Dark Midwinter

Today was not a good day.

The Senate passed the budget reconciliation bill.  It was so close they had to fly Cheney back from Pakistan to cast the tie-breaking vote, but it passed.  And the Dems have been able to delay it by a parliamentary maneuver that forces the House to vote on it again, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for the miracle that stops it from being enacted.

The bill has some pretty lousy welfare provisions — a few of them better than what Congress has been talking about, but some of them worse.  And, from my selfish point of view, it’s incredibly frustrating to have Congress throw out everything that we’ve painstakingly tried to improve over the past four years, and stick in some language that no one has ever seen before.  It really feels like the main thing I’ve spent my time at work on over the past several years has just been a total waste.

We got a panicked call this afternoon from a Senate staffer because the lobbying office from her state was calling furious about the TANF section and she wanted talking points.  All of our reaction (which we didn’t say out loud) was "And you didn’t realize that this was going to piss the states off?"

And then I got home and opened up a rejection letter from a job that I had pinned high hopes on.

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.  For our ancestors, who didn’t have electric lights, it was a terrible time, "the dark midwinter." But it’s also a season of hope, because the days are finally going to start getting longer.  You can understand why almost every northern hemisphere culture has a festival that involves lots of lights

But today, I’m thinking of Frontier House, and the huge pile of wood that the families chopped preparing for the winter.  And the expert took one look at it, and said "it might last until January."  I know there are seasons and cycles to everything, and that the darkness won’t last forever.  But I’m feeling like I don’t have enough wood stocked to make it through until spring.

Ok, that’s way too dramatic.  I have a terrific family.  I don’t have any health issues more serious than a runny nose.  I have a job that doesn’t eat my life, that pays well enough for T. to stay home, with great colleagues who appreciate me.  I have a wonderful group of readers of this blog.  (According to Typepad’s stats, I got my 100,000th hit today.  Statcounter’s numbers are higher — I’m not sure which to believe.)  But I’m feeling pretty darn down.

9 Responses to “Dark Midwinter”

  1. Laura Says:

    Last night, I was concocting a post in my head called “Why I Hate Winter.” I really think there’s something psychological that sets in with all the darkness.

  2. landismom Says:

    I feel like we’re living in the end of an Empire. Is this how citizens of Rome felt? Like, things aren’t going in the right direction, but it’s not quite bad enough for me to do something about it yet.
    Not trying to heap on the misery, but I am with you in it.

  3. merseydotes Says:

    The first stanza of an old Christmas hymn:
    In the bleak midwinter,
    frosty wind made moan,
    earth stood hard as iron,
    water like a stone;
    snow had fallen, snow on snow,
    snow on snow,
    in the bleak midwinter,
    long ago.
    Sorry it was a bad day, Elizabeth. I’ve been having a bleak couple of months related to family finances, and I keep reminding myself that January will change things (and it really will). To get through the past couple of months, I have been repeating this line from a Lauryn Hill song “From the night can arrive the sweet dawn” and remembering the climax of the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers when Gandalf rides in at dawn with the cavalry to turn the tide.
    Sometimes it’s all about just making it through the darkest point in your journey. Hang in there.

  4. Beanie Baby Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about the job. It’s never easy. And I know how you feel about work–I often feel that way about what I’m doing. Ah, the joys of working in/for/around government.

  5. bj Says:

    I’ve been down in the dumps, too, and for no good reason (that is, I’m not working to try to protect the disempowered while being thwarted), and my rejection letters came earlier in November.
    I’ve tried to pin it down, and what’s frustrating me is a hint of hopelessness, maybe I’ve been a naive optimist in the past, but I’ve always had a bedrock belief that things will really work out.
    The quote that’s been helping me is Henry Mitchell (garden writer): “Now the gardener is the one who has seen everything ruined so many times that (even as his pain increases with each loss) he comprehends — truly knows — that where there was a garden once, it can be again, or where there never was, there yet can be a garden so that all who see it say, “Well, you have favorable condiitons here. Everything grows for you.”
    Thank you for reminding me to think of the garden.

  6. amy Says:

    A light box, a facial, and some chocolates are also nice.
    Sorry about the news, Elizabeth. I’m sure you’ll get a good offer, though. Can’t imagine you wouldn’t.

  7. Phantom Scribbler Says:

    Oh, Elizabeth, I’m so sorry. For the job, the woodpile, the bill snuck over the transom in the middle of the night.
    Is it the end of the empire? Like landismom said, we’re in the darkness with you. All 100,000 hits of us.

  8. jackie Says:

    yes, yes, yes. i was thinking that this week in preschool with my girls, how reassuring it is to me to know that centuries and generations of people on this earth have needed festivals of light to remind them that spring will come again, that the darkness will lift. Winter is always the time for me when I forget that, but this year, I’m struggling to remember it every day. It’s comforting to know others are struggling too, as much as we wish better for our friends.

  9. Scrivener Says:

    Sorry you didn’t get that job–anyone who decided to pass you over for any job is clearly not a very good judge of character. And I love that image of the woodpile.

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