Commute/On the Media/Epicurus

Hey lady,

I was in a weird mental space today, feeling very stressed out and concerned about my life and just all around kind of sad, so when it was time to do the commute home, I opted for one of my favorite podcasts, On the Media. At my last company, I made an effort to only listen to podcasts during my commute, as I felt that I was learning something, as opposed to simply listening to music. This has a two-fold impact. 1) The commute passes faster when you’re listening to an interesting ‘conversation,’ and 2) it’s easy to stay on top of the cultural zeitgeist and understand what’s happening in the world. This is important, as what you do or experience in your own subjective reality has an underlying debt to what is broadly happening around you in your city, country, and on the planet.

Of all of the podcasts I could have chosen, I listened to the one that I needed to hear exactly in that moment. “Cashing in on Ferguson, That Letter to Iran, and Nihilism’s Allure.” While the entire podcast is interesting, it’s the latter part that was important to me. The whole thing builds up through current news and examines what it is, in the end, that’s really troubling us all. Here’s the link to the story:

http://www.onthemedia.org/story/ferguson-iran-nihilism/

Toward the end of this piece, Brooke Gladstone began reciting a quote, and as I listened to her, I literally could feel the hairs standing up on my arms. It was the root of everything I worry about, that anyone worries about, the whole mortality and fear of mortality and dread of death or meaninglessness that can overwhelm even the most positive person. This is the quote:

“Accustom yourself to believe that death is nothing to us, for good and evil imply awareness, and death is the privation of all awareness; therefore a right understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not by adding to life an unlimited time, but by taking away the yearning after immortality.”

This is from “Letter to Menoeceus” by Epicurus. You can read the full letter, which I highly recommend, here:

http://classics.mit.edu/Epicurus/menoec.html

Anyway, I’m sorry for the long-winded letter, but I hope that it finds you well and that you’re having a lovely night. See you in the morning.

Top Ten Ways to Get Over a Breakup: Brought to You by Mitsubishi Motors

We all know that breakin’ up is hard to do. In fact, that’s why I’m writing in this tone. My marketing job has taught me a lot of things, and among them is using a compassionate and empathetic voice with plenty of italics, so it sounds as though I’m speaking directly to you. (I am.) Listen, friend, we may not all earn the paycheck to take a brand-new Mitsubishi Lancer out for a spin, but we can always watch YouTube videos to cheer us up:

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How Not to Get a Job

I’ve been working from home today, writing a few articles for my copywriting job. I enjoy it. It’s a fun output for my writing and, through research I inevitably have to do on the subjects (like granite countertops, limo services, LASIK surgery), I learn a lot.

I was looking through some old documents when I came across a job application. Fresh out of the MFA, I was applying to everything I could find that had anything to do with writing. Whenever they asked for a sample, I sent fiction. After reading an excerpt of my book, a guy got back to me and asked me to submit some essays. “They can be about anything,” he said. “I don’t care what.” He claimed to be too busy with his company and needed someone to write articles that would appear on Huffington Post and Business Insider.

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NYT: Two Gunshots on a Summer Night

NYT: Two Gunshots on a Summer Night

I found this list of 2013’s best crime journalism as chosen by the nation’s best crime reporters. Still trying to recover from an obnoxious headcold, I read most of them last night under my electric blanket, eating a baguette. The best among them is The New York Times piece on the murder-or-suicide of Michelle O’Connell, the 24-year-old mother and girlfriend of Jeremy Banks, a Floridian deputy sheriff.
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Georges Simenon: Criminally Underappreciated

Georges Simenon: Criminally Underappreciated

Here’s something I wrote a while back about Georges Simenon. Every time I crack open Monsieur Monde Vanishes or The Widow, I’m reminded again what an amazing writer he is. He has that beautiful, spare quality of Hemingway but taken in the darker, gothic direction I prefer. His dialogue is snap-tight, and while the prose can occasionally steer into flat territory, he nails a sentence every few pages that reminds me why I read in the first place.

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NYT: Snow Fall

NYT: Snow Fall

I go back and immerse myself in this article once a month. These interactive things they’re doing are really terrific and fun. Reading over the background images does something to my brain, this one in particular. Makes me nostalgic for this one Christmas, must have been three years ago, where I got Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer and read it next to the fireplace with my dog. The writing here is great, but it’s the odd vibe I get while looking at it that keeps me coming back.