After reading Sarah Manguso’s 300 Arguments I started making a list of my own aphorisms as a fun writing project. I debated on keeping them private or sharing them. I decided to share them, so here are the first 50. If you haven’t read Manguso’s book, I highly recommend it. And then I challenge you to write your own aphorisms.
1. I hugged someone today and I let go first, and I felt bad for doing that. I wondered if the person I was hugging noticed and thought anything. I hate that I did notice. Hugs shouldn’t be noticed for any reason more than what they are and why, and certainly shouldn’t make us feel bad for anything.
2. I didn’t know the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s so I Googled them. I learned Alzheimer’s is a form of Dementia. No matter what you call it, they are both thieves. They rob us of our identity and our memories.
3. I wish I had tons of friends vying for my attention. I’d always be busy and sociable. I know people like that. I don’t have friends like that. They’re just acquaintances because I don’t vie for their attention; they don’t vie for mine. Still, I bet those people are just as lonely as I am without all those friends. They just have lots of acquaintances to help them forget the loneliness.
4. My life is a stream of poor decisions, and regrets about not taking chances, and caring too much about what others might think about those chances had I taken them.
5. I stopped being fashionable and stopped worrying about my looks in my mid twenties because in my late twenties I got what I wanted: someone who’d settle for me and wasn’t worried about me keeping up appearances. Still, when I catch another person’s interest I wonder what might have been had I dressed smarter, styled my hair, and used moisturizer.
6. Each afternoon when I leave work I see parents in the parking lot picking up their kids from work. It reminds me of when my mom used to pick me up every afternoon from grade school. I was always so happy to see her at the end of each day. I wish someone would pick me up from work and ask me how my day was while driving me home. I miss that feeling.
7. Student loan and credit card debt don’t define who you are, but they will define what you can do.
8. I laugh at nicknames people at work have for other coworkers. It’s a secret we share. Then I wonder what secrets they share with other coworkers about me.
9. No one has called me a derogatory name to my face that I can remember since grade school, but I’m sure as an adult I’ve been called plenty of names behind my back. That’s the difference between bullies as a child and bullies you have as an adult. Your childhood bullies aren’t afraid to call you names to your face, and those hurt so much you never forget them. At least with adult faceless bullies, I can pretend there are none.
10. I wish I had more compassion and empathy about things in life. I used to. I’m not sure what stole them away. I can’t even think of a compassionate role model. It’s as if everyone stopped caring.
11. I unfriended a dead person on Facebook today. “Unfriended” is such a horrible word, but in a way it felt good to let go. They were not a relative or even a close friend. Just a neighbor I knew as a child. I think if they were someone closer or even related, I could never let go as in “unfriend” them. Facebook makes our lives and our connections so complicated sometimes.
12. Part of me still wants to be a novelist. Part of me doesn’t. The part of me that doesn’t feels that way because my previous books feel like a failed attempt at making money. It’s easy to say we shouldn’t write for the money, but when it comes down to it we’d all still cash the check.
13. I always look forward to the weekend, but when you lead a boring life you also look forward to it being over.
14. Everyone wants to be wooed. It’s fun to play hard-to-get when you are young. But like the boy who cried wolf, sooner or later people stop wooing. That’s how you know, intentional or not, you’ve given yourself a reputation.
15. I hate routines. I’m also a victim of them. They control you. Wake up. Bathe. Dress. Go to work. Come home. Eat. Undress. Go to bed. Wake up and do it all again. I like when something unexpected breaks my routine. I also hate that something so trivial as an unexpected interruption gives me a thrill these days.
16. Warm beverages, like coffee and tea, are a necessity. They provide comfort and are easily replaceable, unlike a really good lover.
17. I can remember very intimate moments with past lovers, even some whose names I can’t recall, relive every detail in my head right down to places, positions, and particulars. I’m glad I have those kinds of memories. I wonder if the lovers ever remember it the way I do, if they remember me at all.
18. Sometimes I like to think about how things might have been had I stayed in school, not moved here, or never met this person. It’s hard to encompass those sorts of things since you don’t know what other paths you might have taken, but it’s fun to fantasize.
19. I hate people who constantly complain, and I find myself constantly complaining about those people. But there are completely different other reasons to hate myself.
20. I have a penchant for blank notebooks and black and white Mead journals. I don’t fill enough of them.
21. Most of my life has felt temporary. “This will get better. There’s got to be something else.” I’ve always been working toward something permanent, but nothing in life is.
22. I wish I’d done more illegal or taboo things in my youth. Smoked marijuana. Cocaine. Less inhibitions about sex. Hard liquor. Cigars even. I don’t think I’d be as uptight as I am today.
23. I slowly feel myself falling out of love with books. I used to read twenty or more a year. Now I might read three or four. Like everything else we fall in love with, reading feels like a chore.
24. People don’t take chances because they are afraid of failure. Sadly, it takes years to realize that. Years of not taking chances, and years of failing anyway.
25. Sometimes I ask myself, “Am I too old to be doing this?” But my actions are a result of not doing it enough when I was of age.
26. A wet foggy morning draped over a sleepy town reminds me of when I was a child under a blanket pretending to be a ghost. It makes me wish I was still a ghost, pretending or not.
27. Have you seen who I was in my youth? Neither have I. He must be a missing person that no one is looking for.
28. I like being alone, but if I was going to spend all day in bed I’d rather do it with someone who excites me. If I’m alone, I’d just get up and go do the things I prefer to do all by myself.
29. Love is harder to feel and to describe the longer you’ve been doing it.
30. When I travel to a new city I’d often buy a tee shirt with the name of that city on it, and when I wear it someone asks if that’s where I’m from. It’s depressing to say no, I was just visiting and bought a shirt. When they go to different cities, do they wear shirts displaying where they are from? I’m going to stop buying those shirts because I hate telling the truth and saying no, I’m not from there. I could lie but then they might be from there and want to have a conversation about how wonderful it is, and that would be even more depressing.
31. The older you get the more people want to talk about the weather. Do we just run out of more interesting things to talk about as we age or do we just make it a habit to speak randomly about mundane topics? I only complain about it because I hate when people talk about the weather.
32. My backyard is noisy in the morning this time of year. Birds singing. Crickets chirping. Tree leaves rustling. The neighbor’s goldfish pond fountain splashing. But it’s still peaceful compared to the noise the rest of the world makes when it wakes up.
33. Standing in the cemetery with mom right where she’ll be buried some day is different than it was with dad. Dad always reminded us where he was going to go, as if we’d forget. With mom, there’s already a marker waiting there with her name on it, a place holder just waiting for an end date and a body to be filled in.
34. The silence between us is filled with the words that hurt, the ones we don’t want to say. What’s the use of giving up all of our secrets? We’d just hate each other more than we do already.
35. It’s fun to fantasize in our youth about who we are going to be. Not so fun when we are older, because we fantasize about who we should have been, and we regret letting our younger self down.
36. Sometimes I think about what it would be like to run off to a place where no one knows me, and then I realize I already did that. No matter where you are and how many or how few people you get to know, you still feel alone.
37. I still remember an old acquaintance who I went to dinner with and we ran into some of his friends, and when he introduced me he forgot my name. I felt humiliated, and I’ve never forgotten that feeling in that moment. I don’t think I ever saw that acquaintance again, and I know I haven’t seen his friends. I don’t even remember them. But you never forget when someone forgets who you are.
38. People are naturally boring by habit. And most of us hate boring people, which is just a way of saying we hate ourselves for being boring but without self-admission.
39. Sometimes I like to imagine what other people look like while having sex. I think about their favorite positions and what turns them on, and if they are passionate, caring, giving lovers; if they are experienced or not. I don’t want to sleep with them. I just like thinking about them in a more personal and private way.
40. I like to romanticize about how I miss Memphis, but I just miss who I was back in the nineties when I lived there, back when I was in my twenties and just wanted to be somewhere else.
41. I was never a good dancer, but I liked who I was back when I used to dance.
42. I tell people I hate traveling, but I secretly like it. I like being in new spaces, staying in hotel rooms. I’m the little child who wants to just jump up and down on the bed. It’s exciting to be in a new place, but I lie about it because I don’t want to make other people feel bad about not getting to ever go anywhere.
43. A friend attended her ex-husband’s funeral yesterday. They were still close and have two children who are both in their 30’s now. They were married for 23 years. She told me she usually counts ceiling tiles to avoid crying, but that didn’t work this time. So she started repeating all the terrible things he’d said to her during the years of their marriage: I hate you, I wish I’d never married you, I wish we’d never had kids, I wish I was dead. She said that worked. She stopped crying.
44. I asked a coworker if he had plans for the weekend. He said, “Just playing servant.” His wife is currently recovering from a broken leg and they have two small children and another on the way. I could see regret in his eyes, and I could hear it in just those three words: Just playing servant.
45. You know you’re adulting when it’s payday and you are excited because you can pay your bills for the week, instead of being excited about having money for the weekend.
46. I love finding new music that makes me think my younger self would have enjoyed this.
47. An NPR reporter described a Las Vegas shooting victim as “deliriously happy” based on the numerous pictures of her and her fiance on social media, taken along ocean shores and on hikes in the mountains. I hope she was.
48. Tom Petty died last night. It’s hard to process death when it’s one of your musical heroes.
49. It’s easier to give up than it is to watch yourself fail, but you don’t learn anything. The worry goes away but the “what if’s” don’t.
50. All mistakes are regrets, but not all regrets are mistakes.