OK, the thing is, realistically, barring illness or accident, I have 30 years of fairly sensible, satisfactory consciousness left to me. If I'm lucky, I have 40 years. And if I'm really lucky, like my awesome redheaded great-aunt Stella, I have 50 years of consciousness left to me. Fifty years in which I can (like Aunt Stella did, even when she was 90 years old) drive myself to my hair appointments or the grocery store. Fifty years before I start weeping and begging god to let me die because the pain from the horrible terminal illness I've got is worse than the thought of eternal unconsciousness or even never-ending suffering in hell. (Stella, the star, the beautiful, upright, generous devout Mormon I will admire till I die myself, succumbed to a ghastly, grisly struggle with esophageal cancer the day after Easter 1994, at which point she was 93, almost as old as the twentieth century, having greeted the world a few months after it did. Before she died, she was weeping in agony of spirit and body, wondering, "Why won't God let me die? Am I not good enough for him to let me into heaven?")
So, what the fuck am I doing with the consciousness I've got left? Whether it's 30 years or 50 years, what am I doing with it? How am I going to spend it? I like you all quite a lot, really I do; but I just got a new Frank Sinatra cd (it's playing as I type) and what is a better use of my time, really: writing blog entries about eight people will read, or listening to Frank, thoroughly, carefully, devotedly?
This is the thing. I'm smarter than a hell of a lot of people I've met in my life, but I'm not going to solve any of the major mysteries of the universe. Still there are times when I want to ask myself basic questions like, "Why is there something rather than nothing? And why, for god's sake, does the something that exists rather than not existing, include me? Why am I here?" There have of course been times when I've said to myself, "THAT is not a useful question. That is not, to use the language of the Buddha, a skillful question. Go formulate a skillful question and come back to me when you've got one that won't embarrass me."
A long time ago, when I was less crushed by the weight of my own ambition and the price I'd paid for it, a student wrote on an end-of-semester course evaluations one of my favorite things ANYONE has ever said about me:
I don't know what to say. The woman is an enigma. She asks difficult, important questions.
Yes: Used to be, the questions I asked were difficult AND important. Now it seems they're only difficult.... not particularly skillful, just difficult. Oh, and embarrassing to boot. Way embarrassing, at least to a sober person. But that's the thing about alcohol: your embarrassment threshold falls right through the floor, so far it's not even in the basement but another 40 million yards below it. That's right: a friend stopped by around 6:30 p.m. and we enjoyed queso and tequila. And the effects of the tequila have hung around much longer than the cheese.
So right now, at an hour just shy of midnight, when I'm thinking about all kinds of things, including the death and demise of people I loved and admired, I'm not embarrassed to ask the unskillful, difficult question important to no one but me: WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING WITH MY CONSCIOUSNESS AND IS THERE ANYTHING I SHOULD I BE DOING WITH IT INSTEAD.
Last week I went to see a psychic in the hopes that she could give me a decent answer to this question, or maybe help me reframe it. She could not. She could purport to tell me, for instance, that my paternal grandmother, who has been dead since 1936, watches over me. But she could not avoid boring the neon green snot out of me nor convincing me that however able she might be to hear the whisperings of spirits and angels, she can't tell when a living person sitting four feet away from her is bored as all get-out and doesn't want to hear another fucking word about her favorite tv show. And really, when it was all said and done, she should have paid me forty-five dollars for sitting still and listening to her politely for an hour instead of the other way around.
Because honestly, I could have told her myself that I'll be moving in the next two to three years, that I'm destined for better things than what I'm dealing with right now, and that at some point I'll get so fed up I make some changes, quickly, quickly, without the slightest provocation or warning.
My cat is on my lap, calm and purring and marvelous, and my stereo has stopped playing not only Frank, but anything at all, for reasons I can't discern without disturbing my cat: a problem that creates a further problem. I really don't want my cat to get out of my lap, but I want to know what's going on with my stereo downstairs.
Life is fucking like that.
OK. I haven't solved a fucking thing but I'm feeling annoyed, trouble AND self-indulgent, so can I just say that I love all of you who have been my faithful friends for any length of time (as in, even a few cyber weeks), and that I still HATE Scott B, the mean-spirited self-loathing miserable FUCK with an unflattering nose-job (courtesy of his equally self-loathing father, the very expensive NY plastic surgeon who hated his son's semitic profile and thus performed free cosmetic surgery) who broke my heart in ways no one else has ever broken it, a decade ago on Super Bowl Sunday 1/26/97 when, let's see, Green Bay beat New England?
So if you're not Scott, thanks for reading this. And if you are Scott, hey mother-fucker! You still suck! What have you done with your life since not finishing your PhD?
p.s. Happy Birthday, Spike, since I know that's happening today.