The Elusive Ecstasy of Order
Like a lot of people who grew up in chaos and disorder, I have clung to structure and order and discipline as a result. For the last nineteen years, for example, I have made a ritual of dutifully writing down every professional assignment on a pad of yellow lined paper safely ensconced in my trusty Patch Adams promotional clipboard, then checking off each entry after I finished it.
I guess you could say that I get a sick thrill from diligently working my way through my various tasks and responsibilities, making sure to mark my progress all the way. It’s a way of having power over my affairs and particularly power over my future.
I suppose my favorite form of order is working ahead, something that these days shines tantalizingly as the greatest of all possible luxuries, one I am very rarely afforded due to the intense and exhausting nature of the Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place publishing schedule. There have been giddy, giddy moments in the past when I’ve had an entire month worth of The Weird Accordion to Al entries logged.
There have been other impossible idylls when I’ve had an entire week’s worth of articles logged into the system. That seems hard to believe from this vantage point. A whole week! As in, I didn’t have to worry about writing, editing, polishing, finding images for and than posting a fuck-ton of new articles for at least several days! Verily, in that precious, precious time of wonder, I lived like a King with the world at his feet!
All I was really doing by working so far in advance was freeing up time but it felt like I was giving a gift to the future me, the me that would undoubtedly appreciate the freedom afforded by not having to concentrate monomaniacally on an article that needs to be written, polished and posted within a matter of hours rather than days to avoid falling far between.
It’s always been difficult to work ahead on this site and attend to my five outside column, occasional freelance gigs and books but the weeks I spent traveling following “Weird Al” Yankovic’s tour last month particularly put me in a hole. I had opportunistically imagined/hoped that being able to spend days upon days on Greyhound buses with wi-fi and electrical outlets would allow me to constantly be working, but it turns out that if you don’t sleep for an extended period of time, your brain turns to mush and refuses to work rather kicking into high gear to help you be as efficient as possible.
So it was weirdly satisfying that during that time I was able to send out all of the copies of Weird Al: The Book for my GoFundMe campaign. It was an enormous pain in the ass procuring 29 copies of Weird Al: The Book, then getting them signed and sent out but it also felt damn good.
There’s something my OCD, control-and-order-craving dad brain loves about having a task and then accomplishing it. Speaking of enormous pain in the asses, we’re currently in the process of moving, which is likewise a tedious, laborious, time and labor-intensive chore that I nevertheless find weirdly fulfilling precisely because it involves a clear-cut task that, like all of my assignments on my Patch Adams clipboard, I can do, then dutifully check off.
I had a task, I completed it. There's something oddly, blandly intoxicating about that feeling. It's like the world's most boring but predictable drug.
My mind craves order and methodical planning and action because it does not experience enough of it. Some folks fantasize about sex. Others fantasize about power or extraordinary wealth. I fantasize about working a month in advance so that I can take a day if so inclined, or possibly even see movies that I do not end up writing about.
There is an ecstasy to order, a weird joy to being efficient and methodical and dotting all the Qs and Is. I suppose I feel like I am missing that banal form of low-key exhilaration in particular now, since I’ve been working extra hard just to keep from falling behind.
But someday, dear reader, I will seize Order from within a raging, roiling sea of chaos and panic, and I will hold onto that order with everything I have, for as long as I can. If history is any indication, that should probably last anywhere between two to six days.
I would really dig it if you’d consider sliding a few quarters into the old cyber-tip jar over at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace