For all the twinkle-light-festooned festiveness going on this time of year, I feel like the December doldrums have arrived as predictably on my doorstep as the Amazon-box-ferrying UPS guy.

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s pitch black at 4:37 PM, or the freezing valley inversion weather we get in the winter where the cold and fog settles in for weeks at a time and you can’t remember what it’s like to pet the cat without sending a dramatic Tesla coil lightning arc into the air. Or maybe it’s the influx of sweet treats which are irresistible to me thanks to a complicated neural jangle of nostalgia/sentimentality/raging sucrose addiction and mostly serve to send me into an endless loop of delight and regret. Or maybe it’s the aspirational nature of all the holiday trappings: the creeping sense of comparison that you know goes against the entire point of everything and yet here you are, hitting “personalize” on that pretty Minted card, and marveling at how the tasteful perfectly-lit placement family image looks about a thousand times better than your badly framed cameraphone crap and why didn’t you get a single decent picture of all four of you this year, WHY?

Well, and there’s been a little … *gestures inadequately with wiggling fingers* going on. A little, I don’t know, questioning of purpose. My volunteering has been kind of going off the rails lately, lots of showing up to do a thing and no one needs me for the thing but they forgot to inform me about their lack of a need for the thing, so there’s mostly frustration and a sense of not being super valued that department. I used to love to help in the kids’ schools but this year it just hasn’t panned out, the middle school doesn’t utilize parents the way the elementary school does, and Dylan’s teacher hasn’t taken me up on my offers. John works from home now (did I mention this? His department was shut down at the start of the summer, and although they gave him an offer to relocate we did not want to move back to Seattle, so his side gig business is now the all-in gig) and so I am not at all needed, parent-boots-on-the-ground-wise, in the way I once was, and it makes me feel pretty strongly that it’s time for something else, but … well, what? I scour the job listings and am reminded that I am unqualified for a great number of things and weirdly over-qualified for a small number of other things and I live in a college town with a ton of competition for an extremely limited number of relevant positions. I sit down to try and write and the environment isn’t quite right, the words won’t come, I’m overwhelmed by the scariness of sucking at the one thing I’m supposed to be good at. The kids are about to be home for over two weeks and there is a sort of Edvard Munch scream going on in my head in anticipation of the noise and chaos taking up all the air in my increasingly tiny world.

I feel like a plug looking for an outlet, I guess. My self-critical nature makes me doubt how much juice I actually have to give, but I know it’s not nothing. December, with all its bustle and jolly espresso cup designs, has felt like one mostly-nothing day stacked upon another.


24 Responses to “December”

  1. Kristi on December 14th, 2017 10:20 am

    Embrace your un-neededness. It isn’t for lack of trying so you’re not a lazy b. You will always be truly needed in all the motherly wifey ways so don’t be bothered by the extra needed/un-needed crap. It is the time of year where we all beat ourselves up over all the expectations while we should just enjoy the now. Quit looking for an “outlet” Miss Plug and utilize the battery adapter.

  2. Kristi on December 14th, 2017 10:21 am

    Oh, I also think that you couldn’t lose your gift of words if you TRIED.

  3. Shawna on December 14th, 2017 11:18 am

    I’m not sure this is helpful, but 1) I’m guessing that your family is best served by you staying well, so if you’re managing to do that, you’re doing a lot. And 2) have you listened to the podcast Side Hustle School? I find it very inspirational. I even started designing T-shirts after listening to one of the episodes. (I even sold one. To a stranger! My empire has been started!)

  4. jennb33 on December 14th, 2017 11:33 am

    I feel you. Just had a med check with a new doc today. Glad for it. feels like winter is going to suck my soul out this year. I can’t get into Christmas this year. I just can’t find the magic, depression has taken too much this year. And with what is facing me in early 2018, I don’t have a lot to look forward to. Power to us all.

  5. Kyla on December 14th, 2017 12:44 pm

    I still think your words are where it’s at. You have stories to tell! It’s there!

  6. elizabeth_k on December 14th, 2017 12:55 pm

    My husband and I were just debating “what is our purpose in life?” I think December between the WHY aren’t we as good as THEM and the sugar eating eating eating and the WE WILL BE JOYFUL family time is just — hard. I bet you will be awesome at whatever you do get/do, and I’m super excited to see you searching for the outlet.

  7. Caitlin D on December 14th, 2017 1:00 pm

    “The kids are about to be home for over two weeks and there is a sort of Edvard Munch scream going on in my head in anticipation of the noise and chaos taking up all the air in my increasingly tiny world.”

    Yes! You summed it up perfectly. BTW, sometimes when I’m feeling frustrated with my boys, I remember past blog posts that you’ve written and take comfort that I’m not the only one whose kids drive her up the wall. Thank you for that!

  8. anne nahm on December 14th, 2017 2:02 pm

    I want to say something encouraging about the ‘real’ part of this post (content? Is that the word I’m looking for?) But this?

    “Or maybe it’s the influx of sweet treats which are irresistible to me thanks to a complicated neural jangle of nostalgia/sentimentality/raging sucrose addiction and mostly serve to send me into an endless loop of delight and regret.”

    Is not only g_d_ poetry, but now I have to get in my car and go to Trader Joe’s and get their whole canister of variety chocolate covered Jo-jos. Maybe you need a job in advertising?

  9. Donna on December 14th, 2017 2:58 pm

    You may doubt yourself, Linda, but there are a whole BUNCH of us out here who do not and know that whatever “it” is, you will find it. So what if it takes a little time? We’ll wait (because it will involve your writing!).

  10. Jen on December 14th, 2017 4:04 pm

    Oh Linda, I’ve read your blog for years now and how you describe the return of seasonal depression is so perfectly accurate for me too. HATE how this time of year is ruined by stupid lack of correct brain chemicals.

  11. TinaNZ on December 14th, 2017 5:54 pm

    Could it be time for The Book? (she says hopefully).

  12. LD's Mom on December 15th, 2017 12:31 am

    Ditto precisely what TinaNZ said…

  13. Mary Clare on December 15th, 2017 10:54 am

    When I was a kid, my mom always kind of lost her marbles between Thanksgiving and Christmas. She was anxious, depressed, and suspicious. Our house always felt the weight of her depression at this time of the year. It did not improve our already tough teenager-mom relationship. In retrospect I appreciate the stress of the holidays and now better understand the darkness of depression. I’m not saying that you’re depressed in the same way…but just that this time of year has a way of bringing out our anxieties. The lack of light and the cold are tough…Plus the darn expectations of the festivities are too much! Anyway, I hope you find the delights and can let go of the stuff that doesn’t matter. Thanks for sharing the ups and downs.

  14. Erica on December 15th, 2017 11:34 am

    Me too. Except for the writing a book part.

  15. honeybecke on December 16th, 2017 10:11 am

    I hear you about the darkness this time of year. We have a municipal greenhouse that is open to the public and it saves me every winter. It’s humid and warm in there and makes me feel like I’m in Hawaii even when I’m not. I’m so eager for winter solstice and the hope of light it brings me. It’s calming to me to think of being on the upswing of light.
    I don’t know if you want any suggestions, but I’m going to suggest regular thrift store therapy. I know you love it. Sell that shit. Ebay that shit. For fun.
    Maybe get involved with a cat rescue group? You fostered TC and her babies like a boss. Even if you don’t want to foster the groups still need volunteers for other things.
    Well, pat on the back, awkward side hug Linda. Thinking of you!!

  16. Mary on December 16th, 2017 11:10 am

    Increased depression? I forget if you are on meds, but if so, maybe it’s time to adjust? December is HARD.

  17. Amanda Brown on December 16th, 2017 3:02 pm

    I devour everything you write, always have. There’s no way you could ever suck.

  18. Em on December 18th, 2017 7:31 am

    I get this. My anxiety is out of control this time of year.

  19. Sian on December 18th, 2017 9:57 am

    Well, I hope your keep writing, regardless. I’ve been coming here for more years than I can count and I am always delighted to see a new post.

    I don’t like to provide a solution where none is sought, but I have been enjoying the book Designing Your Life. I have found it to be a useful way of framing those mental conversations about what one could be doing next.

  20. Dawn on December 19th, 2017 8:09 am

    Your writing is my hands down favorite. I would read anything you wrote. What if you joined a writers’ workshop for inspiration? You already have the talent but it might be a rad way to stretch that muscle.

  21. Farrell on December 19th, 2017 7:29 pm

    I hear you sister! I feel very much the same…

  22. Thursday on December 21st, 2017 5:43 am

    Good grief, I feel exactly the same.

  23. Donna Plumley Brubach on December 21st, 2017 7:49 pm

    I hate xmas so so much. Last year I went to mx last year for ten days because I couldn’t stand being alone, and although I went alone I wasn’t lonely at all. I’ve already had two breakdowns so far this season and one was at work. So I get you. I got no help though sorry.

  24. Marilyn on December 26th, 2017 11:19 am

    Just these blog posts are juice you have to give that affect so many people. Good luck with the fresh start of the new year and finding more things that make you feel happy and fulfilled. I just bought In The Words of Olympic Peninsula Authors!

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