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Quiet Desperation

Looking for good things is a matter of life and life


A reader reminded me that it’s time for my annual “What Makes Life Worth Living” top 10 list.

She also reminded me that I listed our neighborhood rabbits years ago. I had forgotten. I forget more and more these days. However, I forget some things I wish I didn’t, and can’t forget some things I wish I could.

These lists are impulsive. I could write a different one each day for a month. Good music and good films would be on every list. Other things would appear and disappear, depending upon the moment and the whim.

I would include McDonalds’ French fries, but then I would hear my doctor say “poison,” and remove them.

He says the same thing about Diet Coke. I have tried to wean. But asking for “sparkling water” just doesn’t sound right, coming out of an old piece of crust like me.

Coffee? Absolutely.

God and gods don’t make my lists. This isn’t the place.

Jennifer? She’s at the top now. If you’re a faithful reader, you know why.

I realize this could be an opportunity to show off, and list something that might make me look good, or worldly.

Arromanches-les-Bains, France. Great towels and sumptuous views.

I haven’t left the country.

I have been to the Degas room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it needs to be on the list. If not this year, next year.

Likewise, the wall-length (502 inches) Monet at the Museum of Modern Art.

Let’s get started.


The English language. Not drabble, spew and slang: clarity, concision and cleverness.

“Stardust” by Louie Armstrong, recorded on November 4, 1931. The trumpet intro, the syncopation, and Armstrong’s vocal cadence are brilliant. Someone said “he sounds like he is gargling peanut butter.”

Peanut butter could be, should be, on the list. There’s not enough room this time around.

The best part of waking up is waking up. The second best part of waking up is a bowl of hot, black coffee.

Memories, good ones, old ones, new ones. Strange ones.

Walking into my eighth-floor art studio at UCLA and seeing Tony Curtis, sitting on a stool in the middle of the room. He was taking life drawing classes with my mentor. Thought I knew where he was. I didn’t.

“City Lights.” I have yet to watch the ending without tears in my eyes.

Documentaries. I can’t get enough of them. And I watch, and watch again, every episode of “Modern Marvels.” How something is made, like a toothbrush, captivates me.

Blue. Blue skies, blue eyes, blueberry pies. Let’s go Blue, “Am I Blue?,” “Kind of Blue,” “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”

That’s nine.

Who am I leaving out? “Whom,” that’s who.

I left out my house, my home. I can’t do that. This is the best place on earth.

I haven’t traveled far, but I know the difference between my home and anyplace else.

Being home, staying home, coming home.

The only sounds I hear now are my own sighs of contentment. (I lived in an apartment, the walls were so thin I could hear my neighbor’s stomach conjugate his lunch.)

I know my house was built fast (I watched, 1993), and it looks like all of the others. But inside, it’s one of a kind.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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