Diary of Surrender, Week Two: Magical Thinking is Screwing Me Up

It’s a hard habit to break.

Adeline Dimond


Fragment of a Queen’s Face, ca. 1353–1336 B.C., New Kingdom, Amarna Period | Metropolitan Museum of Art, Open Access Program

I’m writing a diary about my year of giving up, although I may give up on this too. Who knows? You can read about why I’m giving up here, and my first week of saying fuck it here. Further disclosure: the term “week” is used loosely.

On December 31, 2021, I spent the day in bed. It was cold and dark in Los Angeles, as if the final day of 2021 was the last bag of groceries you have to bring in from the car. I just couldn’t do it.

Fish didn’t get a walk, and I ate leftovers mindlessly out of the refrigerator. I felt bad about this, but tried to remind myself that I had made a vow to give up, stop striving. Eating leftover turkey meatloaf in my sweats aligned with this goal.

On January 1, 2022 I had a lapse: I went on a date. I promised myself not to do this anymore, because I have an increasingly calcified belief that I am too old, too jowly, too chubby to find anyone. And then if I did find anyone, Fish would just make sure they could never sleep over anyway, if my snoring didn’t scare them away first.

I’d like to say that I don’t know why I went, but I do know why. I had an episode of magical thinking, I had a delusion that all signs pointed to some otherworldly force pushing me to go. The date in question was a long-haired professor of music ethnography, and I just can’t resist that shit. I can’t resist the intersection between art and academia, I can’t resist a beard, I can’t resist a guy in a band. And this kicked off an episode of batshit magical thinking.

I was in my pajamas when he suggested we meet. I thought about saying no because once in pajamas for the night, I am in pajamas for the night. I thought about saying no because of my new resolution — was I really going to break it on Day 1? But he teaches in a city north of Los Angeles, and was only in town for a bit, and was currently ten minutes away from me. And this sent me over the magical-thinking edge: he’s ten minutes away, that never happens in Los Angeles; it must be a sign.

I have a lot of disdain for magical thinkers. I don’t think “the Universe” brings things to us, I don’t think we manifest outcomes, I don’t think there are signs, and yet I can’t…