How are you all doing? Has anyone asked recently? I hope so, because times are hard for most, unbearable for many.
My troubles are relatively insignificant compared to people with real challenges. My daily irritations involve trivial things like watching close relatives shitposting on Facebook and being harassed by our home owners association for having “notable rust, oil stains, dirt, mold or mildew” on our driveway.”
Meanwhile, Americans are being evicted from their homes after losing jobs to the pandemic our shitnozzle president did literally nothing to mitigate. And then, there are those who have died, people who are dying, will die of this horrible virus. But there is hope, right around the corner. Always hope.
“True hope is swift, and flies with swallow’s wings…”William Shakespeare, from Richard III
I’ve always been a calm person, but for the last few weeks I’ve felt anxious and angry about nearly everything I see and hear going on around me. I live in Florida, and that alone is stress-inducing for any compassionate, thinking person who would like to expect common sense to be a guiding principle in government, business, and community. But that’s enough of that. I’m grateful for family, for friends, for sunshine, for fresh fruit growing behind the house, for our two stupid dogs, music, art, literature, a back that bends, and another day of life. And life, despite its ever-present flaws, is good. May it last and last. I’m also grateful to the handful of you who actually read these posts. It’s so good to hear from you now and then. Stephen King, in On Writing, describes writing as telepathy, directly transmitting thoughts from one mind to another. Thanks for receiving mine.
Speaking of long-lasting life, my grandmother, Carolyn Jane Clark, passed away on November 21st at the age of 92. She and I were not close, but I respected her immensely for her grit, perseverance, and common sense. In her final three decades, she cared for my autistic nephew with the greatest love and compassion I’ve ever seen. She nurtured his immense musical talent, allowing him to become a skilled musician by anyone’s standards. I believe caring for him provided her with what the Okinawans call “ikigai,” a reason for getting out of bed each day. She had a hard life, but I think she would say that it was a good one.
A personal blog post is a curious thing, a place where someone otherwise considered a quiet person spews forth all manner of innermost secrets. What I know is that writing clears my head, helps me figure out for myself what I think about something, and makes me feel better. So, I write.
I was brought up in a typical rural Southern family in which people–especially men–keep their thoughts and feelings mainly to themselves, especially if those inner workings of the heart and mind are inconsistent with one’s “raisin’.” No, I’m not talking about dried grapes–rather, the way we’re raised.
How to describe…
Imagine a massive 4×4 pickup truck, filled with guns and liberally (But not liberal!) drizzled with Jesus and wrapped in the red, white, and blue of the Stars and Stripes and/or Stars and Bars. Except that monster truck is screen-printed on a t-shirt. Ain’t nobody can afford a sweet ride like that, amiright? You pull that bad boy on, and you stick out your chin, and you keep your “feelings” to yourself.
Am I making fun of my own childhood? Yes, I am. And my main goal as a kid was to board a rocket that would get me to escape velocity and take me off Planet Cracker. That rocketship came in the form of big student loan debt, followed by a trip to the local U.S. Army recruiter’s office. I got out, went to college, had a long military career, retired, spent my G.I. Bill on an MFA, and…
I currently live less than 10 miles from where I grew up.
Can I digress? Yes, I can.
More gratitude! I have all the freelance work I can handle at the moment, and it looks like that’s going to continue for at least another month. After that, well let’s live in the present. I’m lucky to have the work and grateful to those who let me do it. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to actually get ahead. So, I there’s a chance I’ll be looking for a traditional job soon. But I have doubts about getting hired at 54–people want youth and beauty, not a crusty retired soldier, and I’ve become pretty comfortable working from home in flip-flops and pajamas.
Other than writing and editing to make others wealthy, I’m working on a science-fiction story that I’ve re-written six times. I’ll keep doing that until it figures out what it wants to be. It feels like I’m close. I’ve always wanted to publish some sci-fi, but so far I haven’t. In a couple weeks I hope to sucker a couple of guinea pigs to read it for me and tell me what they think.
This pandemic has offered up a lot of time to read, watch, and listen to lots of good things. I’m currently midway through George Saunders’ A Swim in a Pond in the Rain. It’s a master’s-level class on the short story, it’s fascinating, and I love it. It’s Saunders–if you don’t love him, you probably haven’t read him. If you haven’t, start with one of his short story collections, and prepare for a trip across some truly weird landscapes.
I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks too, mostly while running in the mornings. The last one I finished was The End of the World Running Club, by Adrian J. Walker. Honestly, I didn’t expect much from it; I was so very wrong. It’s set during, and after, a cataclysm that destroys much of human civilization, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about an unlikable character who endures an ordeal and experiences profound change. That’s why we read fiction, and it’s wonderful. I liked it enough to order a paper copy as well. It’ll get you in the feels.
And as abruptly and randomly as I started, I’m done for now. Drop a line or two, and let me know how you’re doing. Be safe, and take care of each other.