“Are we THERE Yet?”

Milestones are important for kids. You see them on bedrooom walls, doorways, closets. “Look, mom, I used to be only THIS tall!” But even old folks such as myself have some good milestones. Monday will be the 8 week milestone post-op from my hip replacement. That actually means something in terms of what I can do. I don’t know what yet, but I’m sure someone will tell me.

I’ve had a lot of those types of milestones in the past two months. The milestone of no longer having bad bones in my hip, the milestone of not needing to wear TED hose (my fave), the milestone of being done shooting myself in the abdomen with blood thinners, the best milestone of bringing the dogs home from the boarding kennel.

Right now the mountains to the east of me are burning and they are burning fast. People live up there — some people I know — so that adds to the fear. The fire has grown quickly — from a few hundred acres two days ago to tens of thousands of acres this morning. These are milestones no one needs.

I am bewildered again by humanity and particularly the leadership in this country. That fuckhead in the White House is more worried about us understanding there was no “collusion” than by the fact that the southwestern part of the nation he allegedly leads is in a desperate drought or by the possibility that people could do something to mitigate the change in climate that I, this one little person, this tiny irrelevant self, has witnessed in my lifetime (his lifetime, too.) I know there have always been forest firest. I KNOW it’s part of nature’s way, I know there are trees (redwoods for one) that need fire for the seeds to open and germinate, but NOT on the scale we witness now. Not just that — walking the dogs yesterday, soon after I hit our little trail I stomped out a still burning cigarette butt.

So the mountains burn — several fires in Colorado right now just as there were in Montana, Washington and California last year — and peoples’ lives displaced and humanity as thoughtless as ever.

In other news, I spoke with the woman who’s helped me edit two of my other novels about where to go with The Schneebelis Go to America and it was a GREAT conversation. Now I have direction and it looks like I might reach the milestone of finishing it in a way I can live with. 🙂

Here is my “milestone” for next Monday (hopefully).

 

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Short hike to Elephant Rocks

 

Up top is my milestone for marking “You’re not really much of a cripple any more.” Hiking along San Francisco Creek. Who knows how far, but it’ll be fun.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/06/29/rdp-29-milestone/

Random Quotidian Rambling, Surgery and Politics

I’m going to visit my dogs today. I had big dreams of bringing them home yesterday, but that was impossible. I had hopes of bringing them home next week, but those dreams are fading fast. I’m not steady on my pins, can’t clean house easily, can’t bend over (to put their food dish down), can’t walk them, can’t carry a bag of dog food, can’t hold Dusty back from charging the front door etc. etc. I did get a pooper-picker-upper that I don’t have to bend over to use. I am now thinking that I can get them in ten days, on the one-monthiversary of my surgery.

I’m still very tired. Yesterday I had physical therapy, and then a friend dropped in for a visit. After that I needed a two hour nap. 🙂

The post-surgery brain is an interesting world. Yesterday I had to figure out how to empty the recycling bin in my kitchen without lifting or bending over. That ended up me using my reacher/grabber to take stuff out and put in a paper bag that I could then carry out back to the recycling can. It sounds like a smart solution, and it was, but it revealed how messed up my brain has been from this whole thing — one of the pieces of paper was a check for $65 I’d endorsed. Apparently I’d put the stub in my wallet and the real money in the recycling. It has a little protein powder on it, but I can still deposit it.

There’s a lot of hard and serious work going on in my body right now. The acetabulum is trying to grow into the new piece that was installed. It’s been glued in, but the real healing is when my own bone grows to hold the implant. It takes about three months. This can be messed up and I don’t want it to be.

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In other guilty news, I’m watching the President create truth. It’s truly amazing. Because I was taught (meaning it was hammered into my head by my teachers and professors) to be skeptical, find primary sources and do research in more than one place, it’s just my nature NOT to believe anything until I see it corroborated by more than one source, hopefully sources that are relatively unbiased. SO…when I see Trump quoting Fox News (exclusively) I’m not fooled (or even interested). I know what he’s doing every time he decries “false news!” He’s calling out to his supporters to reject a story that might have been published by several different sources (a symptom of facts) but isn’t what he wants people to know or believe. I’ve always been aware that he does this on purpose. Nonetheless, this stunned me:

(Leslie) Stahl said she and her boss met with Trump at his office in Trump Tower in Manhattan after the 2016 election in advance of a recorded sit-down interview for “60 Minutes.

“At one point, he started to attack the press,” Stahl said. “There were no cameras in there.”

“I said, ‘You know, this is getting tired. Why are you doing it over and over? It’s boring and it’s time to end that. You know, you’ve won … why do you keep hammering at this?'” Stahl recalled.

“And he said: ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.'”

As Mueller’s infinitely long and convoluted investigation continues, and people lose interest in it, and the economy is (allegedly) strong, and Trump continues to fulfill his campaign promises, it is less and less likely that anyone will care whether he lies or not. His behavior is that of a guilty person, but people who believe they are doing better financially now than they were 2 years ago aren’t going to care.

It’s not just the media that Trump discredits in this way. He’s gone after any group who stands up not in opposition to him but in support of the truth. Yesterday James Clapper explained that the FBI was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, ultimately something that would protect the legitimacy of the election. Yet, Trump is calling it “Spygate.”

On Tuesday, James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, went on “The View” … to talk about President Donald Trump and the intelligence community.

During that interview, this exchange happened between Clapper and co-host Joy Behar:

BEHAR: “So I ask you, was the FBI spying on Trump’s campaign?”

CLAPPER: “No, they were not. They were spying on, a term I don’t particularly like, but on what the Russians were doing. Trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage or influence which is what they do.”

BEHAR: “Well, why doesn’t [Trump] like that? He should be happy.”

CLAPPER: “He should be.”

 

Meanwhile, the NFL mandates that players must stand for the National Anthem, taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood is nearer to being cut off, kids have been killed in school (again? still?). Is it that an unborn fetus is more important than a high school kid on the brink of his/her life and future that the gumint can “protect” one life and ignore the losses of others? Never mind that abortion is not Planned Parenthood’s main job. I — and many of my students over the years — visited Planned Parenthood for such important things as free HIV testing. I don’t know. I don’t expect sense any more.

There’s a great phrase in Spanish, Jodidos pero contentos — all fucked up but OK. I’m kind of there. With the surgery, the drugs, the brain weirdness, the slow-motion life, the regaining of skills and abilities, the national situation looks foggy, distant and gray. What really matters is that I sleep on my back, don’t bend forward more than 90 degrees and get my dogs home as soon as I safely can. I can’t influence the gubmint, I can’t change the minds of his supporters or effectively do anything but show up to vote in November. I only have to show up at my mailbox so that’s no big deal. I do wish some other party (or even the repubs) would step forward with something positive because an anti-Trump campaign is not going to win seats in Congress.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/guilty/

First Amendment vs. Facebook

A long, long time ago in a faraway land known as Colorado lived a girl who was worried about what we now call “the environment.” The term wasn’t in use yet and it always kind of bothered the girl, anyway. She went away to college — to a woman’s college in Denver that was funded mostly by the American Baptist Convention. They had given her $25k to go to school there. It paid for housing, food, tuition. Everything.

She wanted to be an artist when she grew up (against the advice of the US gubmint [who picked up part of the tab for her schooling] and her mom). Their advice to her was that she become a journalist.

Being a freshman, just 18, right out of high school, she knew practically EVERYTHING and had COMPLETE confidence that before she graduated she’d have fixed most of the major problems in the world.

Her sculpture teacher assigned an “earth” sculpture project after they had had a fieldtrip to the big state University in the next town and saw a lot of earth sculpture. The girl was VERY happy. She had a plan. She was going to get some cedar fenceposts, some plastic flags like were used at used car lots and a real estate for sale sign. She would erect it by the art building. She sketched it, and planned it, and hornswoggled the guy who wanted to get her in bed to drive her out east of the city (probably where DIA is now).

So the night before the project was due, she dug the postholes. She planted the poles. She acquired the flags. She got the For Sale sign and scraped off all the words, but it still looked like what it was. She did her project, never, never thinking what it might mean to passers by and not knowing that the school was in big financial trouble and THAT’S why it had lately changed its name from Colorado Womans College to Temple Buell College. Temple Buell had money, but also an ego the size of the buildings he designed.

When morning came, all that remained were three holes. She was called into the office of the President and lectured. No one asked her what she had meant; it didn’t matter to them that her sculpture was a representation of the last open land on the earth, a small triangle of open “space.” The president asked the young woman, “What on earth were you thinking?” And explained the financial situation of the college and told her that people had called asking if the college were for sale.

She’d raised a big problem for the college because of a situation about which she had NO idea. It was — for her — the first glint she had of her comparative size in the universe.

What we don’t know, probably at any time in our lives, is that we DON’T KNOW, but this is especially true at that juncture in our lives. Teaching post-adolescents for as long as I did, I got to witness thousands of examples of a kid being one person at age 18 and a completely (almost) different person at age 21. This is a time of rapid brain development and awakening in a lot of young people. Unfortunately, many of us freeze in that moment. For whatever reason — hating school, not having had the chance to further our education, not having a basically inquiring mind, maybe a million reasons — we don’t grow past that point of strong, adamant and ignorant opinions. We BECOME our beliefs and don’t ask questions.

I didn’t do that. I know I didn’t. Does it make me “better” than other people? I don’t know. It does make me different than some. Mental and intellectual flexibility matter to me, partly because of my — oops — that young woman’s experience with the post holes, the cedar fence posts, the plastic flags, the sign and the college president. I loved my college. I didn’t want to put it in any danger, but I was a kid and the big picture was not yet open to me.

Yesterday, on Facebook, in one of the local groups to which I belong, a photo was posted of a work of art at the nearby university, Adams State. It’s a piece of protest art. It stimulated a LOT of noise, but I see it as the kind of thing EXACTLY a young person would do. People generally seem to have their minds made up about things and their “responses” are knee jerk reactions, but it did stimulate a few thoughtful responses. The work ITSELF is pretty bad. It was a response to this topic from a critical thinking class:

…make something that challenges ‘the assumptions or principles relating to or inherent in a sphere, theory, or thing, especially when concerned with power and status in a society.”

So a teacher challenged students. The piece displays ignorance, passion and a LITTLE knowledge. (Sorry I don’t know know and couldn’t find the name of the artist.)

Art

 

 

My comment on the thread was:

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Of course, there was reaction against what people THOUGHT I said (normal for social media) but there was comprehension, too.

It is the work of a post-adolescent who feels strongly about the direction politics in this country is taking. It really pissed people off, and showed me, again, what’s wrong with social media. NONE of these people would even have KNOWN about this work without Facebook. It would have done its job on a university campus, maybe have been written about in the campus paper. Unlike the young woman in the story above, this student is going to imagine his/her size in the universe is pretty big, that his/her feelings are very important, that he/she has said something meaningful and worth fighting for. The “artist” might think he/she is finished with the idea and has mastered it. That’s not the best lesson.

I hate social media because it brings out the worst in people. It makes people defensive and aggressive. A complex topic like this one deserves more than just, “I’m not sending my kid to ASU!” or “Disrespecting veterans,” or, the worst, “This is why China euthanized an entire generation.”

But the paradox of America that I will never understand is Freedom of Speech. People love it, want it, value it, until someone says something they don’t like.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/noise/

Ballistic Satire

“What’s up honey? How was your day?”

“I’ve had better. Yours?”

“Oh, you know. Lots of manufactured drama.”

“Be glad it was manufactured.”

“You look kind of down.”

“I am. Look at this.” Sharon handed her husband the paper she’d found in her mailbox at school.

“WTF? They can’t be serious.”

“They are. Arming us is cheaper than hiring more security guards.”

“And you get to buy your own gun and pay for the training? Honey, you’re not the least conversant in matters ballistic and your temper when the family is here for Christmas? Yikes!”

“Yeah, that’s exactly WHY I shouldn’t be armed at all ever.”

“I know those kids can push your buttons pretty hard sometimes.”

Sharon nodded. “I agree. I don’t want to — can you imagine? The school can’t even supply fucking white board markers and erasers for a whole year, and now GUNS?”

“Whatever was wrong with chalkboards?”

“Nothing and they were virtually free once they were up. What’s cheaper than chalk?”

“OK. So you have to supply your weapon, pay for its ammo and pay for your training.”

“Yep.”

“Where’s the gun going to be kept? In your desk drawer? Locked? So you fumble around for a key while someone’s shooting?”

“They’re talking about a centralized gun locker.”

“Oh yeah, that’s smart. You get a shooter in your classroom. You raise your hand and say, ‘Excuse me Joey, but I have to go down the hall to the principal’s office and get my gun out of the gun locker’? Why?”

“I guess the idea is that in the event of a shooting we ALL go to the gun locker and THEN to the classroom that’s in trouble, an army of people in hand-knit sweaters and soft-soled shoes.”

“Those things are over in 3 minutes.”

“Reality and logic have no currency here.”

“Couldn’t you just assign a gun monitor? I bet there are already kids in your class who know all about using a gun and own one.”

“Right? Hand me that bottle of Scotch, would you?”

“You don’t drink.”

“I do now.”

***

Caveat: I’m not anti-gun. I’m not against the responsible use of shotguns, muzzle loaders or bows and arrows for hunting food. I’m equivocal about rifles but pretty OK with them for hunting. I’m good with people being trained to use firearms. I am NOT OK with weapons designed to kill people being in the possession of private individuals. I am cognizant of the difficulty — I had a student who was an arms dealer. He ended up in the penitentiary, but I actually got a ride home from him once and, without my knowing it, I was also riding with some pretty heavy weaponry. Other than the gun dealer thing, he was a very nice guy, but there was a lot of money in weapons smuggling.

I lived in a neighborhood where there was a lot of violence — including gun violence — and I saw a man die of a gunshot wound. I don’t know the story behind it — jealous husband, angry brother, drug deal gone bad — I don’t know, but he died on the street right in front of me and the Boys on Bikes. It was — sorry, no adjective.

California, around that same time, instituted gun laws that drastically reduced the number of gun-related fatalities. I am really OK with reducing that statistic. Reducing it is better than nothing.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/conversant/

Heaven…

 

 

 

One thing we have plenty of in the San Luis Valley is horizon. It’s one of our best things. Once in a while it gets interrupted by a mountain or trees, but for the most part, anyone looking for a horizon can just turn and look in the other direction and have their horizon needs satisfied. For me, it’s one of the great things about where I live. I like to look at a wide and distant horizon that ends in mountains. It puts my heart at rest and sets my spirit free, corny as that sounds. It’s one of the reasons I like winter. There is a lot less interference from those green bushy things.

I take a lot of photos of the horizon when I’m out rambling with the dogs, usually because the skies here are so amazing (and the ending in mountains thing).

 

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Storm Coming into Town

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Driving North from Taos

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Rabbitbrush Flats

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Early Spring

 

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never —”
 —
“You lie,” he cried,
And ran on.
Stephen Crane

***

…and Hell

In other horizontal news, today is the first anniversary of the Women’s March in which so many women wore pink hats resembling cat ears. I have very mixed feelings about it. I have friends marching in their local march, believing their marching will make a statement, a difference. I honestly don’t think it does, will, or could except to themselves and that’s completely respectable to me.

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All my best wishes and more power to the pussy hat wearing multitudes, but I’m not joining you.

I remember in the 70’s my best friend was about to join the Woman’s March (a bra burning activity combined with marching on a downtown street). First, she had small breasts, second, she made a lot more money than I did. Burning something that I needed and cost me a day’s work was AGAINST my personal liberation. Third, I thought it was bullshit. “Men” have always known women are around. Some men (in my experience) have regarded women as human beings and equals without even trying to. Some men have viewed women as mental and physical inferiors. Some men regard women as prey. Some men are just assholes.

All of this can be said of women, too. I will now speak that which should not be said, “Sarah Palin.”

I was working at a law firm while all this was going on in the 70s. Back then, when my boss wanted to take me to lunch after I’d done some really good work for him taking telephone depositions of Mafia members, he had an existential meltdown. Should he or shouldn’t he? He was afraid he was being unfaithful to his wife.

That brings me to the essential question of “rights.” Rights can’t be “given” from one person to another. Rights have to be taken. What hampers that process? Ultimately, physical strength. That’s why we have laws to protect the weak.

There have been women managers in my life just as ego-driven and difficult as male managers; I’ve even been hit on by a couple of the women who were my bosses with the implication that if I…, then… Did they “learn” this from men, or is it just the natural outgrowth of physical desire and power?

I don’t know.

Or is this protest simply against the current president? That’s another thing with a big glitch. He truly does not care at all what we do or how we feel about him. I think there’s only one (legal) protest that might make any difference and that is to vote.

Meanwhile, later, I’m going to pursue the horizon.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/horizon/

All of a Piece

I have a bunch of books here on my table that I’m not reading and a few more in the background of my laptop I’m also not reading. They are all related to the work in progress, “The Schneebelis Come to America” even though that’s not the real title and I’m still not sure whether, in the book, they will actually arrive.

Writing historical fiction requires a lot of studying, and when you study you learn stuff. When you learn stuff you aren’t the same person anymore. Everything you learn sets you apart from people who haven’t learned the same thing. I kind of think that’s why we send all the kids to schools where they learn a relatively standardized curriculum.

Right now we’re having the hullabaloo about the president calling certain impoverished nations “Shitholes” and wondering why we couldn’t get some immigrants from Norway. I don’t know why, but that flipped a switch in my mind. I became completely disgusted. My disgust stemmed not only from the remark, but from the reactions to the remark, noise from people about how that’s “not the way we treat immigrants in America.” Excuse me, but it IS the way we treat immigrants in America. The immigrants who first settled this continent were ALWAYS afraid that they would be asked to support poor dirty people coming in on boats from some nasty place such as the Alsace or Karlsruhe or Limerick or Trento or Seville…

I know this very well now because the last few years of my life have been spent studying early migration to America. It’s awful, uninspiring and shameful. I’ve read Philadelphia newspapers (thanks Ben Franklin) with published complaints about the “poor dirty people from German-speaking countries who are ruining our colony.” Yep. “Pretty soon the colony will be speaking German!”

Who were those “poor dirty people”? My ancestors. My ancestors were complaining about my ancestors.

But this treatment of immigrants isn’t limited to the New World. People forced to move from one place to another in the “Old Country” faced the same problems, and not just in the dim past. Read Jerzy Kosinski’s Painted Bird.

And, when it comes to geographic “shitholes” it’s hard to beat the beautiful place where I live. Most of the people in the San Luis Valley live at or below the poverty line. As an example, just yesterday a mobile home from the 1970s was posted for sale on Facebook. The asking price was $5500. The place had been remodeled and had many upgrades, but it was still a mobile home from the 70s. The line of interested responses was long, even though the thing had to be moved.

“Does it have wheels?” asked one responder.

“Yes,” said the current owner.

“Will you be home tomorrow?”

You see, the “shitholes” are not defined specifically by the race of the people who live in them — though that’s been the general and mediazed  reaction — but by whether the people there are losers or not. And poor people are losers.

I’m really tired from all this. I woke up very early this morning thinking social media is evil. I wouldn’t know about the “shithole” comment or the mobile home or people’s reactions to every stupid thing that happens in DC if I were not on social media. At 4 am I woke up realizing that I don’t need to know. I’m supposed to be an artist, a writer, but I’m not creating anything. It’s too easy (and I think quite natural) to be sucked into the vortex and I’m no good to anyone there. I can’t wave a magic wand and give us a decent president. I can’t suddenly transform a 1970s mobile home into a new one. Some days I can barely walk.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/study/

Resistbot PSA

You can’t thank it. “Thank you” just confuses it. It’s not Marvin, the Depressed robot from The Hitchhiker’s Guide who felt underappreciated. It’s just a beautifully programmed helpful bot with an odd little sense of humor. Its job is contacting political leaders about stuff. That’s it. It makes it very easy for anyone to do this. I’ve been relying on Resistbot for two months now.

Resistbot’s raison d’être is to resist what’s going on in Washington right now; the breakdown of the EPA, the threats to the ACA (which, though not perfect, is not nothing), the current tax bill which will hurt people and take away their deductions — that sort of thing.

You use Resistbot by texting. You can text 50409 or use Facebook messenger. Send one single word, “resist”. After that reaching your representatives, governor, “president” is easy. Resistbot leads you through the process and you type your message. Then Resistbot asks you how you want to send it and if you’re happy with it and that’s it — it will be emailed, faxed, snail mailed, hand-carried or you can even make phone calls to the representatives. Resistbot will call them for you. This morning Resistbot helped me call my senator — to no avail, line busy, voicemail box full… Then Resistbot sent an email for me.

It’s a brilliant thing. To learn everything about it, visit its website, https://resistbot.io  

While you’re there, check out the FAQs to find out how it came about. It might change your mind about young people (if you have a curmudgeonly bent). It’s free; it works on donations. It sends messages in the form of emails, faxes, letters and phone calls. Right this minute Resistbot volunteer humans are hand-carrying letters to five Republican senators who appear to be on the fence about the current (amoral) tax bill currently in Congress.

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A small caveat — I don’t like President Trump. Period. I’m NOT anti-Republican. When they do things I believe will help the people in the area where I live, I support them. When they do not, I resist. Right now I believe we’re in a very bad place as a nation, primarily because of the polarization of the two parties. I don’t believe we Americans are as polarized as the DC hijinks makes it seem. For that reason I believe it’s very important for us to make our voices heard by our elected representatives.

Besides, it makes you feel like you’re doing something and that’s not bad.

Old, Fat and Ugly

Yesterday I broke my hard-and-fast rule NOT to comment on political posts on Facebook. The post was about how Trump was NOT corrupt because Hillary was (either/or fallacy). It was based on the breaking news that the DNC had paid for the golden showers dossier about Trump in Russia. My response said something to the effect that we’re trapped in a corrupt two-party system and neither Trump nor Clinton(s) are the serious issue. The serious issue is about what we, the people, are going to do about it.

Dirty politics is not new. I think it is as old as is the thirst for power.

I was immediately slammed by a Trumpeter with an ad hominem attack. “I looked at your Facebook profile and you’re old, fat and ugly.”

It shouldn’t have, but it did…hurt. I am old, fat and ugly.

I checked out his Facebook profile and came away thinking it was fake.

I deleted my post, still thinking about “old, fat and ugly” and the power of the ad hominem attack. It sure as hell made me crawl under a rock, invalidated by my appearance and age.

But we have a problem. I wasn’t surprised by anything in the news. It was no great denouement to me that the DNC and the Clinton campaign would try to get some dirt on Trump. Not that, in my opinion, they needed to go out of their way. He is — has been for a long time — a public figure. It’s also pretty clear that the American people don’t care whether their president is a sleaze or not. They kind of like their post-verbal fascist narcissistic glob of orange. At this point, I’m most curious about which of the innumerable Republican candidates originally set out to have the dossier compiled.

And what are we going to do about it? Not me — I’m obsolete (it’s kind of a relief) — but young people? Ah! Young people! I read recently the rantings of a young person who resents the fact that all the Baby-boomers got the last bit of an easy life America ever had to offer. That blew me away. No one looking at my life would say, “Wow, easy life!” but it’s a common enough opinion about my generation. Constructive? No. Honest? No. An excuse for failure? Absolutely.

Please watch/listen to this “song.” Some thoughtful person has updated the video to reflect our time rather than Reagan’s.

Legalize It (Am I Really Writing About This?)

I thought I was pretty witty back in the day when I said that surrealism is the accurate perception of the world as it is. I wasn’t talking about elephants on stilts or melting clocks. I was talking about plain, ordinary reality. We cushion the blows of its weirdness through our relentless illusion and hope and general obtuseness, but it’s just all around surreal.

I live with three hairy dogs. They are large. The smallest is 60 pounds. I am a little person and the two I walk with most of the time come up to my waist. Yep. We trudge through life as if that were the normal state of affairs for every 65 year old lady. In fact, every single person trudges through their life as if it were “normal” but there is no normal. There is only relentless weirdness.

Here’s weirdness. We have a legal drug, booze. Booze is a cheerful glass of wine at Thanksgiving for some, the propulsion behind a deadly automobile for others, and death itself for others.

An estimated 88,0009 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women9) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States. In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities). Source

But it’s legal. Anyone over the age of 21 can buy as much of it as they can afford and drink it as often as they wish.

My brother was a hardcore alcoholic who died in his 50s after a horrible life and tremendous physical debilitation and at an extreme cost to the people of the states where he lived. He often said, “If pot were legal, I wouldn’t be a drunk.” I would add, if pot had been legal, he might be alive now. That would be really nice. The other day I donated some money to one of my brother’s old friends who’s got meningitis and has no insurance. Her children wrote me a thank you, “Hugs to the Kennedy family.” Yeah. That’s me, Dusty,  Mindy and Bear. I felt so sad at that moment. No one wants NOT to have their brother. But that’s booze for you. “You don’t understand, Martha Ann. I like being drunk.” Drunk to death. Fuck you, Jeff Sessions.

Marijuana, in contrast, is not physically addictive and has never (directly) killed anyone. There are a couple of people (literally 2) known to have died of marijuana use — being high brought to the surface underlying physical disabilities. AND my experiments with it made me think I was dying (or that someone was coming TO KILL me) all an argument for me not to use it, but here are thousands of people who actually derive measurable benefits from it. But it’s illegal, according to federal law. A short, logical explication of the dangers of marijuana use can be found here.

I find that surreal. It’s also surreal that I, after forbidding hundreds of college freshmen from writing a “Legalize Marijuana” essay am doing that right now so, moving on, with one more point. People have ALWAYS liked to intoxicate themselves. While early beer and mead were low in alcohol content as their main purpose was to provide pure, non-disease laden ways to prevent dehydration in a world of putrid water, there are enough drinking songs and odes to wine from all cultures and all times to prove people like being intoxicated. So, logically, is it better for people to be intoxicated on something lethal or something that’s not lethal? That I have to ponder that point is surreal.

There’s so much surreality in this world. It’s surreal that people have taken to painting rocks, people who never painted anything in their lives. It’s surreal that Sarah Palin was EVER a serious candidate for anything. It’s surreal that fascism is rearing its ugly head, it’s surreal that people don’t know what fascism is because, it seems, at some point, our education system stopped making kids watch black and white films of liberating Nazi death camps. I saw them twice a year. It’s surreal that there were Nazi death camps. It’s surreal that our recent presidential election was apparently hacked on all sides, a rain of dirty politics only possible in this era. It’s surreal that after finding Colorado too small, too confining I left in my late 20s only to return at the end of my life to a small Colorado town that’s stuck in the 70s. It was surreal that I went to Switzerland to stay in an 17th century barn (remodeled to an apartment) in the area in which my ancestors lived, and my hosts were from Australia. It’s surreal that I wrote a novel describing the lives of my ancestors before I knew they were my ancestors.

Well, the list goes on. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of surreality in your day to keep you occupied and perplexed.

On a cheerier note, a song that’s been in my mind. It’s weird. You might call it surreal.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/surreal/

Clean Up Your Room, Dammit!

I woke up early this morning with a throbbing migraine that I didn’t anticipate. Usually my migraines are the visual kind and might make me a little nauseous but nothing awful. And tired. They make me tired, but this was more than that.

The air is worse today. I can only imagine how it is for people in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, California, Washington… 😦

When I walked the dogs last evening at sunset, the sun was a ball of red. Smoke from the thousands of  fires to the north and west had obscured the views of the mountains on both sides of the valley all day. Clouds traveling in front of the sun broke the light into what my ex-husband called “Bible beams” which, in the normally clear, clear, clear air of the San Luis Valley, I seldom see.

My first thought when I finally really got up, the migraine having retreated, leaving only a numb feeling and a mildly upset stomach, is that we did this.

When I was a kid there were no fires like these. Sometimes there was a forest fire. We know this from Bambi and Smokey the Bear, but they were never EPIC in proportion. There were hurricanes, but they did not register on seismographs (for the love of God). It snowed a LOT more than it does now in all the usual places that get snow.

When I was 5, 1957, my parents, my brother and I were traveling in the South where my dad was to be giving papers and teaching seminars in Florida. As we went through Mississippi and Alabama, heading toward the Gulf Coast, we were in a hurricane. It was a lot of wind, a lot of water, sandbags and waiting. It was NOT like Houston and sure as hell not like the hurricane approaching the Bahamas looks like it will be. I remember when we went out for breakfast and the waitress said, “It’s just that time of year. What do y’all want to drink?” I got cocoa.

I don’t think it even TAKES a scientist to say, “Whoa, this is WAY TOO FAST for changes like these in the climate of the Earth.” I’m not a scientist, but if this has happened in a mere 60 years, Houston, we have a problem.

When I was in high school I was determined to overcome my terrible fear of speaking in public. First I joined theater, then my theater teacher told me to join speech club. I did. I traveled around Colorado doing competitive speaking and did surprisingly well. My first year I won prizes for Humorous Interpretation of Oratory. The next year — my senior year — I won second place in the state of Colorado for Original Oratory. My speech was political, but it was not about the Vietnam War. It was about the thing I cared most about.

The speech is mostly written in a tone of bitter irony, the kind 18 year olds love, along with lots of big words, but even then, even in 1970, I was worried about what was happening to the one thing I could depend on in my life to love me. I wrote:

The human race is racing toward total annihilation, with, at last, no exceptions made as to race, creed, gender or nationality. Man abuses the air he needs to breathe, the water he needs for sustaining his life, and he is brilliantly devising technologically advanced ways to destroy the delicate food cycle of which he is the ultimate beneficiary.

The Environmental Protection Agency was founded the same year I won my award for this speech. It immediately set about finding ways to slow down the rate at which pollutants were being thrown into the air and the water. It did a good job; it has done a good job. Maybe it has written many irksome regulations. Maybe it’s required mitigation when land is developed. Maybe the regulations are long and hard to read. Maybe what it requires is expensive, but dammit. Lake Michigan is no longer dead in places and LA (when the mountains aren’t on fire) has a clear sky and breathable air.

But… It’s possible to ignore regulations; it’s possible to fake compilance; it’s possible to put greed and momentary financial interest ahead of simple good sense. Houston was built on a flood plain. And the plain flooded.

The Harvey-wrought devastation is just the latest example of the consequences of Houston’s gung-ho approach to development. The city, the largest in the US with no zoning laws, is a case study in limiting government regulations and favoring growth—often at the expense of the environment. As water swamps many of its neighborhoods, it’s now also a cautionary tale of sidelining science and plain common sense. Given the Trump administration’s assault on environmental protections, it’s one that Americans elsewhere should pay attention to.

Nature knows what it’s doing. I walk with my dogs frequently along the Rio Grande in a wetlands area. It’s a little annoying in summer because of the bugs — this year in particular because it has been a wet summer — but I’ve seen the slough at work. The high river of spring had channels into which it could drain and from which farmers could draw water for irrigation. It was almost as if the river said, “Here, dude. For your potatoes.” It works great and nature built it for herself (and us; we’re nature, too).

Climate change denyers can deny all they want, but it doesn’t change reality. It doesn’t change the fact that 60 years (the time between my hurricane experience in Mobile and now) is a very short time for what has happened to our climate to have happened. Yes; climate cycles happen to the Earth, but sixty years?

Lamont and Dude know that from their many incarnations, including Coelecanth and Woolly Mammoth, but they would probably be the first to agree that — with the exception of the meteorite which made things happen rather quickly, ending their time as velociraptors — the changes were eons in the making. Lamont’s belief is that humans have acted on the climate of the earth in much the way the meteorite did.

I love nature. In my whole life when things in my life have been too sad or too glorious,  I’ve gone to trees, open spaces, the sky, water (if it’s there). I’ve never been unwelcome, misunderstood, or even lost. In nature is ALWAYS an answer to the question, “Where am I?” Thousands of times it’s pulled me up and out of whatever catastrophe has been my life in those moments (and sometimes it was really a catastrophe, such as my dad dying, or my brother dying, my house under threat of foreclosure…) and shown me something. Last night on my simple, short walk with the dogs,  it was the call of a Coopers Hawk from a cottonwood tree. There is always something.

Beyond nature’s personally redemptive powers, it provides everything we need for life. Seriously. As I watched some very fucking stupid people yammering on TV in Houston I thought, “They have no idea.” I get it that they’re worried about where they’re going to live, how they’re going to live, where their children are going to live, how they’re going to eat — all of that. I’ve been through a natural disaster; I know it’s terrifying and the ordinary details of life are suddenly NOT to be taken for granted, but they think in terms of their landlord not calling them back (not that their landlord might be in his own shitstorm and unable to call them back).

But it’s a good metaphor. Extrapolate from that to REAL LIFE. Earth is our apartment building. Nature is our landlord. Without it we have no place to live, nothing to eat, no where to raise children. We do not even exist.

In my high school speech is a quotation from Adlai Stevenson. He compares Earth to the satellites that were orbiting our planet.

We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable rserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and the love with give our fragile craft.

 

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/anticipate/