From now until after Labor Day, I’ll only be working Saturday mornings (9 a.m.-noon) at the Discovery Exchange. I happily greeted this news, but with the reduction in my moonlighting responsibilities has not come a jump in my energy level, or any motivation or desire to put any effort into the activities that I yearn to do whenever my time is occupied with work. In The Journals of John Cheever, he frequently describes “cafard” as his current state of mind, and that matches mine. So far I can truthfully write that I haven’t followed his lead and tried to dull or reverse the cafard by a return to drinking.
A case in point is the fact that I didn’t make it to church this morning. (During the fall, I am pretty conscientious about attending services, but this slacks off in the summertime, when the services are almost all lay-led. Many Unitarian congregations discontinue services altogether in the summertime. The flip explanation for this is “What other denomination could God trust out of His sight for three months?” The truth is that 19th-century Unitarian ministers were anxious to get out of Boston during the summer. Boston in the summer makes Washington, D.C. in August seem like a deep freeze.) This summer would be when I’d make one of my rare appearances, because the erstwhile president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, John Buehrens, was speaking. I was so exhausted and/or unmotivated that I didn’t even bother to set my alarm before going to bed last night, and by the time I finally summoned enough energy to get to bed, there was no way I could get showered, dressed, and out of the house in time to make it to the 10 a.m. service.
Thanks to Susie, I was able to perk up a bit during the afternoon. We spent the day in Clintonville, eating lunch at the Golden Arches, and then she had a hair trim at Lucky 13. I posted on Facebook later in the afternoon that we exhibited mutual respect. I was bored while Susie’s stylist shampooed and trimmed her hair, but the time would be too short to really concentrate on the book I had with me, or to take out my ballpoint and write in my diary, and none of the magazines in the rack interested me. I knew Susie wanted a hair trim, so I stayed there and waited, and she looked great when she stepped from the chair.
We walked up to the Whetstone Library, but I was distracted on the way by a cluttered antique store we passed a block or so from Lucky 13. The very petite Corona portable typewriter in the front window called to me, but I didn’t feel like paying $30 for it. Nonetheless, I ignored Susie as she ostentatiously tugged at my wrist and tried to pull me away from the store, and we went in. She and I had just spent 20 minutes or so in Wholly Craft, an offbeat craft store she loves, which sells everything from jewelry to journals to clothes, all of it hand- and locally made. I indulged her browsing, and she was gracious enough to indulge mine. I looked at several typewriters (still searching in vain for a Simplex toy typewriter, circa 1925, which was the first machine for my friend, novelist Robert Lowry), and a $20 Teac reel-to-reel recorder briefly tempted me. I was not tempted to buy them, but a suitcase full of Edison phonograph cylinders selling at $3 apiece held my attention for quite awhile. (As I write this, I’m typing with Kraftwerk’s “Pocket Calculator” blaring from my laptop speakers. Juxtapositions, anyone?)