If I had enough faith, would I just keep doing it regardless?

At times I feel that if I am a person of great faith and serenity I can simply continue what I was doing and everything will fall into place. Because I practice the 12 steps and am deeply connected to a community of faith and recovery I am sometimes in that state of mind where everything will be fine. But also I am in that place where I am not the only person living in this house. If the house crumbles around me and the bills aren’t paid, it doesn’t just affect me.

I do not know exactly what will happen. That is what vexes my spirit: Not knowing the future.

Is that not crazy? Who among us knows the future? Who among us can control what will happen tomorrow? And yet I fret. Why? Because having a salary creates the illusion of a certain future.

The future is an illusion. Still …

I know, when I meditate, and when I am connected to my 12-step community, that certainty in a future is an illusion. I know from my own experience that a tumor can be found in the body and that will mean a new path. A tumor can be found and that will change everything. Or money can fall from the sky. Or an anvil can fall from the sky. Or a piano, as in a cartoon. When writing the column I am deeply in that world. When writing the column I am for a while in the world of meditation. That is what I transmit; I inhabit this world of things as they are.

When a monk inhabits the world of things as they are the monk may do nothing for weeks at a time. In our world, in San Francisco, as a homeowner and a credit card user and a purchaser of PG&E gas and electric and garbage services and a buyer of gasoline and soap and food and clothes, I cannot just sit; I am in relationship with the suppliers of all these things. I am in trade. And as a business person, I am in all kinds of reciprocal agreements and relationships with people. I cannot just be a monk.

So again we are talking about the place of the writer in the world.

Next: The serious writer’s predicament

I’m a Harvard grad who can’t hold a fast-food job

Write for Advice
Cary’s classic column from WEDNESDAY, MAY 6, 2009

I have a history of depression and I’m back at my parents’ — but I have an Ivy League film degree!


Dear Cary,

I am a week shy of my 25th birthday, and I am back living in my parents’ home. I have a degree from Harvard and a year of grad school under my belt, but lifelong depression and social phobia have crippled me such that I can’t capitalize on my achievements. There’s never been a problem getting good grades, but I’ve never been good at setting my own goals and following through with them. Only too late have I realized that one has to get good at something (besides passing tests) to be able to make a living. Everybody just assumed that because I was book-smart, I would be life-smart, and nobody pressured me to plan out what I wanted to do with my life.

I’ve also been so sheltered that I can’t give directions to my own home, nor do I keep track of how much money there is in my bank account. Basically, I haven’t had to learn the ins and outs of daily independent living and it’s driving me insane, because I am 25 AND I HAVE A HARVARD DEGREE!

Since I’ve dropped out of graduate school I’ve made some attempts to get a job, but not wholeheartedly. I was fired from a fast-food job a couple of months ago, which has shot my confidence for getting a higher-paying, higher-status job. I’m scared to death of getting one, because I don’t think I’ll put in the effort to do well. I don’t have to worry about paying the bills (my parents take care of it all) so there’s no external motivation to get serious.

Besides my lack of ambition, I have trouble maintaining relationships. Never dated. Friends come in and out of my life, and I either get bored with them or I get so annoyed that they have ambitions and passions that I feel uncomfortable sticking it out. I have no loyalty to anyone and even my family says that I am duplicitous and hard to read.

I spend most of my days sleeping or surfing the Net, away from people, tuned out from the world. Whenever I try to tune back in, I feel self-conscious due to all that I’ve missed out on. This again makes it hard to connect with others — what the hell can I talk about?

I know I’m smart, but I’m lazy, and am nowhere near to approaching my potential. The separation between my ability and my actions is driving me crazy and has brought on suicidal thoughts.

I wouldn’t mind being isolated or having a low-status job if I were independent (not relying on parents). But “settling” for a “McJob” while under their roof seems to be the very example of slacking off because there’s no pressure to do better, and I feel embarrassed doing that.

I know there’s a way out of this — maybe finding a different set of friends; a mentor; making a plan and not caring what other people think of it — but getting out of bed to do it is the trick. I’ve even thought of running away to California (I studied film) but I don’t know how the hell I’d survive.

Thanks for reading.

Stalled

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Dear Stalled,

Now, I know that mental illness can cripple the smartest among us. But I also know that this can be dealt with in many ways. See a doctor or a therapist. It may be that you are one of those people who has what is called Asperger syndrome. If it’s Asperger, there are ways to manage it. If it’s depression, try cognitive therapy. Try anything. You have somehow been managing this all your life, functioning well enough to excel in high school, acquire a Harvard degree and do a year of graduate school. If you are experiencing a particularly difficult bout of it now, then with the help of a doctor or therapist attack it with fearless vigor. Fight these thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness with the facts: If you can graduate from Harvard, you can fill out an application for employment at Lion’s Gate. And if you need certain things in order to function — order, quiet, exercise, diet, then you have the resources to get those things.

Among those resources is courage. If you have come this far, you obviously have courage. Call upon it now.

And know this: It’s as hard to escape your own privilege as it is to escape your own deprivation. Hell, if you hitchhike to California, they’ll probably put a tracking device on you for insurance purposes. So at the risk of consigning you to the kind of chaos and uncertainty that I lived through in my 20s and early 30s, I say, what are you afraid of?

Unless you lack sufficient whiteness, you can hitchhike to California drenched in blood like a serial killer and some nice young person from Brown will give you a film job.

If you lack whiteness, it’s going to be harder. You’ll have to show your Harvard diploma.

When I set out in my 20s I understood very little but I understood this much: Any educated white person in America is privileged, and no one is going to allow us to starve. We can’t even starve if we want to. People keep inviting us to dinner to talk about Robert Lowell.

We can try to starve ourselves but other white people will force-feed us like foie-gras geese. We can’t escape out whiteness even in Tenderloin hotel rooms.

They send their gardeners looking for us.

We’ll be smoking crack on the third floor and hear Spanish in the lobby. “Is that the voice of my mom’s gardener?”

It’s too much for their delicate constitutions to see their educated white children starving. It breaks their hearts. They must control us. They’re like missionaries.

So don’t worry about it. Your parents would rather pay all your bills and have you live at home and stay in your room than see you miss a meal or direct a grade-B zombie flick. Even if you come out here they’ll send you money.

A note to parents: If you have a 25-year-old college graduate living at home, do that person a favor: Next time he or she leaves the house to “meet up with friends,” gather up all his or her stuff, put it in the car with a $100 bill and have a locksmith change the locks on the house. (Chances are you don’t know how to change a lock yourself, right?)

And if you’re 25 and sitting in the bedroom of your parents’ house, hear this: We need you! The planet is melting down. Get out of your goddamned houses and change the world. There’s work to be done.

If you must fear something, fear dying without living.

Cary Tennis Newsletter Sign Up

Why and how being paid makes a difference

There is an editor’s letter in the current Poets and Writers Magazine in which the editor takes issue with the idea that it makes a difference whether you write for money. He seems to think that there is such a thing as writing for writing’s sake. I know what he means but I wonder.  I wonder if he realizes that the reason he can afford to entertain the notion of not writing for money is because he himself is writing for money. I wonder if he sees this — that writing not for money is a romantic notion.

To me, writing not for money is a privilege and a romantic notion. I don’t mean that one ought not write simply for the joy of it. But at some point, if one is writing for publication, economics becomes a central issue. It is a material issue. Because if your money is not coming from writing then it is either coming from a store of money that has passed on to you or been given to you in some way, which means that you view the world in a certain way, or it is coming from an occupation that drains you of resources that would otherwise be devoted to your writing, and deprives you of the time you need to fully do your job as a writer.

So I think we would all be better served by talking openly about the economic challenges of being a writer, and about the rewards we receive.

I have always tried to make my living as a writer. I tried doing other things and they took too much out of me. That is why I didn’t have children. I could not see how I could do that and still devote every waking hour to writing and reading and getting better at doing this craft.

So now I am at a crossroads. I would love to write the column as I was before. But writing it for a job, like playing for a team, makes a difference. I do not want to shortchange people. I do not want to do second-rate work. If I do it, I want to do it right.

Tomorrow: If I had enough faith, would I just keep doing it regardless?

Things that confuse me

What is public and what is private confuses me. I turn my life into writing. That’s my material. So now in this life I am faced with a situation that is part personal and part political and economic.

As a columnist I felt it was my job to share with you whatever I could of my personal life as long as it did not injure anyone else. So, for instance, things that would embarrass my wife I tried not to say. Of course, some things about me are so strange that it embarrasses my wife a little just to have them in public. Just to have people know that she is not married to Superman is some kind of embarrassment. That she is married to a human being. So I try to be discreet.

At the same time, I am a creature of many weaknesses

I have often felt that when people do business they are not as honest as when they are in private dealings. We try to put on a face. We want people to do business with us so we act like everything is great. That has always bothered me. And yet I understand it.

Being a writer has meant growing up in public.

I do believe that we ought to talk openly about the social and economic forces that affect our private lives. Unless one has an assured private income one must work. If one works as a writer then one’s life is precarious. That is a given. So why should it be a secret that as a writer one is always figuring out how to make it work. One is always hustling. One is always selling something.

This conflicts with the persona of the advice columnist, whose sole interest is in the well-being of the other person, and in entering into the spirit of the situation.

So in considering whether and how to continue writing the Since You Asked column now that there is no longer a salary attached to it (and hasn’t been for over a year) one faces these interesting questions. I like to share this. I feel that I have come to be known by many people out there and that we are in a more or less ongoing dialog.

Tomorrow: Why and how being paid makes a difference

I was duped

 
Write for Advice

Cary’s classic column from TUESDAY, JUL 1, 2003

No one told me how disappointing and boring married life is!


Dear Cary,

I am a 34-year-old woman, married for about 14 months. If I had known how disappointing and boring marriage would be, I would never have done it. What is worse, is that all my married friends and siblings never really talked to me about the reality of married life — they all act as though I should have known. But really, I had no idea, and am bitter about not having a clue; I feel like I was tricked into something. (I had tried to postpone the marriage, and my husband took it so badly, I went ahead with it anyway. A big mistake, I now believe.)

My husband is the kind of guy I was supposed to marry — handsome, funny, ambitious. Loves my mom, and is very considerate to me. In some ways, I shouldn’t complain, except for the fact that I feel I am sleepwalking through my life. The depths of my quiet desperation are amazing to me, and are approximately 14 months old.

When we were dating, we always had fun; he made me feel sexy and attractive. He’s still very kind, but the sex has dropped off considerably. We don’t go out together much because he’s not interested in the things I am. I often go alone to plays or exhibits I want to see. I have tried to involve him, but really, I have married someone who is not my intellectual partner. He’s simply not interested in those things, and I feel as though he was duping me into believing he was. I have spoken to him about my unhappiness and he’s always attributed it to something else — living in a different city from family, not having enough friends, etc. But after developing new hobbies and friendships, I still feel the same dullness about my entire life, stemming from my primary relationship being so mundane. I’ve always been a happy-go-lucky, independent person, so I am bewildered as to the depths of my unhappiness now.

We are all taught that marriage is the natural culmination of all our efforts toward love, and yet, I know of no one who is happily married. I do know some miserable parents of toddlers, and some couples who bicker constantly. Perhaps they are happy. My parents have been married for 40 years, and don’t have sex anymore. I no longer suppose they are happy — just together out of habit by this point.

Perhaps I should mention that I began dating my husband after leaving an exciting but underpaid career for one that I enjoy, and pays better, but lacks the adventure quotient. My husband is very emotionally dependent on me, and would be crushed to learn that I am considering leaving him and starting over somewhere new. We don’t have any children and I feel that I could leave and begin again.

Please don’t tell me to try harder. I’m the one doing all the work to try to bring some stimulation into our relationship. He seems to think that all is well, despite my explanations to the contrary. How much boredom is one supposed to cope with as part of marriage? Am I just having a problem maturing? Is “lack of fun” grounds for a divorce? How do people do this? I had always wanted an extraordinary life. But from here, it is looking very long indeed.

Trapped in the Marriage Donut

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Dear Trapped,

Madam, what you need is a divorce. You made a dumb mistake. It was an honest mistake, but it was dumb. Luckily, this isn’t the Middle Ages — not yet anyway. Get a divorce, and the sooner the better — while it’s still legal.

The divorce should free up some time for you to write the book. And then, after the book becomes a bestseller, you will have all the time you need to visit the museums and eat the lunches. In the book, if you just tell in, say, a couple of hundred pages what you just said to me, in more detail but with the same combination of dizzying naiveté and withering honesty, every married woman in the country will want to read it — aloud to her friends.

Of course marriage is sometimes as you say. But then, so is single life. Those of us who are married and plan to remain so have done it because the alternative is so much more frightening and bizarre — to be out there among all those dangerous, untethered people, randomly ranging on the urban prairie, unleashed from family and institution, neighing and pawing the ground as the sun sets every night: It’s sheer madness to contemplate singlehood. Many of us who are now married tried to remain happily free and single but could not bear that kind of happiness and freedom any longer.

As you say, the world offers so much in the way of books and music and entertainment! There is so much to do! But some of us also need security, comfort, routine, an ally, someone we can trust, someone who when encountered in the morning does not bark like a stranger raised by hyenas, someone whose allegiance is unquestioned, someone who has read some of the same books, someone who can buy toothpaste at Target when we run out, someone who is not an aunt or uncle or visiting graduate student at the nearby polytechnic institute: there are a million reasons to stay married, aside from the sheer madness of love, that is. It is hard to explain sometimes, especially when one is moody and inconsolable and wants to crawl around inside an apartment with all the drapes drawn for three or four days but there is this other person in the house to whom some explanation is owed for the unaccountable blankness of affect … there are times, of course, when the sheer lunacy of the arrangement strikes home with particular force.

Nonetheless, as marriage is a delicious and mad torment, so is life itself.

So get the divorce, free up some time and write the book. Call it, “If I had known how disappointing and boring marriage would be, I would never have done it.” Who could resist a title like that?

Cary Tennis Newsletter Sign Up

What I used to do

I used to write a column five days a week for a salary from Salon. In this column I practiced a particular kind of literary art whose purpose was to affirm the dignity of individual suffering. This required a particular kind of writing, one that could sustain and encompass an individual’s dramatic situation. That dramatic situation included both personality and social forces. My aim was to acknowledge the totality of forces bearing on a situation — the individual’s personality as well as the choices available in the world. And then to produce something that was pleasing: sometimes pretty, sometimes kind, sometimes funny,  sometimes beautiful. Sometimes  crazy.

This was constant: I was always swinging for the fences. Swinging for the fences was my mantra. I knew I was lucky to be doing this and that it couldn’t possibly last forever and so never once did I succumb to cynicism. At times I was tired or distracted or simply wrong. But I was never glib. I never took it for granted. This meant working every day four to six hours writing. That is a relatively long time to spend writing. If you are doing that, that is pretty much all you are doing. This had consequences which we’ll get to.

I knew that this job was a rare opportunity to do a kind of writing that very few people do, and that as long as I had the job it was best for me to give it everything I had. In doing this job I created a body of work. It is literary work. And because I was being paid to do this work, I never cut corners. I dedicated myself to this.

Tomorrow: Some things that confuse me

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More fun with bullet points

  • What is it about bullet points?

  • I thought I should write everything in bullet points because
    • I was worried about Internet attention spans
    • Also just having fun
  • Then I decided bullet points were stupid because
    • they debase language
    • they are very very boring
    • they don’t tell a story
    • they are just a summary
    • a summary is like an obituary
    • sitting in a corporate meeting is like going to a funeral
    • we’re watching something die when we’re using bullet points
    • doesn’t the term “bullet” clue you in?
  • So … are you doing the column or not?
    • I want to do it but there are considerations:
      • Can I afford to work on it four to six hours a day?
      • Can I dedicate my life to it like I used to?
      • If I can’t give it everything I have, is it still right to do it?
      • Is there a danger it will slowly decline?
      • Didn’t Seinfeld do the right thing by quitting at the top?
      • What about my other literary interests?
        • Short Fiction
        • The Novel
        • Poetry
        • Literary reviews
        • Spoken Word
        • Performance
  • Publish something every day even if it’s not done?
    • What is “done”?
    • Is “done” an antiquated construct?
  • Where is the boundary between literary product and conversation?
  • Hard to tell, right?
  • Yep. hard to tell.
  • Maybe we’re in a new world
  • Duh, dude! Where have you been?
  • I was on the Internet
  • Yeah, but at Salon
  • What’s that supposed to mean?
  • Are you kidding? Salon was always behind because it was started by journalists, not by engineers.
  • That sounds like some kind of heresy.
  • It’s the friggin’ truth, dude.
  • So is this still bullet points?
  • There’s bullets, aren’t there?
  • Yes but this seems like it’s getting discursive or narrative-like.
  • No, this is dialog.
  • Sorry.
    • Hey. It looks like there are two bullet points there
    • That symbolizes dialog.
    • Sure. Right.
    • Just kidding
    • Who are you anyway?
    • You mean who am I talking to?
  • Yeah.
    • Yourself?
      • Maybe. You sound different from me though.
        • Yeah. I am different from you. I am your smarter faster quicker less bullshit-laden self.
          • If you’re different from me, though, who am I?
  • You’re Older You. Or Older Me. I forget which
  • Oh.
  • Is that all you can say? “Oh.”?
  • No it just sounded kind of harsh.
  • Like I said: Duh.
  • Meaning?
  • Meaning get with the program, slow old dude me.
  • Are we still doing bullet points?
  • No. Now we’re having a dialog.
  • How old are you anyway?
    • I’m 27.
    • Oh. I’m 61.
    • Wow. You’re old, dude.
    • Hey. Easy.
  • I’m your 27-year-old self. The self that would have studied coding instead of literature if you were my age now.
  • You think?
  • Absolutely. You were looking for the new world. This is it. This world we’re creating.
  • You’re creating.
  • We’re creating.
  • But I’m 61.
  • Like I said, I’m your 27-year-old self come back to haunt you and let you know what’s going on.
  • Oh, thanks. Should I forget the bullet points now?

    Yeah. Afraid so. Just follow me. Do what I do.
    OK.

Have to stop now

Out of bullets.

 

 

My husband won’t do his laundry

 

Write for Advice
Cary’s classic column from THURSDAY, AUG 23, 2007

We were sharing household duties, but then things got out of whack and now I’m ready to bitch-slap my hubby!


Dear Cary:

My husband won’t do his laundry and I want to bitch-slap him. Yes, this is coming from a middle-aged, professional woman. Here’s the skinny: This is my second marriage, his first. And yes, we went into this marriage nine years ago with shared responsibilities. We sort of fell into a pattern, with him assuming all the lawn and maintenance work and me taking care of the home, including the laundry. We both worked full time and both pitched in to do things like cleaning and food shopping, depending on our schedules.

But back to the laundry. I really didn’t mind doing the laundry and did it all on Saturday morning while I cleaned or we cleaned together. But things all changed last October when hubs lost his job. I told him he needed to pick up more housekeeping chores, including doing his own laundry. He did pick up some chores (only sporadically, as long as they didn’t interfere with his obsession with golf) but was pretty lax about his laundry. He soon fell into the same pattern of piling all of his dirties in the laundry room on Saturday morning … for me to do.

I resent this and have asked him several times to take care of this before the weekend but he never does. He has returned to work, but he sets his own hours and has plenty of time to do his laundry. Things have come to a head here lately since I’ve had to assume full-time care of my two grandchildren, ages 2 and 5, while their mother is sick. These little folks generate tons of laundry, and I am now so mad at hubs that I want to punch him in the face. Maybe he will listen to an outside opinion.

At any rate, at least I got to vent!

Thank you,
Buried in Laundry

 

Dear Buried,

My outside opinion is that you need outside help. You’ve got too much to do. If you can swing it, just hire somebody. If you can’t, then you have to put on paper the number of hours required for all the tasks of running the household, and the number of hours you and he have available to run the household, and stare at the numbers while you weep and gnash your teeth and curse the gods, and then hire some outside help.

Believe me, there isn’t enough time in your week. You may think there is but there isn’t. You may think there would be time, since hubby sets his own hours. You may think it’s a simple matter for him to stop doing what he’s doing. And if you were the kind of person who was very clever about setting up conditioned reflexes in a husband to surreptitiously alter his behavior, you might be able to alter his behavior. But it’s clear from the way you’re approaching this that you aren’t able to alter his behavior. You’ve already lost patience. So stop trying. Maybe in an ideal world he would do what you tell him to do. But I have a feeling that’s just not going to happen. Because at this point it’s not about the laundry. It’s about the power struggle between you two. It’s about pride and ego and unfairness and probably a lot of built-up resentments about a whole bunch of other stuff that you didn’t mention but that you will explain to the therapist you end up going to after this really comes to a head and you throw his laundry into the yard and he runs over it with the mower.

So, what I’m saying is, there might theoretically be enough time in your week if you were different people. If you were people who only did chores maybe. That would mean that you are not really people. That would mean you are machines. I mean, you could cut out rest. Or sleep. Or recreation. Or spiritual time. Or family fun. Or eating meals. Or sleeping in. Or taking care of the 2-year-old, or the 5-year-old. You could cut out all the things that seem inessential and frivolous. But you wouldn’t. You’d do them anyway. Because that’s who you are.

So just hire some outside help. If you don’t have the money to hire outside help, then accept the fact that the laundry isn’t going to get done. I mean, stop doing it. Stop doing his laundry. Leave it on the floor. Let him do it.

You can do that or you can keep doing what you’re doing.

My point is you have to end this thing. You’ll probably eventually have to settle your power struggle with him, but for the time being, use some of that professional salary to get in some outside help. Or just don’t do his laundry.

One more thing: Breathe!

After my husband died of cancer I found he’d been cheating

 
Write for Advice

Cary’s classic column from THURSDAY, DEC 13, 2007

We have three small children and I am devastated.


Hi,

I need desperate help, please.

My husband died of cancer a week ago. The day after his funeral, I learned he’d been having Internet sex, which didn’t stop there. He met up with the woman in Hong Kong last year, where he was supposed to be alone, and they were planning another rendezvous next year. This had been going on for two years.

I’m so torn between grief, hatred, sadness and depression. I feel so alone and heartbroken. It’s like I’ve lived 13 years with a total stranger. I feel like dying. We have three young children.

Please help me if you can. Thanks.

Betrayed by Dead Husband

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Dear Betrayed,

You loved a man who was not perfect. You married a man who was not perfect. You had three wonderful children with a man who was not perfect.

You did not live for 13 years with a total stranger. You lived for 13 years with a man who was not perfect.
Death took this man from you and then you learned of his imperfection.

You knew this man, but even after 13 years you did not know everything about him. That’s how it is with people we love. We never know everything about them. All of us have hidden imperfections. You do and I do. You are not perfect and I am not perfect, but no one knows all our imperfections.

Perhaps when we die everyone will know our imperfections, too.

He was not perfect and he had some secrets and now you have been granted knowledge of his secrets. This knowledge makes the grieving sharper. It adds anger to the grief. Grief is enough without the anger, but the anger adds to it, so it feels as if it cannot be borne, as if it will crush you and tear you apart at the same time — the grief pushing you down, wearing you down; the anger tearing at you from the inside, lighting you up, making you want to scream and beat your fists.

The grief is enough. The anger makes it feel like maybe you won’t live through it. But you will. The grief will cleanse you and you will live through it and you will raise three beautiful children.

They will watch you and learn from you how to grieve and how to be strong. They will learn from you how to go on without him.

You will grieve for a long time and life will be hard at times. It will feel sometimes like the grief is not ending. It will feel sometimes like you wish you could slap him.

Through a half-open door during a wake I once watched my aunt berate my uncle’s corpse for dying. It was a good performance, but it was not a performance. We feel these things for real, in addition to what we are supposed to feel; we feel the grief but we also feel these other things. We want to slap the dead or berate the dead or go through their pockets looking for phone numbers.

So be angry at him and pour out your anger at him. Pour out your anger on the ground and light it like a libation. Pour out your anger at him. Pour out your grief.

Take as much time as you need. Grieving is not a test of endurance or a test of fortitude. It is not a performance in a play. It is recognizing the truth of a man’s life: He was imperfect and he died, and after his death his imperfection became known.

It is hard for the rest of us to bear knowledge of his imperfection, but that is the bargain we make: We get to live, and in return we live with the truth. Knowing the truth, we also seek to forgive. Do not rush it, but eventually you will want to forgive him or this anger will harden you and rob you of compassion.

Even the truth we live with is a partial truth. How can what we feel be in proportion to what is true when we will never have anything but a partial truth? Remember in “Casablanca” when Rick is leaving Paris in the rain and Ilsa doesn’t show up? We sometimes suffer more from having only a partial truth.

It is also possible that this thought has crossed your mind: “Everyone will know and they will think what a fool I am. Everyone will know and they will see that I could not control him. They will lose respect for me.”

Such thoughts may run through your head. Let them run through your head. People have all kinds of thoughts. We all do. They do not matter. You know the truth. The truth is that you loved a man and he loved you and you brought three beautiful children to life, and the man was a real man and not a god, and because he was a real man and not a god he was not perfect.

Now it is time for you to grieve him and remember him and raise your children.

Cary Tennis Newsletter Sign Up

Bullet-point list of bullet points

Advice: Only bullet points now?

  • Thought: Can advice column be written in bullet-point form?
    • If yes, how?
    • Possible methods:
      • Brainstorm ideas
      • Use flow chart method
        • i.e. if my boyfriend does not love me I will:
          • go to grad school
          • trash his paperbacks
          • get a therapist
            • how to get a therapist
              • gather list of possible therapists
              • use insurance company list
                • ask friends for referrals
                  • if no friends, ask cousin for friend referral in order to make friend
                    • make friend
                      • make friend? how?
                        • have dinner together
                        • go to movies
                        • introduce to family
                • look online
                  • judge therapist effectiveness by thumbnail head shot
                  • look at school attended
                  • if Yale, think twice
                  • why worry about Yale?
                  • bullet-point list starting to teeter
                    • note to self: reconsider exclusive use of bullet points lists for advice column
                • look in Yellow Pages to find therapist. How?
                  • travel back to 1983
                  • find discarded Yellow Pages books in abandoned East Oakland apartment
                  • see if therapists listed in 1983 Yellow Pages book are still:
                    • practicing
                    • accepting insurance
                    • breathing
                • (note to self: see therapist about weird attitude toward Yale)
              • pick five who appeal for some unknown reason
              • ask if they take insurance
              • ask about sliding scale
              • ask if they are recovering addicts
              • ask about favorite passage from c.g. jung
                • if prospective therapist’s favorite passage from c.g. jung matches yours, make appointment
                • if therapist asks, “c.g.jung: was that a former client of mine?” keep looking
          • Just do random things commonly referred to as “doing a geographic”
            • move to Milwaukee
            • move to Vietnam and do long-distance relationship
          • Do random things commonly referred to as “acting out”
            • Sleep with his best friend
            • Sleep with his brother
            • Sleep with his brother’s best friend
          • go back to grad school
            • Write to Cary asking whether to go back to grad school
  • Note to self: write journal article on appropriateness of bullet-point list as advice-column format
    • Consider pluses and minuses
      • Pluses
        • less long columns of unbroken text
        • fewer total words
        • like shape of bullet points
        • could become new, sleeker, faster communication method
          • recall other newer sleeker forms
            • semaphor
            • smoke signals
            • research effectiveness and longevity of those forms
      • Minuses
        • vague feeling not getting to root of problem
        • suspect him just fooling around?
          • past instances of him just fooling around?
          • is he really just fooling around?
          • why?
          • maybe he just wants to have fun?
          • is he honestly trying to change or is he making fun of the internet
          • (note to self: research methods of making fun of internet)
          • key to fundamental nature?
          • just a fluke?
          • language poetry?
      • more research needed.