Steve Inskeep on twitter had a great comment where he looked at Carl's Wikipedia page and it was broken down into two categories: "early career" and "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me." And he was marveling at how "early career" summarized everything leading up to his spot on this game show. And first of all, you know, this is a towering career, and second of all, that our lives aren't automatically over because we've reached a certain age. We talk about this all the time, this idea that we peak in our teens or our twenties or our thirties or whatever. We can peak whenever life sorts itself out that way.
This isn't a self-help blog, either, it's just nice to remind yourself of certain things sometimes.
+ see also: be a kind person. People notice, and remember.
Well I don't know what to tell you. Has it been perfect? Of course not. Only an idiot would expect things to be perfect. Am I an idiot? Sometimes!
There were ants in the bathroom and kitchen. I tolerated them for a week, seeking some sort of detente, I suppose, or a rapprochement, and when that (naturally) failed, I googled "ant problems" and found this blog post and bought some ant baits and I set out those baits and I watched them come running—I had a hard time with this, I admit; not the brutal mass murder aspect (yo, they do not pay rent) but the rampaging swarming frenzied lust these ants had for these baits was a little gross to watch—and after a day or so their numbers dwindled and then disappeared. The baits are still there, a security blanket of sodium tetraborate decahydrate (Borax) (5.40%) and other ingredients (94.60%) , remnants of a battle fought and won, and I'm not sure what happens next. No problem is that easy to solve. Their brethren lie dormant, I can feel it, waiting for me to cave, or get bored, or stop paying attention. Which will never ever happen, if only out of spite.
I've seen friends, I've seen family, I have plans and activities and tickets and a large apartment filled with new furniture. Too large! This much is clear. I was seduced by the empty promise of space and thus over-corrected. But game night is on the calendar: I have missed those nights, these people, this particular noise. It's quiet here, that's one of the things I wanted most and one of the things that's hardest to get used to. Funny, yes? And soooo sadly predictable. I sleep at night with a noise machine mimicking the sound of the three fans I couldn't wait to get away from. This is the joke: this is life.
It's been an expensive endeavor, I'm not gonna lie. I'm tired of planning things, of making lists, of recycling boxes, of trying to fill the rooms and being only halfway there. I want an apartment that feels like a home but it isn't yet, so it doesn't. I want to skip forward six months, but that's no more likely than skipping back. I moved 800 miles, why can't I move time??!?
Anyway. It's been three weeks. Here I am.
I've spent the past two work days interviewing people for my job. My boss asked if I would and I'm happy to help her out, but there's a weird out-of-body component to it, given that it's a job I love and was hoping not to leave. But that horse already hopped the Greyhound and bought a one-way ticket out of town, as they say, and it was my choice to follow the heartlight back to Illinois (ahem please view this album art).
But forget all that nonsense, the question is: how do I replace myself? What would I want in a new me? Fewer em dashes, I suppose. Fewer exclamation points. Excessive punctuation and byzantine run-on sentences—ornate, opaque—are my stock in trade and I'd hate to see anyone try to replicate that. Otherwise it's just a job, man. Everybody's replaceable. Except Mark Ruffalo. And Benji. Oops! Spoke too soon.
+ fyi: Google tells me use of the word "byzantine" peaked in either 1958 or 1963, depending on your ability to interpret a trendline/your level of caring. So.
+ free tip: "Case Insensitive" would be a good blog name, if I were looking for good blog names (don't worry, I am not). For the record, previous names of this very blog include: The Lunchtime Chronicles, Litwit, Lovegoose (?), and Casual Heap. I sure hope Next Kari is better at naming things!
+ p.s. someone called me “Karl” last week, more than once, in a multi-email exchange. I didn’t bother correcting them because I don't care all that much. What would be the point?
I roll my eyes every time I start an "On Being" podcast, even though I'm grateful for it and am inevitably glad I listened. Some podcasts & hosts are almost too podcast-y, you know? The production values are slightly too polished, the voices a little too smooth. It's like a schtick sometimes, like a schmoozy Rat Pack Vegas number: they hit every single beat you expect them to and leave no room for chance. But my biases against “professionalism” are my own cross to bear, so I barrel through.
This week Krista Tippett interviewed another Irish poet (she loves Irish poets), Michael Longley, and near the end they had this conversation about revisiting familiar places:
KT: I want to ask you also about the mystery of place. And so, Carrigskeewaun is a cottage in County Mayo that you and your wife and family have gone back to it, I believe, for over many years. And you said something wonderful about the beauty of going back to the same place over and over again, that you notice more and more. It’s not that you exhaust a place; that you go more deeply into it.
MR. LONGLEY: Yes, it’s inexhaustible. Mind you, it is very beautiful, and it’s very remote. And we’ve been going there since 1970. And we carried our children through the river and through the channel, and now they come back over — such a compliment to my wife and me that the children want to spend time with us. And they come back, and they now bring their children, our grandchildren on their shoulders through this really quite tough terrain. Every time I leave, I think, “Well, there can be no more Carrigskeewaun poems. I’ve exhausted it.” But there always are poems, and the place is inexhaustible.
I mean, you know this — the phrase, “Travel broadens the mind.” We do quite a bit of traveling. But I think it also shallows the mind. But going back to the same place in a devoted way and in a curious way is a huge part of my life. And I’ll be going there even when they have to push me in a wheelchair.
Always interview Irish poets, is the point of this story. Also: a place is inexhaustible. I just like that frame of mind, the idea that love is the groove you wear into a thing.
I’m still here, I’m just processing life events from a different timezone! I don’t know when any TV is! Did you think I was dead!?
p.s. I do take a perverse pleasure in meaningless posts that make me sound like an idiot. That's the true glory and purpose of blogs. Unless someone I want to hire me reads it and thinks I actually am an idiot, in which case joke's on me.
p.s.2. here's my KARI's GOT A CAR* playlist, which I dial up at top volume every time I drive my car. I'm sure you'll agree it was worth buying a car for:
- It's All Coming Back to Me Now / Celine Dion
- Wild Montana Skies / John Denver & Emmylou Harris
- Beautiful Noise / Neil Diamond
- Super Trouper / ABBA
- Seasons in the Sun / Terry Jacks
- The Night Chicago Died / Paper Lace
- Billy, Don't Be a Hero / Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods
- Calypso / John Denver
- Total Eclipse of the Heart / Bonnie Tyler
- Against All Odds / Phil Collins
- Jessie's Girl / Rick Springfield
- Some Nights / Fun.
- Spirit in the Sky / Norman Greenbaum
- Walking On a Thin Line / Huey Lewis & The News
- Good Mornin' Life / Dean Martin
- Delta Dawn / Tanya Tucker
- Candle on the Water / Helen Reddy
- Single Ladies / Beyoncé
- Pay Me My Money Down / Bruce Springsteen
- American Girl / Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
- One Day at a Time / Gloria Estefan
- Party in the USA / Miley Cyrus
- Badlands / Bruce Springsteen
Upon reflection, this is clearly a terrible playlist. But plenty of things in life are terrible, and this is relatively harmless, therefore no excuses. Go Colin Hanks!**
*/** I decided to name my new car "Colin Hanks"; i.e., it's not necessarily what you wanted, but it's close enough and maybe even better than you'd expect.
Do you have hope for the future?
someone asked Robert Frost, toward the end.
Yes, and even for the past, he replied,
that it will turn out to have been all right
for what it was, something we can accept,
mistakes made by the selves we had to be,
not able to be, perhaps, what we wished,
or what looking back half the time it seems
we could so easily have been, or ought...
The future, yes, and even for the past,
that it will become something we can bear.
And I too, and my children, so I hope,
will recall as not too heavy the tug
of those albatrosses I sadly placed
upon their tender necks. Hope for the past,
yes, old Frost, your words provide that courage,
and it brings strange peace that itself passes
into past, easier to bear because
you said it, rather casually, as snow
went on falling in Vermont years ago.
"Thanks, Robert Frost" by David Ray, from Music of Time: Selected and New Poems
I listened to the "Making Oprah" podcast last summer, which marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Oprah Winfrey Show. In one episode, the host, Jenn White, asks Oprah if she had been scared to leave everything she knew behind when she first moved to Chicago to start the show. And Oprah, being Oprah™, gives her a wise and simple answer: "Everybody knows that there's a time that comes in your life when where you are is no longer where you're supposed to be."
Oprah, man. When I heard that, I had to sit down on a bench and think about it for a while. I'm not sure everybody does know this. But you're lucky if you do, if you can hear that voice and are able to follow it. I worked hard, sure, but I've been lucky every step of the way.
On New York: I loved living here until I didn't. That's not a crime, or a mistake, it's just the way life works. In the words of my best hero: "I chose, and my world was shaken. So what? The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not. You have to move on."
So New York: stay cool. I will visit often. I will not miss your subways or figuring out how to get from A to B and back again on the weekends when my station was always closed. Pull it together already. People need to be places.
We're having a snow day at work—l-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y—and I'm tired of packing & thinking about leaving so I'll just post links to some of my important thoughts on the theater I've seen during my 11 years here and will remember dearly forever & always. THANK YOU FOR TAKING MY MONEY & GIVING ME RICHES, NEW YORK CITY! Thanks for making it worth the dream.
And of course one to rule them all: Mary Stuart at the Broadhurst
I wanted to toss these but can't do it. I firmly believe in not clinging to physical items for purely sentimental reasons but my heart is here, in all of them. My favorite times in this city, with my friends, are in the memories printed on these tickets.