Ask Me About My Conspiracy Theory

September 19, 2006

This post is a cathartic attempt at understanding how I became a paranoid neurotic proto-manic whack job. Or maybe didn’t.

If had written this post yesterday, I might not have been able to muster such clarity. Yesterday, when I started looking into the reason why the promised check from my library program to cover my tuition for my MFA classes had not arrived, I found out something very disturbing. I found out that in a theoretical universe known as The Other University’s Accounting Office, I owed TOU about five thousand dollars. This in itself was unexpected, since the program is pretty clear about paying for everything related to tuition. It also didn’t help that, after a couple of phone calls in which nobody seemed to understand anything and everybody seemed to blame me, the money for the MFA tuition had apparently disappeared into a sinkhole of human error as a result of this mistaken owing, never to return. I could already hear their voices in my head: I don’t know what happened but that money is gone now and we can’t give you any more of it until next semester.

The real question, now, 24 hours later, with vigorous assurances from all involved parties that the above scenario is not going to occur and all will henceforth be well and solvent, is why did I hear those voices so loudly and so quickly. In a few moments time, how did I extrapolate an obvious error into a vast conspiracy to harm me irreparably and ruin my life and good credit? Why did assume nothing would be worked out, no matter how many people I talked to, no matter how right I was to expect that the program would live up to its promises? How did a bureaucratic screw-up become a reason for me to spend an afternoon and evening crying, hating the stating of Florida, cursing myself for ever having believed any promise ever made to me, and generally not revising poems for workshop or preparing for the Melville exam? I wasn’t just jumping to a conclusion, I was climbing toward it. If that conclusion was Mt. Everest, I had my oxygen pack ready to go. I was going to get to the incontrovertible conclusion that I was doomed whatever it took.

I know for a fact that I was not always like this. Well, yes, I have always been prone to excessive worrying. I’ve posted on this before even. But around the age of 20 I had about a year in which I actually believed I had changed. I stopped worrying, stopped dieting, stopped envisioning global apocalypse even though this year included the events of 9-11. I experimented with wearing make-up and never doubted that my 1986 Volvo would start in the morning. If all of that happy go luckyness doesn’t convince you, here is proof positive: I got a B in Psychology both semesters and I didn’t even care. That year, I was so damn not worried that I was able to come to the logical conclusion that the amount of time I would have had to spend studying to get an A in Psychology was not worth the same amount of time spent blowing my work study money in the coffee shop when I could get a B without even going to class most days. So B it was, and happier I have rarely ever been. So I know that it can happen. I can be normal. I’m not always so neurotic and worried that my chest hurts.

In a lot of ways that are good and not so, I am no longer that worry free. My worry of late has even started to take the form of paranoia. My mother-in-law showed me a book of subversive stickers this past weekend, and I am a little nervous to report that if I had to describe myself in one subversive sticker it would be the one that says “Ask Me About My Conspiracy Theory.” Yes! I have like SO MANY. I would love for you to ask me about them. But in case you haven’t got all day, I think I can summarize them all in one grand unified conspiracy theory: Everyone in any position of authority no matter how slight is out to hurt you and make you go into debt and you are alone and things probably won’t work out and if you think otherwise, well, you must be 20 years old.  Sometimes things really don’t work out and there is really nothing you can do about it, I feel like screaming at people who try to console me, this could be one of those times. Ask LCB about her visa. Ask my mom about her surgery. Ask anyone who felt so horrified in March of 2003 that they wrote letters and protested and prayed and cried and realized that they could go throw themselves in front of a tank and it would stop their country from starting a war.
Most people who read this know me, so there is no use pretending that my life has been one of exceptional hardship, because it really really has not. I am very spoiled. I just sometimes mistakenly feel like it has. And lately, it has taken less and less to make me feel that way. I have a hair trigger. I have windows of unflappableness that usually coincide with the six hours after a yoga class or polishing off a good bottle of wine with friends, but on the whole these days it just doesn’t take much to make me feel mean and stepped on and vengeful. Faulty internet connection for a month will do it. Anything to do with a dermatologist will definitely do it. Reading about civilian deaths in Iraq, reading about employers dropping health care benefits, reading about pro-life activists, gas prices, late paychecks, flat tire, toilet seat left up, toxic spinach, forgetting my travel mug of coffee–see what I mean? This is just too much stuff that sends me over the edge, and most of it isn’t even anything other than plain old normal life.  I often wonder, what is my problem? Am I really going crazy? Or is the rest of the world crazy and I’m sane so I end up crazy? What is the line between between being committed and being a 24 year old woman in America in the year 2006?

I have no idea, but so far I have generally made it back to a moment like this one: beer in one hand, slice of pizza in the other, and the vague idea that sooner or later I’m going to be able to use everything that life gives me to become the person I’m meant to be. Oh wait, that would mean that I think I am balanced. I am not at all balanced. I fly off the handle at a moment’s notice. I wallow in problems more often than solving. I guess something a little closer to what I mean is that I’ve been listening to a Ryan Adams song called “To Be Young (Is to be sad Is to be high)” and it’s been sounding about right. Even though I feel old, the fact is that I guess most people would still call 24 young. Young at least in the sense of only having been out of college two years and only having been married for one, which probably means, as another folksy singer explains, “you’re still young, that’s your fault, there’s so much you have to go through.” By the time I have enough perspective to weather the flat tires of life with equanimity, a lot of worse things will probably have to be gone through. And the only conspiracy I’ll see is the one they’ve been seeing since the Iliad: the gods are out to get us, because they’ll live forever and we will not, which is a reason to get back to the wine and avoid the draft.

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One Response to “Ask Me About My Conspiracy Theory”

  1. Tom Says:

    That’s a lot of conspiracy theory.

    The Republicans are keen on starting another one, which is stupidly laughable, and yet I fear it could be effective.

    Check it out:
    http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/09/21/black.republicans.ap/index.html


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