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Boiling Off the Fat

Oh hey, insomnia.

It’s me, Matt.

I know you like pitter-pattering around the periphery of life changes, haunting those who make them, trying to convince them that they have something to be alarmed about.

Have something to reconsider.

Have some nerve-wrapped balls of stress needing to be unwound like yarn balls.

But I also know that you, too, shall pass. And I will actually be able to get some sleep.

And will stop anthropomorphizing some state of being.


It’s 4:10 AM on the Saturday after my last day of work. After a carb-rich meal and two delicious drinks at my favorite restaurant. After a cathartic ear-lowering–shedding dead ends and weight like albatrosses around my neck.

Liquid comfort...and chocolate to boot

But still, here I am. Wide awake and listening to the rain pouring down outside.

I guess I’m not sweating the bags under my eyes because I’ve been here before–wondering how long it’ll take my body to detoxify from the past three intensely stressful years.

And I guess it’s sort of apropos that the last time I felt this way, I was choosing to leave graduate school. Because, in many ways, this departure is haunted by many of the same shades.

Ghosts of professions past, of passions blasted asunder.

This time, though, my archaeological palimpsest has been balled up and thrown atop a mental pyre, lit along with the contents of my office–the collapsible files bursting with pottery typologies and lithic assemblages, the dendritic diagrams of subjective interpretations of soil-caked artifacts, the military training certificates, the increasingly despicable email chains that sparked in me a more deep-seated antipathy for failed academics who wave certificates in lieu of morals: it’s everything that fits so neatly into a banker’s box, making my leave of that past life seem all the more cliche, like a scene from a movie.

Past lives...


But I know that I’ll shed this uncomfortable skin–let it slough off with every new experience that I create for myself, that gets me closer to who I really want to be.

A person unshackled to the past, making the future happen with every new step.

And while that means that I’ve got to start off green, growing bit by bit each day, I know I can do it.

Something green and growing...

Because I have so many reasons to make it work. The best of which is sleeping now, recuperating from his own weekly battles.

Because we all have wars to wage. And the endgame of each isn’t necessarily about winning. But rather, learning how to distill out the best strategies for future battles. And knowing when it’s best to direct your energies elsewhere.

It’s about skimming away the boiled-off fat, and starting with what’s left.

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Won’t You Be My Future?

I wholeheartedly assumed tonight was going to involve a tumbler, a few ice cubes, and a splash of Grey Goose. Then again, I must’ve misread the day’s ominous, plague-like signs: a mouse, a frog, a coworker crying over the phone to her mother.

Or maybe, just maybe, I’ve grown up a little.

That’s not to say ye olde after-work cocktail won’t occasionally be conjured out of a few bottles. Rather, it’s me acknowledging that, sometimes, it’s harder to whine and drink than it is to thicken my skin.

Life is messy, so I might as well get used to it.

Pollocked Facade

And adulthood is hard. Sometimes, it’s entirely overrated. But there’re times when I look around and think, “Huh, maybe I’m not such a lazy sack after all. Maybe I can do this.”

Then I rally for a short time, conquer some menial task peripherally related to this, and veg on the couch, assuming I’ve somehow convinced the universe—or at least my gullible self—that I deserve some downtime, a reprieve from the work I’ve accomplished.

But winching my wagon to a dream, and pulling it out of its current rutted path, isn’t going to be easy. And I’ll never experience a cathartic payoff if I don’t take the first steps to change my course. Unless I want to continue hitchhiking along the Bitter-Bitchy-Catty-Queen Highway, arriving everywhere but my desired destination.  

I’ve always succeeded in psyching myself out of going for the proverbial it. After all, it’s been easier to fall back on an anxiety-stuffed, disconcertingly comfy emotional cushion instead of failing hard and busting my coccyx.

Then again, the fall might not be as painfully hard as I think, and failure often has an annoyingly silver lining.

Plus, I might not fall at all.

But the only way for me to know is to stop circling the “Maybe” on the mentally-scrawled, sixth grade-style “Will You Be My Future?” note that arrives in my frontal lobe after every temper tantrum.

Better yet, I should stop writing it in the first place.