How to keep your shit together
on the precipice of an existential crisis
First things first: Wake up from a weird dream that shouldn’t bother you as much as it does, but, you know: it does. Lay in bed for a good while staring at the ceiling. When your alarm goes off for the third time, roll over and stand up, because now you definitely have to get moving. But before you do, sigh—because you already know today is going to be a long one.
Miss the train by literally one second. Stand on the platform as the doors close in front of your face, and blank stare at the passengers inside, who are blank staring back. Think about how getting your key briefly stuck in the door actually cost you an extra eight minutes on your commute. Feel annoyed as you hear people swipe their cards at the subway entrance, knowing that every beep detracts from your personal square inchage on the train.
Make yourself as small and uncomfortable as possible when the train comes, as a courtesy to the other people cramming into the car. Commit to this and grow more frustrated as the people around you do not make themselves as small and uncomfortable as possible. Wonder what you are even doing here. Wonder what your life even is right now. Eagerly get off the train when it pulls into the station, moving with such agitated energy it borders on savagery.
Pass by a wine store on your way to the office. Stop and seriously consider going in. Then, stop considering and go in. Make a beeline for the boxed wines. Complete your purchase and get a straw from somewhere.
In the office, take a large Post-it and scrawl “POWERJUICE, PROPERTY OF _________, DO NOT TOUCH,” and stick it over the wine label. Tape it down. Maybe decorate it if it needs to look more convincing. Open a few documents on your computer to toggle between, mouse in hand, then lean back in your chair and work on none of them. Think about that photography class you didn’t have the patience to waitlist for in college, or the trip to Cappadocia you decided against because there was “this one purse you’d been eyeing for a while, and besides, Cappadocia will be there.”
When the powerjuice begins to warm your stomach, go on Facebook, even though you know you shouldn’t. Scroll through the pictures and statuses of people getting engaged, people getting married, having babies, graduating from medical school, buying their first houses, paying off all their debts, quitting their jobs and traveling around the world. Close out of the window once you’ve had enough. Sit with your eyes shut, and pinch the bridge of your nose. Breathe very slowly.
It might be lunchtime by this point, so take your powerjuice and venture outside. No, this was a mistake. Look at all these people milling around. Do they not have work to do? Do they not have places to be? How are they able to simply sit and enjoy a cappuccino on a sunny day? Nope, you and powerjuice are going back upstairs.
Sit back down at your desk. Oh, but this might be worse. Why are you here? What are you doing? How has every day been the same for the past five years? How have you aged, but not grown? Wait, wait—don’t put your head down on your desk, you need to look alert. Open the new email you just got. Sift through the saccharine message from your boss to find the words of passive aggressiveness: “Hi! Just wondering if you think you’ll be able to finish that project by today. No worries if not, just keep me posted!” Ask yourself why she can't explicitly say she needs the assignment finished. Respond with too many exclamation points. Almost use an emoticon, but think better of it.
With your headphones on and scowling, finish the assignment. Honestly, it shouldn’t have taken you as long as it did—you know that. But working on it physically hurt your soul. Actually, it’s hurting your soul so much you need to leave early. Start coughing: not so much at first as to be unconvincing, but gradually escalating in severity until coworkers start looking over at you. Tell your boss you’re taking a sick day.
Gather your belongings, and most importantly, your powerjuice, and fake cough your way on out of the office. Head towards the subway with a plan to go home, but my goodness, the sun really is so beautiful and bright today. Maybe walk a little longer to a different stop. Walk slowly, though. There’s no need to rush. Look up at the buildings. When was the last time you looked up? Oh shit! Is that a gargoyle? When did they put that there? Oh snap! Look at that bird! Where did all these trees come from? Oh wow, how long has this park been here? Is that bench open? Well, it’s not like you need to be anywhere, why don’t you pop a squat for a minute or two? My goodness, it really is a lovely day. That man over there is singing so nicely. That squirrel is really cute, too. And aw, look at that little boy running around, having a grand old time and absolutely loving life. Oh, you know what would be really good right now? A cappuccino.