This Morning

This morning, I’m thinking about Game of Thrones.

Image result for game of thrones

I haven’t watched it.

YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT, I HAVEN’T WATCHED IT. YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT IT? COME SAY THAT TO MY FACE,WHY DON’T YOU?

Okay, that’s probably angrier than the situation warrants. But I know there are people who reacted to this with that level of shock that approaches anger, when the raised  voice of surprise turns into a shout, a roar, of outrage. (Or at least there are people who would. I think all of my readers are calm, contemplative, rational types. But then, maybe those aren’t the descriptors for the average Game of Thrones fan.)

I have been surprised to see the response that this show has gotten, especially these last three weeks as the final season has slouched towards Bethlehem to be born, so to speak. And honestly, it has made me regret not watching the show; I mean, this is high fantasy, this is my kind of stuff: this is the thing that I should have been on board with right from the start, and I should be reveling in this rare moment when fantasy captures center stage, when the imaginations of millions are fired up, all at once, by swords and sorcery. It’s a beautiful thing. I wish I was part of it.

I’m not.

I blame George R. R. Martin.

That’s the problem, you see. Because I didn’t need to watch the first few seasons of this show: I read the books. I started reading The Song of Ice and Fire in 2003, when the third book had just come out in paperback. One of my favorite students from my first school — great guy, smart and funny as hell, the son of one of my fellow English teachers; he was repeating a class in summer school that he had had no business failing over the regular school  year, but it worked out for me, because he had no problem doing anything I asked, and also made the class fun for everyone in it, made the discussions better, told fun stories, asked good questions, everything you want from a student — he recommended the books to me, and I took him up on it. And I was hooked: those are outstanding books, with a level of action and raw blood-curdling savagery that you don’t normally see in high fantasy, which tends much more towards Tolkien and his magical floating elves and roly-poly hobbits. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but can you imagine a sex scene in Tolkien? I really, really hope your answer was no.) I burned right straight through the first three books in the series, and gushed about them with Danny, the guy who got me to read them. I excitedly told him that the fourth book was slated to come out soon. And he warned me: Martin doesn’t make deadlines. The third book had apparently been delayed two or three times before being published, so I shouldn’t expect the fourth book to come out as scheduled.

Danny was right. The fourth book was delayed, and then delayed again; it was finally released in — I think it was 2005? (Wikipedia confirms.) I remember buying it in Portland, at Powell’s City of Books, because we moved to Oregon in 2004. But I bought it, in hardback, and read it excitedly, too; and it was great — but it was incomplete.

If you don’t know, the series goes  through probably twenty different point of view characters, switching between them every chapter. Some of the story lines are wildly separated; part of the interest was in seeing how Martin was going to draw all these threads together into a single web. It was fascinating. But the fourth book, A Feast for Crows, was only half of the storylines. What gives? I thought, angrily, because several of my favorite characters hadn’t made an appearance at all (And I already got burned on this in The Wheel of Time, when a wall collapsed on Mat at the end of one book AND THEN HE WASN’T MENTIONED EVEN ONCE IN THE NEXT BOOK. If you’ve read the series, then you know my pain; if you haven’t, don’t worry about it.) and I wanted to know what was going to happen to them. But at the end of the book, there was an author’s note: Mr. Martin said, “I know, this is only half the story. But don’t worry! It was only because there was too much to put in one volume, so we split it into two books, both covering the same time span, but with different main characters. That other book is almost done; it’ll be out any day now.”

That’s what he said, in essence.

He lied.

It took SIX YEARS.

2011 was when that book, Book Five, was published.

Know when Book Six was published?

Yeah: we all want to  know that. Because it hasn’t been.

A Song of Ice and Fire was projected as a seven-book series. The book that was “almost done” took six years to finish, and the next book is going on eight years. The last book? Well: George R. R. Martin is 70 years old now. And not in the best of health.

Like I said, I got burned by The Wheel of Time. That was my favorite series: and though Robert Jordan, the brilliant author, was in no way at fault for this, he died before he could finish the series; he was diagnosed with a rare blood disease that killed him at just 59. I don’t mean to put too much weight on a set of fantasy books, but those books are a great gift, and it is a terrible loss that Mr. Jordan wasn’t given the time to finish them.

George R. R. Martin has had the time. He just hasn’t done it.

And in the meantime, he started making this TV show.

I’m bitter about it. Unreasonably so, I fully admit. I’m actually extremely glad that Game of Thrones has been so hugely successful; it’s nothing but a bright moment for fantasy, and something that can only help the genre, and would-be fantasy authors like me. I’m grateful to Mr. Martin for penning the series, and for getting it on TV, and for helping to make it so good that it has become a cultural phenomenon.

I’ll watch the show eventually. I’m curious, my wife is curious; I want to see it. I need to get over this grudge against Martin. I realize that. And the show isn’t only his, and I have nothing against the other excellent people who have done, it seems, an amazing job of storytelling.

But no matter how good it is, no matter how well the show has done, and no matter how unfair it is of me to berate an author for not writing fast enough (and worse, hypocritical, because my first novel was published in 2009, and was the first in a trilogy — but I haven’t written the second book yet), I still can’t help but be bitter about Martin taking so goddamn long, and letting himself get distracted by television when he should be first dedicated to writing the books, and finishing the story for his first fans, his readers.

Know why?

Because Danny’s never going to get to read the end of the series.

Danny died of leukemia. He never even got to read Book Five.

It’s stupid to put these things together like this; Danny’s loss would have been tragic any time, and there are a million things he never got to do, and reading these books was not the top of that list, not the saddest nor the most important. But I talked to him, near the end, on the phone, and you know what we talked about? Books. Fantasy books. So yeah, I put them together. And I blame George R. R. Martin for not writing those books fast enough for my friend to get to read them all. And I blame the show for being the final distraction that now likely means the book series will never be finished. And I don’t give a shit if none of this is reasonable.

I hope you all enjoy the show, I really do. And I’ll watch them eventually.

But right now, I’m not watching Game of Thrones.

This Morning

This morning I’m thinking about being sick.

I have a cold. Came down with it Friday, and spent my weekend not feeling very well. Fortunately it’s not severe enough to really limit me: I still walked my dogs, ran errands, looked for new rental houses, read books, and even graded a half-dozen rough drafts. But the whole time, doing all of those things, I felt pretty crappy. Friday at work was the worst: I could barely get myself to teach anything at all, some periods, and others I was more cranky than teacher-y. (I can’t even think of a better word than teacher-y. More pissy than pedagogical, how’s that?) Now it’s time to go back to work, and I still feel under the weather.

It’s an interesting phrase, isn’t it? Under the weather? Aren’t we always under the weather? I assume it’s supposed to mean directly under the weather, meaning out in the storm without a roof to keep off the rain or walls to block the wind; that would be pretty miserable, all right, which seems apropos.

Regardless, though, I do not feel like working. The fact that I was sick this weekend already put me behind, both in my grading — I got a half-dozen rough drafts done, but I should have finished all of them, and maybe done the other class’s essays, too — and in my relaxing, because while I did nap several times a day, I never felt a whole lot better. At least, I don’t feel a whole lot recovered now.

This is one of the problems with teaching, too. We get more sick days than most professionals, I think — that is, other than the ones who are simply trusted to make up their own minds about when they can and cannot come in to work, and they are considered responsible adults who can get their work done even if they don’t actually show up every day, you know, like professionals — but we can’t just call in sick: we need to arrange for a substitute. This school the administration actually gets the sub, which is an improvement over my last school, where the teachers did it themselves: yet another example of something teachers are all too willing to take on themselves because we want to help, and because we want every petty shred of control, including, apparently, the ability to select who we give control to when we can’t have it ourselves. But in any case, I have to plan lessons for my classes. It’s both easy and hard for me: because I can always give them something to read  — but nobody can run my class the way that I can. Other people could surely run a discussion, but you have to really know the literature to run it the way I do, and subs would not, of course. So every day I’m out is basically wasted, because it can only be something extra, never the thing the class would be doing if I were there. My students realize this, of course, and so they are not as dedicated or as involved as they would be with me there. That’s not to say they’re all that dedicated or involved regardless; they are teenagers and it is almost May.

That’s the worst thing. It’s almost May. My school starts its year ungodly early — August 1, usually — which is a hideous ordeal in August; but it means we finish school in May, before Memorial Day. I only have three weeks left before finals. My students, as you may expect, are done already; the only thing keeping them going is my will to keep dragging them behind me. That and a certain amount of fear of bad grades. (But the smarter ones realize that as the semester nears the end, grade inertia sets in: because new assignments are just added to the pile, and so no specific assignment will change the overall grade very much. When the total points in the class is, say, 100, then a 50 point assignment means everything; but three months later, when the total points are 5000, 50 points is kinda nothing. Shhh — don’t tell the rest of them.) So the point is, the temptation for me, not feeling well, cranky, and behind on my grading anyway, to just throw up my hands and say, “That’s it, we’re done: somebody put on YouTube and get out the Uno deck,” grows daily. And my students would like nothing more.

But I can’t complain too much. Because my wife — God, my poor wife — has all of these same problems: only worse. She got sick too: with the flu. Knocked her down for three full days two weeks ago. And then, because the flu made her cough nonstop the whole time, it gave her laryngitis: she basically coughed her voice out. She went back to work last week barely able to whisper. Spent the whole week coughing and wheezing and suffering. And now it’s pollen season, and her allergies are kicking in: so she feels almost as miserable now as when she had the flu.

On top of that, when this school year ends, she’s done. She’s quitting, to go back to doing art full time (and not a minute too soon). So think of how eager she is for these three weeks to pass. And when it comes to subs, she not only can’t get a sub who can do what she does, because no sub understands drawing and painting like she does, but also her students don’t really care about her class, because they see it as some elective they have to get through to graduate and nothing more, a problem only exacerbated by our school’s focus on STEM. There are exceptions, of course, but most of her students are pretty indifferent to art. So they’re even less likely to work for a sub, or for my wife; and they are that much harder to drag behind her towards the finish line.

And by the way: where do you think we both caught these diseases? That’s right, from the little germ factories that surround us every day. It’s like being in the trenches while they’re chucking biological weapons in at us. For three more weeks. Three long, tiring, sickly weeks. I expect they’ll be three of the longest weeks in my wife’s life.

That’s what really makes me sick. That I can’t make these last three weeks go faster for her.

If any of you could do something about that, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.

This Morning, This Week

This morning, I get to listen to music again.

This is the end of my first experiment in week-long fasting; for the past week, I have not intentionally listened to music in the background. I did play music in class (Tool’s “Die Eier von Satan,” because that was this week– and it was wonderful, as always), and I watched videos that had music and went into stores that had music. A few times my wife turned the radio on in the car —  once yesterday specifically when I said that I was looking forward to listening to music again, because that’s what  you do for the people you love, you skirt the rules (or just straight break them) in order to make your people happy — but since she is not as attached to music in the car as I am, and she has a lower tolerance for mediocre overplayed pop on the radio than I do (Also a lower tolerance for heavy metal first thing in the morning, and though I can listen to good grungy metal any time, I do have to wonder: who seriously wants to wake up to Korn? Really? Discord and screaming is how you want to start your day?), she is more willing to have the radio off while we drive around, so it has been mostly quiet on the road this week.

I’d love to say that it was a revelation. But I suppose maybe I’m past the age of shocking bursts of self-knowledge; I know myself pretty well at this point. I’ve gone without music before, of course, most simply when my music player was broken or when the batteries died right when I got out the door and down the block. So while it was a longer time without music, and more frequent moments during the day when I had to think about playing music and tell myself not to, there weren’t  any new experiences.

I did have more thinking time while I was walking my dogs, and I think that was probably positive. I think my walks may become more meditative, more present, less about distracting myself. It’s probably better that way, anyway: I’ll pay more attention to my dogs and what they’re doing, so my big doofus of a Boxer  won’t go sniffing after a GODDAMN RATTLESNAKE like she did today. (99% chance it was dead, because it didn’t react to her. But I didn’t realize what she was sniffing at until she’d already gotten within what would have been striking range if the thing felt like striking, and it was a big fucking snake. So now I think I need to be better about keeping this glorious idiot out of the bushes.) But the other times when I usually listen to music: when I first get to work, while driving, and for the hour or so that I have my birb out of his cage in the evenings, going without music just made the time quieter and more melancholy. I think it has made my mood a little bit worse for this past week, and I don’t really see any benefits.

However: I did go for the whole week without breaking my fast. I’m pleased with that. A week was long enough to give me a pretty good sense of what the thing I was going without meant to me, what part it played in my daily routine. I didn’t learn about myself so much, but I did solidify my opinion about one of my unconscious habits; so now I think it will become — has become — more of a conscious habit, and I like that a lot.

Therefore, I’m going to keep doing this.

This week I will be giving up video games. Again, they’re not a large part of my day, but I play a round of Candy Crush pretty regularly, during breakfast, while I have the birb out; and I play Solitaire on my phone and have gone through various farming/sim type games over the years, several of which have taken up time in idle moments, and sometimes they have crept into other moments, and have tempted me away from things I should be doing so that I can accomplish a goal or win an achievement. I just played a round of Candy Crush, wasted ten minutes, won nothing, felt frustrated. So I want to see if the loss of the frustration is worth the loss of the entertainment and the rush of victory — tiny victories, but victories easily won, so generally positive for my mood but negative for my time management.

At least I can listen to music again.

This Morning

This morning — and now, this afternoon — I am sick. Not terribly, just enough so I am uncomfortable and determined to rest so I do not get worse. I have nothing to say that isn’t cranky, unhealthy bitchery. I’m torn between wanting to feel better, and wanting to stay vaguely ill so I don’t have to do anything other than be vaguely ill. It’s a handy excuse for doing nothing productive: not even feeling content.

I suspect that a fair amount of our conflict in life comes from the fact that contentment takes effort.

This Morning

This morning I am thinking about paradoxes.

(I have to ignore the absurdity of this in the hopes of finding some profundity beneath. Because absurdity is deadly serious business.)

The more I teach, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I teach.

We all know the chestnut about the beginning of wisdom being the acknowledgement that we know nothing; I think that’s true, but not the end of it, because I don’t think humility is the end of wisdom. The desire to observe and consider, rather than jump to conclusions, is wisdom, but not, I think, the only wisdom. Along with that, though, is this: the smarter one is, the more one does not know; because one measure of intelligence is potential, and the more potential one has, the more capacity — meaning the more empty space in the mind can be filled up with knowledge.

I knew I was in love when I wanted nothing from her, but I wanted everything of her. When I wanted to be everything for her.

Suffering pain makes us stronger; suffering through another’s pain makes us softer. And you must be strong to be soft.

Learning hurts. And hurting makes us learn. (Not always, in either case. But not never.)

It is life that kills us, and death that makes us live. Endlessness is the end of all.

 

Here are a few more: I want this post to be thought-provoking, but it’s not; it’s glib and silly. I didn’t spend time thinking about these and exploring the underlying contradictions, I thought of clever ways to say them. Because I couldn’t think of anything to write about, while at the same time I have a dozen things I could write about: and all those ideas I could be writing about gang up and block the exits, so no other ideas can get out. This is what actually causes writer’s block: it’s not that you run out of ideas, it’s that you have too many ideas you need to write about but don’t want to, because they’re  boring or repetitive or challenging for you, for some reason.

It’s not just writing, either. I want to get better at teaching, and I want to stop teaching entirely. I want to read all the time, yet I want to do mindless things. I want to be mad at myself for it, but I don’t want to be mad at myself. I want to be motivated, but I don’t want to work.

It’s okay, because I’m young: but I’m not. I’m middle-aged at best, and probably likely past that. So it’s not okay that I want to waste my time, MY time, doing things that I myself don’t think are important or valuable.

And it all comes back to the same place, doesn’t it? There are truths that I don’t want to face. When I teach paradox, I tell my students that most paradoxes are resolvable; they are only paradoxes taken from a specific point of view. But if you change your perspective, the paradox is not actually a contradiction. One classic example: to have peace, you must prepare for war. This is only a paradox if you think of “peace” as the total absence of even violent potential; but clearly such a state doesn’t exist. If we mean “peace” to be a lack of a certain scale of conflict, then we’ve had peace in this country for a long time. (That’s not to say we are at peace; I would generally argue  that this country is a war-mongering nation and has never been at peace. But the point is about the contradiction, which is only paradoxical with an exaggerated standard for “peace.”) The truth is that at least the potential for war, and also the fact of some violence at least on the scale of police work or violent self-defense, are necessary because of the nature of humanity, which does not allow for perfect “peace.”

It’s only a paradox because we don’t want to face the truth.

The truth is that I fear these blogs are pointless and glib, because I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what to say, nor a lot of time writing them carefully. I don’t always write them in the morning, sometimes it’s the night before, but rarely do I think about them much before sitting down to the keyboard. The kindest comparison (Dunno if it’s apt) is that they’re like jazz improvisations.

Huh. I just thought of that. Maybe that is a good way to see these. Also, they may be practice scales, attempts just to put words down, to express thoughts, so that I can stay in shape doing just that, preparing for the more serious performances — my fiction.

Actually, I like that a lot. That also allows me to be perfectly happy when nobody or very few people read these posts; practice scales aren’t meant to be heard. Maybe these don’t need to be read. But I still want to write them. I still want to publish them, in case anyone does  want to read them and could gain anything from them, and because the pressure of deadline and audience keeps me on my toes, keeps me sharp. Well. Sharp-ish.

The truth is also that I have opinions that I think people won’t like, and so I haven’t written about them. I haven’t thought clearly and methodically about them, largely for the same reason. Those are the ones that seem to be crowding my brain, while I look for excuses that are a good bar to hold them back. But they’re only excuses. If I’m going to trust my own opinions, then I should make them trustworthy: work through those opinions and come to a definite conclusion; I can do that here or on my own, and then present the conclusions in some kind of valuable way. Either method would be useful, but one of them needs to happen. I need to be willing to put forward the idea that is occupying me.

How the hell can my own mind hold so many nooks and crannies and secret rooms and traps and dead-ends and mazes and hidden monsters? What the hell are we? Are we miracles? Are we gods? Demons? Is it just me? How do other people put up with their brains being so goddamned weird?

I think that’s all for today. I’ll try in the future not to let the brambles grow up around my feet and hands.

This Morning

This morning I am thinking of a strange question. It is: how right do I have to be?

My thinking of it now comes from an ill-advised dip back into a particular cesspit of an argument from my past. I didn’t win the argument, because I threw up my hands and walked away. I think I did the right thing for my sanity, but I’ve never been happy with failing to win the argument. I want to be entirely right. I am still somewhat haunted by the idea that I may not be right at all, because if I’m not right in an argument that I feel strongly about, but can’t muster the intellectual chops to actually win on the battleground, as it were — what does that mean for my other ideas that seem right, that feel right? Does it mean that nothing I think is right, at least not right enough to win an argument over it?

Does that matter?

Hence my question. How right do I have to be?

Let me give an example, and see if I can illustrate the conundrum here. I have found myself, as a high school teacher of English and therefore of persuasive essays, rhetoric, and argumentation, discussing the legalization of drugs in the U.S. time and time again over the last twenty years. It  is always a topic that comes  up, and now that I’m doing argument with three of my classes, it has come up again.

My opinion on the issue is complex, and not worth hashing out again now; I’ve written about it too many times. (Here’s one. And here’s another. Second one has a better soundtrack.) For this example, all I want to say is this: I waver on whether or not it would be a good idea to legalize all of the drugs. I see arguments for both sides. I don’t know which side has the better points, the truer final argument; I’m not sure which to choose. That’s why my opinion is complex, and why I keep coming back to it, never fully comfortable with my decisions about what policy to support, not sure how to come to a final conclusion.

The question is, should I keep doing this? Should I keep coming back and thinking about it again and again? On some level that is valuable, as it keeps making me revisit my own past opinions and decisions, and I think the changed perspective through time gives good insight. I also think it’s valuable not to get too dogmatic about things — though I confess I enjoy appearing dogmatic, and I often act as if I have not a scintilla of doubt in my mind about various opinions; but mostly that’s for show. There are few things that I’m 100% sure about — mostly it’s that my wife is the best wife in the whole world, education is entirely good  as a concept, if not as an institution, and reading is the greatest thing in the world, except maybe for the satisfaction of basic needs like food and sleep and hugs.

So it may not be bad that I can’t come to a final determination. On the other hand, if there is a 100% right answer and I can know it, then that is the thing I should be working towards and supporting and arguing for, right? Shouldn’t I do the right thing? If I can know the right thing, then I can do the right thing; and that means I should figure out how to know the right thing and go from there. Because  if I’m not doing the right thing, then I’m doing or on some level participating in the wrong thing, and I don’t want that.

How much do I have to know to know the right thing? Beyond a reasonable doubt? 110% entirely completely sure, with evidence and logic to back me up? If it’s the second one, then I have to be very careful about what arguments I take up, as settling them with absolute clarity and certainty would take a crap-ton of time and effort, and I can’t do that with every argument; so I need to be selective.

How do I know which arguments are worth taking up and finding out the definite answer to? Is there a 100% true answer as to which arguments I should be arguing? Is that what I should spend my time on  first, deciding what to know?

If it doesn’t have to be 100% certainty before I can know the right thing, then what else do I use as the basis of my decisions? They feel right? They seem right, based on my upbringing and my culture and my morality? Why would I assume those things are right, especially in the face of obvious arguments to the contrary, things about this culture that strongly imply that this culture is wrong? I am and have been wrong countless times; why would I ever trust my gut on anything of import?

But if I don’t trust my gut, who or what do I trust?

This comes up in my writing, too. I have to decide what the right story is to tell. Writers’ advice tells me to tell the story I feel I have to tell, and satisfy my own inner critic first; but what if I have several stories I feel I have to tell? Which one comes first? And what if my inner critic is an idiot? How can I know?

Do I actually need to trace out the entire epistemology and philosophical basis for all knowledge, so I can be sure of my knowledge,  so I can be sure of my decisions? How long will that take? How many aspects of life will it apply to — and how many will I lose because I’m focusing on this one endeavor, seeking purity of knowledge and purpose? And if  I go out and read all the books that underpin Western reason, how sure can I be that those authors followed the same rigorous standard for confidence in their ideas? What if they went with their guts, rather than establishing a sound logical basis for everything they say?

Does that mean they were wrong?

Does that mean I can’t actually trace perfect knowledge and understanding and thus make a 100% perfect decision?

Yeah, I don’t think I can do that last one, either. So if there can’t be a 100% perfect decision, is there at least a sound basis, a bedrock to build knowledge on? Or is it just turtles all the way down?

Image result for turtles all the way down

Image taken from here. And it’s for sale, and you can vote for it.

So that’s the question, then: how right do I have to be before I make a decision about what side to choose, who to support, how to argue? How right is right enough? How aware is aware enough? And is it even so bad to be wrong, or to change my mind?

I don’t know this answer. I’m genuinely not sure I should know — but regardless, I want to.

I suppose I can only start  by asking the question.

If anyone has an answer, I’d surely like to hear it. And if I have confused you entirely, I apologize; I feel the same way, believe me.

And I don’t know what to do about it.

This Morning

This morning I am thinking about my midlife crisis.

I think I’ll skip it.

I am,with luck, just about midlife now. I’m 44, my grandparents lived to be 87 and 88  –the two that lived past their 60s. And I’m aware that time is passing, and the door is closing on certain opportunities: I’m not as hot as I once was, and I won’t be hot at all before too much more time passes; soon I won’t be capable of picking up women in bars.

Which is too bad, because I was never capable of picking up women in bars. I mean, I never tried it, because I met my wife before I could legally go to bars; but up until that point, I was staggeringly bad at picking up women, so I have to assume that the application of alcohol would not have improved my game. Fortunately, I have literally zero interest in picking up women anywhere, with alcohol or not; my wife is the finest and most wonderful woman who ever existed, to me, so I already won this game: I can retire undisputed champion, right now.

Speaking of champions and retirement, I’m not as physically fit as I once was: I’m now in the age where I heal slower, where exercise offers less positive result, and what there is comes slower. I grunt when I stand up, and often when I sit down. I have aches and pains that don’t go away — I have had more than one bout with plantar fasciitis, which sounds like a villain from the original Star Trek series. Soon I won’t be able to do all those physical things I meant to do: master a martial art (and KICK SOMEONE’S ASS), climb a mountain, learn to surf, to ski, to skydive.

Oh wait, that’s right: I never meant to do those things. Never wanted to skydive, nor ski; and I’m afraid of drowning and of sharks, so I think surfing is right out. I would like to climb a mountain, but really, I’m most interested in the kind you can walk up: and I can still walk. I admit I kinda do want to kick someone’s ass. Maybe I can look into martial arts lessons.

The main thing is, I don’t want to feel old. I don’t want to feel like my life is over, or the good part is over, or I’m running out of time to do young things. Maybe I should buy a sports car, get a body part pierced; maybe I should go to some all-day rock festival with all of my students.

Wait a second: I don’t want to hang out with my students. I don’t want to be like my students. I don’t envy them; I don’t miss being a teenager; I hated being a teenager. I hated being in high school, hated being condescended to and instructed as to what my life would be and what it should be and what I needed to do in order to get there. I hated having people tell me that what I wanted  to do was right or wrong, when it wouldn’t have bothered anyone to just let me do what I want. (For the most part. There were a couple of things I genuinely shouldn’t have done, shouldn’t have been allowed to do, things which did indeed hurt other people. But other than those, and there weren’t many of them, I could have been given free rein and nothing would have gone wrong.) I much prefer being an adult.

Hell, I prefer being middle-aged. And I don’t want to do anything new, don’t want to catch up on the experiences I missed out on; certainly not with any urgency. I mean, I’d love to have a nice car — though I’d prefer some enormous boat of a car, a Cadillac or a Lincoln or one of those 1950’s five-ton Detroit rolling steel behemoths, rather than a sports car; I hate going fast, but I kinda like the idea of taking up the entire road, the entire parking lot — but I don’t see anything wrong with getting that car when I’m 80. I’d rather have it now, I guess, but I don’t need to hurry. I do want to travel the world, and I’d like to experiment with some different careers; but again, I don’t need to do that before some arbitrary deadline when I imagine time runs out. I’d like to do it soon, I can wait, and whatever I don’t get to, oh well.

You know what I really want? I want the second half of my life  to be as good as the first half has been. I’ve been quite lucky, and I’ve done pretty well, and I’d like to have more of the same. I expect the last fifteen or twenty years to mostly suck, but the first fifteen or twenty mostly sucked  too, so it’s a wash. But even if I don’t get that wish, here’s the truth: I’ve had a good life. Not a perfect life, but nobody has that. For not perfect, I’m  quite happy with what I’ve had. So even if every subsequent year is less pleasant from here on out, I’ve already had a good run.

No crisis for me, thank you. I’ll just take more life.