Doing laundry makes me turn out my pockets. Turning out my pockets reveals micro-clutter, the scraps that I don’t take the trouble to shift from pant to pant, the dribs and drabs that I unconsciously accrue.

The stuff that truly drives me nuts.

Here’s one culprit: drinking straw wrappers. I am forever finding these rolled pellets of paper about my person. If I don’t catch them before the wash, they emerge as paper mache’ rabbit turds. Or i find them as I’m out walking around, trying to get change out of my pocket. Why is it that they anger me so? Perhaps because they represent a problem that I never seem to be able to solve. I like cold drinks and I like to drink them through a straw. Straws have wrappers that must be removed. One solution is to tear one end of the wrapper and use the rest as a projectile, blowing it at someone else. But I hate to litter. I still feel responsible for the wrapper. The six-year-old’s solution doesn’t work for me. So I pick it up and roll it tight and then look around for some place to dispose of it. In New York, the problem is compounded by the fact that many garbage cans on the street are open mesh types, meaning that I can’t throw something as small at a rolled wrapper in there, because it would just pass through. It’s at that point, while I wait to find an enclosed receptacle, that I often forget that I still have to deal with the wrapper. When my fingers come across it later, I’m annoyed and dissapointed. It’s like finding out that I forgot to pay my phone bill: a responsibility deferred.

Somehow, when it comes to questions like what am I doing with my life, my sang froid remains intact. But when I ask “what am I going to do with this little strip of paper”, I’m trapped in an emotional vortex.


Around here, they give you a lot of fruit salad for three bucks. And you get to pick what’s in it.

Had breakfast with a friend this morning, someone who I’ve been getting to gradually know over the past couple of years. Like yesterday, when my mom stopped by, there were certain points in the conversation where I was awash in emotion. I have to ask, what am I protecting myself from? I’m engaged in a series of deflecting behaviors, all of which seem to involve some kind of insulating. I’ve been at this place emotionally before. Somehow these conversations have helped me to see that I’ve come there again.


Snow coming on. The year winding down for all us Julian calendar types. People are posting their year end wrap-ups. Most of the time I don’t read them and we know this lil journal is self absorbed enough that I probabaly shouldn’t write one; I’m always chewing over the meaning, for me, of what just happened, to me. But here goes anyway:

When I think about where things are at just now for the country, here’s the image that comes up: we have been sick, sick in body and sick at heart for years now. Those who have believed in the current crop of leaders, have seen the economy turn to quicksand, the moral compromise of many of those leaders, and the elusiveness of the supposed security those leaders promised. For those of us who chafed under the Bush administration, we have endured the unease of seeing Cheney’s termites at work on the constitution, and watched helplessly while the rest of the world came to regard us as either rapacious porn peddlers or half crazed bullies. On either side, impotence and frustration. You can’t walk around with that kind of knowledge year after year and not feel its effect. So this year’s election asked us in effect: you’re sick, what are you prepared to do about it?

Amazingly, America somehow summoned the courage to go with the unknown, experimental treatment. We don’t know if it’s going to work. We haven’t even begun to feel the real effects of the pill we took this November. But one of the immediate benefits was the reaffirmation of the American willingness to strike out in a new direction, something that in itself is powerful in its implications. At a time when so many nations, frozen in their suffering, have been unable to make change or worse have chosen to retreat into more oppressive and centralized states (Russia, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Israel, Iran), America’s choice highlights the underlying strength of our governing principles.

Anyone who has done any sort of recovery work will recognize this feeling: you start going to meetings and you start experiencing the “Pink Cloud”: hey I decided to stop drinking and now all my problems are solved! I can pay my rent! I feel great about everyone, and so on. After a short time comes the inevitable crash: the problems that one was turning away from with addiction are separate from the the addiction itself. And so you have to begin the painful work of facing each of those problems sober. It can feel scary and tempt one to despair to see the full extent of the mess the binge has caused. It’s this queasiness that I feel the country is in now. The full extent of our challenges remain unknown, and as they come into focus it’s tempting to question our choice to face them. And many are bone weary. But the choice was the right one