Monday, December 6, 2010

Never Give Up, Never Surrender!

Lira said something to me the other day that really made me think. "How can you stand it?"

"What?" I asked.

"These people and their problems," she said. "So many people never get any better. Even if you help them through a crisis, there might be another one coming soon. Did you ever think that you're doing this all for nothing?"

"Do you?"

"Hey, pay attention, we're not talking about me. I'm asking you a question, I'll put it in writing if it'll help you figure out what your own thoughts mean."

"OK, OK, ease up," I said. "Well, this one guy, he's got a bit of a confidence problem, it makes it hard for him to act. Just about every few weeks he's moaning over something he didn't do, a chance he may have missed."

Lira sneered. "Life's full of regrets."

"Yeah, but it's easier to regret something you did than something you didn't do. He feels like he can't change his life until he changes who he is. Change like that doesn't come easy. You can't just flip a switch and suddenly have the confidence to act, talk to a stranger, take a chance with something, especially when there's no guarantee the outcome will be any different."

"So again, why do it?"

"Because if he abandons hope, I have to have hope for him. Even if he gives up. If I never give up, he'll still have a chance to find happiness, no matter how much he believes it won't happen."

Lira smiled. "That's a good answer. You know, if I'd asked you that a year ago, you probably wouldn't have known. You were more about saving people from the hurt you felt when you were alive. Now you're starting to develop the wisdom of how divine intervention works."

I wasn't leaving that alone. "I'm sorry, did you just say I had wisdom?"

"Don't let it get to your head, you idiot. You can answer one question out of fifty and you still fail the test miserably."

"Glad to see you're not going soft on me," I said. "Now tell me this. How do you deal with people who won't get better?"

"I'm not human."

"Neither am I."

"Yes, but you were, dunce" she said. "I never was, I don't have to deal with issues like that. I am as I am."

True. She's not human. Sometimes I forget that.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sorrow Vs Anger, Rounds Seven Through Twelve

Now take what happened to Tom a few weeks later. He's divorced for quite some time, but he married young and never really got the hang of meeting people and dating. "I saw this girl on the subway, right? She's cute, I even took a seat across from her just to get a good look. And during the ride, I notice a bunch of times that she's looking at me. At one point, I even looked up and down a bunch of times in a row and she was looking at me every time. And I did nothing. I'm not a forward guy, I'm not Mr Pickup Artist, hookin' up with girls on the subway. But dude, she was fuckin' checkin' me out! It wouldn't have taken much to just give myself a chance. Just say 'Hi.' Hell, just wave! Hell, just fucking smile! Fuckin' do something! Maybe you won't fucking die alone, 'cause if I keep doing nothing, that's what it feels like is going to happen."

Now, I'd originally thought that this is where sorrow trumps anger, because this is what Tom has to live with. It's not a burst of emotion, he's walking around with the knowledge that he failed to act and it may have cost him something. Whether it really did or not is not really the issue. That's the point; he doesn't know what trying to connect with this girl would have led to, and he never will. Better to try and be rejected than always wonder how your life might have turned out if only you'd captured the moment.

This kind of sorrow eats away at you. Anger's got nothing on that. But then I thought about Tom's tone when he told the story. He was indignant, almost spitting the worlds out. At who? At the girl? No, of course not, she didn't do anything wrong. Tom's anger is directed towards himself. That's not the revelation, that much is pretty obvious. But how is sorrow defined? If you think in terms of Tom, sorrow is really an inverted form of anger. If someone stole something precious from you, you'd resent them for it. Tom resents himself, and people who do generally have two reactions: acting out or acting in. Instead of taking things out on those around him, he turns it inward and responds by not allowing himself to be happy, sinking his emotional state to a low ebb that seems hard to escape.

So that's sorrow, and that's anger. So what the hell was up with that guy in the supermarket? Maybe in that case I'm mistaking anger for rage. Fuck, negative emotions are definitely not concrete. You didn't think being an angel was easy, did you? Well, maybe for Marley it is, but for reformed misanthropes like myself, there is a bit of labor involved.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sorrow Vs Anger, Rounds One Through Six

God, it's been crazy lately. Approaching our "on" season. It always gets busier in winter, you know, seasonal affective disorder and all. And now baseball season is over, and as you can imagine, Sashial and I were pretty unhappy about what happened to the Yankees. Lira's response was pretty much in character. "Maybe you two will actually stop worrying about a bunch of euphoric millionaires and get back to actually helping people who need it."

"At least I'm fucking passionate about something," said Sashial.

I chimed in with, "And you know I've been working my ass off, once the weather broke the depression was overwhelming."

Lira smiled, "Baby, it's been well over a year now, the fact that you still can't tell when I'm not serious is so sweet in its imbecility."

"Oh I know when you're kidding," I said, "and I'd laugh it off but I know sharing belligerence is what you live for."

Sashial grabbed my neck and shook me. "I fucking love this guy."

Speaking of
belligerence, this kind of leads to a question I've been wondering lately: which is worse, living with anger or sorrow? My first thought was sorrow because that's been my experience, but when I thought deeper I wasn't so sure. Then I tried to think of what was typical. One recent job I had was this guy who was seething with rage, all because some douchebag in the supermarket cut in front of him when they opened up a new lane and then claimed he was letting him go first and got all self-righteous about it, starting in with, "Oh, Jeeeeesus, I mean GOD!"

"Real fucking condescending crybaby shit," my subject told me. We'll call him Tom. "Yeah, he was letting me in, that's why he ran in front of me and got to the line first, that fucking liar, god, when I think about it I just want to find the guy and punch his fucking face in." And Tom's not a violent guy, the guy's attitude just really got under his skin. This kind of crap is pretty easy, you just give them a stock line about how sad the other guy's life must be to pull stupid crap like that, they calm down and by the next they've practically forgotten all about it.

That's the thing about most forms of anger, it's usually an emotional reflex, a short term visceral reaction that's often bigger in your head than it is in real life. The sudden onslaught is like an emotional assault you perpetrate on yourself, that's why the way you see it can be skewed. Especially in this case, because who knows if that guy in the supermarket's intent was malicious or not? It could just be Tom's perception. Why is that? I later had another run in with Tom that shed some light on things. Or so I thought, 'cause it also made me think my theories were a little off. But more on that tomorrow (hopefully).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Close Brush With . . . Well, Nothing, But Still . . .

Yesterday I had lunch with Tony and Lira in Manhattan. Not the Heaven version, the actual one, because Lira loves the real anger so much. Afterwards, I showed them around the neighborhood, as we were close to a place I used to live. In full-on visible mode, we were crossing the street when a car coming from the cross street sped up to beat the changing light as it was making a left-hand turn in our direction. Headed straight for us, he swerved to avoid Lira and nearly ran right into me, finally stopping short just inches from me. I instinctively moved away and the f---in' guy, without a shred of f---ing decency, just drove away.

Lira was unfazed, since, after thousands of years, this sort of apathy is what she's come to expect from the human race. Plus, since she was never human, she doesn't know what it's like to be fearful for your life. Technically speaking, she was never alive. No harm, no foul.

But I freaked the f--- out. I stood there, frozen, until Lira took my arm and walked me to the sidewalk, upon which she gave a few reassuring pats on the back. Tony didn't understand what the big deal was. "S'ok, you fine. Ain't like you gonna die again."

This annoyed Lira WAY more than the car did, since she knew exactly what was up. But she forgave the mental oversight and just calmly explained to him, "He was killed by a speeding car."
There were two reasons I was really upset. The first is that, while being an angel in Heaven with the freedom to go wherever and do whatever you want, sometimes it feels like you're just some kind of magical entity. You can forget what you truly are, which is dead. Call me reminded.

The second and even bigger thing is that, when I was killed, I was struck without warning and died instantly. I didn't even know I was dead until Archangel Michael showed me my body. This, I saw coming. It was like experiencing the terror of having your life about to come to an end that I never felt when it actually ended. It was scary, and I didn't like it. I hated that feeling of vulnerability. It's been over a year since I died and the first time I felt that way since then. It made me think about the physical and emotional fragility of humans. If the trauma's big enough, even the toughest person can fall apart just like that.

"You ok?" asked Lira.

I nodded. "I'll be fine."

"You wanna go back to Heaven?"

"No," I said, "I want to go back to work."

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Humidity's A Hair Over 40%, But What The Hell?

I went out to lunch with Tony and Suzanne the other day. We went to one of my favorite places down on Earth. I though I'd go with Earth instead of the Heaven counter part that day because the weather was particularly nice. We could have the same conditions up in Heaven of course, even better if we chose to. But sometimes, there's something about nice, genuine Earth weather that seems a little sweeter. It's the same as with anything on Earth: the things you earn are better than the things you're given. Maybe the weather is not your own accomplishment, but it seems all the more special.

It was the first time the three of us had hung out together in a while and it couldn't have come at a better time. In the past week, I'd dealt with a widower, a drug addict doing some serious jonesing and a rape victim (female angels usually handle those, but they were all booked up). It was an emotional draining week, I really needed some extra joy. I can't tell you how rewarding this job is, but there are times when sharing so much despair can get you down. Even dead, it's still good to have friends.

When I found out I'd made a mistake by shutting my friends out after my fiancee left, I was understandably despondent (especially the way I found out). Who knows, maybe I wouldn't be dead right now. But I am, I've learned from my mistakes, and the afterlife is going well (having what you want doesn't guarantee joy after all).

I feel ashamed of a lot of the things I said about Suzanne in the beginning. Thank god angels are forgiving.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Only Thing I'm Sort Of Good At, Is Referrals

We all know about the dangers of alcohol, but when they show you those movies and afterschool specials where a few beers destroy entire families (anyone remember The Last Prom?), you never see the subtleties, the minor issues that can blow up when a touch of alcohol boosts the emotional potency of a given situation. It may not destroy a life, but it can make tough to live with it.

Take Marshall here. Marshall is single and lonely, like many of my subjects are. "I'm out with some friends and I meet this girl," he said. "Friend of a friend. We seem to be hitting it off, but then she starts talking about this other girl, talking her up like she wants to set me up with her. I don't like blind set-ups, so I'm waiting for her to finish so I can politely talk my way out of it, and she finishes with, 'and she just moved here and she's looking to meet someone and you seem like a nice guy who's fun and into a lot of interesting things, so, do you know anyone who might be interested?'"

"Seriously? Maybe that was her way of implying that person was you."

"No, you should have seen the sincerity in her face. And I was just dumbfounded, so she breaks the silence with, 'I mean, can you think of anyone?' And I just didn't know how to respond, and she says, 'I'm sorry, are you insulted?' And I said, 'Little bit, yeah.' And she genuinely had no idea why. I mean, it was one of the most humiliating moments of my entire life and she just has no clue why I might find that degrading. So I just say, 'Well how do you know I wouldn't want to meet her?'"

"What did she say?" I asked.

"Well, during the whole pitch she did mention that the girl was Asian, and she just assumed I wouldn't be interested in dating an Asian girl. She said she didn't know if I was open-minded like that."

"Well, there's your answer, dude. She didn't mean anything by it, she wasn't implying you were unworthy or anything, she just didn't know."

"Well, I guess I can see that now." he said. "At the time it didn't seem like the strongest explanation. I was just so mortified."

"So what happened with her?" I asked.

"The conversation pretty much ended there. After that whole thing it was like, I felt so small I couldn't even talk to her. I think maybe I overreacted. I can get emotional when I drink."

How do you tell someone to prepare for something like this in the future? There's pretty much no way, except to tell them not to drink. I doubt this incident is going to make Marshall give up alcohol, but what do you say? Give them a card that says, "Your judgement is impaired, this situation may not be what you think it is," and say, "Read this when you're drunk and upset?" Doubt that works. All I can do is give a reassuring, "Doesn't matter. You're obviously meeting people. You'll meet others."

Will he? I don't know. It's not my job to know. It's my job to convince him he will, because if he doesn't think it, he probably won't. Holy fuck, dating. Glad that's over.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Drop That Lobster Roll And Pass Me A Bagel!

Went to another Yankee game with Sashial yesterday. Thus was a big one, cause it was against Boston. She felt the raised excitement and tension level, and so I had to explain the history of the rivalry. "So it gets pretty heated?" she asked.

"Sometimes," I said. " depends on the person. This one girl from Boston I know, after they Yanks won the series one year, she congratulated me. Then this other one, really nice girl, very cool, but when I told her I liked the city of Boston, she wouldn't believe me. She said I couldn't because I'm a Yankee fan."

"What's one thing got to do with another?"

"That's what I asked. She said the city and the team are connected. I was like, 'Well I was there and I felt joy, I don't know what to tell you.' Then I told this to another girl from Boston, and she said she didn't buy that, because she's a Boston fan and she likes new York City. So I told the first girl this and she said it's not the same because Boston's smaller."

Sashial looked confused and annoyed. "Smaller? Are you fucking kidding me? Like the team is a bigger part of the city because there's less of it?"

"I guess."

"What bullshit. You realize what she's actually saying, right? She's saying she forbids you to like Boston, because as a Yankee fan she feels you're unworthy of liking her fucking town. Is this someone you worked with?"


"So she worked in New York city. Did she live here too?"

"Yep. Still does as far as I know."

"So she owes her fucking home and livelihood to your city. Basically, she's allowed to like your city but you're not allowed to like hers. That's pretty fucking convenient for her. You know, some people might tell her how hypocritical that is, and say, "Doesn't work that way, this isn't a one way street. If this is the way you feel about teams and geography you should be true to yourself and get the fuck out of my city."

I smirked as I shook my head. "I'm too nice to say something like that."

"I know you are, baby."

"How do you help someone like that?" I asked.

"Same as you do everyone else. It's not you job to help her fucking grow up. Just to be there if she needs you."

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Maid's On Vacation, Don't Step On The Needles

Marley's ability isn't quite as omniscient as telekinesis but sometimes it might as well be. This guy I'm working on, his depression over his breakup is getting pretty bad (he was with the girl for five years, after all). He was putting on a pretty brave face while he was at work, although he's not as upbeat as I understand he used to be, and he couldn't help sounding down on monday when people asked him how his weekend was. He tried to be lighthearted about it, often answering the question with, "Well, Cathy and I were going to see Inception but we broke up instead." As an angel, you see this a lot; the subject makes sure he doesn't become a downer to his friends, but his pain always comes through nonetheless. It's rough, you do your best to keep from alienating people, and at the same time you isolate yourself. Makes recovery tough.

Basic procedure is to observe the subject at home and look for signs of the true severity when their barriers are down. Sometimes it's really hard because they're not interacting with anyone, but the minute I saw his apartment, I knew this was bad. They broke up on a friday, and I started the job the following monday. In the space of just a weekend, the place turned into a disaster. Laundry was all over the floor and couch, plates and silverware with remnants of food were piled up and festering in the sink, and he was even taking garbage and tossing it on the floor rather than walk the necessary ten feet to the garbage can.

I was telling Marley about this, and she said, "And what did you think?"

"What did I think? I though he's just given up."

"No, there's something else, something you're afraid to tell me, like it'll hurt my feelings."

"Well, um," I mumbled, "I just, I saw this movie once where this, ah, drug addict was, like, all strung out and staying in this room that had, like, garbage and shit everywhere. And I thought, 'Fuck, it looks like a junkie lives here.'"

She nodded. "It's ok, I'm not offended. I actually kept my place pretty clean. I know you saw what it looked like when we saw my body, but that's because of what my boyfriend did."

"Well, like you said, I didn't want to hurt your feelings."

She smiled. "And that's why you do what you do."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Margaret O'Flannery Ruined My LIfe

I've been an angel for about a year now, and over that time I've noticed some patterns emerge. I've talked about a few of them already, like the spike in depression over Valentine's Day and the sorrow drowning excuse that St Patrick's day provides. Now I've got some categories, and one that's especially prevalent in New York City is men age forty. It sounds like a demographic but what it really is is a trigger. Lots of men who hit forty feel like their god damn lives are over, like anything they haven't achieved to that point will never happen. This happens with both professional and personal goals. When I noticed this, I said to Archangel Michael, "We should form divisions, like have a Job Frustration Department and a Turning Forty Department."

"Oh, We tried that about 400 years ago. It was too structured, the angels didn't like visiting the same issues over and over again."

Makes sense. Nevertheless, my latest job can go in the Men Age Forty file. Ron, we'll call him, is forty, single, and lamenting a lost love. "I hadn't thought about her in years," he said, "then this guy at work asked me who I'd rather be with, a girl who's smart and ugly or hot and stupid. Right away I said, 'hot and stupid.' Then that reminded me of a girl I dated a few years after college. She was blond and beautiful, but she was also a summa cum laude at Columbia University."

"Brains and beauty," I said.

"Exactly. Great girl. She was perfect. But she was actually still in school at the time. She got a B on a paper and acted like it was my fault, like it was because she was spending too much time with me. Then I lost my job. It was a horrible job and it turned out to be a blessing, but at the time, I don't know. I was unemployed when I met her and she didn't care. But after a few months . . . I don't know, maybe she thought if her work was suffering, then it wasn't worth it to be with some unemployed shlub.

"You broke up?"

"Yeah, she dumped me. It was years ago, but I don't know. I'm still single, what if I was like, meant to be with her, and it got screwed up somehow, so now there's no one for me. You know what I mean?"

"That's an interesting theory," I said. "Don't think I buy it though. If there really was fate and destiny, we wouldn't have control over our futures. Look at it this way, if you had a destiny, it would have to come from somewhere, like from God, or some kind of supreme being. Do you think God would be so cruel as to condemn you to a life of misery because of some bad luck that happened fifteen years ago?"

"I guess not." He took a long pause and said, "If there is a God."

So his current state still left him with doubts about both himself and universe. Life can be hard on faith. But at least what I told him gave him hope that his soul mate was still out there somewhere. Michael told me there was no fate, so I felt good that my words were true. Then again, his problem made me feel relieved that I had someone to go home to. Is that ok?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Forget Tony Danza, He's The Boss. And Fuck Bruce Springsteen Too

When I was a kid growing up in New York, local TV station WPIX channel 11 was know for five things: local news, old movies, reruns, after school cartoons, and of course, Yankee games. I would come home after after school, watch cartoons and see the ads for the games, and before long I started watching. That's how I became a Yankee fan. Mom and dad were Met fans and I later became the black sheep of the family. But it was their fault. They didn't watch baseball when I was was kid. They had their chance and they blew it. It was a great move on their part though; for all the things I had in my life to be miserable about, their indifference saved me from the sorrow of becoming a Met fan. Thanks mom and dad!

And so it saddens me to learn of George Steinbrenner's passing. I'm hoping I'll get the chance to meet him soon, though I'm sure there's millions of people waiting for their chance, so better let it wait.

"You're an angel," said Sashial. "You ought to go first."

"Doesn't make me better than any other fan," I said. "It wouldn't be fair."

She patted my cheek. "You're such a sweetheart."

Some might say he's actually going to Hell, but trust me, he's here. As tough as he was on people, his drive to win truly brought joy to millions of people. I'm not saying a little colateral damage is ok, but life is balance and you can never please anyone. How many people have you pissed off over your lifetime? I'm betting the ratio holds pretty close.

His drive and guidance brought seven championships. I didn't see all of them, in fact I waited most of lifetime to that point until I saw one, but in a lifetime of misery and dissapointment, to be responsible for one thing gone right that brought emotional euphoria to my life (or five things if you want to look at it that way), I will be eternally grateful. And don't tell me the 90's championships were set up when he was banned from baseball; those were the seeds, and he came back in 1993 and put the final pieces in place.

The Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard died this week too. "You think he announced George's arrival?" I asked Marley. "'Now dying . . . The Boss . . . George . . . Steinbrenner.'"

She gave me an amused smirk with a hint of surprise. "That's kind of morbid."

"Well I am dead," I said. "And you know I already had a morbid sense of humor.'"

She said, "I'm dead too, I don't mind. And I know this saddens you. I think the humor helps."

She always knows.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Goin' Back To Cali, I Know So

Sashial wanted me to thank everyone who voted for Nick Swisher. As you can imagine, she's absolutely thrilled that he won the vote to become an All-Star.

"So where are we watching the game?" she asked.

"Let's go to Anaheim," I said. "It's an American League town, I think it'll nice to actually be cheering with crowd this time."

"Fuckin' A, let's rock that place! And I'm impressed with you too, wanting to embrace instead of hate."

"You think there might be hope for me after all?"

"I always knew there was hope for you, and you made the team. But now you're turning into an All-Star." She had kind of a proud glow when she said that.

"You goin' soft on me?" I asked.

"Shut the fuck up and get to work. There's a guy who just found out his crush is getting married."

"On it." Gotta run.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Swishalicious IS A Word. Because She Said So, That's Why.

"Sometimes it fucking sucks to be good." Not a surprising sentence coming from Sashial, but it still begged an explanation.

"You're not thinking of doing something bad, are you?" I asked, with confidence but caution.

She smirked and shook her head. "Don't be stupid, of course not. It just makes me mad. You know who my favorite Yankee is, don't you?"

Without taking a beat, I said, "Nick Swisher."

"Good boy. Now that he's in this final vote to make the All-Star team, it started me thinking. You can vote as many times as you want. If I wanted to, I could just create a computer and ring up a jillion votes. I could do it with a thought."

"And you're worried about the temptation?" I asked.

"Are you even fucking listening to me? No! The very idea of that is sickening. To bend the limits of fairness, how fucking greedy do you have to be? And some people live their lives that way. I just hate to think about it, you know?"

I know. Please vote for Nick Swisher. This is Sashial in a good mood. You don't want to see her angry.


Monday, June 28, 2010


Yesterday, I found Marley staring at the big LCD TV in my living room with a worried look on her face. "Do you like TV more that people?" she asked.

That I did not expect. "What?"

"I mean, is a TV, like, a substitute for a person, or human contact? I've never had my own one."

I saw where she was going with this. "It can be. But not by choice, at least for me it wasn't. When you're lonely it can be a good distraction, or an escape. And sometimes, I don't know, when things are at their worst, the people on tv might be the only ones you see or hear."

She frowned. "That's really sad. Then again, when I think about all that time I spent in that tiny room . . . I mean, I don't want to think about that. Maybe it would have been good to have something to focus on."

"What about your drawings?" I asked.

"That's about all I did," she answered. "But I didn't always have the stuff to do it with."

I tried not to reflect on that too long, so I just asked, "Is this about that guy Suzanne's working on?"

"Yeah. He got the big screen TV last week, now he hardly does anything but watch it and go to work. And of course he'll never meet anyone if that's all he does. She's afraid he's trapping himself."

"Well, I wouldn't panic yet," I assured her. "He just got it, it's brand new, he's gonna go through a period of initial amazement. Tell her to wait it out for a week or two, it should be easier for him to tear himself away from it by then."

"OK. I just he's not too far gone by then."

"He'll be fine. No one can replace human contact with a TV forever. Seeing and hearing people on a screen never is enough. If he starts talking to them, that's when I'd get worried."

"What about when you yell at the announcers when you're watching a game?" she asked.

"Um, that's different."


"Just humor me, please?"

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Grab Me A Moosehead Between Innings, Eh?

Last weekend, Sashial asked me, "Don't you ever get tired of seeing the Yankees in New York?"

"Not really."

"Oh yeah, Mr. Ethno-fucking-centric. I think we should branch out."

"We did that," I reminded her. "In Anaheim. It was sickening."

"That was the fucking playoffs," she snapped back. "That was tense. For fuck's sake, let's just go to a fucking game!"

As much as I maintain my New York City arrogance and prefer not to leave, I do enjoy traveling every once in a while, especially to places I've never been. "They've got a series against the Blue Jays."

"Then let's go to Toronto!"

Unfortunately, the Yankees lost the game we went to on an extra-inning walk-off base hit. Sure, it's not the playoffs, but I tend to intensify everything emotionally. On the one hand, that's what makes me a good angel. On the other, for things like this which should be insignificant can seem like the end of the world. Every time the Yankees lose, I think it's the beginning of a downward spiral that will lead to complete and total failure. I must have thought that forty times last year and they won the damn World Series. It's no wonder I spent my lifetime in misery.

But at that moment, it was hard to see my overreacting anxiety from the outside. "Listen to them cheering," I said with a healthy dose of venom. Then I lightened up and added, "I mean come on, what do they really have to get excited about? They're still just Canadians."

It'd been a while since I'd seen Sashial that mad. "HOW the fuck could you say something like that? That's ignorant, prejudice bullshit! Can you really be that fucking vain to degrade an entire country?"

I defended myself with the calm that comes from familiarity. "Sashial, it's just a joke. Canada's kind of like our little brother to the north. We Americans may take a jab at them every now and then, but it's only because, on sort of a global scale, they're kind of like family." One such Canadian who overheard that gave me a little smile and nod before walking off.

Sashial put her hand on my my neck. "Yeah, I figured it was something like that, honey. I know you well enough to know you don't have ignorant hatred like that." Then she held my head in her hands, gave me a gentle shake, and with a smirk, said, "Just don't ever fuckin' do it again," and still smiling, gave me a light but firm upward slap on the side of the face.

I said, "See? I'm like your Canada."

She thought for a second, grinned and said, "Fuck. You always have to be right, don't you?"

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Well, Since Your Life Sucked . . .

Much to my surprise, I got a call from Suzanne the other day, saying she wanted to pick my brain about something. She asked me to meet her at this place called the Prairie Grass Cafe in Chicago. "I know you love burgers," she said, "I'm telling you, BEST in the state!" Not that I needed much prodding to help a friend, but it was clear she knew how to guarantee my participation.

"So this guy I'm working on," she said, "I'm having trouble helping him, because he doesn't seem to want it. It's like he doesn't care, like he's given up."

"What's his problem?" I asked.

"Well, he's in his early forties and he's, like, you know, single. And he's all, 'I'm past the point of no return, I missed my chance, how can I find anyone, how's it gonna happen, I'm gonna live alone for the rest of my life.' He even bought this huge hi def big screen tv he can barely afford. I asked him why, and he's like, 'Well if I'm not gonna get pleasure from anything else in life I might as well have a great tv, I'm here all alone watching tv most of the time anyway, might as well make it the best experience I can.' It's so sad. It's like he's too bitter to even try anymore."

I knew where she was going with this. "So you need the advice of someone else who was just as bitter."

She seemed ashamed of the truth, but relieved she didn't have to come out and say it. "What would you say?"

"Well, he's not gonna respond to basic words of encouragement, like, 'Oh, I'm sure there's someone out there,' or, 'It'll be there when you least expect it.' It's gonna sound like an empty promise, or since he's like forty already, he'll think if that was true, it would have happened by now. You're better off doing this anecdotally, stories of people it worked out for. That'll make him more likely to think that it's actually possible. It's worth a shot."

She smiled. "I'll give that a try. It's a start at least. Oh, THANKS! How's the burger?"

I shook my head with delight. "Outstanding."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I Don't Think I Want To Work At Douchebags 'R Us Anyway

Had a really simple job today; just a guy who had a job interview that didn't go well. We'll call him Ken. So Ken ends up in a bar, drowning the sorrows, or at least holding their heads down in the water long enough to scare the fuck out of them. I think that sounds like a more appropriate metaphor anyway. You can never kill your sorrow completely, just contain it, hold it off or drive it away. Think of every beer as one head dunk, like in the war movie torture scenes. And be reasonable, because if you do it too often, you'll become a monster.

Anyway, that's a nice segway, because he described the interview like it was torture. No questions about his experience or skill, just a lot of figurative stress questions, scenarios he had trouble speaking to because they didn't really relate to his his experience. "Give an example of how you handled a project going awry because of an internal mistake."

"He wasn't being very specific," said Ken, who writes for a travel magazine. "And every time I would try to answer, like, 'Well, one time a tourism company wouldn't approve the fact check on a coverage article by press time-"

"No, I mean something internally."

"We just don't have issues like that. We sit and write. And every time I tried to think of something, he'd go, 'No, that's not the sort of thing I mean.'"

"Look at it this way," I said, "Would you want to work for someone like that?"

"Actually, no. I'm just really unhappy where I am."

"Yeah, that happens. But that doesn't mean everywhere else you go, it's gonna be better. You're better off holding out for a better opportunity then working for that fucktard."

"Yeah, I guess so," he said, not a hundred percent sure, but at least in a better place than when I found him. I still felt bad for the guy. Not everyone can have a dream job like I do.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Enemies: A Functioning Mutual Respect Story

Sashial and I went to see the bombers today for the first time this year. It was against Chicago, so Suzanne came with us too. I made sure to sit between them because I was afraid Suzanne would agitate Sashial. Sashial doesn't really hate anyone per se, but I think Suzanne's bubbly demeanor is the sort of thing she'd avoid if given the choice. When Suzanne showed up wearing a Chicago shirt, Sashial looked a little annoyed. "Isn't it insulting for her to walk into our house with that on?"

She was still learning ballgame etiquette. "Not if it's for the guys we're playing. If you're just supporting your team it's ok. Wearing rival colors for no reason is out of line."

Later on, Sashial kind of turned the tables on me when they made the safety announcement. At the beginning of every game, they give a warning that sections close to the field may susceptible to balls and various equipment flying into the stands, so stay alert. I said to Sashial, "If I made that announcement, it would say, 'If you have enough money to be sitting in a section close enough to be hit with a ball, then screw you, you probably deserve to get plunked in the fucking head every once in a while you rich motherfucker.'"

She wasn't laughing. "That's a fucking horrible thing to say. Having money or a better seat doesn't make you any more or less worthy of existing without misfortune, you know that." I told her she was right and apologised, and just then Chicago made a strong defensive play that got a cheer out of Suzanne. Sashial leaned in and asked, "Is she gonna fucking do that the whole time?"

"Well, she is from Chicago," I said, "it's her prerogative."

She shook her head. "Fuckin' 'ell."

Turned out it wasn't much of an issue because the bombers went on to destroy Chicago in a big time blowout. The big surprise was at the end, when Sashial, buzzing from the victory, said to Suzanne, "You should come with us next time!" When I gave her a confused look, she said, "What? She brought us luck!" Well, Suzanne is an angel, after all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I've talked before about cycles, or loops or traps or whatever you want to call them. I'm talking about situations that beget an emotional attitude, specifically sorrow, because , obviously, that's my business. Going further, sorrow often has the outward effect of the dour personality. Now, if someone is depressed, he might become a depressing person. And here's the kick: people may not want to be around him, because he's fucking depressing. But he obviously doesn't want to be, but he can't get happy because nobody wants to be around him. See the trap?

A fellow, we'll call him Gerald, got a new job. Now, he's a person who's generally well liked in his office. But when they threw a send off for him, he grew a little despondent because of the low turnout. One of his coworkers had to going around "reminding," or to be more honest, guilting people, to go swing by. I was there in spirit mode, and even I could read the look on his face. It was mix of sorrow and bewilderment, as if he thinking "I don't know why people hate me so much," but had given in to the idea that they did, to the point where he expected it.

Any number of incidents like that can lead people like Gerald to walk around believing no one wants to be around them, to the point where their mood begins to prove them right. They say if you act like a loser, people tend to treat you like a loser. They also say, you wanna be a winner, be a winner, you wanna be a loser, be a loser. A friend of mine in college once said the secret to poularity is to always be in a good mood. Tell that to the guy who never does anything wrong then gets condemned to a life of solitary confinement. He wants to smile. He'd love to. But he can't, like the world won't let him. How you break out of that?

I don't know if you can, or at least I haven't figured it out. All I can do is be around case by case, offering enough assurance to keep them persevering to the next experience. Hope yours is a positive one, Gerald.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Take The Wheel. Seriously, Take It.

Holy fuck, has it really been this long? Nearly a month since the last update, what can I say? So fucking busy. There's sorrow everywhere. I'm still relativley new to this, so I'm still trying to put the human condition in the proper context. There's a lot of miserable fucks out there; I know, I used to be one of them. There's also a lot of cruel and/or heartless people out there, I think there's no arguement with that. The question is, what begets what? Well maybe not that, more like, does malicious apathy create sadness or exacerbate it? Who has a responsibility to who? Maybe someone's not treating you well. But why is your happiness up to them? Who are you to thrust that role upon them? We think it might come down to simple decency, but the term is way to subjective. One person may just want a simple smile, another may need an open invitation to marry one of your daughters. The point is, you can't really rely on or burden someone else with your own happiness. It's unrealistic and unfair.

But when faced with someone who's approaching despair because of what he perceives to be apathy, I can't just say, "Get over yourself." First off, and we've been through this, everyone has a right to their own pain, and if appreciation is what they value, then we've got to be sensitive to the pain they're in. But how does one alleviate that? You could lie, like your parents may have when you were a kid (they were laughing with you, the girl's probably just mean because she likes you, etc.), but I've found that doesn't really help. It's like ignoring your problems, going to bed and hoping everything'll be gone when you wake up. So in a recent instance of this, I just dealt in truth.

"You know, life isn't about being the most beloved or popular person. That's not what makes us good people. What matters is that you know who you are. When you do, you don't need someone else's validation. You only need yours. Now, that doesn't mean you'll always have it, but if you don't, still remember that you're the one in control. You can affect you. You can always fix it. Those other people are on their own, you can't change them. And if they're not what you need for your happiness, well screw them."

Is it effective? Well don't expect miracles overnight. I can't cure everyone. But I can give them hope. And for most, that's enough.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Inside The Neighbor's Studio (And Not Her Apartment)

The mind can be your worst enemy, trust me, I know. Little things that one person would never notice can speak volumes to another. Even the person doing whatever it is may never know the significance of what they're doing. Why? Because they're not actually doing anything. The human mind has the cursed gift of bending and transforming a harmless and innocent action into an agonizing attack of malicious intent. That's the torment of creativity, maybe that's why artists are fucking crazy.

Which leads me to St. Patrick's Day (the real one this time). I went to New York on Earth to join in and brought Tony with me. Marley wouldn't go; first of all, she doesn't like crowds, second, the idea being immersed in an environment where everyone is engaged in a destructive vice is a rather unsettling thought for a former heroin addict (we invited Suzanne, but she had her own plans in Chicago).

St. Patrick's isn't an anxiety inducing holiday like Valentine's Day, but it does have its own mystique, in that it's a national excuse to drown your sorrows. I saw a dude by the bar with the textbook signs of hurt on his face, and started a conversation about the game he was watching (lonely people in bars have nothing else to do but watch sports). I turned the conversation in the angel direction, and thanks to the sudsy truth serum, it didn't take much prodding to get his problem out of him (so much easier, St Patrick should be the patron saint of angels).

"There's this girl in my building," he said. "We used to always stop and chat whenever we ran into each other, now she hates me."


"I don't know. But she doesn't really talk to me anymore."

Waited for him to elaborate, but he just drank his beer. "And?"

"And what?"

"That's it? That's hatred?"

"Well wouldn't she want to talk more if she didn't have a problem with me?"

"Who knows?" I said. "There's any number of reasons for something like that. There's only so much you can say by the mailboxes in the lobby, maybe now that you've gotten through the usual, "What's your name, where you from, what do you do?" conversations, it's more complicated to keep the small talk going. What, you like this girl?"

"She's cute, yeah, but I'm not devastated or anything."

"So whats the problem?"

He said, "It would just be nice to be appreciated, you know?"

What do you do with a guy like that? Girl doesn't stop for Twenty Questions and he loses his fucking mind. My talk gave his head some healthier (and more reasonable) explanations that should help him in the here and now, but this sort of thing is likely to recur if he doesn't learn to recognize his anxiety. Gotta tell my old classmates about this bar. Looks like I've found a hot spot.

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

If You Ain't Shit Don't Force It

So Lee ran into Anna-Nicole again. I'd been following him, so I basically crashed the party they were at and bore witness to the whole thing. He noticed her from across the room, she's easy to spot, with that body and her odd haircut, which has an asymmetrical buzz on one side and chin length on the other. Their paths crossed, and when he tried to issue a greeting, she coldly answered with the same, "I told you not to talk to me." Then she turned to a friend and said, "I hate it when I tell people not to talk to me and they do."

"Well I don't know what I did, but whatever it was I'm sure I can make up for it," he said, doing his best to maintain peaceful diplomacy.

"Just leave me alone."

And that was it, detente was over, now all Lee had was anger. And he said, "Well screw you then. You know, you try so hard to project this indie, anti-mainstream image with with that 1983 haircut, but really you're more stuck up than any uptown yuppie bitch."

She just said, "Asshole," and walked off.

Lee muttered, "Fuckin' bitch," under his breath. I scooted over and said, "Hey dude, never mind her," and offered my instant analysis, "she's just got problems, that's all."

"What kind of problems?"

"I don't know," I said, "but that whole image thing you mentioned, you know how it just reeks of effort? She's obviously insecure about something, so she goes out of her way to seem different so that people can't see who she really is. She's probably got low-self esteem. That things she does where she acts like certain people aren't worthy of her attention is probably just a way of making herself feel superior so that she'll feel better about herself."

Lee said, "Makes sense. Kinda sad." I nodded and moved on, projecting out when I found a blind corner. I could tell Lee's anger was alleviated. Even if all I may have done was found a way to make her look pitiful so he'd feel like the superior one, the means wasn't really that important. I don't need confirmation on it. Mission's done. Next, please.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Where The Beer Flows Like The Hudson (But Less Polluted)

So, big doin’s this weekend. First of all, it was Hoboken New Jersey’s St. Patrick’s Day. For those not in the know, rather than compete with the St. Patrick’s Day celebration of a real city, like, say, the one across the river (that would be New York City), Hoboken has their parade and de facto holiday about two weeks earlier on the first Saturday of March. I think the idea is kind of sad personally, but Marley really wanted to go, so she went with Suzanne. Suzanne’s from Chicago, which probably has the biggest St. Patrick’s Day after New York and Boston, so she thought the idea was pretty silly too. But unlike me, she doesn’t judge.

Suzanne could find something fun about a sandstorm, so she kind of felt in her element. Every now and then, they would come across people who in the small dose of a passerby seemed kind of shallow. She sank a little, feeling traces of her former life. But that would end when she looked at Marley, who said, “Oh my god, they’re euphoric! So many of them! It’s like an assault of joy.”

They wandered around some more, and Suzanne said, “You know, when I was in school, I used to party like this. After school for a while too. But when I got sick, it was like, you know, all of a sudden I was like fifty, like the happy youth was done. No more fun.”

“I never really had fun like this when I was alive,” said Marley.

“Well what did you do when you wanted to, like, escape it all?”


Suzanne stood apologetically for a second, then a small crowd let out a loud cheer for a when they saw two guys walking down the street with a keg fridge and Marley started giggling and they went on with their day. “Awesome day!” she told me later. “You should come next year!”

“I’ll get back to you on that.”

Ah, to be young and alive.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You Wish You Were Special, You're So Fucking Special

Arrogant fucking people really get up my nose. Not as much as they used to, because, you know, I'm fuckin' dead, and I've learned there's more to this world to worry about than unjustified narcissism. But still, when it gets in the way of someone else's complacency, that's when I get involved. Not mad, not even, just involved. Why? 'Cause that's my job.

Ok, so here's Lee. Lee has this thing with a girl named . . . oh, I forget what the fuck her name is. She doesn't matter, so who gives a fuck. Well, Lee gives a fuck, so let's be sensitive to him. For the sake of storytelling, we'll call her Anna-Nicole. Lee met Anna-Nicole at a party. She's not beautiful, but she has a decent face and a statuesque figure, which is enough to qualify at least for crush status in many a guy's heart (even with my lust left back with my rotting corpse I could tell you that). So Lee meets this girl and they exchange names and yada yada yada. She was about as warm as iced down fish in the markets of Chinatown, so that didn't really didn't go anywhere.

Moving on, they know a few of the same people, so their paths cross again at another party, and Lee, who's just bad with names, asks her name again. Now, she takes great offense to this, as if to say, "How could you forget my name with this body?! How dare you!" Sensing the second meeting had gone worse than the first, Lee moved on. He runs into her again later on and just tried to make some small talk, and she responds with, "I told you never to talk to me again."

First of all, Lee doesn't recall her giving him any such order. Second, he's not saddened by this, he's just angry. Mostly because he doesn't deserve to be treated this way, and who the fuck is she to do so in the first place? Sashial told me, "Don't worry about him, he's better off. Fuck that cunt."

I said, "No, he's probably gonna run into her again and he's just gonna get mad. Gotta make sure his happiness isn't messed with."

"Fine, baby," she said, "you do what you have to." She stood there looking at me, then finally said, "What the fuck are you waiting for?"

"The next party."

She smiled and nodded. "Good boy."

I'll let you know what happens.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Outcast Becomes The Teacher

Well, it's pretty much over now, the heavy season that revolves around Valentine's day has come and gone. This was my first as an angel and even the expectations and warnings from Archangel Michael didn't really prepare me for what I was in for. It was essentially a constant state of work; after every word of inspiration, there was another subject to run to. Lonliness is not the most challenging problem a person can have, but the steady, unending flow of projects without respite gets a little draining after a while.

Suzanne said something kind of funny, she said, "Well maybe the weekends won't be so bad, cause, like, all the lonely people will siting home by themselves because they have nothing to do."

She's so sweet. Living the kind of life she did, she really has no idea what it's like to be a lonely person. But the great thing is that she so badly wants to learn. So this was actually the first time Suzanne and I teamed up. We went to this bar, and I motioned to where five people were sitting. "What do you see?"

"Four guys and a girl," she said.

I said, "look closer. There's one couple. See those two guys talking? They're friends. Look at the guy in the middle."

She took a look. "The one watching the tv?"

"Yes. By himself. That's the lonely guy"

"OH! Oh."

It felt good to mentor someone in the ways of loneliness, like my years of training had finally become useful. Then, with powers of perception in hand, we went to work.

More to come.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Another Way To Salvation

I'm so not even ready to talk about work, as I'm still recovering from Valentine's Day. So let's talk about a revelation of a different kind. I've always held a disdain for all things safe and conventional. Ordinary is boring, and let's face it, usually the mark of a lack of creativity or originality. Ordinary fuckin' culture. I hate it.

That's why it was so great to stumble across this novella called The Salvation Of Billy Wayne Carter by an author named M. David Hornbuckle. On the surface it's about a musician who rises to legendary status, but it's really about so much more. It's an analysis on the human condition painted with a surreal palette as it jumps through a web of time and characters. Original, sometime challenging (without the self-impressed condescension that comes with forced literary eccentricity) and most definitely not conventional.

Anyway, if you want to read more about it or just plain get your hands on it, you can check it out at:

You're welcome.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Nothing's Certain But Death And Valentines

I used to wonder if there really was anything to the idea of reincarnation. Not so much because of the idea of extending the soul's tenure in the physical world, more because of the concept of collected karma. The idea that the sum of your actions determining your state of being in the next life always resonated with me, especially my states were especially low. The idea is not so much the state you're born into, but the one that follows you over the course of your life; poor actions translate into poor consequences in the next life. The barbaric run of bad luck I had when I was alive often made me wonder, if this notion is real, exactly how fucking evil was I in my last life to earn the life that I was given? Given the relative privilege of my family background, I think I wasn't a murderer or dictator, but at the very least, I must have been a REAL asshole.

Turns out I'm not alone in that sentiment. See, the angels are in our busy season right now. Valentine's Day is approaching. Think of it like with accountants and Tax day: to us, February 14 is our April 15. Marley is getting signals of despair everywhere she goes. "People wonder what they did to deserve the loneliness they're feeling," she said the other day. "Some of them think about that karma thing too. It's so sad. It's like they're blaming themselves."

I never thought about it like that, but as emotionally dark as I already know New York City to be, the depression booster shot it gets in the high season pushes it beyond anything you'll ever know. A friend of mine once called NYC "loner capital of the world." I didn't know about that, whenever I was alone, I always saw couples paired up and groups of carousers celebrating the invention of the pint glass. That's the immensity, when you're an angel, you realize the loners are EVERYWHERE, milling about being given very little from which to glean joy out of life

As you may have guessed, the constant flood of inspiring reassurance during the high season has been a little emotionally taxing, and my underlying cynicism creeps up from time to time. Just one more week to go. Then maybe I'll go to Ireland for a little while.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Diametric Employment Rates Of Heaven And Earth

Heaven is about comfort, not spectacle, most people don't know that until they get here. One of the earthbound concerns alleviated by the heavenly existence is the need for money. As an angel, you need to keep that in perspective so you don't forget how important financial health is. They say it's not everything, and it doesn't buy happiness, but the truth is, unless you're living off the land somewhere, it's a necessity. Money is a major source of pain in the vast majority of the world. Few things cause as much individual anxiety and group infighting as money does. You know, musician David Byrne of the Talking Heads once said "I was never in it for the money." Hate to break this to you , you arrogant douchebag, but yes you are. Because it's your job. If you're not in it for the money, fine, give it all back and live destitute on the street. That's exactly the kind of loss of perspective that, as an angel, you need to avoid.

And that's one of the reason's you can't forget what you're doing. It's a shame to say, but in the current state of the economy, the angel business is one of the few industries that's booming. That's probably why I became an angel in the first place; high demand. With so much economic misery, the divine army had to be understaffed. I imagine that if I'd died during the peace and prosperity of 1990's I probably would have never become an angel in the first place. But I didn't, so I did. So in a way, the failed trickle down politics of the Republicans might be the very reason I got the halo. It's a divine miracle; someone not in the upper three percent actually benefited from them. Hallelujah. Much rejoicing.

I know I normally don't get political because that's not the point I'm trying to make. Then again, in these trying times, I see a lot of people losing the hope they've been clinging to. So I'm not here to tell people who to vote for, I just want them to see the big picture. Change takes time. I know that sounds like a cop out cover story that's meant to hide the truth, but this time, it is the truth. Don't believe me? Go back and take a look at the state of the country back in January of 1994. Right, not a very good one. Take a look at what happened soon thereafter. Ok, convinced? Maybe, maybe not. But you have hope now, right? Be honest. Deep down, I think you do.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Burning The Midnight Bridges

One of the many reasons behind my disdain of humanity is the destruction of faith caused when you trust people to know what they're doing instead if intervening, and then find out the hard way they don't. There's a fine line in angeldom; there's a certain degree to which you leave people to find the answers on their own, otherwise they'll never grow as a result of the experience. So at what point do you decide when they're ready to have their epiphany and when they need the push in that direction? Normally it's not an issue because our typical assignments are people at crisis points. But you never know. And if you hesitate, you run the risk of your subject hurting the people around them.

Case in point, there's a man trying to provide for his family, let's call him Reggie. So Reggie works in an office, so it's not an issue of earning overtime for the extra money. What he's doing is putting in extra work in an attempt to get ahead. His hope is to pay dividends down the road by earning promotions and extra money. But in the present, he's missing out on his family. His wife and children miss him and feel his work ethic is only hurting them. But this isn't the reason I had to go to him. The problem is he feels the same way. He's miserable without the people he loves, but feels he needs to reach his goal. When I was first handed the job, I spent some time observing, hoping he'd wise up. Eventually his ten year old daughter came hope with a test score she was proud of, but there was no daddy to share the good news with. When he finally did come home early enough to see her, tired and cranky, he coldly brushed her off, telling her, "Just show me later, ok?" When she started tearing up, I knew it was time to go to work.

I went to his office posing as a freelance temp one night when he was still working at 2 in the morning. With his inhibitions lowered from fatigue, confessed his dilemma. I told him, "You know, a lot of people are so goal oriented that they never stop to think about what they have."

"But you gotta see the big picture," he said. "You don't think about things down the road, you'll never accomplish anything."

"You'll never be happy either," I said. "There's always gonna be another goal: if you're a supervisor, you wanna be a senior supervisor. Then an executive, then a vice-president or whatever, then the next rung and the next. Life just becomes a series of steps, and no matter where you are, you always feel you're in a state of inferiority. But you have a family. Lots of people don't. You don't have to be company president to take joy from that."

He said, "Maybe,"and I pretended to go back to work. I wasn't sure if I got through to him, but the next night, he left at seven o'clock. It's a start.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hope Is The New Forty

It's disturbing to think about it this way, but death is a way of achieving immortality. Existence on the physical plain is short compared to that on the ethereal plain. It's not just a sad notion, it's an exploited one. Most religions are built on a foundation of this belief, it's their way of controlling minds by playing into the fears of aging and death: follow our ways and and you'll exist forever. But it's sad, using this as a guiding belief simply misses the point. The whole purpose of life is challenge and the rewards you reap when they're faced. Death is just comfort; it's not the reward that comes at the end of life, it's the consolation.

Unfortunately, life compresses a wealth of pressures into its short span and comes prepackaged with a set of goals. This is why the fear of aging is so pronounced. It wouldn't be an issue if so many people didn't see time passage as an obstacle. Take this job I had the other day. The new year is only a few days old, and this guy, we'll call him Stan, acted like his life was over as soon as that ball in Times Square landed. After I got to know him and asked why, he said, "I'm gonna be forty this year."

"When?" I asked.


"Hey, forty's no big deal! And if it were, you still have a few months."

"Yeah," he said, "but whenever the new year starts, I already feel the age that I'm gonna turn that year."

"Oh. Well, I know, it's like, you reach a certain age and you're disappointed you haven't accomplished what you wanted to."

"Well, kind of. It's more like, well you know, all those statistics they have, that say if you haven't gotten those things by a certain age, you never will."

That kind of threw me a little. As bitter as I was about my life, I never had to deal with that. Forty was about a decade away when I died. When Shannon left, I was focused on life without her, not the possibility of life without anyone.

"They can play with statistics all they want," I said. "But your fate isn't based on some kind of sabermetrics book, life isn't a formula. You want to life life by odds, fine. But you know, odds don't control you, you do. Don't let some statistic tell you what you can or can't have. If you just gave in to that, then what's the point of life anyway?"

"Good point," he said.

So, I didn't solve his problem; the guy's still gonna turn forty. But I could tell I gave him hope. And we're not problem solvers, we're angels.