Tag Archives: failure

the angels and demons in my bedroom

it’s every single morning before i even open up my eyes.  the angel i always imagine to be sitting on the window sill.  the demon lounging in bed next to me smoking a brimstone cigarette.

my personal angel doesn’t actually look like this. maybe yours does.  angels exist in the muslim, christian and jewish traditions but are ordinarily depicted as males.  is this picture a blow for feminism?


the angel was particularly adamant this morning:  i have finished revising the book about my facebook adventures of 2011 and had sent it to my editor at tate publishing.  but i need to sort through thirty to fifty photographic images to include in the book.  i had sold yet another book to tate yesterday.  oh, and facebook — yes, but not actually mark zuckerberg himself — had contacted me to find out if they could do a story about me.  it was a good day yesterday and included other blessings:  a friend had been nice to me, it was sunny and warm outside, the coffee was good.  and so the angel asks of me the same thing as every morning:  get out of bed.

the demon, meanwhile, has other things on his mind.

you’re fat, you’re old, you drink too much, you have a social life that is largely conducted on facebook, you’re irrelevant, you could die today and nobody would notice so why don’t you stay in bed and watch korean soap operas on hulu.com? says the demon

for a number of mornings, the demon has been very persuasive.  and i’ve watched eight episodes of season one and four of season two of faith about a korean protector of the king who travels through time to find a twenty first century doctor to save the life of the queen and then the surgeon . . . . oh, forget it.

today the angel won.  but only after an hour’s battle while i tried to go back to sleep.  the battle occurs every morning and it’s sort of the same for other people i’ve been finding.   my friends describe the enormous effort it takes to get it together every morning.

yesterday was a good day for angels watching over the facebook enterprise.  after opening at a stock price of $38 months ago, the company has lost half its value, closing at less than twenty dollars per share at one point.  the demons definitely were feeling pretty sure of themselves.  but this past wednesday, prices shot up an astonishing 19% to close at $23.  i betcha this morning when mark zuckerberg’s angels and demons were discussing whether mark should get up or declare a sick day, his angel had something wonderful on his side to motivate him.

do you have a conversation between demons and angels in your head?  is it mostly in the morning, like me?

sometimes it’s a strategic retreat not a full scale sprint to safety

so i blew into oberlin, ohio expecting quality time with f2fb friend #1 my son eastman presser.  unfortunately, he was dealing with some major drama (girls), work (do they actually do that in college), and rehearsals for a concert he hoped i’d attend.  i had a full day to kill and it got to me.  i descended into my own personal form of darkness.

a chorus of voices in my head, each having their own lines--you're a bad mom, you're a failure as a writer, you have squandered your youth, you will never find happiness, you are going to die alone and broke, you gained ten pounds and look disgusting. . .

oddly, i was at the computer so i posted a status that i was having a major anxiety attack.  i was looking up where the oberlin hospital is located.  i wondered if they had state of the art cardiac and stroke care.  then i noticed lots of messages and comments popping up from facebook friends.  breathe, a great many suggested.  take a hot shower.  watch the movie enchanted april (hey, if i knew how to get the television to work in my room i would!), go out and sing the national anthem, someone wrote and pretend you can do it better than whitney houston.  well, i can but that’s only because she can’t do it anymore at all.  hugs, many sent me and others sent me their own experiences. i’m not alone.  i was really really really touched.  this is exactly the sort of thing that makes mark zuckerberg’s creation meaningful.

i pulled it together to get to eastman’s performance at a recital by michael pisaro who is visiting from the california institute of the arts near los angeles.  what he does with a two minute “rest”–well, he definitely solves the Mozart problem of too many notes.

an hour and a half of experimental, atonal music–very modern and sophisticated.  my stomach growling drew the attention of several audience members.  an hour and forty five minutes no intermission.

and then i went back to the hotel room, took two ativan and got into bed.  thinking about pennsylvania.  the trip, the hours, the turnpike.  took another ativan.  looked for something to read.  the gideon bible.  but too much stuff about being struck down dead.  and then the yellow pages for oberlin.  sort of funny.  under elderly care they had something called the scooter shop!

i enjoyed the image of oberlin citizens of a certain age getting out their hog scooters and terrorizing the neighborhood!


this morning, i had no sleep and was frankly more exhausted than when i went to bed.  i made a decision.  onward to detroit.  it’s closer to home.  i’m feeling a bit bruised.  i think this is a strategic retreat, not a dive for the covers of home.

#158 david yonan and the failure rebound

the stench of failure still hung over me when i woke up in ohio yesterday morning at seven.  i couldn’t stop replaying the conversation in my head:  my friend saying “you had to have known you were going to fail.  you just aren’t going to be able to meet every facebook friend you have.” 

that’s sort of true.  i figured somebody would go to jail or flee the country or maybe take part in a space expedition.  but i wasn’t expecting my friend’s analysis of WHY i would fail. 

“not everybody is willing to see you.  in particular, i happen to know three people who are dead set against it.”

“not at all?”  i asked.

“not at all.”

“then how are they my friends?”

which was sort of what i asked myself.  in order to get back to chicago to see f2fb friend #158 david yonan’s concert at the music institute of chicago at three o’clock i would need to leave oberlin, ohio by seven.  much as i adore the partita in d-minor by j.s. bach (uh, actually i had never heard of it) and ilya levinson’s elegy–crossing the bridge (ditto), the drive was daunting.  particularly if there was no point to it. 

still, i was intrigued.  i had never actually met david.  he was JUST a facebook friend, but he had invited me to his concert.  so i dragged my ass out of bed, made for starbucks, drove one hour in a circle around oberlin because i screwed up the directions for how to get on the turnpike, and then set sail for the music institute of chicago, nichols hall in evanston.  i made it with fifteen minutes to spare.  i might have smelled pretty bad.  and, yes, that was ketchup on my dress because i can’t eat and drive more than ninety miles per hour.

afterwards, david was so nice as to invite me to lunch.  at four o’clock.  what can i say?  he’s a cosmopolitan guy. 

i told him about some of my concerns about failure, about this project.  i told him also about my f2fb friend #157 todd stiles who perserveres in his quest to become a doctor even when he–as i–gets a case of the heebie jeebies.  david took a long term approach to it all.  he told me that nothing is impossible if you break it down into little bits.  and nothing worth doing does not at first seem impossible.  

then i had to ask him–how does he make it sound like there’s fifteen violins going on all at once?

you can learn more about the day’s events and david’s participation at http://makemusicchicago.com