Monday, January 29, 2018

Reincarnation Wish List

In the process of re-examining my life and paring down my possessions, I’m coming to realize that certain choices I could have made would have simplified things greatly. So I want to record some of these decisions, just in case whoever’s in charge of reincarnation is paying attention.

Brompton folding bike (brushed nickel finish, maybe electric assist)

Art medium
Oil pastels (but open to others too)

Hmmm. Love New York and Boston, but wouldn’t argue about someplace with milder winters.

Writing and illustrating children’s books … not huge money, but rewarding to get read and looked at by generations of kids, (if you can ignore their parents asking why you don’t become a real writer.)
Maybe a tiny bit privileged, but definitely with a conscience! (Hey, if you have a choice …)

I’ll let you know.

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Best Things About Cancer

Most people think of cancer as a devastating disease that shatters lives and scars families. Well, I guess it kind of is, but there’s always another side to everything. I want to put in a few words for the few (VERY few!) positive effects of cancer.

Easy way to lose weight.

You can drop pounds and tens of pounds without even trying. In fact, you’ll probably have to work at keeping your weight high enough, as chemotherapy and other treatments rob you of your appetite.

Friends and family seem willing to indulge you.

In their efforts to lighten your mood and lift your sprits, friends and family will offer to get you ice cream, cookies, cake … whatever you want. People genuinely want to improve your quality of life. If you tell them that means junk food, trashy movies or whatever, you’ll be surprised.

Legit use of Opioids.

Woooo. Woo-ooooo. Woooooooo. Wooo. Wooooooooooooooo. Woooo. Woo-ooooo. Woooooooo. Wooo.

People always tell you how great you look.

It’s true. You could be in the middle of chemotherapy, hair fallen out, skin turned grey, and people will make you feel like a prom queen (or king). Enjoy it! Hey, who are we to argue?

Treated with respect at the hospital.

Cancer still carries a certain mystique as an illness. It is “the emperor of all maladies,” in the words of Siddartha Mukherjee, who practically wrote the book on the subject.

Ok, he did write the book called The Emperor of All Maladies.

So in many hospitals, cancer patients are treated with special care and attention. Volunteers bake cookies, cakes and brownies for waiting areas. Sometimes volunteers make knit wool caps or scarves during colder weather. And there always seem to be people around to help you get a beverage, get in or out of a  wheelchair, etc.

The exception, of course, is the cancer hospital. There you’re just one of the gang.

Develop a deep love and appreciation for all humankind.

One consequence of facing your own death is the growing appreciation of how fragile and precious life is. We all have the same fate, whether we realize it or not, whether we resist it or not. All we can do is try to bond with each other, and to empathize and appreciate each other’s struggles … to hold each other up and acknowledge our common humanity.

And yes, that goes for the jerks too.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What to Expect When You're Expiring, 2nd ed.


The acclaim for the first edition of What to Expect When You’re Expiring was so great, we decided to release a second edition, this time with some actual content between the title and “The end,” though in a strange way, that kind of sums it up.

There’s a very good chance that the text you’re now reading is unfinished. That’s because we’re trying to write this from personal experience, and there’s a limit to just how far we can go with that. Nevertheless, we’ll plunge in and see what turns up.


In the late 1960’s, psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross figured out that terminally ill patients usually react to news of their impending deaths in five stages:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance
Never mind that these are also the stages of Christmas shopping, they are a useful guide to understanding our feelings about death. Specifically, we don’t like it.

But what can be done about it? As it turns out, not much.


Many people, facing imminent death, turn to religion, even if they’ve led secular lives up to now. Of course, if you want to join a religion, you should choose one with simple entrance requirements, so you can have a shot at salvation even this late in life.

You want a religion that will fast-track your path to absolution. The main point is that you want to be readily accepted into the fold. The customary approach to this is similar to choosing colleges when you’re in high school. You want to be sure to include a couple of safety religions, a couple of reach faiths, and perhaps a few match sects. With each of these, you want to make sure your level of penitence and contrition matches the incoming class averages.

Withdrawing from the world

This is a time you’re entitled to focus on your own needs, and ignore politics and world events. Everyone will forgive you.

  1. Don’t worry about politics.
  2. Throw away plastic bottles.
  3. No longer listen when E.F. Hutton speaks.
  4. Forget about watching all those British period dramas on public television. Just watch whatever crap helps pass the time.

Questions and Answers

Each case is different, I’m sure there are many readers who still have unanswered questions. We’ll try to address some of the more common ones below.

I’m dying of an incurable disease. Is it possible my doctors are wrong about how long I’ve got?
Not really. No.
After I die, will I still be able to communicate with people, like in “Ghost?”
Uh … no.
I have cancer, but I’m too young to die. Does that make a difference?
I’ve led an honorable, altruistic life. Will that save me?
Congratulations. And no.
If I come back as someone else, can I be sure to learn Twitter at an early age?
They say “you can’t take it with you,” but can I sneak a little something along?


People seem to feel uncomfortable using words like “death” and “dying,” especially if it applies to themselves. We hope this little list of euphemisms may help overcome this problem.

  • Bought the farm (or, more delicately, “Purchased agricultural real estate”)
  • Kicked the bucket
  • Pushing up daisies
  • Lost in cyberspace
  • Gone to that big <whatever-you-like>
  • Gone to a better place
  • Emptied his/her “to do” list
  • Took the D train
  • Closed out the accounts
  • Played his/her finale
  • Drained the keg

Further expressions are left as an exercise for the reader.

The end

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

What to Expect When You’re Expiring

The end.