The Thing I Was Doing or Not Doing

In my last note, I promised that I would try to be more optimistic. In fact, I promised to become addicted to optimism. Alas, becoming addicted to optimism is not as easy as plunging a syringe of hope into your arm. It takes a lot of work, lots of internal struggle, and I have been losing the battle day after shitty day. The good news is that, as I write this, it is almost seven in the evening, and the sun still hasn’t set. I can hardly believe that I made it. I want to shove my head through the window and scream, “We did it! We made it through another apocalyptic winter!” But I’m not going to. That would take a lot of energy, and my energy was spent trying to be happy.

Predictably, the recognition that I have it pretty good and that I shouldn’t be so self-pitying makes me even more ashamed. It doesn’t help that I just turned thirty, the student loan people are banging down my door and whenever I turn on the news all the anchors are wide-eyed and menacing. “WE’RE ALL GOING TO STARVE!” They scream.

The only coping strategy I have when things get this bad is to avoid my problems and wish them away. Unfortunately, my problems’ strategy is to stick around and leave a big shit in the tub. Sometimes my problems do go away. But only if you consider having a boyfriend a problem.

Lately making even minor decisions has become difficult. My response is to simply choose not to choose. Or to be precise, I don’t choose not to not choose. It goes something like this: It’s been three days. Should I eat? What should I have? A banana. A banana would be okay, but I’d have to be in the kitchen. I’d have to look in the pantry. Wait, bananas don’t stay good for three weeks. I’ll just have to throw it out anyway. Oh look, there’s a heap of garbage. Do they need this to be outside to pick it up? Forget it.

Me and my problems spend hours watching reruns of Frasier with my laptop on my chest. I imagine I’m Dr. Crane, and all I have to do to secure my living is go on the radio for a few hours a day. I’m pleased with myself for having worked so hard during university to become a doctor, since now, in my middle age, I have nothing to worry about, and can afford a live-in English maid named Daphne. My television friends are utterly reliable, but let me tell you something: they won’t rub your back at night. Also, they are not real.

I’ve been doing a lot of fantasizing lately. Most of my fantasies revolve around the idea that I am someone else. This self-portrait is a good representation of what I’m doing when I’m not sleeping or crying into the darkness. I’m probably dreaming that I’ve moved to Nairobi, where I’ve met a British doctor. He’s mean and he’s an alcoholic, but deep down he’s got a heart of gold. In that fantasy I’m wearing linen. In another one, I tend to a herb garden in front of my California bungalow wearing a gingham apron, holding a Neiman Marcus trowel. I am so nurturing. And yet I have a 36″ waist. And then there is the one where I live in the Spanish countryside with my best friend and we ride bikes everywhere. I am basically the plot to Vicki Christina Barcelona and The Constant Gardner combined, only this time, everyone is happy, everyone survives.

This time, I won’t make the mistake of promising to do something that I’m not capable of, but at the very least, I will confront some of my problems. I have a plan. Instead of spending all my time indoors with my laptop watching sitcoms, I’ll get a TV-watch, and I’ll sit in the park to watch Frasier. Instead of ignoring the student loan people, I’ll just go back to school. And as for the heap of garbage in my kitchen? I’ll buy a pig.

When I could have been writing about something important, such as people giving their cats tattoos or the recession

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