There’s a white Jeep in our neighborhood, and I’ve officially scrawled its driver off of my Most Generous Interpretation list.

A few months ago, Melissa was driving us out of the neighborhood and came to a stop where a driveway-like street met the bigger road. Minding her business, coming to a full and complete stop.

Only she didn’t preemptively see the large deluxe Jeep coming in hot planning a Dukes-of-Hazard-style right turn into selfsame driveway-like street.


The Jeep driver didn’t count on the Calla-crew. She adjusted and turned her steering wheel like the crewman charged with spinning the helm out of the path of the mammoth squid the watchman missed. She managed to make her right turn much more of an 85° event.

She did make sure to slow down enough to raise her finger at Melissa, though, and that forever sealed her identity in my mind. And it wasn’t a good kid having a hard time.

The boys and I actually met these folks the August we moved here when we were walking through the neighborhood. They told us they wished they lived in Florida, and they did warn us about the droopy trees prone to hornet habitation. Good looking out. Thanks.

Over the next year or so, we couldn’t help but notice the automobiles belonging to this household (a Dodge Charger with tinted windows factored in) interpreted the neighborhood speed limit as perhaps a speed minimum?

Or maybe the scale of assholery they should commit to in their disregard for children on bike, scooter, or foot?

Flagrant flouting of common sense driving etiquette combined with flipping off my wife = you’re on the list. And I don’t mean Christmas cards.

I’ve even offered a couple Southern smile-on-top-of-seething-contempt waves 👋 while putting out the recycling or, once again, giving white Jeep a wide berth — only to be met with disaffected stares dreaming about the day when they can put their Charger tires on the wide sands of Daytona.

This opinion of my neighbors feels staunch and strong, like concrete; I can’t control your speeding or general vibe, but I can sit here with my scepter and dub you Lady Crustgrumble of the Hornet Swamps.

I have an opinion, and believing it makes me feel right, and feeling right tells me I’m someone who figure things out, and if I figure things out, that actually leads to staying alive and general success. I think.

But, can I take, wait, I’ll set a timer — if I take a moment to ask, “I wonder what experiences my neighbor has had? What was her family like? And what is her mental make up that would assume a gray Tiguan sitting at a stop sign was deserving of the number one sign and should have foreseen and accommodated the reckless right turn she planned?”

(That took two minutes)

I still don’t like her, but I feel something in my heart that feels like curiosity and perhaps openness. It feels better than concrete. I like it more.

This is about opinions.

Today is January 29th. It’s the official season of those new thoughts we had around January 1 (even if we’re not resolutions people) those new ways of being are coming under scrutiny from the Concrete Monarch in our Mind.

You’re not as far along on that project as you told yourself you’d be by now. And aren’t you kind of tired? You’re not really going to change that. You’ve started and stopped so many times. Be realistic. Yep, there you go, reaching for your phone. What is it? Instagram or Wordle? See?

Yes, we are saying hello to February, and one hard truth’s coming home to me:

I’m one little human, and if I want to invest myself in what I value, I need to #1, know what that is, and #2, take my attention away from things that crowd and drown out my ability to cultivate what I cherish.

This shines a light on a story I made up, an opinion I’ve hunkered into just like my assessment of crusty Jeep woman.

The story is that I have unlimited time and can even make more of it.

This is what I’m believing when I say, “l’ll schedule that later” or add more tasks on a day that’s already fully scheduled only to arrive at the evening seeing all the uncompleted tasks and say, “See? You don’t do what you say you will do.”

But the problem isn’t that I can’t show up for myself and follow through; the issue is that I’m so offended by the limits of being human.

And especially nowadays when we’re easily inundated by everything everyone is doing. Our brains think, “I should write and produce my own one-person show at the Edinburgh Fringe while spearheading my own NGO and then get those arugula seeds going in the kitchen window for spring planting. Oh wait, I have to go to the bathroom.”

I’ve always been a time bender — convinced I could shower, get dressed, and take the train from Times Square to 96th Street in a tight 23 minutes. (Never happened.) I am reforming, but my opinion still insists there’s got to be a loophole.

There is one area where I have conceded to the truth, and that’s been sweet.

It’s knowing things. Or rather, not knowing.

Melissa still shakes her head and calls me “the teacher” and for good reason. I used to leave Barnes and Noble in a nervous sweat, confronted with all the data I’d never own. 

But, I’ve arrived at a new embrace of my utter ignorance as an itty-bitty human in the face of the universe’s great mystery. I also have two boys at home who ask me how the dinosaurs really died, how pajamas are made, and who created God, so I’m faced with my ignorance at all times. And knowing that I’m lovingly held in this great mystery while I’m clue-free about how electricity works, how my cells are dividing, and how this email gets to you is pretty sweet and liberating.

So, my next concession to freedom will be to embrace the limits of time as we understand it. So far as I know, I can’t make more of it.

I found a good practice for deciding what to do with your present is to consult your future self. Like last night, I wanted to go straight to bed and collapse after staying up too late to watch an episode of Julia, but future me said he’d appreciate the coffee maker being set up, clean dishes in the dishwasher, and to hear Amanda, my dental hygienist, say “You’ve been flossing!”

Future you has terrific wisdom to offer. I recommend you consult them frequently.

Future me also recommends I turn my attention from white Jeeps toward the people I love, pretty rock walls and beautifully bare oak trees because I heard a wise person say this week, “The only kind of person you can change is a baby.”

And yourself, of course. So, the cement opinions that might be talking to you today on January 29, see if maybe they might be mistaken about some things.

Take three minutes to write down what future you will be glad you valued and invested in, and go through those unchecked items and feel free to strike through a few of them the future you said won’t matter.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

And future you agrees: There’s only one you, and folks need to hear the story only you can sing.

Love much,

PS Here are a couple of videos from the YouTubes recently:
Head Bruise: How Cold Day Backyard Football is Like Singing Show Tunes for a Living

Compassion Grease™️: These Three Questions in the Morning Will Change Your Life