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Dealing with a Weird New Tic 


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I am developing a weird nervous tic. It's getting serious. I'm sure it's multiple sclerosis. For three days my left eyelid has been twitching.

After another day of screwing up at work, (very deservedly) getting scolded, taking no lunch, taking no breaks, working insane overtime, making no dent in the paper tower from my desk to Kuiper Belt, punching 9 for out on my home phone, discovering more funds mis-appropriated from my budget due to poor typing skills (the latter being the fault of others, but the responsibility of cleaning the mess being mine) - after such a day, I teeter between pure escapism or suicidal thoughts.

Tonight I am not really sure whether I should fantasize about the day my novel is published and I am handed a life-altering advance that enables me to quit working, or whether I should wallow in the thought that global warming and its attendant disasters will put me out of my misery before retirement.

Yes, fantasies are nice. Millions of people go through rough patches at work, and they hold up the Seychelles as the carrot that entices them to keep going through the motions. I do suspect that dwelling on escapist fantasies, instead of the dull nightmare of a Sisyphean existence, might make life worthwhile, yet I don't have the energy to think about the nice things or even of anything outside work. Work has all my focus.

Usually, when I can't concentrate, I make lists.

It's like a dream I once had. I must have been eight or nine. In my dream, someone handed me a Hot Wheels car and somehow I knew I had some obligation to eat it. I stuffed the car into my mouth and swallowed it. It got stuck in my throat, but I gulped it down. Then I was handed a larger toy car and I had to eat it. I managed to get this one down and I was given another, bigger car. Finally, I was given a real car, a Lambourghini. I woke up and threw up.

If I had taken the car apart, cut into small pieces, I could have eaten that Lambourghini too. It's that way with lists. You take something big and break it down into the smalled parts possible. I need to break down escapist thoughts into manageable chunks so I can start gobbling them up.

The novel fantasy:
  • My $100,000 advance puts me in league with other big-time writers. Money begats money, and soon I hire an architect to design my dream home, just like Susan Orlean.

  • For "research" on my next novel, I spend every second year in Romania.

  • Every third year, I treat myself out to a vacation in Ethiopia, though sometimes I experiment with Tunisia or Finland.

  • I get all huffy that the film version of my zombie novel puts that Paltrow girl in the lead role. My character is so not a bubbly blonde. I bitch about this on national tv and fans boycott the film.

  • However, I use the royalties from the film to buy a second home in Bologna and a third home in Tahiti.

  • I get a job at McDonalds for a month so I can get in touch with my proletarian roots. Then I quit when the Rushdies and the Beckhams invite me over to London for a joint weekend party.

  • I write another six sequels to my novel, then kill off the main character. Then I never write again.
Then there's the gloom-and-doom scenario:
  • Thanks to global warming, I develop a weird heat rash which requires me to spend all my waking hours soaking in a tub, much like Marat. This means I lose my job.

  • Higher temperatures lead to a surge in Canadian cockroach populations. My long dormant roach phobia plays havoc with my grip on reality as I hallucinate bugs.

  • The rising water levels means my mountain-top abode is now a waterfront property. Then a tsunami strikes. I make it to higher ground in time, but my house is gone. Unfortunately, I neglected to insure against tidal waves.

  • Now homeless, I decide to try my luck fruit-picking. By this time, the Okanagan valleys are a dust bowl and I wander from town to town looking for work, carrying my cardboard box everywhere. Like a cast on a broken limb, other hoboes autograph my box with their illiterate crawlings. It's my last foray into the literary world.

  • As a result of my deforming skin rash, prostitution is out for me. However, a kindly travelling circus hires me on as "The Aligator." Before I get my first pay cheque, a Hummer runs over the manager, and, without the leadership, the circus disbands.

  • My cardboard box, discarded at the first sign of employment, has disintegrated in the freak flash floods that now plague Saskatchewan.

  • With the skies obscured by carbon dioxide clouds, I cannot navigate by the sun's position, and I inadvertently make my way into the Arctic. Outside Inuvik city limits, I am caught in a blizzard and freeze to death. In a thousand years, archaeologists discover my mummified corpse and attribute my death to druidic iron age sacrifices.
My friend MaikoPunk summed up the reasons why people blog: "We all have our own motivations for pressing on with this blogging thing, whether it's to write, keep up with friends, get popular, or make money."

Tonight it's something I am doing to stop thinking about work and this post-apocalyptic mindset is helping. The eyelid hasn't twitched in twenty minutes.

Damn, reached the end of my thoughts tonight. Time to dwell on my professional hopelessness again. Oh, look, it's four hours since I left work and I am still wearing my nametag. At least the cat and the hamster will always remember my name.

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