I’m made nervous when a news show guest says “you’re welcome” after she or he has been thanked for coming on the program. There doesn’t seem to be any modesty in it, which makes me feel even more wobbly in a country already teeming with gasbags. Which is why I was so happy to hear actor Christoph Waltz tell Charlie Rose the other night that he was grateful for the chance to come on his show and to talk about his new movie Django Unchained.
“Thank you very, very much,” he said at the end of the program, and in that repetition was a certain humility which touched my own hope and which helped me see that for years now I have been losing faith in the possible.
It is not hard to give up on life or to forego a place in it. What’s hard is living each day with the recognition that we are all of us weak and wanting.
For a long time I have been saddled with an odd superstition that has compelled me to cross my fingers during take-offs and landings. In recent years, though, the deep fears this ritual has masked have surfaced, and I have not been able to think about flying without also feeling a sense of the deepest dread.
This past week, I had to travel across country for my new job and had, also, to confront this dread. I need to tell you, though, that a cross-country flight on American Airlines is no place to face your fears of flying. For the first leg of my flight out, I was made to sit in a seat as wide as a carrot, and my claustrophobia kicked up a fuss. As I settled back uncomfortably, a large, gray, beshelled bug crawled out from between the seat back and headrest in front of me. I shrieked inwardly, swatted it away, and spent the rest of the flight thinking it would crawl into my carry-on bag and reappear once I got home.
On the second leg of the flight out, I shoehorned myself into my assigned window seat and passed my time trying to avoid the thigh and arm of the gentleman next to me whose body parts were spilling everywhere. Eventually, I became so claustrophobic that I went looking for, and found, the one aisle seat remaining. It was right near the bathroom, which did not have water for washing hands; instead, the sink was filled with packets of lemon-scented towelettes.
The plane for the second leg of the trip home was very late. Once it arrived, we boarded; settled in; and, after a long wait, learned that the door would not close and that there was something wrong with the fuel system. We were happy to de-plane and hike across the airport to fetch another one. After sitting on that one for a good amount of time (during which I focused my attention on the ripped and raggedy seat diagonally across from mine), we discovered from the pilot that there was a problem with the door of that plane as well. Happily, it was repairable, and we made it back in once piece—though many hours after we were supposed to have arrived. Can you guess what I did the minute I got home?
The other day I created a Twitter account for my job and then followed the New York Times, among others. Within minutes I was flooded with tweets, so I unfollowed the behemoth. I’m sure no one there cared—or even knew. When you have 7.3 million followers, you can afford to lose one.
When you have 60 followers, you can’t help but feel the sting when someone bows out, as I did yesterday when I lost one. I rarely hear from those of you who come here, so I’m never sure what you think of my work. In the year I’ve been keeping this blog, though, I’ve lost only two other followers, so I’ve thought that perhaps I’ve been headed in the right direction.
Still, I can’t help but feel that I’ve been letting people down. Am I becoming boring? I worry about this. Do I not write often enough? I worry about this, too. I’m in a bit of a creative dry spell right now, you see, but I’m expecting some inspiration any day.