Friday, June 13, 2008

Brain Death

I'm starting to think that work has eaten my brain. That, or cozy apartment living.

I don't know what it is. Things just feel... nice. The problem with me feeling nice and content is that everything just sort of stops. I do a lot of cooking and reading and play some video games and watch some shows and work out and sleep and take showers and use perfume that won't kill anyone and tidy up and it's all very cozy and.. nice.

And I don't know what to do with myself when things are nice, when I don't hate myself. I tried to stir up some self-hate yesterday when I decided to order some pizza and have a beer, but I didn't eat enough to make myself sick (three pieces is my limit in order to subdue an impending sugar crises), and I played video games all night instead of working because I wanted to feel sorry for myself.

Instead, I woke up the next morning and I didn't feel sorry for myself at all. I tried to start a bit of the old, "Oh, I am such a loser stuff," but it was half hearted, because, what am I a loser about? Because I ate some pizza and played Mass Effect? Seriously.

There are too many good things going on to hate myself over. Thing is, I have no idea what to use to motivate myself at all. You spend so long running on self hate (I need to be a writer, need to publish a book, need to experience things, need to date more, need to socialize, need to have a better job, need need need need need) that when you stop, well... needing things, what are you supposed to do to get motivated again?

I used to have this deep fear of falling in love, because I had this deep fear of loving somebody crazily and them not loving me back, and how that would make me weak and useless (which is probably why, until recently, I always dated people who were far more crazy about me than I was about them. I was too terrified to pursue people I was sick over).

And then that heartbreak actually happened, and yes, it sucked, and I was completely heartsick and heartbroken for months and it still aches a little when I think about it, but like any other hurt, it bleeds and bleeds and then scabs over, bleeds a little more, and heals over. So all you've got to show for it is that occasional dull ache.

And you know, in the face of chronic illness, near death, job loss, and staggering credit card debt, heartbreak really wasn't so bad.

So that's not so scary anymore. Now I have something else to face, which is finding myself without that motivator. I ran a lot on fear. Choking, pulse-pounding fear. Fear of being weak, fear of failure, fear of never being good enough, fear of lost potential, fear of, well, fear of fear. Fear of just not doing enough.

I was in the shower the other day thinking about how I was going to get to Macchu Pichu for my 30th birthday, and I was thinking... this is all extra time. I'm dead already, really. All this is just extra time... so much extra time. What a gift.

One of my coworkers shuddered the other day when I gave myself my daily lunch shot of insulin. "I just don't know I could do it," he said. "Stick myself with a needle every day."

"Well," I said, "the alternative is to die in 72 hours."

Some bad things have happened. Not horrifically bad things. I haven't been beaten, raped, shot, mutilated and left for dead in a ditch or anything, but some things I feared have happened, and I got through them.

A funny thing happens when you face fear. It's not an unknown anymore. There's no anticipation, no buildup. Death sucks. It happens. Heartbreak sucks. It happens. Being poor and homeless, relying on other people, shitcanned and deeply in debt, sucks. And it happens. And you go on. Or, in the case of death, you cheat it just a little bit longer. Never inevitably. Just a little bit longer.

Now, though, I find myself a little directionless. I have a great job, a great apartment, a book deal, an actual mattress for my bed. I'm comfortable with my body and my looks. I honestly have no complaints. I like my coworkers. I have few but good friends.

I just don't know what to do with all this. I went out on the porch this morning and transferred some of my basil seedlings into bigger pots. It made me so happy, that simple thing. Simple things make me so happy. Readying comic books out on the porch. Line editing Black Desert on my big new mattress. Reading The Sugar Festival on the bus.

But it all feels sort of... formless. Without real drive or purpose. There's no gearshift grinding there in the back. Nothing telling me to shape up or ship out. No self-hate, no fear. Just this vast stretch of happy nothingness. Some days, I just drown in it, I just let myself go.

And maybe that's what gets to me, that I just let myself revel in it. It's so strange to not be crazy or unhappy or... driven.

I like to think that I just pushed so hard and long to get here that this is just a lull in... drive, productivity. Life. Because though I am happy, I miss that driving force, that passionate desire to do, to live, to push. I need to find that again somewhere, but it's so nice... so nice to just be happy.

I worry that happiness is a dangerous thing. I worry that it's not something we should strive for, but just something you get periodically, a lull between the long stretches of darkness, like the short, sharp Alaskan Summer. Those three months of intense, gorgeous, beautiful life and sunshine that make the 8 months of winter worth it.

Thing is, without the winter, would I have loved those summers so much?

And without the promise of summer, could I have made it through the winter?

I don't know.

I just know that I feel like I'm sinking into a happy life of cozy softness, and part of me wants to just let myself enjoy it because nothing lasts forever, and part of me wants to find some kind of weakness, some kind of fear, some kind of motivation, to make it feel that I'm living on the edge of everything again. To keep me going forward when all I want to do is pretend the world is OK for just a little bit longer

In Which the Protagonist Feels Like a Troll

The work folks like to make offhand comments about my perceived high standards in men (which appears to be the only reason they can comprehend my singledom). Apparently, my inability to sleep with people I find physically attractive but uninteresting sounds pretty weird to some of them.

"I would take interesting over hot," I said to our DB guy this morning. He gave me this look of spurious disbelief, like I'd just climbed up from under a rock, covered in seaweed.

"I don't need to date a traditionally attractive person. At least half of my attraction is mental. If they can't keep up with me, what's the point. It's why I had to stop going on dates with that guy who had the big TV. He was deliriously cute and physically, totally my type, but when we started talking? Nothing. Nada."

Sure, I could have had sex with him. And I wouldn't have gotten off on it.

Maybe that's what most people who worship at the alter of pretty bodies don't get.

Pretty bodies alone don't do it for me. It's just so much meat.

Not that pretty isn't nice, and not that I don't have a type. But there had better be a lot more going on than pretty.

What I didn't tell them is that I think that my singledom has more to do with the fact that I enjoy being single than that I have particularly crazy standards.

But then, maybe that's the rub: I have to be pretty wild about somebody before I switch out my happy single life. So maybe I have some crazy standards afterall.

Just the way I like it.