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It took me more than forty years to sing in public, but now I quite enjoy it, even if I still have anxiety because I know I don’t sing well. Still, it’s a long way from the time when I wouldn’t even sing in front of my family. My father was happy to sing but he embarrassed me, because he always sang with a huge smile on his face, while I rarely smiled at all. I can’t pinpoint the time when I changed from the happy child that can be seen in early photos to the miserable bastard that I am now. It was well before the typical age when changes like that happen, as a teenager. Was it the same age–eight or nine–as I stopped believing in Satan, and then God? But shouldn’t that have been a happy time, knowing I was free of the illusions that held most of the world down? Or did I then begin to mourn the realization that I was different, and therefore doomed to a life of loneliness? That was a tough understanding to come to at such an early age, especially since it’s turned out not to be a pessimistic lie, but eerily prescient: I have indeed spent the bulk of my life alone. Contrary to popular opinion, my greatest fear isn’t to die alone, but to live alone, since I have to face that reality every day, and I’ve always had the feeling that, while I may not be immortal (although, I might be, it remains to be seen), I’m going to live for an awfully, terribly long time. When Halley’s Comet was all the rage in 1986, and everyone was thrilling to its rare appearance, I determined that I’d wait until the next time it came back to view it, even though I’d begged for a telescope for Christmas, largely on the premise that I’d need it for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Well, once-in-a-lifetime experience for most, but surely at least twice-in-a-lifetime for me.

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