June 26, 2008

Death on the installment plan

Aoshima Chiho - click the picture to enlarge, the name to know more

At the cram school I work in each course runs eight weeks, and I'm due to move part time at this end of this one, down to 15 hrs from 38, plus 10 - 20 proofreading hrs on my own account, all of which I like to push into Mon-Fri. I do other things to, so I get tired.

August the 8th is my last day, and you can imagine how this is starting to obsess me. I've made a file card calendar to cross off the days, and am thrilled that tomorrow marks the first quarter done, and that a week later will be more than a third. In this way I'll work and wish away the next six weeks, aided for a time by the fact my wife is out of the country and there's little around the house to remind me of other rhythms. The idea is that by Chinese New Year, 2009, all the work I do is chosen by me, which doesn't seem too much for a supposedly free man to ask for.

Still, in the interim there's something tragic about wanting Monday to Friday to race by. If I make it to be old, how much of my life will I feel I've wasted?
As long as we're young, we manage to find excuses for the stoniest indifference, the most blatant caddishness, we put them down to emotional eccentricity or some sort of romantic inexperience. But later on, when life shows us how much cunning, cruelty, and malice are required just to keep the body at ninety-eight point six, we catch on, we know the scene, we begin to understand how much swinishness it takes to make up a past. Just take a close look at yourself and the degree of rottenness you've come to. There's no mystery about it, no more room for fairy tales; if you've lived this long, it's because you've squashed any poetry you had in you.

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