Tag Archives: death

The cover has a warning: “No Inspirational Life Lessons Will Be Found In These Pages.” How could I resist?

60. Half Empty – David Rakoff

A friend of mine bought this book for me and told me that when she saw it, it “reminded her of me.” What she didn’t know is that when we worked together at the public library, I came across this book several times while shelving, thought about checking it out, and then didn’t get around to it…so it also reminded me of me.

Starting with the essay “The Bleak Shall Inherit,” Half Empty demonstrates a lot of truths that the more pessimistic among us will recognize, sort of like a New York-centric, more amusing version of the message from the wildly popular to interlibrary loan book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck (Side note, I tried to skim this because of the appealing title, it said something about being fine with being normal and I had to close it. I’m abnormal and I like it, sir, and not just in an “Oh, I’m so unusual, I drink coffee with four shots of espresso and am writing a screen play at Starbucks because I MUST express myself” kind of way, more in a “What did you just say? Why do you like talking about that?/Did you really just glare at me for saying ‘hamster’?” coupled with side glances and grimaces from other people when I talk kind of way.).

One of my favorite passages had to do with the musical RENT. I don’t like paying rent even though I’ve been doing so for what feels like thousands of years now, but that’s a digression mainly meant to set up the fact that I have never actually seen RENT and despite not seeing RENT, I have had that “525,600 minutes/How do you measure/Measure a year” line stuck in my head before (and now, so do you). Rakoff mentions that the super-creative creatives of RENT don’t really spend much time creating and then mentions the songwriter “noodling on his guitar,” which has long been one of my least favorite things. I hate guitar noodling. I don’t have all day, I’m dying here. We’re all dying. Stop noodling. Anyway, a short while later in the essay he talks about the creator of RENT dying the day before RENT opened, which is awfully sad, but also something that seems like a truism of creativity at this point (especially if you have to do something else to pay rent). You have to have a blind cocky optimism in order to be willing to create because it’s unlikely that it will become popular while you’re still alive. Sometimes you have to die to be popular. Or win a Putlizer. Posthumously. Also, you have to actually follow-through with making something in order to have created something that won’t be recognized until after you’re dead. Whee! Half empty!

Morty is the friend who gave me Half Empty’s favorite guinea pig. Here’s his cute little nose. He never paid any rent.


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There’s a new, rather dramatic mouse corpse in my basement.

While attempting to finish the piggy laundry today, I noticed a dead mouse in the basement. But it’s not just dead, it’s dramatically dead… upside-down, arms splayed, head thrown back, probably did a soliloquy on the way out dead. And because it’s being so attention grabbing, I was reminded that I have a store that I could be promoting more dramatically because tomorrow (October 17th) things are going to be 20% off. You may use this code: twentyoff-guineapigsbooks

A store full of guinea pig stuff!

Some of my items go nicely with The Walking Dead…which premieres next week, watch while wearing a jaunty scarf from the end of the apparel section.

Many items are Halloween appropriate, especially the Pigoween stuff.

Finny would like you to know that without the support of viewers like you, he might not make it into more than the two paintings (iPiggie and The Finny Awakens) you can currently get on throw pillows.

Finny would like you to know that without the support of viewers like you, he might not make it into more than the two paintings ( iPiggie and The Finny Awakens ) you can currently get on throw pillows.



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We used to wait for it … Now they’re screaming “Sing the chorus again!”

28. Little Sisters of the Apocalypse – Kit Reed

Imperator Merricat took her final steps into Pighalla toward the end of April. When she lives again she will be shiny and chrome; she deserves to be more shiny and more chrome than most, she was a loyal little pig – loyal to me and loyal to Peregrine, her much beleaguered cage mate. Merri was a very important pig for me and she had the unfortunate task of re-reminding me about the waiting that goes along with caring for someone with a terminal illness – something that is a major part of this very surreal adventure. Reed discusses the waiting, (and she’s got another short story, her first published in 1958 apparently, “The Wait” that does an excellent job discussing a different kind of “the waiting” – the super creepy kind – ), in a way that I have never seen before and that resonated with me very deeply.

Little Sisters of the Apocalypse covers two different kinds of waiting that I have experienced – waiting for possibly unconsciously manipulative menfolk to sort their shit out and waiting for a loved one to die because they cannot be saved, the most painful kind of waiting.  The narrative dips back and forth between a fantasy mainly concerning the women of Schell Island, abandoned in a “we’re coming back, we’re just going to war…somewhere…” way by their men and the reality of “K” and her losses. Both of the main sides involve the waiting, the strain of anxiety and the unknown and on the fantasy side especially, the confusion over what way to move forward if you’re even going to. Chag, the woman in charge in the post-men landscape, talks about the kind of waiting I always dread the most and that leaves a familiar pit in my stomach. It would just be really great if at some point, dudes thought better of trying to be mysterious assholes and were just direct. Stop trying to keep every option ever created open and make choices, then stand by those choices even if they go horribly awry. It is not impressive to juggle so many social options; it is impressive to be committed and considerate. K does not discuss waiting so much as it doesn’t need to be discussed when you’re dealing with terminal illness – it’s just there, allowing you to experience agony while you still have your loved ones and even more when you don’t.

The titular characters are a group of motorcycle riding nuns, lead by Sister Trini, and they also happen to work with computers. They are summoned to Schell Island and Chag and the other left-behind women are envious of them for one excellent reason – they do not have to go through the menfolk waiting. They have no one to wait for. They are autonomous and do not have to sit there and listen to the bullshit platitudes, “I never want to lose you,” “I can’t imagine my life without you,” et. al. And that is the kind of waiting that I could really do without, considering the amount of time I’ve already spent doing both kinds. The waiting for death kind is worse, but also better. It hurts, it’s always deep, but being there for loved ones and taking that on is honorable and witnessed. And, in the Little Sisters’ lack of having to do the “please take on my emotional bullshit while I don’t feel guilty for lying about whether or not I knew what I wanted” kind of waiting, they get shit done. I thought of them immediately during Mad Max Fury Road when they went after the ladies of Imperator Furiosa’s original group and those dusty motorcycles appeared. Those are the Little Sisters of the Apocalypse in yet another kind of apocalypse, one that also involves waiting for men, but not the kind you already had an irritating attachment to, the kind that bring a Doof warrior soundtrack-car and for some reason think they’re going to win. Something is always going to be coming. They’re not waiting for anyone.

Prime examples of Little Sisters of the Apocalypse Merricat and Peregrine. Their motorcycles are behind the fleece blankie.

Prime examples of Little Sisters of the Apocalypse Merricat and Peregrine. Their motorcycles are behind the fleece blankie.

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That’ll do.

27. Pronto – Elmore Leonard

Thaddeus and Harry Arno have some things in common – they both had ornery dispositions in their old age (although, really, sixty-six and possibly five [I’ve never been able to figure out how old Thaddeus was when I got him, but I had him for four and a half years] are not all that old), they’ve both traveled, they both had girlfriends, and they were both protected by people whose names begin with “Ra.” Granted, I am no Raylan Givens, but I could potentially be for Halloween, and Thaddeus wasn’t skimming off the books of Jimmy Cap and pursued to Rapallo, Italy. This is the first novel of Elmore Leonard’s to feature Raylan as a major character and several incidents from it have ended up on Justified in some form. I have to say though, I did not know that there was a television version of Pronto until I was double checking that this is the first Raylan book and Wade Messer from Justified was Raylan! It’s very hard for me to picture, so I’ll have to track that down. Apparently his hat was not right though. That’s an important detail. Of course, Olyphant’s hat isn’t right either, but it looks good. And I like James LeGros as Wade Messer, he and Dewey Crowe are seriously amusing together.

As far as I know, being in captivity and finally getting to live with Pammy prevented Thaddeus from a life of guinea pig crime. Living with me did not stop him from whistling louder than any other guinea pig I have ever had at seven AM to be fed, enjoying large amounts of Swiss chard, and establishing himself as pig-in-charge when Belvedere passed away. He was an excellent successor to my first family of guinea pigs and he was certainly a big part of the second since he made it obvious that he loved Pammy very, very much. He and Pammy had been in a cage together where Mr. Cheese and I used to buy our guinea pig food and they clearly remembered each other when reunited at my apartment, although they did not get to live together until a few months after Pammy was spayed (she had ovarian cysts, I wouldn’t have bothered with major girl-pig surgery just so they could live together, they were already touching noses through their grids). Thaddeus weathered pneumonia, being covered in essential oils to fight off two fungus situations (he was referred to as “Jersey Shore Thaddeus” during that time period because of the shiny, overly perfumed pig he became), and he is the second guinea pig that I’ve had that was allowed by the universe to die of just old age. On Christmas night. He also had an excellent sense of irony as in 2012, I thought he might not live through Christmas because he had begun losing weight rapidly around October. I managed to sort him out mostly then, and for all of 2013 he was off and on the weight loss train but always, always peppy and interested in eating his food, his treats, and his supplemental Critical Care. Always. He was pretty demanding. On Christmas morning, I knew he didn’t look like himself. I’d been debating about whether or not to put him down once he really couldn’t keep any weight on and started to have some trouble getting around; and just like several pigs before him, he made the decision for me. Thaddeus was a glorious pig.

I will always miss how sweet and comforting he could be.

Here he is with Pammy behind him, adorable as always.

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Find some other way to feel. Then you won’t feel sad. Good luck.

70. Gone South – Robert R. McCammon

I’ve been looking at this book on my mother’s bookshelf for a long time and it’s one hell of a novel. I did not expect a single thing that happened in it; I didn’t know I was going to be reading such a tense, fantastical story that included some Elvis, some serious amounts of sweating, a fairy tale garden, drug dealers, obstinate ladies, and a conjoined twin. I felt like I understood it better after having lived in Mississippi (it takes place in south Louisiana) and I definitely know where the areas that the story took place are on a map – mainly it reminded me that there are some things about living in the South that I cannot explain to anyone. It’s retained its sense of wildness and a weirdness that is heavily on display in Gone South. And living there truly demonstrated to me that there are some things that can never be fixed, some things that will work themselves out regardless of how much I worry, and some things that are just doomed. My darling Duncan was one such doomed individual and you can see her sweet little profile in the photo below, she’s with her mother Murderface. She died four years ago today, the first of my herd of eight to pass, of cancer. She was only nine months old and time was obviously not on her side. No it wasn’t.

I think about Duncan a lot and regardless of whether or not I want them to, some of my pigs’ death days sneak up on me. I’m pretty sure one of the currently living pigs’ death day is soon to come and so the death days are reminders of what I’ve gone through and what I will go through again and again, as long as I choose to keep these little rapscallions. Granted, the benefits of having guinea pigs for me far outweigh the non-benefits. Lost my words there a bit. Oh well. Anyway, another reason that Duncan’s death day is weighing heavy four years on is that Ned Vizzini committed suicide recently. He was only a year older than me and was living a chunk of my dream career- he’s had four books published, he allowed a movie to be made of one horrifically affecting novel (that meant a lot to me), and he was writing for television. He also may have had enough money for his family to live on at any given time. And some people have to write- regardless of whether or not it’s ever going to get anywhere that anyone notices- and some people get paid too. It’s hard to understand where that kind of accomplishment would go south on you. But maybe he lost his anchors or maybe he was being pressured to just “get over it” too much, as that seems to happen to people with serious depression. I definitely lost my anchor and, just a quick public service announcement, try not to choose anchors that can die.

So, 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short' it is! Fuck it, you won.

Murderface and Duncan Hills, brutally cute, also brutal reminders of how short the lifespan of guinea pigs can be. Happy Holidays, Mr. Hobbes!

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