Some coffee is steaming in my favorite "Le Chien" mug next to me. It's a fearsome, strong blend that I'm inclined to make. Instead of cream or half & half I used some store brand dry coffee creamer. It's a real pro and con situation with this unsavory white powder. It keeps the coffee from getting too cold too fast, and makes it taste a bit richer. But no matter how much I stir and stir, there are little white balls floating around, like Japanese men in a jacuzzi. Each one needs special attention and must be squashed against the side. Also, strangely, like Japanese men in a jacuzzi.
It's a whole production.
But that's done now. I'm alone in my flat listening to the heat turn on and off. For such a small place we have an extremely powerful gas burner, or whatever you call it. The heat just appears. I'm a lucky man.
I've managed to string a few good days together, days without tears or self-injury or panic. If I feel compelled to burst out of my flat and into the night, where I can shout protests and insults at the moon, it never lasts very long; it's freezing out. Medication is helping, even if I do keep skipping appointments. I've got one this week, one I have to attend. The heart pill I take is especially helpful against panic attacks. As I said, a lucky man.
A modicum of melancholy is expected around the holidays, although it is an urban myth that suicides are highest this time of year. Actually, it's in the summer that most people off themselves. But this time of year does lend itself to remembrances, especially for one as sentimental as I. Atheists like myself (and there aren't many like me) romanticize the world to make the brutality and meaninglessness more endurable. Is there anything more romantic than tragedy? Is there anything more tragic than the pointless life we're all living? Anything more beautiful than two people finding love while framed by an endless void of time and space?
The most beautiful noise to me is Tchaikovsky's violin concerto. The Russians of his time were very Romantic, in music and literature. And borscht. The way people like to remember Tchaikovsky is that he was a homosexual in a time and place when that sort of thing was not kosher. Like Texas today, or South Carolina. So he struggled. He felt he was struggling against Fate. All Russians do, and why not? It makes you a hero just by living.
Tchaikovsky had a wealthy patron, Madame Von Meck, and they never met once. Sad, but to me painfully romantic. All this drama in a godless universe.
In the end, he may have committed suicide, or just had a drink of water that was teeming with germs. People were supposed to boil their drinking water at that time and place. It doesn't matter, though. His torment and struggle is perfectly evident in his music. Nothing I've read about Tchaikovsky, not even his letters, touches me like his music. This is news to no one, but music is powerful stuff.
My dead Russian friend was miserable and a closet homosexual who may have killed himself, possibly at the urging of his classmates at the Law Conservatory, who feared an embarrassing scandal if his sexual orientation were made public. I don't think he did, though. In my professional opinion, he simply drank the wrong glass of water.
Either way, he was around long enough to produce six symphonies (among many other opi). I'm fond of the last three in particular. Music critics will say that his 6th is truly special, and I'm inclined to agree. If you're unfamiliar with his music, I urge you to listen to the 4th symphony first, and then move to the 6th. It will aid in your appreciation, with perhaps a bit of consternation the price you'll pay. If you see the 6th performed live, don't get up to applaud until others do. Standing after the third movement and applauding is embarrassing as all hell.
I'm so lucky to live in a world where unhappy people can record, in a beautiful fashion, their interaction with the world. Happy people, too. I can listen in on, or read, whatever they felt compelled to shout out. Whatever they wanted remembered. A little bit of themselves and a little bit of shared experience. So we know what they were talking about.
Few artists know what to do with angst. Use it in a proper way. Record the fear but know well the desire to be unafraid. And have the scruples to detest hateful thoughts and actions but recognize that they live within most of us, maybe you. That will get your stomach roiling if you give the matter proper consideration. And never make the mistake of thinking that cynicism makes you wise.
A cynic is usually apathetic, and apathy is boring. Either way life is a struggle, so you may as well embrace what is either a pleasant fiction or a simple truth, that we're here to help each other get through life, whatever it is. It adds a bit of nobility to the cold fire of empty space, in the soft gray matter of our brains, and thus our minds. There's the romance, too.
Find one person, take his or her hand, and grow old together, all the while committed. It's a struggle, but there's romance there.