Hi, Friends. It’s been awhile. I hope you’re all well.
I’m going to ramble on a bit, so maybe make yourself a cup of whatever bitter brew you’re partial to, and come on back. I’m sipping some scalding Earl Grey with orange peel and honey. It’s 7:00am, and I’m dressed for the 6-mile run I’ll start when I finish this post.
It’s 69F and cloudy in Valrico, Florida. Birds are singing outside. I look forward to breathing deeply of the humid morning air for about an hour. I’ll listen to a podcast while I run, probably Starship Sofa, since it’s exactly the right length, and one of my favorites. The host, Tony C. Smith kinda grows on you. I’ve been listening for more than a decade. Good luck with the allotment, Tony.
Some news. Last month, fed up with Facebook’s evil machinations, I downloaded my data and deleted my account. It felt drastic, but necessary. If you miss my Facebook posts, thank you, and I’m sorry to have vanished from your feed.
Facebook’s product is us. I had begun to feel like a sort of digital farm animal, bled daily by an amoral corporation that we now know uses our data in ways not in our best interest, including mining our personal chat conversations. Facebook has become the internet’s most bloated and loathsome parasite. So I’m out. But to those former Facebook friends who miss me there, know that I miss you too. So, if you care, get in touch. There are so many ways. If you’re local, give me a call, and let’s go get a cup of coffee or a couple beers. If you’re not nearby, send an email. I know this is crazy, but you could even write me a letter, on paper. I promise to answer. Postage stamps–a reason to leave the house!
There were scores of people with whom I was acquainted only through Facebook. I decided that Facebook relationships, unless they exist on some other level, are not real relationships in the sense that I want to experience them. And these artificial relationships weren’t worth the data tax I was paying to the Zuckerberg Empire.
I’ll miss Mikhail Iossel’s beautiful photography and writing, the University of Tampa MFA Alumni page, John Santa’s Marathon Jam adventures supporting the Fisher House. I’ll miss seeing relatives’ posts about the lives they live that I never otherwise see. But I’m old enough to remember life before social media, and I know that authentic relationships don’t necessarily depend on a wi-fi connection. Nevertheless, you can still find me on Twitter, @steventhowell, and on Instagram (also owned by Facebook but possibly less intrusive and less…evil?) as stethohow.
Speaking of age, getting old sucks. I’m training for the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15k next month, and my body protests more every year. I’ve been running regularly since 1985, and I don’t know how I’d go on without it. I feel best when I’m outside, covering ground. It’s when I’m sedentary that the aches and pains make themselves known. I know my hips and knees won’t put up with this forever. I’m not the 30-year old soldier I used to be. Someday I’ll have to stop running, but not today.
Almost exactly a year ago our family lost a loved one, my father-in-law, Charles “Chili” Ishmael. Christmas was bittersweet, but we gathered in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, to remember him and celebrate all the new things happening with our children. Weddings planned. Babies born. Hopes for the future. Love is abundant in my life, and I am grateful.
In 2018 our two older dogs passed on. The first, about six months ago, had lived to a ripe old age, in dog years. The second, our beloved Lucy, leapt from the open tailgate of my SUV on a rainy afternoon, slipped on the way out, and broke her back before my very eyes. I’ve struggled with the feeling that, if I had only reacted more quickly, I could have saved her. Life is better with dogs, but they’re with us for such a short time.
I’m writing fiction. I’ll soon be looking for a couple critical readers for a short story that’s just about finished. (any volunteers?) It’s inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” but in a much different setting and circumstances. When I’m done with that, I plan to dive back into a novel I’ve had in storage for 11 years. The reasons I abandoned it have turned to dust, and I think it could be a good book. So I’m going to try again.
So, what is this blog for? I still don’t know. Maybe just clearing my mind in the morning before a run. And now it’s time to hit the road.
Keep in touch, Friends.