I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

July 09, 2012 - 6:21 p.m.

Thanatology 2

The Chronoklepts have been out in force today but I finally got around them and I'm writing only eight hours later than I planned.

Yesterday I went to another Met game. That's a good thing not just because I like going to Met games, not just because I like hanging out with Alan, but it's because it's me living what I think of as my normal life. Next thing I have to do is figure out how to start playing bridge with Roy again. That might be a bit tough from a logistical standpoint but I'll see what I can figure out.

Citi Field is the one place in the City that I regularly go to that is more difficult to get to from Brooklyn but it isn't bad. It takes me about an hour on the subway, that's not too bad and the timing is consistent. I can count on it.

The Mets played the hapless Cubs. Too bad they weren't hapless to the Mets. They lost 7-0. On the bright side I won my prediction game with Alan. I also got my first practical benefit of having a smart phone. When Alan asked me what future games I could make it to I was able to check my Google calendar. As I never know my own schedule having the calendar accessible is great.

I wasted time when I got home so I didn't quite make the dinner I planned but I still made something I hadn't made since I got my new apartment, jerk chicken. I had picked up a cast iron grill when I went to Bed, Bath, & Beyond and cooked it on that. It's nice to be back to cooking my meals at home. Right in the middle of it the lights went out. I thought it was a blackout but saw the street lights were on and when I checked the lights in the hall were on too. I blew a fuse. Yes a fuse not a circuit breaker. Do any of My Gentle Readers still use fuses? Good thing I knew where the fuse box was and the spare fuses. Too bad I don't have a flashlight. I had to use my cell phone. I realized that the only reason I knew how to change a fuse is that I did it as a very little kid. I used to love doing that kind of thing. Im not sure if I even did it, I might have just gone down to the basement and watched my father do it. But I know I always was there. For some reason I thought that was fun.

At the time I was running the AC, computer, TV, cable box, toaster oven, fan, and a few lights. I guess I have to turn the AC off when I use the toaster oven to be careful. Those are the only two high wattage items.

Today I was off to visit the shrink. I was late the last couple of times and you know I hate being late. Today my timing was good except that I didn't get as much done before I left as I wanted to. I did make breakfast, bacon and eggs, and coffee! It's been too hot to make coffee in the morning. I missed that. It was my first fresh ground coffee that I made since I left my old apartment.

After therapy I had to go to the bank. The ATM couldn't read my debit card. I went inside and told them and they gave me a new card. That's a pain as it has a new number and now I have to contact all my recurring accounts and change the card. Then to top it off when I went back to the machine it still wouldn't work. It wouldn't work for the woman that was there before me or the guy that was there after men. That's right, the problem was that the machine was broken. I used it different machine and it was fine.

So now that I've caught up with my life I'll switch the topic to death or as Terry Pratchett would say, DEATH. I will not speak in all caps like DEATH does. Why am I talking about death? Three things, a friend of mine is very likely dying, we don't know for sure but it doesn't look good. Secondly, the long time very close friend of a friend of mine is dying. Thirdly I saw a Woody Allen movie this weekend. You know it's one of Woody's favorite topics. He has my all-time favorite quote about death: "Some artists want to achieve immortality through their work. I want to achieve mine by not dying."

I wrote a lot about death ten years ago when my father died. A year before that I had cancer and for a while there was a decent chance that I'd die. I'm deliberately not rereading what I wrote in Thanatology You can read for yourself if and how my thoughts about death have changed in a decade. As an aside who knew or figured out from the elements that Thanatology is the study of death?

I have always known about death and that everyone dies. I learned about it before my earliest memories. I don't think that's common now but for most of history that was the norm. For most of history people saw people die. It wasn't something that happened in a hospital, it happened at home. Most families had at least one child die. People died of infectious diseases. Women died in childbirth. Death being something mainly for old people is a modern notion. Death was part of life.

I'm not saying that's a good thing. Of course it isn't, but it does give a more realistic point of view. Other people's deaths couldn't be avoided or kept safely locked away in a hospital so you were more aware of your own mortality.

That's the central truth of course. I'm going to die. You are going to die. We're all going to die. It shouldn't come as a shock to any of us. We shouldn't have to suddenly face our own mortality. We have our whole lives to do that. When I thought I might die it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I even enjoyed thinking about who would inherit what. Not the money and valuable things of course, but the personal possessions. My sister Sue has my funeral planned. It's going to be a hootenanny. If you're one of my musician friends I'm expecting you to play. Not sad stuff either. Of course I won't actually be there so play what you want. Except for Carey. She knows she has to play the kazoo. I pretty much want Chuckles the Clown's funeral. I wish I could be there.

I can't of course. That's the thing about death. He's an exercise, imagine yourself being dead. Are you imagining it? If you are imagining anything you're wrong. You won't be there. Not being there is the essence of being dead. You no longer exist. It's like imagining what it was like before you were conceived.

My attitude is that it isn't so much that I don't want to die; it's that I want to live. Life is good. Death is nothing. I won't experience it. So the thing is to make your life as good as you can no matter how long you have to live. My friend is likely dying. So are well all. It's just a matter of scale. As people have often pointed out each of us could die tomorrow. It's best to not dwell on it.

So that's the irony. Thinking about death leads me to the conclusion that I shouldn't think too much about my own death.

I have now squandered most of today. The last hour or so isn't my fault. I got terrible cramp in my hands and had to stop writing for a while. Now I have get going soon as I'm going to see Alfa tonight at the Bitter end. The show is in an hour and 15 minutes and I want to shower first. I love living close enough to the City to make that possible. Well it is if I post this now.

I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.

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Horvendile July 09, 2012
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