Elisabeth Kübler-Ross can bïte me

I don’t meant that of course. I don’t claim anything of a deep understanding of her work. It’s a link-bait headline and the closest thing to a fair interpretation is that I mean is that she’s the poster child for thinking about grief and I’m tired about thinking about grief. I’m tired of bursting into tears. I’m tired of reliving Tuesday morning. Tired.

A more accurate title would be The Uninformed and Unfair Caricature of Things Other People Have Said About What Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Wrote Can Bite Me, but that doesn’t really sing. And it’s missing the extra umlaut. Did you know an umlaut is also called a diaeresis? Neither did I.  You’re welcome. Anyway, Carla actually invited Dr. Kübler-Ross to take a big bite out of the big old existential whatever sometime Tuesday afternoon, and I guess I internalized what she said.  It popped into my head this morning after reading through some comments from yesterday’s post.

I’m not tired of missing Bock. From what I’ve read in so much of what you kind people have written to Carla and me, I’m always going to miss Bock.  We’re always going to miss Bock. And I’m completely OK with that. What I’m not OK with is Carla having to mourn and miss Bock and worry about my sorry ass at the same time. So I’m going to stop that now. The part about having to worry about my sorry ass, I mean.

My father died when I was 16 and dealing with his death kept me pretty much screwed up into my 30s.  Note what that sentence says: it wasn’t his death that screwed me up, it was how I dealt with it. I’ve been to too damned many funerals since then. I’ve learned a few things that work for me. I’m not going to talk about those, not right now anyway because it’s just self-indulgent and boring. Sufficed to say that in my head a death or something equally bad is just an excuse for my psyche to throw a party and invite every terrible thing I’ve ever thought whether it has anything to do with anything or not.

The problem with that is that is … well .. pretty much everything. But what I’ve been fortunate enough to see this time around is that one of the bad things it does is take up a lot of mental processing time that’s much better spent being amazed at how wonderful people are. And holy crap, you people are fantastic. Carla and I have said over and over to each other how amazing everyone has been about supporting us through this awful time. Some of you have written about the pets you lost. Some have simply said ‘sorry’ in just a few words. Some, on Facebook, just hit the ‘like’ button trusting that we’d understand that what they were liking was us and not what happened.  Stupid Facebook.  But don’t worry, we got it the way you meant it. And each and every one of those things wove a tapestry that is more than the sum of its parts. I’ve not been out of the house since this happened — not unusual given how I work — but Carla was surrounded by folks at Cincinnati State yesterday who came over to lend their support to her in person. She is grateful, and so am I. The folks I work with have been great. We mostly talk on the phone and via IM and e-mail, but it’s helped so much. I’m grateful. I’m humbled. You have made me want to be a better person. Anyone out there who says social media doesn’t lend itself to real interpersonal relationships are hereby cordially invited to kiss my ass. Clearly I have work to do on that whole ‘better person’ thing.

I said up above that for me, at least, experiencing the death of a loved one seems to be a black hole that attracts every crappy thing I think about (and there are a lot of those). Relevance or accuracy aren’t prerequisites for showing up, and are actually discouraged it seems. This loss of a cat who means so much to me (for his meaning doesn’t end with his life) has forced me to look at who I am and what I believe about how I relate to the world around me. Or, more precisely, how the world inside my head looks at the world outside my head. More than the death of a person, the death of a pet makes you look at how you relate to things because there aren’t all those messy words and opposable thumbs to make things complicated. Unless your pet is a monkey.  But then you have other issues.  Anyway, there is something streamlined about this, for lack of a better phrase. And it’s made me realize something that needs to be said. To come out, if you will.

So, thus it is spoken here in this place on this day in my 50th year:

I, Tom Streeter, declare myself to be … an introvert.



OK, so I’m sure this is as big a shock as Brian Boitano coming out as gay. I will be happy provide feathers upon request so you can knock yourself over. (But only for knocking yourself over, you sickos.)(Be a better person, be a better person, be a better better person.  Dammit. This is going to be hard.)

introvertCarla found this graphic on Facebook and shared it with me. The funny thing is, I really thought I was anti-social. Sort of the opposite of this from the movie Clerks:

Dante: You hate people!
Randal: But I love gatherings. Isn’t it ironic?

And it turns out that I am exactly the opposite of that. People are OK in small doses, but — no offense intended, really — being around a lot you people collectively really kind of sucks for me. But I like what you think. I like that you think. I even like meeting new people. Slowly. Over a period of time. And please don’t take it personally if I don’t jump at the chance to be in the same room with you at the same time.  really, it’s me, not you.  You’re great. But can you just talk to me on Twitter? Cool.

So 140 characters may not be your thing (ohhh, look at Mr. and/or Ms Fancypants with the complex ideas that can’t be boiled down to the length of a one-liner). That’s OK. I think I’m going to keep writing about whatever the hell I think about here and there’s Facebook or Twitter or comments that we can have a conversation.

I don’t want all the joking around to overwhelm the only real point I have in writing all of this.  Thank you.  Thank you each and every one. You have kept me going, and I am grateful in ways I can never say.

5 thoughts on “Elisabeth Kübler-Ross can bïte me

  1. Hawley

    What others have said – nails it. Seeing you guys recently only heightened my awareness of how glad/grateful I feel to (still) be a friend, since those G-days so long ago (early ’90s, holy moly Rocky). So glad the links didn’t vaporize. Looking forward to reading more. Will stop here — running the risk of venturing into effusive sentimentality, or the appearance thereof…

  2. Susan Russell Devlin

    Just some random thoughts: I really applaud your efforts to blog more often. I’ve started and stopped, but never kept up with it. You inspire me. I was taken aback by your statement in the last post that you don’t like people, when you seem to be so personable, even chatty, when I’ve talked with you. But see? You’re just an introvert like most of us who like to think and write and talk about writing and write about thinking. I actually like people…in small doses with lots of solitude in between. And not on the phone. I really hate the phone.

    1. Tom Streeter Post author

      Sometimes I’m just doing stand-up, but I do pretty well if the conversation isn’t just time-filling. And there *are* people I enjoy being around. But it’s a delicate balance. Add to all that the fact that I love telling stories and I’m very confused much of the time.

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