On the FIRST DAY of spring break words started to sound strange, like they were just weird sounds I made with my mouth and weren’t associated with ideas or images. I tried to write about that feeling.
But then I remembered seeing a Noah Baumbach movie in which the girl, Jane, says her name in a detached, bewildered sort of way. She says, “cantaloupe, we eat cantaloupe.” Soon everything I wrote seemed horribly cliché so I started reading the dictionary on the bathroom floor, not retaining any information.
On the SECOND DAY of spring break I wrote, “Every way to express myself seems dumb. Even saying that every way to express myself seems dumb, seems futile. Even saying that even saying that every way to express myself seems dumb seems futile, seems dumb.” I thought I would keep typing that longer, like excessively long. Like over and over again and the words would eventually begin to detach in a way that would be mesmerizing or frustrating or absurd.
But then I remembered watching a Youtube video of Tao Lin reading, “The next night we ate whale,” over and over again. That video on the Internet made a lot of the people that didn’t like him on the Internet talk about him on the Internet, making him more famous on the Internet. Soon all I could think about was whether or not that was what he intended while he was writing it. I knew that I would kind of hate and kind of be okay with any answer. I knew that from a teleological ethical perspective the question didn’t matter. I knew that I would never know the answer. But I stopped writing and continued thinking about it.
On the THIRD DAY of spring break I read something by someone and I wished I had written it. I imagined what my life would be like if I had written it. The image of myself, having written it, seemed much happier and appealing than who I really was.
Even when I was slipping out of the fantasy and knew that the image was just a fantasy and eventually I would have to be myself again, I fought to hang on to the image of a fake, idealized ‘me’ that wrote the book I was holding in my hand and reading for the first time.
On the FOURTH DAY of spring break I didn’t eat anything at all and I thought, “fasting is easy when you don’t want to be alive,” and I thought, “I’m on a life shortening diet” and I thought, “that’s funny,” and I thought about the best way I could tweet those thoughts.
But soon I convinced myself that I had ruined any sort of sincerity in those thoughts because I wanted to tweet them. I was convinced that they were marred and worthless because I had contemplated using them to construct a contrived persona of myself on the Internet, hoping to provoke a favorable response from my followers on the Internet. I genuinely believed I was disingenuously exploiting my thoughts to get approval from my peers on the Internet.
On the FIFTH DAY of spring break I earnestly hoped that you’d never like anything I’d write because I’d never know why you like it. And that mattered a lot to me on the sixth day of my dream vacation. I imagined wondering, ‘Do you like this because you can genuinely relate or do you like this because you want to recommend it to someone, not because they might relate, but because doing so might have a positive impact on someone’s impression of you and might make you feel better about yourself?’ Soon I asked myself essentially the same question regarding my motivation for writing.
Remember that girl, Jane, from the Noah Baumbach movie? She had a recurring role as a smart and clever criminal on the show Law & Order. Detective Robert Goren reluctantly respects her because she’s so smart and clever.
I couldn’t shake this desire to be reluctantly respected by someone because of my writing. I couldn’t shake this self-contempt for wanting to be reluctantly respected by someone because of my writing. I knew that if someone ever did reluctantly respect me I’d realize that it didn’t really mean anything. I knew it wouldn’t make me happy. But I was still terrified by the thought of living 60 more years without anyone ever reluctantly respecting me. I was still terrified by the thought of living 60 more years with the desire to be reluctantly respected by someone.
I got really scared and hastily deleted my Twitter account and I said to myself aloud, “I don’t want to be anything anymore,” and then I watched TV on my computer by myself with the door locked.
On the SIXTH DAY of spring break I got out of bed before noon believing that it’s dumb and futile to be so depressed just because everything seems dumb and futile. There’s no way that ‘everything seeming dumb and futile’ isn’t liberating in a lot of ways. I felt surprisingly okay about the last five days.
I started thinking about the word ‘fuck’ in a way that was refreshing and light, like “In some situations the word ‘fuck’ is acceptable. In some situations the word ‘fuck’ is unacceptable. Whether or not the word ‘fuck’ is acceptable is dictated by the people that react to the word ‘fuck,’ not the person who uses the word ‘fuck.’”
I felt like my whole life I had just been tirelessly debating whether or not to whisper ‘fuck’ in a crowded room. All of a sudden I felt like I could shout it or not say it and either option seemed totally okay because the choice was mine. And that was really the only thing in the whole world that was mine.
On the SEVENTH DAY I caught an early flight home from Cancun. I needed to get some rest. Spring Break was exhausting.