There are times when I feel like I mostly have it together, not in the way that people who really have it together have it together — I mean, I’ve been living in the same ratty Boba Fett shirt all month and eating an inadvisable number of processed cheese slices — but, you know, I’m over here functioning as a semi responsible adult who pays her taxes and has, like, a skincare routine.

This shaky sense of capability is so easily destroyed, though. Take yesterday, when I placed an order on a pizza joint’s website, then waited in vain for a confirmation. I had to call the restaurant (BAD), at which point I was told that online orders go through a third party and I would have to call them, and so I did (BAD AGAIN) but no one answered so I had to leave a message (WORSE), so I had no idea if I was going to be charged for this nonexistent pizza or what and now I had that antsy waiting-for-a-callback feeling (WOOOOORST) plus I’d already had to make two phone calls PLUS the kids were starving and OMG what do I dooooooo?


In this pictorial representation, I am the hapless donkey, while a mild pizza-related inconvenience is the overwhelming load that has hoisted me, limbs slack with indecision, into the air.

I would really like to be the sort of person who can deal with everyday stresses without going straight to CRUSHING DOOM TIME TO REPPLY DEODORANT AND CONSIDER SEPPUKU territory, but, well, I would also like perky boobs and the ability to masterfully parallel park.

You just have to play with the cards you’ve been dealt. I’ve spent too many years wishing I was somebody other than who I am, and at 44 I guess I feel like I’ve tried all the ways of life-hacking my way out of anxiety and awkwardness and most don’t work and some landed me in rehab so it is what is is, dammit. I am often a straight-up flailing mess of a human who has a nearly magical ability to make intimidatingly huge things out of very small things but I’ve managed to keep a modest collection of succulents and two human beings alive so far, plus sometimes I floss. So I’m easily sidelined by things like botched pizza orders — I have other strengths! I am very good at air hockey, for instance.

Anyway, I ended up taking the kids to a Mexican place, where I was able to apply medicinal tortilla chips to the entire exhausting afternoon. Whew.

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So I have started playing video games, pretty much for the first time ever. I mean I used to be into Zork back in the boop beep boop bop blrrrrrrrrr eeeeep kssssssssssssssshhh bding bding KSSSHHHHH dialup days but that’s definitely been a while and I don’t know if you know this but games have totally advanced since then? Anyway I got this game called Subnautica on a whim and I spent actual entire human days playing it — I know this because the load screen gives you a little ongoing tally of how much of your life you’ve been wasting — and I got OBSESSED. I was taking notes and printing maps and then I was watching those YouTube videos of dudes who publish their gameplay which I had previously believed was probably the lamest corner of the entire Internet. Who watches a video of a stranger playing a game? The middle-aged lady who can’t figure out how to get past the scary LEVIATHAN REAPER, that’s who.

I had such a good time with Subnautica I started checking out other titles, and Tomb Raider was on sale so I started playing that, and I’m thinking about Portal and Stardew Valley, and also I am letting Riley play Far Cry 5 because it is delightfully profane and there is an awesome dog who attacks evil hillbillies on your behalf.

Games! Turns out they are fun!

Plus they maybe add a little vicarious thrill to a pleasant but decidedly un-thrilling lifestyle, along with a satisfying sense of linear progress when one is trapped in a pile of ever-replenishing tween laundry.

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