Try to regain what you’ve lost but have trouble expressing yourself. Choose all the wrong words; speak your own limited language. You’ll mean to say, “I’m keeping busy,“ or “How was your day?” or “I’ve been reading this fantastic book you’d like; you should borrow it,” but all of the sentiments just spill out of your mouth as “I miss you.” Every gap in conversation caulked with “I miss you.” You’ll momentarily question where all of your other thoughts went, you had them five minutes ago but these three words are all you can manage to articulate.
But in weaker moments, you’ll turn to your ex-company for comfort, hoping to find that they’re as miserable as you and are instead greeted by an influx of new fans or a well-executed campaign for which you can’t take credit and in that moment, you’ll be overcome by the stench of your own loserdom. Smells like burning. You’ll know that your name goes unspoken in those conference rooms, that you’ve most definitely been replaced, that the world turns in spite of you. “Who is it? Whose ass is in my Office Star Pro Line II Executive Leather Chair?” you’ll whimper into the lonely night, but don’t expect an answer. This is what you chose.
Be in love. Be in love with the air you’re unconsciously grasping for and the way you’ve forgotten the names of your body parts, the way every piece of you isn’t a piece at all but just one pulsing organ over which you have relinquished control. Give in. You are a vessel for autonomous cells to prove that they can be trusted, that they don’t need conscious help or guidance or permission to create something earthshaking. Shake. Be in love with how graceful you are when you want to be, how you can’t fathom concerning yourself with the movement of your hips or left arm placement or the right way to cross your legs when you sit, the concept of arms and legs and torsos extinct in these moments. Now, there are no parts, no pieces, no organs that exist independently of each other so don’t think of your dampened Florida-morning skin; don’t feel your heart but know that it’s there, ticking then beating then thumping then losing a battle against the rhythm of your body. See everything in snapshots and portraits until the colors run together, until the world becomes abstract. Do not think of befores, or afters, or right nows, let your mind go blank, go black, think ‘nothing’ so fervently that nothing becomes something, that nothing becomes everything. Add pressure. Let your toes curl under and grab handfuls of flesh in acknowledgment, pinch it and knead it and let it fill the half-moons of your fingertips. Leave your manmade dimples on his back in remembrance, a memorial honoring bodies and biology. Become obsessed with tension and become obsessed with relieving it; become aware of muscles that didn’t exist an hour ago, muscles you didn’t know you had until they became locked in anticipation. More pressure. Lose your feet and your hands and know what their disappearance means (hold it), know their vitality has been redirected and (hold it) it’s coursing through your veins now, heading straight for your fault lines and (hold it) your breath quickens and (let) your eyelids flash wildly as the pressure breaks (go), seismic waves unleashed and reverbed and preventing the world from spinning on its axis
and now the quake has come and gone and you’re living in aftershock territory, subject to shaking for minutes, hours. Give the hairs on your neck permission to stand down, give your eyes permission to open; let numbness fade from your fingers and toes. Exhale the air you once loved and return it back to the universe, return back to earth.
I enjoy seeing you insecure, vulnerable. I like to watch red steam light up your cheeks, a spreading mist of shame when you think you’ve done something unacceptable like missing a step on the stairs or not having the perfect answer to something I’ve said. It’s like you honestly don’t know how wonderful you are, it’s like you have no idea.
Today, I’m going to beeline past all of you without saying hello, without removing my sunglasses, yes I’m aware it’s raining outside, ask me if it makes a difference. I won’t be slamming my office door. I want to, but the last thing I need is all of you gossiping about me in the company kitchen, like I don’t know what’s up. I’m more than aware of what we collectively think about door slammers. I don’t need that strike against me, not today. Fair warning: I may slam the phone down into the receiver after every phone call, if I manage to answer those. I’m only human. You understand.
You should probably avoid asking me any long-winded questions; anything that requires more than a one-word answer is probably too ambitious. Don’t ask me to paraphrase yesterday’s meeting, for example. Don’t ask me for my favorite lamb recipe. Don’t ask me who I’m rooting for on American Idol. It’s way too early in the season for that, idiot. What is wrong with you? Don’t ask me what is wrong with me. Don’t ask me why I’m sad. Those two are important; write those down.
You look like you still have questions. Let me help you out: I’m broke. I didn’t sleep last night. Everyone forgot my birthday. My best friend isn’t speaking to me. I’m not wearing any makeup. I just broke up with someone. The weather is bumming me out. I’m PMSing. I was out drinking until three hours ago. Someone died. I hate this job. I hate you. Pick three of those and abstain from asking me why I look like this.
Paige Michalchuk — You’ve been prescribed what people would deem “fun” pills but refuse to share them with friends because you “actually need them.”
Manny Santos — As a teen you weren’t allowed to have a boyfriend, but owned thongs that would set off an airport metal detector.
Peter Stone — You date emotional fixer-uppers.
Emma Nelson — You make people uncomfortable at restaurants.
Jay Hogart — You don’t have a favorite book.
Ellie Nash — You believe moving to New York City will fix everything.
Spinner Mason — You’ve spent actual money on Alien Ant Farm paraphernalia.
Darcy Edwards — You really believe in “Catholic School Chic” and have owned several pleated skirts despite going to a public school.
Sean Cameron — You’ve drunkenly purchased Spaghettios (or similar Chef Boyardee products) in the past six months.
Hazel Aden — You are afraid of hand jobs.
Spike Nelson — You’re worried you may have cut your hair too short this time, every time.
Craig Manning — Your ability to attract the opposite sex despite being a total mess is really irritating for your emotionally stable friends.
Holly J. Sinclair — You used to wear white eyeliner.
Marco Del Rossi — You’re unsure of how to wear a vest but hope to someday pull it off.
Alex Nunez — You haven’t spoken to your parents in years.
Snake Simpson — There are too many forceful women in your life.
Liberty Van Zandt — As a child, you recorded audio of yourself giving fake interviews and award acceptance speeches; you still talk to yourself in the mirror occasionally.
J.T. Yorke — Your penis is abnormally large but you didn’t figure out what to do with it for a long, long time.
Mia Jones — You’d probably be screwed if you weren’t so good looking.
Joseph Jeremiah — You desperately wish high school never ended.
Toby Isaacs — You’ve read The Game and accidentally employ pick-up tactics when you’ve had too much to drink.
Ashley Kerwin — Your nail polish is perpetually chipped.
Jimmy Brooks — You have a lot going for you, but you’re impotent.
To close the year out, we’ve created a list of 25 of our favorite articles we ran in 2011. They’re in no particular order. Enjoy.
Walk down the same street as always to the same park as always and sit on the same bench as always. Routine aside, something is different today – the lick of the wind or maybe you brushed your teeth from left to right this morning, it’s elusive but it’s different – you’re different. Witness a small bird careening by, leaving blurred trails of brilliant green in his wake. Think it’s beautiful; breathe in, take flight.