I always felt a kinship with Hitchens because we shared infection with the big "C"; his, esophageal; mine, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL.  Cancers are tricky little bastards: they can take someone out in a month or two, or let him live with the disease as best he may for years and years.  I am not bragging, but I am over a decade into my inconveniences and humiliations.  If I ask, why did Hitchens go so fast but I am yet alive, I waste both his time and yours.  I am not comparing myself to him in any way at all; we had at most freethinking spirits in common, but I am the first to admit that his audacity in that department made me wonder if some all-powerful caliph, somewhere, found a way to infect him with his cancer.  If America is "the Great Satan," Hitchens to a Wahhabist would have appeared Public Enemy Number One.  I don't have the cajones for that role.

But I can do what I should to convince my believer friends that their greatest fear is their impetus to belief; that is, if I can make the Christian see that nothing becomes of us when we die, nothing good nor bad, nothing but Nothing Itself.  I know a lot of atheists like to say that they had no consciousness prior to birth, and they will have none after death, so why fear it?  Science tell us this; religion speaks of heaven and hell.  I like the old jingle about "worms crawling in, worms crawling out/Worms play pinocle on my snout."  Or Woody Allen's famous, "Oh, I'm not afraid of death.  I just don't want to be there when it happens."  I had a moment to think of things like that when, during the second chemo a year ago, I had a bad reaction to Rituxan, a virulent substance that caused my blood to boil.  I got overheated and started to hyperventilate.  The oncologist was called in and order an immediate shot of antihistamine.  I could have died I suppose.  But it was Nothing.

Hitchens, though, in addition to talking the talk, walked the walk.  He took to heart the saying of Friedrich Nietzsche: "The worth of a spirit is its capacity to endure the truth."

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Comment by James M. Martin on January 21, 2012 at 7:11pm

@Philip Jackson Armstrong none of the great poets was entirely coherent so quit fretting on it.  I lost good friends to AIDS.  I was a drunk the whole time; maybe that kept me from getting HIV.  I had only slightly less libido than Aleister Crowley and tastes quite as catholic.  Blessed?  That word does not bother me: I heard it daily here, as in "Have a blessed day," but pronouncing it improperly, as if "Blessed" were one syllable.  It is not.  It is pronounced "Bless-ed," two syllables.  I think it can have a secular meaning as well.  If not, it still doesn't bother me.  Take care.

Comment by Philip Jackson Armstrong on January 20, 2012 at 9:24pm

 I suppose as usual I can't be coherent, but in a way James you have the gift of understanding your mortality. A number of people in my life just died... no time to reflect, no time to be pissed off they weren't smarter when they were younger, no time to say good bye. Just dead. Like I said before "Never forget... you aren't dead yet!" From my point of view you are... can't help myself "blessed". Skewed sense of humor eh?

Comment by James M. Martin on January 12, 2012 at 9:00pm

Can't drink; quit 18 years ago.  Can't quit law either, love doing it too much.  The guy got 60 years cause he wouldn't shut up about how the D.A. had framed him.  Judges get attached to their D.A.'s.  The cons ask "What's about 14 inches long, red and blue, and dangles from the judge's backside?" If you don't answer fast the con says, "The prosecutor's necktie."

Comment by Frankie Dapper on January 12, 2012 at 8:55pm

James, I quit my law practice. Life is better. I have no idea what a revocation hearing is. Isn't sixty years excessive?

Have a drink and find out where and when the next obliterate the cll cells clinical trial is. I remember that there is a phone number for cancer specialist at upenn's abramson cancer center. Just read a quick story by one of the participants one year post trial and still nothing bad medically.

Comment by James M. Martin on January 12, 2012 at 8:10pm

Thanks, Philip.  I had to be in court for five hours today in a revocation hearing which ended in my client getting 60 years in prison.  (He had fondled a young girl and thanked the court for putting him on probation by going out and ignoring the sex offender registration law, saying he hadn't done the crime so that law did not apply to him.)  I sympathize will all people who have sometimes less than spiffy jobs, but everyone has a right to counsel.  I think they appointed me to handle this guy because they figured I would retire immediately.  Age brings paranoid.

Comment by Philip Jackson Armstrong on January 12, 2012 at 8:03pm

Don't ever forget you are not dead yet James.

Comment by James M. Martin on January 10, 2012 at 5:51pm

Thanks, Sentient B.  Nice of you to say so.  I am just a retired freelance writer who supposedly wrote well when I cared not a whit about the subject matter.  The problem is, that is the definition of a hack, so I went to law school and the rest is history.  I always have writing projects to make extensive notes about, but I never manage to finish anything.  You'd think I would be more religious so I could say, "God doesn't want me to write a play."  In other words, I could blame somebody else, taking the easy way out.  That's why their stupid religion is so fucking popular.

Comment by James M. Martin on January 10, 2012 at 7:26am

Thanks for the info Glen, I had heard a bit about the gene modification.  I will look into that.  Take care.

Comment by Frankie Dapper on January 9, 2012 at 10:27pm

James, sorry you have to deal with that. I have a friend who was recently diagnosed with same illness. I have done some research and there are some positive developments. The less significant development involves t cells after chemo. Essentially your own cells will regenerate you immune system obviating long term antibiotics (provided chemos is effective).

The really encouraging news was at UPenn's cancer research center where gene modification was used on three patients who elected this experimental treatment rather than a bone marrrow transplant. Two of three were utterly cured! Pounds of tumors eliminated. Only took a few weeks and patients experienced flu like symptoms when their bodies fought back.

If you are not aware and you are interested I can find the sites.

Comment by James M. Martin on January 9, 2012 at 9:34pm

I don't like that word but that is about it.  What they do is kill off enough of the abnormal white cells to allow the others to function properly, or almost properly, but it is a matter of time before the white cell count is astronomical again and then what?  I'd rather not think about it.  The Buddhists have a much healthier notion of Nothing.  But then they call it emptiness and see it in everything the senses can summon into being.  I probably should have used the word empty instead of nothing.  We get all filled up with life and it has to be emptied.

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