O Me Miseram[1]

I would like to catalogue all the sadnesses in the world. I would like to open a shelter with many acres of grass and old trees where any small or large sadness could live without threat of euthanasia. I would like to search out all the homes of neglect and abuse and take the sadnesses away to love and nurture. Sadness neglected can get fierce or bitter but if you love it, it will love you. One day I will be a little old lady living alone but for my sadnesses. When I slip from human to corpse, they will be left to fend for themselves and they will eventually starve and perish. When some official or inquisitive neighbor pushes open the door of my once-home, he will find my body surrounded by half-starved, mourning sadnesses.

A Small Dictionary

Dark Horse Sadness (1) the necessity of proving others wrong (2) glorious, of course, in retrospect but in real time only tiring (3) who wants to exert the requisite energy to come back from behind?

Object Sadness (1) how difficult to be an object, seen and touched but unable to speak (2) still how much worse to be discarded (3) the ones left by the side of the road, ignored by passing strangers (4) in spite of the sign that says FREE, no one wants that which is not wanted by others.

Sentence Sadness (1) of the compulsion to force words into straight lines (2) when they would rather explode out of open mouths like firecrackers (3) or the inefficacy of a straight stone stepping bridge (4) when each body is more like an ocean than a shore.


Dear ----,

It was lovely spending time with you and your sadness. I am thrilled that our sadnesses got along so well. We'll have to plan another opportunity for them to play together.

With love,


Some Facts: History

Sadnesses have indubitably existed as long as humans, that is, for at least two hundred thousand years. It is unclear, however, whether they were present prior to the birth of humankind. There is some evidence of sadnesses in the time of the dinosaurs, but it is inconclusive at best.

The relationship between humans and sadnesses is complex. Different cultures have had varying stances toward sadnesses, ranging from worship to repression. While some biologists claim the relationship is symbiotic, others vehemently believe it to be parasitic.

Certain vocations are inextricably, though as yet inexplicably, linked to sadnesses. The oft-fruitful nature of such relationships frequently leads to a glamorization of sadnesses that can obscure the darker side of the liaison.

Scientific data regarding the life cycle of sadnesses is limited. It appears that sadnesses are born of an amalgamation of pictures, chemicals, melodies, and psychological stresses. Experimentation has overturned the once common perception that sadnesses are inherently malicious.

In My Experience

I have a lot of sadnesses and sometimes they don't all get along. The little guys get picked on by the bigger ones. The big ones, they want all the attention. They're always pushing in, dominating the scene, getting in the way. The little guys don't have the same bullying power, so they have to be more sneaky. They wait until they see their openings and then they dive for them. I'll see nothing but the big sadnesses, all up in my face, only to turn my head and see a little sadness sitting on my shoulder. Of course any sadness that's three inches from your eyes looks pretty big.

Conversation Snippet


"What were you doing?"

"I saw some sadnesses that were all alone on the floor, so I was just picking them up."[2]


"Why do humans have so many sadnesses?" This question has long fascinated scientists, however Dr. -------, an evolutionary biologist at the University of --------, likes to turn the question around: "If it's so great to have sadnesses why have most animals remained without?"

Dr. ------- and like-minded scientists are trying to figure out why animals have sadnesses at all and why some have evolved to have more sadnesses than others. One reason for the difference, their research has shown, is that having sadnesses can be bad for an animal's health.

After extensive research with fruit flies, Dr. ------ suspects that each species evolves until it reaches an equilibrium between the costs and benefits of having sadnesses. His experiments demonstrate that flies have the potential to have significantly more sadnesses. But only under his lab conditions does evolution actually move in that direction. He stipulates that in nature, any additional sadnesses would simply cost too much.

Such studies suggest that it is worth investigating whether humans also pay hidden costs for having excessive amounts of sadnesses.

Confession I

Sometimes I resent my sadnesses. There are days when the air beckons and thousands of voices call me in thousands of directions and I want to be able to explore all of them and change my mind at a moment's notice. I do not want the responsibility of sadnesses at home, calling my name, needing me. I am not one for routines or habits. I abhor requirements. I want to be able to act without thinking, be selfish, be a child. Pick up and leave. I want to fly far away from everything that is familiar and carry only a backpack and see all of the world's secrets. I want to sleep for days and days. I want to run for days and days. I want to deny time, deny clocks, deny age. But I cannot deny reality while taking care of so many sadnesses.

Nursery Rhyme

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,

She had so many sadnesses she didn't know what to do.

So she fed them all broth without any bread

And whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed!

Public Announcement[4]

The -------- Society is asking for public help in identifying suspects caught on videotape who abandoned 19 sadnesses early this morning; $500 reward offered for information leading to the conviction of the two individuals in question.

The 15 little sadnesses and 5 big sadnesses - ranging in degree from slightly melancholic to catatonically depressive - were left outside the front door of the ----- Shelter, next to a sign warning the public that sadness abandonment is a crime. They were housed in two red plastic storage containers and were dropped off at 5:24 am, as the temperature hovered just above freezing.

"The worst thing to do is abandon a sadness in the middle of the night. If you have a sadness and cannot care for it, please call the ----- Shelter so we can help find your sadness a home," said ----- ------, Operations Director. The ----- Shelter finds new homes for unwanted sadnesses, and accepts thousands of sadnesses each year from the public.

Sadness abandonment is a Class B Misdemeanor that carries with it the penalty of $2,000 in fines and up to 6 months in jail. A person commits the crime of sadness abandonment if he or she intentionally leaves a domestic sadness at a location without providing for the sadness's continued care.

The sadnesses abandoned today appeared malnourished, but with no major health issues. The sadnesses were socialized and were friendly towards people, and will be available for adoption when they are determined to be healthy enough to go to a new home.

Visit www.-------------.org to learn more about adopting a sadness or finding a home for a sadness you can no longer care for.


Some families have heirloom sadnesses that they pass down from generation to generation. Some families have skeleton sadnesses they hide in their closets and never speak about. Some families have inherited sadnesses that they never asked for or wanted. Some families have so many sadnesses that they collapse under the weight.



I'm so glad to hear that everything is going well. Things are pretty good over here too, although I must say, I think my sadness might be pining for yours. Moping around, refusing food, wistful glances out the window - I'm at my wits' end. It won't even play with its other friends. And it's such a sociable sadness normally! It really must be a special bond they've formed. We'll simply have to meet up shortly and let them have some time together.



Some Facts: Modern Extermination[5]

Every 1.5 seconds a sadness somewhere is killed. That's 27,473 dead sadnesses per day or 192,308 per week or 10,027,645 per year.

The number of people paying to kill their own sadnesses each year increased 48% from 1995 to 2002. Among experts there is a heated debate: is this the result of a greater abundance of sadnesses? Or is it rather a reflection of our society's increasing willingness to kill?

Guidelines suggest that if a sadness becomes stressed, aggressive, or sick; if it begins to impede upon daily functioning; if it is getting in the way of sleep; or if space becomes a problem then it is reasonable to consider euthanasia.

Other options for extermination include MAOIs, TCAs, SSRIs. Combinations of capitals can be deadly.


The doctors want to take away my sadnesses. Though they claim it is for the best, I do not believe them. They tell me that my sadnesses are holding me back, that so many sadnesses are too many sadnesses. I smile and nod, but then I turn to my sadnesses and whisper, "don't worry, I would never abandon you like that." It is difficult to trust the doctors when I know that they have been personally responsible for the deaths of so many unsuspecting, undeserving sadnesses.


Do not approach the feral sadnesses.

Though they may appear friendly, there is no telling how they will react to human contact.

Pop Culture

Like anything else, sadnesses go in and out of style. One minute they're being locked in cellars or hidden in closets and the next they're flaunted on the runway and carried around in thousand dollar handbags.

The die-hard sadness fans are of course furious at the sudden proliferation of bandwagon-jumpers. The fair weather fans who don't know a damn thing about the history or culture of sadnesses and yet still claim to love them.

It's hard to say what starts a trend or what ends it. All it takes is one flawlessly sculpted celebrity parading around with a sadness - nothing too vicious or ugly, just a pretty little one - and instantly every television-hypnotized, spoiled brat in the country is clamoring for a sadness "just like the one on TV".

There are pros and cons to the media-fueled spotlight. On the plus side, there's the civic awareness. Overnight long-ignored issues become "atrocious," "unforgivable," "shameful." A single sadness left out in the street to die and you'd think some movie star had overdosed on his or her prescribed antidepressants for all the public distress.

On the minus side, all of the sudden sadness is so trendy that those of us who have loved sadnesses for as long as we can remember are instantaneously transformed into followers or show-offs.

Short Story

When my dad moved out of the house into a smaller house down the street, he bought me a little sadness of my very own. I had wanted one for years: had prepared several hundred pages of printed materials regarding the care and keeping of sadnesses to prove to my parents that I was ready for this responsibility. When we went to pick my sadness up, there was a tremendous snowstorm. Our old minivan couldn't make it up the snow-covered hills and we had to loop around and around the blocks, waiting for the plow to clear the way. I was breathless with nerves, certain that my dreams were going to dissolve amidst the snowflakes, but eventually we made it. I held my little sadness in my lap all the way home, almost scared to touch it for its delicacy. For years I doted on my little sadness. My parents called it my stability sadness - something to stay constant despite multitudinous changes. Then I went away to boarding school and left my little sadness behind. I didn't want to abandon it, but so these things go.


In my head there's a Greyhound station

where I send my sadnesses to far-off destinations

that they may have a chance of finding a place

where they're far more suited than here.

Confession II

Sometimes I forget my sadnesses. I leave them at home and I go outside and the trees are blooming and the grass is green and it smells like springtime and I spin in circles until I am too dizzy to remember anything. I take a hand in mine and pretend that I am not lonely or trapped in this head, but free and part of something wonderful. I have no responsibilities. I give kisses and I make plans and I dream of understanding all sorts of things. I don't notice the sadnesses peeking out of windows, or hiding in old newspapers, or cowering in small shadows. Life whirls me around and I let it. I let all the ideas floating in space pretend that they cohere; I revel in their coalescence. I pretend that the random pinprick stars form constellations. I imagine that one day I could make sense of it all, and it would be beautiful, there would be beauty in chaos. Days or weeks or minutes later, I get spun out. The dizziness is not glorious but nauseating. The bright colors and laughter are too much. I run home to hide and there are my sadnesses waiting for me.


Some people believe that old sadnesses are the best sadnesses. They can always be heard complaining about how sadnesses "just aren't made the same these days." There is a breed of scientific dispute that has developed around the subject - investigations into whether it is true that the materials currently available simply cannot produce sadnesses of such caliber as those in the days of yore. Sadnesses that have been around for decades or centuries are correspondingly coveted. Unfortunately, there aren't many of them left. The wanton sadness destruction that has happened periodically over the years has left few really ancient sadnesses behind. It is only the true sadness-maestros that are able to come into possession of genuine, antediluvian sadnesses. The rest of us have to settle for cheap, Walmart-style sadnesses, mass-produced in 3rd world sweatshops, individually packaged for our convenience.


Dear -----,

I had a wonderful time at the park. I've never seen my sadness as happy as it is when it's with yours. I know this is terribly trite, but I think perhaps they're meant for each other.



Parting Words

When I go missing for hours or days, don't worry. I'm only hiding away with my sadnesses, cloistered in some small corner or closet. We get lonely without each other, you see. We are speaking in unintelligible words or whispering secrets into each other's ears. We are basking in life's ecstasies or condemning the world's sorrows. Through it all, we are together and so we are fine.

1. Latin phrase - "Oh poor, miserable me"

2. Quotes from conversation with TF

3. From New York Times' Article, "Lots of Animals Learn, But Smarter Isn't Better" http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/science/06dumb.html

6. From Death Cab for Cutie song, "Soul Meets Body"

7. Loosely based on violins, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stradivarius


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