When the first cup of coffee tastes like washing up

Archived, January 2006

Occasionally, when I want to feel less the center of my own tiny universe, I take to staring out of my office windows.

If I look directly across the way, I’m faced with what I believe is the KPMG building. Every two windows represent another office. I am reminded of my freshman year biology class, when we learned about the origin of the word “cell.” The guys over there still have Christmas cards stuck through the slats of their stupid, cheap blinds. Who has floor-to-ceiling windows and keeps the blinds drawn? You’re at work. It’s not like you’re running around with your junk out. Oh, the business world…

Well, on this particular morning, rain was lashing the windows and it was as dark as when I’d rolled out of bed. In Pittsburgh, this would be called “pouring-down rain.”

Now is the winter of our discontent popped suddenly to mind. Followed shortly thereafter by a smirk (there’s always a smirk, with me). Of course it was nearly 60 this morning, but in my mind it was something closer to the freezing point. It was a quick descent toward cold fear. january, january, january, FEBRUARY February, february, march. The winter of our discontent, indeed.

My jaw clenched instinctively and I tried to breathe. I focused on the words instead… “winter of our discontent.” I couldn’t place it exactly, but I felt like I could hear Katharine Hepburn drawling it out in that Eleanor of Acquitane voice. And as is so often the case, I turned back round toward my computer and set off toward distraction.

It turns out that “Now is the winter of our discontent” is the opening line of Richard III’s soliloquy in the eponymous Shakespearean play. So perhaps more likely it was Ian McKellen or Laurence Olivier. Nonetheless, upon further investigation, I realized I’d got it wrong. History had taken Wills out of context.

The accurate line is this:

Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun of York.

The line is not some reference to seasonal affective disorder. Instead, it’s a bit closer to Here Comes the Sun. And without piling on too much schlock, it was interesting to consider that sometimes what seems like the deepest, iciest pit of misery may not be so.

The winter of our supposed discontent may just be the end of it.

Regardless of whether or not I can fully get behind the notion that this isn’t actually the mere springtime of my crazy, it’s an interesting concept. About assumptions and about pessimism, and the power they both wield. I assumed the quote about winter and discontent meant one thing, purely because I’m in the midst of my own. But that doesn’t make it universally true.

Of course, Richard essentially begins to hate that the rest of the world is afforded the luxury of happiness while his own deformity condemns him to a life without love of any kind. And then he becomes a murderous villain. So, really, who knows? This could all be a hot mess. Just don’t let me turn into a murderess, OK?

Today at work, I am listening to this.

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