If I die Monday, may my tombstone read,“Died doing what he loves.”

On Monday I go in for Jaw Surgery. If I die, I want my tombstone to read, “Died doing what he loves.[1]

I’ve never seen a footnote on a tombstone. Nor ellipses. I’m updating the medium. The joke makes it more palatable.

I joke because I’m afraid. I’m afraid because it’s frightening. I’ve never been closer to death than I will be on Monday.

I’ve always mused on death. I wrote my first auto-obituary at 13. The same way some people use the largesse of space to decrease their anxiety; I use death to accept depression. When I wake up late enough that I feel grumpy, the phrase “death and taxes” echoes in my mind. It reminds me of two crucial elements – timeliness and humor. One makes today matter and the other makes life worth living.

I’m spending tomorrow and Sunday advising a local high school youth group, and Saturday with my dad. If I die, let it be known I went out doing what I loved.

 

[1] Self improvement.

Okay, cocaine.

One, Two Pizzas

Why did you buy two pizza pies?

You’re only one man, and you have thighs

That will grow fatter

If you eat all that batter.


“They were deep dish,

Which makes me its bitch

When combined with the heaven

Of ‘second pie costs $7.'”


Well, that explains

Your stretched-tummy pains.

Now go and count sheep

You should be asleep.


“I would be! I would!

But it’s hard to be good.

After crunching all week,

I feel so… uh, weak.”


That I can see!

It’s going to be

A much-needed weekend

Spent with a friend.

Then I guess you won’t be pulling the plug? 

As my sister drives to Reno, I explain to her and my mother that I don’t want to be resuscitated. Nor ventilated. Nor any other life-preserving “–ated” with a low forecasted-quality-of-life.

They reject my request, which Mom communicates by saying, “I didn’t hear you…” as though pretending not to hear it will avoid it happening. I hadn’t expected that response.

Why would I rather have my plug pulled?

  1. Low quality of life for those in such a state?
  2. Comfort with the idea of death?
  3. Existence as a societal detriment?

The first and second seem unlikely: In most cases, humans adjust to our circumstances, and comfort with the idea still doesn’t make it desirable. The third seems reasonable, but assumes a low likelihood on me becoming a high-positive force again.

Perhaps the gruesome images of end-of-life patients that I saw earlier today impacted me. Perhaps in a soberer state, I’d rather live as long as possible in case medical science improves sufficiently to salvage me. If I prioritize my life, this seems the most reasonable conclusion.

In any case, my sister feels uncomfortable talking about these plans, but they’re valuable plans to have.

I was trying to prioritize them. I’ve heard tell of family members being in difficult situations because they didn’t know the patient’s wishes. A large part of this explanation was to spare them that difficulty, but they’d apparently rather have that situation than this conversation. And I don’t actually care enough to press the issue or put a legal solution in place. In case it ever comes up, whatever they choose is fine by me.

We did, however, agree on one thing: after we’re dead, dispose of us in the cheapest way possible. Now, I’d also like to add: dispose of me in a funny way. I’d like to go out doing what I love.

Touch more: a manifesto

Starting at puberty, it becomes socially unacceptable to exchange touch with anyone but romantic partners. This is bad. Touch is calming. It’s connecting. It’s fundamental to proper growth and development. Touch should happen more. 

On a road trip with a friend, I hadn’t touched another person in a week. That’s a long fucking time. A week without touch is a cruel punishment that I wouldn’t subject on any animal. It’s not even a sexual thing – I just wanted physical contact. I asked if I could lie on my buddy’s lap. He said sure, so I did. Our conversation continued. I felt human. It was great.

Why does our society suppress touch? I understand the moratorium across gender and the requirements that touch be consensual. But why is it weird (or labeled “gay”) for guys hanging out to touch each other? We’re primates. Primates touch. Even gorillas – the biggest and strongest among us – pick nits out of each other’s fur.

I’m not sure why, but I don’t like it. I also can’t see a good reason against it, so I’m going to touch more.

When is it okay to avoid the world?

At 9:11am, the morning’s not-funniest time, I slipped 50mg of caffeine past the tape on my mouth before crawling back into the safety of my dreams. Another hour-and-a-quarter passed before my bunkmate awoke, only after which did I first leave my bed. How much of this time was spent avoiding the world?

I’m coming off a cold. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been sleeping so much. I’ve also been emotionally exhausted, overcoming a childhood trauma and rebuilding after a breakup.

My bed is warm. My bed feels safe. In it, the world feels far away. My mind moseys, wisting aimlessly from place to place. I like that safety. I like that oblivion. I live for that vacuum between conscious and gone.

I understand hypochondriacs.

I struggled through five doctors over ten years before one correctly diagnosed me with obstructive sleep apnea.

It’s subjectively difficult to tell if something’s wrong with you because corroboration requires a doctor’s agreement. If they don’t see a problem, perhaps nothing’s wrong. Then again, perhaps they’re incompetent, or perhaps you didn’t communicate it clearly. Most doctors see a lot of patients, and communicating a subjective experience to a second party is very difficult. And even if you can’t get second-party confirmation, it’s still really your experience.

I pee frequently. Frequently enough that my friends comment on it. This causes me concern. I don’t know that there’s a problem, but I suspect something’s up. I could see a urologist, but that’s a minimum of two visits at inconvenient times to someone who I’ll probably conclude is incompetent.

Some doctors are great. Most are god-awful. It’s hard to know before seeing them. I’m delaying, which isn’t the logical choice, but it’s easier than calling medical offices. I’m solving my sleep now—one issue at a time. I hope I don’t come to regret waiting.