It’s a daily heartache: I’ m on the 405 when all of a sudden I am stopped behind a line of cars also trying to merge onto the 101. Here is my daily routine on how to cope with the stress of Los Angeles freeway traffic:
- Work on my novel. Well, not work on it, per se, but think of the plot as I scroll through my Instagram. How long have I been writing it? I guess off and on for 6 years but it’s coming along. No, I haven’t written anything, but I have it all in my head. I just need to find the time to get it all out.
- Have an existential crisis. What does it say about me that I still haven’t finished my novel? I’m such a fraud. Maybe I deserve to be stuck in traffic every morning since I haven’t made good use of my time anyway. I should look up some authors and see how old they were when they finished their first novel. Shit. Even Kurt Vonnegut was younger than I am now. I shouldn’t put too much pressure on myself though, we’re all going to die at some point so what does it really matter if I write a novel at all? Could it be that I haven’t written anything significant because if I do and it turns out bad then I can’t think of myself a writer anymore?
- Listen to Joe Rogan’s podcast, sort of agree with something he says, then turn it off and listen to a Malcolm Gladwell audiobook instead. I have to get out of my head. A video of Tulsi Gabbard on the Joe Rogan show is suggested for me and I put it on even though I know she is a Russian agent. Wait, why does what she is saying sound reasonable? Am I a Russian agent too? I just laughed at Joe Rogan calling teenagers “snowflakes.” I have to turn this off…
- Text co-worker that I am at work and looking for parking. That’s better. Malcolm Gladwell always puts me in a better mood anyway. Shit, Dante is asking where I am. I’ll just say I’m looking for parking. It’s not a lie if I don’t think too much about it.
- Look up my high school girlfriend on Facebook, see that she recently had a baby and wonder what my life would be like if I had gone to school in Chicago with her and we tried to stay together. The traffic hasn’t moved in a while and something Malcolm Gladwell said about connecting to strangers reminded me of something Jennifer said to me senior year. I haven’t thought about her since she moved away so I decided to look her up on Facebook and see that she is married and just gave birth to twins. As I inch forward in my car, I wonder whether she is happy. She looks happy. Would I be happy if that was me in those pictures? What’s the harm in friending her?
- Have a conversation with my wife about what we should do about dinner, struggle to make a decision, then tell her I’m just parking and have to go. Shit, Beth is calling to ask what we should do for dinner. That’s all we pretty much talk about now. I tell her I have to go because I’m about to park. Fuck it, I’ll friend Jennifer. I mean, we are friends, after all.
- Listen to a 45-minute YouTube review about the newest Star Wars movie which I never saw but can tell you why it was terrible. I’ll be honest, Malcolm Gladwell is kind of boring and I feel like I have heard enough to be able to say I read the book. Jesus Christ, how have I still not moved? I’m just going to cut some of the line. As I fly by a quarter-mile of cars, I see a brief opening for me to slide my car in. I don’t know why this lady in a Prius is beeping at me, if she knew how long I have been waiting she’d just let me in. I earned it.
- Get very angry at the person trying to cut in line ahead of me even though I just cut about 100 cars. Who does this jerk think he is trying to cut ahead of me in line. Don’t beep at me, we live in a society! Uch, fine I’ll let him in line. Asshole.
- Wonder if in 20 years they’ll re-gender-swap High Fidelity and what happened to the Lawrence Brothers. I can’t believe I spent the entire weekend watching the new High Fidelity show and didn’t even attempt to work on my novel. The show wasn’t even good. Or maybe it was. I find it difficult to form my own opinion about media and haven’t watched any YouTube reviews on the show yet. I guess I kind of liked it, although did it need to be made with a black woman? What does it say about me that I am even questioning it? Am I upset because at one point I so deeply identified with John Cusack’s character from the original and feel that remaking it through a different perspective means part of my self-identification is lost or because swapping gender and race without really tackling the experience of gender or race seems exploitative and opportunistic? Also, whatever happened to the Lawrence Brothers?
- Laugh at all those suckers still waiting behind me as I finally merge onto the 101. I spend two hours a day in traffic which means that over 20 years at this job I will spend 10,000 hours sitting in traffic to go to a job I don’t like. Malcolm Gladwell said in an audiobook I listened to a bit of that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something and I wonder what skills I could develop if I didn’t have to make this commute every day. Maybe I would finally finish my novel? Maybe I could be a better husband? Maybe I would learn French or get in shape or learn to meditate? Or maybe I would do nothing important with the time at all.
As the cars in front of me finally start to onramp the 101, the thoughts and insecurities about what I am doing with my life and how time seems to be moving faster and faster wash away. ‘Too much self-reflection is dangerous’ I think to myself as I roll down my window and take a breath of the cool California air. As the sun kisses my elbow, I turn on KROQ and listen to whatever Sublime song they are playing right now and realize, for a minute, that maybe life isn’t so bad. It’s not perfect, but not so bad.