It’s Later Than You Think


After years of writing only for my own consumption it’s fun, thrilling even, to once again be back in the game, writing for actual readers. I will do journalism and finish my novel during the day, I tell myself, and write these short true dispatches from life, whenever I’ve got one that feels urgent enough and therefore worth telling, at night, after the kids are in bed. A perfect system, and like nearly all perfect systems it works, but briefly. Lately life has been intervening, taking over in terrible ways. There is too much irony around me, too much sadness and this sadness begs for silence. Sure there are still funny things, things which I might call tragic in an entirely different frame of mind. The parent whose self-esteem rises and falls, like a volatile stock, lock-step along with their child’s chess rating. The ways in which I myself am not immune from such nonsense, having become, at least in part, the sort of parent I never thought I would be, or wanted to be, the personal assistant sort of parent, the I’ll get you whatever kind of extra help you “need” kind of parent. But now the sadness and cruelty of what’s happening in my midst are bringing out my own, long since suppressed, hypochondriachal tendencies, and so instead of using my nights to tap out words of substance, I am merely typing my various alleged symptoms into Google and clicking through on a million different links to find out whether I’ll live or die. Perhaps scariest of all, even my husband, who normally has got great equanimity, is not immune this time. Just the other night when I offered him a glass of wine from a bottle that had been sitting in the fridge for a few days he told me to dump it out and open a new one. “Go ahead,” he said,“It’s later than you think.”