Thursday, August 2, 2012

And I, I Am Feeling A Little Peculiar: "What's Up?"

Gonna talk about something I don't really talk about: I was on Jeopardy! and I won.

I was 22 years old and it was not College Jeopardy!, it was regular.

When I start to think about the impact that becoming a Jeopardy! champion at the age of 22 might have had or will have on my life, I start to feel like the bottom may be dropping out of the universe -- so I generally tread pretty carefully around that line of thought.

One of the most evident impacts has been to make a very clear division between those who knew me before and those who know me after.

Before, I used to talk about Jeopardy! all the time! My cell phone ringtone was the Jeopardy! theme. I dressed up as Alex Trebek for Halloween. I owned several of Ken Jennings' books and a Jeopardy!-Question-of-the-Day calendar and here's where you KNOW it was real, I knew all the cheesy low-budget commercials that played during the show. ("As a nutritionist, I recommend Eggland's Best eggs!")

I was voted "Most Likely to Win Jeopardy!' in the high school newspaper. Because everyone knew my life goal was to win on Jeopardy!. Because I talked about it. All the time.

Because I thought it was going to take more of my life. 



Last January-ish, about eight months after my show aired, I said to a new friend: "well, winning on Jeopardy! used to be my life goal and, well, I never really expected it to happen but it did, and so I'm sort of at a loss without a life goal," and my friend said "that's like saying 'well, I am on this submarine, and it's sort of filling up with water.'"


The other thing to know about me is that I am an incredibly anxious person. It makes me uncomfortable to talk about myself in this way so I'll just say this:

the engine of these two things, the anxiety and the ability to remember that if the category is world capitals, one of the answers will always be "Rabat",

the engine of these two things is the same.


The song: 4 Non Blondes, "What's Up?"; 1993

I used to live inside my anxiety and not really know it was possible to live differently. Recently though, happily,  I don't live that way any more.

(But the thing about knowing what it feels like to not be anxious is it makes being anxious a lot tougher. Two steps forward, one back. Still adds up to one step forward though.)

This song is not about interpersonal drama but a lot more on the general Weltschmerz-y side of things. And people also make fun of this song a LOT. A lot a lot. Maybe because of her voice? Although I admire her expressive quality.

I know the feeling that she describes as: "And I wake up in the morning and I step outside and I take a deep breath and I get real high and I scream at the top of my lungs, what's going on?" and I know it as just kind of a general frankness, a "well, DAMN" kind of a feeling.

It's that "well, DAMN" feeling where my anxiety and my ability are perfectly balanced, just for a moment. It's like the taste of Coca-cola, or the light in those hours when the sun is going down -- rich.