Master of the Senate, the third volume of Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson, continues to illuminate the history of my country as no other has done for me. It is a biography of Johnson -- one of the best biographies I have ever read -- but it also, and more importantly, is a history of the United States in the 20th Century. I finally have a bridge from the Civil War era, which I felt I understood quite well, to the present. I can follow the lineages. The line that leads from Nathan Bedford Forrest to Joseph McCarthy to Donald Trump senior to our present affliction; the line that leads from Ulysses S. Grant to my grandfather (a socialist carpenter who moved from New Jersey to Texas, and named his son after Eugene Debs) to Hubert Humphrey to my father and to me -- all this territory is awash in light. So grateful. History is a magnificent thing. To be able to understand the backstory of your own life, and to be able to see the conflicts of our time in a longer perspective. So valuable.
Then there's this book, Atul Gawande's Being Mortal. A lovely and important book. One of the tasks of this part of my life is preparing the end of it properly, so as to save myself and others much grief and expense. I love Gawande's nuance and precision, his recognition of the forces at work. I've seen I suppose more of the ends of lives than most people, as an in-home massage therapist, and I'm grateful for knowing so intimately how the end stages go, and what the choices really mean.
As usual, I'm a keen follower of the long trailing edge: neither of these books is new. But if you haven't read them you should.
I continue. 153 lbs. Today I did five consecutive pull-ups, a personal record. I can do a two-point stand (rising to standing, from being seated on the floor, without aid of hands, elbows, or knees.)
Power was out Sunday morning, so I went to Tom's, for the first time in, oh, six months I suppose. I do like the distant sociability of eating out and working in a cafe, but I don't really miss the food, and I can't really justify the expense. Mulling over whether there might be other ways to arrive at the same end.
My concentration continues to concern me. I am working on my diet book, but not nearly at the rate I would like to be -- four or five pages per week, maybe. It seems to me that I should go several times faster, since really I know what I want to say and how I want to structure it, and I have plenty of free time. But the time, all too often, seems to run out into the sands of social media and disappear. Hmm.
Still, at least I *am* reading and writing again. So that's good.