Reading and writing are in themselves subversive acts. What they subvert is the notion that things have to be the way they are, that you are alone, that no one has ever felt the way you have.

Mark Vonnegut

I’ve been neglecting my blog. I’m writing a lot but it’s mostly journaling. I’ve become a rabid – I mean avid – journaler. There is a new poem about our dog, which I might post later today. And there’s a blog post about the death of focus and deep work in the epoch of screens. But it’s only half done. I keep getting distracted. I think I’m learning, though, that distraction isn’t exactly the problem. It’s an epidemic of addiction to psychological stimulation. The smartphone-enhanced brain of 2019 is constantly seeking the dopamine hit of incoming stuff.

What New with you?

Choices to Make

Imagine this: you’re on a long overnight flight and the pilot announces that since everyone on the plane is over age 18, the in-flight movie will be hardcore porn. The movie starts and you take exception. It’s not your kind of entertainment. The flight attendant says maybe you shouldn’t be such a prude, it’s only sex, and maybe you have a problem you need to deal with. I have a feeling there’s going to be a scene, yes? A bit of a roshambo.

On a number of occasions lately, I’ve had someone tell me that my distaste for seeing and hearing Donald Trump is a problem with me. I should “toughen up.” I’m too stressed out and uptight about him. And I have a civic duty to consume all the news about his crimes and incompetence that I can feast my eyes on. I try to explain that the only person in charge of what goes in and out of my brain is the same person who decides whether I watch porn. Me. And I choose No.

The Clown Prince Covfefe is a horror show. He’s a con man, a misogynist, a megalomaniac, a national shame, and a waste of carbon. He’s also the national obsession. Not since Watergate have the people been so addicted to such a national shitstorm, or wasted so much of their lives on something so stupid. And on a daily basis, entirely meaningless to the average American.

Being obsessed with the nightly news minutia of the daily clusterfuckery of the so call president is not a sign of good citizenship, it’s a sign of obsession. Obsessed is as obsessed does. So I’m here to tell you that if you want to get on with your life and think about the things that add value to your existence, and the people who brighten your path through this land of grief and exultation, I’m with you brothers and sisters. Check back with us later about this deal. Trump is not your problem.

Trump is a problem for a very small number of people who can solve it; for the rest of us, he’s a situation. A problem, by definition, has a solution. If you can’t solve it, it’s not your problem. For further reference, see The Serenity Prayer. You probably know it.

Most of the time, I don’t give a f–k about Trump. I did for a long time, but I said here on this blog even before the election that he wasn’t worth our undivided attention, and I’ve said it since. So eventually, I carefully considered the fact that there are a limited number of things about which I can realistically give a f–k on a daily basis, and Trump isn’t one of them.

Giving a f–k means you care. You’re willing to give a certain about of your time, energy, money, and spiritual and mental resources to the subject. If you are willing to do this for Trump, then great. It’s your life. Respect to you. But I am deliberately trying to declutter him from between my ears. I’m throwing away something that adds no value to my life – the 24/7 Trump Show – in favor of concentrating on things that do. That’s my free choice. That I elect to feed my mind and soul on better things, things that add value to my brief existence, that’s the sign of a human mind at work. It’s not a sign of weakness.

Sorry but I’m not sorry. It’s my brain and I get to decide what not to give a f–k about, then not give a f–k about those things. I’ve tried being honest and reasonably polite and if that doesn’t work, I’ll try communicating differently. But since I’ve been honest and clear about this, I don’t have to be sorry.

Beyond the appropriate expressions of resistance, including voting, worrying about Trump is optional. He doesn’t know that he doesn’t matter but I do. Now you do too. And it’s important because having a problem that’s obviously beyond your control and not freely chosen is the definition of suffering, in a world where real problems are inevitable and happiness comes from solving them.

We can’t always choose what happens to us. Most of us didn’t choose for Trump to happen to us. But we can always control how we interpret situations and how we respond. I’ve decided not to be obsessed with the daily ritual of inhaling the fumes of our national dumpster fire. I need just enough information on an occasional basis to be ready to resist when resistance becomes actionable and realistic.

So I don’t watch MSNBC every night. I don’t listen when Fuckface Von Clownstick is talking, or any of his minions. I don’t watch videos of his putrid Velveeta visage wobbling around on screens. I read weekly magazines, with words printed in them. Old school? Yeah, works for me.

“Giving too many f–ks is bad for your mental health. …The key to a good life is not giving a f–k about more; it’s giving a f–k about less, giving a f–k about only what is true and immediate and important.”
– Mark Manson

In other words, life is too short for this shit.




That Man is a Success

When I was young – a teenager – my parents gave me the quotation below – framed – for the wall of my room. It has lived on in my mind for 40 years. I only wish that Emerson had made it gender-neutral, because I have known just as many admirable women as men, to whom its enlightenment applies.

While the day’s calamity for Trump may leave many of us feeling vindicated, outraged, or sickened, I also feel sad. So much that is beautiful and kind, gentle and true about human life is so often and so wantonly demeaned. It goes light years beyond the fact that he is no gentleman. Power is still consistently given to men who think people are possessions, that women and children, the poor, the sick and weak, the marginalized and the outcast, are subject to domination. That is sad, and it’s even sadder that some targets of their twisted, onanistic self-gratification seem to accept this, even to support this particular contemptible and toxic troglodyte.

We may not get another chance to teach such evil, insentient men – once and for all – that they are wrong. And to show the women and girls of America that they are awesome and equal, that their value in the world is intrinsic and inalienable. So no one has the right to grab them or bring them down.

Peace to you Reader, and to the women in your life who have taught you love and strength, intelligence, courage, and dignity.


That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much;
Who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who leaves the world better than he found it,
whether by an improved poppy or a perfect poem or a rescued soul;
Who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it;
Who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Tables

So if I’m picking up the signals, conservatives are claiming that the man killed by cops in the Oregon standoff was trying to surrender. Witnesses say that’s a lie. Liberals claim the cops’ shooting was justified.

Two thoughts:

When did support for flagrant rebellion against the Establishment become conservative, and support for law enforcement become liberal? Haven’t the tables turned in some insane way?

This word, conservative: I do not think it means what you think it means.

Born to be Addled

Addled sounds a little like wild, doesn’t it? That’s what I was going for. It’s not easy to put a clear title on one’s ruminations on the topic of abject confusion, my least favorite state of mind.

I don’t drink, you know. Very rarely and never if I’m going to be driving. That’s my rule. But the underlying reason is not simply fear of disaster and felony charges. It’s not that I think alcohol is inherently evil, though it  certainly has been the instrument of nearly infinite human suffering. Responsible drinking by healthy adults is OK with me, just not generally OK for me. And not because it’s fattening and expensive, although that’s also true.

I don’t drink because it clouds the mind, obscures the consciousness. One of my main goals on any given day is to go forth seeking clarity. And my poor brain is just about as fuzzy now as I want it to be.

No no no no I don’t … no more. 
I’m tired of waking up on the floor.
Ringo Star (youtube)

Case in pitiful point: A few days ago, I was obliviously shopping in the nearest Trader Joe’s. As I reached up for some cans of tuna, someone behind me spoke my name. I turned and shook hands, exchanged greetings, with a man whose face was very familiar. But I couldn’t place it.

My little brain jumped through the usual lists: work, church, writers’ groups, civic, condo association, etc. Finally I had to give up and admit I needed his help.

It turned out to be a man who has lived with his family across the street and one house down from my parents, for roughly the last 3 decades. I’ve stopped and spoken with him before, and seen him from a distance maybe a thousand times.

I was embarrassed. I blathered some stupid remark about being used to seeing him from a distance, complimented recent improvements to his front yard, etc. He was cordial and did not kick my ass right there amongst the produce, as much as I had it coming. But everyone wants to be recognized. Otherwise, it is far too easy to feel too lightly valued by others.

The thing is, I do value other people. I care and I really want to see people and know them and be friendly and inclusive. And I’ve heard other people over the years say things like, “I’m terrible with names.” This makes no sense to me. You’d think that the ability to recognize faces and identify known individuals would be systemic, universal to the evolution of our species. Otherwise, how would our kind spot enemies and friends and survive in a potentially hostile world?

There is a world of difference between momentary failure to recognize someone – the sin I’m confessing – and forgetting them altogether, which I hope I never do. I mean regarding others with indifference.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
– Elie Wiesel

This past spring, I heard my name called by another person who recognized me. I turned and recognized an old friend, whom I had not heard from in 12 years. I had assumed that she moved away and her life changed and so it goes. But she’d been living here in this very small town, where my number is in the book. She’d never bothered to call, that’s all. But we were glad to see each other, talked for a while, and agreed to email and to meet for coffee. She said she was moving away in a few months.

I emailed her a week or two later, as promised. She replied saying a few weeks later would be better to meet, so let’s connect again. I emailed again in that time, but have heard nothing since. Three more months have come and gone and maybe she’s gone too, maybe not. In any case, that’s indifference.

It’s important that we know the ones we know. They matter. And nobody wants to disappear.

C‘est la vie.

I guess I could Google how to improve your memory for faces or something. I’m sure there are tips and tricks abounding. Not the point. It’s perplexing that I don’t already have a reliable app for that.

Chatting over the bananas in Trader Joe’s, these lines of T.S. Eliot came to mind, as they often have over the years:

Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen. 

— Ash Wednesday

since when?

It seems ol Vlad The Propeller Putin is p-o’d at US over a planned missile defense system in Europe. Since when do we have a working missile defense system? Last time I checked, that stuff doesn’t work yet.

Talk about a tempest in a teapot. Putin’s threatening to vaporize millions of innocent people because he’s afraid of boogie man that doesn’t exist. He’s as crazy as the Shrub.

Why, you ask, do they call him Vlad the Propeller? Good question. I don’t know, but Shrub reportedly just calls him Beanie.