never married, over forty, a little bitter

the same river twice

Last year I wrote about the documentary “The Same River Twice” here:

It is now on youtube here:

The segment that had me sobbing at 35 is at the very end, at the 1:13:17-1:15:00 mark.

It impacted me a little less this time around, although it still gets me.

the abyss

In my mid-thirties, when I felt suffocated by everyone around me pairing off and procreating, moving to Los Angeles felt liberating for exactly the reasons listed in this blog. Six years later, in my forties, they felt like the reasons I needed to leave:

L.A. is the apocalypse: it’s you and a bunch of parking lots. No one’s going to save you; no one’s looking out for you. It’s the only city I know where that’s the explicit premise of living there – that’s the deal you make when you move to L.A.

The city, ironically, is emotionally authentic.

It says: no one loves you; you’re the least important person in the room; get over it. What matters is what you do there.


Literally no one cares, is the answer. No one cares. You’re alone in the world.

L.A. is explicit about that.


Los Angeles is where you confront the objective fact that you mean nothing; the desert, the ocean, the tectonic plates, the clear skies, the sun itself, the Hollywood Walk of Fame – even the parking lots: everything there somehow precedes you, even new construction sites, and it’s bigger than you and more abstract than you and indifferent to you. You don’t matter. You’re free.

In Los Angeles you can be standing next to another human being but you may as well be standing next to a geological formation. Whatever that thing is, it doesn’t care about you. And you don’t care about it. Get over it. You’re alone in the world. Do something interesting.

Do what you actually want to do – even if that means reading P.D. James or getting your nails done or re-oiling car parts in your backyard.

Because no one cares.

In L.A. you can grow Fabio hair and go to the Arclight and not be embarrassed by yourself. Every mode of living is appropriate for L.A. You can do what you want.

And I don’t just mean that Los Angeles is some friendly bastion of cultural diversity and so we should celebrate it on that level and be done with it; I mean that Los Angeles is the confrontation with the void. It is the void. It’s the confrontation with astronomy through near-constant sunlight and the inhuman radiative cancers that result. It’s the confrontation with geology through plate tectonics and buried oil, methane, gravel, tar, and whatever other weird deposits of unknown ancient remains are sitting around down there in the dry and fractured subsurface. It’s a confrontation with the oceanic; with anonymity; with desert time; with endless parking lots.

And it doesn’t need humanizing. Who cares if you can’t identify with Los Angeles? It doesn’t need to be made human. It’s better than that.

the open range

Though he was ten years younger than I, everything he said he wanted in a girl was… me. I wrote a clever email about singing dogs, urging him to check out my profile and see how perfect I was for him.

“Thanks, but I don’t think so” was all he wrote in reply.

Oh! That wasn’t good. But to make sure he was really rejecting me- me?? Really??– I wrote again. “Are you sure? Aren’t you blowing me off kind of quick?”

“No, I am not interested, and if you are so thin-skinned, you shouldn’t be on,” he replied.

Almost in tears, I had to admit that “thin-skinned” was right. One month on Match and I was practically cellophane. Any free-range Internet dickhead who took it into his head had the power to make me feel worthless. No more Dogsong for me. I went to a Leonard Cohen concert with one of my girlfriends and cried my eyes out on every song.

–Marion Winik, Highs in the Low Fifties, p. 53

missing things

I established a new doctor here last week and she told me I was doing well with my chronic condition and to keep up with all the exercise I’ve been doing. I have all the markers for a severe form of my disease, but most days I can’t even tell I have it.

Our conversation made me a little more determined to make this city work out for me. It is not as exciting as Los Angeles, but it is way less stressful. At this point in life, I think I need to stay in the place that is best for my health. The promotion I turned down in Los Angeles would have made it extremely difficult for me to get any kind of exercise at all or to eat well for four days out of the week. Taking it might well have torpedoed my health.

I liked this blog post comparing the pros and cons of the smaller city of Portland to the city of Los Angeles: