Sadness Update #1 (September 27 – October 7)
Films watched: The Pianist, Boys Don't Cry, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Steel Magnolias
As mentioned earlier this week in the blog, these semi-regular sadness updates are intended to shed some light on how this whole social experiment thing is actually working. I will attempt to achieve the potentially tricky task of talking about my personal life without actually really talking about my personal life. (Mainly because it’s kind of boring, but also because blog oversharing is not really something that I’m into.)
BRIEF QUASI-PHILOSOPHICAL DIGRESSION ON “JERSEY SHORE” AND THE NATURE OF WRITING ABOUT YOUR OWN FEELINGS:
I was listening to a podcast recently on the subject of “Jersey Shore” (I’m very committed to that show). One of the podcasters was talking about Angelina, specifically about how she should behave on the show in light of her burgeoning notoriety. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, “Trust me. I know you better than you know yourself.” And he was right. Now granted, the self-delusion of the “Jersey Shore” cast members has been matched in recently memory only by Baghdad Bob. But there’s a point here. Complete self-awareness is a difficult, maybe even impossible paradigm to achieve. I believe this is important to consider here. When I attempt to articulate my own feelings, I must acknowledge that my feelings are kind of inextricably bound up with how I outwardly behave, how I interact with others, and how I characterize all this stuff in my mind. And at the end of the day, maybe I’m wrong. Or slightly off. To a certain point I must leave to others the decision of what kind of person I am. But I will be as honest and accurate as I can. (Also, I promise I’m not as self-deluded as Angelina. She’s the Staten Island Ferry, after all. Everyone gets a ride, and it’s free.)
Anyway. It has been ten days since I started this project. In those ten days, I accepted a job and found a place to live. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I do not feel sad right now. Nor have I really felt sad/depressed for much longer after any of the movies I’ve watched. I guess this speaks to the difficulty of compartmentalizing. I’m not actively trying to be sad, per se, but I’m giving each movie the emotional investment that I feel it deserves (some more than others). So far, real life is winning out.
In Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters, Allen’s character, a successful TV writer and hypochondriac, becomes depressed about his own mortality and contemplates suicide. (It’s a comedy, by the way.) After an unsuccessful attempt, he eventually finds himself in a movie theater that’s playing the Marx Brothers’ classic Duck Soup, which, essentially, restores his faith in the non-pointlessness of life. In the times in my life when I’ve been at my saddest, I’ve attempted to use this tactic. I can’t really remember if it “worked” or not, but I suspect it helped. Watching one of my favorite movies, particularly happier ones, will understandably make me happier. I think it's a pretty natural thing. Not to sound like the terrible, boring speech that the head of the Academy Awards or whatever makes every single year, but movies do have the power to transform us, to a certain extent. It remains to be seen if it’s going to work the opposite way, though.
But fear not, sad-mongers. There’s still hope that I will tumble into an abyss of despair sooner or later. Most of you are probably familiar with the concept of “opportunity cost;” as a former economics nerd, I am all about it. It refers to the fact that when we as consumers make choices, we are not only choosing to consume a certain thing, but also NOT to consume all of the other alternatives in our grasp. There is definitely some opportunity cost-related stuff going on in this social experiment. To wit: I regularly watch four comedic television programs on Thursday nights: Community, 30 Rock, The Office and the aforementioned Jersey Shore. (It would be five if NBC hadn’t decided to hold Parks and Recreation, which may be better than all of those, off until midseason in favor of the probably unfunny and almost definitely racist Outsourced.) Last Thursday, I did not watch any of those shows. I watched What’s Eating Gilbert Grape instead. And that really added to the sad. If I keep holding out on the rest of the media that I really enjoy, and if I don’t take well to having to wake up and go to work after over a month of funemployment, who knows? Maybe I won’t be quite so chipper next time.
(Stay tuned for the next post, probably up sometime this weekend, about the film Simon Birch. It will feature our first of hopefully many special guests: Steve Isaac, a truly depressed individual, and friend of the blog.)