I’ve been poorly for the last couple of weeks*. Nothing serious, hold the grapes and the flowers (but do send the chocs). In short, my life has been very much restricted to the sinister Computer-Bed-Bathroom Triangle.
At times like these, suddenly nothing is more compelling than playing mind games with oneself, like the Destructive Thought Spiral (this involves making up future-life scenarios so horrendous that not even Quentin Tarantino could have dreamt them up in a booze-fuelled, fever-ridden nightmare). But absolute favourite mind fuck, by a long shot, is The War Of The Shoulds.
It’s a wretched battle, where one’s brave little Think Positive soldiers, deployed by a ramshackle, atrophied Self Esteem Unit, are macerated in the maws of the Shoulds. Not only are the Shoulds invincible, but they multiply with every blow they are dealt.
skirmish Waterloo went something like this:
I should call the Student Loan Company. It’s this week’s BS (Big Should/Bullshit). They wrote to me, I need to negotiate new payment terms… I so don’t want to make that phonecall! Fret, fret…
My Spanish should be perfect by now. This spawns another whole slew of Shoulds: I should be living in shared accommodation (meh!) with Spanish speakers. I should get a part-time job that has me interacting with the general public (double-meh!). I should get myself a Spanish boyfriend (mehmehmehmeeeeeehhhhh!)
I should maybe colour my hair. Then I could go blonder and blonder and blonder in accordance with The Middle Aged Women’s Directive. I’m fascinated by this phenomenon, you see, especially here in Spain, where hordes of greying, swarthy females with smouldering black eyes suddenly feel compelled to reach for the bleach bottle in a quest of fulfilling their life-long ambition: being a Blonde Bombshell. Now or never!
I should aspire to be a homeowner. Good God, as averse as I am to dealing with day-to-day mind-numbingly boring crap, I’d be sprouting even more grey hairs every time the roof tiles needed changing, the gutters dredging, the termites shooing, etc. And then there’s the damp problem. There is always a damp problem. And no taking up sticks and leaving it to the landlord to sort out his shit hole, no, it’ll be up to me. Not in a million years…
I should have had a child. Only kidding. This is the one thing I’ve always known for sure I should NEVER EVER do. On the other hand, I could at least have offered my squealing, blood-dripping first born to the Student Loan Company, seeing that I’ll never be able to repay them in actual money, even if I live and work until age 101.
I should have internalised the ins and outs of the German spelling reform. It came into force in 1996. That’s nearly two decades ago. I’ve a 105-page pdf clogging up my hard drive, which explains the whole shebang, in gruesome minutiae. Sometimes, when I’m feeling brave, I take a peek at a random chapter. But, but, but…. THIS IS JUST NOT HOW I LEARNT IT! It used to make sense to me, German spelling, I excelled in dictation tests. Now my Teflon brain twists itself into the Gordian knot. The only way to make any of this newfangled codswallop stick, it seems, is when
my friend Tanja posts withering corrections below my comments on facebook (“Look, I’ve explained this to you before – if ‘ss’ follows two vowels, it becomes ‘ß’!”). Oh God, I’m slowly turning one of those egits I despise with a passion – people who cannot string an intelligible sentence together in their own bloody language! And down I careen into a Destructive Thought Spiral, where I’m mute and illiterate, languishing on a street corner with all my possessions crammed into a laundry bag. And donning a head of golden locks.
I should do more housework. I’ll do it tomorrow. Right after I’ve called the Student Loan Company.
[*I’ve fully recovered from the lurgy by now. I’ve even had some positive thoughts. Mostly about cake. ]