It is as if, in my favorite video game, Skate 3, after a very long time playing in close-up view, where the body of the skater takes up nearly the entire frame (and sometimes leaves the frame), I’ve switched the camera views to a wider angle, where the skater is much smaller in the frame and the over-saturated digital landscape becomes more prominent.
I am selling my Xbox, is one of the changes.
I said I would do this a number of times but didn’t. When I felt I didn’t need it — when I had ‘a lot going on’ (a phrase I’ve used so often, that my mother uses, often: ‘a lot going on,’ also: ‘irons in the fire’), I didn’t play it. But when things weren’t ‘going on’ as much, I took refuge in it and its unsightly white-to-begin-with but increasingly beige-with-time exterior. Like a duvet. Especially with Skate 3.
The problem being at precisely the times I most needed to show initiative and ‘get out there,’ as they say, my Xbox encouraged movement in the exact opposite direction.
But I don’t view the Xbox as a locus for feelings of weakness. It’s not in control of my life and doesn’t control how I spend my time. I view it as something of an anchor, or a teammate. My interest and engagement with the world out there increases and recedes, like the barrier between the ocean and the beach.
More than anything, I am getting rid of the Xbox because the opportunity to do so exists. A friend wants it. And I have wanted a Playstation 3 for some time. The game Metal Gear Solid 4 is only available for the Playstation, and I want to play it real bad.
The Playstation is black. It’s more physically attractive to my wife, who handles the interior design around here, which is a bonus.
I’ve also quit smoking an e-cigarette.
I would estimate that when I smoked for seven years between the ages of 17 and 24, my lungs were absorbing only half the nicotine as during the previous six months, when I became a steady eSmoker. I picked up the thing when I saw a smart friend reefing on one this summer – the tip of the black stick glowing a seductive blue in the dark light of the bar interior. He looked great holding it, and other people were looking at him too, so I bought one.
I, like many, thought that if you removed the actual smoke from smoking, everything would be fine. The nicotine isn’t the problem, it’s the smoke and the chemicals therein. This is wishful thinking.
In November, December and January I reefed on my e-cig (my e-cig brand was eonSmoke) all day in front of my computer. I was tired, and I was not exercising.
At a gallery opening in Bushwick in early February, an old friend said: ‘You look bad. You’re getting older. You need to take better care of yourself.’
She kept saying, ‘I’m sorry, are you mad? Are you mad?’
And I didn’t want to say I was mad, because if I was mad that meant I cared that I looked bad, which I didn’t know if I did? I don’t know. I was quiet.
She asked again and again: ‘You’re not mad are you?’
After some time I said: ‘Jamie, I am entering a transition phase. I was fairly okay looking as a young man, and I’m going to be fairly okay looking in my middle age, but right now I’m in the gap between. I’m crossing the bridge.’
I think I told her to ‘bear with me.’ I was able to go on with my evening.
Would my readers be shocked and offended to have a friend tell them they look bad? I have a peculiar feeling about the whole thing. Am I even grateful, to a degree, that someone could be honest with me like that?
My takeaway was that I should quit the e-cigarette, and I did, that I should start using moisturizer on my face (I am) and that I should try to lose weight.
So I am on the Atkins Diet, also.
Quitting the e-cigarette was very difficult – at least as difficult as when I quit smoking. But like when I quit smoking, I just told myself I wasn’t going to do it anymore and then I stopped doing it. I would want to do it, but then I wouldn’t do it, because I wanted to stop. My parents’ generation had such a hard time stopping smoking. I wonder about them.