Friday, February 11, 2011

100 Word Challenge: Yo, Iceman!

Velvet Verbosity's 100 Word Challenge, if applied liberally to stubborn driveway ice, will melt it in seconds.* This week's word is "engages", and my entry is called, strangely, "Yo, Iceman!," a joke that exactly one person, my wife, will get.

(* Offer not valid in time/space continua where ice contains frozen water)

You've heard the phrase "you had to be there"? It was one of those- something, probably heard on TV, engages something so deep in our brains that we were off and running. It started with a phrase and then we started riffing, like standup comedians trying to top one another, making the phrase more twisted and rococo with each recitation. It ended with us howling with laughter, tears coursing down our red cheeks, slapping thighs, abdomens aching. I remember things like that, and it's like she's still here. It's the only thing that makes me laugh.

What It Takes On A Friday

This week's theme is "password", and my 250 word story resides here

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Last Blog Post #LastBlog

Guy Kawasaki and Martin Lieberman, among others, have started a thing. This is called "Last Blog", and you are supposed to write your "Last Blog Post", a la Randy Pausch's "The Last Lecture"- a final blog post detailing how you want to be thought of/remembered. (By the by- if you haven't read, or at least listened to or watched, the Last Lecture, you need to. Like, now.) Maybe this isn't the best time to be posting on this topic, coming right after the previous one, but here goes:

The Last Blog Post

So, this is it, then. Running down the curtain. Bereft of life, may he rest in peace. Joined the Choir Invisible.

What have we learned? Or, what have I learned?

In order to not be verbose, let me boil it down to ten things. If you remember nothing else of me, remember these ten things:

1. Walks are important. Hits are nice. Hits get glory, and fame, and recognition, and praise. But walks are important. They keep the train running, and they keep the inning going, and they aren't outs. Sometimes, a walk is the best you can do- so just take it. Take what the defense gives you. Don't force it. You'll pop up.

2. Hold a baby whenever you get the chance. WHENEVER. Babies are excellent listeners, and they remind you how fucking fragile everything is. When you're holding a baby, you're not doing anything else.

3. Sit down. You may be walking or standing for a while. Always sit down when you can.

4. Taxes are the price you pay for living in a world with streets and police and fire departments and water and electricity. Shut up and pay them.

5. All politicians are liars. All of them. They take money from corporations and moneyed interests and do the bidding of those interests. Don't believe what any of them say. As my father used to say, "If Richard Nixon told me it was raining, I'd walk across the room and look out the window."

6. That being said, it's still a pretty good deal to be an American.

7. Call your parents. They have sacrificed more than you can possibly imagine until you have kids of your own. Call them.

8. It is almost always better to be honest.

9. A surprising amount of things are better in the abstract than the concrete. Like the outdoors, for example.

10. Keep the ball down and throw strikes.

Suicidal Tendencies

Suicide, or as the Bard called it, "self slaughter", seems to be a theme in my readings these days. There's Lori, who writes incredibly moving and emotionally real words about her attempts to cope with her husband's suicide. There's former Red Sox pitcher John Trautwein, who Dan Shaughnessy reveals is working to try and prevent teen suicide after losing his eldest son. And there's Papa, who saw his declining health and imagined declining skills and committed one of the most famous suicides in history.

There's this gentleman, of course, more recently a famous suicide. And it's not hard to find Kurt Vonnegut, the son of a suicide, talking about his life long habit of smoking Pall Malls as a "classy way to commit suicide". (Vonnegut attempted suicide, but died of natural causes, relatively speaking.)

There is a notion among the psychiatric community that talking about suicide means you are at imminent risk of doing yourself harm. Like all generalizations, this is partially true. Some people who talk about suicide eventually do so. Some people who eat sandwiches also commit suicide, so use generalizations with caution.

I don't think I'm in imminent danger of anything besides overeating. (And I'm nearly always in imminent danger of that.) I think we can talk about suicide without being in danger of doing it. I can't say I've never thought about it- I don't think any thinking person can honestly say they have never thought about it. I can't promise I will never think about it again, either.

But if you're reading this, and you're seriously considering this as an option, please go read Lori's blog. Pick up a Vonnegut book. Listen to a Nirvana song. Remember that the pain of those you leave behind (and there will be- you may feel alone, but I can guarantee you there is someone who will miss you) is unending and without surcease. Please think twice about it.