To those of us for whom life is an incessant montage of badly-lighted scenes detailing mistakes made and opportunities squandered, this endless winter has been something of a comfort in that we are no longer alone: It's dark out there for everyone now. Oh, you're a little down because it is cold and gray all the time? WELCOME TO MY WORLD. Huh, you never really realized just how sad things can get at 5:15 of a Wednesday evening? MY LIFE IS AN ENDLESS SERIES OF WEDNESDAY EVENING, 5:15s. Perhaps "comfort" is not the appropriate word, though: What I am trying to convey is the small sense of belonging we [...]
Life is a tedious dialog in which Death always has the final word, but much of the small talk in between concerns the weather. The next few days will be grey and dull, which is both seasonally and emotionally appropriate. Consider the age: certitudes dashed, confidence destroyed, ideals gladly forsaken for the cheap illusion of compromise in which the only winners are those who have already been rewarded with the greatest benefit. Consider the mood: mental and physical cruelties inflicted on the most vulnerable without remorse, anger and cynicism wrapped so tightly together that they become indistinguishable from each other, loneliness and despair so pervasive that they have [...]
For most of us the John Lennon line about life being what happens when you're making other plans seems academic at first but, as the years go by, passes through phases of being something funny, something clever, something understandable and then something cruel. The worst part about our headlong trudge to the tomb is the way that once we realize how much road is already behind us it is far too late to go back and fix the mistakes we made along the way. Maybe the best bit about life—and I am setting an admittedly low bar here, but look what we have to deal with—is that although we [...]
You may be tempted, particularly with the lovely spell of weather we'll have over the next few days, to believe that everything is going to work out. That, not only have you gotten away with it, you've deserved to get away with it. I understand. Warm temperatures, the coming of spring, the slight hope that maybe the economy is turning around, the idea that after a certain point things can't get any worse and thus must get better: these are all reasons for optimism. Do not be fooled. No one ever gets away with it, we deserve nothing, the weather will grow cold again, whatever recovery we have will [...]
The lady at my liquor store is a delightful woman in her mid-fifties who always beams brightly and is never particularly concerned about whether or not you've got exact change.
I was down there just now and it was pretty crowded for the middle of a Thursday afternoon. (The fact that I know the retail patterns of liquor stores in the middle of a Thursday afternoon is an entirely different matter.)
"You're busy," I said to her.
Think about every lesson you've learned so far in life, from the little ones like how to not eat so quickly that you bite down on the fork while chewing or how to not get shampoo in your eyes while showering and why it's a good idea to stand back from the curb on a rainy day to the larger ones about when to listen and when to talk or why it's sometimes easier to sacrifice something you're not fully passionate about so that you can make your stand on a more important issue later or how everyone else is pretty much as scared and stupid and just trying [...]
I cannot tell you the saddest story I know, because it was passed along to me by someone who is under the obligation of professional ethics to not share it for publication. But, in a larger sense, I can of course tell you the saddest story I know: It is yours. Oh, sure, you can pretend that I don't know you that well, but, really, you're not that special. You're just like the rest of us. Your life is wracked with recrimination and regret, and even in those rare moments when you can somehow convince yourself that you are mostly a good person, you know that you are only [...]