Saturday, November 13, 2010

postgraduate postmodern poster child

As I stare down mile marker 27 on the road to Dirty Thirty, I have only this to say: Eat my dust.

I flipped the match and I still don't regret it.

Recipe for Disappearance: Sublet, suitcase, eleven hour workdays.

I used to love the moment of crawling under the comforter, preparing for sleep, running my toes along the bottom sheet, letting my body sink into soft relief from all this New York City hardness. These days, I sleep for survival. I take the bed like a tight end with the ball tucked under the elbow crook—face first in one forward assault. I sleep as fast as I can.

I am up with the birds and down with the underdogs.

Dessert: Writing sample, tango habit, yoga, boys. (In order of percentage of overall weight.)

My priorities have shifted their shit around. Two full time jobs stretch me thin from dawn until dawn, and my daily strategy is not to win the war, but to take the scrimmages one by one. Example, on Wednesday I got up at 6:30 to make an am yoga class. I listened to The Podcast while I mopped the kitchen and vacuumed the rugs. I did GRE problem sets on the PATH train to Newark.

I can very nearly eat standing up. (Translation: I am cheating death!)

I sublet in a seedy section of the Heights, living out of my suitcase. I can project neither of my two (now full-time) jobs more than a few months into the future, but I've made rent and COBRA this month and maybe, just maybe, there'll be a little something left over with which to buy Christmas gifts.

As tango now requires a rather expensive cab fare home, I spent two—count em, two—evenings (read: between the dinner hour of 10pm and the crash pad hour of 2) this week on the couch in my sweatpants, hard at work. I have a draft, albeit an imperfect one, to show for this.

Everything is a big fat mess, but for the first time in my life I feel confident making choices of myself, by myself, and for myself. I'm learning what it feels like to be in control, to change those things I can.

I've run my resume through the paper shredder. It now would seem to represent a circus performer with acrophobia and Tourette's. My internal marketing department has all but thrown up their hands and quit, the remnants of their catered lunch left on the conference table.

With every week, I look less and less like what I thought a grown up ought to be. I am like the Mets with the first quarter of the season behind them. The spectators are getting nervous. In other words: a nose dive. Or maybe a swan dive, if I can arch my arms out in time. Or—best yet—om sūryāya namaḥ, sun salutation style.

That said, quite simply, I've lost the desire to explain myself.

I may have disappeared, but I am not unhappy. I'm moving forward, up or down. I walk fast and keep the landing gear in tight. This is efficiency living and maybe I'm not happy, but also maybe I've never been happier.

My mother misunderstands and says I ought to show a little gratitude to the Universe for not letting me fall flat on my ass (as perhaps I should have done). But perhaps I have not adequately expressed the victories among all this adversity.

My friends are good ones. My family loves me. My therapist approves of me. My high school English teacher thinks I'm still worth his time. I'm rocking one towel, three socks, two pairs of jeans, my fleece jacket playing Chicken with the onslaught of winter. People matter so much more than things. I'm healthy enough to function on five hours of sleep and I know where I want to go. The same Universe that sent the plague of locusts also blew up my crash balloon. When I cut out the noise, my blessings were that much easier to count.

It is about purpose.

What good are all the jobs, all the money in the world without conviction? I'm not getting any younger. I have no wheels but this self-same junker I've been driving around for 26 years. Time to dust it off and tune it up for the next hundred thousand miles. I am approaching the point of no return and I plan to run naked through the sprinklers on the neighbors' lawn until the dicta of polite society can come up with something better than, "What about a 401k?"

Last night I danced until three, ate apple crumble with friends until four, then walked up Park Avenue to Grand Central with the hazel-eyed man who makes me remember Italian verb conjugations and says, "Sei bellissima, lo sai?"

It was nice, but it wasn't a disaster. I thank you, Universe, for that. For the lovely moment with Spumoni, sure, but mostly for leaving the pit of my stomach just exactly where it was. For letting me wake up without finding empty spaces to be filled.

Tonight I've chained myself to a desk in a nocturnal Newark industrial park, writing and eating cheddar cheese and Macintosh apples while Gatsby toils away at Big Business on the other end of the office. It may not be the most dignified way to spend a Saturday night, but the tranquil hum of the trucking lanes outside, the heating vents inside, and the clack of my own keystrokes under fluorescent light is just fine by me. I'm spending seven unadulterated hours of concentration and those hours are a gift.

His attentions are irrelevant bookends. I'm the main attraction.


Shannon Mac said...

this is one of the best things you've ever written. just sayin'.

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