Alternate Response To The Question, "What Do You Do?"


“What do I do? Well, I get sidetracked really easily. That’s one thing I do. Sometimes it takes me four hours to finish reading an 800-word article, if I finish reading it at all, because someone will tweet a link to another article while I’m in the middle of reading the initial article and the new article will have some seductive title like, ‘Women: You’re Not Crazy,’ (I’m paraphrasing here) and reading the new article becomes an immediate desire despite not having finished the article I was in the middle of — which is probably a Daily Mirror screed about a woman who’s still single and approaching forty and wondering either ‘why?’ or ‘why not?’ which forgive me but, as exhausted as that topic it is, I’ll still read an essay about it if there’s nothing else going on. Of course, now there is something else going on, so I’m all, ‘What’s up with that [new link that just entered my consciousness]?’

So I’ll click on the link, and it’s an article where the author (a man) admits that men do this thing where they accuse a woman of being crazy when she articulates her (not-crazy, justifiable) feelings. Which yeah, even though I know we’re not all crazy, thanks for admitting to systematically downplaying our rational concerns by pulling the insanity card — really, I know I sound smug but I mean that. I appreciate the acknowledgement that most men are aware that giving voice to legitimate concerns does not qualify someone for Bellevue. This admission makes me feel vindicated, although I’m not sure why — I’ve never been accused of being crazy by someone and then actually questioned whether or not it might be true; any man so desperate to avoid confrontation that he’d resort to questioning my sanity rather than discussing his honest thoughts like a human being capable of logic is probably, actually a little crazy himself and someone I’d rather not waste my short life with. So most likely, then, I’ll share that article with some friends, both men (to signify that ‘the secret is out’) and women, who may feel a similar vindication to the one I felt. And what I ‘do’ is carry on in a similar vein, for the rest of the day, just like that.

‘What do you do’ is a vague question, you know? I do a lot. I eat grapefruit, for example. I begin to read books and then put them down when I’m 90% through and then never pick them back up, for some reason. I read emails, too, or I skim emails, especially the ones that come from my grandfather. My grandfather checks his email like, once a month and then goes on a forwarding spree, and before I know it my inbox is full of CAPS LOCK subject lines and I’m reading a checklist to determine whether or not I grew up in Brooklyn in the 1950s. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t).

I’m pretty impressed that my grandfather can use a computer, let alone the internet — the guy’s in his mid-90s. That’s mind-blowing, you know? There was no television when he was born. He’s a straight typewriter G. I used a typewriter when I was younger, but it was just for kicks I guess. The ink had run out at least ten years prior to me getting my hands on it. I wrote my first story on a typewriter — it was about a girl whose stuffed animal toy came to life and started attacking her classmates on her behalf. I watched a lot of Twilight Zone as a kid. Anyway, the story was two chapters long, so in 8-year-old numbers, that’s about 100 words. The stuffed animal was named Stuffy (it was a dog).

Sometimes I wish someone would just combine computers with typewriters. Have we done that yet? No one owns printers anymore, or at least I don’t, and for the past four years printing something has become something like participating in a Triathlon. There’s never just a Point A to Point B solution. It’s always like, call the one friend you have who owns a printer and get shut down because they’re at work, or something, then walk to some Internet Garage place where 75% of the computers are broken and 25% of the computers are in use and 100% of them are older than you are and the lone printer is out of commission anyway, then head over to Staples or some other printing mecca where you almost always need assistance because printing a goddamn sheet of paper necessitates plastic cards and secret codes and tribal handshakes, because no one uses quarters anymore, god forbid. And then once you go to Staples you get all preoccupied because there’s all of this neat stuff that you don’t have any use for anymore, like pencils and loose-leaf paper. I hate seeing kids shopping at Staples who still require these things, it’s like, ‘Hi, check me out, I’m going to school and I haven’t made any irreversible life decisions yet. Jealousss?’ Get screwed. That’s what I think about those kids, that’s what I do.

But I digress. What do you do?”

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