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Hot dog and hallelujah! 0

Dear Bradshaw,

Your letter arrived today and man do I dig your Time Killing Olympics idea, and agree you’d be the Ultimate Time Murdering Master. You have a way with words, my friend. I love your letters. We’re on the same wavelength, I think, as thinkers, and breathers of air. I also spend a lot of time wondering what I’m doing here. It used to make sense, you know, when I had dreams to believe in and “knew” they’d come true.

But I can’t complain. Look at everything I have to be thankful for. I like my job. I’m healthy. My parents are alive, still married. (I’m alive, still married.) I have great friends, you being one of the best, and I can afford good wines and weekend vacations to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid. That should be enough, shouldn’t it? Well, it isn’t. I feel like I’m five years old, opening my birthday presents and finding the boxes empty. The disappointment is profound, but maybe it’s my fault for having expected to find inside.

I love to write, will never stop, though sometimes I wonder what I’d do if I did quit. Would I sit around pondering the nature of the universe and the meaning of life? Maybe I’d exercise more, hoping to achieve optimum health and physical condition. Would I learn another language, hone my harmonica skills, or take up tightrope walking, snake charming, or lion taming? Why? What for? Why stop writing (which for me is fun, and also cathartic), only to pursue another discipline, whether meditation, jogging, cooking, or playing cards?

It all comes down to what I do and don’t like. If I can balance the two, well, that just might be bliss. So what do I like? I like reading great books. I like listening to Bach and Beethoven. I like when Jimi plops down on my chest and I can feel her fur and purring vibrations. I like waking up in the morning with Francesca in my arms. I like nights when the moon’s full but I don’t know it and suddenly I look up and see its silvery light. I like taking a hot shower and sleeping in a warm bed. I like not needing a car, and walking home from work, especially when I break my record for how fast I can get here on foot.

Of course, there’s no end to the things I don’t like. I don’t like when my phone rings and I have to answer it. I don’t like when the Roman soccer team wins an important game and people start honking their horns again and again for hours and hours. I don’t like when it rains for more than a week. I don’t like waking up to an alarm. I don’t like 97.4% of the songs released and books published each year. I don’t like the guy who shot George Blackwell. I don’t like candles that drip. I don’t like bead curtains that tangle. I don’t like when the drain in our bathtub clogs and I have to use an obviously anti-environmental product to unplug it because it’s the only solution in this city.

The key I think is to be able to stop anywhere at any time, and then to step outside oneself and see the minor miracles: the old lady on the subway lost in her own thoughts who suddenly laughs out loud, the fly that circles the room several times and then bangs into the window pane but recovers immediately, and unharmed.

There’s bliss in balance, I think, and though Lord knows I’ve got a long way to go, I aim to die smiling. Hot dog and hallelujah!

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