Questions for 2009

This is the time of the questions. I know this is true of me, and since I am taking the position, increasingly borne out by events, that my situation, talents, and prospects are pretty unexceptional, I assume it is true of others as well. I ask myself most of the following questions at least once a day, and, in the spirit of sending a note to posterity, I thought I might record some of them.

Will I ever make any money ever again? Not for years, it seems. I can't imagine it, really, although I understand it must happen. I can see now why my grandmother saved pencil stubs, hardened erasers, and pretty much everything else that came into her house. I wish I hadn't thrown out her old rubber bands; I am getting low on them.

So, is this the Great Depression all over again? It kind of feels like it, except that we can't go back to the old farmhouse anymore. We must suffer in our cities and in our cul-de-sacs.

If it is the Depression all over again, was there anything good about the Depression?
Oh, yes! Screwball comedies. The perfection of photography. (The old timers working with the big clunky cameras — Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Marion Post Wolcott, Walker Evans — absolutely trounce their descendants, and may I add here that Henri Cartier Bresson is overrated.) The Marx Brothers. Ernest Hemingway. John Steinbeck. The early New Yorker. Raymond Chandler. This line of thought always makes me feel better. The worst times make the best art, it is true, and I guess we have that to look forward to.

Does all that outweigh the Depression and the rise of Stalin and Fascism? Oh, for God's Sake!

Are newspapers really dead? They seem pretty dead to me. The persistence of the Style section in the New York Times appears to prove this, like the gaudy makeup on an embalmed body.

Will I write a great novel? Probably never, and the answer is further darkened by the following question.

If I wrote a great novel, could I even get it published? With major publishing houses shrinking as fast as the newspapers, this seems unlikely.

If I got it published, would anyone read it? Never mind this novel thread. It is purely sullen, and that's a sin that merits a stay in Hell, according to Dante, whom I am reading to cheer up. Still, I wanted an honest accounting, and so we had to pursue the manque thing this far.

How can so many women be supporting so many men? Among my friends, the men are all in sweatpants at home, or supervising the meltdown of some formerly flourishing concern, while the women soldier on, bringing home the paychecks, and sometimes making dinner, too. Statistics bear this out. Eighty percent of the fired are men. This is not just the collapse of an economy, but the collapse of a gender.

Which would I rather have: General prosperity and giant sunglasses, $10,000 handbags, and $500 distressed jeans, or the current situation? As much as I hate to, I would have to go with the general prosperity and the expensive jeans. I should have accepted ginormous sunglasses from Dolce and Gabbana as a sign of economic health to burn, and not the mark of Satan. This hurts to admit.

Should I go back to school? It seems so lame, and yet so practical. I probably should.

Could I be sadder? Maybe, but it would have to be caused by extra death and disease.

How long until Obama goes absolutely, totally gray? It has probably already happened.