Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I finished doing my taxes the other day. As a result, I felt vaguely virtuous, and went and bought myself new shoes (because the plastic's through to the foot on my old sneakers) and a cool pair of binoculars.

I'd been reading a blog by someone complaining about paying "tens of thousands" of dollars in taxes. Complaining. I wish that blogger would go visit a shelter or a head start center and think a bit more about the complaining thing.

Doing taxes makes me think about retirement savings. I started late, 15 years later than most people in my cohort. Still, I should be okay, all things considered.

I've been doing this mid-life crisis thing for like a year now, and at least part of my fantasy focuses around buying a basic motorcycle. My driving skills and attitude being what they are, buying a motorcycle would pretty much ensure that I'd never see retirement, so that would be one less thing to worry about. Then there's the organ donor thing: abstractly, I'm signed up to donate, but I'm not sure I'm ready to donate just yet.

Last year I decided to just roll down the window in my wagon and pretend. And I jumped out of an airplane, which was far safer than buying myself a motorcycle. Did I mention my rather aggressive driving habits? I may go jump out of an airplane a few more times, to get licensed for a free fall jump.

It was scary as hell to jump that once. It's about the first time I've been faced with a physical challenge where I didn't know until I actually put my body outside the plane that I could physically make myself do it. (Actually, now that I think about it, it's the second time I've had that difficult a challenge. Jumping out of the airplane was eons more fun than the first. You know when you see someone in a movie who's really really scared but just can't stop a sneeze? I know from personal experience that when I'm scared enough, I can repress every urge to sneeze or cough for 2 months.)

Something happened yesterday that made me feel just how badly I don't fit into the Lake Wobegon world that the Northwoods fantasizes itself being. I felt desperate not to be here. I have a job I love, and I enjoy my colleagues and many things about being here. But. In a way, it's harder than jumping out of a plane, though it's completely and utterly mundane. And the other people involved had no idea how frustrated and angry I was. (At least I hope they had no idea.)

Two of my friends are going through treatments for scary illnesses right now.

One of them is one of my college friends, someone I love dearly, though I'm far away now. I wish there were some way I could live closer, offer some meaningful help.

The other lives closer, and I'm at least nearby. After visiting the other day, I told another friend that I'm lousy at visiting hospitals. My other friend said, "everyone's lousy at visiting hospitals." And she was right. And none of us really wants to get good at it. I guess I should feel lucky that I haven't had years of practice.

My friends' illnesses make the whole motorcycle and airplane thing look pretty pathetic.


ps. I'm going away for a couple days: my school has a holiday so that students can travel for religious purposes but we're supposed to pretend that we're not a state school sanctioning religion, even though we are. My travel has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with road lust. The bike's going along.


  1. I'm sorry to hear about your friends, and your own frustration with Northwoods...

    And I think I'd be scared to sit on a motorcycle. I've never ridden one. Jumping off a plane actually seems strangely reassuring compared to that.

  2. I know the feeling of not fitting in to a place, it's not the best feeling in the world.

    Motorcycles can be great fun. Last time I was on one was about five years ago but I had a blast.

  3. passerby8:58 AM

    Reminds me of that Bob Dylan song, Tangled up in Blue, where he says something like "I was livin' in the great north woods/ Workin' as a cook for a spell,/ But I never did like it all that much/ And one day the axe just fell/ So I drifted down to New Orleans...."

  4. LOL, Kermit, I've done both, but only ridden a bike as a passenger, so I'd have to learn to drive. On the other hand, it's loud and stuff. And I'm not the most defensive driver.

    History Geek, I think most of us have the feeling at least sometimes. It's the whole human condition thing, right?

    Oh, Passerby, I hadn't thought of that song. Thanks :) It's perfect.