“Death is a Door…”

“… we all acted alone, we were caught alone, and every one of us will have to die alone. But that doesn’t mean that we are alone.”  (Hans Fallada, 1947)

“Every living creature on earth dies alone.”  (Donnie Darko, 2001)

Donnie Darko and Roberta Sparrow

Donnie Darko and Roberta Sparrow

“Everybody dies alone.”  (Firefly, 2002)

“Son. Everyone dies alone. That’s what it is. It’s a door. It’s one person wide. When you go through it, you do it alone.”  (Dead Beat, 2005)

Are you afraid to die?  It seems like a simple question, but it requires you to be brutally honest with yourself.  What are your beliefs?  Are you religious?  Do you actually believe your religion’s tenants on death and afterlife?  

I suppose it could make a difference to you if you genuinely felt God will be with you when you shuffle off the mortal coil.   But I imagine some people clutch to their ideas of an afterlife specifically to keep at bay the terrors of death.  What happens when we die?  Do we just cease to exist?  I for one can’t conceive of not being aware, not being able to think.  

Have you ever had a serious illness or injury and felt that black stab of panic?  Am I going to die?  Maybe you’ve just been in a significant amount of pain and felt like you would die. (If you’ve ever had a migraine, you might sympathize with the thought of wishing for death, or at the very least, a long narcotic induced oblivion.)  I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks sometimes as well, which can make even a non-life-threatening situation feel exponentially worse. Suddenly, you think that migraine may actually kill you…just give you a stroke or something.

In these moments, that’s when our true feelings about death surface.

I’d like to think if my family was on a plane and it was going down, I’d be okay as long as my last moments were spent with those dearest to me, my husband and child.  But it’s been my experience that when you are in that moment of fear, panicked, you are completely alone.  

Don’t get me wrong.  Not every death is untimely or traumatic.  You may die of old age, going peacefully in your sleep, or surrounded by loved ones, but death is a door and it’s only one person wide.  We all walk through it alone.

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Miss America the Beautiful…and Dumb

When I stepped next door to talk to the neighbor for a moment last night, I happened to catch a few minutes of what I can only assume was the swim suit portion of the Miss America competition.  A few minutes was all I needed.  Aside from frustrating me on a personal level, I was rather disgusted to note that aside from hair color and skin color, every contestant looked the same to me.  Not only is this the standard of “beauty” to which our women are being held, apparently there is only one type of beautiful woman.  Tall, slender, young, with long hair.

There is no room for curvy women, athletic women, women over 30, women with visible tattoos or stretch marks from having children, or women with short hair.

Now before you ardent pageant supporters and perfect tens protest and peg me as another bitter, overweight housewife, or something else you all deem equally unappealing, I know you all want to act like the Miss America is about “tradition” and “integrity” and all those other glorious phrases. The very first line on the Miss America website under “Miss America History” is this:

“Miss America represents the highest ideals. She is a real combination of beauty, grace, and intelligence, artistic and refined. She is a type which the American Girl might well emulate.”

But let’s call a spade a spade.  This is…a joke.

I mean, let me get this straight.  These young women, whose age and body type represent but a small fraction of the women living in America, are supposed to be my role models?

They could be a quiz on alllooksame.com.

They could be a quiz on alllooksame.com…  except, does Miss America even allow Asians, or is that a little too much diversity? EAT A DAMN SANDWICH!

~sigh~ But let’s get real.  This won’t change anytime soon, because despite their claims to elevated global and intellectual awareness, the Miss America pageants are nothing but beauty pageant masquerading as an American tradition.  I confess myself disappointed.

2013-miss-america-pageant-contestants

As to the claims that this competition is a combination of ideals of “beauty, grace, and intelligence,” I leave you with some of the dumbest things contestants have ever said:

Response to why 1/5 Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a map: “I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as in, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq and everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future for our children.”

At Miss World American 1992: “We are truly the land of the great. From the rock shores of… Hawaii… to the beautiful sandy beaches of… Hawaii… America is our home.”

Question: Would you rather be more smart, or more beautiful? “Well, I’d rather choose to be beautiful, um because, to be beautiful it’s natural. But being smart you can learn… you can learn, um a lot of things… a lot of things from the experience… you can learn from a lot of things being smart.” *You’ll note on the above quote that even the question is stupid…

Should the U.S. have universal health care as a right of citizenship? “I think this is an issue of integrity regardless of which end of the political spectrum that I stand on. I was raised in a family to know right from wrong and politics, whether or not you fall in the middle, the left or the right its an issue of integrity, no matter what your opinion is, and I say that with the utmost conviction.”  *Spoken like a true politician…

Explain the Confucius quote “Learning without thought is labor lost”:“Good evening, Panama. Confucius was one of whom invented confusion and that’s why, uhh… One of the most ancient, he was one of the Chinese…. Japanese who were one of the most ancient. Thank you.” *Oh, sweet bleeding Jesus…I mean, sweet Confuscius!

I rest my case.