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Collection II
Volume II, Unit 10
by Matthew Dexter

The 3 Stages of Death & Dying

The 3 Stages of Death & Dying (Volume II. Unit 10)
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The 3 Stages of Death & Dying

10:50 A.M.: Psychology

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance is what they taught you in college with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross as the model. The entire class had the opportunity to visit Arizona adobe house the year before her death for a private lecture—but you never showed up because you’re too school for cool.

“Pick up,” you say, “Come on…”

Making it to classes is hard enough; no need to get your panties in a bunch by going the distance and listening to a psychological pioneer of death and dying; you know how it’s going to end.

You learned more than enough about what to expect. Ample"You learned more than enough about what to expect. Ample, almost infinite information was given to the class about how to prepare for the inevitable...", almost infinite information was given to the class about how to prepare for the inevitable, extensive details about something you won’t be aware of until it’s too late. You watched the beautiful blonde psychology professor in Mesa Community College: those tight pants and that perfect accent, the face, the intellectualism and elegance—visceral palpitating beauty, genius like a blossoming pink pullover sweater—classy; where was she from: Germany, maybe? Too young to be a M.I.L.F., but not old enough to stop you—stuttering, hypnotized and transfixed when she spoke to your glowing orange irises.

You try to play it cool, nonchalant"You try to play it cool, nonchalant, but she can see right through...", but she can see right through, her pupils penetrate your cartilage, rip the clothes from your flesh. Would it be remotely possible—viable"Would it be remotely possible—viable even—to fall in love and get more than an A, maybe a baby and a bloody nose?" even—to fall in love and get more than an A, maybe a baby and a bloody nose? She thanked you after last class when you were third to turn in the exam—said you were a good student, but you didn’t kiss her, only slid away; reciprocating your lust to a blanket in the backseat of the car. Your arm was injured that morning. The pain lasted eight years; tennis elbow, tendonitis, or too much back-and-forth? Her voice can ebb"Her voice can ebb and flow so mellifluously, in those moments when she lights up like a Christmas tree..." and flow so mellifluously sometimes, in those moments when she lights up like a Christmas tree, a majestic crimson wave at sunset as the warm breath of her nostrils can cause female mosquitoes to bounce off the windowpanes outside just trying to get closer to that mammalian carbon dioxide. She fills the room with steam and Eastern-European majesty. Can we connect the world without borders? Can I sit on your lap like Santa Claus and tell you what I want for Christmas?

Everything that escapes her lips seems ambiguous"Everything that escapes her lips seems ambiguous, as if there is a million hidden meanings in the crevasses of her sentences.", as if there is a million hidden meanings in the crevasses of her sentences. Sunglasses on ear, you watch for the light to pop. Running your unkempt fingernails against the slate of the blackboard, you’re inspired to... let's say, ameliorate"... you're inspired to... let's say, ameliorate the interior design in the classroom; let's alter all the desks, tear down the old notices, the chalkboard, paint the wall, put up some fresh maps." the interior design in the classroom; let’s alter all the desks, tear down the old notices, the chalkboard, paint the walls, put up some fresh maps.

You wonder whether she gets wild outside the classroom, or whether she’s austere"You wonder whether she gets wild outside the classroom, or whether she's austere, serious as a heart attack, with that sober confidence that cannot conceal her innermost consciousness.", serious as a heart attack, with that sober confidence that cannot conceal her innermost consciousness. She must get crazy. She smiles and laughs and loves and haunts. Why else would you remember her so fondly, why would she be so fresh in your memory so many years later?

Introduction to Political Science (Political Science 101)

We all coalesce"We all coalesce after lunch, all seven of your holy continents. We come together in the little classroom with the private door..." after lunch, all seven of your holy continents. We come together in the little classroom with the private door where the middle-aged teacher smokes menthol cigarettes with no regrets. He’s a bleeding-heart liberal. He’s obscure, nobody knows his name and he’ll never find fame, but his heart is El Dorado, his belly is Buddha, his knowledge too much for one classroom to hold. How can we attain what is in his soul? He is the community college and the Maricopa Mountains that surround it.

Two male students talk about MTV Cribs; but they’ll never make it. Their future will surely end closer to a ramshackle debacle"Two male students talk about MTV Cribs; but they'll never make it. Their future will surely end closer to a ramshackle debacle than mansions and triumphs..." than mansions and triumphs, you’re sure of that. It will be devastation, utter chaos, a calamity of epic proportions. Well, you can’t save the world. You draw water from the fountain before class to soak your stomach and wash the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki foot-long down your damaged esophagus. You don’t care about presentation; just want it fast, fresh and appetizing, always full of lettuce and the rest, and extra jalapeños. Palatable"You don't care about presentation; just want it fast, fresh and appetizing, always full of lettuce and the rest, and extra jalapeños. Palatable food is God." food is God. Melted parmesan fills the porous surface of the toasted oregano-garlic bread. You love your second stomach, your duodenum. If you could, you would sing it an elegy"You love your second stomach, your duodenum. If you could, you would sing it an elegy, a funeral peroration to get across your devotion to bringing about its demise.", a funeral peroration to get across your devotion to bringing about its demise.

Those boys are looking at you out of the corner of their skewed sclerae, but they can’t seem to keep their heads clear; disaster shall likely come sooner than later for them, God forbid. The vast whiteness of a Class A star burning through retina: Vega. These boys will never blow up, never become famous; they will die in obscurity"These boys will never blow up, never become famous; they will die in obscurity like the rest of us." like the rest of us. They will never find the answers because there are a million meanings to their madness; their classless society will be fine; until they run out of time.

If people are not going to take care of themselves and instead do things detrimental"If people are not going to take care of themselves and instead do things detrimental to their health, then not even Elisabeth Kübler-Ross can help them." to their health, then not even Elisabeth Kübler-Ross can help them. They will not prepare for the inevitable; they cannot be saved.

In the halls these boys try to be stoic; they’re phlegmatic"In the halls these boys try to be stoic; they're phlegmatic, pseudo-slow, not showing any care for the world; they're above it all, indifferent, apathetic.", pseudo-slow, not showing any care for the world; they’re above it all, indifferent, apathetic. But their forearm muscles are enchanting as they fill in the answers and map the bubbles with four letters of the alphabet, as if they were pondering a bowl of soup in the kitchen instead of wishing they knew Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre. Purpled veins throbbing, they dither"... they dither their time away at home as if they owned the right to utopia; never study, complete their homework in the few minutes before the nutty professor enters." their time away at home as if they owned the right to utopia; never study, complete their homework in the few minutes before the nutty professor enters.

Sociology 101 (Introduction to Sociology)

After you escape the gazes of the greatest generation you make it to your final class of the afternoon. Female students are sitting with crossed legs, flip-flops, texting up a demonic teenage carnival. Beware the Gravitron. These girls are impatient, never waiting for anything, restive"These girls are impatient, never waiting for anything, restive, always fidgety, sitting on the edge of the seat as if some invisible comet, orbiting the ceiling panels and sleeping with the spider webs, were controlling their center of gravity.", always fidgety, sitting on the edge of the seat as if some invisible comet, orbiting the ceiling panels and sleeping with the spider webs, were controlling their center of gravity. The emaciated professor is always berating students for eating fast food; for eating it too fast; for eating. He lives with his mother. He’s almost fifty, but looks closer to forty. Just as his opinion of any one of us, his stomach is formless—no, amorphous"Just as his opinion of any one of us, his stomach is formless—no, amorphous, to be precise—to him we're all nameless: cumulonimbus clouds on a Sunday afternoon...", to be precise—to him we’re all nameless: cumulonimbus clouds on a Sunday afternoon as he sips vegetable juice on the inflatable raft in his swimming pool.

Getting an A is next to impossible. Unlike most community college courses, this one only has a couple of senior citizens—always arrive ten minutes early, wait outside, chatting with the jocular"Unlike most community college courses, this one only has a couple of senior citizens—always arrive ten minutes early, wait outside, chatting with the jocular air of adolescents on an afternoon school bus..." air of adolescents on an afternoon school bus, waiting until the previous class ends and the pierced students exit as if a swarm of angry bumblebees into the hall.

The old couple has no compunction"The old couple has no compunction about enrolling in community college; they are too old to have regrets; reluctance is not in their vocabulary." about enrolling in community college; they are too old to have regrets; reluctance is not in their vocabulary. They have no second thoughts about anything, not even losses and coffins and the coughing spells that often disrupt the lecture. They sit in the back holding hands. He takes notes, she handles the recorder. Their attitude is one consumed with secular pleasure: sanguine"Their attitude is one consumed with secular pleasure: sanguine, always upbeat, full of confidence and hope.", always upbeat, full of confidence and hope. You wish you could be part of their family; holding hands over supper, watching crimson desert sunsets, climbing in the back of their golden 1971 Cadillac Eldorado.

The professor talks of living a wholesome and healthy life clean as cranberry juice from a curly straw—salubrious"The professor talks of living a wholesome and healthy life clean as cranberry juice from a curly straw—salubrious and destined for something more tangible than the known stars." and destined for something more tangible than the known stars. But those stellar bulbs capture your attention at night as you’re lying in bed well after midnight. You can’t recant"You can't recant all those youthful indiscretions but you're older now; no longer transfixed by MTV Cribs but instead driven by the desire to fill your womb with child." all those youthful indiscretions but you’re older now; no longer transfixed by MTV Cribs but instead driven by the desire to fill your womb with child. Raising Arizona inspired your vim"... no longer transfixed by MTV Cribs but instead driven by the desire to fill your womb with child. Raising Arizona inspired your vim for life..." for life, climbing that ladder late at night, those rungs, and sneaking away into your baby’s arms; but he never held you tight enough, neither did she; they were merely ghosts, phantasmal delusions driven by madness and insomnia.

You swallow your meds after class over that same water fountain. Your stomach rumbles. You want it all: all knowledge encompassing all the world; you look at your face in the streaky mirror, then check your clothes and hair; but only God is omniscient"You want it all: all knowledge encompassing all the world; you look at your face in the streaky mirror, then check your clothes and hair; but only God is omniscient.".

It’s blasphemous, your innermost thoughts—sacrilege"You want it all: all knowledge encompassing all the world;... but only God is omniscient. It's blasphemous, your innermost thoughts— sacrilege to speak them." to speak them. Nobody will understand anyway.

You bury your deepest thoughts underground and flush the toilet twice. Why worry when the elderly students are in nirvana? Let your conscience burrow itself to China, lodge in the molten rock around the solid core of the earth, trembling half-unconscious, half-naked, perfect, smooth legs against the wall of the stall you give birth and a white dwarf falls from heaven on another folded dimension of the mad elliptical universe. You listen closely to your heartbeats, pulses racing, and a supernova explodes sixteen thousand light years away as the planet spins faster and all that matters is averting unnatural disaster for one more minute, splitting seconds like an atom, and finding that old couple’s gilded Cadillac in the student parking lot before it’s too late, prying open the trunk with a clothes hanger and crawling up into a ball.