What was once before you - an exciting, mysterious future - is now behind you. Lived; understood; disappointing. You realize you are not special. You have struggled into existence, and are now slipping silently out of it. This is everyone’s experience. Every single one. The specifics hardly matter. Everyone’s everyone . . . All her meager sadnesses are yours; all her loneliness; the gray, straw-like hair; her red raw hands. It’s yours. It is time for you to understand this.

As the people who adore you stop adoring you; as they die; as they move on; as you shed them; as you shed your beauty; your youth; as the world forgets you; as you recognize your transience; as you begin to lose your characteristics one by one; as you learn there is no-one watching you, and there never was, you think only about driving - not coming from any place; not arriving any place. Just driving, counting off time. Now you are here, at 7:43. Now you are here, at 7:44. Now you are…


–Charlie Kaufman
Synecdoche, New York

No lie: I was the Tunxis Chapter Junior Lawn Jart Champion in ‘75 and ‘76 (Handly Cup Style Rules). Would have held the title in ‘77 but my partner, June Hilpolt, claimed I punctured her big toe on purpose. (It was an accident, I assure you. Had she not been mooning over Billy Haddam and his new earth shoes, she would have seen me laying up and avoided interrupting my swing.) The judges ruled the incident an incomplete toss AND added a personal injury penalty to my permanent record, bringing my total to three. (Under Handly, you are only allowed three). My chance to go to Agawam for the championship was ruined and I never played Lawn Jarts again.

A few years later when we got to high school, the left side of June’s face was disfigured during a freak chemistry class accident involving chlorides, methyl alcohol and a cracked burette. For a long time, I kept her yearbook picture tacked to the wall in the back of my closet with a Jart.

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In my dream, I was supposed to meet David Foster Wallace at the Lucy Robbins Welles public library–as it existed in 1979, not as it does not today. But I was stopped by an unexpected guard at the door asking for my badge. A badge? To get into a library I’d been visiting since I was old enough to walk there by myself and check out every single creepy William Sleator book I could find, reading and re-reading House of Stairs until the binding broke? The guard insisted my machine-washed, heavily creased, barely legible library card wasn’t enough to gain admittance. (And that I owed them a Judy Blume I never returned.)

But most importantly, I didn’t have a badge. I wasn’t allowed inside.

Frantic, I insisted I was to meet the author prior to some engagement he had there. I didn’t want to screw up probably the only chance I would ever have to speak with the closest thing I could equate to a hero (musicians, actors, quarterbacks, astronauts . . . yes they are nice, but give me a wordy nerd, thank you). An older gentleman came up behind me as I was desperately arguing my case. He said in an authoritarian, nearly presidential voice, “She’s with me,” flashed his badge and we were in.

While walking among the stacks on the way to what I thought was a presentation with Wallace, this man spoke to me kindly and as if I should know who he was. It was clear he knew me. He talked of my writing, both private and public. He praised some of it and greatly shamed me for most of it. Shamed me for being lazy, for skating by with a minimum of effort, for not working hard enough, for wasting something special.

He humbled me to tears.

This man took pity on me as I stumbled to thank him for being so honest, for having faith in me. I was profoundly humiliated that after all his generosity, I still could not place this man who so clearly invested considerable time thinking about me, mortified that I had no idea who he was when it was clear I was supposed to be meeting him all along.

The man took pity on me and flashed me the badge that gained us both entrance into the cavernous, now unrecognizable library of my childhood. His badge identified him as Wallace Stevens.

I don’t often cry in dreams and when I do (much like when I laugh in dreams) I quickly wake up.

The dream haunted me for most of the day and when I confessed it to my friend BG, confessed the part about being a dork and looking up Stevens on the Internet–discovering his achievements were made much later in life and half-wishing that this might be some message of hope for me from the great beyond, BG quickly (and appropriately) put me in my place, suggesting that this was far better than Foster Brooks haunting me.

BG then suggested I underestimate myself, and made what was likely to him an unassuming metaphor regarding me just taking off the water wings, discarding the inflatable ducky and swimming to the deep end of the pool.

I think this meant as much to me as Wallace Stevens making the long voyage from wherever it is dead authors go, waiting to be dreamt alive.


“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.”

–Richard Dawkins
To Live at All Is Miracle Enough


But just in case I am psychic, let me recount this extremely vivid dream I had last night about Flight 1746 (it might have been 1743) that crashed at LAX leaving no survivors.

In the dream, the major airlines were like television networks. They each had their own channel, equipped their planes with film crews, and broadcast their regular flights.

I don’t remember actually watching an episode of “Flight 1746″ (or 1743), but in the dream I knew it aired on Mondays and that I liked it. Unlike some other Flight shows that centered around people going on or returning from vacations, this one featured the same group of international business passengers on various occasions. And there was a funny French guy who had a crush on a flight attendant who secretly read Hegel behind the latest issue of Cosmo. I liked them.

What I do remember, is watching the news coverage of the crash of Flight 1746. I couldn’t stop looking at the smoldering wreckage, thinking holy shit! I just saw them all last night! I can’t believe the horrific fate of the French guy and that stewardess! He never even got to kiss her!

This is probably less a psychic premonition and more a twisted commentary on the proliferation of reality television programming and how the line between those shows and the news is becoming increasingly blurred. Well that and my fondness for tragic love stories. He never even got to kiss her!

In any event, those numbers really stood out. As did the LAX part. (I know what you’re thinking. Yes I did check my flight numbers for Las Vegas. 563 out and 564 back. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?)