Tag Archives: existence

You exist!

Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result–eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly–in you. —Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything

That same, shockingly, goes for all of these people:

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It’s hard to exist.

I’m struggling with existence again. As usual. It’s so lame. And it’s also the least lame thing ever.

An old friend texted me a few minutes ago saying, “I hear you’re some kind of comedian now.” And I texted back, “I’m not sure what I am. What are you these days?”


I was riding the subway on Monday, and I was eating a turkey sandwich. The turkey sandwich part isn’t so important, except that the train was crowded and I was dropping lettuce on myself and I felt sort of bad, but not that bad because the woman sitting next to me was eating an apple.

In an attempt to avoid eye contact with any Q Train passengers who might be watching me eat, I started studying advertisements. One in particular caught my eye. For a few reasons:

1. It was for a book and I like those.

2. The concept for the book turns the author into a whore.

3. I’ve long thought about writing a book just like this. Well, sort of like this:

“Publisher’s Weekly” ascribes this book to the “stunt-blog memoir genre”. There is a gimmicky feel to this genre, but it can be done really well! I don’t care if Oprah plugged it, I really enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. Shit was inspiring. I also enjoyed Danny Wallace’s book Yes Man that inspired the Jim Carrey movie I didn’t see.

But as far as stunt-blog memoirs go, this has gotta be one of the most stunt-bloggy of them all. Maybe I’m just upset I didn’t think of doing it myself. I mean, how can you really go wrong when the backbone of your stunt-blog memoir has these kinds of stats:

IF OPRAH WERE… A NATION her 51.4 million weekly viewers and magazine readers would equal more than the population of Canada (33 million), Spain (40.3 million) or Argentina (39.9 million).

IF OPRAH WERE… A PILE OF GOLD she’d be equal to 24,000 14-karat gold bars.

cnnmoney.com reported in January that Oprah ranked second only to Google as the biggest brand newsmaker of 2006. Behind Ms. Winfrey were Amazon, eBay and iPod.

IF OPRAH WERE… A NATIONAL ECONOMY what she’d pump into the U.S. economy would be slightly more than the GDP of the Bahamas. See more here.


The only thing left to do now, now that I’ve accepted I’ll probably never figure out the big existential questions, is figure out what to spend 365 days of my life doing that I can convince a publishing house will make a memoir and make them money.

Actually, my old friend texted back to tell me what she is these days, and it sounds like the perfect title for a stunt-blog memoir: Nomadic Barista.

It’s nice to exist.

I was driving around in the rain earlier.  I had just left my friend’s house.  A friend who lives five minutes from my house.  It would’ve made the most sense to go home–temperatures were just above freezing.  The roads had been sanded, but really it was the fog that was the main hassle. 

But I didn’t feel like going.

It was nothing dramatic.  It was just that it was a little after one in the morning and I felt like singing.  The car with the radio was the place to be, not the house with the sleeping family.

Driving around the town where I grew up.  Feeling introspective.  Up roads my school bus used to rumble each morning.  Down streets where things happened to me–things that shaped me. 

Just before I left my friend’s house, the friend who has been my friend longer than anyone, I said to her, “It’s weird to start this new year.  So much has changed.  Is changing.”  This past year was one of struggles and then realizations, and this coming one…I sense it needs to be one of action.  Which is exciting, but it’s also a lot of responsibility.  Part of me just wants to be lazy, but probably that’s the part of me that’s afraid. 

Anyway.  All I really am getting at here in all this sentimentality is that Keith Urban is an existential genius.  I was listening to the country radio station.  I was driving past the softball fields and then past the entrance to my elementary school.  And the station was airing an interview with him.  The interviewer was talking about how Urban moved to Nashville seventeen years ago.  And how that sounds like so long ago, considering that Urban’s only been really big on the scene for the past eight years or so. 

Then the interviewer asked him if it felt like it’d been that long.  Urban said, “Yes.  It does.”  And they were talking about how time goes fast, and that as we get older time seems to go even faster.  And this is when Keith Urban blew my mind.  He said that when we’re 10-years-old, one year is one tenth of our lives–and that’s a lot.  Then, when we’re 20-years-old, one year is half that, and at 30 years, even less of our lives.  So it stands to reason that years feel faster.  “It’s relative,” he said.

And that was when they stopped playing the clip from the interview.  It was as though the interviewer had gotten more than he’d bargained for–he was looking for the regular fluff and had ended up with kinda sorta intelligent stuff. 

So, yeah.  Time.  I intend to make the most of it this coming year as we all float through it.  I’ll love; I’ll laugh; I’ll cry.  I’ll stay true to myself.  I’ll take action.  I’ll drive through the rain singing along to the country radio.

But for now I’ll go to sleep.

The Smallness of Our Blips and the Largeness of Today’s Election

Apparently the Queens Library is pretty slow about delivering materials to one branch requested from another branch, so instead of taking out the book I’ve been waiting to arrive for a good 7-10 days, I took out a book called Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang. Intriguing, right? I’m not sure what caught my eye about it while walking through the stacks, but there’s a plug from Stephen Hawking on the front cover AND upon looking at the back flap you find photos of the authors who are two of the cutest bespectacled men this side of the Big Dipper. I even showed Kathleen their pictures, but she wasn’t as impressed as I was. A few minutes later I was still ridiculously excited, going on and on about this book and she said, “I can’t begin to deal with you right now.”

Books like this are great because they tell you things you kind of already had an idea about, but you hardly ever stop to think about. Like this:

The Milky Way’s cosmic neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, lies 2.9 million light-years from the Earth; the light received from its stars today was emitted before the earliest humans roamed the Earth.

I just read that, say, 20 minutes ago on the train. It made me go, “Woah,” and I looked up at the guy across the aisle from me with huge awestruck eyes who looked back at me like, “I can’t begin to deal with you right now.” So then I looked up at the train ceiling trying to imagine just how far the universe would extend past where I was sitting, trying to fathom just how small of a blip of my existence really is. I’ve never understood why people aren’t more preoccupied with stuff like this. I mean, I know people turn to religion to answer silly questions like…where the hell are we right now and what the hell are we doing here…but still. Even during Sunday School when I was, like, nine years old it occurred to me to ask my teacher how God could have just always existed.

Anyway, enough about light-years and bespectacled men for now. The polls open in a few hours!! Maybe people aren’t stopping to contemplate time and space like me, but they’re definitely stopping to contemplate politics. The people across from me on the train were talking about baby daddys, baby mamas, and Barack’s grandmother. The woman with the 7 month old daughter whose baby daddy is doing time (1-3 years), said, “Maybe it’s a sign how she died right before the election and all.” And the man with the 16 year old daughter whose baby mama remarried, said, “I hope not.”

Seemed like the man took the woman to mean her death would have to be a bad sign, but I don’t think so. My grandmother died a couple weeks ago. She was in my dream last night, watching me while I read a passage from the New Testament at the funeral of my former bus driver who in real life is actually a crossing guard who wears a wig. I was completely fumbling over my words, but regardless, she was watching peacefully from the back row.

I wear a scarf she knitted years and years ago. Her photo is on my newly installed Ikea shelf. I keep thinking about how she told my cousin she never remarried because, “There are a lot of crumbs out there.” Guess what I’m trying to say is, death is sad, paralyzingly sad sometimes, but I don’t think it can ever be a bad sign. People are created, people travel through space for a short amount of time, and then who knows what happens? We leave this dimension? We cease to exist? We burn in hell for all eternity? I dunno. But I’m voting in a few hours and I’m infinitely glad I exist at this time and this place to be able to do it.