I don't expect to be reincarnated,
so I'll blog about dying and death (with appropriate irreverence) while I'm still alive.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Damn summer!

It's 4:20 a.m. I've been awake since at least 1:24. It's dark out and I don't hear any birds chirping. It seems like just a few days ago at this time that the sun was shining and there was an avian concert outside my window. 

Winter is coming. I'm both pissed and relieved. This summer, like most summers, has been extremely frustrating, even annoying. Many things on my to-do-list remain undone. I want summer to go away.

One particularly annoying item remains on my annual list. My mind sees my body asleep in a chair outside a cabin on the shore of a lake in Adirondack State Park. Brubeck's "Blue Rondo a la Turk" is playing, but not too loud. A breeze is tickling my face. Blue sky, blue water, my dog and a canoe are waiting for me to wake up.

Maybe next summer. Maybe next life. 


photo from iStockPhoto. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Forgive and forget, or ignore and move on?

We've all heard the phrase "forgive and forget." I seldom forget, and if I remember, I seldom forgive.

At a high school reunion about 25 years ago, I was approached by another man.

Years earlier, when his hair was darker and greasier, "Rick" was known as "Daddy Demon." He was probably one of just two Jewish juvenile delinquents in New Haven.

Rick smiled, said “Hi, howya been?” and he raised his right hand to shake mine.
I kept my right hand at my side.

I reminded Rick that in the fall of 1958, when we were both in the seventh grade, on the way home from school, he and a couple of other 12-year-old hoods ambushed me for no discernible reason. Rick poked holes in both of my bicycle tires and then he snuffed out a cigarette on my head. 

A few months later, Rick’s posse held me down on the ground with my mouth forced open so they could spit into it. Later on, one of them stabbed me in the pool at our country club.

I did not shake Rick’s hand.

I did tell Rick to go fuck himself.

I still remembered a lot. 

Fast-forward to a few days ago. Rick wanted to join an online group that I administer. My initial reaction was to ignore him -- a polite way of saying "go fuck yourself" again.

I thought about my decision. I've held a grudge against an evil, sadistic bully for 55 years, the vast majority of my life, and now he wanted -- or needed -- something from me. 

Unlike that day in 1958, I now had power over him. I was in a position to show the mercy that he and his posse did not show. 

I clearly did not forget what they did, and cannot forgive it -- but I can choose to ignore it. 

Maybe Rick on Social Security is not the same person that the pre-teen Rick was.

I've done a few crappy things in my life ('tho I was never a bully) and I'd like my transgressions to be ignored.

So, I let Rick into the group.

If I meet him again, maybe I'll be willing to shake his hand. I probably won't tell him to go fuck himself. I'd probably like to have a conversation with him. I'd like to know what diabolical influences turned him into Daddy Demon, and how he outgrew the demon.

Maybe by being nice to a former nemesis, I outgrew a demon of my own.

I definitely feel better now.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

I may have lost "it" -- but didn't lose it.

On Thursday I prepared to take the train from CT to NYC for Book Expo America. I thought I put my cellphone and two bars of Bonomo Turkish Taffy in my shoulder bag.

When I got on the train, I wanted to call home and tell my wife I had made the train, but could not find the phone. I went through the bag over and over again and finally gave up, assuming I had never put the stuff in the bag.

At the show I was not able to communicate properly with wife or office. There apparently are no pay phones at Javits Center. I was able to borrow cellphones and stay in touch minimally. 

When I got back to CT I scoured the car and house. I inspected every likely and unlikely place. I called AT&T to determine whether anyone had used my missing phone. No one had.

A few minutes ago I heard the tell-tale notes of "Louie-Louie" -- my ring tone -- coming from the same shoulder bag I had schlepped to NY and back.

I started ransacking the bag for the umpteenth time and discovered a hidden compartment containing my phone and taffy. They made the round trip with me. If someone had tried to call me in NY, "Louie" would've helped me find the phone.

BTW, I deliberately bought my Nokia Lumia 920 in red to make it hard to misplace. Earlier this year it was misplaced for a month.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Am I aging gracefully, or disgracefully?

I was at a publishing industry trade show in Manhattan today. I met and was talking to two smart, witty, attractive young ladies. If I was not happily married, I would have 'tried something.'

Somehow the topic of age came up. One of my companions guessed that I was 52. The other said 47.

When I revealed that I am really 67, they were amazed.

I am certainly not a prime specimen of American masculinity, but the reactions of these ladies gave me a good ego boost. Actually, when I see pictures of some of my contemporaries, and some of my wife's contemporaries, I think we're doing just fine.

I wonder if I dyed my gray beard brown or black, could I pass for 35? If I shaved it off, could I pass for 17?

Probably not. Oh well.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

How old is too old? Who knows?

My mother (for many years an AMAZING woman) is 90 years old and has dementia.

She's in an assisted-living facility with a 'round-the-clock aide and we're trying to find her a bed in a nursing home. She can't stand, walk, read, make a phone call, feed herself, wipe her behind or say more than a few words (often the wrong words). She sits in her wheel chair clutching her pocketbook and a hanky, and her fingers have to be pried off the handle of the pocketbook because she can't un-bend her own fingers.

Until about six months ago, when she was able to say more than a few words, she said some ridiculous things.

She told of the three mechanics who were working in her bedroom and left through the back door (there were no mechanics and no back door), and that my father climbed out of his grave and married another woman, and insisted that her name was written on the ceiling above her bed. She also told me that a noisy family had moved into her guest room.

Last year she had a lot trouble finding "the right words," and was obviously extremely frustrated by her limitations. She used to have an amazing vocabulary, but started to substitute almost any noun for another one, or use a general term like "device" for "seatbelt" or "clock." Sometimes she'd mix baby-talk and substitution, like "toidy sheets " for "toilet paper."

Some sentences were complete mysteries. It took a long time to figure out that "produce" meant a "bank check."

Mom often answered the phone but held it upside-down and yelled and neglected to hang up. (A few years ago, when my father was fading away in a nursing home, he often tried to use the bed control to adjust the TV. One time he ejected himself from the bed.)

Those were the good old days.

Now Mom is mostly silent. She smiles a lot, watches (or stares at) television, listens to conversations intently, and has occasional moments of surprising lucidity. She'll fill in words from old songs and seems to be happy despite her limitations.

I guess that's all anyone wants at any age or stage.

Would I want to end up like her, or would I prefer to be euthanized? I don't know.

The dividing line between life and death is usually obvious. The line between a crappy life and a good-enough life my be hard for observers to discern.

Life was so much simpler when most cavemen were killed by wild beasts before they had a chance to get old and ill.