Jan 022010

Image courtesy of adamr.stone via flickr.

Alex approached me as I was getting ready for bed last night to tell me that his blood glucose level was low. This was, quite honestly, a bit of a shocker considering how much food we had eaten over at our friend Kari’s house during the course of the day. I realized, though, that I’d had him take his evening shot of insulin when we got home and that he hadn’t eaten anything since so it made sense. It was just weird. In any case I told him that he could go ahead and make himself something to eat because I was about to literally pass out in my chair and I was not in the mood to stay up and cook something for him.

“Oooh!,” he says to me, “I’ll fry up some fish!”

Alex got a deep fryer for Christmas. He didn’t get it from me, and when I saw it on the list of things that he wanted for Christmas that he passed on to his Grandmother I specifically told her that she did not have to go out of her way to get it for him. She did, though, and now he’s the proud owner of a Sensio 13401 Bella Cucina 3-1/2-Liter Stainless-Steel Deep Fryer. While I must admit that having a deep fryer is pretty much the height of awesome if you’re a teenager and you like to cook, this item concerns me for a number of reasons. The obvious one is, of course, the fact that I’m overweight and have had two strokes and fried foods are really not good for me. On top of that, though, I have that whole parent fear of him burning himself while using it or burning down our house (or both). This is an irrational fear, and I am aware of it, but that doesn’t stop me from having it. Like me, the boy is silly and can be highly irresponsible, but as a general rule he takes himself pretty seriously when he’s cooking and he’s never given me a reason to think that he’d do something stupid that would result in injury to person or property.

This type of thing is one of the joys of being a parent, though. When you’re responsible for the well-being of another human being your brain, in an effort to help you avoid unpleasant situations, tends to take you on Magical Mystery Tours of worst-case scenarios on a regular basis. It sucks. In my mind I have had countless horrible things happen to my son, some of them so realistic in the imagining that it has caused me to emotionally feel as though the acts have really happened. The plus side to this is, of course, I have taken precautions that have prevented bad things from happening to him on several occasions. You take the good with the bad, I suppose.

I didn’t tell Alex not to cook the fried fish last night, but I definitely went to bed having thoughts of grease fires going out of control in my brain. In the scenario that danced through my head the fire that started spread from the kitchen and burned down the whole house killing all three of us (Yeah, that’s right bitches, welcome to my world). As a result of this vivid imagining there was a part of me that wanted to rise up out of bed, get dressed again, and go out there to supervise the cooking process despite the fact that he has now made the exact same thing in the deep fryer several times without issue. While I was laying there wrestling with this conundrum I went so far as to imagine the “what would happen in the aftermath of our death” scenario and my brain wandered to my last Tweet of the day:

Yesterday was, in so many ways, an amazing day. We spent it surrounded by good friends and eating tasty food. We played with puppies and laughed. We cooked. We drank yummy coffee. We huddled around a fire and made s’mores. We also launched the redesign of ShrinkGeek. Days as good as yesterday are unfortunately rare when you let “real life” kick you around too much, and I didn’t want the warm glow to end. I posted a tweet above to reflect that as I finally gave in and surrendered myself to the will of Queen Mab.

When my brain went through the whole “we could die in a horrible greasy fire” situation I realized that, for many people, the words I had written above would be my epitaph. That thought comforted me. In fact, it calmed the raging fire paranoia down enough to the point where I was relaxed enough to fall asleep. I was right with the world, and if for some reason I did face the the Grim Reaper and never wake up again the last thing I will have shared with the universe was an expression of love.

This reminded me of something that Krystalle said to me when the two of us got together. She asked that whenever I leave her presence I always do so as if it would be the last time I ever saw her. The logic is pretty sound there, really. You don’t want the person you love to have their last living memory of you be a bad one. I could relate to this, because the most vivid memory I have of my friend Beau is the uncomfortable one we had where he called me from prison several months before he was killed. As a result of her request I’ve always tried to make a conscious effort to have some kind of pleasant way to say goodbye whenever I leave her presence, and I’ve extended that same sentiment to others that I care for. If something untoward happens to me I want someone to be able to smile at the thought of our last exchange.

I realize that’s kind of a morbid way to go about your life, but for me it really kind of helps to foster the positive outlook I have. It’s the whole “live your life as if every moment is your last, because it just might be” thing.

In thinking about this in relation to Twitter it makes me appreciate what William Shatner does whenever he tweets. He has this terribly quaint habit of treating tweets like an incredibly small letter and puts a salutation at the end of them that reads “My best, Bill.”  I realize that he is, in no way, directly addressing me but I like the little personal touch there. It’s as if he is addressing a group of old friends and it just gives me a warm fuzzy whenever I see it. Yeah, ok…Part of that might just be the fact that I’m a total William Shatner fanboy but I still think it’s nice.

I’m not saying that everything I write on Twitter is a deeply personal statement that would be a fond remembrance. Far from it. I’m one of those Twitter users that tends to pretty much tweet whatever is going through my head at the time and quite a lot of that falls into the “this would be a weird way to remember Mike” category. Take, for example, this profound tweet from December 28th:

Not exactly the kind of thing you’d want to be remembered for, is it? I can just see people sitting around and talking about me in the past tense and debating whether or not I really did have many pectoral muscles (I do. Screw you if you think otherwise).

It’s thoughts like this that make me reflect on the entire social media phenomenon and how we present ourselves. I made a post a few months ago where I discussed the fact that I don’t air as much dirty laundry online as I used to, and the thoughts I had about this whole twitter thing feed into that. What I wrote in my morning pages this morning as I was ruminating on the subject is “ALWAYS BE THE WAY YOU WANT OTHERS TO REMEMBER YOU.” All caps even. That means it is important (and yeah, I realize that grammatically that sentence sucks donkey balls but I was still working on my first cup of coffee so cut me a little slack, ok??).

I don’t expect this to usher in any new era of meaningful tweets or any other major change in my online presence, but I thought it was a nice thought to have and I wanted to share it with you. I think that’s kind of the point, really. There’s a lot of ugly out there in the world, and I think it is important to sometimes make sure we take a moment to insure that if for some reason we were gone those who remain know how much they meant to us. It’s easy to focus on the negative and how much things suck, but really? There’s a lot of awesome out there and there’s nothing at all wrong with focusing on that instead of the bad.

With that I shall leave you for now.

My best, Mike.

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