So what have you done lately?

Picked up Run Rabbit Run by John Updike. THis book shows up on the must-read lists with regularity and I thought I should give it a try.

This is my second try. The first try I choked on the main character. His disaffection reminded me of Catcher in the Rye, whose main character I find repulsive.

But, it is highly recommended and I needed a new book. So. Take two.

I was telling Chris about the book. “I am still not sure I am going to like it, but the prose is beautiful.”

“What’s it about?”

“well, the main character is mourning the fact that his best days are behind him. He was a basketball star in high school,” I tell him.

“That’s a well-worn theme.”

I am not so sure it is, not in books anyway. I think it comes up a lot in movies, but I don’t think it does in books.

It is certainly not common in Victorian literature. Austen and Dickens were very forward-looking.  And Shakespeare was a man of the moment, not much nostalgia in his works.

The Great Gatsby was not about the past.

It would seem that this back-of-the-hand-to-the-forehead thing started with the Baby Boomer generation.

The generation that went to fight world war 2, they did not have that tradition of mourning their best days behind them.

However. However.

It is a serious thing to contemplate. What is it, to come to the conclusion that your best work is behind you, never to be realized again.

Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this for TED.

She wrote a super best-seller book. And has this question after “Aren’t you afraid that you are never going to be able to top that?”

What if the world runs out of opportunities for greatness?

Rabbit, in this book, says it in a conversation. His pastor asks him:

What makes you think you are different?

“You think there is no answer to that, but I have one. I once did something exceptional. I was a first rate ball player. Once you’ve been first rate at something, it takes the kick out of being second rate”

What a problem! is doing something exceptional the same sort of thing as the curse of winning the lottery? Nobody is happier after winning the lottery.

Is achieving greatness something to protect yourself against?

There is a characteristic to the boomer generation that they are aware of their co-horts. They are a group, a feel their size and the eyes upon them.

So, Rabbit did something not merely exceptional, but popularly applauded. So did Elizabeth Gilbert when she wrote her best-seller.

I am not actually that impressed with Gilbert’s book. I don’t think it is a beautifully written book. But people bought a lot of copies.

Being popular is a particular kind of exceptionalism. But it is not the only measure of excellence. In fact, it may very well be a poor measure of excellence.

As I think about what I’ve done and what I plan to do with my life, I know that what I am most proud of is not what is best recieved.

I have to use my internal measure. What did I do today that I consider excellent work? If I am satisfied with and pleased with what I have done, then my life is good. If my satisfaction was tied to other people’s reaction, then I would be in great danger of never achieving it.

How do I know if I am doing a good job? I have to be the judge of that.

And if I don’t know how to improve my craft, and do better work over time then I would have to be worried.

I may have gotten a standing ovation last week, or years ago. But if I can sit down and bang out an essay, a blogpost or a piano piece alone in my home that I know is better than anything I’ve ever done, I’m getting better.

I like ovations. But they are not required

what can I do now that I could not do at 25?

So if I have gotten better in the interim years, and not merely saggier, what is it I have gained?

What can I do?

I am a mother, so I can lose an entire night’s sleep and count it as an ordinary thing.

I can write a book. I didn’t have the wherewithal to do that at 25.

I can fully recognize the bad and still embrace the good in the people around me.

I can persevere. I wasn’t sure of that when i was 25. I hadn’t had to persevere very long.

I understand people better now than I did then. I understand them in a broader, human nature kind of way.

I better understand the nature of the emergency.

I am better able to fix it, but a lot less sure that it is fixable

Imagine: Failing Big

So lehrer says you have to be willing to fail to make the big leaps.

I am ready to make some big leaps. But I don’t relish failure.

However, I am willng to risk failure for this to happen.

Onward and upward, my friends

I will not let it be

as is usual for me, when I contemplate an important life moment, I think way ahead.

I’m turning 40 on my next birthday. It’s 6 months away. But I’m thinking about it.

I am in my prime. What am I doing about it?

I look around to see what others have accomplished by this time, to gauge where i should be and what i should look for.

It would seem that many people are willing..willing, not necessarily content…to remain in a holding pattern.

Almost everyone can imagine something better. But most people do not strive to attain it, and very few people indeed strive and succeed.

They find a job, a habit, a set of circumstances and stay there.

I gained 30..well,maybe 40 pounds when I was 20 years old and haven’t really lost it. I have tried for decades


to get out of the holding pattern. At least I lost some of the weight. So i’ve been 25-35 pounds overweight for the last 20 years.

WHAT THE HELL! is this how my life is going to be? half-hearted incomplete attempts?

That is not what I want. And weight is the easy metaphor, the inadequate metaphor. I have to break through and do things that a 25 year old can’t do.

What would that be? I have some ideas. And they are hard to implement.

But I am not willing to let this be enough. I am not willing to let it be.

no place for self-pity

I have been battling with self-pity this weekend–this week really. See, I have REALLY GOOD REASONS to feel put upon.

I have been put upon. Isn’t that  good reason to feel frustrated and sorry for myself?

except upon further reflection, I realize

there are never good reasons to feel sorry for myself.

What purpose does it serve? Is it a pain that indicates a needed change in behavior? Then okay, change the behavior. It is only an indicator.

And if the change takes time to implement, the throb should be endured with courage and fortitude, not



Because it is an action. I don’t need to be afraid. Afraid is for cowards

Cowards feel very sorry for themselves. I dont want to have something in common with cowardice.

No, it is hard. It is a struggle. But self-pity never did nobody any good.  And it is not something I should indulge in


That is not the point. THe point is always, what am I going to do about it?

Because I lived this before

But the present me, the one living in the event which had already taken place, became distracted by the memory of the present.

I used that sentence above to describe the feeling of Deja vu. But I think there is another kind of deja vu.

I find myself doing what I have done, what I have done repeatedly over years and years, responding in destructive ways to the circumstances around me.

The present me, living in the event with has already taken place, goes into the choreograph of dysfunction.

I have said this same yes, accepted the same false accusation, taken the unfair burden many many times before and when this carousel comes round again, I see it and do it again like a a sleepwalker.

But I can choose. I don’t have to vu my deja again. I can be smarter than I have been.


fear saps passion

having a fight between my fear and my passion. the kryptonite, the fear, has the passion all twisted up and in pain.

I remember superman, staggering around like he has a migraine headache, with the kryptonite nearby.

But he always overcame.

Coffee with Joan

“iced coffee, huh? i guess I could see how you wouldn’t want a hot cup.

Oh, Joan..I don’t know how you did it. How did you go to the head of the crowd and lead them? You knew they had the coals at home that would burn you.

Did you now that it was gonna happen? Or did you just not think about it.

when they came with the pitchforks, rosaries and torches, did you tie back your hair quickly, because you knew they were coming? it was inevitable?

Or did you look in the eyes of the soldiers who were ready to die for you the week before, and know they were going to kill you now?


betrayal is part of the human condition. i guess it shouldn’t surprise us anymore.

devil on my shoulder

There is a devil on my shoulder this week. He’s leaning in to whisper in my ear:

You know that thing you care so much about? You’re the only one.

You are so proud of this thing you’ve done. No one else notices.

You don’t matter.

Most people pity you.

That outfit you think you look so cute in? It makes you look enormous, and it is totally dated.

You’re ordinary, and probably have to jump to tap mediocre.

You think you can try, but you won’t succeed.

Not that it matters if you do, because it will be a big clap of nothing when it happens. Which it won’t.


I know this devil. I hate him. But it’s hard to get him to shut up. Fear, self-loathing, despair and hopelessnes are his contributions. I could live very well if I never had any of those things.

I am trying to remember the things that I am doing that prove him wrong. The things I have done that prove him wrong.

Many times I know without reaching that my friends and family love me and value me.  A lot of times I am fearlessly passionate about my interests.

This week the devil is loud.

But this week won’t last forever.

falling backwards

please please please let it be an illusion

It feels like everything that is most important to me is slipping away the harder I try for it.

I was so excited on friday..I had lost 10 pounds on my diet.

Today, I weigh in and 5 pounds are gained. I DID NOT OVER EAT!

and that is just symbolic. there are about 3 thousand things that are not happening the way they should. I want to scream with the pettiness and frustration.

I want to exchange my whole hand of cards. there is nothing

Man…there is nothing to do at a time like this.

it’s six in the morning on a monday. I used to like mondays.

I guess the only thing to do is eat my cereal, make some coffee and hit the road.

Because even when every other thing stops working, i still have to work