There’s an oppressive feeling in the air today. I feel like I’m struggling to breathe. It’s a huge effort. I know I’m not struggling, I am breathing normally, regularly, and easily. But everything seems like an effort, even what I’m doing easily. I have to tell myself it’s easy.

The weather is blinding bright overcast, the walls are lined with a horrific purple-grey static wallpaper and there are sickening patterns in the carpet, made of multi-colored thread that manages to look grey in combination. I can’t look anywhere. There’s either clutter or complete disorder.

Is this short-timer’s syndrome? It was never easy to get attached to this place. But the urine on the floor of the bathroom, the thick, locker-room stench in there that never changes, the artificial-looking (but horribly alive!) plants crawling over every desk, the dozens of filing cabinets in every corridor, storing party supplies or ancient records or boxes of useless symbols, and then on the wall, what, I suppose it must be art, walking a fine line between abstract and representational, of course with the advantages of neither. It looks like the wall rug. The pedantic, hectoring tone in the conversations near me.

Everything is intensely boring but I can’t seem to direct my energy anywhere. It’s helpless to any stimulus that comes along, the filtering has been turned off and everything contentless is coming through, without any context or any meaning. My forehead doesn’t seem to be the right temperature but I can’t tell if it’s too hot or too cold: it feels tight. My bowels are clutching spasmodically. I don’t think I want to be here.

It’s certainly a funny way I have of expressing it. Last time I felt like this for any length of time, I got shingles, and then pneumonia. I grew inches of beard, lost fifteen pounds, dumped gallons of sweat in my bed; and then I felt a lot better. So there’s a part of this that just has to be endured, I think. But there’s another part that points to some unacknowledged problem.

And this has always been my weak point; I don’t have a good method for determining the problem: the first step to solving it. I suffer it like the dog, stuck outside in the storm. Loyalty demands I not abandon a certain position. But remaining at my post I only cause discomfort for myself and annoyance to others.