It's a mixtape/random quotation/regain perspective kind of day.

When I find myself likely to wallow in a sad or disturbing or otherwise unpleasant situation over which I have limited control, I try (not always successfully) to pull myself together in one of two ways: either by engaging in a sort of Schadenfreude fest in which I allow myself to make positive (from my perspective) comparisons between my own current pickle and the significantly brinier pickles of others; or by reminding myself that even if the current unpleasantness were to end in the most horrid way possible (which, God and the boy and my own moody Cancerian self willing, it won't), it would not spell the end of my world (despite initial appearances).

A river in a time of dryness/a harbor in the tempest

So I walk down Market this morning, iced Peet's in hand, and think, first, you must give sad and sorry thanks (always, always) for the fact that this street is not your home (an extreme view, but a useful and humbling reminder). Then I think, whatever you might lose now, you will always have that drunken night of donut soccer with Dave and Otis; those quiet moments of holding baby Ev, just up from her nap, in Mom and Dad's living room, and for a while it's just the two of you, her exceedingly pleasant weight in your arms; you and Sarah in laughing tears as you model her new underwear over your jeans; wandering around Nashville with Eric and Erfert, Tenneesse whiskey on the brain; lying on the grass with Dave and Jimmy at Kelt and Kristina's wedding and just looking up, forever up, and out, and beyond.

Is it so wrong/to think there's more?

Some Buddhist scholar (I'm blanking on the specifics) wrote an article in Yoga Journal last year in which he noted that it's folly to believe that you're either the cause of or the solution to all of the problems you face in life. It's a folly, I admit, to which I often subscribe. When I stumble, I spend what may be a phenomenal amount of time wondering what I could've done to prevent that stumble (even in those cases when the answer is clearly, 'Not much') and scrambling to right myself (and whoever else I might've taken down with me as I fell). But I think the lesson I'm missing in all of this is not, Why did I stumble? or How can I get up again? but How can I get myself on surer footing in the future? Because in this linear world, in which there isn't the chance for do-overs, isn't that the only thing truly worth learning?

You'll cry/believe me/come back

My head is full of words: imaginary conversations, apologies, strings of poetry, too many songs. But they can only take me so far. I can only plaintively quote Marge Piercy ('There is a turn in things/that makes the heart catch./We are ripening, all the hard/green grasping, the stony will/swelling into sweetness, the acid/and sugar in balance...') or Springsteen ('I'm no hero/that's understood') or Li-Young Lee ('Song, wisdom, sadness, joy:sweetness/equals three of any of these gravities') before everything becomes a blur, and I risk excess, and should just rest, allow some silence in, remember that it's either life or freedom from briars.

Whatever happens, whatever, we say, and hold hard, and let go, and go on.


Relative measure

From a Times article on the publishing world's lack of interest in an Andersen juror's tale:

'Reconstructing the ruminations of the Andersen jury and exploring their ramifications is "not the worst idea I ever heard," Jonathan Karp, an executive editor at Random House, said meditatively. "I think the worst idea was the Bible diet, where you ate all of the foods mentioned in the Bible. That was the worst. Although for all I know that became a best seller."'

Small wonder

I think the Wonder Twins may have been sort of Super Hero Lite fare, aimed more at those of us who were not yet ready to identify with the Twins' more impressive brethren, or who were perhaps content to strive to be--someday, somehow--the sort of kids who could dress all in purple, sport magical rings, and transform themselves into endlessly useful permutations of water and animals.

My support for the cartoon WT does not, however, mean that I'll willingly go see the live action movie based on same when it comes out. Because, really, have we not yet learned to stop filching after-school or Saturday morning cartoons for movie ideas? (I suppose if the lesson is that movies based on cartoons may be dumb beyond words but are also painfully lucrative, it has been learned, and repeatedly taken to the bank, and we won't stop being inundated with such movies anytime soon.) Surely there must be better material for kid-appropriate movies out there. Can't we allow the Wonder Twins (and the Flintstones, and Scooby Doo) to remain in the animated realm, thereby saving their good names from the sullying affects of live action and computer animation?


Dear Metropolitan Diary

I've not yet read the Metropolitan Diary in today's Times, but I think I have a pretty good idea of what it might include:

  • story about an elderly woman on a bus with (choose at least one) a large bag of groceries, a small dog, or an inappropriately warm coat
  • story about elevator shenanigans in some co-op or other
  • story about how, despite everyone's expectations, a New Yorker did right by one of his brethren, thereby exploding the myth that all New Yorkers are self-involved and ungiving

(Mind, I fully acknowledge the fact that the San Francisco version of the Diary would include endless variations on Muni whinging, tales of dot-com failures, and tourists in shorts in the middle of July. I'm not dissing the Diary.)

It's this last part I thought of last night when the middle seat in the row in front of me was taken, at the next-to-last minute, by a young woman who came barrelling down the aisle with a large suitcase, glared at us as she said, 'Well, SOMEONE has taken my seat' (when, in fact, she was looking at the wrong row), and finally plopped herself down after handing the bag to a flight attendant and almost hissing, 'That had BETTER be gate-checked.' She then put her tray table down to finish the cup of ice cream she'd brought on board and, after she'd finished it, thrust it in the direction of the passing flight attendant and said, 'Will you take care of this?'

In a nutshell, she made me want to smack her. I don't often have that desire. And while this is surely completely unfair and stereotypical and what-have-you, she also seemed to me the perfect example of the sort of insensitive, self-involved, purely selfish New Yorker who gives the rest of the city and its populace a bad name. Alas, on the plane, unlike in the Diary, there was no sudden change of heart, no turn for the good. She started the flight as a bitch and ended it the same way.

And, sure, no doubt she's nothing like the corrupt, Tonga-swindling businessman, but there still seems to me no reason to be so unpleasant. What's the benefit? Who wins out in the end?

I didn't dare ask and risk actually having to speak to her. Instead, I just waited in the aisle while she bustled out and down the jetway and into the maze of SFO with her gate-checked luggage and her self-righteous air.