Saturday, January 30, 2016

Reflections Upon a Dead Television

That infernal thing was always running in the bedroom. My wife liked to have it on to fold laundry, or—God help me—fall asleep to. For the last eight years, part of my late night routine has been to go upstairs every 30 minutes or so to check if my wife is finally asleep, and cut the TV off.

Tuesday, while in recovery from dental surgery, my wife was watching the TV from the bed when it made a buzzing noise, and the picture disappeared.

It was a sign, one I immediately related to that awful night last summer when my 14-year-old cat got sick, and we thought that was it. Yes, I know it’s weird, but hold that thought.

The thing to understand about the TV blowing out is that the nearly 21-year-old cathode ray tube blew out of the Sony Trinitron. We bought this 19-inch screen TV at the Camp Zama post exchange in Japan in March 1995.

Our now grown-and-gone children watched all of their favorite cartoons and videos on this set. It survived five military moves, one in which it was dropped outright and the back casing broken. It was only then, in 2005, that I bought another television.

The Sony still worked, though, and that’s how it ended up being the bedroom television.

Incidentally, the Phillips tube television I bought to replace the Sony in the living room crapped out in five years.

Our Sony enjoyed a crisp, next-best-thing-to-digital picture on its 19-inch screen right up until 26 January 2016. When it was done, it winked out, no lingering electronic Alzheimer’s or snowy senility to telegraph its demise. I expect it’s outlasted all the plasma flatscreens. Remember plasma?

The TV shouldn’t have lasted this long, but it did, and now it’s time to move on. For God’s sake, I shouldn’t miss this thing, although I sort of do. “Sort of,” because I know it’s the Times Past this old plastic box represents that I really ache for. These things are gone forever/Over a long time ago/Oh yeah. Suck it up, move on.

It’s okay to miss the cat, though. Right? Last summer we had a scare with our 14-year-old Otis. When animals who normally won’t leave you alone refuse to be by your side and leave for dark corners after carpeting the carpet in vomit, it can go only one of two ways, and the odds favor dying. We don’t know what the hell got into Otis, we only know he was better in the morning. And I realized that night just how spoiled-stupid I am in regards to pet mortality.

Otis turns 15 sometime in May. He could easily die this year. If not this year, then the next. Then again, he might make it a full 2o. He’s dying, though. As are the other three cats we have. It’s a matter of years, and that’s if our luck holds, and none of them get cancer or something like that.

It is the way things are. Suck it up and move on. For God’s sake, some people have to bury their children; what the hell are we crying about here?

Life and life only, asshole. That’s what we’re crying about. A big part of that is letting things go. I have a harder time dealing with it than most people. Yeah, I know.

Entropy is part of the natural order. Watching ourselves fade, break, and crumble with age.

Like this neighborhood.


I’ve been having reservations about moving back to South Carolina. The logistics, for one, are very daunting when you have little to no money to spend. I know we’ll lose at least one of these cats in the 12-hour-a-day, two-day drive to—where? 

I don’t know the exact town or neighborhood, but I’m sure it will be a place where I’ll just sit in a small room like I do here, and write and surf the Internet. It’s what I like to do. I’ll be doing it someplace else, that’s all.

Yes, I’ll be able to more easily visit friends. But my daughter and son will stay behind in Colorado. One thousand, seven hundred-fifty miles or so behind. 

Frankly, given that, the horrible weather in South Carolina over the past year, and other considerations, I’m leaning hard towards the idea of staying put.

In Colorado, that is. We can’t stay in this house. We can’t stay in this neighborhood. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here is the line that comes to mind every time I step out on one of my walks. It’s not just that the bright, happy young families with small children are gone. The roads are cracked, the sidewalks are breaking, and I don’t see any of this getting fixed, ever.

One thing at a time, then. 

Our broken things will be carried out. We’ll have to hope for the best with the cats. I have to finish this last book, and make it break big so my wife and I can find a safe, comfortable place to bury our cats one by one while waiting for each other to die.

It’s come to that. And I should be grateful I’ve come this far. Grateful I still have a chance to make something, anything happen.

Suck it up and move on. I’ll keep telling myself that until it finally sinks in.


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