Log in

No account? Create an account
Previous Entry Share Next Entry

Mostly Charmed Life

My life is too good, and it’s starting to scare me.

I can hear sympathy turning off all over the internet, so let me hasten to say that my life is awesome and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. That’s kinda the problem.

It’s going too well. I have moderate writing success, a boyfriend who is deeply and genuinely good, which sounds corny and really isn’t, and enough money in my bank account that I don’t need to worry about how to pay the electric bill, and believe me, if you grew up poor, that feels like vast and inconceivable wealth.

I find I am waiting for the hammer to fall.

It may be Catholic upbringing or a generally well-concealed pessimism, it may be a superstitious belief that the gods are jealous of too much happiness, it may be coping skills so well-honed that they are desperately seeking things to cope with, but I can’t help but feel that somewhere, surely, there must be a hammer. In the deep watches of the night, I wonder where it is, and whether I’ll see it coming, or whether I’ll just get an aneurysm and die on the toilet.

This has nothing to do with whether or not I deserve to be happy. Everybody deserves to be happy. Everybody deserves joy and peace and recognition. We don’t all get it. Life is full of things that nobody deserves, both good and bad. The fact that sometimes we get what we don’t deserve is hope and dread all at once.

And it has nothing to do with talent, which again, is as much a matter of life landing on the deserving and undeserving alike. There are people who couldn’t wordsmith their way out of a wet cardboard box who can light their cigars with hundred dollar bills. And there is someone out there right now with ten times my talent and none of my flaws, who is writing a book of miserable, shaky-eyed beauty, the sort of the book that makes you howl like a dog and gnaw on the covers, and when they are done, they will shove it in a drawer and twenty years from now, the executor of their estate will say “Hmm, old papers. Put it out by the curb.”

That’s just life. If you think about it too much, you won’t ever get anything done.

No, I think it’s a well-honed sense of narrative that makes me worry. When your life is wonderful, that’s not a story. That’s where the story starts, and it generally involves all that being taken away, and I start to hear a narrator somewhere in a made-for-TV movie trailer starting up with “SHE HAD EVERYTHING, UNTIL…”

What happens after that depends on the kind of movie, and also on my mood.

…UNTIL SHE GOT HORRIBLY ILL! (Life-affirming story of overcoming disease du jour, or possibly short, tragic plea for greater funding for disease du jour research. Hopefully not really heavy-handed life-affirming story of recovering from horrible brain injury and learning to paint again with a brush held in my eyelids, because Christ, I am not cut out for that.)

…UNTIL A DERANGED MURDERER TORE HER WORLD APART! (Movie version of Dean Koontz novel, in which case I will end it with a golden retriever and a working knowledge of firearms. Alternately, trailer for Saw 23: Saw vs. Predator vs. Leprechaun.)

…UNTIL IT TURNED OUT SHE WAS MARRIED TO A SERIAL KILLER/RUSSIAN SPY/STEPFORD ROBOT ALL ALONG! (While I would absolutely be the person going “No, honestly, I had no idea at all!” I will say that Kevin is doing one hell of a good acting job and has disposed of the bodies really really well, and also that the Stepford robots fart quite a lot in their sleep.)

…UNTIL CLOWN-FACED VELOCIRAPTOR CULTISTS FROM OUTER SPACE ATE HER HEAD! (Sci-Fi Channel is probably involved in this one, and as I have large breasts and cannot use a chainsaw, I am at least assured of being put out of my misery in the first twenty minutes, although my zombie body may come back in a suitably wet and badly ripped t-shirt to act as bait for the stupider members of the protagonist’s party.)

Well. It’s a high-class problem to have, as they say. The problem is that when things are good, and you’ve pretty much got everything you ever wanted—moderate success, a garden, love…I guess it’s probably normal to be afraid of it all going away.  And lord knows, life will probably generate enough suffering to keep me busy between now and my eventual possibly-velociraptor-assisted end, and I should stop worrying.

Still, it nags at me. Mostly at night. Worry is not so easily turned off merely by knowing that one should stop.

Go figure.

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.

You left out one:

"And she lived happily ever after. The end."

I cannot help but want a Like button right now.

Although this is Ursula we are talking about, so it might be more:

"And she lived weirdly ever after. The end."

(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
"Sounds corny but isn't really". Makes me think of what someone wrote once. "Happiness is not chic. It is terribly unchic. Angst is chic, misery is chic, and tragedy is eternally in style. Happiness, however, is not chic. But happiness is -good-."

I can only hope to be as half as happy as you are, Ursula. I don't envy you--I aspire to be in the same mental state as you.

You forgot a few other things you have going for you: You're a good person, and you have a dedicated fanbase who, thanks to your bloggings, know you well and still love you.

I think my vote would go for "junk food crazed beagle frenzy", althoguh this may just involve drowning in drool....

*hugs* i think everyone with an imagination feels like this. often. what worries me is the people who *don't*

You might be the one who survives to the end, and pushes the alien queen out the airlock with a giant robot suit.

I often tell Ben that I love him very very much, and if an alien ever takes over the space ship and he is lost somewhere within it, I will cry a LOT as I am flying away.


We demand a picture of that.

You know you want to draw one.

There is no use denying that. ;)

OMG I do the same thing, including making up horrible stories in my head! So glad to know I am not alone (although my stories tend to involve more mundane horrors like car accidents and ... the other one I am not going to talk about because it's entirely too distressing to even think about.

I think your observation about your sense of narrative is a good one. There aren't many best-selling stories about people who lead quiet, blameless and unexciting lives as cost accountants, holidaying annually in the South of France in the two weeks just before the school vacation rush begins, and who die peacefully and neatly in their sleep at the age of 82, having saved up an adequate funeral fund so as not to be a burden on their loved ones. I suspect the fear that Something Is Going To Go Horribly Wrong comes from being fed all our lives with stories where it does. Even if the protagonist lives happily ever after in the end, there's still that OMG terror.


Yeah, I can tell you that does happen. Buy the insurance and don't kvetch about it.

IMO, dealing with a badly damaged roof in bad weather is actually harder.

Just continue being the Ursula we know and love. You have the ability to spin the wild things that happen to you into gold, and you absolutey crack me up when you report back to us about what the spinning wheel told you at the time.

I know that one... storm this spring actually peeled back my shingles on the roof and destroyed the ceiling in my living room...

You summed up my emotional head space with the entry. Life is going well and I'm paralyzed by it. I've spent too many years desperately poor, in miserable jobs, lousy condemnable living spaces, and now I've got a job I enjoy, with enough money to pay the bills, and I actually qualified for and bought a house. It took leaving everything and everyone behind and now I'm on my hill and I'm terrified that it's going to all be ripped out from under me. That I'll mis-step somehow and it won't be here anymore.

enh, you and Ursula both... you're likely to misstep a little bit, twist your ankle, invent a few new curse words, and remember you were going to install a hand rail along that pathway there...


Congrats on the house! The bad stuff already happened, in all that leaving people behind. This IS the rest of your life. Enjoy it.

Oh, the hammer will fall. We all die, eventually. And all that the gods (or the universe, or whatever) have given to you, they will take back.

Just keep in mind, that for the gods (or, etc...), 10 years, 30 years, 50 years, 100 years, that makes no difference ; so I see no reason why they wouldn't let you live this happy until a very old age. What do they care, they're immortals !

so yes, UNTIL SHE GREW VERY OLD AND DIED is also a possibility.

You know with modern medical technology and accidents as they are it could be UNTIL SHE GREW OLD AND NEVER DIED...

I agree, I just finished my masters degree in May, I got married three weeks ago to someone I love deeply and have been with for quite sometime, and I'm flying to NYC on Saturday and then leaving for the UK on a large boat on Monday - somebody pinch me.

Yeah, I'm there with you, and thus being amazingly twitchy about this plane flight I'm taking in September. I wasn't raised Catholic--though I did go to Catholic school for kindergarten and first grade--and we were pretty middle-class. Maybe it's having a mom who taught Greek and Roman mythology, in my case.

Also, I don't think I'd survive a Dean Koontz novel, golden retriever or not: I'm one of those eeeeeeeevil liberal feminist sexually active chicks who doesn't follow an Abrahamic religion and was not horribly traumatized by once seeing a penis. Pretty sure I'd get eaten.

As Sophocles wrote, "Account no person happy till they die," but it needn't stop you from enjoying the good times while they last. Also, when things are going well for you, it's a good time to help out others, and to be thankful that you have the resources to do so.

the narrativium

is all privately held; there isn't any out there in the world of physics.

So just because you aren't doing so well imagining you're in a Zena Henderson story doesn't mean the world is obliged to notice.

(and, I mean, if you want something to worry about, some combination of US politics, climate change, and the economy ought to suffice. ("What if we have no curtain rods to toast desiccated sparrow corpses on when we are living under the remains of a bridge?")

-- Graydon

It has been ages since I've read any Zena Henderson.