Seasonal slump, a quest for home and bookstore ruminations

Books

So Summer has arrived and well… blech. But I shall endeavor to keep my seasonal grumpiness to myself. Just know that I dream of central air conditioning.

In recent weeks, M and I have been house-hunting and preparing to apply for mortgage applications. The first activity is fun, the second incredibly stressful. We really want to embark on to the next phase of our life, and that will involve moving, so both activities are required.

One thing I’ve learned during this process is how compatible we are. I knew we loved each other and got along fabulously, but our tastes are very similar too. Where they diverge, the differences are minor.

We also share a desire to make the other happy, which comes in handy while examining potential abodes. Best of all, after more than nine years together, we know each other’s likes and dislikes intimately, so much so that I’d feel entirely confident sending him out into the world to find us a home. Whichever place he picked would be perfect for our family. Knowing this type of relationship is so rare just makes me appreciate it all the more.

In other news, I miss bookstores. Oh, they’re still around, there’s just not enough of them. Bookstores call to me when I’m bored or curious or determined, when I’m killing time between movies or when I want to look at books that I don’t already own and the library’s closed.

Lastly, I wish time would stop whenever I read a book. Can someone make that happen? Thanks!

Just a reminder: Happy birthday to you!

birthday cake

One of my favorite features of social media is the birthday reminder.

Whenever I receive these emails or spy a notice on a newsfeed, I do my best to take a moment and send good cheer. Generally I’m one of many to wish the happy, yet doing so feels good because no matter how difficult life can be, birthdays should be enthusiastically celebrated.

The downside of birthday reminders is… well, death. It always makes my heart ache when I receive one of these alerts for a friend or family member who’s died in the past year. Instead of being reminded of joy, I recall the loss of their passing. And it hurts to know they won’t have another birthday.

Yesterday, I thought about my high school sweetheart all day. Although he died a few years ago, June 3rd has long been a day I noticed because it was his birthday. So even though he’s gone, I can’t help but recall the times we shared and the years we did not. A few hours ago, I received a birthday email for a writer on Livejournal that I followed for more than a decade. He died last year and the loss of his voice has made reading that site just a little less required.

Yes, I love cemeteries. But I hate funerals

Graves header

“(Funerals) mark that something valuable, a human life, has passed. Whatever else a funeral does or does not do, it must do this.” —Tony Walter

I don’t attend funerals any more. I’d rather say farewell in a more personal and private manner.

Funerals are a way to publicly see and acknowledge a death. Yet I prefer to mourn in private. While grief shared may be grief diminished for some, for me the pain is intensified when experienced with others (perhaps some of M’s empathy has rubbed off). Plus, if I want to publicly mourn someone, there are other venues to do so, such as a well-written obituary or tribute.

Admittedly, part of my desire to avoid funerals has to do with religion. Since I’m an atheist, traditions of faith provide no comfort. I respect those who turn to religion during such difficult times, but the very notion of my trying to connect to the dead through any sort of deity feels both hypocritical and silly.

That said, the main reason why I dislike funerals is because the process places a giant wall between me and the deceased. That wall may be made of embalming fluid, or caked on make-up or $6,000 caskets sold to impoverished mourners. Such traditions are unnatural, far more unnatural than death itself, and I don’t like how these practices get in the way of proper mourning.

The last funeral I attended was for my best friend. For some unknown reason, she was placed in an open casket next to a gigantic picture of herself, looking young and healthy. The disparity between how alive she appeared in the photograph and how hideous she looked in death struck me like a blow. I can’t imagine she would’ve wanted to be seen in such a manner, on display like a melting mannequin.

Alas, that is an image I will never forget.

I’ve made it known to those close to me that I do not wish to have a funeral. I may love traipsing through cemeteries but I have no intention of being interred in one. Let my words, my friendships, my stories be my legacy. And when my life ends, I will be grateful to any who mourn. Just dispose of my body swiftly and efficiently, in a way that is helpful to the living. The dead have no use for pomp and circumstance.