Sunday, September 30, 2018

Anger is passive. Rage is a trigger for action

If you are angry today, or if you have been angry for a while, and you’re wondering whether you’re allowed to be as angry as you feel, let me say: Yes. Yes, you are allowed. You are, in fact, compelled.

If you’ve been feeling a new rage at the flaws of this country, and if your anger is making you want to change your life in order to change the world, then I have something incredibly important to say: Don’t forget how this feels.

Tell a friend, write it down, explain it to your children now, so they will remember. And don’t let anyone persuade you it wasn’t right, or it was weird, or it was some quirky stage in your life when you went all political — remember that, honey, that year you went crazy? No. No. Don’t let it ever become that. Because people will try.  

Thus writes Rebecca Traister in the New York Times.

As someone who's been angry about politics for more years than I can count, I've been told more than once that anger is toxic, that it eats away at your health, that it hurts no one but the self.  But there's anger, and there's anger.  There's the anger you feel at your husband because you're working 14-hour days and he can't seem to remember that you asked him to make a vet appointment for the cat because you're in meetings all day.  Or more trivially, that he never puts the toilet seat down (solution to that one:  always check).  That's the kind of anger that you kind of have put into perspective, lest it REALLLY give you health problems.  The anger at the driver that cut you off.  Anger at the flight attendant who fat-shamed you.  Those are the kinds of fleeting angers that maybe we do need to let go of.

But then there's institutional anger, such as we're seeing now. It flares up every now and then and then fades.  So let's stop talking about anger and start talking about rage.  Because anger is a feeling.  Rage is a trigger for action.  There is no better example of rage --> action than the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School kids.  They too are victims of trauma caused by toxic masculinity, but within 24 hours after the event that changed their lives, they managed to channel their grief and anger into a rage that has not abated even though the hip-hop stars and celebrities have gone home.

I've become skeptical of marches.  500,000 people marched in New York City in 2002 and we went to war in Iraq anyway.  How many millions of women and our allies marched in cities across the country after Trump's inauguration.  And what was the end result?  You can argue that it was a trigger for more women -- progressive women --  running for office, and that is a valid point.  But it remains to be seen how many of them will actually win, and even if they do, how many will be kneecapped by the Democratic Party in order to perpetuate the sternly worded statement --> dire e-mails --> corporate money --> consultant coffers --> failure cycle that has characterized the Democratic Party every election since 1980, except when a figure like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama comes along who's so charismatic that it supersedes everything else.

Marches make us feel good, sort of the way blogging used to.  It makes us feel like we're part of something BIG, something that's going to Really Do Something This Time.  So we put on the pussy hats and we march and we chant and we yell and listen to famous people speak and take selfies with them while they march.  We enjoy the free concert and  we feel really exhilarated by the solidarity -- and then we go home and nothing changes. 

Last spring we had the March For Our Lives -- another massive, multi-city march put together by a bunch of raging teenagers.  And we marched.  We chanted and we yelled and enjoyed the free concert and felt really exhilarated by the solidarity -- and then we went home and now at least 63 school shootings have taken place in 2018, including the Parkland shooting.  And aside from a ban on bump stocks signed by Rick Scott, who is trying to get to the Senate, nothing has changed.  And Joe Manchin has to use a gun in an ad about health care to show his penis-symbol bona fides in a state the residents of which care more about what other women do with their genitals than their own economic situation. 

We will know more about whether anything has changed after the election next month.  But in the mean time, nearly two years after the women's march, here we are, with a woman who was sexually assaulted when she was fifteen being called a skank and a whore and a liar, and a preppy, possibly alcoholic fratboy, who was no doubt told from the day he was born that he was special and entitled to everything he wanted, throwing a tantrum on national television because a woman no less might stand in the way of his getting what he regards as his DUE -- a lifetime appointment on the highest court in this country.  It took two women screaming at Jeff Flake to even get a delay long enough to look at the long anecdotal trail of appalling behavior towards women of this Court nominee, pushed forward by a president with his own well-known record of appalling behavior towards women.  But don't kid yourself.  Flake, along with Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and yes, the aforementioned Joe Manchin, will vote for this guy.   Because a six figure government paycheck and benefits that most Americans no longer have is just too sweet to risk on doing the right thing for this country's women.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Blogrolling In Our Time for Sunday, September 16

I've been reading Jim Wright's posts on Facebook for a while, so say hello to Stonekettle Station.

And here we go again

This time her name is Christine Blasey Ford.  This time she wasn't harassed on the job, she was sexually assaulted while in high school, by yet another man seeking to ascend to the high court partially so that he can reassert government (male) control over women's bodies.

Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.
While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
I don't know many women to whom something like this has NOT happened.  It happened to me.  I wrote about it any number of times at the old place, but for those who don't know, here it is:

It was the fall of 1974.  I was doing a lot of partying at frat houses at a nearby college.  I was never stumbling drunk, because in those days, most of what was available at frat houses was beer, and I really did not like beer.  But I would get tipsy enough to get flirtatious and when I got flirtatious I ended up in bed with people I might not have otherwise.  Or maybe I would.  After all, I was not one of the pretty girls to whom the guys flocked.  There was a boy at my school who had already branded me as "The Evil Troll" for no good reason at all. So yes, there was a certain amount of nihilism in what I was doing -- "If that's how the game is played, that's how I'll play it."  I was hanging around with other girls who were doing the same, so I did it too. 

I had met the boy in question the summer before at a bar my friends and I used to go to.  He was attractive, went to said nearby school, drove a cool sports car, and he offered to drive me home, which I accepted.  He drove me home, and was a perfect gentleman.  I don't remember if I went on a date with him, I might have.

I ran into him at a frat party that fall, and agreed to go to his room.  Had I been more savvy, or less nihilistic, I would have realized that a guy whose frat house bed is on a raised platform with a desk underneath, and at one end of the bed was a full bar, and along the wall was a high-end stereo system, was not just inviting me back to listen to music.  I might have had sex with him anyway.  But I stupidly climbed up into the loft bed, and the next thing I knew I was being held down, pinned by my shoulders, and told that I was either going to "put out" or my clothes would be torn off and thrown out the window.

He wasn't joking.  So, like most women who are assaulted, I put my mind someplace else until it was over.  I wasn't about to challenge him.  I knew someone who had gotten drunk the semester before, gone off with a guy she had a crush on, and woken up naked in a frat house bed.  All of her clothes were gone except her coat and shoes.  She walked back to our campus in the dead of winter wearing nothing but her coat.  I think the coat was dark green. 

I was not about to follow in her footsteps.

After it was over, I gathered up my clothes and drove back to campus.  I remember thinking "That was a really stupid thing to do."

I did run into the boy again, at another frat party -- the last one I ever went to, because I heard "whispers" when I walked into the room.  I remember walking up to the boy and smacking him HARD across the face (not an easy feat, he was about a foot taller than I was), then turning around and leaving.  As I left, I heard laughter and knew it was not directed at me.

I never went to a frat party again.

The following semester, I met someone at my school and was with him until I graduated.  He was a year behind me and I broke off with him after graduation.  The relationship had grown stale by that time and it was the best thing for both of us.

I went on to live a normal life, including a normal sex life.  I know that seems like TMI, but it's important.  I met Mr. Brilliant when I was 28, and the rest is history.

For me, it was an unfortunate incident partially caused by my own incaution, an incident from which I learned that the sleeping around I was doing was NOT satisfying, it was NOT empowering, and I was getting what in 1974 was known as "a reputation."  It may have been 1974, but it was a provincial area of Pennsylvania, and the "double standard after the fact" was in full flower.  I never thought of it as a sexual assault until much later.  I thought of it as something dumb that I did.  The thought of "pressing charges" would never have entered my mind, and if it did, what would have happened?  I went to the boy's room willingly, and that would have been all anyone needed to know. 

I've been hard on Certain Bloggers who decades later insist on defining themselves as "survivors of rape."  I have never, and still don't, define myself as a "survivor of rape."  I don't have "triggers" -- at least not about an incident that happened 44 years ago.  It really didn't affect my life all that much.  Perhaps I was just more resilient than some people, or perhaps even with my lousy self-esteem, I recognized that a jerk in a frat house didn't define me.  Or maybe it was the slap.  I don't know.  I don't care.

Now if I heard that the boy in question was a Supreme Court nominee, would I feel an obligation to come forward?  Hell yes.  Would I have the guts?  I don't know.  What I do know is that what happened to Christine Blasey when she was 15 happened to me, with a different perp, when I was 17.  And I'll bet it's happened to one hell of a lot of women. many of whom have gone on to put it aside and go on with their lives. 

I don't know how many girls/women that boy went on to assault because of his feeling of privilege, that he had a right to stick his dick into any woman who came to his room,  I suspect I was not the only one.  I also suspect that he went on to get married, have a career, have kids, coach his son's little league team, take his daughter to soccer practice.  Maybe he's still married.  Maybe he became a drunk and had affairs.  I don't know.  Here's what I do know:  I know that sexual assault is not the natural order of things.  I know that even then there were boys who recognized that no meant no and that a girl can go to your room to listen to music.  And that is why it matters.  That is why what Brett Kavanaugh did in high school matters. It also matters because this is a man who detailed graphic sexual questions he thought Bill Clinton should have to answer.  This is a man who has called contraceptives "abortion-inducing drugs."  This is a man who kept a 17-year-old girl from having an abortion EVEN AFTER she had fulfilled all the legal requirements.

I don't know if Brett Kavanaugh still assaults women.  But his documented track record sure tells me that he'd still like to.




Friday, August 3, 2018

Blogrolling In Our Time

Say hello to Have Coffee Will Write.  Because anyone who groks the truth-telling goddess that is Stephanie Ruhle is A-OK in my book.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

When right-wing evangelicals don't have legal abortion as their punching bag, what then?

July, 2022: 

It's the middle of the second year of Donald Trump's second term.  The US is now allied with Russia and North Korea, and there is a cold war with the rest of the developed world.  Thanks to Russian manipulation and outright hacking of the 2020 election, the GOP now controls the state houses of 48 states, with only New York and California still being marginally held by Democrats.  Poll taxes have been restored throughout the south, and ID cards that are not drivers licenses are no longer valid for voter ID, not that it matters, because the groundwork is being set for permanent Trump family rule, with Ivanka Trump taking on an ever larger role, as her father is now prone to memory lapses and the kind of rages consistent with early stage dementia.  With an overwhelming GOP majority in both houses of Congress now, the legislative branch now served simply as a rubber stamp for Trump family decisions and policies.

The Mueller probe was ended in early 2019, when the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision,  decided that a sitting president could not be indicted for crimes committed before taking office and that state laws that attempted to supersede federal laws could not do so.

Soon after the 2020 election, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suffered a recurrence of pancreatic cancer.  She valiantly held on for one more Court term, but after the election, she succumbed to pneumonia after being hospitalized in December of that year.  Now part of an intractable right-wing Supreme Court, Justice Stephen Breyer, now 83, decided that he did not want to spend the last part of his life writing dissents and he retired in April 2021.    The Democrats offered their customary objections to the inevitable hard-right nominees, but after the disastrous 2020 election, which saw the Kirsten Gillibrand/Kamala Harris ticket fall with the worst electoral result since the George McGovern debacle of 1972, taking dozens of downticket races with it, no one, not even what was left of their own party, takes them seriously anymore. 

The new court's order of business was a Florida law that had been stopped by a circuit court which would declare every fertilized egg a full-fledged human, would require police investigations of all miscarriages, and make an abortion of any kind, even removal of an already-dead fetus, a capital crime with both doctor and woman at risk of the death penalty.  After a contentious debate, which saw Justices Kagan and Sotomayor failing to convince their colleagues that such a law could make a menstrual period a capital crime, since up to 40% of fertilized eggs never implant.

Once the Florida law was upheld, Roe v. Wade became moot in all states except New York and California, because state legislatures elsewhere rushed to implement their own Florida-type laws, knowing that the Court would be friendly to their cause for at least another thirty years.

Following the Florida law's upholding, conservative legislators then set their new goal as repeal of Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized contraception.  Despite heavy advertising by the pharmaceutical industry, the new Court, in an opinon written by one of the new Trump appointees, Amy Coney Barrett, declared that since religious faith supersedes man's laws, and that pregnancy represents God's will, that any attempt to prevent it is against the will of God.  Justice Elena Kagan wrote a passionate dissent invoking the establishment clause, but with a majority of the Court being conservative Christians who believe that the Founders intended this to be a Christian nation, the religious argument prevailed.

The decision was hardly a surprise, since the Court had already upheld a North Carolina law, that had failed to pass the state legislature in 2013, but was revived successfully in 2020 with the new composition of the Supreme Court, declaring Christianity as that's state's official religion.

***************************
Returning to July 2018:

Donald Trump is motivated by one thing and one thing only:  adulation.  In the evangelical community, he has found the perfect all-you-can-eat buffet for that kind of adulation.  This community has forgiven him the same sexual peccadilloes for which they had pilloried Bill Clinton 20 years earlier.  They forgive him his greed, his thievery, his enrichment of his family coffers at the taxpayer's expense -- all because he has promised them that he will end abortion once and for all, and gone even beyond Saint Ronald Reagan in that he has said that there should be some sort of punishment for women who have them.

Abortion has been the low-hanging fruit for GOP politicians since the late 1960s.  Most of them have given lip service to opposition to abortion, but until Trump came along, with his insatiable appetite for a constantly-replenishing plate of worship, they all knew that legal abortion was their best friend -- because it gave the so-called "values voters" something on which to focus besides the massive transfer of wealth from those very voters up to people like, well, Donald Trump.

The scenario above could very well happen.  The laws mentioned have already been attempted in various states.  The North Carolina legislature really DID try to get Christianity declared as the official state religion in 2013.  So-called "personhood" laws have been attempted in a number of states.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg can't go on forever.  Neither can Stephen Breyer, who is 78 this year.  It is entirely probable, even likely, that the Democratic Party WILL decide to nominate a Gillibrand/Harris ticket in 2020.  There is no way that such a ticket can win, not with white women in the south and the flyover states unbothered by Trump's misogyny, and especially not when Russian election interference is still going on in 2018.  So it is very plausible that Donald Trump may get to name FOUR Supreme Court justices.

So what then?  With abortion being THE right-wing issue for over forty years, what happens when they get what they want?  What happens if they even get capital punishment for abortion providers and women?  Obviously more women will die from back-alley and self-abortions.  More unwanted children will be born and live miserable lives with parents who don't want them and have no social safety net to provide things like basic nutrition.  Those are the social and public health costs.  But what of those evangelical voters?  Abortion has been their signature issue, and often their sole focus, ever since Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973.  When they get what they want, and when they even get Griswold v. Connecticut repealed, and all of the most-used contraceptives are deemed to be abortifacient (even though they are not), and when young women, their heads shaved to better adhere the electrodes, are shown on Fox News led off to their executions because fertilized egg was found upon microscopic examination of their tampons, what then?  What do the evangelicals want next?

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Emily Hayward died today

I didn't know her. 

Neither did most of her 52,175 YouTube subscribers.

As ever less of our lives become private, and as companies like Google and Facebook seem to know more about us every day, I've noticed that the "Recommended For You" section of my YouTube page is showing a lot of things to which I never subscribed.  Back when Mr. Brilliant was sick, I did a lot searching for information about cancer.  And because of the work I did until recently, I was always looking for various published papers about disease assessment for various types of cancers, since there are differences between the way, say, solid tumors are measured vs. hematological cancers.

But Google, who now owns YouTube, decided that I would be interested in looking at videos by what is known as "cancer vloggers."  These are people with cancer who document their journeys on video, from diagnosis through treatment, and whatever comes beyond. So one day I clicked on a video by a young woman in the UK named Emily Hayward, who had been battling metastatic melanoma for seven years, since she was seventeen years old.

There were over 250 of her videos. 

I haven't watched all of them.  I know what a time suck YouTube is.  But something about this young woman's ferocity grabbed my attention, and kept it there. 

Emily Hayward was a fitness instructor and cancer warrior.  Diagnosed with melanoma in 2011, lymph node metastasis in 2013, and distant metastases in her liver, lung and brain in 2015, she spent nearly a third of her life battling one of the most dreaded cancers.  It does not appear that she was a sun worshipper; she described herself in one of her videos as "always moley" -- but one of those moles went bad, and today claimed her life at the damnably unfair age of 24.

She was also a lesbian, whose wife, Aisha Hasan, knew she had melanoma when they first got together.  They were married two months ago, both fully aware that their married life would be short.  I think that for me, as compelling as seeing Emily deal with her journey with a toughness and determination that I'm not sure I would have, it was also Aisha, whose wisdom about life and death, and whose stalwart good cheer, loving attitude and level-headedness in the face of what she clearly knew was going to be a shortened life with her soulmate, who grabbed my heart.  I wish that I could have been the kind of caregiver she was.  I wish I could have been like her.  It is one of my greatest regrets that I wasn't.

In the last video before Emily's death, Aisha says before they head out for the latest scan results, "You're going to walk in there with the same amount of stuff in your body as when you walk out. Even if they say you've got 26 tumors, you have those 26 tumors in you right now, and yet you've been to the gym....so it doesn't really matter.  You're still in control of it, I'm still in control of it.  They're just helping by telling us the facts."  Who among us is that wise? Who among us even has the presence of mind at such a time to even be able to think that way?

Five days before her death, Emily was at her beloved gym.  She was able to even write a farewell message on her Instagram page, right down to her trademark opening, "What's going on guys?":

What’s going on guys? After 8 long years of kicking cancer in the ass my body got tired, I achieved everything I wanted to and more. With all my loved ones around me I have now peacefully left you all. Thank you all for your love and support, but most of all thank you for always following my journey and believing in me. Love you all, peace Em 
We talk about people "losing their battle with cancer."  It's a terrible phrase; it makes it sound as if they just didn't TRY hard enough.  The way you win the battle with cancer is not by simply surviving to see another day, or another year, or another fifteen years.  It's by living the life we've got with the people we love, going out on our own terms, and living on in the hearts of those we love, and sometimes, even those we don't even know but who we have touched somehow.  It appears that Emily Hayward was able to do just that. 

Not all cancer vloggers are young, but most of them are.  Some of it is the tendency that young people (and even the not-so-young) have to share everything about their lives.  But for these young people with these horrifying prognoses, there's more to it than just conventional oversharing that young people seem to do these days.  These are people who are too young to have found their ultimate place in the world yet.  They haven't had even the option to have children.  Some, like Sophia Gall, who died earlier this year, never even get to finish high school.  But what they do have is a furious desire to leave their mark; to make their lives meaningful, to let the world know that they were here...and to be remembered.  If their time here is going to be short, they want to make it count, and their message to all of us is to treasure every day we have, because we never know what tomorrow will bring.

You've taught us well.  Now rest, warrior woman.

 
 
(Follow Emily's journey here.)

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Suicide Isn't Painless

Last night I was Google-searching, trying to find some little nugget of news that would allow me to believe that Anthony Bourdain did not mean to end his life, but that it was an erotic asphyxiation experiment gone wrong, the way it did for David Carradine.  I want to believe the latter because then I can be angry instead of so damn sad. Because then I can rail about men and their dicks and not have to think about how the world is now even darker than it was two days ago.

I spent last evening watching a series of CNN talking heads reminiscing through their shock at the death of their colleague, interspersed with clips from Parts Unknown, followed by a binge of YouTube clips until midnight.  That just made things worse. 

Bourdain was more than just a celebrity chef, a travel writer, a memorist, a foodie, and an almost Hemingway-esque figure of conventional masculinity who could also be a vocal advocate for #metoo.  He was nothing less than the Poet Laureate of food:

"It is indeed marvelous
An irony-free zone
Where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.
Where everybody, regardless of race, creed, color, or degree of inebriation is welcomed.
Its warm, yellow glow a beacon of hope and salvation
Inviting the hungry, the lost, the seriously hammered
All across the South
To come inside
A place of safety
And nourishment.
It never closes
It is always...always faithful
Always there...for you."

Do you know what that's about?  Well, here's your answer, about 23 seconds in: 


Who else could write this about Waffle House, of all places?  Those roadway food joints that beckon long distance truckers and interstate vacationers, now forever tainted by yet another angry white incel asshole.

Or this:

"The Mediterranean Sea itself trembles
The ground shakes beneath the wheels
Of our heavy metal thunder
Back in Beirut after all these years
The first time I was here did not end well
But it made no difference to me
I love it here
In spite of everything
I love it here"

Who else would write this about BEIRUT, of all places?


Type in "Anthony Bourdain" into YouTube and just pick a video....any video.  Every one is a  gem of poetry and deliciousness and breathtaking visual beauty, as if the humdrum travelogues to which we're accustomed were suddenly being experienced on hallucinogens, our perceptions ticked up a notch.  Strangers become friends, ugliness and desolation becomes art, and the food that fries and simmers and is dished up by people whose faces show the trials of their lives in the dark alleys of the world becomes the nectar of the gods.

Ask most people what they would do if they won the lottery, and they say "I'd travel the world."  For most people, that means seeing the major world sites that we know about.  Anthony Bourdain at the time of his death had built a career that most people can only dream about.   Yes, his celebrity and the resources provided him by virtue of having a television show allowed him to be welcomed in places most of us would not dare venture, and invited into people's homes to actually share in the lives that real people live in countries all over the world.  But where most people might look at the overall magnificence of some edifice somewhere in the same travel photos everyone takes, Anthony Bourdain would find the little fresco hidden in the corner that most people never would notice, of someone ancient cooking something over a fire, and then go out looking for that something in an alley in the worst part of town -- and find it.

We look at others, particularly people who have fame and money, and think their lives are charmed, that they could not possibly have any inner pain. Ordinary people, yes.  My mother attempted suicide when I was nine years old, but had I been old enough to really understand it (and if we'd actually been told about it at the time, but we weren't), it would not have been surprising, given the number of times I'd seen her sprawled on the steps crying.  My mother survived.  Her sister, who took the same dose of the same sleeping pill four years later, didn't. 

My aunt was to all outside appearances the perfect 1950s housewife.  Trim, pretty, with a handsome husband and three smart, active sons, she kept a tidy home, baked cookies, and wrote down recipes in meticulous, tiny handwriting.  Her suicide took place on Mother's Day, of all days.  I think it was meant as a giant "Fuck you" to her own mother, rather than to her children, but I will never be sure.  I am not in contact with any cousins from that side of the family, and I can't say I blame them for wanting no reminders of what their mother did. 

Even Mr. Brilliant was not immune.  I now believe that he battled intermittent depression for much of his life, but in 1989, after quitting his job to take a computer programming class at NYU School of Continuing Education and being told by the instructor that no one without a degree would pass the course, he went into a tailspin that resulted in me bodily stopping him from driving up to the George Washington Bridge and jumping.  And when he became ill with bladder cancer, his first instinct was to go to an assisted suicide state (not that he would have passed the psych test these states require).  It was really only after the first of his surgeries for moyamoya that he started to feel hopeful about the future (which makes the fact that he had a stroke a month later almost to the day that much more heartbreaking).

So yes, we get it when ordinary people are destroyed by their own thwarted dreams.  My family members with depression all had broken dreams of one kind or another.  Mom had been a talented violinist.  My aunt had a degree in physical chemistry from Temple University.  Mr. Brilliant had built a career as a computer network whiz out of nothing only to find himself aged out of it, scrambling from one short-term contract to the next.  But what of someone like Anthony Bourdain, who from all outside appearances had the kind of larger-than-life life that so many dream of but never even think they can achieve?

Days before he died, Bourdain bought a John Lurie painting titled "The Sky Is Falling, I am Learning to Live With It." 


Did this painting, which could be interpreted as a mind crumbling, speak to what was going on in Bourdain's mind?  Does it reflect the kind of "Things fall apart, the center cannot hold" feeling of dread so many of us feel in the age of Trump, only he, this TV avatar of articulate tough-guyness, was somehow less able to deal with it than we have been (at least so far)?  Had he received a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimers, or Lewy Body Dementia, or some other disease that would gradually take away his ability to travel, to eat, to taste food, to do what he was clearly born to do?  Or is it simply another case of a genius unable to live in his own head?

Most of us who lose someone we love have a certain amount of anger towards the person who died:  "How could you leave me?"  It's irrational, and our rational mind usually deals with it fairly quickly so we can do the work of grieving.  In the case of suicide, it's more difficult for that anger to dissipate.  Suicide is abandonment writ large -- not only did the person leave us, but did it deliberately.  And why? 

And that is part of why losing Anthony Bourdain hits harder than some other celebrity suicides.  Because this was a man who transcended national borders.  He visited countries we're supposed to think of as enemies.  He was welcomed into people's homes.  He showed us that no matter what our politicians think, people are people and that cooking food, serving food, trying new foods, sharing food, brings us all just a little closer.  It becomes that much more difficult to think about being at war with Iran when you've seen Anthony Bourdain share a bounteous and delicious meal with an Iranian family.  None of that was enough to keep him with us.  So in an age when hate and division is on the rise, being cooked up in the dark alleys of the minds of white nationalists, we are left to wonder:  What did Anthony Bourdain see coming that made it all seem futile?  What did he see coming that we haven't yet perceived?

And so here we are, scouring Google to find some kind of explanation -- an erotic asphyxiation experiment gone wrong, an unknown, potentially fatal neurological disease, something, anything, so that we don't have to think that someone who could navigate the rural roads and urban alleys of the world and make it just a bit kinder, a bit warmer, a bit more nourishing, was unable to navigate his own mind.