How to go Insane in Ten Easy Steps, by Sandra Jeppesen

From Vol. 1, No. 3, 1997

How to go Insane in Ten Easy Steps
Sandra Jeppesen

1.  Skip two grades in grade school, move six times to six different cities, never make any close friends.  Hate everybody, they probably hated you first.  Be a shit-disturber in class.  Swear precociously.  Get into fights at school and get sent to the office a lot.  Learn to say the alphabet backwards from Z.  Fight with your parents about everything.  Snigger secretly because you know you are smarter than they are.  When they hit you, hit back.  Lie to your friends (when you have them) about your black eyes, your broken teeth.

2.  Go to university when you are sixteen.  Study pure mathematics or quantum physics.  Pierce one eyebrow, your bellybutton and both nipples.  Shave your head.  Read Sylvia Plath and like it.  Hang out with people who are more fucked up than you.  They will be hard to find.  Don’t get discouraged, keep looking.  Drop lots of acid with them, control your hallucinations, get cramped cheeks from laughing so hard.  Drop ten hits the night before you have to go to the suburbs for Father’s Day.  You are still tripping.  Listen to your father trying to have a heart-to-heart with you for maybe the first time ever.  Look him straight in the eye and say, Y’know Dad, you always did remind me of Elvis.  Never laugh when you are straight.  This will not be often.

3.  Know that you will never find love.  Think you have found it once only, but then realize it was a vicious lie, or something you ate.  Become cynical and bitter.  Have sex with good-looking men but treat them with contempt.  Don’t ever let them sleep over.  When they want to, say things like, Valentines Day was last month pal.  Make a list of the men you fuck.  Put a check mark beside the ones you would do again.  Experience sex as colours, slowly seeping across your mind like blood into a kleenex.  Experience orgasms as fruit.  Stick colour-coded shiny stars beside the names on the list, and draw pictures of fruit.

4.  Have dreams about your exes and your family in which they ALL die.  You are skating at Harbourfront with your family when a helicopter flies off with your obnoxious sister and drops her in the lake.  Your supermodel ex-lover gets hit by a train driven by his new girlfriend, also a supermodel.  They both die after long painful hospitalizations during which you visit them, bringing condoms and sex toys you know they can’t use.  Dream in colour.  Blood looks better that way.  Especially supermodel blood.

5. Play the Violent Femmes over and over.  Learn all the words to Add It Up. Learn all the words to all their songs.  Learn how to whine, leer and scream all at the same time.  Play the Dead Kennedys over and over.  Learn all the words to Macho Insecurity.  Learn all the words to all their songs.  This should not be difficult.  Sing badly at the top of your lungs late at night when your room-mates are all passed out.  Sleep with a man with a red mohawk.  Add his name to your list with a red star, a check mark and a kiwi.  Sleep with him again.  Collect a whole basket of fruit.

6.  Eat Chinese food with lots of MSG.  Have a postmodern post-apocalypse dream.  Your name is on the list of a subversive group because of the high-tech company you work for.  They want you to become subversive.  Become subversive.  Steal a file for them in the middle of your work day.  Notice that the label is in your own handwriting.  Be attacked by the nun-like woman you suspect is secretly working for the government.  She chases you through the beige partitions trying to kill you.  Decide to leave work early that day without telling your boss.  Hear voices in your head that tell you what to do, how to escape.  Follow them.  Use the Force.

7.  Wake up at 4 a.m. and believe it’s real.  Call the man with the red mohawk to tell him about it.  Tell him he has to get dressed and leave with you right away.  Make sure you wear the right clothes, you have to be well-dressed for the post-apocalypse–black nail polish, essential steel-toed boots and a tight-knit silver dress, but not too tight, you don’t want people to think you’re a slut.  Put your drugs in the left pocket of your jean jacket and your bank card in the right.  Don’t forget your lipstick.  Leave everything else behind.

8.  When you are in Queen Street, you will be smarter than the psychologists.  Talk to them about quantum physics, punk rock music and postmodern deconstructionist theory.  Name drop.  Start with Einstein, Sid Vicious and Derrida.  Get progressively more obscure:  Lorentz, Jello Biafra, J. Hillis Miller.  Mail order existentialist books and punk rock CD’s, and the S.C.U.M. Manifesto.  Play People Who Died over and over on your walkman and sing along in a loud off-key voice.  Tell them it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling.  Ask to be transferred to Yellowknife.  Further north if possible.  If they transfer you, don’t forget your lipstick.  Always wear red.

9.  Perform all your nasty bodily habits in public.  Use the child within to tap into unleashed sources of creative grossness.  Peel off layers of skin and examine them under the lights at the nursing station.  Pick scabs off your elbows and knees.  Line them up on the table in order of size.  When they bring your meal, eat the scabs instead.  Call them smarties.  Eat the red ones last.  Smile at the orderly and say, Reduce Reuse and Recycle.  But don’t offer him any.

10.  When they ask about the apocalypse, explain that it was last Tuesday at 4 a.m.  Then say, I can’t tell you anything else, it will endanger The Cause.  Say things like, Go ahead and torture me, I’ll never talk.  Cross your arms steadfastly.  Ask them lots of questions like what remote city they’ve taken you to, whether Bell Canada has been taken down and what they’ve done with your mother.  Fuck as many of the orderlies, doctors and nurses as possible, but don’t let on that you enjoy it.  Maintain your list but don’t give the doctors and stars.  Correct their grammar.

11.  Always know that they are the crazy ones.