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Advice for camping on polished floorboards

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We’ve all heard the phrase, “Don’t count your chickens before they’ve attacked,” and this is sage warning for any Hitchcock used to getting along all productive from a stable and certain base regarding their partner/kids/career/health/God’s work that couldn’t possibly fall out the bottom of your ship until it does. Then the chickens attack. Then you’re fucked.

There is, of course, the chance that the initial chicken wave could kill you, and if that’s you then please read no further, but if your eyelids spasm through the miasma and instinctively try opening to take in your surrounds to rejoin the fight but can’t because they’ve been nailed shut by an errant beak, then you have passed the first test. Congratulations.

You are starting over. The worst is behind you. Clear skies. Cool breezes. Dwarfs sipping Long Island Ice Teas in a resort pool, infantilised on floating rubber ponies. Were this your path:

Now, the fact that starting over in song always means starting over again with the same person, in an optimistic and saccharine chorus, when the verses all clearly suggest it isn’t working out (I’m looking at you, Natalie Cole), should help you feel better. These people are deluded. Productive people. Sensible people. Going back to that hitherto reliable anchor they mortgaged their happiness on is a fantasy. Is dialysis going to interfere with the morning run? You bet. Does the money really make people happy? Erm, probably. But YOU have discovered a furry little fella I like to call reality. Now you are a walking truth bomb. You laugh too hard and talk too loud. Your confidence soars one minute, then you are reduced to teary fits by the merest of life’s slights: The new neighbours are junkies. A bush turkey shat on your car. Meanwhile, your friend is debating the pros and cons of giving up Cheezels in a large group at a housewarming, and you quip back how the doctors say you might keep your arm to the elbow.

But it was definitely not Mark Latham who once said, “That which doesn’t kill you, can only incapacitate you.” Sage warning #2. This is the real reality, the one beneath the fake reality. It’s MUCH. MORE. REAL. You are camping on polished floorboards in an empty house. You have nothing, not even your health. You’ve accepted failure and then lost that acceptance but accepted that at times you will lose acceptance. At all times you find that difficult to accept. But it only makes you smile ruefully, nodding when no one is talking, like a crazy person. You look out over your balcony a lot, at nothing. Starting over is not hanging out with Yoko. Sometimes you get angry, like John used to, because there is no hooch. Or like Dick Cheney does, because Mrs. Cheney won’t give it up. Oh no, feeble pleasure-seekers, starting over is more like this:

Notice how metal fans are usually the most relaxed people in the room?

And it gets awkward. You skip back to the first, fake reality by convincing yourself however momentarily that if you try harder the old way, you can pull the new thing together. Pluck that beak from your retina. Stand just so, wink like that, hold the world in thrall once again. Please note that you are probably trying to reclaim a zenith that only exists in retrospect. And no matter how cool you might be when in stride, make no mistake, your supposedly upgraded reality is fairly embarrassing turf, as demonstrated by these guys:

Yes, readers, your emotions will pitch and roll, but the main thing about starting over, whether it’s emerging from the wreckage of a relationship, career or illusion of good health, is that you must submit before the altar of cool. Stop trying so hard, and face facts that you are at this time, plain super daggy. The 1%ers that used to give you an edge have abandoned you. It just isn’t comfortable; no fish out of water could be. The more you think about it the worse it gets. So don’t do that. Embrace your dorky fledgling state. It’s the Dysatisfunctional way. Stop resisting. Slide into the next real thing, like this guy:


Do you think BuddhaRex planned to be where he is? He clearly has a new spring in his step. Clinging to your old habits will only underscore how distant the world in which they worked has become. That plan has failed. Indeed, BuddhaRex’s kavork tells us our plans will only mock us. So give up on plans for now. Forget common sense and use your senses instead; creep ahead bit by bit, with your preconceptions shelved, like: “holing up in a cheap hotel with bourbon and hookers is wrong” or “miming to an Afro-Indian booty diva on YouTube as a relatively unphotogenic white teen then indulging castration fantasies is not achieving my goals.” Because who knows what the new goals are? Rediscover your instincts; feel it out. You’ll be surprised how well some experimental embarrassment will help you find focus. The new good thing will come your way faster once you stop resisting.

So get retarded, you daggy fools.

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About Luke

Luke Stickels writes fiction, theory, and essays in such a piecemeal fashion as to be moving nigh imperceptibly. But he is no author-ninja. He is dysatisfunctional. Luke has written for Meanjin, The Drum Online, New Matilda, Green Magazine, and various now-defunct magazines, IsNot! Magazine probably being the most fun. He has written on violence, sound and cinema in several refereed academic journals, taught almost every subject at university, and was once quoted in a tumblr tag for "enlightened." As if THAT wasn't due to being completely dysatisfunctional.

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