My dog reminds me of this whole world

19 01 2015

Death sucks.

I mean, I don’t what, if anything, it’s like for the dead, but for those who live past the dead, it sucks.

Two and a-half weeks ago, Jon Katz announced on his blog, Bedlam Farm, that his charming and ornery mule, Simon, had died.

Shortly thereafter, he noted that Lenore, the “Love Dog”, was out of sorts; she died less than a week after Simon.

Then, this morning, I popped over to Love & Hisses and found Robyn Anderson’s obit for her beautiful 5-year-old tabby, Corbie.

I cried for each of these creatures.

Yes, these are animals, not people, and these are not my animals—I had never met nor expected to meet any of them—but they were familiar to me, a presence, and now they are absent.

Such absence, of course, puts me in mind of my own critters—Chelsea and Bean, Jazz before them, and the family pets before them—and made me sad all over again.

While Katz doesn’t believe in the Rainbow Bridge, as Robyn does, he does believe that his animals will have a life beyond this life. I have no such belief in life beyond life—tho’, as an agnostic, I can’t/won’t completely rule it out—but understand the desire to believe that those who were here are not gone forever, but simply moved on to another place.

As a general matter, I consider death simply a part of our condition as living creatures: we are born into life and leave it at death, or, more succinctly, everything living, dies. For some it may come too soon, others, too late, and for some, as a relief.

I would like to live a while longer, but not everlastingly longer, and to have some sense of my death, when it does finally come. It will be my end, and I will be no more—a closing, not a loss.

No, the loss is for the living, when others are no more.





You better run

29 12 2014

I’m a little concerned about Derek’s girlfriend.

Savannah. She’s smart, she’s pretty, she’s not overly impressed with him—none of which will save her.

You see, it’s the ladies who get it on Criminal Minds.

Well, yeah, you say, the show is all about murderously pervy skeevs whose victims tend toward the female of the species, so is this really such a surprise?

But I’m not referring to the victim-of-the-week, but to the women attached to the male regulars:

  • Jason Gideon’s old (girl?) friend: murdered by psychopath obsessed with Gideon
  • Aaron Hotchner’s ex-wife, Haley: murdered by psychopath obsessed with Hotchner
  • Spencer’s would-be girlfriend, Maeve (played by Parker!): murdered by psychopath obsessed with. . . something
  • David Rossi’s ex-wife: suicide, in his arms
  • Rossi’s girlfriend (and everyone’s boss, Erin Strauss): murdered by alcohol poisoning by psychopath obsessed with the BAU

The men attached to the female regulars? They get roughed up—JJ’s companion/husband gets shot, kidnapped, and almost blown up—but they get to live. Okay, yeah, and a way-back boyfriend of Emily’s is murdered by a bad priest, but nobody current (probably because she’s allowed no one current).

And should I point out here that while both JJ & Hotchner’s male children (threatened, but not harmed) get to live, she miscarries (after getting blown up) her female fetus?

Of course, working for the Behavioral Analysis Unit is generally bad for one’s health—with the exception of Gideon and Rossi, they all get what-for: Hotchner gets blown up and stabbed and has a heart attack; Spencer gets tortured, injected with dilaudid, infected with anthrax, and shot (it’s probably pushing it to point out that Spence is the most feminine of the men, but geez, he really does get it); Penelope—shot; Elle—shot; JJ—blown up, tortured; and Emily gets shot (a couple of times, I think, not life-threatening) and, of course, impaled.

Huh, I guess Alex and Derek don’t get it too bad: minor gunshot wounds, and he gets bounced around a bit, but nothing like what the others have been through. And it’s too soon to tell what the new one, whatshername, will have happen to her—she came with a pre-murdered sister—but she has a niece/daughter, so okay, there’s another attached female to worry about.

And Rossi’s newly-discovered daughter. Another one.

Oh, wait, there is one attached woman who lives: Derek’s cousin is brought back from the dead. . . after having endured a decade of abuse and torture. But she gets out! And reunited with her family!

And Hotchner’s girlfriend departs unscathed, tho’ she does apparently end up drunk and married to a scumbag POTUS.*

I suspect no conspiracy or nasty—well, nastier than what leads you to create (or me to watch) a show about murderously pervy skeevs—motives about these attached women. I doubt it’s much more complicated than the desire to hurt or demonstrate the vulnerability of the men—and for these men, women are their vulnerabilities.

Okay, so that is fucked-up.

Savannah, honey, get out now, while you can. Derek’s got a hurt coming to him, and chances are, you’re it.

~~~

I’m not sure about this, as I don’t watch Scandal—although I probably should, since it’s apparently pretty twisted.





Bless the beasts and the children

18 11 2014

Why one law for all?

Yes, I have and will continue to bang on about principle and theory, but sometimes concrete examples work best.

Such as dead children.

Jeez louise, you might be thinking, do you really have to get all extreme about this? I mean, aren’t you exaggerating just a wee?

Nope.

Despite the deaths of least 12 children from “faith healing” Christian families in their state, lawmakers and public officials in Idaho have refused to challenge a state law providing a religious exemption from manslaughter and murder charges, Vocativ reported.

There is little push to change the laws.

“This is about religious beliefs, the belief God is in charge of whether they live, and God is in charge of whether they die,” state Rep. Christy Perry (R) said. “This is about where they go for eternity.”

The move from doctor-centered to patient-centered decision-making has, on the whole, been good for patients, and one of the most important powers which has migrated to patients has been the right to refuse treatment.

I am foursquare in favor of such a right—for an adult, for herself, for any reason.

When making decisions on another’s behalf, however—especially a child whose care the state has charged one with providing—the exercise of such power ought to be scrutinized.

Or, to put it less abstractly, parents ought not be able to refuse life-saving care for their kids, especially when such care is routine and effective, because God said so.

Parental custody is conditional, not absolute.

This shouldn’t be a controversial statement: parents who starve or beat or neglect—including medically neglect—their children may be charged with crimes and have the kids taken away from them.

But throw a veneer of religiosity over such neglect, and well, whatcha gonna do?

Jackson Scott Porter, a newborn girl. . . lived for just 20 minutes before dying in her grandfather’s home. The girl’s mother did not receive any pre-natal care. Her cause of death was listed as untreated pneumonia.

“That’s the way we believe,” the grandfather, Mark Jerome, told KATU at the time. “We believe in God and the way God handles the situation, the way we do things.”

KATU also reported that local officials believe that another minor, 14-year-old Rockwell Sevy, had undiagnosed Down’s syndrome before he also died from pneumonia, in 2011.

Sevy’s father, Dan Sevy, refused to discuss his son’s death with KATU last year, citing his right to freedom of religion.

“I would like to say, I picture freedom as a full object. It’s not like you take ‘a’ freedom away,” Dan Sevy said. “It’s that you chip at the entire thing. Freedom is freedom. Whenever you try to restrict any one person, then you’re chipping away at freedom. Yours and mine.”

This is the dumbest goddamned argument about freedom this side of Galt’s Gulch, which dumbness would make it pathetic were it not pernicious—which is to say, had it not resulted in a boy’s death.

This religious exemption necessarily removes the children in these homes from protections of the law, specifically, of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment: in allowing parents to neglect their children for religious reasons, the children in these religious households are given fewer protections of the law than children in other households.

I had thought such exemptions were narrow (confined to vaccinations, say), but they are, dismayingly, widespread.

The right of the parent to inflict her religious beliefs on the child, even if it kills him, apparently matters more than the child himself.





The heaviness, oh the heaviness

22 04 2014

Kathy’s death has really thrown me to the ground.

Chris‘s death was a surprise; Tracey‘s wasn’t.

Kathy’s was somewhere in-between: I’d known her cancer had recurred, but somehow didn’t think through what that meant. And because I didn’t think, I didn’t make the effort to contact her, to let her tell me how she was, to tell her how very much she meant to me.

With Chris and Tracey, things felt “even” somehow. Chris and I had been in at most indirect contact for years—with which we were apparently both okay—and C. and I did what we could to be with Tracey as she rounded that last curve.

They died too soon, but the loss is the loss of them, not also of unsaid words and unspent moments.

Not so with Kathy. I feel like I let her down, that there was something I could have given her that I withheld.

I don’t want to blow this out and make it sound as if  ‘but for me, she died alone': Her family was with her at the end, and I’d bet her many friends and colleagues were with her before then. No, Kathy would not have been alone.

And yet, I would have liked to have given back to her at least some of what she gave to me. She deserved that.





Tracey ‘Quinn’, 1965-2014

2 02 2014

She lied.

“If you text me, Terri, I’ll text you back.” I laughed as I headed for the door. “I will. If you text me, I’ll text you back.”

~~~

I first met Tracey at my second Big & National bookstore. She was a cashier, not much bigger than me, with a leprechaun tattoo and a scowl.

If you’ve ever worked retail, you know how it goes: You’re new, so nobody knows you or has much use for you. You have to show that you’re not going to make your co-workers’ lives harder, and prove that maybe there’s some point to you, after all.

Nothing personal; that’s just how it is.

I worked front desk with a bunch of people, among them C. We became friendly pretty quickly—she’s one of those people who others are drawn to—so when Tracey would lope over for some conversation, I tried to join in.

She wasn’t having it. She didn’t say anything nasty to me; she just looked at me like Who are you and Can’t you see I’m talkin’ to C.?

The Bronx accent; did I mention the accent?

C. was my in with Tracey, the signal that maybe I was okay. We talked history and World War II—Tracey read everything she could about WWII—and finally bonded over, you guessed it, cats. She and her girlfriend had a beautiful kitty Sammy, and whenever I asked about him her scowl would transform into this huge, toothy, smile, and she’d show me pictures of Sammy on her phone.

The day she put her arm around me and told me Sammy died, I cried.

She and E., her partner, got Piper, and oh did Tracey love that cat, pouring herself into that kitty. Unsurprisingly, Piper is as irascible as Tracey was.

C. has her now.

~~~

Her last name wasn’t Quinn, but it’s what she’d sometimes tell people. I didn’t know her real last name until this past summer, when she went into the hospital for another round of cancer treatment.

But, for whatever reason, she wanted to keep her name to herself, so I’ll keep her alias, for her.

~~~

When Tracey got sick, it was E. who told everyone.

E. and Tracey fit together, although you had to get past the “Really?” to see that. Tracey was almost twice as old as E., but it was E. who first hit on Tracey. And E.’s as open as Tracey was wary.

They took such care of each other, and as Tracey got sicker and sicker, E. stayed right there.

They loved each other; they were lucky to have each other.

~~~

It was fall when it was determined there was nothing more to be done. A year, maybe.

C. and I trekked out a couple of times to a neighborhood hospital in Queens, where Tracey presided over her room. This table had to be here and that table there, and the chairs just so and don’t mess with the curtains or anything.

When she wanted to move out of her bed she needed her morphine drip unplugged, so I did that. Whenever she shifted, I’d jump up. “Not so fast. Stay away from that plug, Terri. Whaddya trying to do with that plug?”

Don’t ask so many questions and don’t make any decisions for her. She knows what she wants, so just do what she says.

And give her a kiss before you go.

~~~

At her sister’s, yesterday, she held court over the chairs in front of the t.v. She was comfortable, she said. She could lean back in one chair and put her legs up on the other, and her nephew’s cat would jump up on her and they would fall asleep together.

I brought her peanut butter (Skippy’s, creamy) and C. brought her cookies and E. helped her into her over-shirt so she could “look presentable”.

Her stomach was hurting her and it hurt when she laughed but she wanted to laugh, so she did. I nagged her about her pain meds, but not too much: Tracey wanted to remember. She didn’t want to go before she was gone.

Tracey asked about Piper and C. mentioned that the cat was, ah, difficult. Tracey and E. laughed. Yeah, that’s how she is. Get a towel, Tracey said, and throw it over her. Something soft. She spied her blue robe. Like this. Take this.

Put your scent on it, E. suggested, so Tracey wrapped herself in it, rubbing her face and hands into the soft blue.

As we got up to leave, she directed me to take the robe. Fold it nice! she demanded.

I went back over to her chair. You want to move this? What about the stuff up here?

Don’t touch anything! (I’m not! I’m just pointing!) Don’t you point at anything!

I laughed. There it is, I said. Now I feel better that you yelled at me.

I hugged her, longer than I ever hugged her, and kissed her goodbye. She hugged C., then got a little time, too little time, with E.

We’ll see you soon, we said. I’d text you, I said, but you never text back.

“If you text me, Terri, I’ll text you back. I’ll text you back.”

~~~

She died in her sleep, early this morning. She was there, and then she was gone. Just as she wanted.

Tracey to the end.





I just died in your arms tonight

11 01 2014

What song do you most want—or not want—to hear as you shuffle off to Buffalo?

Megan Seling, formerly of the Slog, wrote in to her old paper to note her horror at almost meeting her maker to the sounds of Coldplay.

Coldplay! Yeesh.

(Okay, yes, I have that one Coldplay cd, A rush of blood to the head, or whatever, and I even listen to it sometimes. But it’s pretty fucking insipid music and I’d be pissed too if that were the last thing I ever heard.)

Commenters noted their feared last notes, with the Eagles’s “Hotel California” getting a couple of votes, as did Toto generally. Oh, and DOUG linked to a great Ellen Forney comic on the horror of going down to bad tunes.

I don’t know that there’s any song that I would absolutely hate hate hate to have playing when I die—I mean, there are so many crappy songs out there it would be tough to choose—and, frankly, it would it makes own absurdist non-sense if I died to something ridiculous.

I have thought about what I’d want played at my funeral. Poi Dog Pondering’s Bury Me Deep gets a nod, and at one point I considered (for reasons which aren’t really clear to me, except for the Emmylou part) Emmylou Harris’s cover of Ballad of a Runaway Horse, but I’ve since dropped that. Prayer in Open D is also nice, albeit much more spiritual than I am.

There’s also Talking Heads’s Heaven, which is a bit of a downer, actually (and I want people to have fun at my final going-away party!); Eurythmics’s Heaven, if only because it has that nice Eighties beat; but I’d prefer Heaven or Las Vegas by the Cocteau Twins, because, really, that’s the kind of choice every corpse should get to make.

Then there’s Happy Trails, but since the Van Halen version was my high school graduating class’s unofficial song (the school wouldn’t let us play it at graduation), I don’t know that I’d want to double-dip.

I might go with something grand and sentimental—the Waterboys’s This is the Sea is a song that demands teary drunken tributes—but maybe I’d like a bit of a twist in that Irish whiskey.

So Kate Bush’s Jig of Life it is. Big drums and compellingly obscure lyrics and oh, a jig to send me on:

“We are of the going water and the gone.
We are of water in the holy land of water
And all that’s to come runs in
With the thrust on the strand.”

Just so.





Bless the beasts and the children

30 10 2013

These folks are unclear on the concept:

“Larry and Carri Williams are two of the truest and purest people on this earth,” said Ruth Dueck.

“I have known Larry and Carri to be loving parents with the ability to raise children appropriately,” said the family pastor, Richard Long. “I also firmly believe they have the ability to be healthy, contributing members of society.”

Really? ‘Cause Larry and Carri were convicted

of denying their children Hana and Immanuel food, beating them and making them sleep in closets or washrooms. They were fed a diet of sandwiches that had been soaked in water and vegetables that were still frozen. Some of the couple’s seven biological children sometimes took part in the abuse.

The judge, however, seems to have a better grasp of just what kind of people the Williamses are, and it ain’t loving, true, or pure:

“What I see is one child dead, one child with PTSD, and seven biological children who apparently believe that degrading and dehumanizing another person is completely acceptable,” said Judge Cook.

She sentenced the mother to 37 years and the father to 28 years in prison.

~~~

h/t Cienna Madrid, Slog








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