Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An open letter to My Proclivity for Complaint.

Dear My Proclivity for Complaint,

It has not even been one whole month since the solstice, but may I just say that it seems like a long, dark winter. And even though, minute by minute at dusk and at dawn, I can sort of see--my circadian self sees--that there is empirically, categorically more light, I can't find it in me to celebrate this fact, because of you, My Proclivity for Complaint.

Yes, I am addressing you, a part of my self, as if I were Yeats writing that poem I parsed when I was an undergraduate. Except in this case, the Self I am writing to is, as it were, My Foul Moodiness, and the Soul I am writing to is you, My Proclivity for Complaint. I hope you see what I'm getting at here. I'm getting no relief. From myself.

Perhaps there is a philosopher who can give me a salutary smack, loosen up some stuck gear, get a little hopeful action happening in my brain and my, what's it called? limbic system. The part that doesn't have to think so much, that isn't required to sort out the horrible from the awful from the irritating, in order to make a Taxonomy of the Rotten.

Also, My Proclivity for Complaint, my dishwasher is really not getting the dishes clean. When I pull a fork out of the dishwasher and it feels a little bit crusty, that occurrence does not really allow me to show you the door, for good, because a crusty fork that is supposed to be clean is the paradigmatic instance of an occasion for complaint. And there you are, my trusty animus, all sour and full of pestilential verve. Yeah, that fork is pretty much the emblem of the demise of all order, all efforts to keep the darkness at bay. The barbarians are at the gate, and by God, they eat off dirty dishes, the ones that were supposed to be clean.

My Proclivity for Complaint, will you take yourself away if I wear pink shoes? if I turn up the radio? if the snow melts or the skies blue? Will you dissolve like dish soap if I start writing again? if I spring clean, even though it's not spring? Will February bring a sudden disappearance of you, what with Valentine's Day? or will March?

Or can I count on you to scintillate, sussurate, seethe and surl in every corner of my being, no matter the weather or circumstance or song or holiday?




  1. Yes, yes, yes. What you so beautifully said...barbarians at the gate and by God they eat off dirty dishes...Right on!

    After your last post, I thought, uh oh, she is about to get a nasty winter cold to go with that broken Chevy, which would be yet another attack on you by yourself...

  2. Excellent. I want to put this in Best American Complaining 2010. I don't think such a thing exists, so I'm on it. Look forward to it next fall. Congratulations on having your letter accepted to the first issue.

  3. I once sat in conversation with a fiery playwright who said that therapy had worked just like they said it would - his mood evened out, his woes dissolved . . . and his writing dried up. "Better to have some misery," he said. Which remembered conversation always comforts me in the dark night of the soul.

    I love your open letters and am going to be chuckling all day at the image of barbarians gobbling from unwashed Lenox and crusty Spode. Not to mention scintillate, sussurate, et al.

    And pestilential verve - May your days brighten (as of course they will - they always do) but may you never lose your verve!

  4. I need (yes, need!) your taxonomy of the Rotten. Also, you.



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