It is amazing what a phone call from a friend will do.

Brutha Yosh called me last Monday. He only calls me when he's stuck in traffic. Since he lives in LA, he calls me several times a week. Yosh is the only male friend I have.

"My bruthahhh...," he said.

"My brutha," I replied and pulled the long cord in to dining room where the boys and SpongeBob floated in as a mere murmur, and I proceeded to spill my guts.

Normally, I don't do this. Never tell anyone how I feel or what I'm thinking. If I do, it's not quite the truth. Maybe to save myself. Usually because I figure others have enough to worry about and I'm a man and I need to suck it up.

So I told him how life for me has sucked the last two months. How I hate my mind-numbing job. How I am frustrated to the point of tears a minimum of twice a day. How wifey says I am an undistilled nightmare to live with and sex is history. How I am trying to get a programming job in a town with no job market. How nothing interests me anymore. How I believe when most people wake up in the morning they have something they feel deeply about, but all I feel is the carpet.

I told him that the only thing getting me through the day is knowing that when I come home, a squealing, grinning RunningHammer will be coming at me with a full-speed head-butt to the groin and the tightest hug a 2-year-old can give. Then SweetFaceBoy will tell me about the wicked save he made in soccer. Vonda MaShone will ask to help with dinner.

"Well," Yosh said. "There you go. Build on that."

There's something good in every day, he went on. You just have to make that initial hard yank to stop the inertia of your bad funk and look around. It may take some effort. You may not be able to do great things for yourself or get out of your current situation right away, but you can do things to make life more bearable. This is coming from a man who has been out of work for a year and a half and basically lives out of his car and on the couches of friends.

"For me, I'm drinking no soda," he said. "I walk. I'm doing something good for myself. I'm trying to pay as much on my bills as I can, and my cousin's company gave her tickets to the Ducks game and she invited me to go. I'm on my way to pick her up now. Not a big thing, but it's something, and on that, you can coast until the next day."

Keep doing what you're doing to get that job you want, he said. Be glad you're getting a paycheck to feed and shelter your wife and kids. At the same time, keep your eyes open, and don't forget what you love.

"Hey," Yosh said. "Traffic's moving and my exit's coming up. Look for me at the game."

I've taken his advice to heart. I do what I can. I work on my coding so whatever skills I do have don't evaporate. I send off resumes and cover letters. I'm back to my pre-dawn routines of lifitng and running. My writing, however meager, has come together. Prompted by my boys and their Grandma, I'm taking tentative steps to paint again.

This is paying off. I'm happier. I do not blow a blood vessel at every minor annoyance. The only tears I've had recently have been poignant ones prompted by my sons (like when SweetFaceBoy sang along with Hey Jude from the back seat yesterday, beautifully unselfconscious for an eight-year old).

"You think Yosh ever checks his e-mail?" Supervixen asked.


"I want to thank him for your chat."

Apparently, I'm back in her good graces. Last night after the kids were finally in bed she stretched out on the couch next to me, her head in my lap. I ran my fingers through her hair and across her eyebrows and face and arms. We both began to doze. Then she sleepily rose up on one elbow, pulled the top of my shorts down and planted a wet, tongue-heavy smooch on Mr. Happy.

"I'm glad you're back," she said. "But I'm not good for much else tonight. Maybe tomorrow if you're good." Two minutes later she was out.

Combining that with finishing a program and buying some new acrylic paints had me coasting wonderfully in to today.