When my friends started having children, as much as I thought about what role I'd play in their kids' lives, it was as the sort of friend of the family who, when you're teetering through teenagerdom and your early 20s, takes you out to lunch or dinner (often arriving, fortuitously, when you're most off course and down-at-heel), gives you Rilke and Asimov and the Brontes at the junctures when they can do their most good, takes your ambitions seriously, lets you be yourself while providing some calibrating sense of what the world at large will eventually expect from your conversation, etc. I had a couple such 'aunts' myself, my mom's [...]
Anybody who supposes himself wise is already demonstrating the reverse. Therefore the cleverest, most beneficial advice must always come disguised as something else. Because who can ever really believe that he knows better? I didn't even recognize the best advice I ever got for what it was until many years after it was given to me, and I don't flatter myself that I get it, even yet.
In the mists of antiquity I embarked on what would prove to be a mortifyingly checkered academic career at St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was a very idealistic, very deluded kid. Ambitious, too. There was no such thing [...]
Around this time last year, I jotted a couple of notes-to-self on hot pink sticky notes and tacked them over my desk. "Feel less guilty," one read. And: "Read more current events."
I was content enough with my vague resolutions, but then something, dare I say?, ironic happened. On New Year's Day I was browsing e-books in a trance, trying to distract myself from feeling guilty about how little of The Economist I'd read. Before I knew what had happened, l had purchased a book called Mindfulness.
It was as if some stifled part of my psyche was using my Barnes & Noble account as a Ouija board to tell [...]
Last spring, my first in a new apartment, I was careful to order my air conditioner way ahead of the first heat wave. I picked out a window unit from Home Depot online and scheduled delivery for a Friday in mid-May that I'd chosen as a spring-cleaning vacation day.
That morning, I woke up and looked up my order online, only to see that it had been suddenly (I'd checked the day before) back ordered and wasn't coming for nearly two weeks. I was furious! I would not be one of those people who didn't have an air conditioner when it got hot outside! I had done everything right, [...]
I don’t get enough advice. Maybe it’s because I spent years actively ignoring it? This year I was hoping for some good advice, and still am! No matter how well you’re doing, there’s always a sense that you’re dogging it, and there’s some bit of wisdom that will push you through the membrane of the day-to-day to untold fabulousness. A foolish thought to carry around with you, but there it is. However, while waiting for my fairy godmother to clobber me with a toaster, calendar 2012 was a year that I kept going back to the greatest advice I ever got: Never open your mouth until you know the shot. [...]