. Probably we’ll go there together? He doesn’t think he’ll swim, though. Also, I don’t like exercising with other people, but maybe I need the momentum of "let’s go!” to get it back in rotation?
This spring, Adrian and I decided we’re going to buy a houseboat. I have no idea what that all entails, but I’m down. A floating second location from which to read, right? Having two incomes makes this possible, and for most of our marriage, we’ve been a one-income family. I am feeling good and anticipatory about this.
This summer, we hope to demolish our pitiful garage. We plan to replace it with a behemoth we call Garage Mahal, giving Adrian room for all his automotive projects (dune buggy, motorcycles, whatever else) and negating our garden that I never do anything in. Bye, Garden Guilt! Like the houseboat, I’m not 100% on what that’ll entail, but my husband needs it, we can afford it and it’s time to do it up right.
Stuff That I’ve Been Enjoying
Elementary, streaming on Hulu.
Walking my dogs in the snow.
That feeling of sleekness after taking down all the holiday decorations.
This new percale bedding from The Company Store.
Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy.
Stocking the Little Free Library by my house.
Buffalo chicken dip.
When my dogs come back from outside covered in snowflakes.
This little glow-collar I put on Jelly so I can track him if he tears off. It’s called The NiteHowl, which makes it even better.
Every single show that Mary Beard is on.
Snow-blowing (I just learned how to do it this year and it rules).
Tell me what you’re doing and being.
Really. I’m curious and bored. In need of perspective and thrills. Don’t feel obligated, though. I hope you are and your beloveds are doing well. Thank you for reading.