Here’s the dilemma.
I have to write.
But I am feeling grumpy.
And I do not want to write grumpy.
Can you write when you’re grumpy? If you’re a professional, you can write any time. But you should not be surprised if some grumpiness seeps in. Non-mechanical writers – meaning the good ones – write from the inside out, and on the inside, on occasion, there’s grumpiness. Why then would you be surprised to see traces of it in the final result? Even if you don’t want it there. Which, generally speaking, who does?
Yeah, I’m not in the mood.
I could sense the darkening clouds rolling in during yesterday’s post, chronicling our “air conditioning” debacle. Yeah, they were idiots. But I could feel an uncharacteristic personal animus targeting the company which brought me “this close” to revealing their name, hoping my influential readership would disseminate the word, thus propelling these incompetents into ignominious receivership.
It was more than a story of rampant ineptitude. I was viscerally irate.
(FOLLOW-UP: A technician named Silvestre showed up, who not only located the leak in our new conditioning system but also, despite dire warnings it would take over four hours to repair, finished the job just shy of thirty minutes. My inclusion of this positive detail in this otherwise devastating narrative, I hope, will demonstrate that grumpiness need not obliterate fairness – “angry” not being necessarily synonymous with “vindictive.” Although, in my view, one competent technician out of eight hardly balances the accounts.)
Why do I feel grumpy? I don’t know – which you should not take to mean that I have no explanation. It is inherent in my ruminative nature to have numerous explanations. The problem is that if those explanations stood side-to-side in a police “line-up”, I would be incapable of saying with certainty,
“That’s the one!”
The one that floats to mind here – not to be confused necessarily with the actual reason – It could be; it could not be… You know, I have always wanted to write about if people actually say the truth when they’re inebriated or merely the angry truth – And now I have – which, to a limited extent, makes me feel better… and now it’s worn off… So back to the explanation that floats to mind as to why I feel grumpy… I am kind of enjoying this sentence – so free form and adventurous… Though it is not enough to restore my natural exuberance. Or what passes for exuberance, if you’re me.
Full Disclosure: I composed this piece of mid-level introspection about two weeks ago. With the arrival of my seemingly unmotivated irritation, I scoured the recesses of my mind to try and determine its genesis. It was then that a glimmer of possibility flickered insistently in my consciousness.
You know how – well, maybe this is just me, but I have a sense it’s more pervasive – you have this reflexive anticipation on the day after Labor Day concerning the first day of school, years after you have stopped going to school? A calendarial “Sense Memory”, so to speak?
Well, thinking back, around now – “now” being the approximate date of this current exercise – eleven years ago, I experienced the end of my career as a television writer.
And I can still feel it.
Every year, around this time.
It is not like I could not see the end coming – my contractual engagements became shorter, and my paychecks became smaller. (There were less “zeroes” in them.)
Popular comedy styles were changing. My contemporaries were falling by the wayside.
The writing was unquestionably on the wall.
And it was written by other writers.
There was no absolute certainty I was done. Others found the wherewithal to continue. But they were congenital optimists. I wasn’t. And it was too late to start now. (I have always been skeptical of “deathbed conversions” – a non-believer belatedly believing in God? Wait. I better keep the door open, just in case.)
There would be failed subsequent efforts, made by myself and by my agent, to remain at least peripherally in the game. But in some strange and inexplicable manner, I knew.
As I walked out of the office of my final venue of employment, I experienced a reverberating ominousness pressing the “Down” button in the elevator.
Exiting the building on my way to the parking lot, I felt an undeniable dizziness, prognosticating,
I know. I should be grateful for a relatively extended and arguably productive career. But “finished” is “finished.” And it never feels the best.
You would like to go out on your own terms. In your career, and come to think of it, your life. And when you don’t, and the anniversary of your departure comes around…
You feel grumpy.
The clouds roll in, and the clouds roll out.
At least for the lucky ones.
My “Termination Memories” will eventually recede.
And I shall be happily complaining about other things.