Monday, March 11, 2019

Pathetic Joy From Hanging the Razor Scrapers

I bought some razor scrapers from Stanley-We-Want-To-Help-You-Do-Things-Right. I had to get three, and they sat for a short while on my kitchen table, along with:
  • The magic mushroom sculpture I brought back from Oaxaca
  • A house number decal for my mailbox which can't be properly installed until the temperature rises to 70 degrees
  • A weird British steamer contraption for sore throats
  • A yellow blown-glass Castillian olive oil pourer
  • A small bottle of Maggi seasoning ("Improves the taste!") I bought on eBay last year and am not sure what to do with
  • Several envelopes of Turkish Salep ("Fox Testicles in Arabic!") I bought on eBay last year and am not sure what to do with
  • A new container of Guardsman Dusting Cloths (ironically unopened amid a dusty tabletop)
  • One travel pack of Kleeenex
  • A cheap squeegee sent along by the decal people
  • An inexplicable unopened shaker jar of lowercase "ariosto" seasoning (rarely do I season - "A Man For No Seasoning" - yet I can't stop buying all these things)
  • A mug full of pens and pencils
  • A can of extraordinarily rare imperial stout
  • Indian Khaman mix ("Best Quality!")
  • A Bed Bath & Beyond 20% off coupon
  • Battenkill Brittle "Energy Bars" (I call them "Calorie Bars")
  • A small pile of junk mail
  • A gooseneck microphone stand adapter
...and this amusing-looking item:

....which I don't recall buying and which is of utterly mysterious functionality.

My house is nice, I'm not a pack rat. But like most people I have my loci of unavoidable clutter. At least my clutter's interesting; more mad scientist than knick-knack collector.

Anyway, it dawned on me that I have a pegboard tool center set up along my basement steps, with one particularly well-positioned rod perfect for hanging the three mini scrapers, whose packaging includes convenient hole punches. I slid the scrapers onto the rod, and immediately broke down in sobs for about a second and a half. A short squall. And then was absolutely normal again.

"That was weird!" I self-narrated. Mulling it over, I realized what had happened. I was happy. Overcome by happiness, in fact. The razor scrapers were perfect, the pegboard was perfect, my life felt like it was really coming together. It felt like a "win".

The unavoidable next thought was, naturally, that I'm the most pathetic schlub on god's green earth. If I've decayed to the point where this was my idea of a "win", please, someone, come shoot me (and sprinkle the body with Salep). But because I no longer indulge concocted drama, my mood didn't sag one bit. The obligatory self-reflective movie scene passed by like a dust mote as I continued to curiously reason through it all.

What would be an appropriate reason for joy? Getting elected Senator! Winning the lottery! Getting the the girl! I'd just experienced that same jubilation from the most trifling experience. I hadn't needed to run a campaign, or buy a ticket, or seduce anyone. I won't spend six years working in a snake pit, or worrying about mo' problems, or squabbling about my kitchen table's clutter.

Neither the Senator, the lottery winner, nor the Lothario have it in them to derive joy from hanging their razor scrapers (nor, I'm guessing, from blow-drying their temperamental TV). Their emotions, not mine, are out of scale. Jaded ease requires ever more momentous wins to feel anything at all, and then one faces the inevitable sugar crash, leaving one thirsty for bigger scores (most lottery winners keep buying tickets, most seducers quickly begin looking around, and every senator wants to be president).

Everyone goes bigger and bigger, while I, ever contrarian, go smaller and smaller. Less jaded and thirsty over time, and hardly ever sugar-crashing. So who exactly's the schlub again?

I'm a nano-aesthete.


Peter Cucè said...

Great post as usual. The mysterious item is a tongue scraper.

James Leff said...

But why the hands?

Peter Cucè said...

To hold onto of course :)

The captcha on here is brutal btw.

Jim Leff said...

Still not totally clear, but I'll read up.

Yeah, I need to pass the captchas, too. But if I turn off moderation, this turns into YouTube-style comments. I'll unlock now a while, until it starts triggering my Chowhound PTSD again.

Anonymous said...

LPT: clinically speaking, that brief wave of sadness, even though it is soon followed by a self-reassuring sense of overall happiness, is a classic symptom of depression. Just trying to be helpful, no shame in seeking treatment. Everyone's mood ticks up and down throughout a day, squirt of dopamine, squirt of serotonin, it's normal human emotional regulation; but slipping so quickly into and out of dysphoria for no apparent cause is evidence that one's mood overall is at a low average level.

Anonymous said...

and the little hands are just tongs (not even tong depressors ;)

silicone rubbers can take pretty high kitchen temperatures. use them for turning bacon or retrieving toast.

Jim Leff said...

Anonymous, you have interposed cause and effect, as people often do.

A dramatic, cinematic view is available for any given event or result. That's not unique to depressives. The availability of that framing is not the problem, the problem is when you accept it, and proceed to ruminate/obsess. That's what depression is. I've described a pattern of opting out of that acceptance, which has been a constant theme of this Slog, as indexed here:

And even there, it's not the nature of the framing that does it. One can lock in/ruminate/obsess over a perfectly lovely framing and experience depressive symptoms. Human beings become depressed when they get stuck in any single framing of any sort for two long. We need to shift frequently to be healthy. That's why depressives often seek galvanizing experience (sex, booze, drugs, laughs), all of which force a shift of framing.

The problem is that creativity also involves lock-in/rumination/obsession. When you're problem-solving, the faculty to deeply freeze one's framing (i.e. immerse and concentrate) is a great boon (a sacrifice one makes for great results). Depression is the dark twin of that faculty, which gets misused when there's no actual problem being worked on.

As for the biology, all we have is correlation, no chain of causation. It is just as possible that mental processes trigger the biological changes as vice versa. Scientists don't know, they're just starting to penetrate this stuff. I can tell you that I've beat it via the visceral opt-out choice I describe here. The choice at hand is nothing less than heaven/hell:

Jim Leff said...

Oh, so I use this for, like, flipping lots of small items in a frying pan? Cool! Also, "tong depressors" was funny!

Display Name said...

Wow Jim! So glad I always read the comments too. Fantastic response! I still don't like those new pink nib candies at tjs though, I took mine back.

Anonymous said...

I said that shedding tears out of the blue was symptomatic of depression, and guess what: it is. A symptom is not a diagnosis, but it's still a symptom.

Steve Jobs showed symptoms of pancreatic cancer. He had his own "wall of text" in mind as to how he should eschew standard treatment in favor of acupuncture, juices and cleanses. Who's to say he was wrong? Maybe he didn't die of pancreatic cancer, or if he was rolling dice, maybe he actually did pursue his best options.

But practitioners of medicine would tell you that he had symptoms of pancreatic cancer, and elsewhere in medical schools they would get the answer that crying is indicative of sadness.

Your point about casuality is weakened when you conisder that all scientific causality is something we take on faith, it is all correlation with no proof of causation anywhere.

Jim Leff said...

shedding tears out of the blue was symptomatic of depression

Much as assuming someone has shed tears out of the blue when they've reported no such thing is symptomatic of delirium.

Your point about casuality is weakened when you conisder that all scientific causality is something we take on faith, it is all correlation with no proof of causation anywhere.

That was spectacular.

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