This & That

This:

Around Bookends Cottage 2017 has started out with naught but a yawn. Not a yawn of boredom, mind you, but a yawn of exhaustion. I keep looking over at the Christmas tree, the lights off and the gifts all gone, and I know I have to take it down, but I just can’t seem to find the energy to do it. It’s always such a joy to put up every year, the entire family gets into the act, friends come over, food is nibbled and drinks are drunk, but where is everybody when it’s time to take it all down and put it away? I always end up doing it alone, which is why I didn’t want to go all out this year, with decorations in every room of the house. It’s too much for me to take apart when I’m worn out from the holiday season. We have about a gazillion tree ornaments and all those new strands of lights we had to add and that need to be pulled off. And then there’s all of the outdoor lights, wreaths, ladder-climbing and et cetera. Oof. I’m tired just thinking about it…

That:

I’ve been trying to get back into my project of finishing Book Two (With A Bullet) and sending it off to print. In reality, this should take me only about two weeks, but all of my creative motivation has disappeared. Music, too is on my list, but that’s really pushing it. At my age, singing is an athletic event and I have to be in peak condition to do it well enough for a recording. And then there’s the setting up and tearing down…

This:

I’m well aware of the fact that it’s going to take the entire month of January to get back to where I was, engery-wise, last October. Damn you, Hashimoto’s, you soul-sucking bastard. One of the things I can do now that I’m on Medicare is make an appointment with an endocrinologist, but going to a new doctor is always difficult for me. Because we live in a cherry red state, and because the only endo in this town who takes Medicare is a born-again who touts her religious beliefs on her website, and because I’m married to a woman, I’m more than a little hesitant to go see her. I’m absolutely worn out from dodging the bigotry bullets in the Bible Belt. Oklahoma is just southern enough that these doctors are sugary sweet to your face, calling you darlin’ and hon, and saying “Well, blay-ess yer hart” with a big smile on their face while unsuccessfully hiding the aversion they feel toward you. Sure, I get the same medical attention as anyone else, but navigating all that crap is psychologically and psychically harder than I can describe. I’ve lived in this state for nearly 20 years. You’d think I’d be used to the way their eyes glaze over when I have to explain that my spouse isn’t a man. And it happens in all situations here, from introductions at social events to buying an anniversary present from a helpful shop clerk. And since the election the socio-political ice has gotten a bit thinner around here anyway. I’m not sure if I want to get out and try to walk on it just yet. Not with the 20th looming on the near horizon…

That:

On a completely different subject, I came into 2017 wanting to give this blog a new look, but after spending an entire night looking for a new theme, I gave that up. WordPress has a gazillion themes to choose from, but only a handful of those are designed for actual blogging. Most of them are for businesses, services and products, and photography. And even those they say are for blogging are dominated by featured slides, huge pictures of emo girls sitting or standing forlornly with pigeon toed feet, extreme closeups of glamour dolls or of twenty-something hipster dudes looking for all the world like they love their commute to their cubicle every morning. And there’s no place to write any actual content anymore. I suppose the blogging craze is over and I should really just give it up, but after 17 years that’s not easy to do. Hell, I don’t even know if anyone even reads these entries. Maybe I’m just wasting the two or three hours it takes me to put one together and post it. But that’s another whole issue…

This:

Nettl returned from her New Year’s New York City excursion bearing some amazing gifts. One was a large tin of authentic Hungarian paprika that she bought at a shop in Grand Central Terminal. To celebrate this delectable spice I made a pot of Viennese Goulasch last night, and I’ve made a pledge never to buy the domestic crap ever again. There’s just no comparison. It’s kind of like refusing to use margarine after tasting sweet cream, unsalted butter. I don’t care if it costs more. If I can’t afford it, I simply won’t make anything that requires it…

That:

Back to Book Two. One of the reasons I never seem to finish this book is that things keep coming up that need to be added to the story. Sitting on it for so long as brought up a lot of things that need to be addressed where my characters are concerned. Katy is only now beginning to flesh herself out so that I can understand what truly motivates her. I don’t know how I have avoided her inner workings for so long, but she’s coming along and I enjoy writing about her now. This is really important, too, because it leads me into Book Three more seamlessly and effortlessly. Being these people’s creator, shrink, and biographer isn’t easy, but it eventually is fun…

And with that (pun intended) I shall leave you until the next time. This Christmas tree has been giving me the stink eye for three days and I really need to quite literally put it in its place.

Have a wonderful week!

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The Search For a Noiseless Peace

Seeking Peace

I’m increasingly spending less time online these days. I’ve all but abandoned Twitter due to the vitriol that’s spewed in all directions there and I find myself signing out of Facebook within a few minutes of logging in due to the debates and arguments in my feed. Everyone’s on edge right now. Everyone seems to be looking for a hurt, or an offense, or a reason to spar with words and ideas and it’s too easy for me to get rattled by the noise. I know people are just trying to make sense of recent turns of events, but I’m already worn out and must choose not to pay attention for my health’s sake. Don’t talk to me about politics anymore. See that glassy look that just washed across my eyes? It’s a clue that I’ve already tuned you out. And if I don’t “like” your post or comment in Facebook, it’s a fairly good indication that I’m not paying attention.

I’m a dreamer. I dream not only when I’m asleep, but also when I’m awake. Every night for the past week or two my sleeping dreams have turned into nightmares. Nightmares of being pursued by angry mobs, of being imprisoned by Nazis, of being tortured, and even standing in line waiting to be executed. Fortunately, my years of experience with lucid dreaming helps me to shake myself awake, panting in a cold sweat as I try to lower my heart rate. The problem is, by being part of a group targeted by America’s new and growing regime, I feel as if I’m waking from one nightmare only to enter another. The fact that I live in a solidly red state and that, so far, Trump has appointed only racists, homophobes, and KKK sympathizers to his upcoming cabinet just doesn’t help.

I don’t live in the woods, or on a mountain, or by the ocean. I live on a fairly noisy corner in the downtown area of a small city. I don’t even have a back yard with any privacy. Next door lives a family with three little girls who employ  screaming as their only means of expressing any given emotion, and adults who yell at the top of their voices and repeatedly honk car horns in their driveway in the mornings before the sun is up. The corner streets on two sides of our house are riddled with traffic and boom car stereos, and the avenue is a major route used by every vehicle that has a siren.

There’s nowhere I can go to be alone with nature when I need to clear my head or simply get away from the noise (I have no car), and now, even my favorite online escapes have turned on me. I increasingly find myself watching historical documentaries in YouTube (I love history because it reminds me that human beings have been through worse and we always seem to land on our feet) and listening to my folk music channel on Pandora. Spending most of my life in California, I used to go to the beach when things got too heavy. I’d hunt for faery glass, I’d read, write in my journal, or just lay quietly listening to the rhythmic constancy of the surf. How I miss that now! My mind is scattered, my nails bitten, my nervous system twitching, and my tinnitus is so loud, the only way I can escape it is to hide away in music through earbuds. It’s the only escape I have left. Of course, noise employed to cancel noise is still noise.

“Our world is becoming more busy and noisy.
We are pushing silence out of our lives at a rate that suggests
a fear of what it has to say to us about ourselves.”
John O’Donohue

I’m well aware of the importance of letting the world’s sounds be what they are. The attainment of inner peace relies more on the acceptance of the noise of the world than it does on trying to control it, but now my inner peace has been shaken. Will my Medicare and Social Security—into which I paid since I was 16—be taken away? Will our landlord evict us for being a married female couple? Will my spouse lose her job due to this? Will I be a victim of a hate crime? The answer to these is most likely no, but the seeds have been planted and it’s hard to pull them up by the roots when every place I’ve enjoyed on the web now works so hard to replant them. Yes, I’m given to worry and the older I get, the harder this is to control. I’m working on it. I write, I read, I listen to healing music, I avoid the debates and arguments. I do what I can.

And the daydream of living in the country again is never far away.

 

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No More Fucks to Give

armsI’ve finally reached my breaking point. I’m putting down my placard and finding a place in the shade where I can rest, away from the shouting and the confrontation. No more debating, no more arguing. You’ve finally worn me down, America. I’m retiring.

I grieved when President Kennedy was killed in Dallas. I grieved when Bobby Kennedy was shot in L.A. I grieved when Dr. Martin Luther King was mowed down in Memphis. I grieved when school friends came home from Vietnam in flag-draped boxes. When John Lennon was gunned down in New York City, I finally went numb. It took years for me to care about social issues after that and, when President Obama was elected in 2008, my heart resurrected itself. I felt this country just might be able to rally and find its way to help create a better world. Although all of those assassinations and senseless deaths had traumatized me and my generation, I allowed myself to hope once more. Hope in a future of true equality for all Americans, hope that we might once again bring ourselves back to the words written on the Statue of Liberty and in our Constitution, and hope that we as a people were beginning to evolve into the best we can be. Then came Trump’s win last night and all that hope and caring—all my newfound faith in America—fell like a leaden thud to the ground.

Simply put, I have no more fucks to give. My arms hurt, my feet are tired, and I’m weary and beaten so I’m out of here. I’m spending the next four years focusing on my writing and on my music, on my family and on being happy during my golden years. Whatever happens out there in the world is none of my concern anymore. This country now belongs to the young, the beautiful, the rich, the white, the mean and the perverse, and the ignorant. Old, educated, artsy-fartsy, lesbians just don’t fit. This is where I pack my shit up in my backpack, put on my toe-ring sandals, take a quick hit for the road, and leave the parade. Have fun.

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