Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

May 14, 2008

“All you need is positivity”

Filed under: fitter/happier,workin for the man — lexifab @ 12:04 pm

So sang those most chav of sages The Spice Girls, with a surprising perspicacity they otherwise evinced but rarely.

I find, as I’m sure many do, that my working capacity (and I’m thinking of my paid employment here, but the principle applies more broadly i.e. writing, blogging etc) waxes and wanes according to my mood. Enthusiasm for a task will tend to lend it creative energy and momentum, while conversely setbacks and disappointments will stymie and stall progress, and these are both self-perpetuating phenomena.

What I find odd in myself is the extraordinary extent to which this effect takes hold. Yesterday, I took a disappointing and mildly confrontational phone call fairly on in the morning, and thereafter I was absolutely, 100% piss-useless all day. I was in a mood which was not so much grumpy (which would have been somewhat justified given the phone call) as resigned and disconsolate. I spent the entire workday doing the equivalent of pushing food around my plate with a fork. I took an inordinately long time to create a very small number of files and put some papers on them. I made no phone calls, nor returned any, and I took a very long, boring walk at lunchtime which had no luck whatsoever in perking me up.

Now admittedly I was tired and no doubt my mental defences were eaten through with rust and woodworm analogues, but even so it took me by surprise just how little effort I could bring myself to exert to overcome my attitudinal baseline. It just seemed impossible, despite being constantly aware of and preoccupied by the certainty that there was nothing more sinister going on that being in a bummed-out mood. When I finally dragged myself off home, I was exhausted (by zero exertions) and ready to collapse by about 7:30.

(Which made the news that it was my turn to cook dinner rather unwelcome. Further to that, I made rather a hash of it, having to repeat several steps and barely escaping stuffing the whole thing up. But in retrospect, I will tender the defense that I think that the recipe was kind of crap to start with).

Today, by comparison, I’m still quite tired, but having recognised yesterday’s quagmire for what it was, I started the day with some positive, affirming delusions (“Hey, no, you’re great, get out there and have a really good day, champ!”) and a modicum of planning (I made a list of things to achieve while brushing my teeth, and, sure, I’ve since forgotten most of the details, but it certainly made me feel good). And what do you know, I’m getting stuff done and things seem to be going my way.

Granted, I’ve just wasted 20 minutes typing up this blog entry. But that’s still more productivity than I could claim for all of yesterday, and while I’ve been doing that the back of my brain has been mapping out all of the other (actually useful) things that I need to do today. This time I’m going to write them down, what’s more.

(Before anyone asks, no, I doubt very much whether I am bipolar and in need of a good stabilising medication regime. I’m just kinda moody, is all. But feel free to administer whatever tests you feel are appropriate).


  1. I can empathise, and and a good night sleep can usually reset the mood reactivity setting. In my sleepless fatherhood sessions (only really when No. 2 Nik was a toddler) we eventually resorted to calmative drugs for him (so we could get some sleep). An extensive daytime caffeine regime sometimes reset my mood clock too, after a cranky customer (what! you wanted the shirt to look good as well, after ignoring all our colour recommendations?)

    Comment by Marco Parigi — May 14, 2008 @ 4:58 pm

  2. I sympathise with your customer relations issues. If I had to deal with unreasonable jerks as well as being in a flat mood, there would be blood and sharps declines of goodwill. (“What did I tell you, motherf~? BLUE AND GREEN SHOULD NEVER BE SEEN!”)

    I am already on a self-prescribed course of therapeutic coffee treatments, of course 🙂 Can you tell?

    Comment by lexifab — May 14, 2008 @ 5:11 pm

  3. That idea “depression is anger turned inwards” might have some bearing. Perhaps next time someone is a sod on the phone you should give yourself permission to serve it right back. It’s hard to break the habits of politeness but I do see a direct connection between your awful day and that phone call. I recognise days like that myself.
    Sorry ’bout your day.

    just Jo & Trouble (who is in the front line of customer service and thus knows how crappy people can be)

    Comment by polly — May 15, 2008 @ 12:43 pm

  4. I got a really good email about how to deal with nasty phone calls. I’ll try to remember to send it to you…I could never do it though.

    Comment by Jenny — May 20, 2008 @ 2:56 pm

  5. hmm, don’t actually have your email to hand and I found the email I was think of. So see below….warning – mild bad language and reprehensible behaviour

    Anger Management
    When you occasionally have a really bad day, and you just need to take it out on someone, donÂ’t take it out on someone you know, take it out on someone you donÂ’t know.

    I was sitting at my desk when I remembered a phone call I’d forgotten to make. I found the number and dialled it. A man answered, saying, “Hello.”

    I politely said, “This is Chris. Could I please speak with Robyn Carter?”

    Suddenly a manic voice yelled out in my ear “Get the right number!” and he slammed down the phone.

    I couldnÂ’t believe that anyone could be so rude. When I tracked down RobynÂ’s correct number to call her, I found that I had accidentally transposed the last two digits.

    After hanging up with her, I decided to call the ‘wrong’ number again.

    When the same guy answered the phone, I yelled “You’re an arsehole!” and hung up. I wrote his number down with the word ‘arsehole’ next to it, and put it in my desk drawer.

    Every couple of weeks, when I was paying bills or had a really bad day, I’d call him up and yell, “You’re an arsehole!”

    It always cheered me up.

    When Caller ID was introduced, I thought my therapeutic ‘arsehole calling’ would have to stop.

    So, I called his number and said, “Hi, this is John Smith from Verizon. I’m calling to see if you’re familiar with our Caller ID Program?”

    He yelled “NO!” and slammed down the phone.

    I quickly called him back and said, “That’s because you’re an Arsehole!”

    One day I was at the shops, getting ready to pull into a parking spot. Some guy in a black BMW cut me off and pulled into the spot I had patiently waited for. I blew the horn and yelled that I’d been waiting for that spot, but the idiot ignored me. I noticed a ‘For Sale’ sign in his back window, which included his phone number, so I wrote down the number.

    A couple of days later, right after calling the first arsehole, (I had the number on speed dial) I thought that I’d better call the BMW Arsehole, too. I said, “Is this the man with the black BMW for sale?”

    “Yes it is”, he said.

    “Can you tell me where I can see it?” I asked.

    “Yes, I live at 34 Mowbray Blvd, in Vaucluse. It’s a yellow house and the car’s parked out the front.”

    “What’s your name?” I asked.

    “My name is Don Hansen”, he said.

    “When’s a good time to catch you, Don?”

    “I’m home every evening after five.”

    “Listen, Don, can I tell you something?”


    “Don, you’re an arsehole!” Then I hung up, and added his number to my speed dial, too.

    Now, when I had a problem, I had two arseholes to call. Then I came up with an idea! I called arsehole number 1.


    “You’re an arsehole!” (But I didn’t hang up.)

    “Are you still there?” he asked.

    “Yeah,” I said.

    “Stop calling me!” he screamed.

    “Make me” I said.

    “Who are you?” he asked.

    “My name is Don Hansen.”

    “Yeah? Where do you live?”

    “Arsehole, I live at 34 Mowbray Blvd, Vaucluse, a yellow house with my black Beemer parked out the front.”

    He said, “I’m coming over right now, Don. And you’d better start saying your prayers.”

    I said, “Yeah, like I’m really scared, arsehole”, and hung up.

    Then I called arsehole number 2. “Hello?” he said.

    “Hello, arsehole”, I said.

    He yelled, “If I ever find out who you are….”

    “You’ll what?” I said.

    “I’ll kick your arse”, he exclaimed.

    I answered, “Well, arsehole, here’s your chance. I’m coming over right now.”

    Then I hung up and immediately called the Police, saying that I lived at 34 Mowbray Blvd, Vaucluse, and that I was on my way over there to kill my gay lover. Then I called Channel 9 News about the gang war going on down in Mowbray Blvd, Vaucluse.

    I quickly got into my car and headed over to Mowbray Blvd. I got there just in time to watch two arseholes beating the crap out of each other in front of six cop cars, an overhead Police Helicopter and a news crew.

    NOW I feel much better.

    Anger Management really works.

    Comment by Jenny — May 22, 2008 @ 9:55 am

  6. I have no idea whether that story is true or not, but it makes me indecently happy to have heard it.

    Comment by lexifab — May 22, 2008 @ 10:00 am

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