100,001 Hours

“Someday we’d do useful things, we’d rise above, be kings and queens / But knew cheap chairs would always be our thrones …”—“All That,” Sparks, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip

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My first few hours sober were spent in anticipation of my next drink. Up until then, any hours sober—at work, or asleep, or at a social engagement in which alcohol was not present for reasons mysterious—were spent in cheerful anticipation of the next drink. Years, decades, passed with me either inebriated or in anticipation of that state.

I am one of those alcoholics who detested drunkenness in myself or in those around me. I only wanted the pleasant, detached, “buzzed” sensation, but the moment alcohol hit my bloodstream, I lost any capability to remain in that pleasant condition—the thought/sensation was, “If this feels good, more will feel better”—and so the land of drunkenness is usually where I landed. Decades. Decades.

On July 15, 2010, I was out of alcohol, out of money, out of food, recently fired from a sales job in front of customers (that’s a fun memory to have), and I anticipated my next (the last) paycheck from that employer. The paycheck came a day late, on July 17, and that extra day is how I am alive and sober today to write these words. July 15, 2010, was 100,000 hours ago today. I think there are more than 100,000 people to thank.
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“Bacon makes everything better.”—a sign in Susannah Mushatt Jones’s kitchen.

As of today, March 10, 2016, the 19th Century is still alive. Two individuals born in the century before last, Susannah Mushatt Jones of Brooklyn, New York, and Emma Morano of Verbania, Italy, are still with us. Each was born in 1899. Thus, the last breath of that century is nearly here. They are the two oldest people on the planet. The third oldest, a Jamaican woman named Violet Brown, turns 116 today, but she was born in 1900; she is the oldest person alive who was born in the 20th Century.

That said, either one of these two women could yet outlive me. (I started cleaning the back porch two days ago and I am still out of breath. I’m 47 going on a not very robust 88.) Further, although each woman is on the top 20 list of longest lived people of all time, they have several years to catch up to Jeanne Calment of Arles, France, who died in 1997 at the age of 122. No one with the paperwork to prove it has lived longer than Jeanne Calment did.

Miss Mushatt Jones is 116 years and 248 days old today. She was born on July 6, 1899, in Alabama, and one of her grandparents was a slave. When Jeralean Talley died in June, 2015, at the age of 116, Miss Jones became the oldest verified person on Earth. “I’m the oldest person in the world? No I’m not,” she is said to have exclaimed to her relatives.

Miss Morano was born on November 29, 1899, 116 years and 102 days ago.
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