Friday, June 26, 2009

Finding an Excuse to Use the Word "Hinterlands," Mostly.

"Kathy," she said to herself, "you're doing it all wrong."

See, it kind of works. This tidbit is a telegram from my most remote psychological hinterlands, but occasionally when I'm feeling lousy or stupid or stupidly lousy, I do this thing where I turn my interior monologue into third person prose to gauge how ridiculous it sounds. If I wind up with something that rings a little Days of our Livesy, I know I'm being melodramatic. If it chimes kinda CSI, I know I'm too angry. Miss J-caliber quip? Scale back the bitchery. If I end up with Smiths lyrics, it's time for an Italian ice and some sunlight-derived vitamin D.

It's probably a legitimate problem, though, if you can read your life back to yourself and have it sound like a bummer. For the last month or so my narrator has managed to be fairly pathetic, a little bit indulgently "woe is me," and, worst of all, pretty on point about the suckage of several factors. There's that idiom that's proving annoyingly true about never being able to have an apartment, a job, and a relationship you love while living in New York.

"Kathy, far from attaining any of the big three, had fumbled even the most easily juggled balls: the shitty iced tea mistaken for the good one not once, but three times at the bodega; a misplaced phone and iPod; a favorite pair of shoes devoured by one of her canine roommates; vacation days misspent whining about bad iced tea and phones and shoes."

There are legitimate reasons to think one's life has gone to crap, and those are obvious: a lost leg, for example, on top of a dead pet, getting laid off, and identity theft. None of these have happened to me, so it's imperative at this point that I cowboy up and come to learn there are worse things than a general sense of career dissatisfaction. Or money troubles that leave me uncomfortable but not homeless. Or health problems that end at an occasional migraine or hangover of my own doing. Scooped on top of each other like the worst ice cream cone in history, everyday problems just have a way of adding up unmanageably. My day-to-day is all dirty laundry and bills and humidity and paperwork I don't want to do and a troubling amount of dog poop. In the midst, it's easy to forget the good things, the fun things, the hours in the park, more complimentary rounds of beer than I should've earned through congeniality alone, a handful of eccentrically nicknamed friends, unsolicited work e-mails written just to make me laugh, situations that drop me on the balcony of a fancy hotel, 18 floors up, looking at a motherloving rainbow stretched over New York.

"Kathy remembered computer class in third grade, and could recall none of the lessons that revolved around a blinking green cursor at a DOS prompt. All that stuck with her were three options: abort, retry or fail. She was ready to choose whichever option would work, whichever was quickest keystroke for an exit into a new game of Number Munchers."


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