Thursday, January 25, 2007

January Sucks

January sucks. For most of my life, January has felt like the longest month of the year. Well, it probably felt like the longest because I usually include the first two weeks of February in it as well. This bleak period is bracketed by my two least favorite holidays: New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. No matter your personal circumstances (single, dating, or in a LTR), these two dates always disappoint.

Oh, sure, we all have tried to make these days fun through the usual strategies proposed by Hallmark and liquor companies. One year, we vow to go out to a party. Remembering our disappointment, we decide to stay alone the following year. This just makes us, well, lonely. The next year, we throw our own party at home. Unless you are a multi-millionaire, these parties can’t deliver. The year after that, we determine to stay with our special someone(s) for a quiet evening. When the mood feels contrived, we wonder what happened to the romance in our relationship. These holidays just can’t live up to the hype. The six weeks in between these two days feels like an eternity to me. It's the same every year.

This January, I am struggling to balance the many deadlines that are closing in around me. My career is at a serious crossroads and I am not entirely certain how things will unfold. Without going into detail, much of it is really beyond my control. Both positive and negative elements swirl about me. I have made some mistakes that I am trying to fix. If Guadalupe is with me, then things will fall like dominoes along a positive trajectory. If not, the light at the end of the tunnel is really attached to a speeding train. I might have fucked myself (and not in the good way). It reminds me of that Gordon Lightfoot song (which made a better disco-song) about feeling like a hero in a paperback novel. Heroes often fail.

At the same time as my job takes up most of my time, I am wondering about the direction of my personal life. Like my career, I have made some mistakes. A year-out from Liar Ex (Who Told Many Lies), my personal life still feels disordered. Without a doubt, I am so much better off now than the eight years that I wasted with him. The demise of that relationship, however, was the most painful experience that I have ever had (and hope will ever have). Not only did it mean an end to the way I structured my life for close to a decade (a painful change for anyone), but it also revealed just how easily I allowed myself to be manipulated. Time and again, I betrayed myself when I knew that the relationship was destructive to me.

Clearly, my problem is not romanticizing that past relationship. Indeed, I really, really, really don’t want to repeat the mistakes of that relationship or replicate it in any way. As a result, my inclination is to avoid emotional entanglements all together. While safe, this is ultimately unrewarding. The problem is, though, I have no idea what I actually do want out of a relationship(s).

It’s times like these that I wonder about my life, the cosmos, and the meaning of existence. Only the newest of readers will be surprised that GayProf suffers from existential crises. If I had bothered to clean my bathtub, I would be taking a long bath and pondering the nature of our lives. At the moment, I feel adrift and unsettled with my life.

Being raised Catholic, a friend recently pointed out to me, meant that I learned to imagine death as the triumph over life. I had not heard it phrased so distinctly. Catholics construe living as a burden and a constant struggle. Positive things in your life are finite. If not valued, they will always be taken away by a vengeful, blue-meany of a God.

All suffering, meanwhile, is ultimately a “test” that must be embraced. Do you have a painful lesion? God sent you pain to see what you can take. Did you lose a finger in a cannery? God smites your vanity. Did that milk go sour prematurely? God loathes your gluttony – and you should probably have your refrigerator coil checked.

These visions of the universe inform my existence still even as I struggle against them. I have trouble setting aside the negative and enjoying the positive. I often expect the worst – witness the gravitas. At least, though, Catholics liked the drinking.

All of this is to say that the past couple weeks have brought into focus some seriously bad choices that I have made in my short existence. No, I don’t mean “bad” in the sense of having once gunned somebody down. Nor do I mean “bad” in the sense of having continued to have my hair feathered years after it went out of style (although...). Rather, I mean that what I want out of life has not at all been accomplished by the decisions that I made, particularly in the past year. Those choices brought me to my current point, which is marked by serious flux, financial instability, and uncertainty. Now I have to figure out how to fix those choices. In the meantime, January sucks.


Antonio said...

Wow, sounds like you're going through a rough patch. Whatever happens I'm sure you'll pull through and come out stronger than ever. :)

And to hell with V-Day. I barely even acknowledge its existence anymore.

Dorian said...

Aw, man, I always hate it when my friends are having a bad time. I get into dark moods too, so I can relate to your mindset, but darn it! You're smart and talented, and you'll do just fine.

Anonymous said...

Okay, here's the real issue:

The disco version of "If You Could Read My Mind" is not better than the original.

There, problem solved.

Feel better? I know I do.

Anonymous said...

Ya know... I've never really thought about it, but January really does suck. Out loud. And b.: If you'd played/heard the original, Gordon Lightfoot version as much as I have, it will, indeed, suck.

Anonymous said...

The third week in January is always the coldest in the Boston area. If it's going to go below zero, it's always in the third week--sometimes for several days in a row. The end of the third week is also half way between New Years and Valentines--for many years I gave a big dinner party at the end of the third week because everybody was getting desperate.

You triggered two memories for me in your post. I realized very early in the strict Catholic education my parents subjected me to that Catholics were so obsessed with death that they've completely forgotten how to live. I knew I'd have to kick all that out of my life if I was to get anywhere in the world.

Several years ago we had Guillermo Gomez-Pena come to MIT to devise a production. Guillermo's a divine crazy man and we had a great time working with him. He came up with a living museum installation on racial and cultural stereotypes. One of the actresses devised an exhibit we called La Puta de Guadalupe in which she explored the virgin/whore dichotomy in Latin cultures. I painted a set for her that looked like a church apse in which there was the background of the traditional VdeG iconography. She would do a striptease at ten minute intervals where she shed the Virgin's robes and emerged looking very much like your delightful illustration.

Anonymous said...

Oooh Oooh Oooh! I have to join in the depression circle! I am sooo with you on January.

And it doesn't help that this is the first time in a while, I'm gathering, that you have to wake up to 2.5 degrees F. I'd ask if you want to go out for drinks, but I'm wondering who's gonna brave the cold.

Actually, it's quite likely that hundreds of gay Bostonians, all similarly funk-minded (I said "funk") will descend on South End/Back Bay for the warmth of booze and other people.

Regardless, we will all make it out of the dark time - as we do every year. It kinda helps to think that way, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Ah, someone else who loathes New Year's and Valentine's Day - YAY!

I wish I had words of help, encouragement or ass-kickery to get you out of the current mindset. I don't. You didn't make bad choices, you made choices that didn't work out the way you hoped. You see where it went wrong and, hopefully, you'll learn from it as you move on.

I'll think good thoughts for you, cross my fingers, maybe start a novena to the Virgen to smile kindly on you.

vuboq said...

And here I was thinking that April was the cruelest month.

Personally, I think the entire Winter sucks. The year doesn't start getting good until the GREATEST DAY OF THE YEAR (which would be my birthday, in March).

Hope everything picks up for you soon. *smooches*

Artistic Soul said...

Wow Gay Prof! Good post to get me thinking about some deep issues. I agree that January Sucks on a very base level...but I have to hope that one day it won't suck quite so bad.

Earl Cootie said...

I like to think that periods of trial are opportunities for growth. (After I think that, I drop into the drugstore for a tube of Revlon SuperLustrous Love That Pink and head straightaway to the nearest pig farm.)

And Valentine's isn't a real holiday, as you still have to work. Although it does come with lots of chocolate, so I semi-approve of its celebration.

Anonymous said...

NYE is actually my favoritist holiday, but that's because I'm an irresponsible party bitch who always manages to surround myself with appropriately troublesome people. If only I could get rid of them the rest of the year. Valentine's Day, however, blows.

I can't remember what movie it was I saw recently where some character said something like (hey, I said I can't remember!) getting older is about making peace with disappointment. I'm sure one of the pop culture fags around here will know the precise reference. In any event, it rang incredibly true to me--and I'm freaking 31!

The dirty underbelly of being driven (career or otherwise) is that we retrospectively evaluate all our choices. Did they deliver or no? But inevitably many choices don't, cuz the world is just full of unpredictable contingency.

Or predictable for that matter. Who cares? Why do we (ok, maybe just I) beat ourselves (mys... you know what I mean) up for lacking 20/20 foresight? But, sigh, 1st person(s) do. Gotta let go of that. Which is to say, gotta have better foresight about the limits of foresight. See? It's a trap! Now don't you feel better?

As for relationships, that one's easy. You want one with me.

GayProf said...

Antonio: Yeah, I could talk about V-Day as a heterosexist institution designed to keep the queer folk down -- It makes me sound [more] bitter, though.

Dorian: Thanks, Dorian. I appreciate it. One way or the other, I will do fine -- probably -- I think.

B.: But the Disco version reverses the narrative voice. How could you go wrong with that?

Steve: I am assuming that you had to listen to Lightfoot over and over as part of an initiation into either a Frat, Sports Team, or Religious Cult.

Will: That sounds fantastic. How did MIT receive it? Who was the audience?

Atari: There's always room for you in the depression circle. Yes, let's get a drink when it gets closer to 30 degrees.

Laura: Yeah, I feel what you are putting down regarding the choices thing. In some cases, though, I did make choices that I knew were not good. My own inner voice called out, but I ignored it.

VUBOQ: March, eh. That explains why the banks close.

WiccaChicky: Well, I would like to think that next January won't suck like this one. Only time will tell.

Earl: Yeah, but that chocolate is 50% off on February 15. It's better just to wait.

In the meantime, I will probably do what I did last year: Crush up some Xanax in a bowl of ice cream.

Jefe: I am beating myself up mostly because I am now paying some serious consequences.

Plus, there's a feeling of many things being beyond my control. For a deeply controlling person, that can be unsettling.

And, hey, doesn't that sound like somebody that you want to date?

Margaret said...

You are so right on about January sucking. However, I would like to point out that A New Era will begin on February 18th-- my birthday. My friend William tells me this is also the beginning of the Chinese new year. So, good things are in store.

Yours in Catholic gravitas,


Anonymous said...

This is a fucking hard time of year.

Yeah, I said it, fucking.

What, you thought I didn't swear?

I've been having a devil of a time tryng to post a comment over the last couple of nights; don't know what's been going on with blogger.

March is the hardest month for me. And think about it. It's something one is forced to do.

Not fun.

Anonymous said...

I know you'll get through this, just because you're brilliant. Drop me a line if you need to talk.

Bruce said...

Greetings from another gay prof, in a long term partnership with yet another gay prof (The profession actually competes with hair dressing and interior decorating for gay participation).

Couldn't agree with you more about January. And although it isn't so cold here in Venice, it's cold enough. And all we have to look forward to is Carnevale in February, when the city is invaded with hords of drunken Germans, who seem to confuse it with Oktoberfest. But there is a pretty effective antidote (short of getting on a plane for Martinique or Rio):

1) Lite a fire in the fireplace (This part, actually, is a fantasy. Open fires are prohibited in Venice--- and rightly so. But the rest is real.)

2) Open a bottle of good red wine. Go ahead, splurge. The best red wine you can afford. Use a proper red wine glass, so none of the pleasure of the perfume is lost.

3) Set out a plate of several sorts of good quality cheese and bread.

4) Put on some "sunny" music that you love. (For me it's one of Händel's late operas, like Alcina or Ariodante; or Vivaldi's Orlando furioso or Bajazet. But put on whatever does it for you. It should be at least long enough so that you get through half the bottle of wine without having to change the music.

5) Dim the lights and enjoy the wine, the cheese, the music, and yourself!

Repeat the treatment at least twice a week until the buds start to sprout on the trees. (The antidote for spring fever is better known, so I'll leave that to your imagination.)

As for the rest of your post: Agreed. Catholicism is a mind and soul crippling institution, but so are all monotheistic religions (a common theme in my blog). But the particular cruelty of Catholocism is that it uses all (yes, all. Cf. Saint John of the Cross) of the pleasures of the sensory world to convince you that you should deprive yourself of them. (I'm Jewish, but all of my long term partners have been RC--- I know from what i speak.)

As for your having "wasted" 8 years in your former relationship: My first relationship lasted 13 years, whereas it should have lasted 13 minutes. But still, those years were not wasted. There were things I learned--- not all negative--- that made my present, very happy ten year relationship possible. Sure, I could have spent those 13 years more profitably, undoubtedly more happily, but I guess it took 13 years for me to learn some necessary lessons about myself. After all, nobody tied me to that guy. Why did I do it, why did I stay so long, how did I finally get out? All important questions to ask.

Be well.

tornwordo said...

I can relate to the sentiments, but really wish there were some DETAILS. You probably can't go into detail due to the non-anonymity thing. Still, I wish for them.

Anonymous said...

It's funny to me how sometimes existentialism can be simultaneously so fulfilling and so alienating. Honestly, we've all made mistakes as I'm sure you're well aware, and I'm sure you hold yourself up against the only standard that is of any importance according to your own systems of value. God that was vague. January is indeed a brittle and blithe mistress. I too hope that she is far from me soon, and that VD will not be painfull. My best wishes for your success and hapiness.

Anonymous said...

Oh, gayprof, I totally hear ya. Just using your blog to work out my own issues.

And doesn't THAT make ME irresistible?

Anonymous said...

January is my dark month too, and I usually have to up my meds. "Always Winter and Never Christmas", from the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I like the disco version better. As for as men go, don't give up, even though it's hard to date, it's better than ending up a crazy old cat lady. Wait, maybe not.

Adam said...

Yeah its a crappy month, I agree.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. January sux.
And I think its hard to, y'know, marry your long-term goals with your day-to-day living. Hell, even short-term goals. I say live honestly. Know what the endgame is, and know that everyday, while encumbered by memory, is also floaty with possibility.
And really, our lives are just God's punishment for pole smoking.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, dittoes on the January thing. I'm really commenting, though, because I agree wholeheartedly with Bruce on the whole "bad long-term relationship not wasted" thing. I had a similar one that lasted seven years (plus a year-plus in hangover codependence), and I keep discovering new lessons to apply now from how awful it often was then. I've also managed to separate out and enjoy the memories of the good parts, which goes a long way towards not feeling as though a whole seven of my best, most vital years, as they say in the beginning of Cliffs Notes, were flushed down the toilet.

Anonymous said...

Although I was born in January, I never liked the month. Too cold, too snowy, not enough presents (not far enough from Christmas).

However, now that I live in the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are reversed, Januarys are completely better (apart from the presents bit, maybe...). Choose the country wisely and you can find one with a nicer climate, sensible government and glorious summer days in January. You may even find a nice Southern Hemisphere person to be wonderful with.

And if you can't make even a short trip, you can always dream about it and plan for the day you can. Planning the escape may help brighten the darkest January day. It worked for me, anyway.

GayProf said...

MaggieMay: Actually, the second half of February often brings good things to me. We can say that starts on February 18.

Rebekah:You swear? Huh. March is not so much of a problem for me.

Chad: Thanks -- I know I will get by -- I just am not sure what the end result will look like.

Bruce: My zero-room apartment didn't come equipped with a fireplace. Oh, but how it is equipped with wine.

TornWordo: I probably make the details sound more dramatic when they are obscured.

Kalvin: Yes, I do gauge my life by culturally and socially determined processes that came to inform my sense of the universe. At times, I would like to push against those learned processes and consider how other people measure their lives.

Jefe: Sounds like a match, baby.

LotusLander: Yeah, see, I am starting to wonder if Crazy-Old-Cat-Queer-Guy is my destiny.

Adam: There seems to be a consensus on January.

Jeremy:And really, our lives are just God's punishment for pole smoking.

Well, in that case I am willing to endure all of this for something that is so, so right.

Huntington: Yeah, I feel what you are putting down about the relationship. I can acknowledge that there were good times in those eight years. Obviously, it wasn't all some twisted nightmare. I also know that I am hardly perfect in terms of relationships. I just don't, you know, lie. Nor have I ever gotten to the point where I think of another human being, especially one that I have spent eight years with, as "clutter" (as he named me) and, therefore, undeserving of even basic respect. In his mind, the fact that we disagreed about minor things, like furniture styles, justified his thoughtless and cowardly treatment of me (even though, btw, he ultimately kept all of the furniture that we purchased together, so even that flimsy excuse seems like a lie).

We can't take back what we've done, though, so really embracing regret won't help. That relationship sucked. I accepted the crap that Liar Ex (Who Told Many Lies) kept tossing out.

As I see it, I have two major issues to resolve from that experience. One: How not to leak bitterness (which is obviously coming through now) and Two: How to decide when certain things are just compromises made in all relationships verses somebody who is just manipulating you for his own selfish ends.

Arthur: Well, my long-term future location certain comes into play here as well. Among the other things that are happening, it's difficult to think about returning to Texas.

Anonymous said...

That Lady of Guadalupe sure doesn't look like the "holy cards" they gave me when I was a kid on the rare occasions when I knew all the answers in cathechism class!

Joshua said...

I don't know what I want either. But I do know what I DON'T Want. And I think that's more important! Hang in there, and I hope things look up for you!

Anonymous said...

January suckiness seems to be one of those things that applies globally, whether you live in the northern hemisphere or the southern hemisphere. I dunno. It's as though the festivities of December are fated to give way to disappointment and despair in January.

Thinking of you, at any rate, and hoping your worst fears transform into unexpected good luck.

Larry said...

Wait, feathering your hair is out of style???

Crap, I need to make a sign to put out by the street here. Hang on...

TheWickedWoman said...

I think we should take a vote and dispense with January in the Northern Hemisphere. Seasonal Affective Disorder, you know. All in favor of tearing it out of all calendars everywhere from now until the end of time say "Aye!"

GayProf said...

Cooper: It's a new day in the Catholic Church. They want to make religion sexy again.

Joshua: Oh, I have a long list of "don't wants." That seems much easier. Process of elimination, however, doesn't seem like a good way to build a relationship.

Adrian: Yeah, I don't think January sucking is related to winter (which normally doesn't bother me). It's the evil of the month.

Larry: You are noble to provide that community service. Remember, use large, block print.

Tamara: Aye.

Doug said...

I wish I was able to offer real M&M's to help console your soul this bleak January. In place of real ones, I offer some virtual ones, you pick the flavor. *hugs*

Rey D said...

I'm with you, I hate the time from Xmas to about mid-February. I hear that some people are prone to depression during the winter times because of the day length. Maybe that's my problem and/or yours. Next year maybe I'll try one of those hats with a light that you wear for a few hours each day to combat the winter blues :)

Ah, the cycles of life.

dykewife said...

my comment has disappeared. :(