Friday, November 12, 2010

little d

I have always been prone to what I like to think of as the contemplative mode of life. When I imagine a good day, I usually provide for ample periods of reflection and quiet noodling around, preferably with some yarn or a good book. This is not to say that I neglect practical matters-- optimal repose requires effort in other aspects of life, particularly domestic arrangements. There is very little to compare to the delights of hard-earned and well-deserved laziness. Too much repose, as I have learned, slowly and painfully, over the years, is not a good thing. More recently, I have become aware of a condition that I'm going to call little d. Or d minor, perhaps.

Little d is a combination of fatigue, aimlessness, boredom, and general negativity. It also usually involves, or produces, a fair amount of guilt or self blame. Situations that bring about little d are various, but in my case, working night shift is a fairly reliable precursor, due to the following, predictable, circumstances:
  • It's a lot of effort to stay up all night.
  • It's hard to sleep during the day.
  • Spending 12 (or more, depending on commute) hours away from home leads to (almost) inevitable neglect of domestic affairs, nutrition, and exercise.
This creates a Catch-22: your body requires rest, but external conditions (piles of dirty laundry and dishes, empty fridge, cat puke on the floor) are inhospitable to true repose. More often than not, I attempt to balance the equation by (for example) eating half a bag of tortilla chips and effing around* on the internet for three hours. By the time my husband comes home, I usually have a full-blown case of little d. Poor man, he never knows whether I will quickly snap out of it or spend the rest of the evening sighing and creating discord until I collapse-- often in tears-- on the bed and pass out. Since little d responds readily to a good night's sleep, that is usually as far as it goes.

I decided to call this condition little d because, naturally, there is a Big D. Before I gave it a name, I used to think little d was like a distant relative-- maybe second cousin, twice removed-- to Big D. Just because little d visits now and then, there's no reason to expect Big D to come and stay. Now I think little d grows up to be Big D. I can't explain how it happens. One day you are grimacing at a pile of dirty dishes, then another day you find you don't like yourself much anymore, are actually convinced that no one has ever liked you, and decide to stay in bed for a long time.

This is generally a silly blog, so I won't dwell too much on Big D. Things like blogging, knitting your ass off, and passing for an adult are difficult when Big D is around, and I'm doing at least some of these things without much effort. But I am on guard now. Part of the point of this hat thing is to keep little d in check. Knitting, in fact, is one of my best defenses against little d-- take up yarn, needles, and a pattern, and Lo, child, salvation is at hand! In a few hours, you have physical evidence that you do not suck, and you are prepared to tackle necessary, mundane tasks.

Writing is more complicated, since it's harder and the results are not guaranteed to do you credit-- to yourself or others. This is not to imply that my knitting is unequivocally awesome (though it is), but that writing creates more self-doubt. I can lay in bed, visualizing exactly how I'm going to put the words together, but still get up the next day and spend hours staring at a blank screen... or, let's be honest, wasting time. When it comes to little d, knitting is diplomacy-- writing is getting on a soapbox and yelling "Bring it on!" So it's dangerous, in a way, but for some reason I am still compelled to do it.

So what is the point-- knitting hats or writing about it? Chicken and egg, again. How about a picture?

*Excuse me, farting around. I should really try to clean up my language.


  1. darling. i love this post. and call me if you ever feel the big D coming on and want to vent (or the little d for that matter).

    i think 12 hour shifts suck ass. i would rather work 9-10 every day than 3 12s! (esp if there are overnights involved == SHUDDER). i feel your pain!

  2. I don't know how I ended up here at your blog but I decided to go back and start it at the beginning and am loving it.

    This post? This post is amazing. Thank you for putting into words that feeling I get that I can't describe.