Originally I was going to call this “Apologies To The Reader,” but decided the singular form sounded stronger and less perfunctory. Coming up with a title for a blog post isn’t easy, is it? I almost always choose the title first, then sometimes end up writing about something else, which must be confusing to anyone on the receiving end.
The main thing I want to apologize for is the title to an entry I wrote last weekend. The post is insultingly entitled “Your Mine Is On Vacation.” I may be a masochist in certain ways, but my intention wasn’t to alienate the reader by suggesting you’re as clueless as I am. In fact, my initial title for the post was “Mother Earth Is a Bodacious Babe,” but since the thrust was about land mines instead of the beauty of nature, I changed it at the last minute. I wish I’d taken more time to think it through. Sorry if I hurt your feelings. I put my foot in my mouth and now I have athlete’s tongue.
The reason I wanted to pluralize apology in the title of this post is that I feel I owe you more than one.
I realize I’ve devoted a lot of space lately to personal health complaints, misgivings, concerns, and fears. When I went to a doctor recently to have my blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked, everything turned out to be normal. (My cholesterol was even lower than average–a super surprise.) So, as Mark Twain would say, “Reports of my (encroaching) death are exaggerated.” Apparently, I’m not about to die any time soon, unless I get run over by a bus.
Just in case you think I’ve been jerking your chain for the hell of it in order to generate sympathy, not that I’d put such dastardly measures past myself, the symptoms I’ve been feeling have been compelling enough to make me think I actually was going to die. It’s also been a bumpier, more potholed road in some ways than usual with my wife Jina lately (and while we’re on the subject of apologies, sorry I gripe about her so much; she’s been my nemesis for a long time and as such is an unavoidable topic of discussion–er, whining), and the force of our arguments has been enough to make me wish I was dead on some level–preferably the basement.
Over the Korean holiday weekend I read Steve Martin’s memoir, Born Standing Up, a strong story of his flirtation with excessive fame and its unexpected downside, the thing that made him suddenly turn his back on it after struggling to achieve it for ten tough years. He mentions having suffered from panic attacks for twenty years, both before and after his comic peak. Maybe that’s what I’ve been going through.
Finally, I’m sorry I haven’t been more generous about visiting other people’s blogs of late. I’ve been having an especially stressful summer. Since my wife and I moved several months ago, I haven’t had time to fit in my morning pre-writing meditation session, which has adversely affected the quality of what I write (as well as made me feel less confident about the content). Two many hours rocketing back and forth on Seoul’s subway system has dulled my sensibilities, as has the unforgiving humidity and heat. In case you haven’t guessed yet, the blog is off-limits to Jina, so sometimes I’m looking over my shoulder when I write. When I hear her groggy voice calling to me from our bed, that often means I have to sign up abruptly, lest she suddenly shift modes and barge in here to see what I’m doing.
When I see my email inbox, I feel guilty for not checking out all the inviting offerings of other bloggers. Call me a selfish shithead (wouldn’t that be a good name for a new Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor? Let me know which ingredients you think it would include). Needless to say, there are a lot of talented people out there writing and posting well-composed photos and works of art. Like many people, I’ve been writing for a long time–just under four decades–with varying degrees of intensity and levels of commitment. Since I’ve never gotten much exposure outside this blog and never made a cent off of all these words, I sometimes feel like a failure.
But at least my writing career’s not as abysmal as my love life has become.
This is an aside as far as apologies are concerned, but I also wanted to defend Robin Williams’ exit strategy, having read the news that he was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Suicide is and should always remain an absolute last resort, but taking it away as an option is inhumane and offensive to human dignity. Considering what other demons he was already haunted by, it’s not fair to fault him for taking his life. (These sentences are in some ways a response to something someone wrote on the Huffington Post as a reaction to a tweet written by one of the producers of the R. W. film Aladdin, “Genie, you’re free,” saying it might inspire other people who were on the edge to top themselves instead of realizing that “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Except Parkinson’s is permanent, not temporary.)
It also seems un-Christian to me that according to the church and the Bible, anyone who commits suicide is condemned to suffer the consequences in hell for eternity. The idea of hell itself is a sadistic enough fabrication without having to add insult to injury by telling someone who’s grappling with ineludable (sorry–new word) anguish that everlasting torment will follow their decision to cancel their subscription to Life.
“Rest in peace” may be a cliche, but at least it expresses a nobler sentiment, and one tinged with Christian forgiveness (not that that religion has cornered the market on that quality).
I’ll probably go back and change the title of that post I mentioned in the name of thoroughness.
There–that’s enough self-flagellation for now. I hope you can forgive me for having been a shmuck, a yutz, and a putz, three wonderful Yiddish words that all mean the same thing.