Things always looked worse in the mornings. The unlovely light of winter mornings, the ruralness outside with no assurance of other life made the overnight snowfall look harsher. Yet the radio rarely declared a snow day despite the thick inches silencing the world further.
Our dad kept th(more)e thermostat turned low, inherent frugality exacerbated by having no money & thus the real threat of running out of heating oil. The chill in the air was perceptible but not punishing, it only created a slightly hostile environment relieved by wearing a blanket to the breakfast table. The toast would be cold before we could take 2 bites and our fingerbones always ached slightly. Nevertheless a day's escape from responsibility always seemed promising, it meant videogames and library books and daytime television that was depressing yet invigorating in its trash, its color. Yet the radio announcer never seemed to grant a reprieve, we always had to force ourselves away from the table and our blankets & into the regular pattern of things. Bookbags and boots, cold snot. The long slippery walk, the long jerky drive with Maureen the busdriver grinding gears, the long day at school drowsy with arithmetic & spelling, soporific heat clanging in the steam radiators.
Always by mid-afternoon the sun would have melted away the worst of it; salt and traffic would have rendered the roads clear and sunlight would brighten the last snow-boughs clinging to the pines. We always came to realize the radio had been correct in it's proclamation. Those in charge could see past the dark mornings when it seemed impossible to imagine the day ahead not being dangerous and retaining the dark. Underneath everything the world remained the same, bad weather or any act of god could not halt the trudge for long. (less)
I have nothing to say tonight. The machinery is not up to the task. It's a personal snow day. The brain is hanging fire. I want to tell you something, but can't, because I don't know what that something is. I once read that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a 60,000 word novel(more) during a days-long incandescent fugue of non-stop writing, for which he had cocaine to thank. Then, in a state of dejection, for which he had cocaine to thank, he burned every page of it in the stove, then.... reconstituted the story from memory days later and published as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He died of a brain hemorrhage when still very young. That, too, I'm thinking was courtesy the cocaine.
Charles Dickens, whom I find very difficult because he's such a man of his time and place with regard to dialect that I need footnotes to find my way through, took opium. Opium then was a true panacea, the Cymbalta-Ambien-Xanax-Ibuprofen-Immodium of its time with the added benefit of, in the gifted at least, maybe even fostering a sort of creativity.... but at a cost. Thomas de Quincey, famously, spent his life running around that desperate circular track, and, discouragingly, produced almost nothing in the periods when he was on the wagon. And, Dickens, too, died young, his health damaged, some say, by over reliance on the milk of the poppy.
Bramwell Bronte, a less talented but perhaps most troubled member of that family, spent his adult years variously reliant on booze and opium, finding snatches of time between to write and paint. As he was dying young of TB in his chambers, he insisted on standing up in a questionable demonstration to those gathered of the power of the human will. (less)