From our reader Lucy. Thanks!
The Nature of Addiction
By Lucy (Hey, we don’t have to share our last names here, right?)
There’s a fellow in my writers’ group who has written a memoir about his thirty-year addiction to crack cocaine. Our group of fiction writers has regarded this “real life character” with fascination, and our discussions of his saga have often spilled into our social gatherings at Applebee’s. Last Monday, over baskets of deep-fried grease, we mused about the nature of addiction—how people become addicts, how they act under the influence, how they respond when deprived of their substance of choice. I had a stunning realization.
My name is Lucy, and I am addicted to MFA blogs. Seriously. I just checked three of them for the fifth time this morning. It started innocently enough. I read Tom Kealey’s MFA Handbook last fall, and some time in mid January, after all eight of my applications had been filed at their distinguished destinations (not a form, transcript or rec was missing—believe me, I checked), I remembered he had a blog. I never was really big on blogs, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to visit this one. Oh what a glorious initiation into the blogosphere! I felt like E.T., finally getting beamed back up to his cute-but-freaky alien buddies. There were hundreds of other writers out there, entrenched in the misery of waiting, just like me.
The man in my writers’ group curses the day he first laid eyes on a crack rock. I curse February first, the day I discovered two blogs that track application responses. I was immediately hooked. I actually think my pupils dilated. After memorizing the days that each of my schools issued their acceptances in years prior, I felt a surprising increase in dread and anxiety. That should have been an indicator that I had stumbled upon something that would have deleterious effects on my writing ability and my psyche. Instead I thought, “odd,” and commenced checking the blogs twice a day, just in case one of my programs started informing its chosen ones early.
That was three weeks ago. Now, I have a once-an-hour rule for checking the blogs, which I break incessantly. I know immediately if there’s been a new entry by the number of posts listed at the top of the screen. Every time there is one, even if it has nothing to do with the programs I’ve applied to, I read it greedily, ravenously. I actually feel the adrenaline squirting out of those triangular glands on the top of my kidneys. This is quickly and inevitably followed by a crash in my mood and an insatiable desire for more, more, more blog posts.
I’ve justified this behavior by telling myself I’m in control and that there are plenty of people out there who are much more obsessed than I am. After all, I don’t have a list of area codes taped to the back of my phone—yet. And there are worse things to which I could be addicted, not least of which is crack cocaine. Yesterday, when I left the dinner table for the computer, my husband sweetly suggested that it might be good for me to stop checking the blogs. He would’ve been better off trying to separate a she-bear and her cub.
My writer friend finally broke his addiction in the slammer, where he had no access to his beloved narcotic. Unfortunately for me, the Internet is everywhere. I’ve entertained thoughts of “getting away from it all” on an extended backpacking trip, but unfortunately I have a full time job. Of course that job requires me to sit in front of a computer connected to the Internet nine hours a day. If you are a recovered MFA blog junkie, please share your secrets. Then again, if you’re reading this, you’re probably as bad off as I am.