Good Day, Sunshine

April 15, 2013 § 3 Comments


I’ve been more or less depressed my whole life, but I’ve never before experienced coming out of a severe depression. The last time I was this ill, I was a child, and my depression lifted slowly. The September of 9th grade was the turning point—but 9th grade was the turning point in so many other ways, and my brain was growing like a mad weed.

This time, the ascent from hell has no competition for my attention. All the things I’ve read and never experienced now make sense: the world becoming three-dimensional again, colors returning, parts of my self I thought gone forever piping up with opinions as I read, think, stare into space, assess the aching body, the day’s demands, and other unthrilling material.

Knowing how the brain works, I’m sure this phase of buoyant memory and sudden identification with happy people will pass and I’ll be the same old curmudgeon-capable-of-joy I’ve always been. But not the desperate, suicidal person. Not her anymore. Goodbye, goodbye.

Thanks to Charles, Fitzroy, Mouchette, spring, my mother, all my friends and Facebook buddies. Thanks to deadlines, which always take precedence. Thanks to my vanity and thriftiness, which paired up to say: You can’t kill this body; it’s still pretty and it works. Thanks to the necessary cupcakes, which I can now do without. Thanks to poetry and coffee and sunlight and snow. Thanks to God, who exists or doesn’t, with or without horns, sexuality or powers; who floats above/beneath/inside us holding the love and praise of a billion people and the secret prayers of The Order of Goats, who have a small rocky monastery in the Scottish Highlands.


It was hard for me to decide to post this. Depression is what nags me to write, to adorn it with sentences that perform crowd-pleasing acrobatics; happiness and contentment don’t care. More, I fear that to admit I feel fine is to set up expectations I can’t fulfill. The loss still hurts (and always will), so the possibility that I will again put on my raccoon makeup and go slumming in despair is not to be sneezed at.

Don’t you love English idioms? That one just popped into my head. In terms of meaning it’s perfectly adequate, but it’s silly. And where did it come from? Was there ever a time when the sight or thought of something unwanted or unlikely made people sneeze? I suppose it was a euphemism for something more vulgar, and now we keep using it out of habit.

This blog is my habit and I shall wear it with pleasure.

I want to write.
I want to frolic.
I want to eat at Rouge Tomate, a midtown restaurant I heard about from a book on the horrors of processed food. Rouge Tomate is a favorite of one of the talented food scientists who makes soybean oil taste like oranges and truffles, and gets her ideas from chefs who create flavor the old fashioned way. The book is called Pandora’s Lunchbox and it’s by Melanie Warner.

Time to get to work.


I watched the arctic landscape from above
and thought of nothing, lovely nothing.
I observed white canopies of clouds, vast
expanses where no wolf tracks could be found.

I thought about you and about the emptiness
that can promise one thing only: plenitude—
and that a certain sort of snowy wasteland
bursts from a surfeit of happiness.

As we drew closer to our landing,
the vulnerable earth emerged among the clouds,
comic gardens forgotten by their owners,
pale grass plagued by winter and the wind.

I put my book down and for an instant felt
a perfect balance between waking and dreams.
But when the plane touched concrete, then
assiduously circled the airport’s labryinth,

I once again knew nothing. The darkness
of daily wanderings resumed, the day’s sweet darkness,
the darkness of the voice that counts and measures,
remembers and forgets.

Adam Zagajewski
translated by Clare Cavanagh


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