Tag Archives: death

The Persistence of Me

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I confess I don’t know much about Tom Wolfe (RIP), but have only begun learning about his brilliance this past week from his obits and write-ups in the news. Of course I’ve used the phrase “The Me Decade” to describe the 1970s, never even knowing that he coined it. How embarrassing! I’m adding The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Bonfire of the Vanities to my reading list.

I think a strong argument can be made that the Me Decade hasn’t ended and shows no signs of abating anytime soon. All the selfies and oversharing, plus the endless quiz-taking, are encouraged by industries whose purpose is to make us feel insecure about ourselves, and are part of an infinite loop of superficial self-examination, wasting our time and energy as we search for enlightenment in our belly button lint, rather than expanding our horizons outward for fulfillment. I’m no stranger to these behaviors myself.

But something interesting has happened, a small thing, but interesting nevertheless: since I quit Facebook and Instagram two months ago, I haven’t taken any photos of food. My life is no worse for this; I don’t miss these pics at all. In fact, that was simply another superficial way to “connect” with people online when we really had nothing in common. In my opinion, this obsession with selfies, including food pics (unless you’re a restaurant critic or recipe blogger), is part of the narcissistic sickness of society. Notice me! Like me! Follow me! We see our favorite celebrity posting 857 photos of their face and we think we should too. It’s headshot day! Gah.

I suggest that the me-ness of the Me Decade never disappeared but instead spilled into online life, splashing over all we did, turning the entire social media experience from information-based, when it began, to communication-based, for a time, and finally now into a monstrous narcissistic ouroboros that not only controls how we behave online but offline too. We are even more self-centered now than we were in the 1970s despite allegedly “connecting” with all sorts of people different from us all over the world. We don’t actually do this in any kind of meaningful way. I doubt most of us even begin to relate to people in our own neighborhoods and what issues they might have in this primary election, if they are different from our own. All I see is people ready to bully, disparage, and dismiss anyone who thinks differently from them, more now than ever.

If you don’t conform to my reflection of myself, I push you out of the picture. Turn the camera back to selfie mode. Ah, much better. Smile. Click.

*

I know some of you probably thought I would jabber on about the narcissists I’ve dated and link to my new poetry book All She Wrote, which explores quite a bit on that theme, when you saw the prompt “narcissism”… well, surprise! I actually do have otter things to say sometimes besides look at my stupid mistakes. 😀

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Narcissism

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Froth

Beachy

Hot summer sand met cold ocean froth. Two little girls in sunglasses and hats with buckets and towels, digging and giggling. I would bring a book and never open it, preferring to watch my children’s fun and the turquoise waves tumble in, one by one. The hours moved slowly but the time went so fast. Grandma came too with lunch in a cooler. She’s gone now and soon my time will be up, the next decades sure to pass even faster than the ones before. Each year’s bubbles crash in, spread out with a susurrus, and disappear back into nothingness.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Froth

Happy Birthday Dad

It was fun looking through the box of unsorted photos and finding this gem from around 25 years ago ~ Dad and my eldest in the backyard of our old Huntington Beach house. If he were still around, I’d probably be baking his favorite fudgy wudgy brownies for a birthday celebration tonight. Miss those days, love you Dad, RIP.

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Chasing Sunsets

OC_sunset

It’s been a good month of sunsets
Outside the conference room window,
Splashing down behind the old Hyatt–
A riot of violet, indigo, crimson.
As the days lengthen
And storms malinger,
The sky waits for my drive home,
Candy striping on my commute–
Watermelon, apricot, grape.
I stop at the fairgrounds
To take a shot of butterscotch
Streaking out of sight.
Summer will soon push them later,
After I’m inside for the night.
I tire early now;
One day I’ll see my last.
I wonder which kind it will be–
The glorious burst of final savage color,
Or a slow unremarkable fade to black?

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Wonder

Restart

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I was chatting with a friend the otter day and lost track whether it had been 5 or 6 years since my divorce was final. (It’ll actually be 7, this July.) The years roll on by. This month marks 5 years since my dad passed away, and April 13th will be the 10th anniversary of my mother’s death. At the end of August, I’ll have been at my current job for 17 years.

Nothing dramatic, but I feel that 2018 is finally starting for me now on March 1. I didn’t feel well for a bit and, except for my daughter’s wedding, 2017 wasn’t that great of a year overall… the end of it slid into the blackness without a splash. It’s taken a few months for this year to get going in my mind. Emotionally, I needed to process the fact that time passes so ridiculously quickly now and quit wasting so much of it. I saw some piece of trivia that we really only read around 4000 books in our life ~ so let’s not be gobbling up so many crappy ones ~ also let’s not allow a month to pass without reading any (note to self).

I read two books in February. One was supposedly “great,” a NYT bestseller by the demigod Ethan Canin Titled A Doubter’s Almanac, which took me a long damn time because I tried to grok the math, and lol the joke was on me [spoiler alert]… it was fake. Yes, in the era of fake news, we also have fake math. I enjoyed the beginning of the book so much, but then when the narration took a weird turn I started wondering about the math theorem and looked it up ~ fake! I thought, okay cool, he made it up for his fiction. I can respect that; I make shit up all the time. Fuck, I’ve made up whole cities. But dammit, I felt betrayed. I had invested so much time in the book’s philosophy up until that point. In fact, it reminded me of my own philosophy, my central thesis, my touchstone…

MATH IS GOD

But eh fuck it. I read the rest of the book much faster, skipping most of the “math” and just trying to keep it together structurally until the end because I had a hunch about what might happen regarding son/father and… viola… I was correct. Sheesh, what a long book. Unnecessarily so. All those beautiful women falling for dorky mathmen with no social skills because of course they do. I love male fantasies. They’re almost as stupid as female ones.

Then in two days I read a nice, neat, normal murder mystery by Robert Dugoni titled My Sister’s Grave. Well, it wasn’t “nice” exactly ~ made me cry a little. Good book. Significant flashback sections, but after the fake math stuffs? Totes fine.

Point being, with unlimited time I would read every book, see every movie, give each tune a listen that friends slap up on FB. But time is running out. Well, not time precisely. It’s not doing anything. But I’m finite. I don’t want to waste another 3 weeks immersed in a boring father/son angst marathon only to discover there’s no such thing as the Malosz conjecture. Break my heart! Never trust a writer.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Restart

Fuzzy Atheism

Prism

Ten years ago today I wrote a woo poast in my secret blog, the one I was keeping while my mom died of cancer. I’ve never been a super duper militant atheist like some, maybe because I wasn’t rebelling against anything at home. I simply didn’t  believe, that’s all. My nonbelief was never a huge deal to me, or to my parents, though I realized early on it was shocking to others, especially when we moved to the midwest in the 1970s. So, I mostly kept quiet about it. Back then, you didn’t blast your personal beliefs all over town as you do now. No Facebook, blogs, instagram, Twitter, etc.

There have been many times my lack of belief gets fuzzy. I want to believe, like other people do. It seems to be so comforting. Why shouldn’t there be more? A greater thing, a purpose. Why do connections have to end with death? Why can’t we be with our loved ones again in some way? That all sounds good. Sometimes it sounds too good, especially when I’m sad, and I start to imagine it could possibly, maybe, be true, somehow. Well, why not?

Ten years ago today I wrote that my ex-husband and I had worked everything out and were getting along better than ever. I called him my “soul mate” in that blog poast. But we split up about a year and a half later. I also wrote about the hallucination I had of an angel when I was sick with a very high fever in 1996. And finally I wrote of an earlier time when I was depressed and asked for a sign that things would improve, closed my eyes, and opened them to see rainbows in the room. They were prisms from the sunlight hitting my glass animals at certain angles.

Maybe I was trying to cobble together bits of evidence for some sort of belief-cake, idk. I’d have to read more entries ~ and it’s possible I dropped the topic altogether. I’m not re-reading every entry of the death diary now, not that there are so many. I may at some point, or not; they aren’t going anywhere. I’m busy lately with various projects and have finally stopped forcing myself to do things in my free time that make me unhappy. Happiness is a choice, as “they” always tell us.

I do enjoy keeping up this blog, though lately rather sporadically. Thank you for reading!

Countdown of a Sort

Cupcake

Today is 10 years exactly since my mother told us of her pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Shortly thereafter I began the private blog, where some of you listened while I poured out my feelings. Thank you for that once again. It was a little over four months between her diagnosis and her death, less than “average,” so every day between now and April 13, 2018 will be a 10th anniversary of a day of mourning.

In my other blog I see I was angry that day, angry that she tried to be cheerful on the phone when she said she was coming over to talk to us. I knew then. Because if her scan had been fine, she would have said so on the phone. I like remembering this ~ it makes her come alive in my mind. Moms are so annoying! I want to remember her exactly how she was, not in some false idealized way.

Sometimes I feel very insubstantial lately and I have to relocate the essence of myself from wherever I’ve drifted apart and off to while I forgot to pay attention. Part of that process is remembering Mom.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Relocate

Faint

Universe

Sometimes I hear faint echoes of lives I might have lived, not when summoned, because those are more properly classified as fantasies, but unbidden. Occasionally they’re catalyzed by conversations or actions I observe from others, interactions among couples, or when I run across a career that seems interesting. I could have done anything, but I didn’t. There’s still time, but not much, and I sense the end of it. Numbers have always seemed real not abstract to me and I see my own fading in the near distance. When my time ends, all time ends: the solipsistic universe of me.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Faint

Believe

Rainbow

I don’t believe in ghosts, but when I couldn’t remember where I was born, my mother whispered the name of the hospital to me one morning while I brushed my teeth. Phillips Memorial. That’s what it sounded like, though it was wrong. Close enough however, so that Phelps came up in a Google search and I was finally able to obtain my birth certificate after all these years. Now I can get a passport. I had photos taken at the drugstore. Without glasses, I look much older and tired. A lot like my mother. I find I don’t mind this.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Believe

Hard Promises

The first time I heard Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers I was in a car with my boyfriend in 1980. We were in the back and his friend and friend’s girlfriend were in the front. It was the year of Damn the Torpedoes. (Says on Wiki that DTT was released fall of 1979, so that makes sense.) I fell in love with Refugee instantly and couldn’t wait to run right out and buy the album. So many good songs on there. I bought the prior album too and possibly the first one, not sure. Maybe later on a greatest hits I ended up with American Girl and Breakdown. Tom Petty was one artist I bought in vinyl, then again in tape, and finally on CD. Ridiculous, how we did that. But I didn’t do that for everyone!

My favorite Tom Petty album is Hard Promises. Unfortunately, I no longer have it (or any vinyl) and I see via iTunes that I don’t even have a complete list of the songs scattered about. Well! I don’t know how this disaster happened, but it will have to be remedied at once. *puts CD in Amazon cart* Every song on Hard Promises was significant to me in some way in 1981 when I listened repeatedly to the album back in Chicago. I can’t say that 1981 was such a terrible year, since 1982 was worse, and 1983 broke my heart, but maybe I had a premonition or something. I don’t know. I listened to so much music back then, just listened, absorbed. Not like now, where I’m usually doing something else, not focused on music unless I force myself to stop.

Of course I loved some of TP’s later work as well. Learning to Fly. Free Fallin’. I Won’t Back Down. Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around with Stevie Nicks. I didn’t really pay much attention to the Traveling Wilburys, except of course End of the Line was fun to listen to.

RIP. ❤