Look at yourself in the mirror this morning. See the lines of failure drawn out from the points of your eyes. Remember that face before they were there. Ask yourself what you were doing before those were there. Consider, for a moment, what you could be doing today, instead of what you have to do.
Think of something encouraging to shake off the melancholy. Chuckle at the silliness of this ritual of self-pity, turn toward the shower, and step in. Feel the ceramic chill of the bathroom, as it rattles your frame. Hear the grumbling of the apartment building’s pipes, as the water prepares to vent out the shower nozzle. Prepare yourself for the shock. Wince, and clench your fists.
Play with the buttons on your shirt just long enough to wonder if it might be better to call in sick today. Fasten the last button. Groan a little, as you bend over to pull your pants on, and change your mind about calling in. Remember: today you have your annual review. Sigh deeply, because you know exactly what will happen in the meeting. Imagine yourself sitting in your latest boss’s office, leaning forward, with your elbows on your knees, and your face tight and intense, as though every word that comes out of his mouth matters to you.
Tie your shoes. Look at the clock. grab the arm of the couch, and pull yourself up. Walk to the bedroom. Snatch your coat from the bed, and throw it over your shoulder. Carry it out to the car today; it’s too warm to wear it. Grab your backpack, too. Don’t forget your laptop again!
Stare at the pile of garbage bags at the front door to the apartment for a moment, and wonder if you’ve got time to take any of them out. Look at the clock again. Shrug. Walk out. Lock the door behind you, but don’t bother double-checking it. Stare at the floor, as you march out of the apartment building. Notice how the hall carpeting never seems to change. Muse about the age of the building for a moment, and then, let the thought pass.
Push the exit door hard. Relish the raucous blast of the door, as it strikes the foyer wall, and allow yourself to be filled with that familiar, but momentary sensation of power, again. Suck in a deep, thick breath of pale morning air. Feel it crystalize in your throat and lungs. Exhale. March yourself to your truck, with the determination of a soldier, and press the lock release on your key ring. Pull the truck door open, and swing yourself into the driver’s seat. Drop your bag between the seats.
Knife the key into the ignition slot, and turn it hard. Refuse to release until the engine turns over at least once. Take a pause after a good 30 seconds. Sigh again. Turn the key again. Let go, as the groggy engine finally fires up. Take a deep breath. Turn to your backpack, and partly unzip the small flap in the front. Reach in and feel around. Pinch your iPod between your thumb and forefingers, and extract it from the pouch. Fumble around the dirty truck floor for your cigarette lighter audio attachment.
Jack the iPod in, and turn on the stereo. Dial up your favorite podcast. Grimace, because you notice that he’s not posted anything new yet. Sigh. Realize it’s only Monday, and that you’ll have to grind it out until at least Tuesday night before you can expect anything new.
Look out the driver’s side window for a moment. See the neighbor’s labrador panting and pacing at the fence line. Think for a moment about getting yourself a dog. Speculate about ways you might be able to hide it from your landlord. Shake your head hard, as a dog shaking water from his coat, in order to clear the thought from your mind.
Look back down at your iPod. Dial around for a recent favorite, and poke it up. Set the volume on the stereo. Shift the car into reverse, and back out of your spot. Check your rear view. Make sure you don’t hit the stone garden barricade yet again. Shift back into drive, and pull to the edge of the parking lot. Pause. Think one more time about calling in sick. Squeeze the steering wheel tightly, and push down on the accelerator.
Screech out of the parking lot and down the street. Pray you can make it all the way through another day.
[Imported from archived writing journal on 28 November 2021]