Moving Right Along: The Nozer

Not to sound self-important, but I've discovered one of the most important components of the human psyche.

It's responsible for 90% of unrealized ambitions, 95% of unfinished novels, 82.3% of abandoned dreams, and 100% of people continuing to live in crappy apartments when they could find something better at a lower or equal price. It keeps people in zero-degree rustbelt towns when the sun is actually shining in California.

It's called the Nozer. It's the internal neoconservative that rejects all change. It has one and only one function. It exists solely to say NO to anything that might change (read: improve) our lives.

It's the Nozer that tells you that you can't write that book, finish that chapter, paint that picture, stay on that diet, leave that wretched job, break out of that pitiful relationship, move to some place where the air can actually be breathed occasionally. I realized this morning that if I were tied to the stake and the wood was catching fire beneath me and someone came along with a knife to cut the ropes and said, "Let's get you out of here," my Nozer would immediately say, "Wait, wait, you know what it's like here. Who knows what it'll be like wherever he's taking you?"

The Nozer is based entirely in fear. He or she (depending, obviously) clings to the status quo with tiny claws, screaming whenever the possibility of change looms. In some ways, the Nozer is more threatened when the change might be for the better, because it's so easy to imagine worse. We can all imagine worse: it's just like now, but less so.

Better, on the other hand, is truly alien territory to a Nozer. Who knows what it might be like if things got better? Maybe the whole concept of better is an elaborate trap to take us to a much worse version of worse.

It's hard for me to realize that I harbor a mechanism that would be more comfortable with a bad chest x-ray than a million-dollar book contract, but I do. And so do you, probably. And I contend that learning how to deal with the Nozer is one of the most important things we can do in life, and that the process begins with realizing that it's there.

So I'm embarking on a Nozer Management Program, and I'll send you bulletins from time to time. Anyone who has a good idea about how to build a little cage around the Nozer and/or hold its tiny head under water whenever necessary is invited to send their me their thoughts, and I'll recipocate with mine.

I'll think of a campaign slogan later, but for the moment I'm imagining that I'm wearing a bright yellow button that says BULLDOZER THE NOZER.


MOVING RIGHT ALONG is a column by novelist and Edgar-Award nominee Timothy Hallinan. It comes from a lifetime spent getting in his own way and then having to walk around himself to get anything done.

Everybody knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, so why do we persist in going from Los Angeles to San Francisco, metaphorically speaking, via Newark? Or make excuses about why we shouldn't go at all? MOVING RIGHT ALONG is intended to help us all decide to go, since staying where we are forever isn't really a viable alternative, unless you're a mannequin in a closed department store.

Timothy Hallinan is the author of twelve published novels including the six Simeon Grist Mysteries, now available for the Kindle on Amazon.com, and the highly praised Poke Rafferty Thrillers set in Bangkok. He is also the author of a third series of thrillers with a laugh track starring burglar Junior Bender, the first of which, Crashed, is now available for the Kindle.

His website is www.timothyhallinan.com