Wandering around the east end of South Street, Philadelphia, we come upon an outdoor market. The tourist sign says this structure, a long, narrow, roofed but open sided building, has been a market for centuries. Farmers would pull their wagons up to the arched openings along the side of the tunnel and sell until the wagon beds were empty. Now, instead of farmers and wagons full of vegetables and livestock, there are middle-aged women in Subarus and Volkswagens, hawking home-made junky jewelry and ugly water colors.

But my boyfriend loves this crap, so we turn into the market and start stepping carefully around over-burdened folding tables. Halfway along the tunnel, I’ve stopped trying to smile apologetically at the hopeful vendors, and instead pretend interest in their twisted silver wire and plastic beads, just to avoid eye contact. We are almost through when I see a vendor, a middle-aged woman, a bit overweight, a bit of gray running through frizzy hair, curled up on her side atop two folding chairs, fast asleep.  Really asleep. Slack mouthed, heavy breathing on the verge of snoring, asleep.  Her table full of doo-dads and thing-a-ma-bobs there beside her, exposed, vulnerable.

I won’t leave my apartment alone after dark. I think this is just common sense.  I’ll knock on wood as I type this, but I’ve never been accosted by a stranger in all of my life.  This isn’t luck.  This is simply never putting myself in a position where a stranger could attack.  I am female. I am small.   I know there are women out there who will call me a coward for only experiencing city nightlife in the company of a crowd, but your derision will not change my behavior.  There are other woman who will tell me all I need to do is take a self-defense class to feel powerful and strong.  But you see, I have taken that class, and I do feel powerful and strong.  I know exactly how to use my elbows and knees and the palm of my hand.  I am smart and quick and muscular.  If I am ever attacked, I will fight like a banshee, and if I lose in the end, the attacker will not leave unscathed.  But despite this empowerment, I believe only an idiot would expose themselves to the possibility of attack. Why would I ask for trouble? I know I look vulnerable.

The definition of vulnerable is “susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.”  I wish there were two separate words, one for the emotional and one for the physical.  They feel like entirely different things to me.

My sister dropped her son off for his first day at first grade and avoided the eyes of the other mothers as she rushed back to her car.  She didn’t want them to see her tears. She felt vulnerable. Susceptible to an emotional attack. I said – but you should open yourself up to them, because it would make you feel more connected. I thought of Brene Brown’s Ted talk on vulnerability.  She says the happiest people are the ones who allow themselves to be vulnerable, to let themselves be seen.  And my sister would have benefited by letting herself be seen by those other weeping mothers. But by doing so, she wouldn’t have opened herself up to attack. She might have felt uncomfortable at first, but she would not have been attacked.  So, is vulnerable is the wrong word?

The woman at the market could only sleep like that because she did not feel vulnerable.  She probably knows the other vendors as well as anyone knows their co-workers.  She knows that they will look out for her, just as she would look out for them when they stepped away for a bathroom break or took a half-hour power nap.  What she felt was trust. What my sister needed to feel was trust.

But the market woman looked vulnerable to me.  My sister felt vulnerable in front of the other woman. I would appear vulnerable to an attacker on a lonely city street.  Perhaps vulnerability is in the eye of the beholder. It is a perception, not a fact.

Vulnerable (Photo credit: just.Luc)

Why is this on my mind today?  Am I feeling vulnerable?  A little. The summer is ending and I will start working more soon, flying all over the country, traveling alone, exposing myself to strangers and long, lonely hotel hallways.  I know how to appear confident and strong, how to look like I know exactly what I am doing. I won’t look vulnerable. I will stride into those ballrooms with my head held high, and the nervous presenters will think their slides are in the hands of an intelligent, capable woman. But they won’t know that I go back to my hotel room every night feeling stupid and sad and lonely. They won’t know how much I hate my job and how I hate being away from home. How vulnerable I feel, all the time, to the emotional attacks that are just a part of a stressful meeting.

To the flight attendants and the taxi drivers and the event planners, I might look like I have my shit together, but that is an illusion.  It is your perception, not a fact.  The fact is, I feel vulnerable as hell right now. Excuse me for a moment while I go throw up.

Not Funny

I wake early on a Saturday morning and the house feels wrong. Dad is home and the phone keeps ringing and the neighbors are here and no one is talking when I enter the kitchen. Before I get a chance to explore the cereal cabinet my father takes me by the arm and leads me into the basement. Anxiety radiates though his hand. Frothy bubbles start growing in my stomach.

He tells me someone close to us has died. The bubbles expand and surge up into my throat. I try to hold them down as my father, only in his mid-forties and still relatively inexperienced with death, tries to explain tragedy to his teen-aged daughter. My jaw tightens. I can’t hold it in, my mouth forms a smile and the bubbles escape as giggles.  My father, enraged at my inappropriate response, steps away from me. Giggles become laughter. He is not a hitter, but I can see the twitch in his right shoulder. It doesn’t upset me; I want to slap myself.  But I can’t stop laughing.


My boyfriend walks into my office, laughing so hard he can hardly breathe.  He collapses into a chair and recovers long enough to tell me the hysterical thing he has just seen.  A video of someone in the middle of a speech, falling over backwards into a buffet table.

I don’t laugh. I don’t even smile.  He is disappointed. I am thinking of the effort that went into making all the food, and about how embarrassed the man must feel. My boyfriend points out that the man is laughing along with everyone else.  I still don’t find it funny.

My sister and I are on the floor with her kids, playing with legos.  I put a headless mini-figure onto a horse and have it ride up to the front door of the inn we’ve built.

“Knock, Knock”  I call out.
“Yes, who is it?” my sister responds.
“The headless horseman. Can you direct me to your handicap parking?”

My sister and I spend the next twenty minutes laughing uncontrollably, rolling on the floor, clutching our stomachs.  Her kids look on, bemused smiles on their faces, not at all getting the joke.  For days and weeks and even years later, if either of us mention “Headless Horseman” the other will say, “Where’s your handicap parking?” And the laughter will begin again.

I’m laughing now as I type this.

Smiling makes the difference
(Photo credit: Zanthia)

Writing in the Negative

If she’d said, “I love Desperate Housewives,” or “I love Twilight” with the same amount of feeling it wouldn’t have registered, despite the loud, nerve-grating voice.  I would have walked on by, navigating the crowded street corner with my hands full of heavy grocery bags as I’ve done a hundred times before. I would have continued mentally berating myself for, again, shopping at happy hour when I know the path between the store and my apartment is full of bars, and not noticed her at all.  I hear that voice all over Philly, that nasal, screechy sort of female voice that pierces my ear drum exactly the way a soft, southern drawl would not. You could hear this girl talking a block away.

But it wasn’t her voice, it was the words she said, and the way she said them that caught my attention.  She said, with passionate intensity: “I love not drinking.” Then, when the circle of expelled smokers around her questioned the absurd statement, she insisted, “Really, I love drinking too, but I love not drinking, it is so much fun.”

Negative (Photo credit: Caro’s Lines)

Huh?  My brain twisted into knots in its attempt to sort out words and meaning.  I missed anything else she or her companions said as I coped with my befuddlement.  Like the way I have to struggle through a double negative.  For example, “There wasn’t nothing in the bag, mom,” from a conversation I overheard in the grocery store. (“was-not-no-thing,”  not and no cancel each other out, so the result is, “was-thing”)  So there was something, then?

How does one love the ‘not’ doing of something?  Would she say, “I love not listening to silence,” to indicate her enjoyment of music?  Or, perhaps, “I love not standing still,” to say she loved walking?  The possibilities of this sort of statement kept popping in my mind, each one more ridiculous than the last.

“I love not being awake.” (sleeping)
“I love not standing still when music is playing.” (dancing)
“I love not starving.” (eating)

Ok, to be fair, I think what she meant was: “I don’t mind being the designated driver, because I enjoy being sober around a bunch of drunks.”  Which still doesn’t make any sense.  To me anyway.  The only way I can enjoy the company of drunks is to be drunk myself.  The worst part about walking around that corner at happy hour is dealing with the stupidity of drunk people.   It is hard enough to navigate through a crowd of sober people, but drunks are like babies just learning to walk, they bounce off other objects to keep themselves upright.  When that other object is little me, loaded with down with bags, (contents including, but not limited to, a gallon of milk, a pound of coffee beans and that big ham that was on sale) the ‘bounce’ will not end well.

Who loves being a designated driver?   Maybe someone who loves talking care of toddlers.  Maybe she is a nursery school teacher.

And this is what I love about not living in the suburbs1.  I don’t have to worry about designated drivers, I can walk to any of the half-dozen bars nearby and drink or not-drink as much as I want.  I can walk to my grocery store and not steal2 food. And I can overhear delightfully strange statements from the delightfully strange people I pass in the streets and amuse myself for hours by not hand-writing3 it all down.

1,2,3 – Translation: city-life, buy, typing, respectively.


I don’t trust memory.

I am nine or ten, and I am sleeping over at my friend Holly’s house. (Holly is not her real name.  It shouldn’t matter, since she is dead now, but I feel the need to protect her.)  I know Holly doesn’t have a dad, which isn’t too strange.  This is the early eighties and divorce has become an epidemic in my upper middle class town, and it is always the dad that leaves. Actually, I have no idea if her parents are divorced, or if they ever married.  Maybe her father is dead. Strange thing is, I don’t remember seeing her mother that night either.

I don’t remember arriving at her house, or what we ate for dinner but now it is really, really late, hours past my bedtime and Holly and I jump up and down on her bed, loud music is pouring from her cool robot-shaped cassette tape player and we eat candy necklaces. Lots of them.  She has an endless supply and there was no one around telling us, you’ve had enough. She has so many cool electric toys, everything I ever wanted from the toys-r-us catalog is lying there on Holly’s bedroom floor.

We are doing every thing I always imagined I would do if my parents disappeared.  And it is fun!  We are giggling and dancing, being loud and silly and nobody is getting hurt. Well, my tummy is hurting just a little bit.  I blame the jumping.

Her room feels small and cluttered and dark.  I don’t remember seeing a desk.  Just the bed, the toy and candy strewn floor and a closet full of more toys and lots of clothing.

I guess we slept eventually, but no one ever told us to go to bed.  The next scene is in Holly’s backyard.  It is daytime. A huge tree dominates the square, fenced-in space.  There is a dog roaming around, its dried piles of feces litter the patchy grass. There is a man sitting at the picnic table with us and he is shoving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into Holly’s mouth.  Holly is sobbing and choking.  Snot and tears and jelly smeared all over her face.  The man is angry, I made you the damn sandwich and now you’re gonna eat it.

I don’t know who the man is.  Her mother’s boyfriend?  The concept of a ‘mother’ having a ‘boyfriend’ is too foreign for my sheltered mind.  The sandwich this man made for me is disgusting. He slopped the peanut butter and jelly an inch thick over the bread.  It isn’t cut up into child sized squares or triangles, I have a hard time holding it, and the excess jelly oozes over my hands as I eat it, fast, bite after terrified bite.

That memory ends there.  My mother told me later that she was furious to learn Holly’s mother had left us alone with a stranger. I never went back to her house.  I switched schools after that year and that was the end of our friendship.

I have two more memories of Holly. The first is passing by her in the stairwell of the high school.  She wore all black, a long black skirt, black blouse, black nail polish, even her eyes were circled in black.  The word ‘goth’ wasn’t in my vocabulary at the time, but it fits now.  Did we speak?  I know she smiled at me.  Her teeth were crooked, but the smile was sweet.  The moment feels kind in my head.  We walked completely different paths through that building, weaving among two thousand other students, and I don’t remember seeing her again.

If I stopped the story here – you might predict drug use, dropping out of school, maybe an unwanted pregnancy, and eventually death by overdose.  I already hinted at an early death, no one would be surprised if the story continued on this trajectory.  Unfair, true, but that is what we do.  In between the bits and pieces of fact we imaginatively fill in the gaps.

I don’t know what the truth is.

My last memory is of her memorial Facebook page, a year after she died of breast cancer.  I was not connected to her, but a friend of a friend wrote a note of sympathy and it popped up in my feed.  People like to speak well of the recently departed, but I’ve never seen so many specific, positive memories written by so many people. She was married and had a good job; much of the grief came from her co-workers and boss. Her mother and sister do breast cancer walks in her honor. Even now, the page is still updated with variations of the phrase: I miss you.

The memory of that strange and horrible sleep-over, of a neglected and abused child, is the memory I have of her.  But the evidence of other people’s memories, and the pictures of a smiling, happy woman, belie my singular experience.  An individual life is a complicated, many faceted thing.

I don’t trust memory. And as I am the only person with this memory, there’s a good chance I made it up.

To My Six Year Old Nephew As He Starts First Grade

English: France in 2000 year (XXI century). Fu...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know right now it is all the excitement of a new backpack and a new pencil-case and new notebooks and maybe a bit of apprehension about who your new teacher will be, and if your best friend is going to be in your classroom.  You are already, academically speaking, way ahead of your fellow students, and I think you know that, so that isn’t going to be an issue.  But I foresee a day, maybe not soon, maybe not even this year, but someday you are going to ask some nearby adult, “Why do I have to go to school?”

I asked that question over and over again during those 12 years, and I never got a good answer.  I don’t think teachers and parents have an answer to that question.  “You have to do it because we had to do it,” is the closest they’ll get. Because, really, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.  If the point really was to learn ‘reading, writing and arithmetic,’ then the last place they’d send you is to a room full of distractions. (i.e. other kids)

No, the answer to the question, “Why do I have to go to school?” is not to learn how to spell ‘Mississippi’ or the square root of 144, or the date of the Battle of Hastings.

The answer is, you go to school to learn how to be a functional member of society. You go to school to learn how to make friends.  You go to school to learn how to get what you need (attention, assistance, resources) in the midst of competitive forces.

This is the secret to a successful academic career: learn how to get along with people.  This world isn’t made up of facts and figures, it is made up of people.  Especially nowadays with all the information you need literally in the palm of your hand, always accessible.

Oh, sure, if the apocalypse comes and our cell phones stop working, you’ll need some facts, like how to make fire, and which wild berries are safe to eat.  But you won’t learn that in school anyway.  No, the people who would survive the apocalypse are the same people who succeeded at school, the same people who learned how to just get along with everyone.

This is what I wish I had learned in school.  I wish the adults around me had stopped harping on my bad grades and had harped instead on my lack of friends.  I wish they had taught me the skills I needed to stop being so afraid of people’s emotions. Instead, I learned to hide from the other kids.  I learned to bury myself in fiction. I learned how to dress and walk and talk so anonymously that people who sat next to me in home room for four years of high school do not remember me being there at all. (this is not an exaggeration – this really happened.)

Anyway, back to you, my favoritist nephew. All you really have to do for the next 12 years of your life is learn how to make friends, and keep them.  Learn how to be nice and caring and empathetic. Learn to work with people who think differently than you do.  Learn how to enjoy the company of others.  Because that is why you have to go to school.

It won’t be easy, but it is worth the effort.

This is dedicated to:

If I ever get my fiction published, I will dedicate my first book to my seventh grade teacher. This is what the dedication will say:

To Mrs. Weigel, who gave me an award for a story I didn’t write.

Yeah, that story of mine that you gushed over, that earned me the only A+ I got that year, it wasn’t mine.  Oh, I didn’t copy it word for word, but the story came from the back of a puzzle box.

Every year my mom bought a new 1000 piece puzzle for us to complete over the annual two week shore vacation.  Something to do on rainy days I guess.  A part of the down-the-shore experience that she had inherited from her parents.  That summer the puzzle had been of a deep, dark jungle: palm trees and parrots and tropical fruit. On the back of the box there was a story about the picture.  I must have read it a dozen times over the course of that puzzle’s existence on the foldout table under the bay window that faced the ocean.

The story told of a Hawaiian style shirt that came alive at night while its owner slept.  I think the parrot might have flown around the guy’s bedroom and lost a feather or something.  I don’t actually remember it now.

But I knew the story well back then.  Well enough that when you handed out the mimeographed coloring book page of a jungle scene and told us to “Demonstrate your knowledge of the First Person Narrative” by writing a story about the picture (and color the picture for extra credit) I knew exactly what story to tell.

I wonder now if you made such a big deal over the story because it was the only decent thing I had ever done in your class and you felt like it was a good opportunity to let me shine.  You were everyone’s favorite teacher.  You were kind and affectionate and you were always fair.  I wonder now if you felt a little sorry for me, so much smaller than the other kids, smart, but totally uninterested in spelling, the rules of composition or memorizing poetry. I never really excelled at anything in your class.

You made such a fuss over that story that two things clicked in my brain.  First, that making up stories and writing them down can garner praise. And second, that someday I was going to write a story for real and show it to you in order to feel like I actually deserved that praise.

Well, it took me thirty odd years, and I don’t even know if you are still alive, but here it is, a real story, just for you.  I hope you like it as much as you liked the other one.

If you should ever stumble across this blog, Mrs. Weigel, I hope you read some of the fiction I have posted here.  All of it is a 100% my own creation, and all of it is for you.

Not this one – but you get the idea

Lazy Thinking

Ok – so you might have heard of this woman already… Anita Sarkeesian is an über modern feminist and pop culture critic. Recently, she took on the gaming industry and the game boys fought back. They literally threatened to kill her, stalked her all over the internet and turned their harassment into a kind of social media game.

If you want to know more about the backlash you can watch this.

I had heard about her, and the game boys reaction, probably saw some snippet of her talking and wrote her off as an extremist not worth paying attention to. But in a moment of perverse, “This will hurt, but it will be good for me to watch something I don’t agree with,” I watched the first episode of her “Tropes vs Women in Video Games” series just to see what all the fuss was about.

Here’s the thing – The first half of the video made me roll my eyes and had my mouse hovering over the back button. But I forced myself to keep going to the end. And I am glad I did. It is at the end of the video – and at the end of all her videos – where she draws together all the points she’s made into a truly coherent statement. Full of truth and seriously thought-provoking.

She is truly brilliant. And fearless. She attacks beloved themes with scythe-like words and shows us the horrifying truth of the sexism that lurks beneath today’s media, whether you want to see it or not.

The conclusion I have drawn from watching her well researched and intelligently written videos is that we are lazy.


All of us are using the same old mechanisms (the tropes and stereotypes) for storytelling over and over again because it is familiar and easy and socially acceptable. With a bit of effort on the part of writers and editors and artists we could create a world where a person’s gender doesn’t really enter into the story at all. Or where their gender adds to their character, instead of being a crutch, or something they have to rise above. We could use our massively creative brains and think of new plots and new character traits and new scenarios. We can do it.

And here is another conclusion I have drawn: Watch the whole thing before you judge. (again – lazy!) The beginnings of her videos are hard to watch. They really are, even now after I’ve watched so many. She attacks the things we love, shoving its flaws in our face. But just give her the benefit of the doubt, stay with her to the end and I promise she will change the way you view the world and make you think new thoughts.

To me, any chance I get to think about things in a new way is worth the effort.

Disgusting Creature

I know you were here, you left the evidence all over the kitchen counter, you disgusting creature. You ignore the treats I leave out for you and feast instead on some invisible spot of grease I neglected to scrub away.

I can’t clean anymore.  My hands are shriveled prunes.  The smell of bleach is overwhelming but it doesn’t seem to bother your supposedly sensitive nose in the slightest.

Your twitching whiskers mock me.  Your presence is a slight on my sense of cleanliness. Your continued appearances reflect some default in my housekeeping abilities.

You lurk beneath the stove, waiting for me to go away. Well, too bad.  I’ll wait here all night if I have to. Still and silent. Patiently waiting. I have a trap and I am not afraid to use it.

I hate you, mouse.

Yuck! Get Away From ME! (Photo credit: nina_suzette)

I blame the movie “The Secrets of NIMH.” That movie taught me that mice are smart and crafty, especially the recipients of super-smart potion. Or were they rats? I don’t actually remember the plot.  How about Cinderella.  That woman had a thing for clever rodents.

I don’t have an infestation of mice, plural; it is only one mouse.  And I swear he knows what a trap is. Three years ago, I had a different mouse, very small and gray, he emerged most often from the closet and fell victim to the trap almost immediately.

This one is plump, a sign of his success.  He is white and tan, looking more like someone’s escaped pet than a wild creature.  He is not afraid of me.

He is NOT AFRAID of me!  ARG!

Well, I’ve got the stove surrounded now, mister mouse.  A trap at every door.  Steal-wool like barbed wire stuffed in every crevice, even the ones too small for your roly-poly shape.

Just try to get into my kitchen now. Just try. Seriously. Now would be good. It’s late and I’ve really go to go to bed.

Yes – I’m aware of the irony, considering my blog name – don’t rub it in.

The things I don’t know

I never read Animal Farm.  I know what it is about. I understand its social significance. I read the Cliff Notes. I am an excellent reader, and I got more out of that summary than other teenagers got out of the real book. Animal Farm, and The Lord of the Flies, and The Catcher in the Rye… all books I failed to read in high school.  I spent those four years doing the bare minimum to survive.  I gobbled up books by Margret Wise and Tracy Hickman, by David Eddings, Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey and Terry Brooks.  Hundreds of pages a day sucked in though my eyes to nourish my imaginative soul.  So it wasn’t that I didn’t like to read.

Pissarro – 1871 – Lordship Lane Station, Dulwich

I have a vague memory of an art appreciation class I took once…   At one point, my mother decided to decorate the bare walls of my bedroom with a print of a famous painting.  I remember it well, I stared at it for hours when I should have studied or slept. It took not even a minute to find it on Google just now, because my memory of it is so strong.

I took piano lessons on and off for ten years.  I had a few lessons on the violin.  I never learned to read music though.   I find classical music very soothing. But I can’t really tell the difference between Bach or Beethoven.

Regardless of these gaps in my education,  I am a good conversationalist.  I love an interesting discussion with an intelligent person more than any other activity.  If I don’t know something, I am not embarrassed to admit it, and a conversation is only enhanced for me if there is an opportunity to learn something new.

Ten years ago, I would have written the above and then pointed out that none of that missing knowledge harmed me in any way.  I don’t feel that way anymore.  The older I get, the more aware I become of how little I know and the more I feel the lack of that knowledge.

I won’t blame the educational system or my upbringing or any of the usual suspects.  It is my lack of interest that lies at the core of this deficiency.  I had access to excellent teachers and libraries and parents who would have nurtured any passion of mine that lasted more than a week or two.   They bought me all those fantasy novels after all.

And so here I am, a full-fledged adult, aware of this problem and still unwilling to do anything about it.  Why?

I guess I still just don’t find any of those things interesting. That painting by Pissarro is just, well, boring.

But here is an idea:  I just read an essay by William Hazlitt (a writer from the early 1800’s) called, “On The Pleasure of Painting.”  He believed non-artists can’t appreciate art. “No one who has not devoted his life and soul to the pursuit of art can feel the same exultation in its brightest ornaments and loftiest triumphs which an artist does.”  In a way, I agree with him.  I know that I feel a deeper appreciation for the amount of effort required to compose an essay or a manuscript than non-writers, because, well, to put it crudely,  “been there-done that.”  I know good writing (and bad writing) when I see it, because I have written it myself.

I have a feeling that the reason I don’t find the painting of a blurry train traveling through a grassy field on the way to a station interesting is that I’ve never painted a picture.  I can’t tell the difference between Bach and Beethoven because I’ve never written a concerto.

This is what I imagine my ‘retirement’ will be like.  (If such a thing still exists when I’m old)  I will learn to do these things that I have never done before.  I will learn to paint.  I will learn to create music.  I will learn to write poetry and to sculpt and sing. So that I can finally fill all those gaps in my head where an appreciation for art should be.

Of course none of that explains why I haven’t read Animal Farm.

Stop staring at me

The reflection is blurry, softer, cleaner.  The lighting is dim, inside that other bathroom, the walls don’t need new paint and the cracked tile floor is invisible. Perhaps it isn’t cracked at all in there. Perhaps you just float, no need for feet or floors.

You are always there, inside the glass, staring out into the world. What do you do when you are alone? When no one is there to reflect? Do you wait, hidden just out of view, or do you live some other life?

English: Looking through a cracked picture frame

The life inside the looking-glass is not filled with fantastical creatures and talking cards. It is the same as life on this side, just reversed. Left instead of right, east instead of west. Everyday is Opposite Day.

On that side, you are rich and brave and you never say the wrong thing at the wrong moment.  You never hurt the people you love with critical words and unrealistic expectations. You are never lazy or bored.

Maybe over there you finish the projects you start.  Maybe you live with people who have no other purpose in life other than to encourage you to succeed at yours. Maybe you know exactly what the word success means to you, and you are steadfast in your pursuit of that tangible, well-defined goal.

You are sick though. And too tall, and you have children and pets.  You have no time to yourself, and you don’t get to read a lot.  You are not curious and you are not into self-improvement. What good is all your wealth if you have no time to spend it?

Upon reflection, the reflection is balanced. Your life is better and worse in equal measures.

Stop staring at yourself, you’ll go cross-eyed.