Dirty Shrimp

Those unfortunate souls who read this blog regularly know that I’ve had issues with mental age. Maybe, subconsciously, this has something to do with turning 30 on Saturday. In fact, it’d pretty much have to be subconscious, because until my family started ribbing me about the big three-oh, I thought I was turning 29. (That’s how much I care about my actual, physical age.)

Stephen Colbert said something relevant last week, to the effect of “A recent study shows happy people live 30% longer. Sure, but for depressed people, it feels longer.” That about sums it up.

But it’s not even about being unhappy anymore. Even Tarini, who monitors my emotional health more closely than I do and makes no bones about telling me when I’m acting like an asshole and/or a whiny baby, congratulated me on not just being in a much better emotional place, but acting like it. Aside from rotting in a dead-end job, things are going well for me, and I’m visibly happy about it.

When I’m happy, though, I can’t just be happy. I’m always thinking about the next disappointment. Will I fail to get that Google job? Will my lady abandon me by moving to Florida just as I think I’m falling for her? Will I keep ballooning up in weight because I’m too emotionally retarded to deal with my problems in any way other than quiet binge-eating?

These are substantial questions. I’ve shed enough of my anxiety to, for the most part, quit feeling plagued by unrealistic fears. But the real fears are worse, because at least I could tell myself, “It’s silly to think you’re the center of an Illuminati conspiracy to inflict upon you a slow death by chocolate because your elaborate theories about them living on an invisible, floating island in the upper atmosphere is 100% true.” Even when I couldn’t shake the worry from my emotional center, my logic center knew how stupid it all was.

Now, logic and emotion are teaming up to remind me of how precarious all the real things are. Florida has hung over us like the sword of Damocles since this relationship started. My Google application has much more street cred than it did when I applied three years ago, but it’s been almost three weeks, and I’ve heard nothing — not even a request for interview. In my experience, that’s a terrible sign. And I know it was my birthday and all, but I ate enough unhealthy food this weekend to skew the cholesterol statistics of an army. Not because I felt obligated or it was (literally or figuratively) shoved down my throat, but, like Everest, because it was there.

Maybe these issues are insignificant in the grand scheme, but they are pressing at the moment. I have a very hard time enjoying myself in a general way; it’s only compounded by the ever-present fear of what the future holds. I can’t live in the moment and enjoy things while they last, because what’s the fucking point? What’s the point of enjoying the excitement of possibilities when there exists a high probability that these possibilities will go south? Maybe if the probabilities were reversed in my favor, I could relax and find comfort and joy. Experience tells me the odds are not with me. How can that possibly make me happy?

And I know it’s not all about me and my happiness. Florida is where my lady needs to be, so why should I beg her to stay at the expense of her happiness? Why should Google hire me if they don’t feel I can do the job, and also when I keep making jokes about how there’s a secret, internal Google that allows employees to use all the privacy-invading data they’ve mined for maximum stalking? And why, other than my absolute terror at the thought of dying with the knowledge that no afterlife exists, should I stop eating if nothing’s going right? It’s the only thing I have left.

So why can’t I just shut up and enjoy the opportunities as they come along? I want to enjoy life, I have reason to enjoy life, so why do I have to let future badness ruin the moment? That’s not who I want to be, but I’m afraid if I’m anything else, I’ll turn out like that couple in Annie Hall. “I’m very shallow and empty, and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say.” “And I’m exactly the same way.” That can’t possibly be better than being perpetually miserable.

Can it?

Posted by D. B. Bates on November 7, 2011 1:56 PM