While most people occupied their winter breaks with generous helpings of family time or nostalgic adventures with childhood friends, I opted out of it all in favor of my couch. Over my three-week break, I survived on frozen Amy’s dinners, sported sweatshirts and left my computer only when nature or family called. What could have turned me into such a non-showered, undesirable shell of a human? The most evil four letter word of them all: LOST.
I began the journey at the request of my friends, blissfully unaware that, underneath the somewhat unassuming DVD cover of season one, the show was a toxic grenade of entertainment. In the beginning, everything was casual, and I sat in for a couple episodes here and there while my roommate sped through five a night during finals week. It wasn’t until I had finished with my work at Northwestern that I let my brain fall prey to this magical deserted island somewhere off the coast of Fiji and traded in my break for a ride on Oceanic flight 815.
From the time I woke up in the morning to my final 41-43 minutes before bed, I saw everything through the LOST lens. When forced away from my computer by haircuts or doctor’s appointments, (obligations made before LOST which, in retrospect, should have been cancelled), I listened in on stranger’s conversations, perking up every time I heard someone say “brother” or “Echo.” I cringed when only lanes four and eight were illuminated at the grocery store, afraid that I would witness the imminent destruction of the world.
At the airport, I dissected my fellow passengers, and grafted them onto their LOST look-alikes. As a result of this mind game, I found myself believing that I was sandwiched between Sawyer and Rose. For the first time on the flight, I listened to the safety monologues and planned my escape from the nearest exit row — just in case we crashed on an island somewhere between Dallas and Chicago.
I knew I’d gone insane when I contemplated asking the stewardess to hold off on passing out drinks (so we could keep them as reserves for when we plummeted into Lake Michigan). When I tried to fashion a bow and arrow out of my floss, bookmark, and highlighter, I decided to seek help from my id. Slowly, I rewound my three weeks of vacation, peeling away the veneer of LOST that had scared me away from Tom Thumb, and had convinced me that the dry cleaner was coning me for my non-existent trust fund. I saw my window and aisle buddies morph back into their real selves, both apparently fascinated by SkyMall and both perfectly relaxed, sure that we would land in our desired destination. So confident was the former Sawyer that he registered himself for an audio-recording key chain. I finally broke free of the LOST curse that had distorted every human interaction that I had over break, and realized that I was insane.
After two hours of this mental cleansing, I finally regained human qualities just in time for our touchdown in Chicago. I resolved to ween myself off of the mind-warp that is LOST, and since returning to Northwestern, have limited my viewing to one episode a day. While my rehabilitation efforts have helped me escape the LOST lens, traces remain; as I walked to class this morning, I found myself tracking footprints in the snow, attempting to decipher the divergent paths of Uggs and Converse soles. Perhaps there was a booby trap waiting for me on the remote path by the observatory? Or maybe the tracks would lead me to an underground hatch containing university stockpiles and psychological experiments? Obviously, I have a ways to go before returning to normalcy. But starting in February 2 at 7:00 p.m. (pending Obama’s State of the Union address schedule), LOST comes back on the air, and hopefully, everyone else will finally understand the agonizing addiction that has plagued me for the past 21 days.