It’s a daily heartache: I’ m on the 405 when all of a sudden I am stopped behind a line of cars also trying to merge onto the 101. Here is my daily routine on how to cope with the stress of Los Angeles freeway traffic:

  1. Work on my novel. Well, not work on it, per se, but think of the plot as I scroll through my Instagram. How long have I been writing it? I guess off and on for 6 years but it’s coming along. No, I haven’t written anything, but I have it all in my head. I just need to find the time to get it all out.
  2. Have an existential crisis. What does it say about me that I still haven’t finished my novel? I’m such a fraud. Maybe I deserve to be stuck in traffic every morning since I haven’t made good use of my time anyway. I should look up some authors and see how old they were when they finished their first novel. Shit. Even Kurt Vonnegut was younger than I am now. I shouldn’t put too much pressure on myself though, we’re all going to die at some point so what does it really matter if I write a novel at all? Could it be that I haven’t written anything significant because if I do and it turns out bad then I can’t think of myself a writer anymore? 
  3. Listen to Joe Rogan’s podcast, sort of agree with something he says, then turn it off and listen to a Malcolm Gladwell audiobook instead. I have to get out of my head. A video of Tulsi Gabbard on the Joe Rogan show is suggested for me and I put it on even though I know she is a Russian agent. Wait, why does what she is saying sound reasonable? Am I a Russian agent too? I just laughed at Joe Rogan calling teenagers “snowflakes.” I have to turn this off…
  4. Text co-worker that I am at work and looking for parking. That’s better. Malcolm Gladwell always puts me in a better mood anyway. Shit, Dante is asking where I am. I’ll just say I’m looking for parking. It’s not a lie if I don’t think too much about it.
  5. Look up my high school girlfriend on Facebook, see that she recently had a baby and wonder what my life would be like if I had gone to school in Chicago with her and we tried to stay together. The traffic hasn’t moved in a while and something Malcolm Gladwell said about connecting to strangers reminded me of something Jennifer said to me senior year. I haven’t thought about her since she moved away so I decided to look her up on Facebook and see that she is married and just gave birth to twins. As I inch forward in my car, I wonder whether she is happy. She looks happy. Would I be happy if that was me in those pictures? What’s the harm in friending her?
  6. Have a conversation with my wife about what we should do about dinner, struggle to make a decision, then tell her I’m just parking and have to go. Shit, Beth is calling to ask what we should do for dinner. That’s all we pretty much talk about now. I tell her I have to go because I’m about to park. Fuck it, I’ll friend Jennifer. I mean, we are friends, after all.
  7. Listen to a 45-minute YouTube review about the newest Star Wars movie which I never saw but can tell you why it was terrible. I’ll be honest, Malcolm Gladwell is kind of boring and I feel like I have heard enough to be able to say I read the book. Jesus Christ, how have I still not moved? I’m just going to cut some of the line. As I fly by a quarter-mile of cars, I see a brief opening for me to slide my car in. I don’t know why this lady in a Prius is beeping at me, if she knew how long I have been waiting she’d just let me in. I earned it.  
  8. Get very angry at the person trying to cut in line ahead of me even though I just cut about 100 cars. Who does this jerk think he is trying to cut ahead of me in line. Don’t beep at me, we live in a society! Uch, fine I’ll let him in line. Asshole. 
  9. Wonder if in 20 years they’ll re-gender-swap High Fidelity and what happened to the Lawrence Brothers. I can’t believe I spent the entire weekend watching the new High Fidelity show and didn’t even attempt to work on my novel. The show wasn’t even good. Or maybe it was. I find it difficult to form my own opinion about media and haven’t watched any YouTube reviews on the show yet. I guess I kind of liked it, although did it need to be made with a black woman? What does it say about me that I am even questioning it? Am I upset because at one point I so deeply identified with John Cusack’s character from the original and feel that remaking it through a different perspective means part of my self-identification is lost or because swapping gender and race without really tackling the experience of gender or race seems exploitative and opportunistic? Also, whatever happened to the Lawrence Brothers? 
  10. Laugh at all those suckers still waiting behind me as I finally merge onto the 101. I spend two hours a day in traffic which means that over 20 years at this job I will spend 10,000 hours sitting in traffic to go to a job I don’t like. Malcolm Gladwell said in an audiobook I listened to a bit of that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something and I wonder what skills I could develop if I didn’t have to make this commute every day. Maybe I would finally finish my novel? Maybe I could be a better husband? Maybe I would learn French or get in shape or learn to meditate? Or maybe I would do nothing important with the time at all. 

As the cars in front of me finally start to onramp the 101, the thoughts and insecurities about what I am doing with my life and how time seems to be moving faster and faster wash away. ‘Too much self-reflection is dangerous’ I think to myself as I roll down my window and take a breath of the cool California air. As the sun kisses my elbow, I turn on KROQ and listen to whatever Sublime song they are playing right now and realize, for a minute, that maybe life isn’t so bad. It’s not perfect, but not so bad.