Exit 182. Unfinished business.

Author Sue Grafton died last week.  Ms. Grafton is best known for writing the Kinsey Millhone books; those are the ones with the letters in the titles, A is for AlibiB is for Burglar, and all the way up to Y is for Yesterday which was just published in 2017.  Ms. Grafton was already in her 40s when she started the Kinsey Millhone series, after having written two other novels and working for many years as a screenplay writer.  She was 77 at the time of her passing.

I’ve written before about being a fan of this series, and how I came to discover these books.  I just read Y is for Yesterday a few months ago, and I just reread it this month.  Knowing that Z is for Zero (the tentative title) will never be published gives me a sense of unfinished business.  Ms. Grafton made it clear in numerous interviews that she never wanted to work with a ghost writer or have anyone else have control over her characters, and it would be wrong not to respect her wishes.  But at the same time, it feels kind of wrong to leave the series incomplete.

I’ve been thinking a lot about unfinished business in my own life.  Much of my lack of inner peace comes back to this in some way.  I never got to be a normal teenager with friends and parties and a silly puppy-love girlfriend.  I never got to marry my college sweetheart and start a family in my 20s and take my kids to Sunday school.  If I could go back and do high school and college again knowing what I know now about people and socializing and the world, I might not have ended up stuck in this limbo.  And some of the relationships and relationship-like experiences I’ve had might have worked out better if we had met at a different time or in a different place.

So how do I deal with this?  There is only so much I can do in the first place.  Things happen that don’t give closure; that’s just life.  People die with their life work unfinished.  People change and leave others behind for no apparent reason.  Everyone’s life is full of what-ifs, and dwelling on them only brings pain, so I need to learn to make a conscious effort not to dwell on these things.

Dealing with this might also mean unfollowing certain people on social media whose posts reflect the kind of supposedly perfect life that I’ll never have.  But it’s definitely going to have to mean being honest with myself, taking a long, hard look at my life, and figuring out two important things: what exactly it is that I really want, and how to work with what I have.  Just because I can never have what I once thought to be the perfect life or the perfect relationship doesn’t mean that there are no good options left for me.  But as I said, I need to figure out what those options are, and I need to figure out what it is that I want in the first place.

I just wish I didn’t sound so repetitive.  Much of this I’ve written before.  How long will it take me to make real changes?



  1. I would guess most of those “perfect” lives and families you see on Facebook are no only not perfect, but may be hell on earth. But then, I come from a dysfunctional family, so I’m cynical. But even my mom’s side of the family is fucked-up. Some of my daughter’s friends commit adultery and are truly horrible parents. They look normal. They are toxic. Not all their friends, but lots of them. A few of them are okay parents.

    As far as I can see, most marriages are pretty bad. We are all so selfish, each wanting their own way. People are not basically good, as some believe. The Bible says it how it is, “The heart is desperately wicked, who can know it? I’ve seen lots of Christian marriages that are miserable because even though we are Christians, we have a lot of baggage from our childhoods. And maybe we haven’t learned how to disagree in a nice way. So many reasons.

    I do believe there are some happy marriages. I’ve read about them. I’ve never actually seen one. I read a report that said only 15% of marriages are happy.

    Well, I’m happy in my marriage now, because I realized I had too many expectations of how my husband should act. I now expect nothing, I love him and follow my own interests. He isn’t interested in anything but TV, and I should have accepted that long ago in order for us both to be happy.

    Hope you aren’t irked at me for this long comment.

  2. I’m reading through Kunal Nayyar’s book “Yes, My Accent is Real” and thought of you. (He plays Raj on The Big Bang Theory.) In the chapter “The Prince and the Pauper,’ Kunal writes about the first time his music band played at a public venue:

    “I felt alive. To this day thinking of that moment gives me goose bumps. Too often we focus on the greater schemes in life, like making money, or getting promoted at work, or starting a new relationship – and yes, of course, those things matter – but sometimes it’s the tiny, gradual, stepping-stone victories that bring real joy and signify the positive changes in our life.”

    Perhaps you can start doing this… stop focusing on the blockbuster moments and relish and learn to appreciate the small changes. If you don’t like something about your life, try to find a small way to make it better. It can be unfollowing certain people on social media. Or taking 30 minutes out of your day to take to yourself. Perhaps it can be sitting down and writing down some concrete goals for the year.

    Don’t try to climb Mount Everest before you even get some mountaineering gear. Work your way up to the big things gradually. If you are continually making small, positive changes, you will be at the peak of the mountain before you even realize it.

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