Seneca and Shiznit Life is

Seneca and Shiznit
Life is very busy, and I’ve been reading Seneca’s On the Shortness of Life during 15-minute lunchtime pizza breaks, as a kind of guilty pleasure. “Be careful who and what you spend your time on!” says Seneca, with a righteous fervor that inspired Elizabethan moralists and continues to live on in the works of God-damned leech on society Anthony Robbins. “For when you look back on your years, and subtract from the total all the time you spent currying the favor of one, all the time you spent in idle tasks, you’ll find that the tally accruing to you is small indeed.”

Seneca was a giant hypocrite, spending lots of time in a busy, lucrative legal practice and writing entire books fawning on rich patrons. What’s more, On the Shortness of Life is written to one Paulinus, who managed all the granaries of Rome, and therefore had just about the most important and useful job in the whole freaking ancient world. Seneca exhorts Paulinus not to waste his time on dull toil, but to contemplate life, etc. So Seneca is definitely the spiritual ancestor of “Who Moved My Cheese?” and other glad-handing idiots.

But, who am I kidding: it’s more fun to get caught reading Seneca in the elevator at work than to be seen reading Jack London, or anything with a big submarine carrying Nazi gold or (god forbid) some elven chick with a sword on the cover.

“Oh, yes, I read ancient philosophy, don’t you know. Lofty thoughts, lofty thoughts.” I can’t believe I just admitted that.

Lydia likes to be put to sleep one way, and one way only: I carry her in my arms, put loud music on the iPod, and then I dance around with her for 30 minutes. Any less, and she screams like her butt is on fire when I go to put her down in her crib. I can’t complain (much); it’s impossibly sweet to see that peaceful face when I’m bouncing around to some goofy late-nineties big-beat track by the Propellerheads. Though she’s ruining all the badass tracks in my playlist: now, when I play Pepe Deluxe’s Salami Fever, all I see is my daughter’s sleeping face. Boy, is Lydia going to be embarassed when she brings dates home to meet us. “And then I’d dance around with you like this! ‘Change my pitch up! Smack my bitch up!’ Wait, come back, here comes the bridge! This part is dope!”

Seneca and Shiznit Life is

In the 1800s, the menfolk

In the 1800s, the menfolk would forge ahead into the wilderness, pick a likely spot, then girdle all the trees with a hatchet and wait for them to die. Meanwhile, they’d construct a rude lean-to with saplings and any canvas they were able to salvage from their cargo wagon after they’d overturned it in a couple of dozen mud wallows. Once the lean-to was built and the trees good and dead, they’d proudly invite the wife and children to take up residence in the howling, mossy wilderness, in a dirt-floored hovel roofed with muddy canvas and surrounded by creepy, rotting dead trees. “No place like home, honey!”

Well, our move went slightly better than that. I sent Kate to visit in Seattle during the packing and trucking back and forth, so she could concentrate on the baby, and not on which contractor was going to show up at seven AM and stage an elaborate melodrama in the basement, starring themselves as the hero and all previous contractors to work on the house as foul, hamfisted villains. To stick loosely with the frontier metaphor: you know how when the hero accepts the gunfight with Black Bart, the creepy, lugubrious undertaker oils up and starts working with a folding ruler? Yeah, now imagine that the creepy undertaker is an ASBESTOS ABATEMENT CONTRACTOR. Sadly, Kate was already back home when that bit of the melodrama unfolded.

Anyhow, we’re entirely moved in now, and mostly unpacked, and we own almost the full complement of essential major appliances, and most of them are hooked up and operational. We’ve got a new refrigerator with ice that comes out of the door, which I have wanted ever since visiting friends’ houses at seven years old, and as soon as the plumber arrives for Act V, it’ll even be hooked up. We’ve got a washing machine (ditto: the plumber) and a gas stove (op. cit.) and a dryer that needs me to knock a hole in the cinderblock wall to route the vent. We’ve got newly refinished floors that glow in the afternoon sun, and freshly-painted walls that no longer show the grimy shadows of ancient cuckoo clocks, and we’ve got a cat that thinks he’s just ascended to the throne of a small country.


Lydia is smiling and laughing, and when you put her down to sleep, she rolls onto her left side with a decisive, pronounced “thump”. She’s outgrown the Baby Bjorn pictured below, so I’ve purchased an enormous Kelty backpack that she sits in like a Maharani in a howdah and charms the passers-by.

Kate has some pictures of the nursery.

In the 1800s, the menfolk