Aug 17, 2023

I stopped shaving while I took care of my dying father. After Dad died, I was a shambles. Not because I missed him, but because his manner of dying was so stressful and ugly, the apparently unavoidable culmination of our nonrelationship. I didn't feel relief after Dad died; I didn't feel sadness, anger, happiness, or shock. It's hard to describe what I felt, except that it was extremely intense.

The closest I can come to putting into words the state of mind I was in is "unmoored disbelief and a sense of pure surreality." I simply didn't know what to make of the life Dad had led and the death he'd chosen for himself. None of it computed. So scraping hair off my face seemed like an immense waste of time.

Then it was Mom's turn to get in the ring with cancer, which she did April 2, 2013. Though her surgery was successful, it's not possible to call what she's going through now a "recovery." It's as surreal as Dad's death. Someday I'll write about it. I can't make sense of it, any more than I can make sense of Dad's passing. Her days vacillate between terrific and ghastly, with nothing in between. Her children wait, unsure of what will happen next and when.

So again, scraping hair off my face seems like a really bizarre thing to do right now.

This weekend I'm going to learn how to upload all the content to my Extravagumbo Website. I didn't know that I'd be expected to do that. Later today I'll watch a video that'll teach me, and Wednesday I'll have a phone conference with the designer to "strategize" how I'll upload the content and make the changes I'll need, now that I've turned Ghosts and Ballyhoo into a trilogy.

To me, the strategy is simple: Do what I asked you to do.

That doesn't work anymore, as I've discovered over the past year. Not unless you have hundreds of millions of dollars and an entourage of armed goons.

What might work is if you earn me hundreds of millions of dollars by buying my books, and then in return, not only will I write more books that you'll want to read, I'll personally smash into the ground anyone who's keeping you from achieving your dreams. Just name him or her, and I'll get on the phone and scream like a banshee until the person gives in.

See, by that time I'll have my "screw you" money, so I can become a kind of freelance lunatic for you, the people who gave me my "screw you" money. I won't have to worry about being a nice guy or being understanding or being patient. My Website will be finished, I'll have books to write, and I'll have the freedom to say all the things that you can't say because you don't want to be thought of as crazy, or maybe you're just not used to saying exactly what's on your mind.

I'm going to have contests on my Extravagumbo Website. Maybe I'll have a contest where I make the call you dread making. Maybe instead of winning a book, you'll win me getting on the phone to someone who's been somehow eroding your quality of life, and I'll straighten him or her out by screaming like a banshee.

Anyway, that's why I'm not shaving right now. I'm not going to shave until Mom gets home, and we don't know when that'll be. I don't like having a beard, but cutting it off right now is sort of pointless. And without the beard, I couldn't do this.

I've found this expression very useful. It makes screaming like a banshee superfluous.