Is Happiness Interesting to Me?

I like to think of myself as someone who has no great enjoyment of drama. But one thing I’ve been thinking a lot about as I’m doing my feelings journal is that I don’t analyze and dwell on and poke and prod at happiness the way I do other emotions.

I think part of that is that I worry that happiness evaporates under too much scrutiny–if you think about it too hard, you come up with reasons why you shouldn’t be happy.

But my goal for this whole hard process is not just to stop metaphorically jumping at shadows in the dark, but to learn to live not scrutinizing the dark for shadows. Ha ha ha. But I don’t know if “scrutinize the light” is the way to course-correct.

The Butcher and the Red-Headed Kid came over for dinner last night. We were watching TV and it said something like “Interesting people make jokes. That’s what makes them interesting.”

And the Red-Headed Kid said, “Is that true? What about people who make jokes to mask anxiety? I don’t want to be interesting.”

Interview with Apex Magazine Editor-in-Chief, Jason Sizemore

As a part of Apex Magazine’s subscription drive, I was supposed to run my interview–which, for the record, I did in a timely manner–with Jason Sizemore YESTERDAY. But I flaked. So I’m running it today. Also, they have a lot of nifty things up for grabs in their store, like that cool She Persisted print that I can’t believe no one has nabbed yet. Apex was the first place to pay me for my fiction, so I have strong feelings of loyalty for them. Also, the more they’re able to thrive, the more I get to say “Oh, yeah, I was published by the same folks who published Famous Author X.” I enjoy that. Okay, enough. Here’s the interview:

1.  Hypothetical situation: Both the podcasts TANIS and The Black Tapes have a new episode, but you only have enough battery left to listen to one. Which do you choose and why?

Why would you ask such a cruel question?

Let’s get this straight: I love both shows equally. They’re some of the best cross-genre work I’ve encountered in any media. My hat goes off to Paul Bae and Terry Miles for their ability to make believable audio drama out of some fantastic research.

Having said that…I must go with The Black Tapes. I have an audio crush on The Black Tape protagonist and narrator Alex Regan. If I’m down to my last battery, I want Alex Regan to accompany me to the end.

2.  Can I admit I’m nervous that The Black Tapes and TANIS don’t have an end game and thus might trail off into some True Detectives-like nonsense that makes me feel like I’ve wasted my life? That’s not my question. Just an observation. Trying to end stories sucks and it’s hard to do well. You read a lot of stories. What makes a good ending?

If I had to guess, Paul Bae and Terry Miles will be tapped for television at some point. The big bucks will draw them from TBT and TANIS, and the shows will be wrapped up. If the journey is fantastic but the destination is a bit of a drag, does that mean the experience is a waste? No.

But adding a powerful ending that makes sense and provides satisfaction can turn a good work into something you’re talking about decades later.

Short fiction has one advantage over longer forms of entertainment: the ending doesn’t have to “pop” to the degree of a novel, movie, or television show. As you indirectly pointed out, the longer you ride along with something, the bigger the expectations at the conclusion. Your ending needs to be “earned.” This means it needs to fit into the overall plot and theme. A classic conclusion fail is LOST the television series. Not enough information was given to the viewer to earn that ludicrous and obvious pull of our emotions in the last church scene. A classic conclusion success is the Ambrose Bierce story “An Odd Occurrence at Owl Creek.” The big twist is earned because the reader *knows* the unlikelihood of everything proceeding it.

3. I think of Jennifer Pelland’s “Ghosts of New York” a lot, even all these years after I first read it. There’s something really amazing about the way she’s able to tell this tragic story that, by the end, I wanted with my whole heart to be true. And I feel like that’s a story I could imagine people in a hundred years reading to try to understand the post-9/11 U. S. I kind of consider it Apex’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” in terms of its potential longevity. Do you have a couple of other Apex stories you think could have that kind of staying power?

A handful come to mind immediately: “Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon, “Lazarus and the Amazing Kid Phoenix” by Jennifer Giesbrecht, and “The Gentleman of Chaos” by A. Merc Rustad.

4.  One trope in horror is the monster who seems like a normal person or maybe even better than a normal person. Vampires are aristocratic and cool. The werewolf is mostly the guy down the block. But eventually, their true nature comes out. Do you think this is a fundamental truth or wish fulfillment. In other words, do you think bad people eventually always show their true colors to the world and vindicate their victims or do we like stories where that’s so because we only wish life were like that?

A more practical way to view this phenomenon is to realize that most of the time we already recognize that they’re monsters, but because of their place in society or social structure, we let it go because we mistakenly see it as advantageous or benign. Ignore the monstrous side of something, then perhaps you’ll earn their favor.

I cite the election of Donald Trump as the ultimate expression of my point.

5. If your cat, Pumpkin, grew overnight to be the size of a tiger, do you think he would eat you?

 

Hard to say. He’s fiercely loyal. Wants my love and attention. He’s also well-fed.

I would answer with “probably not???” and hope for the best!

jason and pumpkin

Jason Sizemore is the Editor-in-Chief of Apex Magazine. Sadly, shortly after this photo of him was taken, Pumpkin did indeed eat him. Happily, after a few days, Sizemore reappeared at his desk with no memory of the gruesome incident. He seems fine and himself, though maybe a little taller than he used to be, so his family mostly decided to not ask questions.

Sizemore is the author of the short-story collection, Irredeemable, which I liked a lot, though, if I’m being honest, I find a little intimidating. You tell yourself “editors edit, authors auth, and they’re two different skills contained in two different people.” But no. Not for him.

He also wrote For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher,
which is part memoir, part roast. It famously contains the story of the time Sara Harvey saved Sizemore from an East St. Louis hospital.

Also, rumor has it that Sizemore has three small pebbles embedded in the palm of his left hand from a childhood bicycle accident while he was fleeing the Pilot Knob witch child. That can’t possibly be true. Everyone knows that witch child was over by Marion, not up in the Kentucky hills where Sizemore was a kid. But if he didn’t have an encounter with the witch child, how is it that he can control the weather now? You can follow him on Twitter @apexjason. He or one of his spectral doppelgangers is probably following you already.

 

If You’re Not Salty, What Are You Worth?

My parents always call me on Tuesdays, on their way home from dinner with my grandma. Last night, they wanted to talk about their friends who they’d seen recently and my dad was on a tear about how abusive–his word–they are to their daughters-in-law. “We all know [our ex-in-law], but I don’t blame her at all for [my brother] being a jackass. That’s his choice.” Which I thought was funny, but it also makes me sad. Why do my parents hang out with these people they think are terrible?

My cousin is still made that my other cousin came to her town and didn’t see her dad. The Butcher has done the same thing and that’s all right. But that’s probably not germane to my story. I think it’s been almost two years she’s been pissed about this. And I’m not saying I can’t hold a grudge. Y’all read me. You know how I am. But she’s not walking along all okay and then something brings it up and she’s pissed again. She’s actively still trying to litigate this and get people on her side and…like…whoa. It’s tedious and disturbing and sad. And she’s wrong, which also may be beside the point. But why is she still so actively engaged with being pissed? I suspect it’s not that my other cousin didn’t stop to see her dad. But that, unlike the Butcher, he didn’t stop to see her.

Third, I know a person who is well-respected in his profession and extremely well-respected in his hobby and who has incredible opportunities based on his hobby and, I mean, really cool shit. Radio interviews, displays at local museums, etc. And he’s still really hung up on whether or not these people he wants to respect him do. And based on some imagined slights he’s decided they do not and so everything he’s accomplished seems to not feel like a sufficient enough victory.

In all three cases, it seems to me that the people involved do not see their own worth. Don’t believe that they can have happiness and good friends or that their accomplishments count without the right validation.

And maybe this is myopic on my part, but I’m trying to learn to be happy. Which means finding a way to heal–and not just top off–the gaping hole in my soul that can’t be filled. So, I observe carefully the ways that hole tricks people into continuing to feed it.

Am I Cool Enough?

There’s kind of a hierarchy of cool in Nashville. At a basic level, it starts with are you cool enough to be on the list to get into places free instead of having to pay? But then, once you’re in, do people recognize you? Are they happy to see that you’re there? And maybe some folks see you and acknowledge you, but are you cool enough to get the good seats? The special treatment? Etc.

I’m not very good at figuring out where in the cool hierarchy I am and there’s nothing more embarrassing than thinking you’re at a higher level than you are and having to find out in public that you’re not. So, I usually go for the cool that is “The list? Pshaw. I paid my way in.” Like I’m too cool for cool. Though I once ended up on a list twice and, I admit, that delighted the shit out of me.

But sometimes shit’s expensive and you just have to try to use your cool cred. So, I was kind of laughing this week because an internet friend is coming to town and she has what would be considered a cool job in nerdy circles.

So, I asked a friend who works at an expensive place people like to visit if he could comp us tickets. I told him who she was and he knew her. So, he tried to push me off on the people in his organization who would be more appropriate for dealing with her, since they would probably want to make contact with her, maybe show us around themselves.

So, the more appropriate contact got a hold of me and told me that the tickets would be there for me. Have fun. No personalized tour. They didn’t need to meet her. In other words, exactly what my friend could have done for me.

Among these young whippersnappers, we did not have the cool cred my friend assumed we had! That made me laugh. But I was also relieved, because I like being the tour guide and this way I can point and sing and tell stories myself without the facts getting in the way. Ha.

Still, I admit, sometimes it’s nice to be cool.

Some Broken Hearts Never Mend

A long time ago, I liked a guy and I thought he liked me. He fucked my roommate instead. I was angry at her, because I knew she knew how much I liked him, and angry at myself for “misreading” the situation.

Years later, we were both at the same wedding. Hell, we were all three at the same wedding, but this isn’t about her. And he was obviously delighted to see me to the chagrin of his wife. And later, when he was good and drunk, he told me that it had been me and he chickened out and then he kissed me on the forehead and I left and cried for a million days.

That was many years ago. He has a wife and kids and, I guess, a nice suburban life. She has a husband and kids and a nice medium-sized town life. I don’t want those things. Sometimes, though, I look back at those moments and it feels raw, like I got cheated out of someone I would have enjoyed specifically by that someone, who compounded it by then telling me he just didn’t have the guts to be with me.

I hate the feeling that I’m hard to be with. It makes me feel like things are wrong with me, fundamentally, that I don’t know how to recognize, let alone decide whether I want to fix.

Yesterday he picked a teasing fight with me on Facebook about which one of us was the bigger Jason Statham fan–which, of course, would be him, but, of course, I was not going to concede.

I didn’t even realize that bruise was still tender. But man, it felt weird to be having a delightful fight with a person I always found delightful who didn’t find me delightful enough to try for and yet, who still, obviously, finds me somewhat delightful.

I forget all kinds of important, nice things. Why do the bad things linger?

And the other thing that kind of makes me uncomfortable is that I’m not any prettier than I was when we were young. I’ve had a long time to become set in my ways, so all the ways I was strange, well, I’ve grown stranger still. And he’s married. And lives a long way away. So why come not only poking around–which, fine, people are curious–but letting me know he’s poking around when I’m doing neat shit?

Like, now I’m cool? Now I’m worth knowing? Or maybe that’s unfair. I do think he always thought that.

I don’t know. I just don’t understand and I guess I never did.

I would have liked to watch Jason Statham movies with him, though. That would have been nice.

Beauty

img_1142

I really love how this turned out. I enjoyed working on it. I’m enjoying staring at this photo of it. I just have to wash it today to see if it is as great as it looks. I did make one mistake, but you can’t see it in this picture and I recovered from it okay, so I’m not going to point it out.

I’m also going to make another one of these as my next afghan, because I can’t bring any more yarn into this house until I have used up the yarn that’s here. It’s just become unwieldy.

Plus, I want to make something beautiful for my friends who’ve had an unimaginably rough year. Not that an afghan makes up for losing a child, but this is what I have to offer.

My other brother is getting married. He bought an engagement ring and gave it to his fiancee.

The Butcher would really like to marry his girl. He is slowly saving up for a ring. He asked my parents for help. No help came. My dad sat here and gave a recitation of all the good jewelry floating around my mom’s family and all the reasons the Butcher could not have a piece to use. I told the Butcher to bring it up to my mom, alone, again, and see if that pries something loose.

Then yesterday, I went into the other room and I brought out the ring I have from my great-grandma and I told the Butcher that he would need to take it to a jeweler and see what it is–maybe an aquamarine, maybe a light sapphire, maybe a costume piece of paste–but if it is something, then he’d just be saving up to have it reset, and it’s a nice size and has sentimental value.

I’m just so pissed. I can’t even deal with it. The world is so hard. Life sucks and is short and it hurts. Why can’t we watch out for each other? Why can’t we be kind when we can? Why can’t the boy get the girl with a ring his family helped him come up with? Why can’t we warn each other when there’s danger? Why can’t we just try, a little bit, to not be assholes?

Hard Times

I came home from walking the dog to find the Butcher a mess on the couch. Our old neighbor is dead. I don’t know what to say about it really. When he first told me, I had an uncontrollable urge to laugh, it just seemed so impossible that someone that alive could suddenly not be.

I still don’t know how I feel about it. How to make sense of it. I feel like I’m betraying the spirit of our relationship by not rolling my eyes and telling you all the ways the Professor and I would cackle about him. But I can’t bring myself to do so.

My goal to be open and generous with my parents kind of backfired on me, since they were feeling open in return and my dad told me something I’m having a hard time living with. I don’t want to be too specific, because it’s entirely possible that it goes along the Amelia Earhart line. But in general, the thing is that he knew a person who hurts people like me and he didn’t tell me. He let me hang out with this person. Obviously, this person didn’t hurt me or I would have known he was the type of person who hurt people like me. But my dad knew (or thought he did).

What the fuck?

They say that eventually it gets easier to deal with your parents because you know who they are and don’t expect them to be any different than they are.

I still don’t know. I am tired of finding out.

This Day

I have to talk on the phone to everyone today. I’m already running late but I didn’t want to not post anything. My parents are about to arrive. I am worried there’s going to be some kind of interrogation about my mental health. I just want to be able to respond with the generosity and calmness and reassurance that will make them less anxious. But maybe they don’t care. Maybe I’m just projecting onto them.

The dog seems to be getting this whole “come when he’s called” thing and, best of all, he seems to really enjoy it. I know it can’t last or be counted on, but I’m enjoying it.

Also, I love this afghan so much. I feel very fortunate to have hit a string of afghans that give me great pleasure.

Jessi Zazu has cancer. The hits just keep on coming this year, I tell you what. I was watching her video where she talks about her diagnosis and shaves her head for her next round of chemo and I couldn’t help but feel like this is offensive, this cancer. Zazu is really trying to make the world a better place. She works so hard for her community. Her music is amazing. And she’s so young. There are so many old sacks of shit in this world. Let cancer take them.

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way about this year, but I feel like the things that are supposed to make us happy–a very wanted baby, for instance, or our friends and mentors–have been shown to be so easily stripped away. And that we’ve lost many of the people I would have turned to in order to make sense of our current moment as a nation and as a world. We’re going into this next year, these next four years, without the people I’ve counted on to make sense of this stuff.

To find beauty and meaning even in very dark days.

I feel like all these massive floodlights have burned out or are burning out and it’s just left to those of us who still have matches to light the way. As the song says, this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, but fuck if I know which way to shine it. Or if anyone can see it. Or if all I’m doing is giving away my position.

WaPo, Round Two

Here is my second thing for the Post. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I want to be funny and charming and knowledgeable and I think I pulled that off.

I think I have a better idea of why this is happening and what the trajectory could look like and, even though I would appreciate all fingers crossed, I think this will be a somewhat irregular opportunity that falls into my lap from time to time. Which is very lovely. And more may come of it. We’ll see.

In other news, my friend’s baby died yesterday. And, when I was at KFC picking the Butcher up dinner, there were kittens under a truck and I tried to coax them out, but they wouldn’t come and I came home knowing it was going to get down below freezing last night, with me having left those kittens behind.

I don’t mean to sound flip about my friend’s tragedy. There are things people can write about and things they can’t. When I try to wrap my mind around this, it feels like this terrible thing and then a blast zone around it of, like, twenty miles and words fail in the blast zone.

So, you end up trying to talk about the thing without talking about the thing. There are those kittens. There is that small boy. There is Jim’s death. There are a million other heartaches, piling one upon the other, and how do you go on, except to go on?

I don’t know what I’m getting at here except to say that I am so happy and so sad and I don’t really know how to reconcile the two.

 

 

It Must be America

Yesterday I went over to Coble’s and delivered the peacock afghan. Both she and her husband said that it looked better in person than it had in pictures–“even more beautiful”–and it always did because I could never get the duller green to photograph right. It always looked more brown than it actually is.

I haven’t read a book since September. I haven’t been able to find comfort in it. I have been thinking, though, that maybe now is the time to go back to Song of Myself. We aren’t anywhere Walt Whitman couldn’t have guessed we might go and yet he still found ways to love this place.

But I spent the weekend having good conversations with people I trust and crocheting and napping, glorious napping.

A Person in the World

My friend from high school, the Man from GM, who no longer works at GM, which feels like a testament to how long this blog has been around–the Butcher is no longer a butcher; the Man from GM no longer works for GM–is here on a visit. It’s complicated. Not in a fun way, but just in the “this is the guy your dad thinks you should have married” way and in the “I am really nauseous from the new drugs and can’t really concentrate on anything more than that” way.

I feel incapable of being my best self, I guess is what I’m saying and the situation calls for a kind of relaxed generosity of spirit I’m having a hard time mustering, because I really just want to eat like four thousand Tums and go back to bed.

This, too, shall pass. I adjusted to the metformin. I’ll adjust to this. But damn.

 

Confirmation

I have said this before, that I always expected that I would someday get married to a man who went down to the bar to sit with his friends and complain about how much he hated me while I sat at home on the phone talking to my friends about how much I hated him, and, though I love y’all, I have often felt like the people I’ve said this to have assumed it was just some sad quirk of my head.

I had coffee today with a woman who grew up in the same town I did. I said that to her and her eyes filled with tears.

“Yes,” she said, “that is how it was.”

Which, I mean, I knew. I knew. But to hear someone else say it…

Is My Superpower Tipsy Note Writing?!

A while ago I was at an event and there was a guy there and I was a little tipsy and I had an idea. So, I wrote him a note telling him to do something and I stuffed it in his hand. Then I went home. Many months past until yesterday.

I had lunch with a person who told me a lovely story about the guy doing the awesome thing I had instructed him to do. And the lunch person thanked me profusely, saying she knew it was because of me.

So, that felt super awesome. But it does make me wonder, should I have all along been leaving notes full of good ideas in people’s hands?

Sometimes You Don’t Know What You Need Until You Get It

I had a couple of good long discussions this weekend and a short, but important discussion, and I am feeling like a human being again. Just sometimes it means the world to hear from other people “That is fucked up and I don’t know what to do or make of it either.”

It’s nice sometimes to know that you’re not overlooking some obvious solution.

I watched Spy again last night and I laughed again. One thing that really struck me is that one of the reasons I find Jason Statham so delightful in it is that he’s being funny. Like somehow him being funny doesn’t negate his handsomeness.

But, and I say this as evidence as kind of my own internalized bullshit, Melissa McCarthy is just objectively stunning. Like, she is really beautiful. But, much like Lucille Ball, since she’s sending out “funny” not “cute” cues, I didn’t notice.

I don’t know. I have a lot of thoughts. It pains me to be honest about them. But it means a lot to me to see Melissa McCarthy out in the world being beautiful, making movies, even comedies, where a lot of people want to fuck her. I’m embarrassed at this age to need that, but I do.

I Should be Writing

I need to be working on my short story, but this week, man, this week. I’ve just come home and hidden and worked on my afghan and been an emotional mess and worked on my afghan some more. I am liking the shit out of it, though. It’s going fairly fast and the motifs have an interesting amount of variety and it makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something and no one hates me for doing it.

Yesterday, I went to the funeral for the father of one of my friends. It was sad and lovely. The funeral was in Sue Allen’s old house, which I found myself thinking about before the service and I wonder if she would have found that fitting–that her house became a funeral parlor.

I also thought a lot about the importance of ceremony in times like this, when you’re so flooded with emotion–knowing what to do, where to go, what to say, because you do and go and say the same things every time this happens–I think it’s part of what makes it possible to get through these things.

I hope, anyway, because I love these people.

Anyway, here’s to hoping that the weather breaks and that Fall is kinder to us than Spring and Summer have been.

Up to Stuff

This week, I’ve had coffee, I’ve had lunch, I’ve been to the Adventure Science Center and pointed at planets, I’ve had pizza and today I will celebrate Burrito Thursday, the greatest holiday of my people, with a friend.

There’s a song. For Burrito Thursday.

It goes:

Burrito Thursday. Burrito Thursday.

It is the best day.

Burrito Thursday.

Don’t any of you be stealing my awesome song.

Share your thoughts on cockapusses below (I swear, this is just about to stop being funny to me, but not today.)

Three Funerals

Last night, I arranged to go to Jim’s funeral with a couple of friends. This morning, I found myself at Jim’s funeral, but I realized, I hadn’t come with those friends and I didn’t actually know how I’d gotten to the church. I had the thought that I should pinch myself and see if I was dreaming and I pinched myself and I didn’t feel anything, so I knew that I was dreaming, but I couldn’t wake out of it.

Then, I was at the funeral with my friends and this was right so, for a long time, I accepted that it was real. But I thought, again, that I should touch my arm and make sure I could feel it, but, of course, I couldn’t. Dreaming again.

Finally, I was at Jim’s funeral, next to my friends. Everyone was crying and laughing as the occasion called for. I touched my arm. It was real.

I’ve never had dreams that vivid before. I would not have guessed the first one was a dream had my friends been there. I would not have guessed the second was a dream if the first hadn’t happened.

I think I had to subconsciously steel myself to go. I had to practice it in my head a few times so that I could make it through okay.

Anyway, I love you guys. Always know that.

Fannish Boy

I have a rough draft of my time-traveling Metallica story. It still needs some tweaking, but it makes me happy. It ended up not being so much about the band, but about fans of the band and what we want from artists with long careers and such.

I was telling the Redheaded Boy about it and I realized, though he’s younger than the fans in my story, he is exactly the kind of person I was writing about. He knew every iteration of the band. He has opinions on when and how they’re doing their best work. He is vague acquaintances of Dave Mustaine and told me Mustaine has the presence of an old lion.

I think I’m going to need to read this story to the Redheaded Kid to make sure I have the fannish stuff right. And I am, I find, a little nervous about that.

Jim

Jim Ridley, my editor at the Scene, died yesterday. I am devastated. He was only 50. I was blogging at the Scene shortly before he became editor and…god damn… I will write a post tomorrow. I’ve known his wife and worked with her for a million years. They have young kids.

WTF?

Everything you read about Jim was true. He literally was the nicest, most patient person, almost unnaturally so. He felt big feelings. He was open to enjoyment.

He left everyone who knew him better off for knowing him. That’s an amazing legacy. Everybody has someone who thinks they’re a son-of-a-bitch, but I never heard of such a person who thought that of Jim.

It’s just stupid. The idea that there should be a guy like this in the world in the first place and then that he should die so young.

I hate that stupid “Who’s going to fill their shoes?” song, but it’s been running through my head ever since he went in the hospital because, really, who is?

And that’s the other sad truth. Nobody. Guys like Jim are unique. They make a certain splash in a certain way and when they’re gone, that splash is gone. Someone might come up at some point and make another splash but Jim’s will still be missing. The world will feel a little diminished because of that from here on out.

And that sucks.

Jim

The editor of the Scene is in the hospital. He’s been unconscious for a week. I feel very helpless. I wish there were something to do to fix him. Like, we all pitch in and build a house or paint a room or… you know. Something.

I saw him just the week before. The weather was lovely. I was on my way to a meeting in East Nashville. I’d stopped to get an ice cream cone at McDonald’s and I was crossing the Demonbreun Street bridge. He was walking toward me, out taking a stroll in the beautiful weather. I honked and waved. He smiled and waved back.

It was nice. It felt small-town-ish in a way that’s still possible in Nashville.

Jim is not that old. He has young children. It seems really unfair. Fairness, of course, being a concept like “deserves,” that assumes a kind of justice in the Universe that, in truth, doesn’t seem to exist.

Time is so short. We are so fragile. We’re all very ordinary and yet, irreplaceable.

The Curse of Jacob Tracy

I’m reading it and enjoying the hell out of it. I’m also having fun trying to decide if I should recommend it to nm–“It’s about a guy in St. Louis back in the 1880s who can see ghosts and battle demons!” or if she would hate it.

But I’m side-eyeing St. Martin’s, the publisher, because they did this book a little wrong with its layout–very cramped margins, almost uncomfortably long lines, chapters not page-broken, but just run inline. I know how fast I read and I know I should be on page 210 or so and I’m on page 174.

It’s a good story, but this is the first book in a long time I’ve read where I thought, “You know, this might be easier to read on a Kindle.”

Too Much of a Good Thing

Yesterday, we went to a four-year-old’s birthday party. It was rough. I mean, of course, it was awesome, but she had a bit of a melt-down after the presents, and that was rough.

But it was interesting to see how it worked, because I doubt we as adults are much different. There is some top end to joy. There’s only so much and then the needle is buried. Worse, when good things keep happening, because there’s no more room for happiness, you start to teeter over into “what the hell is happening?!”

There’s a little bit of terror in getting everything you want.

I hadn’t really realized that before. I got the terror in getting what you want and finding out it’s not what you needed. Or finding out that it doesn’t lead to happiness or all the things you might guess.

But what I saw yesterday is that getting what you want is like swinging out over an abyss. It’s awesome when you’re sure you’re going to swing back to solid ground, but it starts to get a little scary when you don’t hit the far arc of the feeling when you expect to.

Bars Upon Thars

Chris Crofton’s advice column hit me right in the gut today. I think this is the part that got me hardest:

When I drank, I felt good. The days I didn’t drink, I felt really low. I decided that I would drink every day. I only allowed myself to drink at night, so during daylight hours I felt awful. All I wanted to do was sleep — and I did. During college I started sleeping until 4 or 5 p.m. I went to see the school psychologist. That was the first time I was advised to quit drinking — the first of hundreds of times to come. I couldn’t imagine quitting. What would I do? Who would I hang out with? Also, I wanted to be an artist. Artists drink, right?

I guess everyone knows someone who only feels good when he drinks. But there’s something about seeing it spelled out.

I’m not opposed to drinking–obviously. I like it. It’s fun. But, man, sometimes you see someone you care about with a beer before noon and you wonder if the temperance people weren’t on to something*.

—-

*Please note that I think prohibitions of most sorts are terrible ideas and ruin lives. But I also know that addiction is terrible and ruins lives. And I have sympathy for the wrong-headed idea of “just making it illegal.”