Extraordinary stories from everyday life.


the best thing about us is the people we know.

North 26th Street // Friday, 3.54pm

There's an empty pool on the corner of Master Street that is filling up with rain. Every time I've visited Philadelphia, it's raining and drizzly, and I've been lonely and scared. I wonder if this place ever brightens up, or if I just bring the weltschmerz with me each time.

If that's the case, the weather's unlikely to turn anytime soon, as I've just spent $78.80 on an oil change, tire rotation and rear brake adjustment. Maybe that's a good deal; if so, I'm in no position to appreciate it. That's a heavy chip out of my emergency savings. When you round it off, there's not even enough left to buy a good cup of coffee or a carton of eggs.

What's more, the mechanic said there's about $800 worth of bushings, seals, and metal rods that I need to replace in the General's nether regions. None of it is an emergency, and I should be thankful for that, and I am. I've been trying all day, in fact, to dwell on the fact that I have money to pay for these necessities. I have money to get to the next place I'm going. I had a great place to sleep last night. I have the use of my fingers to type.

I text my prayer requests to my praying friends, and I think about calling one of them. Then I think, "What are they going to do?" Three of them have money problems of their own. Two have loved ones who recently decided they don't believe there's any god. And one is congenitally incapable of ever feeling hopeless, so there's really no point in talking to her.

I also don't want to keep being such a sponge. They've heard all my whining so, so many times before. Would I rather spend time explaining to them why I'm upset, or take my upsetness to God?

Neither, really. I'm tired of my own resigned diva attitude toward God. I'm tired of sighing, "Okay, I believe you," and then waiting with that sour, put-upon air. Trust him nicely or don't trust him at all...but I can't seem to do one or the other.

You just wonder, what are we praying for, exactly? It's come to my attention lately that there's never going to be nothing wrong. But if Kierkegaard is right, that prayer is for changing the one praying...well, what about when that's not even happening?

It's like I have no damn role in this process, at all. I'm a victim of myself all the time.

This is the reason we (meaning I) do things like shoot dope, I reckon, or compulsively shop, or be anorexic. Because addictions and indulgent compulsions seem to concentrate all problems into one, and we can indulge the belief that if ever we chose to stop doing this one harmful thing, everything else would be (or at least feel) all right.

Something else tells me that hey, as long as I have no paid work to do, I might as well get in there and work on the project. Even if all I do is sit with it, I've done something, right? That's what I'm here to do.

If we can't be good, or patient, or trusting, or control anything, we can always find some work to do. It might not do anything but keep our hands busy, but that's not nothing.

I'm a good writer. I'm probably not the best writer, but writing is what I do best, and I do a creditable job at it. So many people have so much money; wouldn't one of them like to be my John Martin? I'm a hard worker--at least, I used to be. If I think it's getting me somewhere, I'll work my butt off. Maybe I need to learn how to work on the fumes of belief, instead.