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Pharmako/Thanatos July 2017

How I Died: Journal Notes, July 2017

July 1
Slept most of the day. Went 20 hours between pain pills.

Andrew Schelling called, may visit. He had some good advice on selling papers.

The pain was clear: lower back, lumbar band. The oxy helps with the bone pain but not with the skin chill.

July 2
At least I’m writing in my journal everyday (not).
Spirits very low. I wake up to pain. That’s my first awareness.

Seems like nothing has been getting done for months now. Days and weeks go by with no progress in finishing the Ebaugh book. Nor in finishing my will or preparing other estate matters, such as they are. Seems like most of each day is spent sleeping.

I pulled the starter chain to get Laura’s mower going, but I was super careful… I don’t think that was the trigger. Then I bent over to cut a clump of tough grass with big shears. Now I’m back to where I was three weeks ago with that high “rib” pain.

July 3
OK. I’m making to-do lists. Just getting the mss. already written in print is too much.

July 4
lots of back pain.
Still getting used to taking pain meds on a schedule.

July 5
Remember, sooner or later, Coyote gets to the controls.
This is both good and bad.
1. No matter how well planned anything is, Coyote will find a way to fuck it up.
2. Coyote will fuck it up. (Even if we depend upon it.)

Such as, say, government. Or nuclear power.

July 6
Stef’s internment. I got a ride up the hill to the Cherokee cemetery. This wild, beautiful woman. Jerry T. has compressed disc, and now carries a fold-up stool in a cool shoulder bag, like a bandolier. He let me sit on it for a while, the mensch.

At the house I mostly hung out on the couch with Jake, Mary, Moses, and Louis Blue Cloud. Sara G. saw me and stared at me like I were a ghost.

July 7
I awake to pain. The pain is my first sensation. So, generally, mornings suck.
But somehow I managed to do the 11 x 17 layout for the mantis book. That was huge.

July 8
Saw Dr. Allen, Dr. Joel Alter’s protégé, and had a cranial-sacral treatment. In some amazing way without a clear scientific explanation, he let my body release the upper pain, from the rib just at the bottom of my right shoulder blade. And brought it back to “base pain”in the lower back.

“Pain can get stagnant,” Dan said. He even struck a chime held over my body. It’s kind of woo-woo but I could feel it vibrate all the way into T9. I had a good half-hour of bliss, and that’s hard to buy anywhere.

July 9
Blurb for a new CBD book:
“A clearly written and informative book on a complicated subject. Cannabis is a multi-faceted and many-gifted plant. Medical marijuana is not a panacea, and is not substitute for the extraordinary skills of modern scientific medicine, but as this fine book shows, Cannabis in its many forms is now an important part of the Western medical tradition.”

Saw a Facebook post by my daughter that explains why Sara thought I was a ghost.

She’s frightened, I guess. Still, she gave the impression that my end was imminent. Lots of people saw it, and Laura has already fielded a couple of phone calls and emails from friends discreetly inquiring if they needed to come say goodbye right away.

Choosing one’s death is not really a personal decision. That is, it’s not a private decision.
We have wives, friends, children, and we belong to them as much as to ourselves.

I guess I looked pretty bad, though. People keep telling me.. See, I’d skipped my pain meds. Seemed superstitious, but respectful.
The internment and all.

July 10
a taste of nausea in the morning., though I slept better.
It’s hard to keep track of which symptoms are from the cancer and which from the medicines, or the medicines taken to counteract the medicines.

When I was young and enlightened I was sure that I would never go down this path. Ha ha.

No one who has lived an inner practice—that is, has structured their life around examining their own nature—fears death. Dying, however, is its own matter: rarely clean, swift, or heroic. More often messy, painful, and with expression of various bodily fluids.

During the American Civil War any man wounded in the gut knew that the wound would be mortal, and that it would be a slow and painful death.
A Confederate commander, facing a Yankee attack, ordered his troops to “shoot low—they’ll have more time to meet their maker.”

The warrior ethos overcomes fear of death: “It is a good day to die.”
In most cultures, of course, that does not mean that there is not fear of the dead.

Psychotropic plants may have played a role in the origin of religion—but not a necessary one: death is plenty enough motive.

Clipping my nails, filing the rough spots with an emery board—

     “Oh, we can do that for you.”

Resist! That’s the mortician speaking. She’ll also apply a little rouge, I suppose.
In this situation, say “No thank you.”

“Well, when you can’t, we’ll be glad to take over.”

Call this chapter “The Importance of Everyday Tasks.”

How I Died
The idea is that this will be published posthumously. I am hoping that it will be a long book. There won’t be . . . a lot of revision.

Then someone said, “No, lots of revision. Life is constant revisioning of revisions.

                                      What was that?

An original idea.
Mostly my mind keeps clicking across the stage.
During my prostatectomy the surgeon had to shorten the urethra—pulled it in and re-sewed:

     “It’ll shorten your penis some,” he said.

Least of my worries. Still, no man wants his dick shortened.

“Can I sell the extra inch?”

And then one rather hot day, peeing sitting down, I wet my own scrotum.


     “When I can’t wipe my own ass, put the pillow over my face. Promise.”

Yes. Let’s tell the story “open kimono” and boldly go where every man one has gone before.

Except you who still have bones.

July 14
Everyone has good days and bad days and everyone has been sick. So we all know how hard it is to work when sick. Therefore, what I’m saying is that the bad days generally pass without comment.

July 17
Foreknowledge of mortality—kind of a gift for a poet. I mean, sometimes people are asleep when it comes—they miss the whole thing.

I mean Jeez. Think of Socrates.

I’m worried that I’m going to blow this book. By its definition, I won’t be able to revise it. The whole project is rather shameless.

     Poets are shameless with their experiences: they exploit them.

And wasn’t there a character in a Bolaño novel, an artist, who killed himself so that he’d have a memorable opening that people would talk about?

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