Wednesday was a lot better for me than it was for many people in this country. Still, for me, it was awful. Worse still, there may be more awful days ahead. And they may be more awful because of who this president-elect is and what he does to people over whom he has power. But even if President Trump is just a Republican like a big chunk of the 89% of self-described Republicans who voted for him, if he softens his evil to merely the Islamophobia of Scott Walker, the sexism of Rick Perry, and the contempt for the poor of Paul Ryan, then it’s important that we remember what he was before that. He’s the fucker who made me and many people I care about feel what we felt Wednesday November 9th, 2016. Read More
You see, I travel—often, and preferably, alone—because traveling makes me feel small and when I feel small I learn big lessons. Not every trip reshapes who I am as a person or how I see myself. Sometimes it is a gentle nudge in the ribs, a reminder about this or that. Be decent. Be slow to anger. Talk to strangers. Other times, it shakes me.
Somewhere in Belgrade, maybe it began in Sarajevo, I was shaken. At first a sneaking vibration, until I felt it, and then once I felt it, it grew stronger until it cracked my foundations. In short hindsight, I wrote to a friend:
“I think if I boiled the trip down to a single lesson…I’d say it’s just to live life with purpose in whatever it is you’re doing. The rest will take care of itself.” Read More
I was born in March of 1987. Since then, terrorists have killed 17,294 men, women, and children in attacks around the world. At this rate, I can expect about 600 deaths every year until I’m dead. If I live to 79, the normal life expectancy for a man in this country, just under 30,000 more will lose their lives to fanatics: 47,220 men, women, and children.
The magnitude and horror of these losses are hidden—mercifully—in the cold nature of numbers. But these numbers are more than a divisible part of a larger statistic. They were (and will be) mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. They believed (and will believe) in Gods—many of them by default and some more than others. They had (and will have) that night where they looked up at the sky from their place on a planet floating in a galaxy of gas and rock and they felt alive. And they were (and will be) killed when they least expect it, at a market or a festival, at a restaurant or a concert, in some inventively cruel way. Read More
A podcast about stand-up comedy taught me more about spirituality and being than 18 years of Catholic instruction. I am about to tell you that it changed my life. This will sound preposterous. It will warrant the same eye-rolling reaction as being told, “This diet will change your life.” Or, “This book will change your life.” And it should. Because it probably won’t. In fact, it will almost certainly be a disappointment. Profound words to some often sound like a string of banal platitudes to others. That’s the way these things go. But seriously: You should listen to Pete Holmes’ podcast, You Made It Weird, because it changed my life.
Holmes originally intended to give his audience an inside-baseball look into the lives of comics like himself, but gradually, the show became more of a vehicle for exploring his understanding of relationships, religion, and the mysteries of life—particularly in the wake of losing both his marriage and his traditional faith in the years leading up to the podcast’s launch. Commensurate with the transition, Holmes began expanding his roster of interviewees to include musicians, artists, scientists, and other Deep Thinkers. As was astutely observed by T.J. Miller about 35 minutes into his third appearance on YMIW: “People like this podcast because it’s actually a podcast about philosophy.” Read More
I’m on a train, heading back to New York City. It’s a Sunday around dinner time. A man, maybe seventy, seventy-five, walked into the café car sometime shortly after we pulled out of Union Station. At first, I didn’t notice him. Just another traveler looking for another seat. He finally sat across the aisle from me. We’re surrounded by seven or eight people now, many of whom are drinking beer or half bottles of wine. (How tragic to drink a half bottle of wine by yourself on a train on a Sunday.)
I’m facing south, my back to the north, and our train rushes toward New York City. The water, trees, and towns are flying by me while the grey sky looms ominously over all of it. Before we had escaped too far out of the District I pulled myself out of my seat and wandered to find a bathroom. The bathroom in the café car had a little sign on it, five by five or so, navy blue with a yellow border around the outside, letting me know that it was out of service. So like a man who had just returned to shore after being at sea for ages, I ambled toward the next car and the next bathroom as the train tested my balance. I hurried as best I could. I was concerned leaving my bag unattended. But I had done it anyway, putting a grocery bag with my black dress shoes on top of it out of hopes that a potential thief would not notice the thousands of dollars of electronics nestled in a three hundred dollar bag. Read More
It is a very dreary, very rainy Sunday in New Orleans.
Another way to say that is this: It has rained for the past twelve hours, and I live in a bowl.
The weather and my hangover are debilitating; I have slept away the morning, napped most of the afternoon. I wake up violently into my gray bedroom. I am filled with the anxiety of a day wasted, the anxiety of a mind that has been allowed to idle—to drift in and out of consciousness—too long.
I attempt to reign in this mind that is supposedly my own, to occupy it with a series of menial household chores. I consult the list written on the notepad resting on the desk (sitting in the room rented above the restaurant selling noodles to the people surrounded by the Gulf feeding into the ocean covering the sphere drifting through the infinity).
Another way to say that is this: I start the laundry, do the dishes, and lay out my clothes for work on Monday. Read More