31 August 2005

David Attenburough, The Life of Birds and the Brat

I have, for at least 10 years, on occasion, wanted to be Sir David Attenburough, that producer, and writer of so many great, intellegent nature documentaries, I'm sure you've heard of them. Life on Earth, Trials of Life, Life of Birds, Life of Mammals. The man is plain awesome. TVs replete with a great deal of garbage passing itself off as nature documentaries, After you watch a Sir David Attenburoug documentary, you will never look at those other documentaries as more than wastes of film.
So on a lark, I checked out the whole series from the library, hoping against hope, that Ani would find it fascinating. Well, it is a rousing success Sir David. The wonder and crazy excitement of the Potoo grabbed her like almost nothing else in the show. Which, by the way is saying something, as she has been jazzed by the whole thing. The series will become part of my dvd collection. Tomorrow my brat wants to go out birding so of course we will go.
what a smart kid.

30 August 2005

Athiesm and death. How cheery.

This hasn't been a good week, or a good month really.
I was lucky enough to grow-up with a pair of grandparents interested in me, and-luckyier still-who were close enough to do something about it. I could spend a few weeks in the summer with them, visit them for dinner, help with home renovations, and take advantage of my grandpa's encyclopedic knowledge of autos. My grandma and I would spend late evenings watching Johnny Carson. Grandpa never stayed up that late, unless maybe I was sick. He went to bed around ten every night, or was it nine? My memory is a little fuzzy there. Early is what I am saying. The man went to bed early, and got up early to work every day he and grandma were together. The man was a work horse. I tried to emulate the way he ate Big Macs and fries. Hell, I ordered Big Macs because he did. I always thought the way he held cigarettes was the coolest thing, relaxed and natural like something out of a Dashell Hammet novel. He was certainly tough like one of Hammet's rogues. More Continental Op than Sam Spade.

My grandma died a week after my daughter was born. She held Ani (my brilliant brat, not the punk-folk singer) for the first and only time the day she died. She had spent the evening chatting up a friend of hers about all the new baby errands they were going to do the very next day. They talked till midnight. Grandma died a few hours later. She had seemed so proud and happy holding Ani, she positively glowed. And that is a phrase I fucking hate, but it is all that is appropriate because she did.

In the six-plus years between that day and this, my clan has watched the former great patriarch in a slow slip-slide descent from the mythological character we all grew up with, into this old man, I certainly don't really know. He doesn't get up early anymore and hasn't for years. He has diabetes that he scarcely acknowledges dietarily, and hearing aides he prefers not to use. Of late there have been mini-strokes, ambulances and hospital stays.
That is, if you were unclear, prescisously the opposite of uplifting.

One of my best friends, Rosy, is watching her father suffer through what will likely be his last ordeal. There are details, and they mostly involve tubes, and life support, and emergency surgical procedures and they are all unpleasant. I won't belabor them.

Rosy and I have been friends since we were in high school. I could find her at Little Shebas, when it was a dive mind you, not the yuppy place it is now, all lit sparsely and seeming red. She would be smoking and drinking coffee, watching the cars go by and writing better poetry than I ever did. I don't really know how we became friends. She had been planning on beating me up, I think, for the horribly thoughtless way I dumped her best friend. Ask her for the details, she knows better than I do why she opted for the oh well that is between he and Martine approach. All I know is that I am glad she did. Rosy has been there for me at just about every major cross-roads in my life. Never judgemental, but certainly willing to call me on my bullshit, and rationalization. She always dealt honestly with me, and with everybody. Its probably why she's such a good lawyer. And poet when she was.

Which brings me to my atheism. I want to be there for my best friend. But as an atheist I feel pretty impotent in situations so desperately sad and tense. I feel as useless a guy with a black belt in Aikido would feel in a fight. Which is, of course, to say completely and totally. I feel like anything I could say would be clumsy, shallow, and useless.

"I'll be praying for you."
When people say that shit, it sounds like they are doing something about your troubles. There is an aura of intimate involvement in that statement. hey, it says, i'm going to put in a good word for you and yours to, well , the Man of course. To the Man for chrissakes! In the Atheistic vernacular there is nowhere as powerful a locution. It kinda sucks. "You're in my thoughts," or "I'm hoping for the best," just don't have the same Hey I'm gonna talk to the ole' I am that I am man about your situation feel. "You're in my thoughts," doesn't have the same intimately involved, on top of things feel. My mom is always boring people with that "I am praying for you" stuff. And between you and me, I really wish she would knock it off.

Its easy when its your own situation. As an athiest, I can accept what is going on with my grandpa. I'm not happy about it. But, as much I can, I accept it. Because what the hell else can I do? Certainly I won't waste time praying to the god of the flipped coin. The god of .5. I can accept the fact that when we die, the show is over, lights out, curtains down, exit stage left. It isn't anything I caw about at family funerals or anything. It is certainly nothing I would say too much about in front of my mom, who I am guessing would scoff all angry faced, and say "Oh Max stop it!"

For others though, my support, and care, I worry, must seem so hollow. "Oh they live on in our memories?" Great. "We have to hope for the best? Well no shit." I don't know if that is how my friends have felt. I don't know if they want to hear something about seeing a lost loved one in heaven, or a next life. Mostly I just wish I had something I could say, or somthing I could do that would let them , my friends, know that I'm with them and for them, and that my fondest wishes involve their happiness.

29 August 2005

31 and counting

Its weird. I never expected to be self-conscious of my age. 21, 22, 23...29 and I never gave the march of time a whole hell of a lot of thought. But 32 is doing a fast creep my way and I am dwelling more, and much more than I would like, on my own personal yearly chronograph. I have to tell you, I hate the idea of getting old. I'd much rather live life perpetually around this age for seventy or eighty years and then poof. I like how I look at 31, how I feel. I can still do all the things I did at 18 and 20 and in fact I do those things much better.
There are many out there who really try to esteem old age. They say isn't that a handsome old man, or try to convince themselves and others that old women are pretty. I think dignified is a better word. Mature sure. I won't argue with those. Nor would I argue that elders deserve respect. Folks with the grit to last 70, 80, 90 plus years certainly have all the respect I have to give.
But here is the thing, getting old sucks. Perhaps I am just jaded about aging because I am at the age where my own father is showing his age and my grandpa is so terribly far from the strong confident man I grew up admiring. So its entirely possible that I am biased on this subject. But maybe not...
If you are at all an athlete, age is going to rob you. It will begin differently for different folks but its unavoidable.
Your joints....these are going to cause you problems, just you wait.
Excessive wrinkling. Some of us can pull it off. Tommy Lee Jones, sure. Clint Eastwood, yeah. Elephants, hell yeah, but most of us just can't make it work.
Failing eyes and ears. Ugh!
Metamucil, and all the digestive problems that entails.
And after 50 there is direct relationship between age and the number of medications you have take. So for everyyear over fifty you are, you will need a new med you weren't taking the year before. Okay that is hyperbole, but you see my point.
Finally if you are lucky enough to survive all the slings and arrows modern life has to hurl at you, cancer is likely your big reward for living a long productive life. Thanks alot degrading telomeres. Thanks alot imperfect DNA replication machinery. Thanks alot mammalian physiology.

27 August 2005

My very first blog

By way of introduction...
Eventually I hope this will be a place where I can share my thoughts, terribly biting observations about all kinds of things, and just express. The scope will be wide, from pop-culture sillines, music, movies, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, politics, and maybe the personal.
But its late and I just ran a metric ton of sprints, quickly followed by squats and heavy bench pressing. So the deep insights must wait till tomorrow.
But hello