Jun 10, 2020


Added after reading all of your comments...

Dearies, I hope I didn't fumble the ball here.  I posted this essay from a fellow alum because I wanted to demonstrate how freakin SMART my classmates were and how my brain works so completely differently.  I promise you that the person who wrote it actually thinks like that as though it's second nature...eloquent...intelligent....amazing.  So you can imagine what it was like to walk into the lounge while a discussion like that was happening and a chubby co-ed comes in with her Jackie Collins novel and says "Hi, Everybody! What's for lunch?"

I have been a bit of a "mascot" my whole life, and it's a role I have learned to embrace. In high school, my circle of friends were smart and beautiful. I was funny and had a car.

So don't worry that my inferiority complex is in overdrive because of the essay request. I have finally grown into myself a bit and am so very grateful that I had the opportunity to be part of that major at a school that never should have accepted me in the first place.

Life has been, continues to be, and will be wonderful for Yours Truly, so if I went to the wrong school or was accepted into the wrong major...joke's on them because, in the immortal words of Charlie Sheen, I. Am. Winning!

I was a Great Books major at Notre Dame.  To be honest, I think I went that route because I figured it would be the best way to prepare for law school. Turns out, it was three years of 42 ridiculously brilliant people...and me...studying and reading and discussing and writing about things I still don't understand.

We received a letter from the Chair of the department recently asking us to contribute essays about our experience during this pandemic and how our education has impacted our thinking...how has the reading of certain texts given us perspective, etc.

So I sat down and started writing, but realized there was an attachment that was an example of an essay submitted from another alum of the program. I'm sorry that I can't credit it properly, but here is what he wrote:

After weeks of quarantine in New York City and after a long week of solitary overworking, I spent a Sunday thinking about the absurdity of life during the Coronavirus crisis. I said to myself, “I am Sisyphus.” I recalled Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus, his essay on “l’absurde.” Camus writes:

“Sisyphus is the absurd hero. ... At the very end of his long effort ... the purpose is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward that lower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. ... It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me.”

I did not remember that the essay famously begins with the line “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.” I did not turn to Camus for consolation of that nature. I did not read the essay for his dissection of Kierkegaard’s leap. I wanted to remind myself that absurdity, feeling at odds with the world around me, is a natural condition. Awareness of that condition is lucidity.

“If I were a tree among trees, a cat among animals, this life would have a meaning or rather this problem would not arise, for I should belong to this world. I should be this world to which I am opposed by my whole consciousness and my whole insistence upon familiarity.”

In isolation, even if with the people I adore, I found myself craving familiarity, but not the familiarity of the workaday world, the path “easily followed most of the time.” I wanted my friendship routines back and all the things I once took for granted. I was weary from trying to exempt myself from thought—do my work, bake bread, cook, drink wine, sleep.

“But one day the ‘why’ arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement. ... Weariness comes at the end of the acts of a mechanical life, but at the same time it inaugurates the impulse of consciousness. ... Just as there are days when under the familiar face of a person, we see as a stranger one we had loved months or years ago, perhaps we shall come even to desire what suddenly leaves us so alone.”

Camus counsels us to embrace each human experience, to remain lucid even when (perhaps most importantly) the experience is unpleasant:

“All man has is his lucidity and his definite knowledge of the walls surrounding him. ... I must admit that struggle implies a total absence of hope (which has nothing to do with despair), a continual rejection (which must not be confused with renunciation), and a conscious dissatisfaction (which must not be compared to immature unrest.)”

At the end of the essay, Camus presents us with Sisyphus’ “silent joy.” His absurd hero does not “cling too tightly to memory,” let the “call of happiness become too insistent,” or let his rock itself become “melancholy arising in his heart.” Rather,

“At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. ... His fate belongs to him. His rock is a thing. ... The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

And I am.


I'll pause for a few minutes here to give you some time to ponder how that writer and I could have possibly come from the same place.

I swear...I went to school. And I promise you they gave me a diploma and everything. I was there. The diploma came in a nice blue cardboard frame and I had a white thingie that hung on my hat and we wore rented gowns and it was hot and I was sweaty and missing my mom and then we went to eat.

But I read that, and then I read my drivel on this here blog and I realize that I am definitely the poop in the proverbial punchbowl when it comes to proudly representing my Alma Mater and the program from whence I came.

This guy wrote eloquently about the greater meaning of life and suffering and Camus (did we even read Camus?) and other crap that just makes my head hurt.


I write about dog pee and making things with thread.

Don't cry for me, Argentina. I'm not looking for sympathy or reassurance. As Meg says in You've Got Mail (another pop culture reference that would probably make my former professors want to smack me again) "I lead a valuable life. Valuable, but small."

Rich thinks I should contribute an essay, and I probably will. But I can guarantee it won't be in any way related to Camus. 

(Note to self...you really gotta go check that guy out.)

Let's just hope it's not about dog pee.


  1. Well now....In my near sixty years of life, I have learned that some people like to string big words together and talk just to hear themselves expound in glorious verbosity. (see, I can use big words too) I suffered through a Masters degree program with several such people that enjoyed blowing my insecurities up to epic proportion. No more, thank you very much. I would much rather read your heartfelt, thoughtful experience any day of the week. I hope you will submit an essay, and I hope you will share it with us too. Take care, Coni!

  2. I think more people will enjoy reading what you write about dog pee and playing with thread than Camus, someone most of us have never heard of.
    Write away!

  3. Coni, don't confuse style with substance. Although your writing style is more casual than a traditional essay by a literature major, there have been some pretty profound thoughts in your blog writing. The quoted author is waxing philosophical about being bored & isolated. I have read you pondering how to fight to keep yourself alive & healthy, dealing with the loss of loved ones, the deep meaning of friendship among a group with a common interests even though we're spread across the globe. Compare that to a guy with rock? I'll take your dog pee stories any day. You brighten my world.

    1. Best comment ever... 'compare that to a guy with a rock?' I lol'd. Thanks for the much-needed laugh!

    2. Ditto what Karen said....AMEN!

  4. I completely agree with all of the previous commenters. I look forward to your posts every day!

  5. Profound he may be… meaningful and true are you. I dare say
    you jettison the Camus-chatter and give us a taste of living
    life as best you can and encourage us all in the process. All that verbiage was somewhat self-indulgent and I'd rather
    experience your reaching out to others in notes of love and humor...right on, dear one.

  6. Sorry Coni and I'm not just saying this out of my deep respect and admiration for you but I would take an essay on dog pee from you over what that person wrote any day. It took him or her 9 paragraphs to say I'm happy. Hmmm and that was the only sentence in the essay I could relate to. I do hope you will write and submit an essay...it will be real and relatable. (IMHO...they shouldn't have included a sample essay....it intimidates creative juices)

  7. After all, it was just a lowly Hobbit that said "It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." And that is exactly what you do here. Thank you for sharing it with us-it's exactly what I need!

  8. I bet your essay will be far more interesting to read!

    Celebrate the simple life!

  9. I'll bet the essay writer can't create with stitches like you can! I prefer your writing!

  10. Trust me, Coni, I bet 99 percent of the essay readers will MUCH prefer your submission. Write with your usual flair and they'll be appreciative of the levity and humor you always bring.

  11. I wonder what all of the other 41 in your group of graduates thought when they read that. DO NOT be intimidated. People would prefer a good well written article with humor and grace and references that we all know to a essay written as if they have lived in a tiny cubby for the last 25 years. Hmmmphmp. I wish my schools would make the same request I would throw caution to the wind and blast them. Ruth in Oxnard GO CONI GO!

  12. Continue being Coni . . . Ultimately, the primary purpose of the written or spoken word is to COMMUNICATE THOUGHTS AND IDEAS. If one's choice of verbage (verbiage) interferes or inhibits UNDERSTANDING THE MESSAGE, then the entire point of communicating is lost. KISS ("keep it simple stupid") is valuable advice.

  13. Ditto to all of the above! Your writing and your humor are uplifting. Keep it up.

  14. Coni, I love your writing style. You keep it real and filled with humor, thought and grace. I didn't read the whole essay you shared; it didn't inspire me to read it, so I skimmed it. Keep it simple and keep it true to you!

  15. Best advice ever........."Be Yourself!"

  16. I have to admit that, although I certainly could have, I quit reading about half way through that essay. It was not really original thinking. It also made no attempt to engage the reader. It was much more about the writer than the reader. I have never quit reading in the middle of one of your posts. Your writing is engaging, amusing and quite often thought provoking.

  17. You are wonderfully articulate and we'll spoken - about your passions in life. And you brighten my day, always.

  18. Hmmm, you should never berate yourself for your blog, it is a form of diary and it shows a human being with love, humour, sadness, strenght and even fear - nothing like the essay that the gentleman above has written. He is a robot - you are human and you reach everyone, not just academics at the highest rung of the ladder. xxx

  19. Your quoted writer left me with a "huh?" and an expression much like my sister's bulldog.

    Your posts leave me with more to reflect, smile, grieve...basically, REACT. Reaction is good. That's the back end of the dog wagging and ready to engage.

    Just sayin'.

  20. I read all the words he wrote but they seemed to have gone right over my head. I would read your words any day over his :)

  21. Do you know how I got sucked into becoming a daily reader of your blog? Because you write like we are in the same room together, spending time with a cup of coffee and some good (often hilarious) conversation. You reach us deep down in our gut and although the topics are alien to those who do not stitch, the very fiber and depth of the conversation are food for our spirit & emotions. I love your writing. I won't say negative of his other than drivel like that is what people write to impress others. Probably took him days and perusing of the internet to come up with those paragraphs. Enjoy your day, stay healthy and keep writing. Your words will always bring pleasure, laughter and happiness to those of us who just love them!!!

    1. ditto. i really don't want to work at reading a whole lot of fluff i will never understand. keeping it real is what the rest of us "basic" people enjoy.

  22. I read two blogs everyday. Yours is one of them. I get panicky if you haven't written for a day or two. I read your entire essay but only glanced at the one about the rock. I just couldn't get into it. You have helped me more than you will ever know. Please keep writing about thread and dog pee.

  23. I could hardly slog through that person’s essay. I would rather read absolutely anything you write!