Holiday Explosion Four last night. The most self destructive yet. I lost yesterday, except for the pain I created which lasted into today. This morning I rose early to a deep smoldering fury, the taste of ashes, and a mild hangover from the tequila shots I knocked back before bed - only the third hangover I've ever had. I drove to work deeply frustrated at the speed limit and the traffic - I felt I badly needed to drive 90, the growl of the engine harmonizing with my rage - but I behaved. At work I wrote e-mails shutting down several projects, and postponing others until May. I told people who came into my office to make it quick, that I had too much to do and that I was grouchy - as if they needed me to point it out.
Later I ran a staff meeting by phone and checked with the only other attendee in my office. She said I hadn't sounded different than usual (I'd worked hard at that). She's an extrovert and passionate person, full of laughter but also prone to throwing things (she finally stopped throwing her phone at the wall when they told her there would be no fourth replacement...) so I boiled over to her about this season, this month, this darkness, this rage. She could relate. We finally got to where I could laugh at it. A grim laughter, but better than wrath.
This evening I called home that I was a little better, and that I needed an evening out. I went to the big sophisticated mall and wandered the not-so-crowded spaces. The drive there in the dark, and the drive from there up Durham's most interesting (and notorious) street at night enabled me to make some peace with the dark. I wandered some other lamp lit streets, smelling the restaurant smells, hearing the quiet conversations of little knots of smokers and college students outside cafes and bars.
I came home with an extension cord for my headphones, so I can finally move freely again while painting. I tackled the last of the sky in Ursas Major and Minor and finally turned it right side up. I adjusted the sky further, after this photo, before stating the bears. Then I took a break to let the paint dry.
I had been encouraged by The Cunning Runt to borrow an image from his blog, a gorgeous photo he took of Mount Greylock - a photo that seemed to me to beg to be painted, with the contrasting light and dark tree trunk silhouettes, and the warms and cools in the freshly wintered landscape. He was kind enough to e-mail a larger version for me to use. So here is a small watercolor started (guidelines only, at this point - and the camera made the cows too dark). I may do a larger painting, later, but I want to feel this image first with a small piece. About 7 x 10.
Then I painted the bears. I'm not sure if this is done or not - I have to live with it a while. Click the image for a larger view. Feel free to comment. This image seemed almost effortless - unlike some others.
My war with Chirstmas isn't over - just this skirmish. I wish I knew if this was the last one for this year. I despise what we have made of the month of December, and I'm deeply frustrated that most of the people I know hate the mad rush and the way we jam everything into this dark season yet we can't seem to change it.
Today's word-fill-in at lunch started with the very unusual phrase "Dies Irae." That's a phrase from the Latin Mass - "Days of Anger" - describing the day of judgement at the end of time, the end of life. The day of fire and ashes from which we need to be saved - God have mercy on us. I laughed a dark and manic response and completed the puzzle.
When it was done there was one four letter word that had not been crossed off, though it was filled in without my noticing, by crossing words.