Complex Characters

Thanks to a yammering, yowling, obnoxious cat—as the clock reads 5:03 a.m.—I have been awake now for half an hour. For some reason, she enjoys making a loud racket in the wee hours, clawing at the area rugs, then running away as I approach her. This Christmas Eve, I am not feeling especially hospitable toward Phaedra—not hospitable in the least. At least my headache is—for the moment, anyway—mild and tolerable; but if the cat continues her irritating behavior, I can image a stress headache coming along any moment. Damn cat.


I came across an interesting word this morning: latibulate. The word is now obsolete, its only known use (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) from 1623 in the writing of Henry Cockeram, lexicographer. Its meaning: to secretly hide oneself in a corner. Why the word would have become obsolete is beyond me, inasmuch as I can imagine frequently expressing a desire to latibulate as a protective measure against a world gone made. Because the world has gone so utterly insane, I advocate for an architectural style in which every room has at least eight corners, thereby providing twice the protection of the average room today. Each corner in this new eight-corner architectural model might be referred to as a latibulation station.


I will miss the soup supper and Christmas Eve service at church this afternoon. Today will mark the second consecutive soup supper I will miss; last year it was cancelled due to frozen pipes in the church. Even though I am not feeling as sick as I was, my lingering cough, slight headache, and ongoing fatigue suggests I should stay home. In addition to that, I want to avoid being around groups of people who might unknowingly share various viruses, etc. with me—at least until Thursday, when I will have my PET-scan. I am steeling myself against the results of the scan, which I will receive when I visit my oncologist on Friday. I have no control over the results of the scan, so I should not allow myself to worry about them. I am having some moderate success in that restraint.


My home is
my retreat and resting place from the wars.
I try to keep this corner
as a haven against the tempest outside,
as I do another corner of my soul.

~ Michel de Montaigne


The sound of rainwater flowing through the downspout outside my office window normally would be mesmerizing. But this morning it is annoying; like fingernails scraping across a chalkboard. I wonder why the sound I hear this morning grates on my nerves? A person’s environment can be stable, while his emotional reactions to it shift with every breath. Emotions simultaneously are both flexible and rigid, depending on environmental and mental influences. Simultaneously flexible and rigid? Perhaps difference emotional pairs, but not the same emotion at the same time. My thoughts on these matters spin into a chaotic stream of consciousness that makes no sense, yet is perfectly understandable.


Last night we continued watching the series, Six Feet Under. It’s fascinating how the script-writers so deftly explore the differences within and between each character, within the context of a common story line. And in each character’s exploration, a completely different story line that ties back in to the main story pulls the viewer in. There was a time when I would have been sufficiently fascinated by the complexity that I would write something that would parallel the series’ structure. Not anymore; it is too much like work. I have become supremely lazy.


I have taken a few breaks from writing. It’s just after 6:30 now and I’m ready to rest my fingers.

Merry Christmas Eve!

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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