SCARED OF EVERYTHING: Week 10: Pat
First and foremost, I want to give myself a heartfelt congratulations for doing this newsletter 10 weeks in a row. I have accomplished my goal and will never write again.
I have just been told (1) that there are 42 (2) weeks left in the year, which cannot be right because that’s far too many.
For real though, I am genuinely proud of myself for not totally bailing on this.
There is a fine line between the good kind of patting oneself on the back (being proud of a personal achievement) and the bad kind (being far too proud of basic human decency).
The Oscars were fucked up, huh? I feel bad for the Moonlight crew losing stage time, and for the big story of the night turning from the remarkable film to the “classiness” (3) of the La La Land team for what basically amounts to declining to whine about a mistake. I have nothing against La La Land, I thought it was fine, but its also the definition of an overhyped Hollywood film, and wasn’t even the best musical of the year (Sing Street).
The most charming part of the night surely was Jimmy Kimmel proclaiming the Oscars to no longer be racist, and then proceeding to load his bits with racist jokes. Man, non-English names *are* hard to pronounce!
I’m currently reading Malcolm X’s autobiography. When I was a kid I had a very minimal and whitewashed view of Malcolm, but he was a fascinating man. When I read his words I think of white people of all kinds patting ourselves on the back for any amount of effort or peformative “wokeness.” We want to be congratulated for giving an inch when we are ahead by a mile. A quote: “White people seem to think the black ought to be shouting ‘hallelujah’! Four hundred years the white man has had his foot-long knife in the black man’s back — and now the white man starts to wiggle the knife out, maybe six inches! The black man’s supposed to be grateful! Why, if the white man jerked the knife out, it’s still going to leave a scar.”
To continue to congratulate myself, I have already done a handful of my New Year’s Resolutions. My nose is pierced, my driving is confirmed to be legal and my grad school applications are in. This week I had a Skype interview/chat with one of the schools vying for my money. Over the course of this 30 minute chat, my cat jumped on my lap and in front of the camera, a realtor knocked on my door trying to show our apartment, thus causing the dog to bark for a few minutes straight. It turned out fine, but it’s nice to know that the world is against me.
Working from home is such a gift — other than conference calls, I rarely have the sweaty-hand anxiety that comes with the territory of doing anything either out of the house or involving another person. I have gotten sweaty hands while playing a particularly tense game of Mario Kart, during a live performance of any kind, when conflict occurs in a movie, or when I check my bank account. If I ever get into a profession where I need to shake a lot of hands (politician, professional job interviewer), I’ll have to transition into that hip elbow tap that only cool people do.
John Mulaney said in one of his specials that canceling plans is like heroin. I only have experience in one of these practices so I cannot confirm, but I can’t imagine how any drug could be better. In fact, the idea of doing any hard drug gives me sweaty hands too. My damp palms often lead to canceled plans, because the palms also lead to stress-pooping (a condition I have suffered for all of my years), headaches and body shakes. Some people might call this anxiety (me included), while others might be less understanding (no need to get into it).
I have always hated canceling plans, but sometimes I need to for my own mental health. The sign of a good friend is when you can be honest about why you’re canceling, rather than needing to make up an elaborate lie. Not only do I usually have to think of a lie, but I also have been lied to for this reason. Friends have said that their aunt is visiting town for the day, or that they need to do the most laundry that has ever been done in one day (4), or that they are too drunk to come to the monthly house meeting that they’re leading, so can I please lead it instead, and actually can I also cancel our plans with my parents tomorrow because they’ll be hungover (5).
We saw Get Out last weekend, and it is as good as everyone is saying. Seeing it in a theatre is essential — I can’t imagine watching that movie on my iPad while checking my phone. It’s engrossing, terrifying, funny and simply excellent. We almost got there late. We went to the ticket counter, a departure from the normal phone transaction, because we realized we can use our student cards for a discount. When we ordered, we received tickets to Hidden Figures instead. Figuring it didn’t matter, we went inside anyway. Of course, our screen was the only one to check tickets, so we had to go back outside (from the last screen in the theatre). We were convinced that we either would miss the beginning or it would be so crowded that we couldn’t sit together.
Of course, neither of those things happened. Which follows my lifelong rule: if you thought it would be terrible, it’s fine, and if you thought it would be great, it’s mediocre at best. This explains why I keep my expectations low. I wonder if it also explains why I never have an overly or visibly enthusiastic reaction to good news. I heard recently that I got into one of my grad schools, my second choice, and I barely even wanted to look at the letter. That was before I started crying and just ate Oreos and watched Larry Sanders Show (6) the whole night.
Every so often I do social media at the local library. This week I was doing video for an event launch. This event consisted of a home-made twinkie being flown in via drone, and then enclosed in a glass exhibit case. There is literally nothing I could say to expand and improve upon that sentence, so I will leave it there.
Life is so weird, in good ways and bad, and sometimes writing about it is all I can do. Hug the ones you love, unless they don’t like that, then do a cool elbow touch. I love you.
(1) The “I have just been told” joke really loses a lot of its power over text.
(2) When I was a teaching assistant for a psychology class in college, the professor asked the class what they believed to be the meaning of life. One girl raised her hand and said “42.” I felt so much second-hand embarrassment for a clearly ill-conceived plan, as most of the class including the professor did not understand the joke. The pride of making a Hitchhiker’s Guide reference is heavily outweighed by the shame of having to explain that its a Hitchhiker’s Guide reference.
(3) Contained in quotations because while I certainly have used the word my fair share, “classy” is a pretty loaded term. At the very least its, uh, classist.
(4) Not really, but whatever
(5) Yes really.
(6) It’s very much a show of the mid-90s, but it still has some entertaining parts. Janeane Garofalo and Rip Torn are great, and I confirmed that Jeffrey Tambor has been the best for decades.