A Few Good Things

It’s already hot enough to make me irritable, and the general election is so far away in a truly awful election cycle, so let’s kick off June with a little positivity! Here then are some things for which I’m grateful.

My partner loves and understands me. Wendi knows I really enjoy some odd things, like sitting out in the cold rain to watch horror movies with like-minded friends. She may well judge me for that, but if so she keeps it to herself and is outwardly supportive of my trips. She also just nursed me through recovery from oral surgery, during which she watched some truly awful movies with me. If that ain’t love, I don’t know what is.

My friend Tim did not turn out to be a serial killer. Seriously, I can’t explain why I agreed to go on a road trip to Evanston in the middle of winter with a guy I barely knew. For some reason my paranoia filters weren’t on, and the myriad ways this could end badly didn’t register until after I’d committed to the trip. To my delight and total surprise, I survived the weekend and enjoyed it enough to go 8 more times. I even wound up meeting those like-minded friends I mentioned above. So thanks for not killing me, Tim! My world grew because you dragged me to B-Fest.

For some reason I’m employed. I dreamed of being an impoverished writer. That’s the deal, right? Unless you were born into money you scraped pennies together for years until suddenly you became wildly successful. Instead, after getting married it became evident that we both needed to pull in good money in order to afford luxuries like food and pants. At first I resented the time spent not suffering, but honestly my writing didn’t get very good until my 40s. That’s a long time to starve for art. Also, money buys movies, comics, and video games.

The Cats Don’t Always Poop on the Floor. Sometimes they’re even useful. Just this morning I found Bacall and Bogart sitting innocently in the bathtub with the shower curtain in a heap beside them. Something under the curtain moved, and Bogart couldn’t stand to feign ignorance anymore. He started swatting at the mouse they’d cornered. So while they make messes and scratch up the furniture, at least our cats keep the rodents under control.

And now it’s time to put in a bad movie, so I’ll just leave it there.


Choose the Dream In Which You Live

I sat in the waiting room of the dentists’ office, my eyes closed against the commotion from the other patients. Jolly holiday music wafted over me from speakers I never bothered to find. My eyes opened in response to the sound of the office door. Before me I could see CNN on the TV. The tech called a different patient. I read the closed caption on CNN’s coverage of a Newtown fireman talking about receiving 26 wreaths at the station house. Somewhere Bing Crosby dreamed of a White Christmas.

It was a little after 3:00 PM on Monday, December 17. I realized that three worlds mixed uncomfortably around me.

The first world came in over the speakers. It was a happy world, where people went on sleigh rides and gave each other presents. There was snow and romance, and the biggest troubles could be handled by taking them to Santa Claus.

The second world was the silent horror of the television. Unrelenting fear and misery, projecting over us — always questioning our safety.

In between lay the third world. This was where we sat. It wasn’t eternally cheery. It wasn’t constant anguish. It had a bit of each, but only rarely. Mostly it was a lot of anticipation of one or the other. We could focus on the good fantasy or the bad fantasy and live to see them realized.

They never would be real, though. Not really. You could live that way and be always disappointed or distraught, but they still wouldn’t be real. Better, you can live for the moments in between. Learn to enjoy every sandwich. It’s easier to bear the bad times, if you don’t count only the very best times as good.

Then the door opened for me, and I went back to get a filling in a wisdom tooth.