Manifest Breast-iny

snow shovelin'.jpgThe snow would fall. My father would clear the driveway with a giant shovel, one with a huge blade that looked like a barrel sliced in half vertically. We always asked him why he hadn’t bought a snowblower like our neighbors and he’d just cough into his hand and shake his head.

“That’s not how a man does it,” he’d say.

Shit sounded crazy to me. The way he did it, I didn’t look at him throwing heaping piles of snow over his shoulder and think, ‘Wow, now there’s a man!’ Nope. I thought, ‘Wow, now there’s a masochist!’

My mom used to come home from work at K-Mart and tell me to shovel the driveway. I hated even thinking about it. Most of the time I’d tell her no. Or I’d lock my room and ignore her. So she’d usually end up going out there herself, taking that big ass shovel and adding to the giant mounds of snow that lined our driveway like the all the cookie-cutter houses lined our suburban street.

When he’d get home, my father would be furious. He’d yell and scream at me.

“You let your mother do all the work?” he’d rant, foam practically cascading down his chin. “What kind of a man are you? To let a woman shovel the driveway! What the hell did I raise? A sissy?”

The snow and I had a knack for making him angry. But sometimes, when he was tired and filled with regret and he didn’t feel like yelling anymore, he’d stare off into the distance and speak to me in a low monotone. He’d look off into the unholy western New York wasteland that surrounded us and repeat the same blip of advice that he’d been repeating for years.

“Get the hell out of here,” he’d say. “This place…there’s nothing here.”

I’d look at his face and I’d see exactly what he meant. He’d lived most of his life in Rochester, and he was stuck. He didn’t know what to do. This was his lot in life, and while he saw no escape for himself, he did for his sissy son.


sunny vegasThere are only seven days left. Seven short days until I move back to the USA. I’ve got kind of a countdown going. When a day reaches its end and the number decreases, I can’t decided if I’m excited or filled with dread. It’s kind of like seeing the seconds counting down when you’re microwaving a Hungry Man dinner. On one hand, you can’t wait to eat that processed meat and desert brownie. But on the other hand, it’s hard to block out the potential for disaster.

“You going back home?” people keep asking me.

“I’m going back to the States,” I’ll say. “But not back to my hometown.”

To move back to Rochester sounds crazy. All I can remember is the snow and the wind and my father scraping off his windshield. I picture the aisles of the K-Mart my mother worked at. The place seems like hell.

“Oh? Not back to your hometown?”


“Where you gonna go then?”

“Las Vegas.”

That’s right. Fuck it. I sat in the bedroom of my apartment for a few days and I just asked myself where I’d like to live. Anywhere. The place that seemed sort of fun and interesting. And after giving it some thought, I decided I wanted to move to Las Vegas.

“Wow! Vegas! Do you know anyone there?”

“No. Not really.”

“Do you have a job lined up?”


“You don’t have a job or anything? Do you have a place to stay?”

“I do not.”

People seem surprised by my lack of a plan. Apparently, as I’ve gleaned from their facial expressions, it’s weird to just pick up and move to a place for no real reason whatsoever.

Even though there is a reason. The reason is that it isn’t Rochester. It’s the opposite, or at least I imagine it being so. I picture casinos and bright lights and maybe Barry Manilow making eye contact with me for just a second as he sings, “I Write the Songs.” I picture beautiful people. I picture Elizabeth Berkley’s breasts in Showgirls. And I picture sunshine. Lots of sunshine falling down over the wonderful dessert.

Some people say that there’s a certain allure to the West. A kind of promise that doesn’t exist anywhere else. I’m not really sold on that.

I, like my father, just don’t want to buy a fucking snowblower.


On Dating Abroad: The Fetish and Green Card Conundrum

on dating abroadThis past weekend, I attended a going away party for one of my friends. It was a lovely event, featuring a large spread of Chinese food accompanied by a good amount of beer. About an hour into the party, I found myself in the Men’s Room at the same time as my friend Micky. While I took a leak in one of the stalls, Micky used a urinal and talked to me through the stall door.

“I tell you,” he said, “you and Fang Deng are just so good together. I mean, the way you two interact…you’re perfect for each other. Now, I know there are a lot of skeptical people that think she’s only in it for a green card, but if anyone pays attention to the way she looks at you, they’d be able to tell she really loves you.”

I thanked Micky for his kind, if somewhat jarring, words. Zipping up my fly, I found it hard to focus on the part about Fang Deng and I being a perfect couple or whatever he said. Instead, I kept thinking about the other part. The part about the green card.

“What fuckers are saying she’s only in it for a green card?” I wanted to ask. I fought against doing so. That would only make me look petty and lacking in confidence. Still, I imagined pushing Micky up against the urinal and yelling, “Tell me! I want names!”

When I first moved to Asia, I found that the foreign men here fell into one of two camps: those who were eager to date the local women, and those that had basically no interest at all in dating the local women. There wasn’t much of a middle ground. This was in stark contrast to the foreign women who move to Asia. They seem somewhat uncertain about dating in general, and are just as likely to date a local man as they would another foreigner. But the men aren’t like that. Some of them are totally on the prowl, while the others watch in disgust.

Truth be told, I guess I was in the former category. Moving to South Korea in 2010, I definitely wanted to date a Korean woman. I’d like to think that was more out of curiosity than because of some fetish, but who knows what subconscious things were working in my head. My first girlfriend, in high school, just happened to be Cambodian, and, before that, the first Playboy magazine I ever owned featured a centerfold named Venice Kong who was part Chinese. She is mildly famous in the history of Playboy for being the last centerfold to have a staple going through her body.

I think about these things sometimes. I think about how some of my friends in Korea and then later in China probably viewed me as a sleazy white guy with ‘yellow fever,’ a phrase that is only inoffensive when put in comparison with the far more candid ‘jungle fever.’ They probably questioned my motivations. Was I out for love, as I claimed? I’m sure they would say ‘no.’ I was out for Venice Kong look-a-likes.

This is the reality of being in an interracial relationship while living in Asia. The white male is viewed as having a fetish and being driven by sex, and the Asian woman is viewed as only wanting a green card. I’m sure the people Micky alluded to believe this, because sometimes, even Fang Deng and I start to think that.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Fang Deng told me one time when we were discussing the green card question. “I’m 31 years old. Do you really think I couldn’t find an American to marry me when I was in my 20s? I studied in Holland. Do you think it was impossible for me to convince any of the men in Europe to marry me and get me out of China? Are you nuts? If I was just marrying to go live in the west, well, I would’ve done that already.”

And really this little bit of reassurance is all I need. Of anything she’s ever said on the subject, I’ve found this particular argument to be the most convincing. Maybe to be able to shake off the green card question, one has to really believe that love is hard to find, while manipulation of men is pretty easy. There are tons of suckers everywhere, right? I have no doubt that Fang Deng could have worked a mark without any difficulty if that’s what she wanted to do. Had she chose to, I completely believe that Fang Deng could’ve gotten some dude wrapped around her little finger. Could’ve had him begging her for her hand in marriage. Could’ve had him buy her a home in Texas, with a bunch of dogs running through the backyard and a bed with a dozen pillows.

Love, on the other hand, is elusive. That’s something that evades you until you’re in your early thirties (or late thirties, in my case). Finding someone you care about is a bit trickier than finding a guy with an American passport or any random girl who can satisfy a sexual compulsion. Sketchy motivations aren’t hard to satisfy. That’s what dating apps are for.

Fang Deng and I authentically care about each other, although some people can’t see that. Micky could, which is why he gave me that little talk in the urinal. Micky could see the truth. Micky knew.

But of course he did. Micky has an Asian wife.

On Living Abroad: The A:R Ratio

ar ratioAs an American living in Asia, I’ve met tons of interesting expats over the last six years. There was Charlie, who was old as hell and had fought in the Vietnam War and could not for the life of him remember my name. I met a girl named Jalia who had somehow gotten cast in a Clint Eastwood movie and had one lengthy scene acting opposite Eastwood, although she refused to talk about the experience or give us any details. And then there was another guy named Bob who, as some Internet snooping would reveal, had gotten in trouble for having inappropriate relationships with several of his former students in Canada and had subsequently made his way to an international school in China, where he’s been teaching for the last ten years.

One meets a lot of colorful characters living abroad, some colored in hues perhaps a bit darker than others. But with every person that one meets, there is always one question that, also rarely asked or answered directly, is generally present:

What is it that brought you here?

A few years ago, I had a memorable conversation with my friend Trinity. We were talking about all the people we knew, and what we thought had lead to their decisions to leave their home countries and live abroad. During that initial conversation, we decided that every expat could be grouped into one of two categories.

Category One: Adventure – These are the young people fresh out of college. Maybe their degrees were in highly competitive fields, or maybe they just always wanted to live in another country and as soon as that diploma was secured it was off to Beijing. The adventure people are here to experience the culture, to gain work experience, to party and hook up a lot. On the same spectrum are the older people, some retired, who had gotten bored with the usual routines and had thus jaunted off to Asia in the hopes of breaking fifty years of monotony.

Category Two: Running – While true that there are some older adventurers, most of the middle aged people living abroad seem to fit into this category better. Running. Maybe there was a divorce. A death in the family. Maybe there were problems with alcoholism. Maybe they just didn’t fit in back home. Depression. A criminal background. Children that didn’t want to have anything to do with them. There are many reasons why one might be running from something. And young people aren’t completely exempt from this either. They just seem to have the skeletons in their closets hidden better.

Trinity and I would shout out names of people we knew and then try to put them in their correct category. It was pretty fun. When we got to ourselves, Trinity quickly identified herself as “adventure.” I sank down in my seat. I knew what was coming.

“You’re obviously running,” she said.

“What? Me? Why?”

“Well, for one, you’re divorced. You have problems with your parents. You talk about being depressed in the States. And you drink too much.”

All of these things were very true. Still, I wanted to be there for adventure. I didn’t want to be a runner. I argued that I’d traveled to over twenty countries after leaving the USA, which was pretty adventurous. I was a big fan of Chinese cuisine and enjoyed throwing back some baiju with the locals. And I’d dated Chinese women, which meant that I could include ‘romance’ in my pull factors. As opposed to only having the push factor of ‘sexual frustration.’

Our conversation ended without a conclusion. But a few days later, Trinity had changed the way she looked at things. She told me that the idea of having two categories had been the wrong way of going about it.

“Part of me is running too, I guess,” she said. “It’s more of a ratio, you know? Everyone is looking for adventure and they’re also running from something. There’s just a different balance for all of us.”

“We can call it ‘The A:R Ratio,'” I proposed. “The degree to which someone is looking for adventure compared with the degree that they’re running away from their own personal demons.”

“I’m 70:30,” she said.

“What about me?”

She thought for a moment. “30:70?”

Fine. I thought that maybe there was a nobility in running. I mean, if you think about it, running is actually an act filled with hope. It’s not giving up. It’s continuing a search. It’s believing that life does indeed offer an escape that isn’t death.

Now as I prepare to move back to the USA, I wonder if I’ll have a new ratio. Or if I’ll have a ratio at all. I think that maybe this is the reason that people decide to spend years living in other countries. Because when they return home, they know that the running has stopped.


20 Years Ago, A Story of Freedom (For OJ and Me)

the juice is looseI sat on the bleachers during gym class, listening to the radio on my Walkman. A few other kids, maybe four or five, stood around me. I had my headphones on, and every twenty or thirty seconds I would tell everyone what I was hearing. I’d give them updates. The other students were playing basketball, I think, although I’m not sure because I wasn’t paying them any attention. It was impossible to.

The “Trial of the Century” was about to finally reach its conclusion.

Our gym teacher was a short blue-eyed man with a white beard and a whistle that hung around his neck at all times. He walked over to the little group assembled around me and asked what we were doing. His voice was more irritated than it was curious.

“I’m listening to the OJ trial,” I told him. “The jury’s about to give the verdict.”

He was quiet for a moment and then he nodded his head. “How long?” he asked.

“Any minute now.”

The gym teacher walked away and went into some backroom, some place where they presumably kept soccer balls and the school mascot costume and things like that. When he came back out, he was holding a small silver boom box. He placed it on the floor and called me over.

“Find the channel,” he instructed me. I knelt down and turned the knob until I located the AM news station that was broadcasting the verdict. Pretty soon more students wandered over and, upon realizing what was happening, stopped playing basketball (or whatever) and sat down by the radio. It only took another minute or so for the gym to go completely silent with the exception of the voices coming from the radio. Every single student had now gathered by that small silver boom box, their heads tilted slightly towards its speakers like a flower moves ever so slightly towards the sun.

I’ve been thinking back to that day a lot recently, for a couple of reasons. First, my 20 year high school reunion was this past weekend. I wasn’t able to go, but I must admit that I poured over the pictures posted on Facebook with great regard. I wanted to see what had become of everyone. The second reason, the other thing that’s transported me back in time, was the fantastic ESPN documentary “OJ: Made in America,” which I’d binge watched over the last few evenings. Seeing the footage from the courtroom was, in some ways, a lot like looking at the pictures on Facebook. I saw faces and my brain immediately dredged up names that I haven’t thought about in decades.

Oh, there’s Kim and that dude Jon that I used to get into lame fistfights with. And there’s that girl Becky that sat next to me in science class and never talked to me, ever.

And hey, there’s F. Lee Bailey and Judge Lance Ito! Shit, man, it’s like I’m reliving 1995 all over again!

Anyways, back to the verdict. I should mention that I went to an almost all white, middle class, suburban high school in western New York. Everyone wore Umbro shorts and all the boys looked like Jonathan Taylor Thomas. The girls typically went heavy on the hairspray so that their hair stood up like Kelly Kapowski. Mostly everyone was on the honor roll, had a short list of colleges they wanted to attend, worked at Wegmans, and dated someone who was also on the honor roll and had a list of SUNY schools and got their pay-checks signed by Mr. Wegman too.

Which is to say it was a decidedly anti-OJ crowd. These weren’t the people that cared about police corruption or if one of the detectives had used the N-word. Hell, I’d personally heard about half the kids in my graduating class use the N-word themselves. In all the discussions leading up to that day, it was obvious that the vast majority of my high school was pulling for a “guilty” verdict. Even though we lived only an hour or so from Buffalo – where OJ had played for years and was revered like a God – if the jury was composed of my classmates, they almost certainly would’ve found him guilty without even having to deliberate and then immediately sentenced him to be executed.

That wasn’t where my head was at, though. Not at all. I loved OJ, and really, legitimately believed that he was innocent. And at the same time, I hated most of the people I went to high school with. I don’t hate them anymore, as time heals all wounds made during puberty, but back then I surely hated them. If they were on the side of the prosecution, then I would proudly be siding with the defense. Really, to some degree, it didn’t even matter if OJ had actually murdered Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. I wanted to be on OJ’s side because that’s where I felt I belonged. I didn’t own any Umbro shorts, hadn’t even thought about college, was jobless, and had less of a chance finding a girlfriend in that school than OJ would’ve had if he enrolled the following week.

Judge Ito had the bailiff pass an envelope to the jury foreperson. Her voice cracked a little as she read the name ‘Orenthal James Simpson.’ It was even and clear, though, when she said those two words that mattered most.

“Not Guilty.”

My entire class groaned. People stared off in disbelief. Some of the boys yelled until their faces were red. The gym teacher furrowed his brow and tugged at his beard. When the bell rang, I walked into the hallway and saw more faces contorted in rage. My classmates were visibly upset, practically unable to handle the idea that the Juice, despite all the evidence, had been turned loose.

I was delighted. I practically floated down the hallway. Never before had I felt so happy walking to class. It was October 3, 1995, and I would be graduating in June. Thinking ahead to that graduation ceremony, I couldn’t muster much excitement. No,this day, the day of OJ’s victory, would be the high point in my high school experience. That would be the day I would feel free too. Free from being weird and wrong and different. All the anger coming from my classmates couldn’t change what had just happened. The establishment had just lost. They had not been on the winning side.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call OJ Simpson an inspiration or anything like that. But I would say that, if for only one day and for better or for worse, it was an acquitted murderer who made me feel like the future did indeed exist.


From How Close Up Does Mr. Trump Start to Look Good?

donald-trump-chinaRight now, nearly 7,000 miles separate me and one Donald Trump. I’d really have to squint to see him, to make out the golden waves of hair-like substance that sit matted on his head like a pile of lint might sit on my kitchen floor after I’ve swept. From this distance, the Donald looks small. He seems strange and pathetic and the tiny little fingers on his baby hands look like cocktail wienies.

This is the view from my porch in Beijing, China. Mr. Trump as viewed by an American liberal living abroad. From over here, it’s hard to make out any positive attributes that Trumpy might have. By the time his tweets and his self-congratulatory boasts of being able to “call” really bad things before they happen, by the time those reach my small expat community in Beijing, they sound ridiculous. We laugh at Trump. We criticise him. But all of our condemnations are done from a safe distance. There’s an ocean between us, and viewed from a space that great, it’s difficult for the detached onlooker to see Mr. Trump as anything more than comical and frightening.

Question #1: Would Trump become more, er, attractive, if viewed from closer up.

This is what I wonder. Maybe being in China keeps me away from the sheer magnetism of the man. Perhaps if I was back in America (as I will be two weeks from now), I could get caught up. The Trump Wave would pick me up and pull me out to the Trump Sea like a riptide.

Is that what Trump has? Momentum? Is he like the Grand Canyon, where one has to be there in person to truly grasp the greatness of it? I try to imagine that. I try to picture myself at a rally, with his crowds of enthusiastic supporters all chanting his name. Then he walks out. I’m almost shaking, putting myself in this scene. Once he starts talking, I imagine how charmed I become. I nod along with everything he says as though I’m in a trance. Because that must be it. Up close, he must weave a magical spell.

Nah. I can’t imagine that’s true. Back in the safety of my Beijing apartment, I tell myself that Trump is more like war, where one can only grasp the true horror of it by being there oneself.

Question #2: Seeing that I’ve been okay with the oppressive Chinese government, why am I so frightened of Donald Trump?

It’s a good question. Here in China, things aren’t so hot. The Internet is terribly censored, human and animal rights violations happen constantly, the gap between the rich and the poor is even larger than it is in America, and the levels of government corruption are mind blowing. The RMB – China’s currency – is in a consistent state of flux, its value seemingly sinking down lower and lower every couple of months. They don’t elect their presidents in China and if you were to ask me to cite one good thing that appointed leader Xi Jinping has done – ever – I don’t think that I could do it. He has a nice peaceful countenance, I guess. That must count for something.

Still, I’ve been pretty happy here. Yeah, I’ve complained about a few things in China, but life here is sweet. It’s easy. And so I ask myself how Donald Trump could run a government worse than the current one in China, and I’m not really sure. I mean, this is the original country of walls and foreign exclusion. If I enjoy living here, what makes me think Trump’s America would be that much worse?

Sipping on my instant coffee, it’s a question that I don’t have an immediate answer to. I just know it would suck. That’s all. I think about the president of China again. I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard him speak. His voice is a mystery to me.

So that can be my quick answer. If I’m going to live under an all-powerful dictator, at the very least, he could be quiet.

Crawling Back to the USA

The last time I was in America, things were different. It was before Sandy Hook and before horror struck the Boston Marathon; television audiences had not yet been introduced to Honey Boo Boo and moviegoers were still hotly debating the ending of Inception. Gay marriage hadn’t been legalised, no one had heard of George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin, LeBron James had no rings on his fingers, and “Like a G6” by Far East Movement was the top song on the charts.

It was the fall of 2010. I got on a plane and flew to South Korea, and I haven’t been back in the States since.

Which isn’t to say I totally lost interest. No, far from it. I would often read about my home country, sometimes discussing the current state of affairs with the other ex-pats in my little community of misplaced westerners. We’d talk about drones and the NSA and the Tea Party and of course recently all we talk about is Trump. It didn’t really matter where I was living – during my 3 years in Korea and then my 3 years in China – there was always one very apparent fact:

The USA, for better or for worse, was always the most interesting person in the room.

Sure, I found it intriguing when South Korea elected Park Geun-Hye as its first ever female president and then the older men in the country started having all kinds of mental breakdowns. And I found it noteworthy when Hong Kong protested against mainland China in what was called the “Umbrella Movement.” But none of those stories had nearly the same kind of visceral, emotional impact on me as, say, Ferguson did. Heck, if I’m being totally honest, in the last three years I’ve probably spent less time reading about Chinese president Xi Jinping than I have about Josh Duggar.

Because, you know, those are my people. Flawed and trying to figure things out. In the country I spent the first thirty years of my life thinking I’d never leave. And as I hopped around Asia and hung out in Europe, they had to deal with those last six years. While I watched Ferguson unfold on the screen of my laptop, they watched it happen in their backyards. It’s one thing to discuss Trump with a group of Brits over drinks in a pub in downtown Beijing; I can imagine it’s something else entirely to discuss Trump with a person who actually plans on voting for him.

In two weeks, I’m going to come back. Yeah, it’s about time. The six years that I spent overseas will likely be the greatest years of my life…but while I was living them, I was always pretty certain that they came with an expiration date. An end time when I’d nod my head in appreciation and go back home.

Not to my apartment in Seoul or my room in Chang Ping.

Nope. Home. To the States.

So this is what my blog – completely and totally ignored for the last four months – is going to turn into. The story of a guy who left America six years ago, and now returns. Feeling older, wiser, and a tad bit unsure of what the hell he’s getting himself into.





Songs to Sing While Your Plane Crashes

planeThe woman sitting in front of me had the face of a rat. She appeared to have no top lip, her front teeth sticking out of her mouth like a rodent’s. Her eyes were completely black and her skin was pulled tightly over her skull. It was like looking at some Dorian Gray portrait of a regular person; she looked to only be about forty, and forty-year-old people aren’t supposed to look deceased. This was on the airplane, on my flight back home from Myanmar; the rat woman stood up every ten minutes or so, lazily examining the plane as though it was a maze she was stuck in.

I was in a bad mood, to say the least. I’ve always had a fear of flying, but on this particular flight, I was terrified. I’m not sure why, really. The turbulence wasn’t much worse than any normal flight and the stewardesses were above average looking. I should have been fine. Maybe it was the shear amount of flying that I’d done in the past few weeks that had finally worn me down. Traveling between Africa, Myanmar, and China, I had taken a whopping twelve flights over the previous three weeks. That’s an average of four flights a week. For a person with a fear of flying, that schedule is brutal. It’s kind of like being afraid of clowns and then getting gangbanged by an entire circus. By the midpoint of the flight, I was covered in sweat and my stomach was knotted up like a balloon animal.

Everything about the flight got on my nerves. The people sitting in the row in front of me – the rat, its husband, and their offspring – kept standing up constantly and talking loudly. A few times the plane hit patches of rough air and the stewardess would come over and tell them to sit, but they’d just keep standing up and yelling to each other. I couldn’t take it. Behind me, there was a little girl, five or six years old, who had formed a hobby out of kicking the back of my seat. I stared out the window and imagined the plane going down in flames.

“Only about an hour left,” my girlfriend, sitting next to me, said. Her words were supposed to make me feel better. The intended effect was for me to go, “Great. Only an hour.” But instead I thought, “Shoot me. I’ll never make it through an hour of this. I might as well give up and try my luck jumping out with a parachute.”

Nothing in life can be perfectly easy, I suppose. I love to travel – I really love it, more than anything else. But to do what I love, I am forced to fly, which I hate. And I’m getting worse on flights, disintegrating from the somewhat irritating paranoid doofus that I used to be into the intolerably whiny little ninny that I am now. I know I’m being silly, sweating and shaking and cursing through the flight, but I just can’t stop myself. I guess it’s like having Tourette’s. I tell myself to be cool, and then the plane hits a dip and I explode with expletives.

A couple hours earlier, during take off, there was an unfortunate incident with a group of foreigners a few rows behind us. They had been told to turn their cell phones off during take off, and they refused. Flat out said no. The stewardess kept being polite and asking them over and over and they were so argumentative before finally giving in. The entire ordeal pissed me off. I couldn’t understand why they were so rude, especially since they were told they just had to wait fifteen minutes and then they could turn the phones back on. Looking into the darkness outside the window, less than an hour left to fly, I thought about them and let myself be filled with venom, the brash bravado of those foreigners – what kind of monsters were they?

Didn’t they know that their cell phones could cause the auto pilot to shut off and send us all spiralling down towards earth?

I felt so disappointed with myself. Because I really felt anger, and because I really truly believed their cell phones would kill me. Then I thought that if the plane actually did crash, would it really be a bad thing? For the rest of world, I mean. In a selfish way, of course it would be – none of us want to die. But those people…the family in front of me unable to sit and be quiet, the crazy little girl kicking my seat like a lunatic, the cell-phone addicted foreigners…maybe the world would be better off without them. Even me, actually. No one likes a neurotic weirdo wishing death upon people. So, yeah. Although the death of my girlfriend would be a real loss for the world, the net result of a crash would be overall positive. Mankind would benefit from the subtraction. The idea calmed me a little.

Wanting to distract myself, I turned on my MP3 player. I chose to listen to the song “Death” by White Lies.

I love the feeling when we lift off/

Watching the world so small below/

I love the dreaming when I think of/

The safety in the clouds out my window/

I wonder what keeps us so high up/

Could there be love beneath these wings?/

If we suddenly fall should I scream out/

Or keep very quiet and cling to my mouth as I’m crying/

So frightened of dying/

Relax, yes, I’m trying/

But fear’s got a hold on me.

I turned the volume way up. My heart beat. It’s kind of like being in on a joke. A crash can’t be that terrifying, right, not as long as you’re so amazingly self-aware.