Sorry to say it but I think I’m in the throes of summer doldrums. I’m sorry because I do really love summer but it gets to a certain point in August where the doldrums really take over and it becomes unbearable to say the least. Or the most because the “unbearable” is the height of hyperbole but “hyperbole” is my middle name so let’s do this.
doldrums in literature.
The first time I heard the word “doldrums” as a child was in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. No idea why I was reading that as a child but it does heavily feature an albatross and I was prob like “Holy shit there’s a giant ass bird involved?! Sign me up, obviously.”
However, I just looked up the poem to review it for fact checking purposes and the word “doldrums” doesn’t appear to ACTUALLY be in it. I DID just scan it and it’s very long so maybe it’s in there somewhere, I don’t know. An additional google search did confirm that they’re in the doldrums though. And the language of the poem invokes a doldrums vibe.
Maybe my Grammie just told me about it and that’s where I got “doldrums” from.
That’s what happened with Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I spotted the book on her shelf and showed a great deal of interest so then she told me all about it and the next day we were shopping in New Hope and I ended up with a seagull necklace. I wish I could find that seagull necklace as I would stil totally rock a seagull necklace even though seagulls are straight up dicks. What is Jonathan Livingston Seagull even ABOUT? I’ll have to google.
I DO know that it’s not about the doldrums so I’ll look it up later.
The next literary confirmation of the existence of the doldrums came in The Phantom Tollbooth when the little bored dude/star of the story enters The Doldrums.
If you knew me in 5th grade you would know that I stan The Phantom Tollbooth SO FREAKIN HARD so you better believe I was PUMPED AF when I turned a page and they mentioned “The Doldrums.” I looked around the class in disbelief like “did Norton Juster write this FOR me or WHAT?!”
But The Doldrums were then fully defined for me. And I would never forget them.
doldrums in life.
In a lot of ways I feel like I experienced “doldrums” many times before I even had a word for them. I’ve always been moody, prone to melancholy as they would say in Victorian times (I guess). Like, women jumping off cliffs out of despair in the times before there was both acknowledgement of and effective medical treatment for mental illness – that makes perfect sense to me.
If you don’t think of me like that it’s because I’m good at smiling and pretending and laughing. Most of us are. But there are times when it gets harder to pretend and summer doldrums are one of those times.
I just don’t feel like doing anything. Nothing at all. The whole world seems too hot but in a way that isn’t fun or interesting. It’s just thick and hot and very still and there is no movement. The sun beats down relentlessly. I love the sun and all it does for me but sometimes I’m like shut up already. I don’t know why that happens.
Also, by this point in the summer it feels like the summer is now slipping away because we’re more than halfway through. I think that adds to the summer doldrums in a way. It’s moving too slowly and sluggishly but we WANT it to move slowly and sluggishly because we don’t want summer to end but we HATE the pace of slow and sluggish. By “we” I mean “me.” But maybe you, too. I don’t know your life.
When I first heard the Lana del Rey song “Summertime Sadness” I felt another spark of connection to the way I feel during this part of the year. It’s summertime which I love but there’s also sadness. A sadness without reason. A sadness that will not go away until the middle of September, no matter how hard I try to expel it.
So I sit here in these doldrums, in these dog days, and dream about a happier time. Keep in mind that nothing ACTUALLY SAD is happening. It’s just a feeling, a state of mind. I feel tired and bored and uninspired. I cry a lot. I can no longer stand the sounds and smells of living in a city and I flee to the forest of my origin.
Just normal, healthy, regular person stuff.
I do think the only way to power through is to set myself up with the least amount of annoying shit around me. It has helped IMMENSELY that I didn’t have to commute at all this summer. Commuting is trash and doing it at this point in the summer is a literal nightmare. As I already mentioned, I’ve also found ways to escape the annoying sounds and smells and presence of neighbors that really irritate me in the city.
And I am lucky. It’s only a few more weeks, and I think I can make it while also having some summer fun in the process, but it just feels really rough right now. In a way I’m almost unable to explain because I wrote this whole post and still don’t feel like I fully explained it.
Basically I feel like shit, I blame the mysterious and terrible “summer doldrums,” and I can’t fully explain it. That’s what I’m saying.
I’m also wondering if YOU feel this way. I’m always looking for kindred spirits and like-minded pals I can commiserate with. Commiseration nation. Is the nation in which I have stabbed my Shan flag into the ground. Please join me. Let me know I guess.