The End Of Something

So, September.  I am making a face behind your back.

I will admit to having a volatile relationship with the calendar.  Volatile is not too strong a word.  I sneer at it a lot, and shake my head at the ambitious humans who have tried throwing a rope around the universe and its chaos.  The earth is here and the sun is there, just like they were, so hey, we’re doing it all over again, life is cyclical, it has seasons, get it?

I reject this metaphor, and I’m generally a pretty metaphor-friendly guy.  But life is linear, at least this life, and while I enjoy romantic comedies and a solid fairy tale and occasionally poetry, I’m not a fan of this seasonal affective disorder that we call the calendar.  We are in a different place.  Me, certainly.

And this September sucked.  It started with the death of our dog, expected but resonating with this little whiff of mortality that’s been understandably hanging around our house for a while now.  Something happened, something changed, something existed and now does not exist, and probably it was cumulative and surely it was sad, but it left me shrugging my shoulders with nothing much to say.

Then my computer died, and that coincided with profitable work temporarily drying up, the weather beginning to get dicey and now we’re off to the races.  The perfect storm for funkness, for feeling blah and taking it out on my pancreas and my heart and many, many arteries, not to mention people who have to live with me.

So I quit you, September.  You’re an artificial construct of 30 days but I’m glad you’re over anyway.  I’m not going to go full Epicurus here but there’s still plenty of joy to be found, and if I couldn’t scrape it up in September then maybe I’m going about it in the wrong way, you think?  So I’m ditching September and looking forward to October, with its caramel and woodstoves and orange leaves and shoulder pads.  October is fiction, too, but it’s my kind.  I need a good romantic comedy and October, I think, is just what the doctor ordered.


Continue Reading

You Go Apologize to God Right This Second, Mister

The Facebook WayBack Machine engineers have been kind enough to remind me that today is sort of an anniversary, as if I needed reminding, which I did not.

So, it’s been a year. September 15, 2010, had nicer weather and worse everything else, but it’s been a year and we’re over that. We’ve actually spent a year getting over stuff, it seems. We’re pretty good at it now.

What we didn’t have to get over was a lot of self-pity, although surely there was some. Mostly, though, we just lurched through this year, starting with the brain surgery a year ago today. There was not so much the rending of garments or gnashing of teeth. Some brushing of teeth, maybe, and filling of prescriptions and driving to doctor appointments and watching medical bills arrive every day in the mail.

We were sustained and uplifted by friends and family, and in surprising ways sometimes. Neighbors have been amazingly kind. Social media provided a way to keep in touch with friends far away during this year, something I don’t think I saw coming.

Mostly, though, when I think about this year I’m just aware that we survived, intact and stronger. A lot poorer, but stronger. And if I have any regrets, it’s that I let a lot of those days slide by, getting lost in routines and habits, trying to keep my balance and forgetting that falling every once in a while is good for the soul.

It took me a long time to understand that trying to do better was transformational, and that transformation was the name of the game. So if today is a good time to mark the end of one passage and the beginning of another – and I see no reason why it can’t be – then this is my goal. Do better.

With apologies to Mr. Nietzsche, what doesn’t kill us might not make us stronger, but it sure makes us still alive. I am grateful for that, for good doctors and for my wife’s strength, for my son’s stoicism and my daughter’s support, for my family and my friends and for being alive to see another September 15, this one much less exciting, with more clouds, no scalpels, and a lot less tumor. Here’s to less tumor for all of us, good health and good friends. Let’s all meet back here in a year and celebrate some more.

Off to brush my teeth. You can never do that enough if you ask me.

Continue Reading


It occurred to me this morning that my radio silence in this space, aside from the usual seasonal boredom with myself, is because the events of these past two weeks have been right in my wheelhouse.

Domestic technology issues, to point out my reliance on toys and gosh, how wacky I am.

Aging vanity, always good for a thousand words (and a whole book, actually).

And the death of our dog, allowing me to be defiantly sentimental.

All of this I could do in my sleep.  Not to mention certain sleep issues.

What do you feel, though?

There it is.  Mortality has been hanging around this house for a year now, and I’m worn out.  Humor helps but it hasn’t cleared the room, and while nobody is moping around here we still sense it, The End Of All That, and so we do our individual dances and keep moving.

Growing a beard for the first time in four years was a whim, tweaked by some comments from the usual suspects (women) and just curiosity, which has been satisfied.  White and gray, spotted in a security monitor last week for what it was: Old guy on the loose, nothing to see here.  It will be redeemed by shaving it off, which I’m pretty sure I will do soon, but it has the same effect as taking my shirt off and looking in the mirror hard.  Some time has passed, dude.

My loyal Dell laptop gave up on Labor Day, when I really needed to labor, and so for the first time I shopped for a new computer with no joy.  I grabbed the cheapest one with 4 gigs and spent the next 10 hours, pretty much, recovering data and setting up, learning that a 64-bit OS is quite different from a 32, thanks.  I’m now sure that within my limited lifetime, it will seem odd that once we gave new computers as presents.  Like putting a bow on a vacuum cleaner.

Not Macs.

And Strider.  Slowing down for a year now, we saw the vet on Tuesday.  She gave him antibiotics and us a prophecy, which was that our old friend would probably die in his sleep.  He’d stopped eating, though, and by Thursday night he couldn’t stand anymore, so Friday we said goodbye, Julie cradling his head and me, sitting there, wondering about sobbing in sort of public.  I stayed stoic, a choice, as Strider was.  He didn’t move and then he didn’t move.

We cleaned the carpets on Saturday and I baked lemon pound cake; smells seemed to be important, although I still catch his scent.  This isn’t unexpected, like the shadows in the corners I sense, or that little whispery bark he had in his last days, asking for help.  It happens, echoes.  They will go away.

And this year will go away.  Next week will mark the first anniversary of that scary day, Julie’s brain surgery.  I was OK that morning until I glanced at the clock and imagined the first incision; it got shaky after that, for weeks even, and of course I didn’t see the heart attack or breast cancer coming, but time is good here.  She started her radiation therapy yesterday, this time for six weeks, and it feels like an annoyance but doable.  She starts her doctoral work and her classes, and I’m going to do…whatever I’m going to do.  Reflect a little on a bad year, appreciate this dose of summer (finally) that arrived this week, try to get back on track, maybe bake some more lemon pound cake, help John, get the bugs out of this new PC, and do my own dance.  I already cried, a little.


Continue Reading