Post Holiday Blues

Right after any cheery event, the mood turns gray. It can be you or it can be your nearest and dearest who suddenly are crabby, cranky, unresponsive, and seemingly bent on proving that all the love expressed in the holiday card was a sham, an expression by some other being.

Adults are children grown up. After a visit to Disneyland, who gets cranky and peevish? Could it possibly be we had an overdose of fun and goodwill?

There would not be sci-fi if this sensation did not resonate. Some other being. . . some creepy, otherworldly creature who doesn’t love but wants to bite your head off or cut you off emerges the day after festivity. God Willing, it is certainly a this-life-only manifestation; otherwise, those entering the gates of Paradise might turn into residents one would expect to find in the flames.

There are several ways to cope with the earthly GRAY DAYS. It is the time to remember stored-up ethics, values, and goals. Abruptly upon awakening the day after–a holiday, wedding, birthday–a sane person will extend their fingers around to see if the backbone is still there. This is the individual we have to rely upon–the self.

Consider Your Audience

Whose attention do you crave?

Getting others’ (positive) attention is what 90% of life is about even if we deny it. Going to school to learn how to live effectively in society has the endgame goal of gaining others’ positive attention–at the very least, in that we will not be arrested and thrown into prison (a negative attention result). The programmer who becomes a hermit to code a software game of his/her dreams that others will play cuts himself off from convivial society for the future positive benefits of gaining others’ attention.

Some people mistakenly think that by being mean or authoritarian, the attention gained will increase their value. These individuals have a grand sense of self-worth, which might be altered if they were to consider how insignificant their presence is to the happiness of others. They may argue that the happiness of society is a hollow value, but they are wrong. Without happiness, or at least the contentment of society, chaos reigns. (Chaos is also about getting attention but in the form of fury and despair.)

Writers are intensely aware of the need to get others’ attention. As W. Somerset Maugham once put it, a writer understands that without gaining attention, the reader will not move from the first paragraph to the second (and the writing fails). Choice of methods for shaping those paragraphs to attract attention will chisel out various audiences. The best method is the one that appeals to the widest number of readers, leading to one of the first considerations writers must face at the outset of a project: who will care?

Naturally, the writer must care or no one else will.

Annie, the piglet who left too soon.

Sometimes student writers wring teachers’ hearts with true tales of love. My student Melina sent me a touching story which she agreed I could share:

Annie the baby.

“I hate to miss assignments or have excuses but I do not have the heart or mental strength today to work on the two assignments and for that I am sorry.

About a week ago or more we got a baby pig who was the sweetest thing. She was my baby. I fed her every night and morning. I played with her and snuggled her all day and night as she slept with me every night. I hated being apart from her.

Annie is loved.

Last night, I took my brother to the movies and when I came home I grabbed her food bowl to make her happy cause I knew she hated the cage and would be excited to get out and eat. The second I walked in, I knew something was wrong as she didn’t grunt or squeal as she usually does when I walk in and she is in the cage. I found her lying on her side.  I tried to touch her and she did not respond and she had seizures. I picked her up and held her, trying to warm her up but she kept seizing. We took her to the vet and [he said the problem] was something she was born with and no matter what it was, her outcome was very poor so we made the decision to put her down so she did not suffer. [The Veterinarian told us that] pigs can stay like that for up to three days. My heart is completely broken and I have cried since I found her.

I understand if I cannot make up the assignments and have to accept zeroes as it is my responsibility to do my work. Thank you for your time and understanding. I hope you have a good rest of your week. Once again, I apologize.”