I Think, Therefore IM (With Zach)


Promise that you will sing about me.

Z: Ackerman’s dad passed away. Shits crazy!

L: That sucks. Knew he was really sick.

Z: Yeah, I feel so bad. His sister is my age.

L: I know. His dad must’ve been about my age, right?

Z: Don’t die please!

L: Not intending on it anytime soon. Would like to be a very old man so you guys can change my dirty diapers.

Z: I’d be happy to.

L: That’s what you say now. BTW, I’m going for stupid sonogram in a few days. And will let you know if I’m dying or not.

Z: Sounds good.

L: What freaks you out most about death? And, in particular, mine?

Z: Mostly not having someone to go to when I have problems or any type of questions, especially the person I’ve gone to for the past 20 years.

L: Won’t you miss my sense of humor?

Z: Yeah, but I’ll continue the legacy.

L: No doubt. Do you ever think about your own death? Most kids your age don’t.

Z: No. I think about my friends that have passed away and it makes me more inclined to make better decisions. Like driving-wise and drinking-and-driving-type of shit.

L: That’s interesting, that it actually made an impact.

Z: Yeah, one of my best friends choked on his own vomit and died freshman year. It was horrible.

L: I remember you telling me about it. I was just thinking: that new Kendrick Lamar song that we both love so much? It’s all about death!

Z: The whole hook is asking for a promise that you’ll sing about him when he’s gone.

L: Will you sing about me?

Z: You’re so gay.

L: What scares you the most about dying?

Z: I have big plans for the future so I can’t be taken off this earth too soon.

L: That’s an excellent answer and why I love you so much.

Z: I love you too.

L: And that’s the end of today’s story.

Run Away!

killer bunny

Crisis management.

I’ve had a full-blown midlife crisis at least once in every decade for the past 30 years, and don’t even have a Maserati to show for it.

The first one happened in my twenties when my mother died and I realized that it was time to grow up (so I got married). The second one was in my thirties when I had testicular cancer and struggled with the notion of becoming a father (so we had two kids). The next one hit in my forties when I struggled with staying married (that was a total clusterfuck) and the one after that was a couple of years ago, just after I turned fifty, when I went through an extended period of unemployment and a divorce (which at least got me to Brooklyn). To paraphrase Nick Flynn, there have been a lot of bullshit nights in suck city.

We’ve all had them. And we all cope in different ways. My specific strategy has never wavered. First, blind panic. Almost immediately followed by running away. (Picture the knights fleeing from the killer bunny in Holy Grail.) I’ve run to drugs, to therapy, to women, to the Internet, and these fun salves almost always did the trick, eventually calming me down enough so I could face whatever it was I had to face.

And here I go again, perhaps a little ahead of schedule. I started this blog because the thought of dying freaked me out so badly one night that I couldn’t catch my breath. And the thought that I would not only no longer be here, but wouldn’t be anywhere (the real other side of no tomorrow) filled me with the worst dread I have ever known.

So this is me running again, looking for something bigger than myself. Or inside myself. Or…I don’t really care where the fuck it is, as long as it will give me some meaning. Or make me feel whole. Or, at least, unafraid. And then maybe I’ll be able to calm down and face what we must all inevitably face.

I want to believe and need to believe.

I just wish I knew what to believe in.

Funny Ways

Shelley’s good advice.

The universe works in funny ways and by funny I mean incredibly sad.

I got two emails this morning. The first was from a colleague bringing news that his elderly mom had died peacefully in her sleep last night after three rough weeks in the hospital. The second was from my former therapist, Shelley, saying that her 85-year-old father, who had been ill with pancreatic cancer, also passed away this weekend.

“Larry, I hope you find peace in some way,” she wrote. “My father was full of life until a month ago. Don’t waste a minute.”

Shelley always gave good advice, and I’m going to heed it by not checking my email for the rest of the day.

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