It took little more than a few seconds after the new year began for many to realize 2008 had been a catastrophe of epic proportions. A rather Grinch-like mood shuttled people through the holidays, an otherwise hectic and stressful time made worse by economic turmoil, emotional and psychological pressures, worries over what next horror would strike out from the shadows, and when the unrelenting gloom cloaking the world might peel back a corner and let in a wee bit of light.
Many with whom I’ve spoken or whose blogs I’ve read share a belief that 2009 represents hope, a hope rooted in a need for something different, a want for an outlook not mired in yet more bad news. It glows with a demand-cum-expectation that 2009 be a year of change. Whether that change manifests in reality seems to matter little.
I entered December with a growing dread. My own battles with depression notwithstanding, I swirled around a chasm of darkness that pulled me in deeper and deeper. Even as my birthday passed a few weeks ago marking my 38th anniversary on this planet, dimmed became the light in which I had lived for some time. And I did not know then any more than I know now why I became entrapped in such a lightless place.
Yet lightless it is and, although I felt it impossible, more lightless it has become. Everyone has a different tale to tell as to why they enter this year with such a dim view of things. I admitted in a comment at Annie’s place in mid-December that trials and tribulations lack a quantifiable sameness between people since “[e]very circumstance is different, every life a standalone event.” It is for that reason alone that my own forlorn entanglement with this new year continues its relentless sinking no matter how much a collective hope now blankets whatever shared mentality we own.
But I do not share a part of that collective hope. Not now, anyway. Part of what made 2008 so sinister for me was my job. What makes 2009 less hopeful still comes again from my job. It robs from me every bit of life and time I call spare, and this month it does so at an even more cataclysmic rate. I work three of the next four weekends. I suffer through our on-call hell every three to four days. I lose the whole of what is dear to the monster of what I abhor most: living to work instead of working to live.
Wiping away the employment Vaseline covering the lens of life clears the view only slightly. I believe the fog of agony now taints the world far too much. My first novel has languished beneath the guise of paying the bills and longs for the completing light of day; my second and third novels, both already in the works, wish for the first to move aside so they can grow and prosper. The Kids deserve so much more than they receive from me, for they give me so much more than I can state. Family and friends wallow in the wasteland of lost time that work consumes at an increasing rate. I cannot quit, though, given the economic hardship befalling the world. Finding another job proves more difficult with each passing moment.
What fiendish demon of the night holds my soul in its grasp? What vile, ghoulish, devilish monster eats away at the very heart of me?
I plunge headlong toward oblivion, my spirit lost to the vacuous depths of despair. I’ve been here before, been on this terrible path far too many times to count… And I despise the course now resting before me.
A new year proffers little for me, but instead it takes more than the previous year ever imagined.
Welcome to the plague year…
— — — — — — — — — —
 Two eastern kingbirds (Tyrannus tyrannus) perched in a tree.
 A male gadwall (Anas strepera) floating on the still surface of White Rock Lake.
 Two non-breeding male ruddy ducks (Oxyura jamaicensis) slowly swimming away from shore.
 A snow goose (Chen caerulescens) perusing dry winter grass.
 A double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) perched in a tree.
 An American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) perched in a tree.