Daniel Seizer and Gabe Garon
Does the Grind Ever Stop?
By Daniel Seizer
The grind stops. It screeches to a halt.
Well, to be more specific, my grind stops. My grind screeches to a halt.
While I’ve always been known to give up on any sort of professional commitment or academic goal, Zoom school has presented a few more ways in which the grind must clock out. For one, I almost always have a Bravo show (most recently, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) streaming on split-screen because let’s face it, the “Zoom Class Sessions” tab on CourseWorks doesn’t have the same auto-start trailer algorithm that Netflix has and my monkey brain knows which is more appealing. Thus, my grind stops for at least one hour each day so I don’t fall behind on Survivor. Then, there are the four hours each week I have to catch up on The Bachelorette. I know you may be thinking, “Isn’t The Bachelorette a two-hour show?” And while you would be correct, you would also have failed to remember that everyone needs at least two hours post-show to discuss which contestants are there for the right reasons. Oh, and then there’s the TikTok of it all. Damn you, TikTok. My sweet, sweet TikTok. My precious. My screen time tells me that my daily average time on TikTok is one hour and 25 minutes. Honestly, I feel pretty good about that, given my multi-hour habits last summer. This, of course, isn’t counting all the TikToks I watch on my friends’ phones—but we don’t have to worry about that now.
My grind also stops for good, mental-health (ish) reasons, too—like naps! Is eight hours of sleep really enough? No. Never. And it’s not like I get eight hours anyway. (Most nights recently, I have fallen asleep with phone in hand, TikTok on, and woken up with fright a couple of hours later). So it’s not like I’m staying up late to continue grinding. To cope with my lack of sleep, I used to drink (read: completely and utterly depend upon) coffee. I used to be able to drink two or three cups of black coffee a day. Over winter break, I went cold turkey on the magic beans. Now, whenever I try to drink coffee, I can’t even have half a cup without developing three different types of facial tics. And so my grind stops yet again. Well, my grind slows. Everything is slower without coffee.
My grind stops for basically any offer that sounds more appealing. And this is usually a low, low bar. When I have a choice between studying for an Organic Chemistry midterm and watching a movie, the movie always wins. Hell, when I have a choice between studying for an Organic Chemistry midterm or cleaning the stove, even the stove will win. I think, at this point, I would rather mingle with millennials than study for that midterm. I might even watch a 40-minute video explaining the Tati/James Charles/Jeffree Star drama instead of opening up my Courseworks.
In all honesty, I’ve come to dislike the grind. And who among us hasn’t felt this way? If you say you haven’t, you’re a stupid idiot liarface! A mere four years ago, I could spend more than 12 hours at school every day. I had class starting at 7:12 a.m. Now, I’m lucky if I make it through one Zoom lecture at two times speed. Even though I lived near Columbia last semester, I went to Butler a grand total of once.
I’m constantly reminded of my disdain for the grind. For example, all my friends have LinkedIn (and they don’t shut up about it!). And because I refuse to commit to the grind, I have yet to create an account. However, in a sense, this situation creates maybe the only time I do have to grind. It’s a different kind of grind: the work of retelling the yes-I-know-I-should-have-LinkedIn-but-I-need-a-headshot!-I-know-I-know-I-will story. (P.S., anyone free to take my headshot? I really do need a new one.) When this grind outweighs the grind of my discomfort at not having an account, I might, at last, join LinkedIn.
Now that you know I don’t care for the grind one bit, let me be blunt: The grind stops with me. My children, should I sire any (adopt any?), shall not grind. This I swear to you. It’s not that grinding is bad. It isn’t, I assure you! But the idea that the grind never stops is one that I simply cannot abide. So I will probably allow my children a couple of hours of grind time per week. Maybe half as much time as their allotted screen time, because I’m not trying to be unreasonable.
By Gabe Garon
In short: No, it never does. At least not for me.
Allow me to elaborate. When I was very young—about six or seven years old—I was on vacation in Italy with my mother. While meandering through an open-air market in some small Tuscan town in the middle of August, we got lost and wandered down a dark, dusty alley. Sometime between entering the alley and emerging from its dank and dreary clutches, I accidentally bumped into an elderly woman. She was old and wizened, with gnarled hands and fingernails like talons peeking out from the ancient, faded shawl she’d wrapped around herself. She locked her piercing blue eyes on mine and muttered a curse in Italian before hissing at me and hobbling away. As she whispered this hex, I felt a wind pass through me, causing my juvenile bladder to release and my heart to skip a beat. When my mother and I stumbled back onto the sweltering, sunny street, she noticed that I’d pissed myself and admonished me before entering a small children’s clothing store to buy me a new skirt and some underwear (the little boys’ section had been picked dry). I tried to explain to her that I’d been cursed by an evil witch in the alley, but she didn’t believe me. She brushed off my account of what had occurred in that alley as the imaginative fantasies of a bored and somewhat fruity child. She told me not to judge old ladies—“They’re very nice and a wonderful source of wisdom,” she informed me. “Plus, one day, your tits will be that saggy too, so you should count your blessings.” And we went on our way. But something inside me had changed.
I didn’t quite understand what this change was, at first. I felt drawn to certain things: the viola, convention centers, multi-level marketing schemes, niche sports. In lieu of playdates, I would ask my mom to take me to the nearby Macy’s so I could wander up and down the aisles admiring the sport jackets and business casual attire. When we walked back to the car, I would linger in front of the JoS. A. Bank and gaze longingly at the Talbots. I would ask my father to read the Wall Street Journal to me at night instead of fairy tales or Harry Potter. I found the narratives to be far more gripping, the highs and lows more visceral, the characters easier to empathize with. When the NASDAQ was down, I was down. When it was up? Oh, boy, was I up. While the other children dreamt of sugar plums and Barney and “playing outside” and diapers and whatever else, I fantasized about Bill Gates and Cheryl Sandberg. The long conversations we might have! We’d discuss starting your own business and investment properties and starter spouses and how to outsource efficiently from dusk until dawn, laughing and drinking Aperol Spritzes. But where I truly felt free—where I truly felt most myself—was at my parents’ dinner parties. Building connections was what I excelled at. I could schmooze any middle-aged Bob or Nancy in the room. LinkedIn was created so the others could catch up to me.
In middle school, however, my obsessions expanded and grew. I had become a virtuoso violist and pianist, I had made about $15,000 in the stock market thanks to a few key investments, I was reading at an 11th-grade level, and I was class president. I was at the top of my game. I befriended Dan Bilzerian, I gave DJ Khaled the seed money to record his first single, and I went to Nutrilite conventions on the weekends. By high school, I had founded three companies (a skincare brand, a subscription service for subscription services, and Snapchat) and an NGO (it provided natural deodorants to musty girls) and was serving as the personal finance manager to the CFO of a company that provided companies with CFOs. I also became a lifestyle influencer, making thousands off my paid partnerships with Soylent, Amazon, George Soros, a for-profit prison, American Eagle, and, for a brief period, my Adderall dealer, to whom I owed a favor. My Instagram stories got hundreds of thousands of views. I could afford to never work another day in my life by the age of 18. I had grinded (ground?) all I could grind—but still, my body pushed onwards. I started to develop all sorts of medical problems—my eyes faded to a pale blue from constant exposure to my laptop and the screen in my Tesla XS. My hands became gnarled and blistered from constant handshaking and typing and accepting LinkedIn connection requests. My spine twisted under the weight of my now-enormous pecs and weak back muscles. My fingernails grew long with neglect—since I’d stopped trimming them as frequently, I’d been able to spend, on average, 7 minutes more per week on work, increasing my revenue by $1.8 million yearly. My hair had long turned gray and my fried nervous system, shorted out on Redbull and espresso, left me with constant chills, the only solution to which was an old shawl I found in the attic.
One night, on my way out of my double-sized walk-in closet (complete with its own guest room, bathroom, and kitchenette), I glanced in the mirror and gasped. I had become that old, wizened woman that had cursed me in that Italian alley. The realization struck me to the ground, and, once again, I soiled myself in fear and awe. I passed out. When I finally came to, one thought rang through my head:
Luce a gas. Capo ragazza. Mantieni il cancello.
It was the hex that that witch had placed upon my head. I knew, somewhere deep inside me, that I had to place it upon someone else’s head in order to free myself from the Sisyphean grind to which I’d dedicated my life. That night, I snuck out of my mansion in the Hollywood Hills and headed to Abbot Kinney in search of my prey, longing for my release from the hell in which I’d been trapped.
Eventually, I found a victim–a young, blonde girl in line for Salt and Straw, clutching an iPhone XR covered in Parade stickers and talking about how cheugy Urth Café is–and took a deep breath. I hobbled over to her and whispered my curse:
Luce a gas. Capo ragazza. Mantieni il cancello.
“Oh my god, you weirdo. Was that Italian? Did you just say, ‘Gaslight, Girlboss, Gatekeep’? This is why I don’t come anywhere near fucking Venice Beach anymore.”
I’d failed. Why hadn't it worked? I felt my knees buckle. I fell to the ground. My heart stopped. Was she already a girlboss? Was she already on that mf grind? I felt the life drain out of my fingers and evaporate into the salty night air around me. This was a release, I supposed. I closed my eyes and let go.