Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Paperwork Pariah

There are whole days when I find it utterly impossible to deal with reality.

I don’t even mean that I shy away from the gruesome reality of the world. Poverty, disease, war, cruelty, death—I have whole days when I’m overwhelmed by those realities.

But what gets to me just as frequently is my apparent inability to function correctly as an adult. Paperwork gets lost, and I don’t have a copy to confirm whether I did it in the first place. A form is required, and I can’t figure out how to complete it. Payments get made late, mail gets returned incorrectly, and suddenly my errors are compounded, additional paperwork or payments required to correct my initial omission.

Nothing fills me with more self-pity and obnoxious despair, let me tell you, than the sinking realization that I’ve screwed up in paperwork yet again. I feel like I’m stuck in Brazil sometimes. I feel lost in a maze of stacks of forms, all alike.

And nobody else seems to have this problem. Other people just get things done and I envy them more for that than for any amount of their money or talent.

Talking about it makes me feel even more pathetically inadequate. It makes me feel like a bad, irresponsible member of society. (Have I stolen, killed, sold drugs? No, but I neglected to file form 420531 with the Department of Vehicle Licensing. Clearly I am a danger to myself and others.)

Oddly enough, my increasing neurosis about death tends to balance out my despair about paperwork. Usually thinking I WILL DIE SOMEDAY makes my brain start gibbering. But it does help put my stupid inadequacy with paperwork in perspective. I might bumble along, a scoundrel in the eyes of the scrupulous clerks at the Department of Licensing, paying late fees and fines for forms I didn’t do correctly or at all—but hey, at least I’m still alive to do it!

And that’s how I feel today. Bitter and inadequate, but glad I’m alive nonetheless.