This is a post about grass and fences.

Yes.  I live in Denver.  I’ll let you get it out of your system now.  Yes, yes, grass, ahahahahaha.  We’ve sure never heard that one before.  (Has anyone seen my eyes?  I think they rolled under the sofa.  Someone find them before Havey-cat does.)  All I will say on that part of “grass” is that driving for two years after legalization was h*ll on Earth, with idiots not realizing that counted as impaired.  Seems to be smoothing out to normal Denver rate of casual vehicular homicide now, so I think that dime has dropped.

Now to be serious a while, let’s talk of envy.  It is almost St. Patrick’s day, and that particular form of green DOES pinch.  It pinches mostly those who sport it.  It can kill friendships (or in extreme cases prevent their ever forming.)  And it can destroy those who hold onto it.

Years ago, in one of our most uncertain (financially, emotionally, etc) times, we dropped by to talk to a friend, whom, we thought, should know something of strategies to move us past the issues we had at the time.  Or at least, we thought, he’d have some idea where to  look for jobs, some clue where to look for loans or contract work so as to make mortgage payments.  He is, after all, older than we are, and has always been more affluent.

What we found was something quite different.  We couldn’t get this gentleman, who really does have our best interests at heart to UNDERSTAND we were in real trouble.  What we got was chuckles at our “pretend” distress and reassurances that “you’ll come out all right. You always do.  You’re the luckiest people I know.”

Now from the inside, having lived our lives together for the last 32 years or so, I don’t … see it.  Lucky is not the way I describe it.  Yes, by and large we are all right on the other side, but sometimes I think I should have “nothing is ever easy or simple” engraved in my forehead, mirror image, so I can read it every morning.

More times than I can say, Dan and I have found that our sure bets turned to dust in our hands.  (In fact, if we make the prudent decision, it always seems to turn out very badly.)  More times than I can even remember, our *sses were only saved from absolute ruin and losing everything we have managed to get by a wild throw, a last save, a chance in a million, and one that required us, incidentally, to work like mad people, or to sacrifice things we really loved or wanted.

At least once we went massively into debt and sold a house at cost, and moved across the country with nothing, because the culmination of something we had worked towards for 6 years — #1 son’s birth — went disastrously wrong, at the worst possible time, (we were on COBRA) and put us in debt for 1/3 of our mortgage at that time. (It also, incidentally, looking at the post-surgery images from 2015, rendered me unable to have more children.  So we’re not sure where younger son came from, or how he managed to be carried to term.  Count that as one genuine miracle, and a stunning stroke of luck.)

Even now, when we’re secure-ish, we’re gambling on at least four wild routes for my career (which require an amazing amount of work, yes) and my husband’s job as been fleeting in and out of some kind of limbo.  (Though it should resolve soon, and positively.  we hope.)

To look at our wild, careening race, with marginal help only (my parents.  We couldn’t have survived without it, but we also can never count on it.  Mostly it has been good to get the kids things we could never afford, like cars to drive themselves to college.  It would have been interesting to share one car) to know every time we hung suspended by our bleeding fingernails above the precipice, and to hear it described as “you will come out all right.  You’re the luckiest people I know” was a stunning shock.  But, not for the first time, but the clearest time, it showed me something: no one knows how hard someone has it.  NO ONE, except that person.

Apparently, from the outside, we’re the golden couple, moving in an eternal summer, effortlessly plucking up golden plums as we go.

I’m not even sure how we give that impression.  It must be that not seeing all the scrabbling and the endless hours of work behind the scenes, people think things fall into our lap?  Because we’re achieving more than they expect or anyone, it must be luck?

And then I looked at my acquaintance with new eyes: did I really know how well or badly those people who seemed incredibly fortunate were doing? Did I understand how hard they worked?  Had I a clue?

The answer is most certainly “no.”  The view we have of each other, from the outside, particularly if we aren’t close to that person, is a sort of “Christmas newsletter” view.  “oh, look, achievement, achievement, fortunate event.”  But you don’t see the stumbles, the falls, the years spent not sleeping as you worry how a chance might come out, the years of work till all hours, to make the chance come.

A study done a few years back identified the ONLY thing that men who got a lot of dates had in common: they asked out a lot of women.  How many is a lot?  A lot.  Like ten times more than the ones that said yes.  While men who didn’t date, or barely dated, might ask once a decade and get a yes every two times, the guys who asked constantly got hundreds upon hundreds of rejections… and a steady stream of acceptances.

I know back in pre-history, when the only form of publication was traditional, and when I and my writers’ group had decided that we must first break in to short stories markets, I probably sold more short stories than anyone in the group.  I did it by writing more and sending out more and getting FAR MORE rejections than anyone else I knew.  My first sold short story had garnered EIGHTY rejections in four years, by the time I sold it.  I had gathered another 100 or so for other work.  For years after that, I got 100 rejections by the end of March like clockwork.  And kept going.  My worst day was when all sixty some pieces of work I had out came back rejected THE SAME DAY.  It would still have been survivable, if I hadn’t managed to have a bad cold and another infection at the same time.  As it was, it took me to the doctor.  On my birthday.  BUT I survived, and I’m here.  I now sell, not counting indie, about 90% of everything I write.  Which seems very fortunate, but believe me, for a while there, I was the writer of NO future.  And yep, as the acceptances (back then I averaged around 10 a year) started coming in, people said how “lucky” I was.

Now, I’m not bragging about how tough I have it. My acquaintance is now wide enough and deep enough, that I look at about 1/3 of my friends, and know what they’re going through, what they’ve gone through for years, and think “Wow.  I don’t know how I’d even survive that, without coming unglued.”

We ARE lucky.  Sure, we struggle, pretty much ALL the time.  I worry for the boys every waking minute.  Sometimes in my sleep too.

But we’re very happy too.  I was lucky in one of the most important things one can be lucky in: I picked the right partner.  No, it was not careful reasoning.  No one can know each other well enough to know how the years will change them.  We were lucky.  We grew together.  It could easily have gone the other way.

But other than that wild stroke of luck, and having two sons whose company we enjoy — and those strokes of luck are probably the biggest anyone can get — no, nothing is ever easy or simple.  Often, particularly with my career, my saying goes that I have no more heart, and so I must forge my guts into a new heart.  I must make my will power stand for the enthusiasm and love that has gotten worn away.  And I do.  Somehow.

The important thing here is that we appear as a golden couple FROM THE OUTSIDE.  From the inside, it’s an endless slog, and other people appear TO US as golden, as having an easy path through life.  But I bet they don’t.

Leftists intuit this, only they intuit it in their own grubby way which forever mistrusts individuals not supervised by government.  Their fiction reflects this.  It turns “no one is that lucky” into “no one is clean.”  Unable to understand that there might be difficulties in every life, but that the people enduring them and struggling through them might very well still be capable and pure of heart and hard working, they instead turn everything behind the facade into dross and horror.  Every minister is a child abuser or a womanizer.  Every successful businessman is crooked.  Every woman is unfaithful.  Every child is a drug user and promiscuous.

It’s like they looked over the fence at the green grass and, unable to bear their own envy, decided to pretend/believe it was all poison ivy, as far as the eye can see.

Sigh.  It’s a way to cope with envy.  It’s not a good way.

You see, the danger of imagining everyone else has it easy and a wonderful life, and a charmed ride to the top, is that it blights YOU.  You then, instead of trying, sit there and scream at the gods, at fate, at everything, because where IS your charmed ride? Where is your magic carpet?  Why do you have to crawl along the rock-strewn road, while others glide effortlessly over it?

Imagining that someone else really doesn’t have it, or that he only got it through horrible means helps soothe the envy.  But it’s still dysfunctional.  You give yourself permission to act out, to be as horrible as possible, because after all EVERYONE is horrible, they’re just hypocrites who project this beautiful image.  And then you write grey goo fiction and the only sin you’ll recognize is hypocrisy.  Which fortunately you’re immune from, since you surrendered all your principles because “no one has any.”  So you’re as nasty as you wanna be… and destroy yourself as surely as if you sit there raging at fate.  More surely, maybe.  There’s nothing left to love, dream of or hope for. You might as well have sold your soul, because you’re gonna lose it anyway.

We’re humans.  Sure, none of us is perfect.  The best people I know have flaws.  They’re aware of them, they compensate for them.  I do not know any — not even among people I despise — scoundrels as perfect as the “nobody is clean” people imagine.

I also do not know anyone who is flawlessly lucky and golden.  Sure, some people are luckier than others. And some have connections and nepotism can never be eliminated.  in any society.

But in the end — in the very end — most of us get what we work for, and persist through as much as we can endure.

It is important to remember that because envy is a disabling sin.  It disables YOU.  It colors all your relationships. It colors your view of the world.  It can get you to stop even trying to get anywhere, and when you get somewhere, it can turn everything you’ve achieved into dust and dross, because someone has more.

Does someone have more?  Guaranteed someone does. There are six billion of us.  Some have a lot. Do some people have an easier ride than others?  Assuredly.  Some people are very fortunate.  And yet, I bet if you were in their shoes, you’d find they pinch, too, and that they too have challenges and things they cannot reach.  What about people who REALLY achieve?  Are they all corrupt?  Do they all “sell out” to achieve?  No, they are not all corrupt.  Some people hold on to very high principles, even while succeeding.  As for “selling out” it depends on what you mean.  You buy success with time and effort, and those come at a price.  You might ruin your health, you might lose your kids early development, you might even ruin your marriage, to achieve something.

It all gets back to the price of magic.  Success, like magic, has a price.  What are you willing to pay?

And only you can answer that: what do you have? What do you bring? what are you willing to pay for what?

I discovered, for instance, that while I could make a lot of money flipping houses (seriously, it’s the only thing I have a talent for) I didn’t want to do it.  Nothing about the work made my heart sing.  And if I did it it would take ALL my time, at the expense of what I DID want which was to write books people read.  That was my decision.  So all those times we’re incredibly tight?  The price I pay for a career in writing.

You pays your money, you places you bet.

EVERYONE does.  Envy of someone who risked more to collect more is not only misplaced.  it will eat you alive.

So send the green eyed monster to the right about.  Yes, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.  It’s an illusion of refraction and distance.

In fact, everyone’s grass is as green as the owner is willing to pay for: in time, in money, in effort, in the sweat of his brow.

Wasting time with envy only makes your life needlessly hard and blights your existence.

You want it?  Great.  No one is going to hand it to you.  What are you willing to PAY?

185 responses to “Green

  1. Lucky is not the way I describe it.

    There are times that I have thought that you were lucky — lucky in spades while life digs your problems with a backhoe. (With that out of my system, let me go on.)

    What I have observed is that you are hard working and tenacious, and you have often needed every bit of it and more.

    For those of us who love you and your writing — Thank G-d you don’t know when to quit. 😉

  2. I am a great believer in luck. I believe that the harder I work, the luckier I get.
    Stephen Leacock (probably)

    Saw that quote once years ago, and in all my experience and observations it has still rung true. Have I been envious of those that “have it better”? Of course. I am still human. I have though peeked behind curtains and seen some of some people’s struggles to get to the green pastures. So many quotes and sayings about success. I have also said that I have little luck. I don’t win lotteries or games of chance, no big prizes for this lad. I do though have been in situations where jumping at the right time has always worked. And then the work begins to ensure that the success does come.

  3. …having two sons whose company we enjoy…

    I concluded I was rather lucky when, during her teenage years, I realized that not only did I love The Daughter, I also liked her. Moreover I would have liked to be acquainted with her even if she were unrelated.

    • Same thing with my sons. I’m facing the prospect of not having either of them in state in two years. And it’s right. it’s what we worked toward. But it’s gonna hurt, anyway.

      • There is a Hun local to my wife and I, but is planning on moving away to pursue interesting work after his schooling is finished. I haven’t known him in person for long, but I’m rather sad that he’s leaving.

        He recently posted news that he might have cancer. Upon learning about this, I thought “Hey, that means he might stay local!” Then I thought, “Hey, that’s unfair! I may prefer him to stay local, but I don’t particularly want him to be stuck here if there are better alternatives for him and his family! And I *especially* don’t want him stuck here because he has cancer!”

        I never thought I’d be happy to hear that someone has pneumonia…but when heard that he had pneumonia rather than cancer, I was extremely happy!

        • Oh, Brian. yes, I was very happy too. He listed me as his evil stepmother on FB. I mean, who else gets that kind of love? Even my adopted kids are great.

        • I still remember the time, years ago, on a blog where there was general rejoicing when the pregnant blogger’s daughter was diagnosed with spina bifida.

          The first ultrasound had pointed at two possible problems: no diaphragm, which is fatal in about fifty percent of cases, and a rare one where the lungs simply do not develop. She recounted how when they came to give her the diagnosis she interrupted to demand the news about her lung being all right.

    • I’m blessed that way, too — I have three daughters, and most of the time, I like all three of them. (Sometimes autistic daughter drives me out of the house, but that’s kind of to be expected with the issues she’s got. Other times she comes and lays her head on my shoulder and says, “Purrrrrr!”) I wish the two older girls didn’t live so far away.

  4. “You want it? Great. No one is going to hand it to you. What are you willing to PAY?”

    I will be the first to admit to speed reading 90% of things like emails and blog posts. Sarah you have written one hell of a piece. I endedd up reading it full on.

    Damn good post. Nothing to quibble, just had to say thanks for writing this. I needed to read this particular article this morning. Thanks.

  5. Luck has kept me alive. Hard work (on our relationship) has kept me married.

    Financial independence is defined as, “are the bills paid this month, Hon? Great, now go back to work so we can pay next month’s.”

  6. I believe it was Michael Jordan who observed that growing up he knew many boys who had far more raw talent for sports than he did. He had to develop discipline and work hard at honing his skills to compete. In the end this is what made him a champion.

    If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.

    –Michael Jordan

    • Martin L. Shoemaker

      I once read a Sports Illustrated article on Michael Jordan. (I was desperate: stuck in a friend’s bathroom with nothing else to read.) The writer told how he called to meet Jordan before a big game. This was at a time when MJ was on top of the game, when even sports ignorant people like me knew how he dominated. Jordan gave the writer directions to a local neighborhood court near the game venue. The reporter arrived to find Jordan running down the court time after time, practicing layups. This was the afternoon of a big game, when MJ was at his peak — and there he was, practicing on his own time.

      Next came the big game. Big victory. Go, Jordan!

      The next day the reporter called for a follow-up. Jordan told him to meet at the same neighborhood court. There was Jordan, still practicing his layups. He wasn’t satisfied with his performance the night before. He had to do better. He had to BE better.

      That’s how you get to the top of your game.

      • I liked him; he was consistent on working on that skill. He always had the ‘hard work pays off’ attitude that I liked.

        Lots of the later sportsmen’s attitudes, I didn’t like, and eventually I stopped paying attention to sports altogether.

        • I also admired his reported response to demands he endorse African-American Harvey Gantt’s senatorial challenge to Jesse Helms: “Republicans buy shoes, too.”

          Whether Jordan ever said that is disputed; folks who claim such an endorsement would have defeated Helms fail to consider that Gantt was already getting pretty much all of the votes that Jordan’s endorsement would have moved.

          Those who condemn Jordan’s presumed “sell-out” to corporate interests are, I notice, essentially the same voices which criticized NC’s HB2 “Bathroom” Bill because it was costing the state jobs. Apparently bending the knee to corporate demands is only a bad thing when their principles (gain and hold power) are at stake.

        • He also did something many other people in his position don’t- he put a significant chunk of his money back into his community.

    • Another MJ anecdote: at one point, I saw a stat on how many times the game was on the line, he was asked to make a game-winning or tying shot…and he missed.

    • Likewise, golfing great Ben Hogan was seen putting in a lot of practice with a particular club. When asked why, he mentioned he would be hitting it 37 times a round during his next match.

  7. “we’re not sure where younger son came from, or how he managed to be carried to term.”

    You didn’t know it was impossible. 😉

  8. In my experience, envy is self-defeating. If you see someone with property, power, or influence that you think you’d like to have, feeling upset that someone else has what you want is frankly kind of childish. Instead, we should all think about what we would like for ourselves and how to obtain those things, and then start working to get them. No one will give you what you want with no strings attached; even those who love you only give you things and assistance because you return that love.

    In short, envy doesn’t get the job done, and things acquired without earning them seldom hold any value to us.

    • I do not think I would want to be George Soros for twice his money, knowing what he has done to get it.

      • Me neither. I like sleeping at night.

      • Deep down, George Soros is actually a decent guy.
        He’s just been possessed by a demon for most of his life, and has been silently screaming while forced to watch the horrors perpetrated in his name.

        (OK, he most likely just sold his soul. But “evil guy amasses wealth and long life via evil deeds” isn’t a very satisfying story.)

        • Write it!

          The interesting part is where he’s trying to get through to other people that he needs an exorcism while they don’t even believe in demons.

    • I don’t grok it. The most envious I get is “lucky dog.” And some probably think that about me. Someone does well? Good for them.

      Sometimes it is luck. Sometimes it’s just knowing better how to do. Like a local man who went from being unable to get a farming loan to being one of the wealthiest men in the state. He put in the hard work, said he seldom saw the sun rise or set at home, but he also saw how to take advantage of a once in a lifetime opprotunity. There were others in the position to do the same, but he was the only one who saw to do it.

      Maybe that’s why some look at those who do well and think they had an edge or did something dodgy: It keeps from admitting that maybe they were a little smarter, a little wiser, and a little better at what they do. And maybe they werea little less lazy.

      • I was “lucky” to get lots of rides on WWII aircraft and to meet many of my WWII heroes. I also spent at least one full work day a week at the airport up to my elbows in engine or fuselage, came home smelling like industrial chemicals, spent weekends selling stuff at airshows and answering questions, and chose to give up stuff in order to take those rides and do the work. I was blessed to be in the right place at the right time to have the opportunities to do the work that created the luck.

        • My interface does not provide a “Like” button, so I am forced to publicly endorse your statement.

          Curse you.

          • Up in Alameda the USS Hornet is now a museum, with a pile of volunteers working on the retired carrier, restoring stuff and making more areas available for touring. As I was dragging my wife around the ship all day looking at stuff, I was thinking how very cool it would be to live close enough to volunteer, helping make things work again, figuring out how the ship’s company had to make stuff work at sea, and learning from the senior volunteers who actually worked aboard her. Even just pushing a mop aboard her would be fun. All it would take is time and proximity – the motivation is already there.

            • Reminds me of a scene in From Ashes Born (highly recommend the series) where the captain (Ishmael – it’s a running joke) buys a freighter that’s been docked to the station, up for auction, for years. The station dwellers want a tour. The station managers won’t allow public events with a permit, which is not forthcoming. He hires the crowd to clean the ship.

              Not really a spoiler, you can see it coming a mile away. The payment is funny so I’m leaving that out as a teaser.

    • There’s a reason envy is on the Top Ten list. Envy is poisonous, and feeds discontent, malicious thinking, and magical thinking.

      • I wouldn’t want somebody else’s life at all. I am lucky, even with (or possibly especially because of) the challenges I have faced or am still facing.

  9. Envy will eat your stomach, then heart, then mind.

  10. The reason I go to the chronic illness groups is to see others who have it harder than I do. They look at what I am dealing with healthwise and think I have it harder than them. Someone told me that when I started feeling down about what is happening to me, I should go to the wing of the VA hospital where most of the men and women there are in wheelchairs or are having prosthetics fitted. It changes your view on how badly you are doing.

    As for me… I couldn’t make it without my brothers.

    • Bob Hope, known for his comedy, had one bit that was very moving and serious. He related how folks in comedy and show business loved a packed house, but just this once he would have been thrilled to show up to an empty venue. It was Christmas (Eve?) 1945 and he was performing at a VA hospital.

      • Yeah, Hope was the real deal. He was down at McDill AFB for a golf tournament and instead of doing lunch with the generals he got on a flat bed trailer and did an hour standup show for any of the airmen who were around the area – maybe 100 troops(and me, I was just visiting).

    • At one point, I was talking with a neighbor and mentioning the health challenges my husband faces which make him low-energy. (Asthma and sensory issues are two of them.) My neighbor said, “That must be so hard for you.” I was baffled, because a) he’s the one that has to deal directly with the health problems and b) this is just how it is. It isn’t hard; it’s what we’ve built around.

    • I must admit that while it was the coolest fan mail I’ll ever get, it was a bit disconcerting to have a fan tell me how much Isabelle and the Siren meant to him, because when he was clinically depressed like Isabelle, he would remind himself that nothing he faced during the day would be as hard as what she had to do.

    • In another couple of years it will be ten years since I went in for surgery, almost died on the table, and woke a paraplegic (and a genial moron who couldn’t focus enough to read a kid’s book.) There was a period of about a month during rehab when I had recovered enough mentally to be fascinated by “Walker, Texas Ranger” when I despaired. Then I got strong enough to move to another facility with a much larger rehab program. A week visiting the rehab gym there and seeing what others were dealing with pretty much cured me of that. About 7 months after waking up I was reading a dozen books a week, surfing the web on my Palm VIIx, and was able to slowly and painfully walk with a walker from the hospital door to the car door. Remembering some of the people I saw while in rehab mostly keeps me from throwing myself pity parties.

  11. [S]ometimes I think I should have “nothing is ever easy or simple” engraved in my forehead, mirror image, so I can read it every morning.

    You could probably needlepoint that on a scarf or headband. I suspect there are several among the Huns who’d happily do it for you.

  12. [N]o one knows how hard someone has it. NO ONE, except that person.

    Often, not even that person.

    • Yup. Sometimes what others would consider hardships are just what you’re used to and consider to be normal conditions. Alternatively you may consider something a hardship that others would look at and say, “You’re kidding–you think that’s a problem?”

  13. Yes. I live in Denver. I’ll let you get it out of your system now.

    I am glad you explained that because I missed it…all I could think was, “I grew up in Wyoming and that is prairie country, plenty of grass…it’s not like El Paso where we had rock for a front yard.”

    • ‘S OK. My first thought was, “Well, yeah, anyone why tries to grow turf grass in the Rocky Mountain rain-shadow is silly. And?” Then “oh, yeah, Rocky Mountain high. Got it.” Need more black tea.

      • you guys are special. In a good way too. EVERYWHERE else, you say Denver, and the pot jokes start.

        • The local Caribiou coffee kiosk has a daily trivia question that if one gets right is worth a dime off a drink. I see it often, though I buy rarely, and make an attempt at things if it’s not too pop culture (“Who starred in $MOVIE” is the sort of I thing i don’t bother with. Don’t keep track of that sort of thing. “What pet toy contains nepetalactone?” gets my attention.) A couple weeks ago they had one I didn’t know, but had fun with. “What is the name from a group of owls?” I admitted I didn’t know, but I had to make the joke: “Wouldn’t that be a hoot? And I suppose you’ll hear that all day.” “No. I think only you have that sort of sense of humor.” came the reply.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Well, having lived in the Denver area and knowing about the idiots who plant grass that needs more rain than Denver gets, I didn’t think of pot. 😉

          • True dat. And my Dry Line-raised soul cringed the time I saw some business sending water rushing down the gutter to water some stupid turf on a sidewalk strip.

            • did to me when a nearby city redid their center dividers a couple years ago with new grass and trees and stuff… the first year of the drought that just ended.

        • Baked and glazed?

        • FWIW, until the part about the driving under the influence, I thought it was about that conversation about how you couldn’t get MINT to grow in your yard!

        • From Portland, OR:
          “March 15 (UPI) — Police in Washington state said a cooler donated to a Goodwill store turned out to contain something far more valuable — $24,000 worth of marijuana.

          Monroe police said workers at the local Goodwill were sorting through donations during the weekend when they came across the cooler.”

          “Hey, where’s my cooler?” “Oh, I donated that piece of crap to Goodwill. Why?”

      • Nods. My first thought was grass + Denver + March = snow.

        • I was thinking that this last big storm that became the nor’easter that hit the Atlantic and New England states had been caused by fronts that had moved south and north of Denver…which reminds me, did Chicago finally get snow?

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who missed it. I thought, it’s March… so, the grass is still dead and not green? Maybe? I can be incredibly thickheaded sometimes. Okay, more often than not. *grin*

    • I got it right away, but last night I’d watched a police procedural featuring a pot smuggling operation run by a landscaper.

      • Oddly, we were well aware of drugs growing up, maybe to the point where I see something like a cannibis flag (as was on the side of a vendor’s wagon at an event), it just registers as some place I don’t care to go. So when the kids thought I hadn’t noticed it and pointed it out, they thought I was being a smart allec when I said “Bet if we’d go over there, we’d find crack pipes.” Then explained that such things were an advertisement to those interested in the stuff, even if it’s just the “edginess” of displaying something with a weed symbol. I really did mean, in all seriousness, that they probably sold things like crack pipes there. Maybe something else, but that sort of thing also says to cops “Search me now.”

  14. Exactly. I grouse about my bad joints and The Year of the Dentist. Then I really look around. Being stiff and having to exercise to keep the supporting muscles strong enough to counter the problem is nothing compared to, oh, being permanently bent at a 90 degree angle because the surgeon misjudged something, or because osteoporosis came early.

    • I grouse about having trouble moving, too, and avoid certain foods because they cause inflammation and aggravate my arthritis. But I have an uncle who has been so stooped he can’t stand up straight for as long as I can remember (since he was a fairly young man, probably in his late twenties). I think it was caused by arthritis in his spine. So I count my blessings — I CAN still stand up straight, even if it sometimes requires a pill before I can do so without hurting.

  15. Larry Patterson

    You remind me of Ben Hogan. He became a top golfer by working harder than anyone else. So once a member of the press mentioned he had been lucky to not get in any of the bunkers that day. His answer is priceless:
    “You know, the harder I work, the luckier I get.”

  16. I often think of the quote attributed to Socrates that if everyone in the world were to pile all their problems together and take an equal share, most of us would be happy to quietly take the ones we came with and walk away. When I was younger I used to think this referred to quantity of problems, but as I’ve aged, I’ve begun to think this has more to do with what the problems are.

    As an example. I’ve got a lot of severe allergies, pollens, pets, smoke– pretty much anything at all with an airborne particulate. I don’t have an allergy season, it runs year round. I have a family-size box of tissues in every room in my home. I take 3 different medications for allergies, and it just takes the edge off most of the time– most days I feel like I have a mild cold. But I’m used to it, so I barely notice until it gets bad. I garner a fair bit of “Oh, that’s terrible. I’m glad I don’t have that.” from a lot of friends who know me well enough to know– for a lot of random people on the street, or even casual acquaintances, they don’t know it’s that bad for me.

    Yet many of those friends who know I struggle with sinus allergies have a food allergy of one kind or another– milk, mushrooms, nuts, peas, corn, etc. etc. I have no food allergies whatsoever. And I will happily keep my sinus-affecting allergies over the food ones. I would be miserable having to watch my diet for things I might be allergic to. Not having both, I can’t say which is worse, but I’d much rather stick with the one I know over the one I don’t.

    Which I think ties to the point of the story you shared with your affluent acquaintance. The problems we have often are ones we’re so used to having and dealing with that we make it look like it’s not a problem to everyone else. So we see our own problems and we learn to cope with them as it’s necessary to life and happiness, but we don’t see those of other people who have also learned to cope. And it blindsides us when someone thinks we have life together.

    Then the guys who don’t learn to cope are consumed with envy because they think we don’t have problems when all we’ve done is learned to cope with the ones we have and be happy with life despite them.

  17. On the connections and nepotism thing… That isn’t something I envy. Pity, rather.

    There is a young man of my acquaintance. Nice kid, bit of a prankster, but overall pretty good. His father is rather high up in the management chain of the company I used to work for. While I was there, that kid grew up, started working there while going to school, went away to finish his degree… And came back, working at the same place.

    In short order, he was promoted. His direct supervisor did what she could to train him, but… It didn’t quite take. Within two years he was promoted again, to a supervisory position. Again, he was learning, but other people usually ended up having to fix his mistakes. That happens sometimes when you are learning a job, sure. But he was again promoted within two years. To directly below his father’s position in the management chain.

    The boy… How to describe it? He has some personal courage, sure, but he will not make decisions. He goes and asks Dad. Won’t take responsibility, is another way to put it. Can’t really say why, whether he’s never had to, or it hasn’t occurred to him, or what. There’s no other way to describe it but nepotism, how he got where he is.

    But I do feel bad for the lad. His father won’t be around forever. Someday, the boy is going to want to take care of *him* rather than the other way around. Like I said, he’s not a bad kid (heck, he should be called a grown man by now). But when it comes to that point, he’s not going to know *how* to take care of his father when he needs it, should it come to that. And that’s just damned sad.

    So no, I don’t have much envy for those who got where they are more because of who they know (or who they are) rather than their own abilities and effort. I might envy the talent of someone who can paint a masterpiece, or tell a story, or build a house better than I could ever dream of. Just a wee bit. *grin* But I know there’s hard work that got them that skill (more than talent, I should say). So perhaps, I think, there’s hope for folks like me yet.

    • Strictly speaking, there is nothing wrong with nepotism in and of itself, so long as it’s clear that the person has the job because he’s a relative that has the skills necessary to fulfill the job.

      Heck, I’m not going to hold a grudge against anyone who “employs” someone who can’t do a certain job, if the purpose is to give someone who isn’t much good for work (whether it be through injury or disease or some other reason) a little bit of self-respect. (It’s my understanding that minimum-wage laws can kill such jobs outright…)

      It’s examples like this, where nepotism can harm the growth of a company, where it’s bad. So long as it’s a private company (even one I’m working at), though, I’m only going to be annoyed if nepotism negatively affects my own performance. If it’s a government department, though, it’s deeply annoying, because now we’re talking about crony “capitalism” that’s being paid by my tax dollars.

      And you’re right: the saddest thing about nepotism like this, or affirmative action, or any number of “hand-ups” that are justified by anything other than merit, is that the person being “helped” typically has their growth stunted….

      • If there tended to be any learning, it would be negligible. Someone has to make mistakes for other to learn from. But today those known by populace are progeny of powerful, effectively immoral or very willing to use their influence to step on any rivals. I’m​just a little jaded because most of the big folks are the ones that buy their indulgences and push for the littler big folks to be hammered by Leviathan but then see it as obvious that they can bend and break those same laws because ‘we’re different.’.

      • Certainly true when people buy/promote writers for any reason but writing. It doesn’t help the writer, in the long run.
        One of those novels that won the Hugo because feminism was a fine first novel. It wasn’t a Hugo-worthy novel. But now, what can the author do but think she’s good enough?

      • Oh yes. The photography studio that I work for is a study in benevolent nepotism, in that a lot of relatives have had jobs there because they grew up helping and are good at it. At the moment, the only ones there are the boss of the company (the son of the man who started it) and his second-in-command, his son.

        I do remember at one point when there was a family cousin who worked there who was a great photographer, but he wasn’t allowed to drive the van because of his driving record. That was my job. 😉

        • I work for a small company that’s similar in some ways. But if you can’t do the job out you go. (Though they do more of their weeding at the interview stage.) Who you know may get the interview… what you know gets/keeps you the job.

  18. Christopher M. Chupik

    Reality is hard, stereotypes are easy.

  19. No matter how stable and well-off your situation, you can almost always be better off. Thank you Sarah for a well written piece which rings very true to me. And for myself, I’ve answered what I’m willing to pay to support my wife and kids and launch the girls well – and it’s everything I have and am. Whether that means working until I drop and then getting back up to work some more or working while flat on my back with pneumonia – been there, done that. What seems to the outside like a comfortable upper middle class income actually can be a negative cash flow situation. My girls may go back to Europe over the summers to connect with family but we drive 8+ year old cars at this point — and with what we’ve paid in private school tuition, we could have bought several nice new cars.

    You pay your money and you make your choices. And try not to gawk at those who have made different choices.

  20. A study done a few years back identified the ONLY thing that men who got a lot of dates had in common: they asked out a lot of women. How many is a lot? A lot. Like ten times more than the ones that said yes. While men who didn’t date, or barely dated, might ask once a decade and get a yes every two times, the guys who asked constantly got hundreds upon hundreds of rejections… and a steady stream of acceptances.

    There is a downside to this and you see it in the PU artist world, which teaches men how to do those 100s of approaches.

    You only endure that rejection by thinking of those approaches like a salesman does sales approaches. Most salesmen have contempt for their customers.

    There is a reason men very successful with women don’t think much of women: to be successful you have to look down on them so you don’t care when they reject you.

    • scott2harrison

      And from what I have seen, adult women who are not married (to their first husband) reward men who are contemptuous of them. One reason that I just don’t bother.

  21. I was lucky in one of the most important things one can be lucky in: I picked the right partner.

    Given I’m realizing I choose poorly twice (three times, four times?) it makes me smile that you say it’s luck…I can take a little blame off myself.

    • Speaking as someone who got it wrong the first time, but right the second, there’s certainly an element of luck involved in that you can’t ever know just what will happen 5 years, 10 years, more, out. But your odds (heh) can be increased markedly by making sure there’s more in common than just the physical. Much more important (I think) is the attitudinal, the intellectual, and the emotional.

      • Chronic disease hit early and…well, being married to someone with a disabling chronic condition is no picnic especially if they aren’t handling it well. I’ll leave it at that.

    • Thanks to the miracle of Bookface, I can see what became of some of the gals who I was interested in, and be grateful it didn’t work out.

  22. I just wish there was any way to break the strength of nepotism, lying and psycopathism that seem to create a majority of our “successful” figures today. To get ahead you will need to lie. Just a matter of how badly. And bring up anything that makes the business boys look bad and you’re out. Regardless of Industry you are in, everything is relative.

    I don’t have issue with working hard and endeavoring but today it looks like outside the remnants of small and independent businesses it is a fool’s errand.

  23. Having a baby while on COBRA… never again. It didn’t ruin us but it came darn close. We’ve been tight. Hell, looking at it from the outside, we still are, but we’re working our asses off and will someday go from tight to comfortable. And now, I’m going back to my vacation which consists of putting more words on paper.

    • It about ruined us because Robert was an emergency Cesarean with three doctors in attendance, after three days of hard labor. Yeah. Not complaining. We’re both here. But it cost us around 30k…

      • Mine, too. We got laid off about 2 months later and… well, we’re all alive and that’s a miracle some days.

        • PRECISELY. And the company Dan was working for (still on COBRA because small company didn’t offer insurance) never paid him for six months work (about 40k.) SO we were broke and moved to Denver.

      • Don’t forget the years (decades?) of subsequent health issues in your accounting. (Three days? That’s way too long.)

        • yeah. We later found out the doctor had lost both babies and mothers in one year practice. Several. No longer remember exact count. Dumb bunny gave me too much — gah, not coming to mind — most common drug to induce labor in nineties. The problem is, too much and it stops labor. Uterus fibrilates, which still hurts like hell, but won’t do anything. Robert was CROWNED. Idiot refused to give me episiotomy because “tearing is natural and heals better.) Having had both with #2 son, no. Exactly wrong. So it ended with baby in distress and emergency Cesarean. BTW he is almost surely brain damaged as a result. Good thing. I mean, he IS in medschool.

  24. Professor Badness

    I stop and analyze my own problems. Type 1 diabetes, hypothyroidism, chronic sinus problems and just being an Odd. The wife (Masked Pain) has advanced MS, with severe depression and perennial nausea. She has the strength to make it to the bathroom…most days.
    Household food allergies/intolerances include wheat, barley, oatmeal, almonds, soy, dairy and any meat treated with hormones or antibiotics.One parent’s loss of a gall bladder also requires we watch the fat content of food like a hawk.
    We’ve all got money problems, so I won’t even touch on that.
    Still and all, I wouldn’t trade any of it. This is my life, and i will own it with all the ups and downs that come with it.
    For the blessing that is my wife and children, I will deal with any and all difficulties.
    After all is said and done, I know I’ve worked hard and done my best, and that is enough.

  25. I really like this post and the one you did on MGC on starting (I think that was the title).
    Envy and its co-pilot, resentment, are pernicious.
    On the other side, gratitude is healing. I’ve been trying, as soon as I wake up, to say as sincerely as possible, “Thank you, God, for this day.”
    On mornings when getting up is tough, it does help.

  26. Envy drives the left, as you point out. Envy also makes you stupid, just as anger does, and possibly worse.

    Envy is a weird business. I think a certain psychology makes a kind of bargain with the universe: I’ll do what I’m supposed to do, and I’ll expect you to deliver when I’ve done what you want me to. Of course, this is nothing more than magical thinking, above and beyond little problems like how one knows what one is supposed to do. The universe may know, but it isn’t talking. A person of such a psychology works hard in high school, gets accepted to Yale, gets a degree, but somehow never gets that job with a DC think tank paying a quarter million a year that all the other Yalies seem to have. The universe broke its part of the bargain, and there is nothing left to do but hate those whose bargains the universe kept.

    One other note here: My father went to some effort to teach my sister and I manners, from interpersonal etiquette to how to hold your silverware. One thing he told me early and often is, don’t be a whiner. Nobody wants to hear about your problems. It’s easy to assume that people live golden lives simply because they never complain. Within my inner circle, I know that people do complain, to people whom they consider confidants and are willing to listen. Griping is in fact therapeutic, and I do it a lot–at home, alone, where nobody can hear me. It’s called journaling (see James Pennebaker) and it’s kept me sane when things have gone badly. (I have complained to my friends on occasion, but I ration such occasions severely.)

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I had a similar thing to ‘universe broke its promise’, but blaming the others/the world wasn’t how I reacted. Not saying that actual reaction was productive or effective. I eventually realized that I’d simply made assumptions that were unfounded optimism, and that I should have been paying more critical attention to what I was hearing.

    • Of course, one of the problems is that this kind of magical thinking has been encouraged.

      This can be best seen by how our Government Elites see that the most successful people seem to have an education and a home, and make efforts to ensure that everyone can get an education (albeit with burdensome student loans) and a home (with a mortgage well beyond what a person ought to afford). When things break down, it isn’t just because the Universe isn’t “fulfilling its promise” — it’s also society itself, which made the promise “Get an education in something — anything — and get yourself into a house, and you’ll prosper!”, which isn’t delivering.

      The people who try to fix society this way have cause and effect reversed: people are successful because they work hard for a degree that can actually earn money, and then, when they work hard, they have enough to buy a home.

      In the process of trying to drive indicators to improve society, our Government Elites have ruined, or at least severely damaged, both education and home ownership.

  27. My old man used to tell me “You want luck? Well hard work = luck”. Of course, then he would cuss me out about what a lazy, useless kid I was. Yea, he wasn’t exactly good at motivation.

    However, in the first regard, I think he was absolutely right. If you don’t have that natural “everything just handed to you” kind of luck, you can always (usually) manufacture your own with hard work and dedication. So your friend was probably right. You WERE lucky… because you made your own luck by working your ass off.

  28. I’ve long said that if greed is the Right’s besetting sin, envy is the Left’s, and of the two, envy is far worse. A greedy man who wants mansions and fast cars and expensive nights out with beautiful women needs to live in a world with construction companies and roads and night clubs. An envious man doesn’t care if the world burns as long as he gets to be king of the ashes.

    Although it’s occurred to me that the Left isn’t really free of greed either. I first started thinking it during the Occupy protests when we were all whining about the “greed” of Wall Street. My question was, “Who’s greedy? The stockbroker who spent years in school getting an MBA and works 80+ hours a week to keep his job? Or the gender studies student who does none of that, yet thinks herself entitled to what the stockbroker has anyway?”

    • the right isn’t greedy. Not these days. The right is mostly “leave me alone” Most business men are .left wing. Wall street is left wing now.

    • An envious man doesn’t care if the world burns as long as he gets to be king of the ashes.

      A few years back I began refering to leftists as Satanists and, if asked why, I said, “In the Miltonian sense”.

      • You know the satanists object to that, right? They say the dems (or at least those dems strident in abortion activism) are evil. (No, I’m not actually joking.)

        • I did not…most of the satanists I see seem to all be Dems.

        • Hell, I have it on good authority that Satan himself objects to Democrats being being characterized as satanic…

          Apparently, he finds it demeaning.

          • The fundamental difference is that Satan keeps his deals — to the letter if not the spirit. After all, he lives in the details.

          • And here I thought Satan’s objection was due to the confusion it caused between his minions, Demons, and the Demoncrats.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              He’s “disowned” the Demon-crats.

              First, they’re the reason we got Trump.

              Second, they’re making Trump look better and better. 😀

              Oh, He doesn’t want Trump downstairs. He’s afraid that Trump might do a “hostile takeover”. 👿

    • There is, I am reliably advised, an old Russian saying to the effect that It is not enough for me to have good fortune; my neighbor must suffer bad fortune as well.

      If true, it explains much about Russian history.

      • A joke that I’m told is Russian:

        There were once two peasants, Ivan and Mikhail. They were miserable, but they were equally miserable. Then, one day, Ivan got a cow. Suddenly, Ivan had milk and cream and all kinds of things Mikhail didn’t. Mikhail cried out, “God, why have you allowed this? Ivan and I were equal before, now we’re not. Make it right.”

        God appeared. “You’re right, Mikhail. I’m sorry, it isn’t fair. I’ll make you and Ivan equal again.”

        Mikhail smiled. “Excellent! You’re going to kill Ivan’s cow!”


        Or another variant:

        A man finds a lamp, rubs it, and out comes a genie. The genie said, “Master, I will grant you any wish you desire, but I must tell you that whatever you wish for, I will give your neighbor twice as much.”

        The man thought for a moment and said, “I wish to be beaten half to death.”

        • SF writer Robert Scheckley wrote s story, oh, late Sixties, early Seventies, published in Playboy relevance to be made clear) about a middle-aged, bachelor business man who received a sales call from Lucifer, offering a free trial sample: three wishes (same catch as your genie, except “your worst enemy” rather than neighbor.) “I haven’t any enemies!” “Yes you do, your business partner is your enemy.” “That goniff, that cheat?”

          First wish is, ohhhh, a thousand dollars. As he exits the ban after depositing the check who does he meet but his business partner, kvelling about receiving a prize of TWO thousand dollars.

          Second wish is five pounds of chopped liver. There’s a knock at the door and a caterer is there, delivering a free five pound sample of their finest chopped liver. He eats some, laughing inwardly at his partner’s dismay on receiving ten pounds of chopped liver, then works a deal selling the remainder back to the caterer.

          Next day at work his partner opens the day’s conversation bragging about receiving ten pounds of free chopped liver and selling it back to the caterer for a tidy profit.

          Our main character is furious and for days is beside himself with anger and frustration (neither of whom can be bothered to fix him a sandwich, a little pastrami, some cheese, a schmear of mustard on rye would be nice.) Finally, after stewing in his ire he decides to make his third wish.

          He decides that he has been a bachelor long enough, it is not good for a man of his age to not have a wife. So he wishes for one, a woman beautiful, sweet-tempered, always loving and sexually just exactly as much as a man can handle.

          • This reminds me of an even older joke on a manger/supervisor/project manager. I’ve seen it in a couple of forms, so I made one which was mostly generic:

            Peon 1, Peon 2, and their manager/supervisor are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out in a puff of smoke. The Genie says, “I usually only grant three wishes, so I’ll give each of you just one.”

            “Me first! Me first!” says Peon 1. “I want to be in the , etc, without a care in the world.” Poof! Peon 1 is gone.

            In astonishment, “Me next! Me next!” says Peon 2. “I want to be in , etc., etc., with the love of my life.” Poof! Peon 2 is gone.

            “OK, you’re up,” the Genie says to the manager/supervisor/project manager.

            The manager/supervisor/project manager says, “I want those two back in the office after lunch.”

        • I’ve heard a polish joke where the Pole asks the genie to have the Mongols rampage all the way across Asia and invade them , then go home… then does it again… finally, the genie asks why he wants Poland invaded like that and his response is “Because they had to rampage their way through Russia four times.”

        • I read a fairy tale with that theme. The farmer eventually wishes to be blind in one eye and his neighbor drives into the river and drowns after being blinded in both eyes.

        • MadRocketSci

          That’s the fable, all right. You know, I’m getting a little annoyed at the fact that all fables eventually translate into: “people are rotten and can’t have nice things.”

          There is a vast unexplored universe of ways that these things could go right (or at least not horrible).

          The wish could be: “reasons to be greatful to my neighbor”, for example, if the people involved didn’t give into their baser impulses.


          • I figure it’s a matter of mocking the bad impulses a lot of people have.

            Seriously, it makes the bad neighbor look ridiculous!

      • It’s a common attitude in Arab culture too.

  29. So, it’s possible that I’ve lifted this wholesale from somewhere, but I tend to think I just paraphrased a couple things. “Luck is 90% hard work, 9% observation and decisiveness, and 1% the definite partiality of an Almighty God.”

    That out of the way, I’d like to ask you Sarah if this is a grammatical thing or not. Because you started off with your story of the acquaintance you had who said you’re the luckiest people he knew, then YOU proceeded to describe yourselves as people who are ridiculously lucky. What you may not have been is fortunate.

    Lucky is fate and (mostly) hard work placing you in a position to benefit, and then you being aware enough to take the chance, usually when you desperately need it. Being fortunate is winning the lotto or having your worst problem being that your favorite coffee shop just moved a couple miles further away.

    I submit that you are, in fact, lucky people. See definite partiality, fate, and being fortunate for an explanation of Younger Son’s existence.

  30. Times at bat is also the best predictor of success in business startups. The most successful startup-starters generally have a long, long tail of unsuccessful startups in their history. Failure in those prior attempts directly led to being ‘lucky’ in the businesses that succeeded.

    In my experience the ones who give it a go and then stop trying at early failure, possibly due to a stronger pain avoidance instinct, or perhaps just a louder internal critic, end up congregating in the ‘safe’ jobs, buried deep in the corporate or government bureaucracies. If they are lucky they land somewhere that provides avenues for being creative within that safe structure – otherwise they become the defend-my-fiefdom-at-all-costs middle managers driven by the echos of their earlier failure that are such a joy to deal with.

    My own time as a loyal minion at what I call the-startup-that-didn’t (it ended badly – but I did gain a great story about getting laid off over the white courtesy phone at John Wayne Airport) basically told me I don’t have anything close to the risk tolerance for being the founder-and-CEO of something almost guaranteed to fail, over and over again, until I manage to figure it out.

    • This resembles an argument made by Scott Adams in support of Trump: The Donald has great experience at succeeding and at failing. He has had to learn how to turn around failure, how to cut losses, how to overcome failing … unlike some “gifted” leaders* who have had success handed to them so repeatedly that they think it their just do and are unable to recognize failure when it kicks them in the plums.

      *No names, but the kind of person who declares, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

      • I think the fundamental principle at work here is that if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning.

        • Heh. Serendipity strikes! I was just reading this (emphasis added) at The Corner:

          Ducey: ‘What We Reject Is Immigration Without Assimilation’
          At the National Review Institute’s Ideas Summit, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said, “what we reject is immigration without assimilation, and that is what we have had in the past few decades.”
          Arizona’s unemployment rate has been at 5 percent for several months, and a recent report on the state’s economy touted a “growing list of corporate relocations and expansions.”

          “I would be remiss if I didn’t remember to thank my partner in Arizona’s terrific job creation record, and that is California Governor Jerry Brown,” Ducey said. “I had one tech company executive whose name you would recognize tell me, ‘in California, we’re so screwed up, because we can afford to be.’ Well, someday that will no longer be the case.”

          Ducey also discussed the first major piece of legislation he signed, requiring high school students to pass the civics test that naturalized citizens are required to pass.
          A fact not well-known outside of Arizona: Ducey was previously CEO of the ice cream parlor chain, Cold Stone Creamery.

          “You get a lot of undeserved popularity when you’re serving ice cream, and you lose it all when you balance a budget,” Ducey joked.

  31. Well done, Sarah. You described the world very well. I would toss in that bit in the New Testament about “all have sinned”; but we all know we’re not perfect.

    Having a healthy look at the world hurts sometimes. So does cancer surgery. But neither sin, envy, nor cancer get better without some corrective action.

  32. People have all sorts of misperceptions about others. About a year after I moved here, a mother in my Scout troop asked me what it was like being rich. Huh? She said, “Well, your kid’s going to West Point. We all know you’re rich.” After I was done hysterically laughing, I explained to her USMA was one of the options we had put forward to our kids BECAUSE we don’t have much spare money. Didn’t cost us a penny (except for our share of taxes…), and the government paid him to go. And a guaranteed job on graduation, albeit with an increased risk of getting shot at. I explained service academies and ROTC and all that stuff to her. She had never heard of them, had no clue on how people became commissioned officers. One of her two sons went AFROTC. Air Force still hasn’t thanked me…

    On luck, I go with my own personal theory. Lucky people are lucky, unlucky people aren’t. I’ve totaled two cars and a bicycle, and had a bicycle-car collision. Total injuries- scratched one leg going over the handlebars when the car pulled out in front of me. For some odd reason, that bike survived. The pedal caught on the license plate holder projection, stopping the bike cold from about 20 MPH. I kept going. Quite honestly, even when things have gone bad in my life, I’ve ended up stepping out into a better situation. I’ve always been job hunting, even while employed. And another job has always been there just in time.

    • That sounds familiar, though more…dynamic. I have a lot of bad luck, but in the best way possible.
      If my brakes go out, it’s right next to the auto service center chain my folks have been using for a decade before I was born, not on the twisty cliff road in the middle of an uninhabited area. If the household is down with food poisoning, it’s on the first day of a three day vacation– not 20 minutes before we start the 10 hour drive home. I broke my foot…after my husband came back from a six month deployment, not while he was gone and I was home with three small children.

  33. Apparently, from the outside, we’re the golden couple, moving in an eternal summer, effortlessly plucking up golden plums as we go.

    I’m not even sure how we give that impression.

    As best I can figure, if you don’t constantly talk about how hard things are, there isn’t any actual difficulty.

    Paraphrased conversation:
    “I don’t know why you’re so unsympathetic, he’s having a much harder time than you did.”
    “Bull****. Everything he’s described is normal. Yes, he’s miserable right now, you just have to deal with it.”
    “Now that is not fair! You weren’t miserable at all!”
    “How the **** did you come to that conclusion?”
    “You didn’t say anything! And calm down!”
    “**** no, I didn’t say anything, because I WAS **** MISERABLE AND TALKING WOULDN’T HELP IT. You just DEAL with it– how would dragging anybody else down make things better? What are you going to do, fix the entire fleet so their head is out of their ***?”

    • I was once reporting to a VP-level person, and in that person’s staff meetings there was one manager who spent much more than his share of time bemoaning how hard his team had things, how it was oh so difficult to get his assigned stuff done, and how much trouble his team was having with everything. Every. Single. Meeting. I thought he was nuts – why didn’t he show off his competence by talking about his successes, and only bringing stuff up when he actually needed help? I also wondered if this was an Indian thing, as both he and the VP were from the subcontinent.

      Then came layoffs. My team got zapped. My whole team, all but one tech guy, who had to support the entire software build that we had bult up (close to 4 million lines of code and a big SQL DB). Oh, and I got riffed as well. And the complainers group lost maybe one person.

      Lesson: The squeaky wheel apparently also avoids headcount cuts.

  34. Thanks for posting this – everyone. I needed these reminders just now. As usual, Sarah hits nail right on head.

  35. Our life is the same way….prudent fails, only a crap shoot succeeds. My wife always thought other people had it all. Only experience has shown her (and me) that all the people who had it made were just waiting out the law of averages. I knew one man who had everything go gold all his life (inside he worked hard and it was a mess, but he stuck with his family etc). He decided to retire….while the company was being unraveled he had a minor operation, got a goldbug infection and died two days later. His lawyer, who was his childhood friend screwed his widow, his kids and everyone who worked for him out of everything.

    Right now I am sweating out another bout of unemployment with no savings and no prospects and both my health and my wifes is bad. I have no idea if we succeed or fail, but we keep moving.

  36. I am one lucky sonofabitch, and I know it. I say this even though my Lady suffers from many ills, both psychological and physical. I say this even though our finances are a,perpetual mess (when most couples are learning to handle their finances, we were learning how to stay a couple under volcanic pressures). I despise the Left because of exactly the mentality Sarah describes; the CERTAINTY that everybody else is having it easy and it isn’t FAIR! Waaaaaah!


    They BELIEVE the song MONEY FOR NOTHING. They BELIEVE that it’s a scandal that pro football players get huge salaries (how much money would it take for you to go out and get tacked by the pros, snowflake?). They BELIEVE that doctors get paid too much (let’s see, a job that involves being eldow deep in guts for hours at a time, and then getting second guessed by Lawyers. I ain’t doing that for less than six figures a year, nowhow.) They BELIEVE that any election that goes against them is an excuse to carry on like spoilt twelve year olds.

    I live in the richest era of human history. An era when anyone who wants to can get light at midnight by flipping a switch. An era when most of us have more opportunities to play than any but the top 1% of any era before us.

    The snowflakes could do almost anything they wanted to, if they would do the friggin’ WORK. They’d rather whine. They want the government to do it for them. And then they want the credit, because THEY were the ones whining.

    I’ve messed up opportunities. I’ve given up on thing that I felt were too hard. But I don’t SNIVEL about it, damnit.

    My problems are at least half my fault, and the ones that are’t are not solvable by government. I’ll deal.

    We are, all of us, lucky. We could have been born in Africa, or in the 12th century.

    • The irony of the song “Money for Nothing” is that the delivery men are sitting around watching MTV and kvetching about how easy the rock stars have it…while they are on the job. Yeah, theoretically they have to “install microwave ovens…[and] move these color TVs,” but in practice they seem to have no issues taking an extended complaining break.

      I think it’s intentional that there is some distinct doubt about who it is that’s getting “money for nothing.”

    • The 12th century in Eurasia wasn’t too bad, really. The Medieval Climate Optimum was going strong, you were between waves of Steppe nomads, the Saxons and kin had settled down, yeah, the Vikings were a problem but they were not as bad as before, the Moors had been stopped in Iberia. On the gripping hand, the 14th and 17th centuries just flat sucked (to quote a hard-as-nails and amazingly popular prof).

  37. One thing about luck that I haven’t seen above. The mere fact that you are here is a result of incredible luck. It means your parents met and successfully mated, and that one sperm in over 100 million won the race to create you. And each of your parents is the result of the same thing. And so on down the line until the very beginning. Most are of the conceit that of course they exist, that’s the way it is. But the reality of it is, the odds of the existence of any one of us is so infinitesimally small as to be essentially zero. Yet, here we are, the whole lot of us.

    The Known Space series talks about the Puppeteers breeding humans for luck. And Nessus curling into a ball when told that finding Teela Brown may be luck for Teela, not for Nessus or anyone else around her. Imagine being a normal person in a relationship with a pre-naturally lucky person. The safe falls from the building- who’s under it? Water splashes from the roadway with a passing bus- Who gets soaked? Who wins all the games involving dice? Or luck of the draw in cards? It would be a nightmare. Even a footrace could spell disaster for you. There you are, thinking you’re going to win- and there’s a slippery spot on the track just where your foot lands…

  38. Were you referring to a dime bag or a Roosevelt dime dropping?

  39. Odd crap found while looking for other stuff department:

    Shane Black, creator of the Lethal Weapon franchise, is signed as writer and director of a new Doc Savage film, starring Dwayne Johnson.

    Announced, no release date yet. No other cast members given.

  40. Rich Rostrom

    Anyone with your health issues is not “lucky”, compared to nearly all other people.

    OTOH, anyone living in 20th/21st century America is lucky, compared to nearly all other people.

    And anyone who has found love is rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

  41. I was thinking about writing something similar to this, if I could get my fragmented thoughts into a coherent essay, to give to you as a guest post. Maybe when I do put it down into words, you can let me know what you think, and if it fits. ^^;

  42. Shouldn’t the “Green” post have been for today, St. Patrick’s Day? 🙂

  43. If I absorbed all of this article, it would crush me.