Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Sunday, April 10, 2005



I've got this problem. (Actually, I think I've said before that what I have is basically a Payless Shoe Source of the Soul, filled to the brim with neatly boxed problems at discount prices, but for today I'm just going to focus on one of 'em.)

I get caught up in the excitement of the moment. I get really jazzed about stuff and come close to doing things that I really shouldn't do. The good thing is, I'm usually pretty good about pulling myself back from the brink before I do something really stupid, before I make that final commitment, sealing my stupidity in cement for all to see.

I remember once when I was in high school. A local community theater was doing a production of, I think, Life With Father. I'd been doing a lot of shows at the theater that season, somewhat to the detriment of my school work. I wanted to take a break. I had some major things coming up at school and I just really didn't have the time to put in on it. I didn't even like the play. But I went to the audition. If I remember correctly, and it's very possible that I don't, a friend of our family was directing it and needed guys at the audition for other people to read with. So I went. Halfway through the audition, I found myself getting into the idea. I remember thinking, "Hey! I can do this. I can rehearse from 6-9 and then go home and work on my calculus homework until midnight." [Note: this is a slight fabrication, as I never took calculus. It's more likely that I had to go home and work on my basket weaving or something, but calculus adds a little more weight to my thinking.] Basically, I was about yea close to screwing myself by over-committing for no reason other than that I got caught up in the moment. I had to literally run out of the theater to stop myself.

A couple years later, when I was in college, I had a good friend who had joined a frat. I was in the theater department and, for the most part, theater-folk had nothing but disdain for the Greek system. I had disdained them myself, railing on about the patheticness/patheticality/patheticosiousity/whatever of basically paying for your friends. Frats seemed to me to be a place you went to surround yourself with people just like you so as not to upset your fragile sensibilities. Also, they helped you have sex with drunken sorority girls.

But this friend of mine, who, up until he joined the frat, had been a pretty good pal and who I still really liked, talked me into going to a party at his frat. I got drunk. Really, really drunk. And I remember, at one point toward the end of the evening, wanting very much to join up. I suddenly got this whole frat thing. I remember thinking, "Hey! These guys are great! And there's all that beer! Who the hell wouldn't want to sign on?" When I took my leave of the guys that night, I was certain that I'd be back the next day to become a Tau Gamma BlahBlah.

I sobered up, thank God, by morning.

But this sort of thing has happened to me repeatedly in the years between now and then. Maybe you're acquainted with that voice? That stupid little voice in your head that tells you that something which you rationally know to be a truly stupid idea is actually a brainstorm? That voice that says Go For It? That voice that tells you that everything will work out, even when you understand fully that you're diving into a bug tub of quicksand? I got that voice.

This weekend, the voice struck again. Nothing huge this time. Just another one of those minor things that I had to struggle to put a stop to. The Fox Sports Networks had their Baseball Package Preview this weekend. You pay a buttload of cash and, in return, you get to watch baseball from all over the country for the entire season.

Now, I like baseball. I love watching a good game. I love watching it even more if it involves the Indians. But...I don't watch baseball 24/7. I'm not a stat-head. I have interests outside the game. And, for long stretches of the season, I'm likely to go a week or two without paying attention. I am...a casual fan.

And yet, as I sat there this weekend, watching the Tribe win, and then watching other games in which I had no real investment, but nonetheless found really great to watch, I started to think, "Hey! I should totally order this package! Sure, I'm relatively broke and, yeah, I should be spending time working on my writing instead of watching game after game, but I should just do this. For me. I deserve to treat myself. I should just do it." Fortunately for me, Cleveland went on to get spanked 11-1 and I realized that I probably couldn't make it through an entire season of that sort of thing without either having a coronary or diving out the window.

Still, there was a moment there where I was convinced. I fucking hate that little voice.

Sorry. My fault.
Why can't that voice say positive things like "You want to go work out now!" or "You hate the taste of chocolate."

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