10 Thoughts About Everything

Rodin The Thinker, photo by Brian Hillegas

photo by Brian Hillegas

1. My dog does not want me to succeed. When I’m writing and I get on a roll — you know, that moment when the trance happens, when you become the character you’re writing or when you transport yourself to the world you’re imagining on the page — she starts to throw up. Hurk-hurk-hurk. Then I have to leap from my chair and run to let her out of the house. She needs to eat grass or lick rain water off the driveway or something. I can find my way back to the trance sometimes, but as soon as I do she barks to come back inside. She is old, self-centered and threatened by the idea of my success.

2. Sometimes I think I’d like to be famous. Mostly I get this idea from reading too much Twitter. All the twitter celebrities who can simply say “Shoelaces!” and people scream “brilliant!” It all looks so easy and the idea of people knowing who I am and putting value — even inflated value — in what I think and say has its appeal. But, if I was famous, then I’d always have to be that person and I wouldn’t really be free.

3. I like a clean house. I hate to clean.

4. When I was a kid I liked the TV show “Barney Miller” — a sitcom set in a New York Police precinct, about a collection of well-meaning but somewhat bumbling NYC cops and the eccentric cast of petty criminals they had to deal with every day. My favorite joke from the show had to do with a slightly off-kilter neighborhood character who had decided to run for President. He was arrested for disturbing the peace. He was frustrated by, among other things, the fact that his candidacy was gaining no notice. He couldn’t understand why he couldn’t gain momentum. His name was Royce. William? James? Can’t remember the first name, let’s say William. But I remember his slogan: “William Royce: The Peoples Candidate“. That’s the joke. I love that joke. Then. Now. Forever.

5. I can never decide if everything matters or if nothing matters.

6. Quantum physics tells us that there are infinite parallel universes in which all alternative possibilities exist simultaneously. Or, well, I don’t really understand quantum physics, so this is what my reading of quantum physics tells me. So that means there’s one parallel universe in which I love to clean but I hate a clean house. There’s one universe in which I am always satisfied. There’s one universe in which I am never satisfied…Wait, that’s this one.

7. A couple of years ago I was going through a tough time personally. My business was struggling in the wake of the recession; my doctor told me my blood pressure was too high and wanted to put me on meds I didn’t want to take; I was feeling generally unfulfilled in my existence, unmotivated, tired, probably depressed and was struggling to find a path forward. During this period I began to notice a strange phenomenon with my clock. Every time I would look at the clock it would say 7:13. Or, more accurately, every time the clock hit 7:13 I happened look at it. If I woke up on my own, without an alarm, it was always at 7:13. In the evening, if I walked past my bedroom and glanced in the door to see the clock, it said 7:13. If I jumped in the car to make a quick run to the store to get milk or sandwich meat, I’d glance at the clock on the dashboard: 7:13. I wasn’t waiting for it to say that, I just always caught it when it did. I started to freak out. It started to feel like it meant something. I started to worry that maybe I was having a premonition of doom — maybe I was going to die on July 13. Then, for some reason, I thought to look through the Bible. Strange because I don’t read the Bible — I was not raised in a religious household, I am devoutly agnostic. But we have a Bible and I felt moved to start paging through it. Eventually I found this:

Matthew 7:13 — Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

At that difficult time in my life, these were exactly the words I needed. They gave me the strength to keep going and to find the opportunities even in those trying times. Ease teaches us nothing, trials lead to wisdom. I don’t know why this happened, only that it did.

8. A note to the Hair Restoration Industrial Complex. I know how you can, once and for all, defeat the scourge of Male Pattern Baldness. I have two words for you: Ear Hair. There is no hair faster-growing or more abundant in men over 40. Either teach them to cultivate it and comb it from their lobes up and over their shining pates or harvest it, transplant it and watch in wonder as baldness goes the way of the dodo bird.Dodo bird

9. I’d like to write a memoir. But some people say memoirs are just navel gazing. Which reminds me of the time a few years ago when, on a beach in Hawaii, my 5 year old son alerted me to the fact I was gaining weight by saying, “Daddy, your belly button is getting deeper.” I’ve lost 40 pounds since then, so I can tell you this story. Otherwise it would be too embarrassing. Maybe I’ll put it in the memoir.

10. I am neither the person you think I am, nor the person I think I am. I am somewhere in between. So are you.


A Storyteller Tells Why

TimestoppedI want to tell you stories.

I have always — ALWAYS — been vividly, acutely aware of the passing away of each moment even while I am in it. Have you ever, after a summer swim, draped your body on the hot boards of a dock to warm in the sun and then rolled over to watch as the pools of water that have slid off your skin evaporate? They shrink, they disappear, they turn to nothing before your eyes. That is how I experience time. How I experience now. How I experience you.

I am here, with you, participating. But I am also always just outside of here, looking in. Just outside of now, watching it turn to vapor.

My wife tells me sometimes she is full of joy. I cannot relate. I come close to joy, but when I recognize it happening I fixate on how delicate it is, how fleeting it is, how it is beginning to pass before it has finished beginning. I watch the moment disappear. True, I am not the life of the party.

In every moment I am homesick for the moment that just passed. Even the shitty moments — I want to keep those too.February_2007 109

This is why I have always wanted to tell you stories. Because in stories I can stop time. When I build stories, I build moments that do not fade. I can say “this is how it is” and that is how it still will be tomorrow, the next day, the day after that and forever if the story lasts that long.

That’s all I’m trying to do: govern a universe, control time.