I once read that happiness plateaus after $75,000 a year. Before you get to the “magic number,” increases in income correspond to increases in happiness. After that, more money won’t buy you more happiness.

I believe it, but it’s hard to believe. By this metric, I should have already reached maximum happiness. And yet there are things I feel sure would make me happier if I could afford them.

One of those things is a bigger bed. My husband John and I have slept on a full-size (AKA double) mattress for almost ten years. This once seemed normal, but now it seems ridiculously small, though our sizes haven’t changed much. Over the past decade, we may have each gained five pounds. More crucially, John is 6′ 4″. A full-size mattress is 75 inches long. That makes him one inch longer than the bed. He’s also an insomniac (of the sleep-onset variety), a restless sleeper, and occasional snorer. I fall asleep easily, but wake up easily too, and in the early morning hours I find it hard to go back to sleep. I feel sure that we’d both get more and better sleep, and thus be happier, in a bigger bed. More… “Time, Money, Happiness”

Elisa Gabbert is the author of L'Heure Bleue, or the Judy Poems (Black Ocean), The Self Unstable (Black Ocean) and The French Exit (Birds LLC). Follow her on Twitter at @egabbert.

In the very last volume of Proust’s very long novel, the narrator attends an afternoon party where everyone seems to be wearing a mask. He can recognize the voices of his long-ago friends and acquaintances, but their words issue from faces that are all strangely slackened and faded, or hardened and rigidified. They seem to be wearing powdered wigs. Even his host, having disguised himself in the same manner as his guests, appears to have taken on the role of one of the very last stages of the Ages of Man.

What has happened, of course, is the passage of time. These people have aged.

This quality of the aging face, in so many respects like a living mask, was something I had hardly considered until I began to notice the fine crosshatching beneath my own eyes and the first tracing of lines across my forehead. It was disconcerting, these creeping forerunners of age — of aging. The only face I had ever known as my own — a face resolutely unwrinkled for over three decades — was somehow being impinged upon, irreversibly. I knew that, unlike a spate of pimples or the red peel of sunburn, these new lines and creases were here to stay, and they would only grow more pronounced.
More… “The Aging Face”

Alyssa Pelish writes and edits in New York. Her essays, articles, fiction, and reviews have appeared in Harper’s, Slate, Science, The Quarterly Conversation, Denver Quarterly, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others.

The 1940s film Portrait of Jennie begins up in the clouds, with questions: “What is time?” asks a voice. “What is space? What is life? What is death?” A quote from Euripides comes onscreen to the strains of Debussy:


Stefany Anne Golberg is a writer and multi-media artist. She has written for The Washington Post (Outlook), Lapham’s Quarterly, New England Review, and others. Stefany is currently a columnist for The Smart Set and Critic-in-Residence at Drexel University. A book of Stefany’s selected essays can be found here. She can be reached at

This year, the Walker Art Museum in Saint Paul, Minnesota, has centered its 41st annual film series on the concept of time.

It’s curated around Christian Marclay’s The Clock, which won Marclay (who is credited with the invention of “turntablism” and has collaborated with Sonic Youth) the Golden Lion Award for best artist at the 2011 Venice Biennale.

The Clock is a 24-hour-long cinematic collage of clips from thousands of movies, each clip dealing with time. The piece itself is a clock: clips are strung together with real-time mania, so that if you start the film at midnight and watch it straight through, each of the thousands of clocks and watches shown will display your time.

Julius Ferraro is a theater writer in Philadelphia. He has contributed to publications such as Paperclips 215, Phindie, and The Broad Street Review.

“You don’t know how terrible it is,” Joseph Cornell once told a gallerist who praised his work, “to be locked into boxes all your life.”

Boxes were Joseph Cornell’s obsession. He collected everyday objects and photographs and arranged them inside wooden shadow frames. Often he placed glass panes over the boxes, which makes them feel like windows. The names of the boxes are both solid and surreal: Observatory, Soap Bubble, Space Object, Pink Palace. The boxes are about objects but they are also about time. Cornell’s boxes are time contained. In them, history — which normally presents itself as solid, continuous and progressive — is shown to be an accumulation of shifting memories and questionable evidence. A Cornell box is chaos preserved in one silent eternal moment.

Stefany Anne Golberg is a writer and multi-media artist. She has written for The… More…

The United States of America has a short history compared to other nations. This does not stop it from having more historical societies than seems possible. Most American historical societies were founded between the late 19th and mid-20th centuries, to preserve records and artifacts of a rapidly dissolving local way of life. Today, there are roughly 10,000, all across the nation. 

Stefany Anne Golberg is a writer and multi-media artist. She has written for The Washington Post (Outlook), Lapham’s Quarterly, New England Review, and others. Stefany is currently a columnist for The Smart Set and Critic-in-Residence at Drexel University. A book of Stefany’s selected essays can be found here. She can be reached at

One New Year’s Eve, at eight years old, my parents left me alone with a neighbor, a bottle of sparkling cider, and a television for company. Far away, in New York City, thousands of people danced in the streets as the minutes of the last day of the year ticked on the giant clock in the sky. The people on the television writhed and hopped. They screamed at me from across the country. I could not hear them — I could only watch the clock, suspended, waiting to shout HAPPY NEW YEAR!! at my neighbor at exactly the right moment.

I woke up late on January 1st. Everything was as it was. I understood then that nothing happens on New Year’s and nothing ever would.

The great haiku artist Kobayashi Issa wrote this:

New Year’s Day– everything is in blossom! I feel about average.

Why would anyone want to play with a toy that is so damn hard? The Rubik’s Cube entered our collective cultural experience 30 years ago, next month, and there is still no satisfying answer. At first, in the early ’80s, we all had fun just spinning it around in our hands. The original Cube was an elegant object — a perfect 3x3x3, solid but also flexible and smooth. It was covered in bright colored stickers and felt good to hold. But it didn’t make hilarious noises or crazy smells. It didn’t talk or pee or dance. You couldn’t dress it up and (a minor thing here) it was impossible. Even so, we all had to have it. Its impossibility was funny, and this satisfied us.


Then, quietly, slowly, we started to hear the stories. People, children like us,… More…

Just now, after I pressed “quick min” twice, I turned away. That’s too long to stand, watching the countdown. I can’t stomach letting 120 seconds pass while I gaze, mindless, at the clock. Even 30 seconds seem like a stretch. But some days I’m reckless, and I watch the numbers change, marking the seconds remaining until the bell signals that the steaming plate is ready. The seconds pass, forever gone.


When I once made what I called “airline eggs,” I watched them cook, a pale yellow with green flecks of dill and parsley, in a flat white bowl. The eggs puffed like a sad soufflé in almost no time at all.

Ten digitally measured seconds go quickly; six such seconds leave no time to think. Sometimes I punch in three 10-second intervals, one right after the other, to… More…

You can tell a lot about a person by the relationship she has with time — what she values, how she works, and often where she came from. I have often wondered if my own anxiety about the wide expanse of the day goes back to my rural Kansas upbringing. Barred from watching television and encouraged (pushed) to explore the outdoors, the way I view the hours of the day correlates with the view of the horizon: flat, never ending, bichromal. I wake in the morning to wonder how in the world I will ever find a way to break that expanse into manageable chunks without falling into boredom or uselessness.

Time by Eva Hoffman. 224 pages. Picador. $14.00

Whether it’s the American motto “time is money,” or the Eastern European saying “When man is in a hurry,… More…