Friday, August 13, 2010

A little bit of death with your coffee!

Death Becomes Them: Unearthing the Suicides of the Brilliant, the Famous, and the NotoriousWho gets lost with a GPS?


I had August 13 marked down on my calendar as the day to meet author Alix Strauss at the Port Washington library. I even put a reminder about it in my iPhone. I borrowed the GPS from my step-father, stopped at Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and then I got on the road at 11:30. Should have been plenty of time to go 10 miles and arrive at noon right? Wrong!!

The GPS chose this day, Friday the 13th, to not work properly. The address wouldn't come up. So I resort to my "trusty" iPhone. A phone that hasn't worked right since I took the 4G update!! Steve Jobs, I blame you for this!

I found directions on the library web site. Great right? Nooooooooooooooo! I got on and off the L.I.E. ok, but I read the directions incorrectly. I went right when I should have went left!! I end up five miles out of the way! At this time the GPS decides to work, and somehow I manage to hit EVERY red light on the way. If you've read my blog before, you know I have issues with the DMV. So it was in my best interest to not run a red light, again!

I make it to the library at about 12:20ish. I have to say, I am jealous of that library. A separate room for computer work, a reading room, vending machines and the library itself is on several levels. Those of us with one-room libraries are jealous!

Back to the reason I was there -- Alix Strauss. I enter the room and quickly realize I was the youngest person there. I am visually challenged, but I don't think I saw anyone my age. But I did see a man in a purple shirt slumped over sleeping. I arrived mid-sentence. Ms. Strauss was speaking about photographer Diane Arbus, and how she committed suicide.

Yes. Suicide. Which leads me to wonder how the man in the purple shirt could be sleeping? How can talk about death make one sleepy? Plus, discussions about death and depression go very well with a side of coffee.

Ms. Strauss has always had a fascination with human behavior. So much that she wrote a book about some of the most famous suicides, Death Becomes Them. The book is now on my TBR pile. When I read it is another matter. If you're still with me, don't worry I'm almost done.

I did learn a few things along the way: Author Anne Sexton tried to kill herself nine times before succeeding. Sexton even planned her death for a full year. Sigmund Freud died in one of the first cases of assisted suicides. Vincent Van Gogh had a lot of "issues," including epilepsy and mental illness.

Do I need to know these things? No. But I must admit I have a curiosity about human behavior as well. I think we all do even if we don't want to admit it!

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