I’m having an existential crisis. I read http://mslifeisbestlife.com/ “The Existential Blog Crisis” and then clicked on the link even though the blog said NOT TO (“round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words `DRINK ME’ beautifully printed on it in large letters,” Alice in Wonderland, chapter 1). Now I am left clutching at post-its. The wiki on the subject of existential crisis told me to drink plain filtered water.
After I write this I’m going to rearrange it so the sentences are in reverse order. Then it will make more sense, because I think backwards. Jorie Graham once did this to a poem of mine. She sat down at her typewriter (imagine, a typewriter) and typed out my poem with the last line first, and so on. She ripped the new poem from the roller and handed it to me triumphantly. “See?” she said. “Much better.” It was better. It was a poem about an existential crisis, set in Belgium. The poem involved beer, and herring, and a man, of course. I was really young then. I don’t drink beer anymore, too bloating. Jorie Graham once told me I should wear red lipstick. The man who would become her third husband once said to me, “Can’t you take one more French class?”
The voices in my head, I wish they would stop. “These people who think they are something, they really are not.” That’s in my head, too, the first sentence of husband’s gorgeous novella Welcome to Arcadia. It’s not published. The secret society of its few readers carry its rhythms around.
On a post-it, I made a to-do list to deal with the crisis.
Note: if my kids were younger, I couldn’t bask in existential crisis because I would be changing, feeding, and carrying about a baby (Is there anything better? Yesterday I saw many babies being carried about at a wrestling tournament, their big heavy heads being cradled so carefully–oh and then the kids in the tournament were so beautiful, too, even if it was apparent that they wouldn’t all be beautiful when they got older, they looked elastic and glowing and purely themselves, without the labored machinations of adult fashion and hairstyle choices, the acquired bellies and attitudes), or I’d be involved in the deep-psychology gymnastics of toddlerhood. But youngest child is eight now, so in between Stratego and the playground my brain is free to chatter and spin like a stupid washing machine.
The to-do list. Each entry can be only one word, meant to invoke a whole host of associations: gym, xanax, ironing, tea, poetry, sheets, laundry, dishes, music, garbage, emails, valentines, candidate, superbowl. It has to fit on a post-it. The list will cure me. Each item will spring open like a magic box, a girl’s jewelry box with its twirling pop-up ballerina, or one of Barcelona’s treasure caves, a tiny spice market or tapas bar revealed with the raising of a metal door.
‘Write blog post’ was not on the to-do list. Recently a colleague said, ‘Blogs are for people who should think harder before they start writing.’ Screw that, eh? If blogs have become marginalized and degraded and generally sneered at, then I’ll write all the more.
Nicholson Baker would appreciate the sensuality of a sheet of paper being rolled into a typewriter, and pulled out fast, with a flat screamish sound. Has he written about gum, I wonder. The choosing and unwrapping, the way Trident lines up its hard little gum soldiers in a papery row, while 5 foil-wraps its tall soft sticks in a sexy fanned-out array. Would he favor chewing gum only in private, or in certain public places like the supermarket and bank, but not at a meeting? What would he say about the woman chewing gum in my yoga class? Is all of his writing about existential crisis?
In CVS last week I consulted my shopping list, on a post-it stuck to my wallet. The woman in front of me did the same–she had three small post-its stuck to her wallet, their corners curling. Soon they might fall off. Someone should invent something to solve this problem of post-its falling off of wallets, I thought. But maybe the post-its are the invention, the list that can be disposed of when the work is done. The lists that might be lost, causing serendipitous liberation.
Two men invented the post-it note, chemist Spencer Silver and product developer Art Fry. In telling the creation story of the post-it, Spencer Silver says, “Adhesives are very different to glue. I am sensitive about the word glue.” Typical of such stories, the men recount their eureka moment in 1974 and the trials that followed–it wasn’t until the good people of Boise, Idaho enthused about their free sample post-its that the product was launched successfully, circa 1980. I love that Art Fry is sensitive about the word glue.
This is the beginning of a communique written by youngest child on post-its, in installments that appeared over a period of twenty minutes.
Blame the following scatological content on cookies that oldest child baked for youngest child to take into school. Composed of pastel swirls of sugar dough, the cookies are called Unicorn Poop. Big hit with third graders!
The truth will out. I think I just have a sore throat.