Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Devil is a Busy Man*

When I started writing my internet diary several whatevers ago, I was hoping I would not be like this by the time the weather cooled. I really hoped I would not still be a self-pitying, filmy, sarcastic droid.

This is the part of the post where I start talking about the devil. If you are superstitious or if the devil makes you nervous (ie, you have a lick of sense) you might want to outclick to someone else's blog. Like this happy nice one.

*tap tap*

You're still here?

The, devil, then. My newest theory is that in rough numbers, I am to blame for 52.875533% of my failures (some days the figure rises above 53.223245%, depending on whether I am measuring appropriately), and the other 47 and some odd percent of my failures are clearly brought upon me (brought upon me!) by bad luck. Bad luck happens when the universe is harmonized that such I miss the train or put my hand in a bag of chips, only to realize that the bag is a big greasy, salty... empty.**

Bad luck is just life, being life. Life tax, so to speak. Everyone pays it, and I am not concerned about it. What concerns me is that other odd 52.875533% (or 53.223245%) - in other words, the way I have been behaving in response to my life tax bills.

I have been behaving very, very badly.

Let's just assume I am fat today. That means 53.223245% of the badness in my life is my fault because I have been behaving so badly.

But what if my bad behavior is brought upon me (brought upon me!) by the devil? What if the devil has been residing right here on my left shoulder and running my whole show? I have been very consistent - and doing the exact opposite of what I should be doing in response to basically everything sucky that is laid at my feet. It is literally as if I am a puppet and the devil is pulling my strings.

To even say such things is risky - let along to write them. In fact, I think "embodiment of suckiness and peril" is the precise technical definition of the evil one, and I am well aware that it is beyond foolish to even speak of the....... .

But he is convenient target for a drunken finger greased with cupcake frosting when Nina wants to say it's not all her fault. Or is. (I have confused myself).

No sane person with my waist:hip ratio and my purported IQ would make the choices I have made in the last five years... unless that person was possessed or at least under constant attack from what Mamacita calls "the evil one".

So that you understand, an example (or two):

Situation: I get a letter from the IRS saying something along the lines of "thanks for mailing us some money, but can we have your tax return too?"

My Response: I throw the letter on the floor. Three weeks later I pick it up and call the number. They explain that they just never got the paper return. I explain that I filed it electronically. I explain that the computer I used to create the return is now defunct. They laugh at me and say "make us a new one". I take what paperwork I have to H & R Block and they take another three weeks to create the return. Turns out that unless I can come up with more deductions, I will owe $2008. I pay for the return. I discover that it is incorrect in like nine different ways. Status: the inaccurate return is right now, at this very moment, on the bottom of a pile of paper on the floor in my apartment. I have to drag it back to H & R Block -- but that office is now only open for about three hours on Tuesdays. Guess what day of the week this problem never enters my head? Guess who doesn't actually have $2008? Perhaps I should just mail it? What I do know is that I have "I can't fucking believe this" fatigue. This problem is approximately 47% bad luck and 53% me being a total fuckwit. No other way to describe it, really.

Situation: (in the form of an atrocious habit) I have a lot of good friends, good in both senses... they are good in the sense that they are fun and interesting people and good in the sense that they are very good to me. Guess how I treat them?

My response: My friends have become so accustomed to my lack of response to phone calls and emails that they now know that unless they actually GET ME ON THE PHONE, I cannot be relied upon (relied upon! never!) to listen to a voice mail or read an email or even text them back. If I want to talk to them, I do. If I don't, I let them twist. These are the same people who I feel pretty sure would lay down in traffic for me or hold my hair away from my face while I am drunk and vomiting. Nice, am I not?

Situation: I started my PhD four years ago and while i have completed the coursework (sort of) I still have three incompletes and I am in danger of being tossed from the program if I don't finish them, take comps and orals, pass my second foreign language exam and write my proposal. Within, say, the next twelve months.

My response: I spend 95% of my time climbing, reading books that have nothing to do with my degree, worrying about my hair, smearing goop on my fact to try to prevent wrinkles, and... drinking. Every time someone says to me, "so, how is the PhD coming?" the first thing that pops into my head is "so, how hard can I tell you to go fuck yourself?"

Somehow, someway, at the age of 37, I find myself out of gumption. I find that I have nothing to prove and no ambitions of greatness of any kind, unless you count climbing or tighter abs. Mojo. Seriously. Lacking.

Some people call this enlightenment. Some people call it clinical depression. Still others call it self-destruction, and it is those very people who have gently (and not so gently) suggested that now might be an excellent time for me to get therapist - This very hour, Headologist Bootstraps recommended that I go to a psychiatric social worker and tell the story of the last twenty four months of my life to - get this - find an "exit strategy." Did she just recommend that I kill myself? Or did she just suggest that I break off all contact with my dad? Gosh, it's confusing.

I decided that today was a good day to sort this out. Below, my strategy:

I walked down the street and made a left. When I reached the river, I selected a bench (one not already occupied by a homeless drunk) and sat, staring at the East River.

Then I, in an out of body daydream, pictured myself dropping dead of stupidity in line at the grocery store. That's right: toppling right over between the racks of magazines and the Redbull cooler, while people looked on, in horror. I pictured all the people staring down at my prone, lifeless, baseball-hatted body. I sneered at the women checking out the contents of my basket (milk, eggs, four kinds of cheese and a 20 ounce can of beer). I smirked at all the men caught off guard by the sight of my upturned breasts - and then I froze the frame, and staged the following conversation between God and Jesus:

God: Wow. Took longer for THAT to happen than I would have guessed.

Jesus: I've been expecting it for some time. It has been three days since she washed her hair. She knows full well how we disapprove of basically everything she does.

God: It's a pity. We gave her such great hair.

Jesus: Yeah. Remember she let that stupid Russian woman with the plastic scissors cut it before she left for Peru. Like I said, I have been expecting this for some time. She hasn't done anything right since Clinton was president.

God: You know, we ARE all powerful. Let's put our heads together and see if we can retrieve this disaster.

*** Jesus and God give each other an affectionate head-butt***

(Voice from off stage: Jesus? This is your mother. Just thought I would remind you that her parents say a rosary for her EVERY friday, without fail. Even when her father was in a medically induced coma in the CCU and you two were considering air-lifting him to heaven, he was saying the Hail Holy Queen in the hopes that she would find a husband. So you ought not to forget that OTHER people care what happens to her, while coming up with your retrieval plan." )

(Jesus, over his shoulder "Thanks, mom. 'preciate the reminder.")

God: All her basic parts still work. Her heart and lungs are pretty powerful, and you know, despite the fact that she should have been working on her dissertation, she DID manage to build some pretty powerful quads, hanging from all those rocks. Her feet have always been ugly, but if she were a better person, we might could persuade her to get regular pedicures and stop wearing those ill-fitting shoes. Hmmm.

Jesus: Let's revive her.

God: Think we should? I mean, it's not often we let a woman like this go tits up in the grocery store. The guy behind the register has been praying for a buxom, unconscious woman to practice CPR on for months. Perhaps we should give this whole thing a moment.

(A voice from off stage: "Jesus? This is your mother. Just make sure she dates. Her parents are praying again. I feel like we need to come through on that point.")

(Jesus, over his shoulder: "Thanks, mom. Will do.")

In my out of body daydream, new Nina awakens to find herself sitting on a bench across from the river, completely underwhelmed by her issues. She gets up and goes back to her apartment and starts re-managing her life. She mails her tax returns and takes out the trash. She returns phone calls and emails and she spends only 81% of her day on instant messenger with Supajewie. (Note: present estimate is hovering at about 94%).

She also works on her dissertation, grades all those papers on time and eats fewer cupcakes.

Since I performed this exercise just now, on my way home from Headologist Bootstrap's Den of Crazy, I am supposedly renewed by the great good of the Almighty and, gosh, if all this typing had not worn me clean out, I would put my new attitude into practice right this minute. Instead, I bid you goodnight. I am headed into my happy chair to read Pride & Prejudice and tomorrow, I will take arms against my sea of troubles, unfettered by demonic influence. Let's hope.

* If you know this sentence, you know I heard it first from David Wallace, who wrote many good books and may still be writing them, for all I know. For all I know, since I have been either drunk or clinging to a rock somewhere for the last five years. GO, me!

** Yeah, I just realized that cause and effect is not the same thing as bad luck, but I don't feel like changing the metaphor. But thanks.


The Horny Bitch said...

Cause and effect? So buddhist..
Anw, screw statistics and whatever it is. Life's too short for all that crap.

Nina said...

Yes, HB, life is short. You make an excellent point, there.

ByJane said...

I haven't done the comp/diss marathon for umpteen years now, but your few sentences still managed to chill me to the bone. But then I did take drastic measures to get off the merry-go-round.