You are v. lucky to be miserable

December 28, 2006

Okay, disclaimer before I start: I am not miserable, truly, I am just watching Annie Hall. I did not know that watching Annie Hall was going to be the right thing to do w/ my evening when I woke up this morning, but it turned out to be, since I have a copy that my dad made me off of TV onto DVD and they did not have any Disc One’s for Season One of  The Wire at the library and that was the best thing we could think of to watch on DVD tonight. We would have had to start in the middle of Season One, and any television series worth doing is worth doing well so forget that. So we came home and nothing is on television so out comes the bootlegged DVD of Annie Hall and the remnants of a couple of bottles of red from the past week and cold salmon that we stole from from our in-law’s Christmas dinner leftovers. Actually it wasn’t stealing, it was offered, but it felt like stealing b/c we never buy salmon ourselves although we should b/c it is really not that expensive.

Back to this morning, when I woke up. Actually, the cats woke me up by sitting on my face. They do that a lot. They get hungry early. This morning it was at 6:20, which is worse than their usual 5:20 b/c if I get up at 5:20 to feed them and am later able to talk D into taking the first hour, that’s two hours of good sleep I can get still. But at 6:20, it’s a crap shoot. Maybe an hour of good sleep is left, but D is less likely to be sympathetic enough to my cause to take the first shower so that cuts it back to 40 minutes, and on this particular morning that was null and void because I was stiff as a crow bar. I was upset upon waking, unable to get meaningless refrains out of my head such as “every single holiday a dick in a box” and vaguely furious about something, possibly rising interest rates or rising cancer rates or just the fact that I was awake.

Why was I so tense? Three theories. 1) My crazy co-worker’s recent purchase of a 350k, 1400 square footer in Coral Springs has unexpectedly given me home lust, despite the fact that they have a crazy loan that is likely to blow up in their face and Coral Springs is far from my first choice of town in which I want to commit to a mortgage in. So she gets me looking at home listings and I find a 350k listing in my fair Boca for more square footage and furnished too (obviously, someone died in it) and I try to go and look at it but like most things in Boca, it is in a Snooty Gated Community and of course they don’t let me drive by, so obviously I am not worthy of their time of day. Which is exactly on the money, because 350k? No way am I qualified for that. 2) When I have to get up this early b/c of cats, and I’m not really tired, shouldn’t I forget falling back to sleep and get and write something? Yes I should, and the fact that I opt to try and fall back to sleep anyway must be proof that I am a dilletante and my whole life is sham, and that is kind of hard to take at 6:20 in the morning and I get a little down in the mouth. 3) Perhaps I am just a 25 year old human being who is neither brilliant nor stupid, and that is just life and feeling angry and depressed about cat claws in my face at 6:20 in the morning is perfectly normal.

The day that followed from my 6:20 am–oh what would you call it, ennui?–had its good points and its bad points, and even its productive points (I did try to sit down and write something before D got home), but before I put on Annie Hall I was still feeling crummy.  (What if this all was actually the infamous hormones? How can I know?) I started the second book in Richard Ford’s trilogy, in which the narrator has become of all things a realtor and is busy selling overpriced homes to people who can afford them. D got the wireless sound/printing system set up at last (yay! thank you D&F!!) and we took some books back to the library on time. A nice, average day, right? What is my freaking problem?

But then we put in Annie Hall, and I got a couple of glasses into the red, and things got clearer. As Ford’s narrator would say, a lot is uncertain. Should we jump into the housing market at any cost? Will my sister consent to live with us when she moves down here? Will I ever write something real? In the midst of uncertainty, there are many good and thoughtful things to enjoy. There is this amazing weather, 65 degrees and a starry sky in December. There is wine and cookies and the ease of getting independent films over Netflix. There are so many plans, many of which seem quite possible.

The trouble is, I keep comparing my plans with other people’s plans, especially the outdated plans of people the age of D’s parents. No one our age is now buying a starter home for reasonable rates. No one is making an upper middle class wage w/ only their four year degree anymore, but that indeed used to be the norm.  Watching Annie Hall, I feel a strong urge to have a New York phase, but at the same time it has begun to dawn on me that our fair country might have entered a new age in which there is no time for phases. It often feels like there is no times for me to spend my 20’s being a failing writer, b/c the stakes are so high. I feel like we are being told to pick a side, and maybe if we’d gotten here five or ten years ago we wouldn’t have had to choose our side so quickly but it’s too late now. You can be on the writer/social worker/teacher side or the lawyer/doctor/accountant side, and whatever side you pick just remember, you picked it. Our kids might not even get a choice. It might be determined by the quality of the schools that we scrimped in order to put them into.

So, watching Annie Hall, I wonder if what I need now is another drug. After all, maybe I really am too tense. Valium (like Annie Hall reaches for) is passé, but I’m not even talking about its latter-day equivalents, Prozac, Paxil, and Abilify. I’m talking about marijuana. When will I smoke it? That one time, in Spragens’s apartment after a long Voice editorial session does not count b/c I could not figure out how to inhale.  When, now, after college, after marriage, after entry into a job market that runs urine drug tests like a bad verbal tic, will I feel free enough to buy some shit and smoke it? I’ve seen my Six Feet Under, and it looks like I am missing out. When will I have my crazy funky years to try harmless but non-profit oriented stuff? Can I still have a phase, or did we give that up when we said “I do” and meant it? What do phases even look like now? The worst thing that I think I could do right this minute is try to fit into someone else’s model of how anything should be done, yet I often doubt that I have the courage to forge my own.

“I encourage you to take Adult Education courses.” Enough education, eh? It’s time to do, so why don’t I start already?

What I’m craving, probably, is not the house and definitely not the mortgage but the fight of getting something that looks impossible. How sad that just two years into my post-college life I already have moments in which I think I’m ready to trade the fight to write great poetry for the fight to carry a ginormous mortgage. The key thing is to do, to work a little every day, and unlike a house, my pen and notebook are right in front of me. I don’t want a house, I want a book. Who knows if I will ever get one, or if it will be good, but I should have at least enough faith in myself to give it a shot b/c that is eventually who gets something done–the person who just does it. My crazy co-worker has a house, and maybe one day I can have a book but time’s a’wasting. The time to get started is yesterday, or now, or at the very least tomorrow instead of lying in bed and hoping to fall back to sleep.

Why am I blogging about this, the possibly fleeting thoughts of a single day at the end of a year that was not that notable? Because I want a record. I want a record of who I was and what I worried about and why, exactly, I thought it all mattered enough to write about.

The moral of the story definitely is, Annie Hall is a truly great film and red wine is cheaper than any other kind of drug, but golly this life thing just doesn’t get any easier.

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One Response to “You are v. lucky to be miserable”

  1. LCB Says:

    I have almost no battery left, so this will have to be short, but I just wanted to say I thought this post was kind of brilliant. And while things are not so good right now, I’m not sure we’re no longer allowed to have phases. But if we aren’t, I am SCREWED.


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