The American Museum Of Natural History is my favorite place in the world period. As I have covered countless times in this blog despite my current city of habitation, I am a born and bred east coast elitist through and through. My life is always evolving, people and places change, but the Natural history museum largely stays unaltered. Sure, renovations and updates are done as needed, but in space of 25 interconnected buildings that takes up almost 1.6 million square feet it is not hard to believe that there are entire wings of displays untouched since the 70s. In college I used to cut class and go to the Hayden Planetarium. Then I would wander around the dioramas quietly in the dark, feeling oddly cozy among all the wood paneling and pre-teen girls skirting about in school uniforms. Before I would leave, I would silently weep in the hall of Biodiversity feeling helpless and young and directionless in a vast world inside a vast universe. It was very beautiful and dramatic and important because I was very beautiful and dramatic and important. I was in art school okay!? GOD. FEEL A FEELING AMERICA. The burden of the privilege of possibility was too much for this suburban rich girl. Not much has changed for me since then, same hobbies just less weighty scenery.
I am the queen of a public existential meltdown, and now you can be too!
Are you nostalgic for the gut-punching, nausea inducing frenzy big feelings you felt in your "Live Journal" days? Maybe things are just going to well for you and you just want to mix things up? Or maybe you impulsively stopped taking your lexapro because you wanted to have an orgasm again and the only metal health safety net you have now are sugar free energy drinks? Are your feelings the most important sacred thing in the world? A public existential meltdown may be for you!
Not everybody has the skill set needed to stage their own dramatic life altering spiral. A background in film is not required, but knowledge of cinematography, lighting, and a knack for location spotting is a plus. Here I will guide you through step by step in staging your ideal meltdown.
A Guide To An Ideal Public Crisis
Step 1: Lose Your Mind
Before you can reach your goal of a perfect sobbing epiphany you first need to loose your goddamn mind. For first timers the task of losing all the marbles may seem daunting, but it turns out with just some simple neglect and one well planted seed of doubt even the sturdiest pillar of self actualization can come crumbling down to the ground with the rest of us animals. There are a lot of factors that can help counjre up the black hole of your soul to open up and swallow you up. Try some of these activities, and you will be losing your shit in no time!
- Get into a large amount of debt.
- Become a codependent.
- Try on clothes in a dressing room with really harsh florescent lighting.
- Have a terrible family.
- Only eat once a day due to laziness or poverty.
- Sleep either all the time or never again.
- All of the drugs.
- Watch "Dancer In The Dark" by yourself.
- Be in a relationship with someone who fundamentally does not understand you. Never leave.
- Listening to music from when you were a teenager.
- Be a woman. Do anything. Wait for commentary.
- Try to remember in chronological order the name of everyone you have ever slept with.
- Look at photos of your parents as children.
- Get a fever on a 90 degree day but still go to work because you are afraid of getting fired and get there and realize you might actually die so you leave but first you have to go to the store to buy medicine and by the time you get there you realize you literally feel like you are going to faint and as you lay your head against a display of insoles looking at your phone you realize you have nobody to call and that if you were to actually pass out and crack your head open on the concrete floor of the Fred Myers in this very moment it would probably be a few days before anyone realized you have died because you are alone in the world and its all your fault because you are too scared to be loved and you are the kind of person that is fundamentally unloveable to capable people and you will always be with people who hurt you because you deserve it or worse someone who is super boring and bad in bed and likes super lame shit like kayaks or the tv show Bones and also remember when Big Bird was sad and blue in that movie oh god why did they let kids see that movie oh fuck what if you actually die for real I mean it could actually happen this time people die in stupid unimportant ways all the time and you sure are stupid and unimportant and I wonder if Nümetal really is making a come back and also you still get fired from that job.
Feel free to mix and match as you like! You may even be inspired to create new and interesting ways to crack open your psyche that have never been tried before! Get creative! And don't forget: HAVE FUN!
Step 2: Location
Location is essential to an existential crisis of any magnitude. Where you freak out will set the tone and become a part of you forever. There are many great places to choose from, here I list the pros and cons of a few:
Pros: Open you eyes, roll over on your back and bleakly stare at your ceiling, You are already there! Bam! No travel costs!
Con: You are not in public. How are your emotions are supposed to have any weight and meaning in the larger narrative of the world if you can't weird out other people in process
The Grocery Store
Pros: The grocery store offers all sorts great props for your crisis. Crying in the frozen food aisle? Reach out and grab a cold pizza for one for extra dramatic effect! Want to freak out some whack dudes? Weep in front of the pregnacy tests! Try walking around clutching your EBT card in a haze. Hold a bunch of storage containers and bawl to help you signify getting over your old relationship. Somberly stare at paint chips to show that you aren't! Stare in disgust as you watch a gaggle of children fight over sugar cereal as their mother stares with her dead eyes back at you. The possibilities are endless! You are going to buy a lot of cheese.
Cons: You are going to buy a lot of cheese.
Pros: You. Are. Everything. People will look at you and be like, "Man they are an ugly crier but THEY ARE IN IT. ART IS SO BEAUTIFUL" You can flail your body around like you wish you could all the time. Feeling makes your arms feel heavy and the only way to relieve it is to wave them around like those balloon noodle men in front of car dealerships. For some reason this is acceptable to do when live music is playing. Get into it. Feel those lyrics! Let that bass scramble your heart up and spit it out again! Be all sweaty and gross. Throw up on a terrified teenager! The possibilities are endless!
Cons: Somebody may try to talk to you. sorry.
A Public Restroom
Pros: Crying in the bathroom is an art in itself. You get to sit down and hold your face in your hands. You can keep a quiet wail going for quite awhile, as everyone will just assume you have diarrhea. I have a terrible digestive tract and I make it known, hence how I have maintained my title as the West Coast Divion Bathroom Crying champion three years running.
Cons: It may smell like poop. There may be a line waiting for you when you get out. Everyone is going to get worried about your eating habits.
Pros: Look at you, aren't you deep! Sobbing at the glory of nature, grasping onto trees and bushes. Rubbing your face in grass and pulling up dandelions and throwing dirt clods at no one in particular. You are so in touch with the earth that it moves your to maddening, bawling tears.
Cons: Mushrooms can be expensive.
These are just some places to start! With a little imagination, any place can become a great place for existential dread. At a party? Cry it out. Buying a bagel on the way to work? Add some extra salt with them tears! On a bus? Everybody is crying on the bus weather you can see it or not!
Step 3: Go For It
You are tired and totally coocoo for cocapuffs. You got your spot, and you put on a ton of mascara. Now is the time. Let the weight of every choice you have ever made sweep over you and let it rip. Start slow with a single tear. Make sure to make eye contact with the most gorgeous person in the room when you do this. If you aim that arrow just right you may get a terrible mumble core movie or a folks song written about you! After your opener, slowly work your way up to a full on body roll. Breaking down is great for your abs so make sure to make it count. You may feel like an actual object is sitting onto of you, some sort of gremlin or maybe a the entire sun. Great! Go with that, and just let your self crumple into the shell of the person you are. You may feel like all of your bones have been replaced with lime jello. This makes the most sense because if you are anything like me that lime jello will start making a mass exodus from your nose. Bring some tissues or a roll of toilet paper. If you aren't one for making a spectacle you can shove your face into your beanie and let out a muffle scream. Don't have a beanie? Who are you? Its fall dummy. Don't worry about looking pretty, if people can't see the BUEATY OF EMOTION then they are dead inside or one of those They Live aliens. Lets go. Give in. Get weird. Try not to choke.
Step 4: Suck It Up
These two screen shots are from my first ever comedy submission tape shot in my first year of doing comedy. My then (the now infamous) boyfriend had left me a note the day after Christmas informing me that he has cheated on me. Because I was crazy, I decided to let the note stay a secret as promises of getting back together started flooding in (which we eventually did, sadly.) I had been crying for about 42 hours straight. That day at work I was basically getting paid to weep on the bathroom floor quietly to myself. At the end of the day I wiped off my face, took a breath, put on a dress and makeup and made my way to the show. The tape got me into 4 different festivals that year, some of which are still considered to be my most high profile gigs to date (oh god.) I have and will always be struggling with my constant and unending existential nausea. It's the brain I have been dealt, and I am doing my best to deal with it. I have been to shrinks, on and off medications and had long winding conversations on friend's couches. I am not saying I am all better forever, but definitely better than before. The truth is it is truly dazzling to completely break down. To question who you are and what your life is about, to be deconstructed to dust and built back up again. The trick is to just keep it to that moment. To move on, and make it count. Back in my youth I knew eventually I would have to leave the strange safety of the darkness in the Hall of Biodiversity. I would walk out the doors from the dimly lit room back into the stark future of the planetarium and out the side entrance of the museum. I would have to step out back into the real world, get on the subway, and go back to my life. I would have to be okay. Because I can't just spend all of my time wallowing and wailing and grabbing onto strangers. I have a fucking life to live.