Little Luxuries

I Care a Lot was not on my list of films to watch. Netflix simply stuck it in my face as I was beginning the process of sorting through entertainment options available on the platform. Too lazy to make my own decision, I accepted the suggestion and began watching the film. The antiheroine is a monstrous witch who cons the court into appointing her guardian for well-off elders. She places them in friendly (to her) nursing homes and keeps them locked inside while she siphons their assets into her own accounts. I’ll leave it there, in the event someone reading this wants to view I Care a Lot. I still have about 20 minutes left to view. I just couldn’t keep my eyes open last night. It was not necessarily the movie; I just needed sleep. Many elements of the film are intended to be comedic. The subject of the plot, though, is a hot button for me. As I watched it last night, I found myself wanting desperately to bludgeon the main character and leave her limp, dying body in the nursing home administrator’s office. Cheery thought to wake up to on a Tuesday morning, eh?


Yesterday, after my appointment with my oncologist (all’s well), I picked up a check in payment for the sale of my wounded Camry. As I cleared out the console, glove compartment, and trunk, it occurred to me that I have no place to put some of the crap I had stored in those places. Not only do I have no place to put it, I have to reason to keep it. So, I will spend some time today sorting it into piles; keep and toss. I’d bet the toss pile will be considerably larger. The buyer, the garage that accidentally damaged the driver’s side door, is in the midst of repairing the car. A new door will be installed and painted. Who knows what else will be done to the car? They plan on selling it, they say. I have to make sure that, today, I cancel my insurance on the car and that I notify the State that I’ve sold it.


After taking care of the car business, I followed up by telephone on a letter I mailed more than a month ago to a financial institution, requesting that a joint account be changed into my name. The call led to yet another form to complete and mail. This process may take years to complete, at the rate it’s going. And, then, I went to the bank to accomplish the same objective and to order new checks and deposit slips (though I can make deposits with my phone); a much simpler process. Later, still, I completed an online application to become Rosie’s human; Rosie, the five and a half year old Chihuahua mix. And I submitted another online request for a telephone appointment this Friday. And I left a message with a guy at the Garland County Library in preparation for borrowing a telescope.

It’s turning into a busy week. I have multiple odds and ends on my calendar for the rest of this week. For some reason, I am not finding them especially burdensome, unlike in weeks past. Recently, I felt that a full calendar was maddening and oppressive. I am feeling “chill” about things at the moment.


Why is it, I wonder, that news organizations tend to give prominence to negative news stories? For example, why does the kidnapping of 279 Nigerian schoolgirls seem to get more coverage than their release? Or is my sense that the kidnapping got more coverage than the release overblown? In both cases, though, the underlying story is one involving fear, crime, treachery, and intense danger. Those negatives seem much more likely to get reported than softer, happier, uplifting events. I suppose news organizations, as much as they try to report “just the news,” respond to public demand. We clamor for more chilling, adrenalin-pumping, heart-pounding stories. On occasion, we love the good feelings we get from reading a positive piece, but it’s the grittier stuff we seem to crave the most. Is it possible to train ourselves to respond more favorably and more vocally and more excitedly to “good” news? The bottom line, I suppose, is that we tend to define “news” in a negative context. It’s more newsworthy to report an explosion at a chemical plant than it is to report its milestone of twenty years without a single safety infraction. I have no answers. Only questions.


I am jealous. Jealous of people who have a claim on the time of other people with whom I would like to spend more time. I’ve explored the meaning of the word. The definition that most closely fits is “feeling resentment against someone because of that person’s rivalry, success, or advantages.” That’s it. I resent people who rival me for the time and affection of others. But, no, it’s not resentment; it’s envy. I’m not the jealous husband. I am jealous of the husband. I envy the husband. And the friends. And the fortunate pets that can nap comfortably with their heads in the laps of the objects of my affection. I realize, of course, how utterly creepy this must seem. If I were a more skilled and patient writer, it would come across as more benign and beneficent. Affection is a dangerous word. Its meaning and its synonyms range from care and closeness to love and passion. That’s the problem with some words. They can be interpreted, legitimately, to mean much more or much less than might have been intended.

As I think on this somewhat strange topic (which wouldn’t be so weird if I were better at this), I remember a song by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer from my high school days: Lucky Man. The message, essentially, is that envy can dismiss elements of a life of which we would not be envious. The “lucky man” in the song had all the trappings of success until “no money could save him.” I place myself in the position of the “lucky man,” the man who had everything. At the same time, the object of my envy remains in the same position. Suddenly, in my case, the world seemed to snap; no money could save me from a random universe. But friends and affection can. Yet I seem to long for higher dosages. Maybe it’s like an addiction to heroin; more and more and more is required  to satisfy my need for the drug. (Is that the way heroin works?)

Why is it that a man who claims to be so solitary—so introverted, so attuned to aloneness—want or need more and more individual, personal engagement? I was sure I had all I ever needed, with my wife. Without her, though, I sometimes feel utterly adrift and detached and in need of an anchor.  Okay. Enough of this B.S. My sister-in-law is on her way over for our regular morning coffee. If it weren’t for that routine, I think I might be even more adrift.


Another grocery order is in the offing, and so soon after my most recent one. I did not bother to look closely at what I need. And there is more. So, another order online. Or I may get aggressive and go inside Kroger, where I can find things I miss so very much. Like Zatarain’s Creole Mustard and Minute Maid frozen lemon juice concentrate and Mediterranean oregano leaves And Kroger brand diet tonic water. And various other little luxuries.



About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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4 Responses to Little Luxuries

  1. Thanks, Bev. David, I actually like diet tonic water! And if I could get my hands on drinkable diet gin I would be a very happy man! JAJG, Thanks for the congratulations. I’ll finish watching “I Care a Lot” this evening and then will happily assist you in the evisceration. 😉

  2. Bev says:

    Great to hear that things are fine with your health. Yay!

  3. davidlegan says:

    Diet tonic water? Don’t forget the diet gin!

  4. Just Another Jealous Guy says:

    Hey there! Congrats on all being well… I’m sure that’s a relief! With regard to “I Care A Lot”, we watched it last night in its entirety and had the same exact feelings as you! Vicki and I voiced our feelings at the same time. She said that it was giving her anxiety and I told her I wanted to see this person eviscerated… I also wondered if there is some sort of industry that does this in the US… If there is, I’m sure they’re quaking in their booths with the release of this film!

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