Going Postal: Day 7

malcolm-stamp.jpgDAY 7: Shut Up and Stop Thinking

Sad to say, but having the past two days off did very little to recharge my batteries. After spending 12 ½ hours at the post office on my first day back after a weekend of “recovering,” I feel worse than ever. I started coming down with something last week, which has finally turned into a real something, though I’m not sure if it is a simple cold, or some sort of respiratory infection. After a whole three hours of sleep, I woke up to a coughing fit that resulted in hacking up this thing about the size of a golf ball—only instead of white it was tennis ball green, and it was mixed with blood. My throat feels like some has taken a cheese grater to it, and I think I have an infection in my ear. And as of this moment, I need to be back at work in less than two hours.

My seventh day on the job was bad, but not terrible. I spent most of my time unloading mail rather sweeping, and it seems like the former is less physically demanding than the later. Physically, the pain wasn’t quite as bad as it has been. The mental/emotional pain, however, is something else.

Like clockwork, no matter how hard I try to the contrary, I get depressed this time of year. I’m not much of a holiday person, and though it sounds like a cliché, I despise the commercialism of the Christmas season. But my disdain for the holidays is not so much a result of too many years of working retail as it is just the culmination of years of family deterioration. The last great holiday I experienced was in 1982, which was coincidentally the last Christmas I spent with my grandmother before she passed away. Without her, the holidays lost almost all meaning for me.

The bullshit of the holidays is only part of the depression that overtakes me this time of year. The major part would have to be my birthday. I was an odd kid, in that by my 10th birthday I was already feeling crappy about getting older and not having accomplished anything with my life. I know how ridiculous that sounds, but it’s true. This past Saturday I turned 39. The average life expectancy in America is just under 80 years old, which means that my life is, in all likelihood, more than half over. And somehow it doesn’t seem like I’ve accomplished much. Malcolm X was my age when he died—so was Martin Luther King. Granted, both of these men may not be the best to compare myself to, but I’m a firm believer that we should all hold ourselves to high standards. And even if I lower my standards, I’m having trouble seeing a list of accomplishments to my credit that will leave people saying, “David Walker was a bad motherfucker who lived a full life.”

The reality—at least the reality as seen by me while sorting mail for twelve hours last night—is that I am entering into the final half of my life, with little by way of accomplishments to speak of. Yes, I’ve done some things—made some movies, written a few articles—but it’s hardly a body of work that leaves a lasting legacy. Will I be forever known as a writer who struggled to make it, but only found success as a cynical postal worker? Am I doomed to be a man who leads a life of not-so quiet desperation—making instead something akin to a life-long whiner? Will my entire personal life be defined by bad dating choices punctuated by meaningless flings and chronic masturbation?

These are the questions that will be plaguing me when I take my place on the line tonight, as I fulfill my sworn duties as a postal worker.

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