Tag Archives: Uptight

Uptight is Alright

4 Aug


I could probably use some loosening up. I find unmade beds uninhabitable, I don’t think it’s possible to get ready in the morning without an 8-step routine, and my diet hinges on whether I start the day with oatmeal. I like structure. I make my bed because doing so de-stresses me. I follow the 8-step routine because I would be 30 minutes late(r) to work without it. I eat oatmeal everyday because otherwise I’d opt for pop tarts, which would snowball into ice cream sundae topped waffles and cream cheese stuffed french toast. In short, I practice my habits because without them I would lose it. To console myself, and all fellow-sufferers of ‘tightly wound’ syndrome, I draw your attention to great authors who relied on this very ailment in outputting great literary works:

Charles Dickens rigidly adhered to a  9 a.m. to 2 p.m. writing schedule, insisting that his ten children keep far away from his study. Pens, ink, and statuettes were specially arranged on his desk. The office lay-out he maintained helped him to think. Perhaps Oliver Twist would have been more aptly named Oliver Missed if his ten children were given free reign, and put the ink blotter where the pens were supposed to go. It’s tough to say.

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition,” wrote WH Auden in 1958. “A modern stoic knows that the surest way to discipline passion is to discipline time: decide what you want or ought to do with the day, then always do it at exactly the same moment every day, and passion will give you no trouble.” Admittedly, part of his routine for twenty years was a morning dosage of the amphetamine Benzedrine. The Benzedrine must have had some positive benefit, since he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947 for his poem ‘The Age of Anxiety.’ Haven’t read it, and appears too convoluted and culturally overwrought for anyone other than a hipstery English PhD candidate to really dig, but hey, the internet is still talking about it!

Later in his career, Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up, periodically shifting his weight between feet, though at least from the comfort of his bedroom. He formed initial drafts using pencil. In his own words, “Wearing down seven number-two pencils is a good day’s work.” Positioning his typewriter atop a bookcase, he would next transcribe his day’s work. Finally, he charted his word count on a cardboard box, always aiming for around 500 words. Perhaps the uncomfortable nature of Hemingway’s stand-up routine contributed to the ultimate decision to shoot himself in the head, but in the meantime he sure developed some nice calve muscles.


I hope by this point you are feeling the type-A spirit, getting warm and fuzzy thoughts about going back to school for a double major in computer science and Econ, or jump starting a crossfit meets P90X meets triathlon workout regimen. Kidding, kidding, but at least we can aspire to wind up the day tightly, er, I mean well, with a fruit-topped bowl of cereal. Recipe as follows:



1/2 cup Special K cereal image

1/2 cup Life cereal

1 Tbs granola

1/4 cup blueberries

3-4 strawberries, quartered

1/3 cup 1% milk