Showing posts from September, 2008

Smiling Through It: Honoring David Foster Wallace

Today was soggy and gray. The perfect fall-day prototype. A full-house day at Starbucks, and a day in general that demanded hot drinks and some type of brisk exercise. In one way---a very romantic, potentially productive day. On the other hand, this was also a day when, with only a little inclination, it would not be difficult to give into gloomy feelings or even existential despair. Before hearing about David Foster Wallace's death earlier this month, he wasn’t on my radar. But after reading about him in the New York Times twice in one week, I find myself pondering the nature of the depression that led to his suicide. He enjoyed early fame (at age 24). As a writer, he reaped the benefits of his massive talent combined with the ability to produce. His prolific output was aided by hyper-intense, anxiety-laden discipline. Photos of Wallace evoke a sense of tender familiarity. Already he was somewhat iconic---a troubled, sensitive, admittedly depressed creative person, whose liter

Coffee & Optimism

The only way to contemplate the hard-to-fathom sum of $700 billion, especially while listening to the unbelievable early-morning good humor of Adaora Udoji and John Hockenberry on NPR’s “ The Takeaway ,” is with a strong cup of coffee. In fact, contemplating anything profound or mind-engaging or challenging often requires coffee. At least it does for me. The National Coffee Association reports that I am in good company----82% of Americans drink coffee. And in this respect, we are decidedly global, international, cosmopolitan---we help consume the 400 billion cups of coffee that are consumed each year worldwide. And, of course, coffee is overwhelmingly good for us ---significantly decreasing the risk of suicide from depression, diabetes, colon cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and liver cancer (especially if you are an alcoholic). And apparently, there are other, more subtle physical benefits that over time have a largely positive impact on us biologically. For those of us who dep