Xmas angst and depression

This is the first Christmas season I've worked retail, and I've already decided it'll be my last. At least it's something cynical and subversive I'm selling, which has to be better than selling records or neckties, but I am not made for this much smiling and small talk and "Happy holidays" and all that rot.

As the dreaded 25th approaches, Telegraph gets more crowded every day. Today's Thursday. On a weekday, the stand is usually lucky to break even, but today was fish fish fish and more fish, and a never-ending line of customers waiting to buy and asking stupid questions and wearing stupid red fuzzy caps.

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Of course, with so much money to be made, there are more street vendors than usual, so many more that I'm sure some are illegal. Unlike some people, I don't give a damn about that, though.

All week there've been more vendors than available sidewalk space, which may be a problem for the idiots who are supposed to enforce the rules. Not for the vendors, though. We simply squeeze a little tighter together, move into a parking space, whatever — rules be damned, because we gotta do what it takes to make a living.

Yesterday and today, despite showing up on the Avenue an hour earlier than I usually would, there were no legal spots left. "First available space" south of a specific corner is where I'm supposed to work, says the permit, but every space was already occupied by other vendors with the same stipulations on their permits. So yesterday and today, I've set up the stand in "yellow zones" where the sign says "for loading and unloading only."

Today, the city schmuck came by to inform me that I was in violation, and I didn't waste any breath arguing or explaining or calling him accurate-but-nasty names. What's the point? A nearby vendor, also illegally stationed, had tried such tactics to no avail, so I politely apologized instead, and started disassembling the fish stand.

I packed things quite slowly, though, and as soon as the inspector walked around the corner, everything got re-unpacked and the stand was open for business. My neighbor vendor did the same thing, and the inspector schmuck never came back, and we vended against the law for the rest of the day, because we're such outlaws.

It's all a dance. Ladies in, men sashay, dosey doe and sell today.  

We pay taxes to fund bureaucracies like the street vending inspectors, and they come by with clipboards and rules, and berate us for victimless violations of nonsensical laws, and that's simply life in Berkeley. Or in America. The only certainty is that there will always be laws and inspectors, and people of good character must ignore them as we see fit.

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Christmas comes but once a year — thank Christ! Despite my disdain for the holiday, I am experiencing some of the traditional Xmas angst and depression.

My mom and I aren't close. Everything she says and does drives me nuts, and drives me away, on purpose I believe. And it's worked. I'm away, way way away. Moved to California, not specifically to get away from my mother, but it was one of the pluses in my calculations, not a minus.

Haven't seen her much since then, and we've had no contact since May. Nobody in the family has my phone number or address.

The holiday means nothing to me, but I know what it means to my mom. Calling home would be a minor hassle for me, but a major joy for her. I ought to call. Maybe I will. More likely I won't. I'm undecided.

See, in addition to everything else, we've been out of touch for so long that I'm sure someone's dead, and I really don't want to deal with the grief. My only Christmas tradition is going to a first-run movie with all the trimmings, and how am I supposed to enjoy James Woods as H R Haldeman if I'm all sad over the dear departed?

So maybe I will call Mom for Christmas, but if I do, it won't be until the 25th, after I get home from Monday's matinee.

Or better still, maybe I'll send a post card. Yeah, with no return address. "Thinking of you, Mom," or more specifically, thinking of how you drive me nuts.

From Pathetic Life #19
Thursday, Dec. 21, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


  1. Go ahead and hate on me for this but πŸŽ„MERRY CHRISTMAS DOUG.πŸŽ„ I like telling people I like that I like them and I like you.

    1. I'm not going to hate on you, but also not going to have a merry Christmas just because you and everyone tells me to. My Christmas will be bland and alone. I insist upon it.

      Merry Christmas, though, and I like you too.

    2. It's the 25th so I'll say it again, though it's been said many times many ways, MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU.

    3. Why? Explain what it means, please, why you and everyone are so adamant that my yesterday be so much better than the day before yesterday?

    4. This might not be the right time to bring this up, but today (December 26) is the Feast of Stephen. It's an official holiday in Newfoundland and much of the rest of the civilized world. I guess nobody would condemn you for not feasting your neighbors, under the circumstances, but you should feel welcome to feast yourself, within appropriate dietary constraints. Happy Feast of Stephen Day.



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