Two things dawned on me the other day while driving around and listening to Jay-Z’s “99 Problems”
1. This song is nine f*cking years old. Nine. Nine!
Nine years (Nine!) seems like a long-ass time when I say it aloud, in no small part because it seems like the older I get, the shorter the distance between events I’ve experienced seems to be. For instance, it was 2003 nine years ago. I remember 2003. I was (only) 195 pounds, I could still dunk without having to stretch for 37 minutes and juice the night before, I’d rap any voicemail message I left after 11:30pm, and I had an inappropriate obsession with Esther Baxter. And, in 2003, 1994 seemed like it happened a long-ass f*cking time ago. But, today, in 2012, 2003 doesn’t really seem like that long ago. And, if I’m lucky enough to make it to 2021, I’m sure the distance between now and then will seem even shorter.
I’d continue trying too deconstruct the meaning of all this, but the nosebleed I just developed is making it difficult to type.
2. I have exactly 98 less problems than Jay-Z.
Admittedly, what exactly constitutes a “problem” is relative. Things that may be considered problematic for others don’t necessarily rate as huge concerns for me. For instance, if Jay-Z woke up tomorrow morning with a bank balance that mirrored mine, that would (probably) be a big problem for him. And by “that would (probably) be a big problem for him” I mean “he’d likely consider suicide.”
With all that being said, although I don’t have as many problems as Jay-Z claims to, my problem, although singular, is a f*cking doozy. It affects each of my actions, permeates each of my thoughts, and has managed to infiltrate (and, occasionally, sabotage) every plan I’ve ever had. It mocks, teases, taunts, and torments me with a steely relentlessness that would even make Bryan Mills say “Damn, dude. Chill!”
What exactly is this problem?
I want it all.
Now, wanting it all doesn’t mean that I want everything. I don’t want everything. I don’t even want most things. If there are, I don’t know, 57 trillion things I could possibly want, I can safety say that I don’t want (at least) 56,999,999,999,900 of them. I do, though, want to be able to do everything I want to do exactly how I want to do it. And, since this is not possible, this is a problem.
How so? Well, I want real intimacy, but only on my exact terms.
I want to write with the same sense of “I’m saying this because I think it’s right (and funny), and I really don’t give a f*ck if it makes you uncomfortable”-ness that make Louis C.K. and the late Patrice O’Neal my favorite comedians, but I really don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
I want a New York salary, a D.C. community, and a Pittsburgh standard of living.
I can continue, but I think you see the point. I want things that, in the physical universe that we currently inhabit, are just not possible to achieve. In fact, not only is much of what I want impossible to achieve, they directly contradict. It is literally impossible to stuff yourself with food at a buffet and not feel the effects of being full some time later, and wanting to cultivate a truly intimate romantic relationship without making some sort of personal sacrifice is just as absurd.
Yet, I still want that. I still want the ability to make choices without possible negative consequences, and this want becomes problematic when it turns into an action (which it has). I think I’ve led a (relatively) decent life so far, but each “problem” I’ve had in the past and have today stems from me attempting to do things that just can’t be done. I guess this makes me (slightly) insane, but I don’t seem to find that to be too problematic either. Hmm. Maybe I have more than one problem.
Anyway, people of VSB.com, has “wanting it all” ever been a problem for anyone reading this? Not necessarily wanting everything, but wanting to have and/or do certain things that just don’t seem to be possible? (i.e.: wanting to work your dream job and make your dream salary, hoping to find a man that’s equally ambitious/competitive and compassionate, etc) If so, how did/do you reconcile yourself with the fact that you’re chasing something that just can’t happen?
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)