JUST ANOTHER LATE NIGHT THOUGHT!

Sometimes, when it is night time and I am alone in my house, I stand in my bathroom with only one light on and look at my eyes in the mirror. They are brown, my eyes, a mix of medium and light browns in the center, surrounded by sprays of black that grow according to type of light and mood. Which, one could argue, are often the same thing.

On occasion, at night, it’s not the color I think of. Instead, I think about what makes eyes glow, and about what dims them.


Do you ever think about the word “deserve”? I think about it quite a lot. It’s such a rich word, which I mean in all senses of the phrase. At its core, deserve is a word of indulgence.

Please make no mistake: I love deserve.

When anyone says, “This is wonderful news. You deserve this.” Or, “He’s an idiot. You deserve someone who appreciates you,” my anxious soul sighs gently and slips back into repose. Do I? Oh I do, it says gratefully.

But what does it mean to deserve? Who is the judge of this, and by what standards? When terrible things befall someone, do they deserve them? And when wonderful things grace another, is it possible they may not?

I certainly don’t deserve to lose a job, or to have a heart be bruised. I’m a good person, I like to tell myself, a very good one, and so I deserve very good things. “Oh no,” my friends will say, “you deserve great things. A great job! A great love! Someone who truly knows what he’s found in you.” I shimmer a little more brightly under these pronouncements.

Yet what is it that we deserve? A roof over our heads, clean water, good food, health care, companionship and affection, a series of interesting books, a cat curled up on a sofa or a dog at your feet, a few minutes of uninterrupted time to yourself, someone to tell you that you matter in this world. I could keep going.


If you dissect the parts of you that deserve anything at all but specifically the parts of you that most certainly deserve great things, it roughly breaks down to a list along these lines

mind

heart

soul

body

ego

in which all are tangible and real inasmuch as we ache in our own yearnings and psychic terrors in very true ways, as we do when we forgo sleep or any physical self-care for weeks on end.

An inventory of these five last night revealed the following: hints of improvement in the body and mind, a boost to the ego, a glimmering of renewal in the soul, and a bruised heart. On the whole, a balance that tipped toward good.

When I looked in the bathroom mirror, my eyes glowed for the first time in any number of months.


The word deserve is like the great lighthouse of the west. It is faith in the night, then the spotlight that leads us on our path. You will find the riches you deserve, the rewards that await you. Sail on in the darkness, little ship.

THIS IS THE ONE THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING!

“When I was a kid, would you say I was anxious or happy or both?”

“I sense you will update this on facebook.”

“No, I’m writing about it.”

“Well then. I’d say you were ‘complex.’”


These were a few of the words she had heard during her 19 years: complex, different, intense, salty, funny, difficult, amazing.

She used to think she hated difficult most of all, and so she tried to tuck in her untidy corners and even out her surfaces, stretch herself tight and smooth. But she was like skin, which can only take so much pinching and pulling and youthful plumping before it starts to look unnatural, alien. She could only fake it for so long before all the difficult spilled everywhere.Difficult made such a mess when it came out all at once.

“This is bullshit. You’re not really difficult,” S. would say. “You’re completely normal. All the people who have said this to you are either idiots or are extremely smart and know how to control you. Look, you’re pretty normal. There’s nothing particularly difficult about you. In fact, you’re significantly less difficult than plenty of people I know.” The two of us would launch directly into a long and detailed conversation about our lives, starting with a review of the times (countless) S. and I had spent together.


 She decided S. was right. Whatever she tried to hide wasn’t difficult. Or maybe it was the hiding it that actually made it difficult, uncomfortable.

Anyway, by then she’d figured out it wasn’t difficult that got to me. It wasamazing. “You’re so amazing” was the death knell for any burgeoning romance. “You’re so amazing” was shorthand for “I won’t be able handle this” or “I don’t think I’m good enough” or “Buried somewhere in here is a wild insecurity I’m going to manage to make you feel bad about – just give me a few days.”

 I remembered once her friend saying to her, “I hope one day I marry a woman whose personality is as salty as yours.” He didn’t. Most of them wouldn’t.

Intense wasn’t bad but she always thought it was a euphemism for crazy.

Complex. That one felt different. Complex.

She thought about women who lived their lives wearing red lipstick every day, whether sitting alone or in a group. Who wrote books and wore evening gowns, who could charm anyone but didn’t need to, whose moods suited them just fine. She thought about the times she’d wished to be simpler, easier. She looked in the mirror and pulled complex around her shoulders. It fit.


Complex. That one felt different. Complex.

She thought about women who lived their lives wearing red lipstick every day, whether sitting at a bar alone or scaling the Alps. Who wrote books and wore evening gowns, who could charm anyone but didn’t need to, whose moods suited them just fine. She thought about the times she’d wished to be simpler, easier. She looked in the mirror and pulled complex around her shoulders. It fit. She fixed her lipstick and headed out for a drink.

THE THINGS WE USED TO SAY IN THE LETTERS WE USED TO WRITE!

Nauman says

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My friend and I recently decided to start writing letters again. The kind that involve a pen and paper and dropping a thin rectangle into a red box on the sidewalk.

 Our optimistic effort to roll our communications back to the pre-Facebook Age stemmed from a recent attack of nostalgia that had me rummaging through cards and letters mailed back when it was perfectly normal to scrawl out a note to a friend while waiting for the subway or trying to stay awake in organic chem.

Some of the letters were surprisingly hefty, the kind that require at least one extra stamp and almost demand that the recipient pour a glass of energy drink or any soft drink before digging in. The lined notebook pages bled with scribbled tales of long-forgotten friends, parental conflicts and other glimpses into our not-yet-Instagrammable lives.

As I sifted through the pages, I felt a…

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