Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Ten Best Existential Crises of 2010

Everyone’s a critic. And every critic, at this time of year, has to publish a best-of-the-year list. So here is a list of the ten most profound existential crises I experienced in 2010.

(Check back tomorrow for “The Ten Best Sandwiches I Made in 2010.”)

1. Running through the train station to catch the 4:16 Northwest Line express, I find myself unable to choose between the stairs and the escalator. At midnight, when the building closes, I am removed by Security. Is there no consolation?

2. I wake one morning in August to find only decaffeinated coffee in the house. Why do we go on trying?

3. An email invoice sent to a publisher in Minneapolis is returned as “undeliverable.” Absurdity is an open hand that strikes one repeatedly about the head.

4. Attempting to order a cocktail, I am unable to make the bartender understand what I mean by a “Gibson.” We live alone and die alone and our cries go unheeded.

5. I make a cheese omelet, but forget to include the cheese. Beauty mocks us by offering fleeting glimpses of the joy that we would have last for all eternity.

6. Unable to choose between a purple crewneck sweater and an orange cardigan, I spend the morning in bed watching “The Price is Right.” Nietzche: Our destiny exercises its influence over us even when, as yet, we do not know its nature.

7. Entering K-Mart, I step aside and hold open a door for an elderly couple, but receive no acknowledgment or thanks. Can there be any greater proof that the universe is a cold and pitiless place?

8. When, after months of effort, I at last birdie the fifth hole in Wii Golf, I find the triumph not as satisfying as I had hoped. Ah, life.

9. A Facebook status update about my stamp collection is “liked” by only six people. The world is an enigma made more terrible by our own mad attempt to grasp it.

10. Unable to sleep, I walk outside in the remorseless quiet just before dawn. Gazing at the stars and considering my mortality, I am overcome by what I assume is a sensation of utter dread, but which turns out to be a raccoon urinating on my foot. Ma pensee, c’est moi.


  1. ahem, #7 is merely proof that you're imaginary

  2. I'm still holding out for the list of sandwiches.

  3. I too want sandwich updates.


  4. My class and I read your book, Navajo Code Talkers, and really loved it. I hope we get to read another one of your books soon!

  5. Hi my name is Mariah and my class read one of your famous books called Navajo Code Talkers and it was a great story and I hope we get to read another of your books soon