When Resentment Sets In

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Being an immigrant here (or anywhere) means you are, for all intents and purposes, new.  A nicely new, freshly-minted, naively-optimistic imbecile. Like a baby, but the birth canal is USCIS.

When you’re new, you’re generally given a grace period for making mistakes, looking stupid and general ignorance. It’s a bit comforting, sort of like having a mummy or a nice teacher that you accidentally call “Mummy”. Once that grace period expires though, you are swiftly relegated to lower than low in the pecking order of general human existence.

It’s a bit of a culture shock. Imagine trying to get anything immigration-related organized before you leave your country of origin. Here’s how this might go:

You: Hi there, I am am an impending immigrant currently in the UK. I’d like to rent one of your flats you listed online. I can even send you the security deposit upfront via Western Union to prove I’m legit. Email me back as I don’t have a US number, US address or any financial/personal references in the US. Bye!

Real Estate Agent: ….

You might think you sound legit by avoiding any spelling errors or reference to any titles you might hold (even this), but you might as well say you are a seeking a beneficiary for the Royal Family of Nigeria or hiring a mystery shopper to only work at Western Union.

The same thing happens with jobs. You will not be able to secure one on your own, because no-one can check your foreign references/work history. Instead, you will be a temp but have that dangling carrot of a permanent job with benefits to lead you foolishly into more and more work. Increased workload, zero rewards. The good news today was the fact that my temp contract was extended (rather than me being made permanent, so I can get said apartment). What would be BAD news, then? Getting fired? Good fucking luck, because I do the job of (as of this month), FOUR people. Yet I get paid a third of one of those people’s salaries. Again: low on the pecking order.

This morning, I was stuck in this permanently freezing cold house (where I can see my breath and my feet and hands go numb if not covered in 2-3 layers…in the DAY) for 3 hours longer than usual. This was due to work-related tech issues, and I had to sit there on standby so I could complete my morning distribution. 3 extra hours in that miserably chilly, damp, motivation-killing igloo. This happened two days earlier, too.

I have to file some fairly important immigration paperwork next week. Because I’m a temp, I didn’t get paid for the January 2nd holiday, and I didn’t get paid for the two weeks I was off, either. Meaning I go two whole weeks of working without getting paid, but I still have rent (albeit minimal) and transport costs to meet. Because my paycheck will be smaller than usual, I have to use almost all of it to pay the costs of said paperwork, leaving me with maybe $20-30 for the whole week. Fun!

On top of that, I still have to save first/last/security for this apartment I may end up taking out of desperation, and that involves almost 8 straight weeks of not buying any food, and just spending money on rent and transport. As unrealistic as that is, it’s more likely going to be 12 weeks rather than 8. Which sort of puts the ki-bosh on my hopes to fly home for a few days around Easter.

And once I can afford the move-in costs for said place, rent would end up being over 40% of my income. Before tax. And before utilities. It’s supposed to be 25%.

My roommate didn’t quite sympathise, and politely advised me to stop being negative, remarking somewhat facetiously that “life is hard”.

Well, it is! I guess not from where she’s standing, though.

Time for a table:

Her

Me

Owns her own property (possibly with parental assistance) Saving up to rent (a fallacy in itself) (over three times that of a mortgage payment) without parental help
Owns a car Has to walk in rainstorms/dry heat/snow/etc
Like most people, isn’t tied to living in a particular area (also due to having a car) Must live within a 15-min walk from the train, because my morning work process is on a tight schedule, micromanaged to the minute by existing processes/deadlines (6-8am), and I have to catch the express train to be at my desk by 9am. So I need to be able to make that train and that train alone from wherever I live in that tiny window of time. On FOOT!
Works as a teacher (gets to tell impressionable minds what to do/is always right) Lowest of the low on the food chain at work; gets tons of work with deadlines set by others; is not in charge of anything in any way whatsoever
Went to an Ivy League university (tuition costs met by parents) Went to a bog-standard but high-ranking local university
Is a US citizen Is currently undergoing the US immigration process, which is not exactly simple, short or cheap, and is damn fucking stressful
Sets rules (work/home etc) Follows rules (work/home etc)

The thing is, her life is more or less content, but mine is in a state of chaos and constant flux, having, you know…emigrated to another country and all. I am simply trying to achieve her level of content, or something close to it. It’s not about wanting and taking, but rather trying to get the same things that everyone else has, or at least everyone who works/lives in your area – a secure job where you’re relatively valued, a home of your own, and maybe even some furniture. Too much to ask?

But because I don’t have the resources available to me that she does/did (either as a citizen or because of her upbringing), it’s considerably more difficult, and the tangible aspects of these issues just can’t be happy-thought-ed away.

But in all of these regards, she has had the comfort, care and financial support by her parents/family even after she had moved out. For my family, it’s difficult for them. UK salaries, even for doctors, don’t really stretch that far out here. If I had been born and brought up in the US, things would have been different. Neither upbringing is more right than the other; it’s just different. But having that comforting shelter throughout your adulthood makes it difficult to comprehend anyone going through some genuinely stressful, complicated, unstable and convoluted life events.

It brings me back to that experiment I did. I can pretend that everything is happy and that there are clowns and puppy dogs and fireworks and candy and clowns everywhere, but none of that is going to change the actual facts, cause and effect of the negative FACTS in my life.

If I had a job that commanded a sense of power and/or fulfilled me in that way, I might feel differently about life. If I didn’t have to pay extortionate paperwork and legal fees, and wasn’t exempt from state and employment benefits and wasn’t completely on my own, family and friends-wise, then perhaps I’d feel differently about life.

But the fact of the matter is, it’s not, and I don’t. I’ve accepted that, but I’ve also accepted that it’s perfectly natural to react to and experience the stress caused by that. It’s there. I know I’m English, but you can’t just sweep it under a rug.

I feel the same lingering sense of resentment when I see a millionaire musician or successful clown/entertainer telling people to “follow their dreams” and “nothing can stop you doing what you want if you try hard enough”, leaving tens of thousands of failed musicians getting the noose tight enough on the third or fourth attempt (because they weren’t trying hard enough).

That sort of well-meaning but clearly hindsight-rooted “advice” is naive, but in a more…insulting, blinkered way, completely oblivious to the struggles that other, less fortunate, less privileged people face. It’s the rich/poor dichotomy, the polarized social mess that makes happy, butterfly-flitting volunteers of the one set and boxed-in, resentful misanthropes of the rest.

And that’s what it’s like to be an immigrant at this stage in the process. “Thinking positively” is ultimately a foolish ignorance of issues that need to be solved and/or simply slogged through. A waiting game. Soon.

To reiterate: when you emigrate to the US, you are a helpless, feckless, useless little baby. Except your mummy isn’t there to help you. No-one is.

Except the clowns.

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An Experiment, Day 5: In Which It Is Concluded That Time and Space are Relative to the Degree of Love Being Everywhere

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This morning, no-one on my team was in the office. So, while there was the usual schedule to adhere to, the workday was going to be light (because I get things done on time and never have any leftover work) and there wasn’t that insane panic of trying to get to work “on time”. Before I started the portion of work that had me work from home in the mornings, I’d usually be in before most people on my team. Now that I’m only in about 30 minutes after they are, I find I’ m catching up on meetings that are deliberately held without me (not maliciously), and I am always unclear on the follow-up work that is assigned to me from a meeting I didn’t even fucking go to. It’s like being given comprehension homework from a book they told you not to read.

This morning’s commute was very dead. I took a later train (when you’re more likely to see friendlier commuters in jeans as opposed to sour-faced suits fighting to get to that Special Door before you do, and saw that there was less traffic on the roads, more actual people about and the sun was properly out. Yesterday I ran like a maniac down to the nearest internet cafe after hurriedly getting ready, and it was similarly dead, but still quite dark out. What a difference 90 minutes make. Anyone who is heading out is probably working shift work or mega flexi-time, so you won’t feel trampled by the commuter stampedes, feel in mortal danger whenever you’re crossing a road (no-one pays attention to the traffic lights) and could get a coffee in my local without thinking, “do I have time to ask for whipped cream?”. Well, there’s always time for whipped cream. Shut up.

It was naturally, less stressful than the standard commute. I understand the business needs for keeping the same hours as everyone else, but in a job like mine, why not allow crazily-flexible work options so the day doesn’t become that much of a grind? Everyone has to commute in, but if you’ve got a company-issued laptop and have access to the company’s network, why not fit the commute around the work deadlines (instead of saying “I can’t work on this until X o’clock) and just turn up in a reasonable early-to-mid-morning window? As long as you’re putting in the same hours, it shouldn’t matter too much if you push back your office arrival by an hour or two, providing your work doesn’t require conference calls/in-person urgency.

So there you have it. More space to do things and more time to carry them out = less stress. My roommate didn’t quite get the urgency of yesterday’s interwebz connection problems until I explained it while careening out the door at breakneck speed while she was leisurely cooking her breakfast. Like most people, she has a morning schedule that begins before work. Unless I stay awake all night or wake up at 4.30am, I have to squeeze a typical morning schedule into the 20 minutes before I’m due to log on. Every aspect of my work morning schedule is micromanaged to the minute – not by my own choice, but because of the myriad of inter-hour deadlines by which certain routine tasks need to be done. And if I am late by 90 minutes, the entire company notices and we get emails from employees around the world telling us that we fucked up.

Having the freedom to stroll downtown, leisurely grab a coffee and stand at a less-crowded station to board a much, much longer train (WHY are the rush-hour trains only half as long??), with much more room to sit, then a shuttle bus ride to the office without hitting any traffic whatsoever. This will never happen again, so I had to enjoy it while it lasted. Instead of shoving the train station doors wide open, I actually stood held the door for someone.  Unfortunately, it caused me to miss the last shuttle bus of the day (I saw it drive off) and I had to take the damn subway. But, whatever.

This experiment is supposed to run until Monday, but I can’t see any way to manifest this new-age stuff as reality unless there is some supernatural comic book power element to it. While there may be spiders lurking in my room, none of them are radioactive, and I will just have to be that person who is forced to commute in rush hour without having the benefit of getting ready for work in the way that normal people do. I have no time for myself anymore because of my job, and that’s unlikely to change until I get a different, normal job. The last person who did these duties was a permanent employee who worked closer to the train station (in a nicer office), and left earlier in the day to accommodate the earlier start. I get both ends of a shitty stick, but it helps that I am staying with a genuinely loving, calm, patient and stable roommate.

The “love” that is supposed to be everywhere hasn’t changed as a result of this experiment. Real life doesn’t bend things that way and I am too deeply-rooted in the practical, stressful world because of the things I have to do – a stressful job, expensive, stressful immigration procedures, stressful relationship issues and a life generally in constant, stressful transit, away from the friends, family and everything I left behind for…this.

The only way to slog through it is to hope that this is just a temporary, due-paying crapfest that will be over soon, because, in this country, nothing is free, nothing is easy, and you have to lower and debase every standard you have before you can get your life to be even 1/10th as good as you used to have it. That’s the reward. Enjoying these lazy days when they come around is like having a holiday. Just ask this brat:

 

An Experiment, Day 4: In Which It Could Be Asserted That Stress, Not Love, is Everywhere

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This morning, a daily newsletter that goes out to the entire company (in multiple countries) was delayed by about 15 minutes. Although that might not seem like a big deal, in a relatively conservative, corporate setting, it was grounds for mass freakouts. The first part of the process for creating the newsletter was delayed by about an hour and a half because I couldn’t connect to the internet. I ran out the door, and my poor roommate, who was calmly and leisurely cooking breakfast, had no idea how stressful other people can make the stress of this situation stressful for me.

 

The more people you have focusing on a daily task that is often at the mercy of technological temperament, the bigger the freakout if something goes even the tiniest bit wrong. Instead of actually focusing on fixing the problem and/or adjusting the pace of your work to compensate for the delay, you have to waste additional time sending out emails to advise people of the delay, and field confused phone calls from people concerned about the delay but who hadn’t bothered to read the email about the delay.

It brought back childhood memories of being late getting ready for school and my mother shouting up at me to hurry up, then me  going to the top of the stairs to shout down that her shouting up at me wasn’t going to slow down time so we could have this pointless shout-discussion. Ultimately, it was my fault for not realizing that the WiFi card they gave me required me to inexplicably be connected to the fucking internet to set the damn stupid thing up.

Luckily I had the chance to blow off some of that steam in an informal meeting with a potential new manager. He liked to swear a lot and had surprisingly white teeth. It was a little weird. He kept asking me about the things I didn’t like and instead of reverting to the phoney “I work too hard is my weakness” crap, I said I hated the back-and-forth regarding our tech issues, because it was stressful that they couldn’t be fixed, yet I was constantly somewhat expected to without being psychic about file corruptions between versions of MS Word and hacking into everyone’s systems and force-installing some more universal programs.

Aside from the husband, the single biggest source of stress in my life is work, and it isn’t even that stressful. I feel like I have to LOOK stressful about it, but I explained to Potential New Manager (PNM) that I’m never terribly worried about anything being unsolvable because I have a disproportionately curious, naive enthusiasm of “what does this button do?” to see if it will fix it.

If that air of discomforting delusion I have is the key to minimizing the stress at work, I’m not sure how healthy or mature that looks when it comes to actually retaining this job long-term, beyond the tempness of it all. There have been hints and suggestions that it may happen, but I’d hate to be stuck in the dead-end, paycheque-surrendering hell that is American temping. I could play the waiting game and just wait for the stress and uncertainty (which are never mutually exclusive) to dissipate, rather than continue my roommate’s well-meaning experiment.

She tricked me into feeling love again today. Damn hippie.

 

An Experiment, Day 3: In Which It is Determined That Ignorance is Bliss

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According to my new positive affirmation (or at least for the week), love is everywhere, and I am loved and lovable. Well, sometimes that really isn’t the case. In fact, this being New England, it’s hardly ever the case. A lot of people on the North Shore are are a little bit rough around the edges, like old-timey fisherman who no longer beat their kids but are still a bit sexist, enjoy simpler foods made with local ingredients and try to act against the liberal type in fairly nice suits.

Today was actually full of stress. From the technical issues I faced in the morning to the commuter’s version of hitting every red light (you just miss the train; you just miss the last shuttle bus so you have to take the subway; you miss the subway while putting money on your subway card), today was a complete disaster. Husband being an insufferable, twattish, inconsiderate, lazy moron (he is a hippie, after all); people completely fucking up beyond ridiculousness at work with huge deadlines looming (and me almost getting blamed for it), and an incompetent bus driver driving a bus with brakes twice as old as he was, forcing me to spill hot coffee all over my not-very-protective-and-brand-new- white gloves. You can kid yourself all you want, but with a day like that, stress is everywhere, and unless you want to chant yourself into delusion, there is no avoiding it.

You can do all you like to convince yourself that there is love everywhere, but there are some days when you have to be realistic and react to the madness around you by, at the very least, acknowledging that it exists. I recited (in my head) the affirmation a few times throughout the day when things started to get a bit mental at work, but if you are surrounded by incompetent, sloppy, changeable, irritable and contradicting people in both your professional and personal lives, there is no way in hell you are going to convince yourself that you can salvage it. Scarf some ice cream, sip some tea, start a blog, relax, unwind, whatever. You might not be able to “heal” your life today, but at least you can feel it.

I would rather focus on the tangible things that make me happy. Other than my friends and family, there are holidays and events to look forward to (Christmas; the Olympics), places I’d like to visit, foods I enjoy eating, TV shows and movies I like to watch, and a cat or two I very much miss. Rather than try to blame my sinus problems that suddenly manifested themselves a few hours  before some drizzly weather (for the fifth time in a row), I’d rather think about the lovely cumin-scrambled-eggs I just made, or the warm Slanket I’m all snuggled up in, or the very funny TV show I’m currently watching.

An Experiment, Day 2: In Which Anxieties and Annoyances are Expressed

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When I was at the train station this morning, I was still amazed at the motley crew of morons I was surrounded by, even after thinking in my head a few times the positive affirmation of “love is everywhere and I am loved and loveable”. It may have been having a positive effect on me, because when I felt annoyed the hipster teen who was thin as a beanpole yet waddle-danced to whatever was farting out of her earphones at ear-splitting decibels, I didn’t feel the need to roll my eyes and say, “Could you turn it up please? I wanted to know if he was talking about the bitches or the hos”.

And then when a tall, broad-shouldered, spatially-unaware man swaggered into the five square inches of space I’d left as a courtesy for my other fellow human being, just so that he could stand in the Optimal Train-Boarding Spot, I chose NOT to shake my head and scowl, “Great job! You can now get on the train even quicker, because you’re so much more important than me, or the fifteen other people who have been standing and shivering in the freezing cold so that YOU could just swan into the crowd and take your rightful place in the queue”. And then, when he practically elbowed everyone in his path to get in front of the door, I resisted the urge to punch him in the nuts.

The train journey was yet another test of my positive and loving outlook. I got to witness a rather poorly-dressed, poor-looking, middle-aged, anorexic lady get onto the train at Lynn, then jump straight off, and then get back on and make a big show of being confused about the fact that someone was in her seat. She then made awkward small talk with her seat buddy (who, thankfully, was not me), explained to him that she was going to turn down her earphones/hearing aid (I couldn’t tell which – I didn’t want to make eye contact), and then sighed loudly.

After the train shuffled its lazy, late-as-usual-self out of the godawful hellhole that is Lynn (a town so repulsive it can be smelled long before it’s announced as the “next stop”), she knocked over something in her bag. I didn’t see what it was, but I did see her pick up three small, dirty-looking stones. Given her choice of clothing (a white bomber jacket), I doubt it was diamonds, but as she didn’t seem too concerned about it, I doubt it was crack, either.

She was probably just a crazy, anti-littering, socially-paranoid grandma, but when she accidentally hit me with the sleeve of her coat on the way out, the panic that would usually set in that I had touched something that belonged to someone that may have just been handling crack/blood diamonds, subsided after a few hours rather than terrify me to my core and make me think I had to go home and burn everything I was wearing. Part of this positive outlook was due to the fact that it probably wouldn’t be a valid reason for being late to work.

A light day at work, a pleasant conversation with my father, no arguments with the husband, and a nice, home-cooked meal that was cooked in tandem with my roommate. All in all, a mellow evening, and a time when I can reflect on the exercise I had to do from that stupid book last night.

The idea was to write 5 things after the opening clause of “I should”. Apparently it was difficult for people to even come up with more than 2 endings to that sentence. Not me! I’m as verbose as they come. How the hell else could I write three paragaphs on a poor old lady who did nothing to deserve my irrational fear of overly-friendly strangers?

My 5 sentences were as follows:

I should:

1. eat more fruit

2. go see my doctor

3. take lots of photos of my friends and family this Christmas

4.  keep an eye out for new jobs and apartments

5.  keep up with the writing

I then read the next part of the book where the author said she asked her clients “Why?” and they would respond in various ways, that it was down to their mother/boss/partner/etc telling them that it was something they had to do. So, I guess, here are my “Why?”s:

1. Well, I’m sure most people would tell their kids to eat healthier, but I should eat more fruit because it’s bloody healthier to. Yesterday I actually refused one of the four fresh bananas I’d brought into work in favour of tipping a packet of fruit-flavoured jelly twists down my gob. And I actually had to lean further into my desk drawer to get those things than if I’d stuck with the banana. So eating more fruit is just more common sense. People need vitamins, not delicious, sugary treats.

2. I should go see my doctor in the UK because it’s probably the only time over the next year that I’ll be able to. I can’t afford a doctor (i.e. a monthly direct debit/copayment/deductible/premium) so I would rather go and see a GP while I am still ordinarily resident in the UK, and a British citizen. I’ll always be the latter, which means I will never stop freaking out about my own health. Unfortunately I am stuck in a country that makes a lot of money off of paranoid hypochondriac schmucks like me. Check-ups? Cheque first, please.

3. This one is a no-brainer. I need something to look at when I’m homesick. Haven’t seen my mum in over 4 years, and have only sporadically seen my brothers, dad and this adorable little brat here:

this is why i can barely ever do laundry.

4. I need to keep an eye out for apartments so I can stop infesting my poor roommate’s study. She knows I am only here for a little bit, but I am fully aware of the fact that everything I do, even breathing, makes noise. I am an extra person in this house and even though she doesn’t really care, I still can’t help but be hyper-aware of the fact that I am a guest in someone else’s home, not a tenant. More of a lodger, but without a cool bow tie. Or a fez.

5. Keeping up the writing was something I often failed to do. But I forgot how to sing, dance, draw, paint, act, ride a bike and swim. I’m only just about to turn 31 and I forgot how to do almost all of those things in my early twenties. If this the last creative thing I can continue to sodomize, then so be it. But I’d rather not get rusty.

No one person is particularly encouraging me to do all of these things, and I am not being bullied into them either. My parents were somewhat strict, but they never really said anything I disagreed with. If I had to pick a few things that I was told to do, there wouldn’t be many, but it would probably look more like this:

1. be on time for things (because it’s unprofessional/rude otherwise)

2. give up your seat for someone disabled/pregnant/elderly on public transport (because it’s the right thing to do)

3. stop telling your two older brothers “mum and dad were actually trying for a girl” and to your little brother: “you were just an accident”.

This is a week-long experiment. 2 days down, 5 to go. If this experiment works and I feel more positive, then I owe my roommate a dinner at the local Indian food place. If it doesn’t I win. I don’t get the incentive to succeed there, as I could easily fake failure to get a free Indian meal, but I know she’s probably going to read this anyway. Plus, being South Asian in origin, I can just make myself some more aloo channa like we did earlier. I don’t know…perhaps just simply putting the idea in my head of the possibility of thinking more positively might force some introspection, and then in turn force some self-examination and positive thinking after all, and which would have nothing to do with a book that proudly states “more than 30 million copies sold”.

I can’t tell if it’s this bloated botoxed book or the bloated, paradigm corporate environment I’ve been subjecting myself to that made me diarrhoea out that last sentence. But perhaps the negativity/anxiety is somewhat subsiding, even if just temporarily. Here’s to 5 more days of positive drinking thinking!

A Week-long Experiment, Day 1: In Which Reservations Are Expressed

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Albert Feline-stein

Before I can accept that someone is perfectly OK suggesting something out of the ordinary to me, I take a rational step back and figure out whether this is:
a) worth my time
b) detrimental to myself or to anyone
c) going to make me look like an idiot
d) defy any kind of sound, double-blind-tested logic.

With that said, my new roommate, who is wonderful, introduced me to a book she says was a good read. And by introduce me to, I mean she read me a few paragraphs while I was unpacking to take over her study. It was determined/suggested by this book that my sinus problems were not caused by weather pressure changes, possible new allergens or idiots on the train who can’t cover their damn mouths while sneezing, but rather, an aversion to someone close to me. Sinus problems that…followed me across the Atlantic and have plagued me since childhood, but…whatever.

Other medical insights included the real causes for back pain, tooth abscesses and stomach problems, which included a variety of negative thoughts, money worries and some sort of low-self-esteem issue. As a trained medical scientist, I found the absence of the mention of things like “bacteria”; “viruses”; “pro-biotics”; “hand soap”; “BMI” and “allergens” somewhat alarming.

Usually I dismiss this kind of crackpot, New-Age fluff, but I was willing to give it a go, mainly out of nerdy, scientist-esque curiosity, but mostly out of respect for my friend as it seemed to be working for her. But to soften the blow of doing something for which I’d later make of myself, I questioned the author’s credentials, thinking that she was probably some trust-fund baby who grew up on a massive farm in Connecticut and roomed with Martha Stewart in college. My roommate said that, no, she’d suffered abuse, had cancer, and had pulled through it. OK, then – that was good enough for me to take the book seriously, I guess.

The first thing I was advised to do was to repeat a mind-numbing chant positive affirmation about how love is everywhere and how I am 100% able to love and be loved. The face I accidentally made (cynic reflex) after she first recited it to me made her both burst out laughing and recoil in horror.

Her: Repeat after me: Love is everywhere and I am fully-loved and fully-loveable.
Me: No it’s not.
Her: But if you say that, then there will be no love.
Me: You mean not in this house? OK – I’ll be like a vampire, sucking out all the love. Bwahaha. I took your love away! (pause) Wait. That means I have it now. Damn it!
Her: HAHAHA!!!
Me: (faux-angrily) No!! You tricked me into feeling love!!

She’s a sneaky one, that roommate of mine.

So the idea was that I would recite this affirmation, in my head, on the way to/from the train station every day, for a week, and to see if it works. This was mainly to help me through a post-argument-with-the-moron-husband stress-out as opposed to anything particularly earth-shattering.

She suggested that I try it on my way to the cinema. It didn’t matter that I was on my way to see the 11pm showing of The Nightmare Before Christmas; the affirmation would not run and hide in a corner somewhere. You can still be floating on a cloud of bliss while watching a stop-motion-animated child show his parents that he got a severed head from Santa, but remember that serial killers probably float on that same cloud, too.

On my way out, I started to think it in my head but then realized I had started it after I left the house. Was I supposed to start it while I was still on the property, so that I can carry over some leftover love that my roommate was cultivating? So I went back and started saying it from the moment I stepped out onto the street. But was that early enough? Did I have to say it before I took a step or before I shut the gate? What happens if I say it wrong a few times – do I have to make it up? What about tempo and speed? Did they have to match my gait? I didn’t know the rules!!

Concentrating so hard on this ensured that, through the power of positive thinking, many car drivers, scooter riders and small dogs failed to plow mercilessly into me as I was blissfully unaware of the fact that I may have been in their oncoming path.

That was Day -1, and yesterday (Day 0), I completely forgot to do it, on account of being hungry, stranded and being obliged to miss a tree-decorating party I had been looking forward to (while being hungry and stranded). The practice days being over, I made up for the fact that I forgot yet again this morning by saying it a few times in my head earlier.

My roommate had read the author’s background as given in the book/blurb, so I decided to actually look her up and…I am somewhat appalled.

She claims to have beat cancer through positive affirmations, nutritional therapy and reflexology, but states that there is no doctor left alive who can confirm that a) she beat cancer this way and b) that she had cancer in the first place. How…convenient. I.e., she’s completely full of shit.

Worse still, is that she claims that her reaction to her rape and abuse as a child is what caused her to develop cervical cancer in the first place. Yes, that’s exactly how cancer cells work.

It boggles my mind to see that there is such dangerous information being spread by people like this about serious medical conditions. Cancer cannot simply be cured by thinking nice things. It helps to have a positive outlook, but this kind of sugar-coating, book-shilling tripe is extremely insulting to anyone who has ever been affected by a disease as serious as this. I dread to think of what this author’s views are on things like vaccinations or gay people.

There is something to be said for stress/depression and their physical effects on the body/effects on recovery, but this has been covered by actual medical practitioners in the past, so none of this is groundbreaking information. It’s also just common sense.

Thinking “I’m not going to get this job” before a job interview is obviously a bad idea, but you might not also get that job because you’re a) underqualified b) overqualified c) have a lack of relevant education d) made fart noises during the interview e) showed up to the wrong interview f) someone else just happened to get the job instead, because that’s how life goes.

Thinking happy thoughts is like the side dish to actual, practical solutions and problem-solving; it’s not supposed to be a complete replacement. This author is like an adorable grandma with a head injury telling Albert Einstein it would be nice to write his theory of relativity on bacon-scented calligraphy paper. Having a pretty book to tell you nice things to say to yourself is a nice idea, much like a perma-magazine or a notepad with the pages already filled in with cute doodles, but the fact that this woman has made so much money from basically saying…nothing is astounding.

As for the positive affirmations and all-natural, anti-medical science (I guess you have to be one or the other) sentiments – where were these when this loony bint got her botched face-lift? Or this is the look of shock on her own face when she sees how many trees she’s managed to needlessly murder for every copy of that glorified doorstop?

Against every instinct in my rational mind and body, I will still carry out this experiment over the next week, and completely ignore any minor snags in logic I might find. If I just focus on the simpler parts of the exercises, and keep a genuinely open mind, I can figure out either how this can go wrong/is flawed, or extract some modicum of usefulness for the practical, realistic, tangible solutions that everyday life requires.

A certain amount of scepticism/cynicism is healthy, but blindly believing that simply thinking about money will give me money is not going to work unless I am reciting the affirmation in my head in the dole queue.