Wednesday, November 29, 2006
November Burnout, or Give Me Crack and Anal Sex, Take the Only Tree That's Left, And Stuff it Up the Hole in Your Culture
There's something kind of post-modern about reading the following paragraph in New York Magazine....
"Our obsession with efficiency at work has unfortunately seeped into our attitude toward leisure, with the multitasking of our downtime as the loony and paradoxical result. We run on the treadmill while listening to music while watching TV. We cook while flipping through a magazine while yakking on the phone."
....while riding the elliptical trainer, listening to music and....yeah...watching television. I also was texting Haviland to tell her to read the article. I'm also writing this while: cooking dinner, talking to Stephanie (who is now reading the article), writing Chapter One, copying down survey data.
I'm pretty sure I had my first major burnout at the age of 18, which resulted in me swimming 5000 miles in the Sarah Lawrence pool and then telling my Mom I was dropping out of college, and another one has been lurking for the past few months. I reassure myself that everything will be okay because "We're all going through this, this is our time at the edge" as I learned in the seminal film St.Elmo's Fire. I know that sounds like standard sarcasm but I am dead serious. It gets me through, St. Elmo's Fire.
Haviland googled her own existential crisis (which is SO post-modern!), and came up with a WikiHow article on how to deal with an existential crisis, which she passed on to me, because it is more cracked up than a burnout-oriented "CrackBerry." Let me share some of this insight:
1. Turn on a light, preferably 75 watt or brighter.
Okay, but seriously: I'm a vampire. Light makes the baby go blind. Jesus, no matter what Emily Webb may have said, no one really wants to look at each other! I mean, florescent lights are probably another cause of burnout, that's why teenagers are so depressed all the time (cause of school, and the lighting there, y'all). Ew. I don't have a 75 watt lightbulb anywhere. Gross.
2. If necessary, clean whatever room you're in. Changing your surroundings both clarifies your power over the world and gives you a few minutes to do some problem-solving on a less grandiose scale. Don't just straighten, clean. Use a cleaning product. (Note: Does not apply if you have OCD -- cleaning isn't your problem).
You know, a few days ago MM and I were proposing finding someone who's like, really down and out (possibly insane/homeless/on drugs) to clean our apartment for us, for like 40 bucks, because we don't have time for that bullshit. Where's The Email? Where's my Hat? Pippi! Is something burning?
3. Now, try to verbalize what your problem is. Some people write full-length sentences to help clarify their issues.
4.Imagine several *different* people you like or respect giving you advice. Don't pick anyone abusive. Or try Mr. Rogers, your first grade teacher, and that girl (boy) you had a crush on in 9th grade. They don't help very much, do they? But it's fun talking to them.
I think it's really funny to think about Mr. Rogers, Mrs. Doman and Derek K. sitting on a couch together giving me advice about time management. Especially because Derek, since he was a total bad-ass, like, didn't even have time to go to school because he was really busy smoking marijuana, selling drugs, trying to get his girlfriend Beth to sleep with him (pick meeee Derek pick MEEE!!!) and sleeping in Meijers. These are the people in my neighborhood, y'all. Word.
5. Then imagine yourself giving someone else with your situation some advice. Really, if you were just the person talking to yourself, would you really think this was as big a problem?
If I was myself talking to myself I would tell myself: your hair looks really nice today. or: um, jump off a bridge, like, asap.
6. If it's between 8 am and 10 pm, consult someone who loves you like a friend or a parent.
Problem A: I don't have any daytime minutes. Is this what that T-Mobile my faves thing is for? God, I need a new phone. I think Sprint is giving me a crisis.
Problem B: I think this involves a lot of assumptions and a lot of problems in general as to like, what is love? Does anyone love me? Does Lionel Richie love me? Does Derek? Does sprint pcs? If I called someone I loved with a crisis, would they still love me? (No)
Problem C: I don't have any friends
Problem D: My Mom goes to work all day
Problem E: If I DID Have friends, they would be BADASS friends who'd be up all night long and I could call 'em whenever I fucking wanted to, HOLLA! (except like, before 10am)
Don't decide to refuse to confront your problem on the romantic basis that life is prettier when you suffer. This is crap, and only applies if you actually can't deal with a problem. Most likely you can, even if it's only later.
Whatevs. Who wrote this, Mr. Rogers and Mrs. Doman? Someone who lives in a house with wall-to-wall carpeting and a pool and pays one-quarter of what I do for rent in my closet-sized bedroom?
Suffering is freakin' beautiful. Didn't you see Jordan Catalano in Requiem for a Dream? (I didn't, it's hard for me to sit through a movie because I always want to be writing/checking email/revising my Amazon wish list/making out, but I've seen photos so I know a thing or two.) But I did see The Basketball Diaries, which in my estimation was the hottest Leonardo DiCaprio has ever looked before or since.
Don't do too much thinking after midnight. Trust me, that never goes well. You might turn into a gremlin or worse yet, a pumpkin. Seriously, you never know.
Seriously, first you're all like, don't call someone after lights out, and now you're getting all Black Cauldron on me. Also, I like pumpkins.
Whatever you do, don't kill, cut, or maim yourself. Don't make any permanent changes because of temporary problems: destroying the only copy of your novel or getting a facial tattoo is unacceptable. You may use henna or dye your hair blue, if you want to get in a fight with your parents.
Somehow we got from like, killing yourself to using henna. HENNA?! Henna is so 1997. And anyone who destroys the only copy of their novel is saving some poor literary agent the pain of having to read their query letter about how they felt like they had burnout and then wrote a novel to pursue the joy of being a writer because all the words just "spilled" onto the page or something, which is doing us all a favor. Move to Key West and become a fisherman or something. You can read all about it in Thomas McGuane's Ninety-Two in the Shade. You know I think there should be a category of literature called "Burnout Lit."
Here's some titles for Burnout Lit:
Independence Day, Richard Ford
Sideways, Rex Pickett
Fight Club,Chuck Palahniuk
Music for Torching, A.M Homes
The Stories of John Cheever, John Cheever
American Pyscho, Brett Easton Ellis
American Appetites, Joyce Carole Oates
The Quality of Life Report, Megan Daum
In any event, I'd like to see a facial tattoo resulting from an existential crisis. Just thinking about it kind of makes me LOL, almost.
Don't hesitate to call hotlines. They are there for the benefit of people who have similar difficulties with the troubles life throws at them. Life is hard. Help others and ask for help when you need it.
Can I quote this article I just read in New York Magazine? Alright then, I will.
As one Florida social worker told her, “I recently received a call at night, and while I was getting dressed, I was screaming and cursing these motherfuckers for calling me with their goddamned problems.”
In conclusion: I fully believe that we are given too much to handle. Seriously. I think the level of output and energy that is required of the average New Yorker is beyond what our bodies were designed to deal with. Which is why I recommend alcohol, drugs, hookers, and massages, or perhaps some other bizarre vice (destructive relationship, over-use of henna tattoos, therapy, crossword puzzles, eating disorder, nymphomania). Whatever. This is our time at the edge.
If you are going to kill yourself, please first buy me some things from my Amazon wish list, thanks!