The 14th Day
I may be a chronic depressive, but I would say that for the most part I am happy. I love my wife. I love my son and dog and work and this website has completely re-invigorated and re-energized professionally. It is a joy to work on it everyday, and to share that work with a loyal, intelligent and, above all, sexy readership.
I am profoundly grateful for the unbelievable personal and professional opportunities I’ve been afforded. Christ, just over two weeks ago I stood in front of the goddamned Lincoln Memorial and delivered a feverish and impassioned address to thousands of Juggalos and the international press on what was probably the most important day in Juggalo history. Hell, I got to end the Juggalo March on Washington by dancing onstage with Insane Clown Posse and other speakers and performers at the end of their climactic set. It’s still hard to believe that all actually happened, and that I was a part of it.
I still can’t believe that “Weird Al” Yankovic chose me to write his coffee table book or that for a good decade and a half I was able to piggy-back on The Onion and The A.V Club’s extraordinary rise and be part of something so important to so many people. I thank God that I have the world’s most beautiful and funny and charismatic son, a joyful spirit who makes every day so much better and fills my life with such meaning.
Well, that’s how I am thirteen days out of every two weeks. I am a grateful, gracious, semi-philosophical grown up with a certain hard-won wisdom born of decades of struggling and failing and intermittently even succeeding.
On the fourteenth day, however, that mask of graciousness cracks and the anger and resentment and sense of injustice flair up and I begin angrily asking “Why?” The tricky, poisonous thing about “Why?” is that once you start asking it, it’s hard to stop. In this case, “Why” might begin “Is it so goddamned difficult to keep your head above?” and be followed by “Why is it seemingly so much easier for everyone else?”, “Why aren’t I employed”, “Why aren’t I a film critic anymore?”, “Why aren’t I making more money?” and “Why don’t I have the gigs some of my contemporaries have lines up?”
Just about anything could spark that fourteenth day, when gratitude and appreciation give way temporarily to anger and frustration. It can be an important email or pitch getting ignored. It could be a check taking forever to arrive or never arriving at all. Or it could just be realizing once again how difficult it is to make a decent living as a 41 year old pop culture writer with a broke, disabled father in Donald Trump’s America.
Here’s the thing: I know the answers to many of the “Whys” above. I’m not a professional film critic anymore, for example, because after I got laid off from The Dissolve the idea of going to the screening room didn’t appeal to me anymore. I made almost no efforts to remain employed on any level as a critic. Obviously, it would have been flattering if anyone had sought me out as a film critic, but I honestly enjoy what I’m doing now so much more than what I did before.
I wish I didn’t have days where I felt defeated and overwhelmed and cursed. I wish there weren’t a couple of days every month when it feels like I’m running uphill and getting nowhere. But I don’t judge myself for feeling angry or sad or frustrated. Because I think it’s healthy to let yourself feel these feelings. It’s cathartic to allow yourself some time and some space to experience emotions that are dark or complicated or ugly, but are fundamentally human all the same.
I think allowing myself to feel that anger and frustration and sadness on a fairly regular basis, allows me to be more genuinely grateful the rest of the time. I’m not proud of the way I feel that fourteenth day, but I’m glad having that release valve allows me to be my best self, or at least something close to it, the other 13.
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