When my friend Eugene became a father, the thing he wasn’t ready for was the worry. He knew it would be there. That wasn’t the surprise. What got him was its insistence, volume, and variety. It was like a dormant virus or a sleeper cell triggered by Evie’s birth.
Safety, sure, of course. That one he expected. He hadn’t anticipated the fear that she might not find meaningful work or kind friends. That her ethics or aesthetics might be ludicrous. That he might fail her.
The worry was a din, like living near a highway or train tracks. A leaf blower. A jet ski. Over her 18 years of life, the din has remained a thing to accommodate rather than ignore.
I sympathized with parents and caregivers. It was only a few months ago, as my mother confronted age and its accomplices, that I added caregiver to my identity.
Earlier this month, Beth fell and hurt her knee. No weight on it for six weeks. A bit over a week later, she slipped on her crutches and fractured her wrist. A hospital stay. Surgery.
Our identities are different now, in some ways temporary, in other ways permanent. I know a different kind of worry. Not about her. About myself. I always believed she would be fine. She was strong and independent. She is still strong. And the leaf blower of worry is everywhere. What if I fall? What if I get sick? What that would mean. It is a convoy on Route 75, a throbbing din.
Welcome to December 2022’s Disappearing Moment, an inventory of my experiences. I hope you enjoy it.
- Bone Valley(I Loved It): We need exoneration stories to hold prosecutors accountable. John Aguero (from Bone Valley), Doug Evans, and Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann are embarrassments.
- Operation Morning Light (I Liked It): I know far too little about the indigenous peoples of Canada and Alaska. Or how the cold war and other geopolitical havoc has affected them.
- Sold a Story (Worth My Time): Emily Hanford uses the moral panic playbook to attack cueing in early literacy instruction. If podcasts could kill….
- The Superhero Complex (I Loved It): Like The Tick, only not funny, or Watchmen with smaller stakes. A good introduction to Real Life Superheroes.
One of my goals for 2023 is to use Signal more. It is very good software. Unfortunately, it is necessary, too.
The 10 oz., porcelain mugs in Ikea’s Värdera setting get new names without changing much else. Their shape and handle fit my hand.
Personal Finance and Investing
For messy taxes, I’ve found that good CPAs’ services justify their fees. If your budget is tight, many public libraries have superb volunteer tax preparers.
Michael Schur, How to Be Perfect (2022) (A Personal Favorite): Schur created The Good Place and co-created Parks and Recreation. He also created my favorite audiobook, with help from the cast of The Good Place.
53 Things I Believe
I turned 53 earlier this month. One of the ways I’m marking the occasion is by listing 53 things I believe.
Lists like this one are vain and unreadable. Much like this newsletter. Given that Disappearing Moment is already an exercise in mansplaining....
If there’s any saving grace, it’s that I realize these beliefs apply to me. They’re not meant as advice. And I miss the mark more than I hit it. These ideas are aspirational, a list drawn from imagination, not accomplishment.
- Fewer laws and rules, described in simple language. Remove two for each one you add. Enforce them equally. If it doesn’t exist, don’t enforce it.
- Never comment on anyone’s name or aspects of their appearance they can’t change.
- Apologize every time. Properly. At least once.
- Do they want your advice or opinion? Are you sure?
- Do they want you to hug them? Or shake their hand? Are you sure?
- Yamas and niyamas.
- Never try to talk anyone into dancing or other ways of performing.
- Don’t play two notes when one will do.
- It’s more important to support living artists than dead ones.
- Don’t listen to songs that were recorded by anyone over 40.
- Save the time of the reader.
- Capitalize, serial commas, etc. It’s about accessibility.
- Take notes. Whatever system works for you is fine, as long as you can find them later.
- Avoid clutter, especially visual clutter.
- Stories are better when the narrator is the fool, not the hero.
- Journalism is a wonder, the news is an abomination
- Avoid the news. Vote. Donate time and money.
- Google doesn’t care about you. Facebook hates you.
- Don’t trust anyone with a personal brand. Or anyone who says they’re an entrepreneur.
- Question everything that requires advertising.
- If you don’t understand something, you’re at the mercy of people who do.
- Put time into finding people you trust for important services: physicians, plumbers, therapists, electricians, dentists, mechanic, etc.
- Maintaining friendships is time consuming, frightening, disappointing, and worth it.
- Feeling like I’m never spending as much time as I want with the people I love is a privilege. I’m fortunate that there’s never enough of me to go around. (Christa Werle)
- Avoid people you don’t respect, even if people you love disagree.
- You can learn a lot from people who aren’t as smart as you are. Or whom you wish had a different editor.
- It’s more important to be kind than right.
- If you haven’t changed your mind about something important in the last year, it’s time to start worrying.
- There is a conversation in the room that only these people at this moment can have. Find it.
- How can you resolve the conflict?
- Being right is the easy part. It’s more important to care for relationships.
- Critiques are a gift. Be grateful.
- Useful praise.
- Etiquette is free and egalitarian.
- Science. Falsifiability. Quantification. Open peer review.
- Feminism, anti-racism, accessibility.
- Health care is a right.
- No cages. Not for humans, not for anyone.
- It’s better to fix the structure than the individuals in it.
- Most nostalgic statements about how people used to be and aren’t anymore have things backwards.
- Use one calendar. For everything. Make lists. For everything else.
- I make my bed every day. I floss every day.
- Do as much as you can before 9 a.m. (Beth Filla)
- Exercise! Safely!
- Protein! From plants!
- That sounds hard.
- Speak slowly and clearly and at the appropriate volume.
- Self-consciousness is a form of ego (Sharon Gannon and David Life)
- Don’t ask for more than you can steward.
- The people who most need affection are the least able to give it.
- If you’re arguing and it’s late, go to bed angry. Don’t wake up angry. (Beth Filla)
- Always leave a party at its height. (Nancy James)
- Thank you so much for coming. (Marcia Seifert)
Thanks for spending a few moments with me. I look forward to corresponding again next month.