Screw the Metaphorical Meatloaf

There is a woman standing in front of me at the deli adamantly demanding her meatloaf be warmed up. The cashier has told her repeatedly this is not possible—they serve their meatloaf cold, as they do not possess the appropriate oven to heat it.

But you have a pizza oven, she says.
Yes, but that is for pizza.
And you have a panini press, she says.
Yes, but that is for paninis.

The conversation continues until everyone behind her is smirking in disbelief, the cashier at a loss for a polite way to dismiss himself from an inane argument about a cold mound of ground beef apathetically awaiting its fate on the counter. Eventually the woman leaves in a huff, empty handed yet full of profanities, and we all stuff the tip jar a bit more generously in commiserative solidarity.

And I can’t help but smile. Because this morning, as I stripped naked to get in the shower, I didn’t do my usual linger-at-the-mirror-to-bemoan-my-upper-arms shtick. On my way to work, when traffic felt like a glacial paced Prius orgy, I didn’t bitch about the fact that it’s only Tuesday. And during lunch, as I waited behind a temperature crazed sociopath, I got stupidly excited that my pizza was slowly becoming lukewarm—the best way to eat it, obviously (don’t even bother fighting me on this). I’m watching this stranger get bent out of shape over a $3 blob, chewing out another stranger for his lack of adequate appliances, and I find myself grinning like a complete idiot. Because I realized I’ve stopped freaking out about the shitty little things—the banal everyday inconveniences that start raining down the second you wake up and don’t stop till the minute your head hits the pillow again (or even after, if you’re like me and have to wear a janky-ass retainer to bed).

I’ve stopped sweating the “metaphorical meatloaf,” if you will. And it feels fucking fantastic.

Which, you know, makes me sound deranged. First of all, that’s probably the dumbest alliteration ever crafted. If Mr. Kahl from AP Comp is somehow reading this, I’m sure he’s retracting every backhanded compliment he’d ever given me on my “elevated language.” Second, no one wants to hear about someone else’s happiness. It’s annoying. We’re all a bunch of miserable saps finding comfort in discomfort, thriving on tragedy, yada yada. I get it. I don’t particularly want to hear how swoony your new boyfriend of two seconds is or what kind of exorbitant raise you just got because you took actual math in college while I dicked around, either. So I get that sharing anything other than an epic fail of existence is kind of an asshole thing to do. My utmost condolences to your inner sadist.

Here’s the thing, though. All those happy happy joy joy, generally gag-worthy fuzzy feelings of overall life contentment? They aren’t contingent on anyone else. Which means I don’t have to feel bad about feeling good. It means as long as I’m not being insensitive or hurtful to anyone else, it is absolutely, 100% OK to just be… OK. Crazy concept, I know. But I used to have a huge problem admitting it—recognizing that valuing your own worth isn’t conceited. Or selfish. Or anything to be ashamed of. I used to think me being happy meant I wasn’t empathetic to those who weren’t, as if it made me ignorant and awful and dismissive of all the problems I could easily latch onto and use to feel hopeless. Normal. Like everyone is “supposed” to feel until they’re too old and senile to put their finger on it and accurately label it as quiet desperation.

And that, quite frankly, is bullshit. Being insecure about being confident makes no sense whatsoever. Nil. Zilch. Republican debate level coherence. I’m tired of trying to talk myself out of a hunky-dory attitude simply because being jaded makes for a more enthralling life narrative. You don’t need to justify your feelings to anyone but yourself. So why the hell would you care what anyone else thinks? Sure, I could give you ten million reasons why right now. I’m aware this all sounds lovely in theory and nearly impossible in execution. But seriously. Think about it. Would you rather spend all day being pissy about an ill prepared hunk of meat, obsessively researching salmonella, considering veganism, sobbing because your ex was a vegan, questioning your entire life trajectory, taking all this out on an innocent store clerk, or would you rather take your $3 and find something else that could make you, like, I don’t know… happy?

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