#DearMrBradbury

Comic Con came to San Diego last weekend, and I have never been in San Diego during one. As a literary snob I'm not much on pop culture, particularly ad nauseum, but I kept my mind open in the beginning days of the con, enjoying the Greek chorus of Cartoon Network balloons:

And the Batmobile:

And, to be fair, half of these pop references came from literature; Congressional Representative John Lewis's graphic collection March, and handmaids, and pedicabs with chairs a la George RR Martin.

But by Day 4 I wanted the lot of the world gone, and got depressed by so many people, and calmly stayed in my apartment under the A/C fan and read and watched the entire first season of HBO's Insecure. I probably drank too much, which didn't help for the long term, but helped at the time.

I needed a game plan after that week, because if situational depression hits you, you need a game plan to deal with it. I write every day, and every day the writing is more of a drill than a process; sit down with a notebook the size of a bar of soap, spit 6 pages, go home. More of a nervous tick than a process, more of therapy than a process (which isn't bad as an approach to therapy, but still), and I realized there was no process.

So there's a new mission: Saturdays I write short fiction. I write a short story a week, like Mr. Bradbury recommended once, and the editing would come when that fiction muscle hits the wall. When the first drafts no longer become a process, then I build on the process. But there was no fiction before, and there shall be now.

The story came out scared and stilted but it's out, and next week there'll be another. I'll stack 'em up. I was so scared in the Midwest of rotting on the couch in bad winter and summer weather; and I lost all patience after Comic Con. If it's going to be hot and weird humidity, and if I have to struggle viciously with loneliness, then dammit…all this shall be to do what I love. I shall make up facts…and fashion them into stories…and tell all the fake news I want, but in a way revealing more truth than idiots in all the governments.

And, please, Lord, let me tell it "puddle-wonderful." ✨

*****

What I Have Been Reading Lately: So much, because, the library for free, and it's too hot and pricey to go out much, so a LOT of reading…How To Be Human, Lucky You, The Zookeeper's Wife, and, currently, Faithful by Alice Hoffman. I get through a lot of New Yorker issues.

What I Have Been Watching Lately: The Zookeeper's Wife, and, predictably, not as good as the book. Paterson over and over because it soothes me. Moneyball because I miss Aaron Sorkin dialogue. Insecure because it makes me laugh and I love her rhymes. Okja, and a documentary out of the Bay Area called What the Health. Cut back on a LOT of meat, eggs, and dairy because of that movie. No, I'm not vegan (I can't be that disciplined and love tasting as I do), but when I mindlessly snack it's mostly hummus, veggies, and fruit. I feel a lot better but I'm still waiting for my skin to clear.

And baseball…so…much…baseball. If you watch enough baseball nuances start to amaze you or crack you up. I was watching a broadcast of the Blue Jays/A's game in Toronto last Thursday and was having a hard time determining the strike zone by the ump's calls. I thought I was losing my mind until I realized that both batters and pitchers were getting frustrated as well. By the 5th inning the Blue Jays' manager had enough and started heckling the ump from the dugout, and then was promptly ejected. Rattled, the Blue Jays' pitcher started grousing to himself on the mound, so one pitch later the ump tossed him, too. The catcher came unglued because his manager and pitcher were ejected a pitch apart, so…yep, the catcher got tossed, too. The crew chief for the umps had to come over and stand by his home plate ump, but I hope the communication was something to the effect of "Cool it, will ya?"

Weird, but funny as all get-out to watch.

Sometimes a girl needs distractions; sometimes she needs any game plan to get up off the dirt.

#NightstandChronicles #Continue #EightSecondsLeftInOvertime

Here, hold my spot.

June’s gonna get away from me and then I’m going to feel the failure more, so here’s a blog post in recap, a replay of a little ditty I like to call “So This is How We Treat Each Other Now.”

The ditty with verses about how during and after the election the catfish walked off wearing a red trucker’s hat, and you miss that catfish, but maybe them dumping you like a school lunch was the final indicator that maybe you shouldn’t have spent so much time getting attached to start with.

Not great timing, though.

So the introvert spends some time alone, finding out more about humanity in fiction than in people.  I hate doing that.  But I’m alone a lot anyway, alone in passions and in person, so might as well disappear into empathy:


I miss compassion.  And if you don’t think it’s possible to learn humanity from a novel, then may I present Exhibit A, which I am reading right now:


This book, like many others, utilizes a wild animal to demonstrate kindness.  One of the characters gets it.  The rest would rather not go there.  While I don’t advocate befriending foxes in order to have companionship, I am encouraged by the fact that foxes or rabbits or squirrels or seagulls don’t use social media.

Yep, it’s a blog…online, nonetheless…and I’ll drop the subject there.

It turns out that my friends can be found in the following pools:

  • People I work with
  • People I worked with
  • People I used to write with (2)
  • People I buy stuff from

Not a great pool.  Some great people in it, but they are busy, and most don’t read. The danger is, the ones who have the most time for me are the first group and the last.

Which means I’m working too much and I’m spending too much and I have no boundaries.  Alone time, then.  With foxes.  Not so much social media.  I don’t want to see who else has walked away because I’m me, and not, instead, loved me because I’m me.

On to what I have been doing lately, as Jamaica would start.  ✨

What I Have Been Reading Lately:  The afore-mentioned fox fable, written by a lovely Brit from the Guardian.  Between this lady, Jeanette Winterson, JoJo Moyes, and JK Rowling, the UK seems to have my ears these days.  I am still working on the Chabon book, though (Moonglow)…more like lingering in it.  Today’s library visit will hopefully include a book on Islamic issues and an old Edward Abbey favorite my brother got me hooked on about six years ago.

What I Have Been Watching Lately:  Still watching Last Week Tonight, still working my way through the entire series of West Wing (again; I usually do this about once a year), still watching a LOT of baseball.  I say “watching” but most of it is the free MLB game of the day playing on my phone and I glance at it if I need a distraction from another work nightmare.  The broadcasts are a boys club of guys trying to crack each other up and sometimes they succeed in getting me to do that.  The free game is rarely the Giants, which is probably a good thing; I still bleed black and orange, but years like this means I get back to the passion of the game in general…and other players in their glory.  Also, I am hooked to the footage of the Flash and the exciting installments of his wins and losses.

I’m also still watching Real Time.  Judge away, America; while you’re at it, I also like other stuff I’m not supposed to, like Hemingway’s fiction and Woody Allen films.  The floor is yours to throw stones.  Yes, Bill Maher does offend me from time to time.  But he wakes me up, too, like Friday’s opening segment with Maajid Nawaz.  Some of my teachers in university angered me beyond measure and got me thinking in the same semester, and I’m used to be offended in otherwise productive discussions.

What I’m Watching On Film:  Last weekend was The Edge of Seventeen–dark, but I love the actors, so that one’s a keeper.  (Pro tip:  I have to dock all movies with puke scenes as 4 instead of 5 stars, so this film had a blemish in case you are also of the nature that you don’t feel you should have to pay any kind of admission price for pieces where someone pukes/pees/poops/etc.). On the rental list is The United Kingdom (David Oyelowo strikes again) and I Am Not Your Negro, which I saw at an indie theatre here in San Diego but which I loved enough to watch again.  Also, I have been rewatching, over and over, the movie Paterson with Adam Driver and Moonlight.  They soothe me.  When movies about verse-writing bus drivers and violence soothe you something’s probably not right in Denmark, but that’s my inclination these days.

What I’m Listening To:  for starters, today with the current social situation, this.  That song is a recurring theme in my life, and I take full responsibility.  Also, a band called First Aid Kit has a lovely song called “I Found A Way” that paints me over so that I can sit in a shadow and nod my head to the beat and agreement.  Also, the remastered Sgt Pepper’s, and the solo album by Dan Auerbach (don’t strain yourself; if you are trying to place that name then here’s a hint–Black Keys).  I have got a dosage of country from the latest season of The Ranch on Netflix, a wonderfully senseless show that I can also play while working to keep from getting spooked (like cattle might), and danced a little in my living room with Garth Brooks’s “Friends in Low Places.”

I do get out, too…dancing on Friday night to a jazz band by the harbor…walks down the jacaranda lane of Kettner…fireworks…cattle drives to promote the local county fair.

Still looking for humanity, after all.  ♥️

#NewNightstandAddress


Looks like a dorm room, doesn’t it? But instead it’s an artist’s studio, and it’s in a metro location, so I am no longer roaming the countryside like a nomad, my life in a knapsack heavy with pens, books, and blank paper.  April was just moving, so, yes, I have been conspicuously absent (or not…depends on your dependence, I suppose), but this is a three-day weekend and I have some time and I have missed spending whole days reading and writing, so the NightStand returns, in the form of two wicker baskets at the head of a futon.

San Diego proper is still as sprawly as all get-out, but in the event of a natural disaster or extreme illness I could make my life continue in the span of a city block.  It helps to live next to a grocery store.  It also helps to have my gym across the street from the grocery store, and about four cafes in the area, and two ATMs, and you get the picture.  For less needs and more wants I have to walk farther: library at 8 blocks, ballpark at 6 blocks, harbor lights at 6 blocks.

This is my first foray into living among skyscrapers; even in San Francisco I lived by the park and among buildings that topped out at 3 or 4 stories.  Here I wake up in the morning and there are more than six buildings out my window that exceed 20 stories.  Their placement is such that I feel I live in a city but they don’t block the sunset or the occasional fireworks from Sea World.  The tallest of them, a condo building, has an art installation at the top; think of a lighthouse where the light runs a cycle of the complete spectrum of ROYGBIV.  The colors fade into each other, and cycle and cycle until about 3:30 am.  I know this cut-off firsthand; someone pulled the fire alarm in the building in error at that ungodly hour a week or so ago, and I got to meet a lot of neighbors.  My neighbors are animal lovers and a lot of them have medical issues, so finding the silver lining in such a strange evacuation was a challenge that night, but still…community.  Writers need community.

My day job is a bit of an attention hog these days due to the fact that I am often forced into the practice of metaphorically paddling a battleship with a toothbrush, but I’m working on that, too, now that I have personal independence.  In terms of the arts and crafts, though, here are the latest indulgences:

  • What I have been reading lately:  on the Kindle I’m still trying (unsuccessfully) to get through The New Yorker as it comes in and reading a novel called Carrie Pilby.  From that now close library I’ve been on a Toni Morrison kick (Beloved, which I have never managed to read, and God Help the Child, which is getting richer but isn’t my favorite work of hers), and from my personal paper library Moonglow by Michael Chabon.  Chabon has flipped the “fake news” garbage on its head; he calls the novel a memoir that may or may not be reliably true, therefore removing all doubt by adding it. 
  • What I have been listening to lately:  I’m apparently on a James Bay kick this weekend, but I also have the latest from Sia (her theme from the movie Lion) and the music of Chopin bouncing around in the earbuds, too.
  • What I have been watching lately: continuing with baseball (my Giants suck, yes, I’ll say it), and West Wing (there are seven seasons, after all), as well as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Real Time with Bill Maher.  In movies, I started The Secret Life of Pets, but that is going to be a long watch…not a great film.  I binged on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt last Sunday; Titus is still in fine form with his Lemonade tribute.  I haven’t seen many movies lately (it’s summer, not Oscar season, after all), but those that I have seen are a little French film on Netflix recommended by a friend called Blind Date (hence, my listening to Chopin) and I have the Oscar-nom film for Annette Benning on my iTunes rental.

For the time being, c’est moi.  More, hopefully, barring any drama, in June.  ✨

#IntelligentCompassion or, #WhyISkippedFebruary


I’m rewatching the television series “The West Wing.”  That statement in today’s political climate is relatively on par with “I’m treating my depression with alcohol,” but it gave me a fair bit of insight in the first episode alone, so it did help, of a sense.  First, though, a background story so that you get an idea of its affect on my thought processes.

When my mother was in her last stages of cancer a whole collection of hospice nurses were in and out of the house to help (some were a help, like the lady I’m about to mention, but most were uncomfortable and I had to work for them to help them feel better; all part of that acute politeness and nothing bad should be acknowledged attitude the Upper Midwest is so good at), and one of them came in every other day to take vitals and answer questions.  My mother was pretty much unconscious at this stage, and the nurse new my parents; it was a small town, and everyone knew everyone, particularly in specific generations.

I liked this nurse, enjoyed her visits, but she had an odd assessment of my parents.  She told my brother and I that we were lucky; we had the perfect balance of intellect (supposedly my dad) and compassion (supposedly from my mom).

Something about that never sat right with me, because it seemed to add up to the following sum:  my mother, in being compassionate, must be missing some IQ points, and my father, smarter of the two, must be lacking in compassion.

Ever since then I have looked for smart and compassionate people to look up to.  Sadly, the nurse was mostly right…especially in today’s news cycle, it seems we have to “win” by being smarter than the other side, and “how are the Dems going to get the upper hand back when they are so nice all the time,” and “empathize with the struggle of the Right and you’ll win them back, ” (there’s that word “win” again), etc.

I’m seeing a lot of intellect right now, and no wonder…compassion is portrayed as, and is perceived as, a weakness.

My questions are these:

  • What if compassion could convince of intellect?
  • What if intellect could be used to find the compassionate way to lead us all?
  • What if one or the other weren’t celebrated and instead one could only happen with the other?

Enter “The West Wing.”

The scene pictured above is in the pilot.  I won’t explain the whole thing; you can find it and watch it if you are so inclined.  In the pilot episode, the communication staff and Deputy Chief of Staff meet with Christian leadership to smooth over a snafu that occurred on a talk show between their representatives.  One side is secular government, the other side is impassioned Christianity.  The White House staff are accused of being smart and not compassionate to the needs of the Christian Right, but the Christian Right wants the apology cemented with commitments from the administration to things such as school prayer, cracking down on the accessibility of porn among kids, and discontinuing distribution of condoms in middle and high schools.

Now, I’m all for school prayer, if you could be compassionate enough to do it and not make those kids of different faiths (or atheist) uncomfortable.  I’m all for cracking down on porn accessibility for kids, but…isn’t that a smart decision we should be compassionate enough to allow parents to make?  And no condoms in schools…the smart and compassionate answer for me seems to me to make them readily available.

But there are different definitions of compassion and intellect, aren’t there?

For me, finding someone who is equal parts compassionate and intellectual has become so exceedingly rare that I only seem to find it in art…and not the kind of art you would find in the movie Snakes On The Plane.  George Saunders, on tour for his first novel Lincoln in the Bardo, mentions the importance of kindness in every interview, and he learned that lesson from a critic’s review of his short fiction that expressed Saunders was a better writer when he wrote from a point of view of “love instead of hate.”  That review was before Saunders went on special assignment for The New Yorker to do an in-depth piece on Trump supporters.  In a recent Vanity Fair interview he conveyed that he still didn’t understand why Trump supporters wanted Trump, but he understood their working class frustration.

Working class frustration isn’t always thought of as cerebral.  Maybe, though, we should use our noggins to understand that frustration, and then find a compassionate way to alleviate it.

The challenge though, is finding the smarter, kinder way to do it.

*****

February got skipped in this blog for a few different reasons: the unreliable nature of my current employment, my changing living situation, the month is short enough to sneak past me, and my mother’s memory kind of takes over the first couple weeks.  But here’s the leap back into something stable, a run-down of the art I’ve been trying to stay sane with lately:

  • Books – I finally finished Barbarian Days…sadly; what a great memoir.  I’m currently reading a book that I picked up at the San Diego Library Shop for “A Blind Date with a Book” for Valentine’s Day (the book was wrapped in plain brown paper–no, not porn again, heh–and a brief and enticing summary was applied to the wrapper), The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht.  The novel is set in the former Yugoslavia and reminds me of the magic of She Unbearable Lightness of Being, without so much raw lust.  I am thoroughly enjoying my Valentine’s, still.  I am also enjoying the complete fluffiness of Jojo Moyes’s short story collection Paris For One, borrowed from the Carlsbad library, just because she is so funny and loving and light;
  • Other reading – still The New Yorker, still The New York Times;
  • Listening – a LOT of classical music, a LOT of Cassandra Wilson, a LOT of Melody Gardot…they are soothing, and, with minimal vocals, easy to write to.  I love Lorde’s new single, enjoying Sia’s work on film soundtracks lately (The Eagle Huntress and Lion, for starters), and I keep adding to my podcast stack;
  • Watching – TV – still with PBS’s Victoria (one more episode tonight), The West Wing, the second season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Last Week Tonight, Real Time with Bill Maher, and…it’s back…BASEBALL; ⚾️
  • Movies – Pretty much anything Oscar-related, which is typical for me in February.  Yes, I watched the Oscars, and came unglued at that magical ending with my love for Moonlight.  

Here’s hoping, until April, I gain compassion and smarten up, in equal measure.  ❤🤓

#TheAwkwardInBetween or #EmpathyOnEitherSide

This is awkward me, a fish out of water in Northwest Ohio, in 1990:


I was a fish out of water because I read The New Yorker, my favorite author was Dorothy Parker, and I was a farm girl, although I tried to fit in by wearing acid-washed jeans and filling in as the school mascot at basketball games and wrestling matches occasionally. (Go Panthers!)

This is me, an awkward fish out of water in Southwest Missouri, around 1998/1999:


I was awkward in Missouri because I was an independent who mostly voted Democratic, because I was a Unitarian, because I loved literature so much that I was throwing away thousands in student loans to study it, and because between semesters I still worked in agriculture (cattle ranch), although I tried to fit in by bleaching my hair platinum and riding a scooter and not telling people what Unitarians believe.

This is me, an awkward fish out of water, in the Alamo Square neighborhood of San Francisco, 2005:


I was awkward because folks with less computer savvy than I had were calling me Amish because I was from the Midwest, because I didn’t know how to order a burrito, because I was white, because I still loved literature so much that it hurt (can’t seem to shake that one), because I believed in God’s love (Unitarian again), because I was an independent and therefore not Democratic enough, and because I was still a virgin at the age of 32.  I tried to fit in by dying my hair red and eating all kinds of exotic food and sleeping with men who didn’t value me.

In other words, I’m awkward everywhere.  I’m least awkward in San Francisco, but I’m still awkward.  I’ll not defend any of it; to Midwesterners I’m elite coastal, to coastal I’m a backward Midwesterner.

No wonder empathy is at a premium.

I make the joke on my Tumblr description that I don’t travel; I just up and move.  A constant pounding on my self-esteem has made that less of an action statement moving forward, but I read an article in The New York Times over the last week that restored some of my identity.  In the article, the reporter asked then President Obama about how books helped him survived the presidency.  He explained that books have always helped him in some form or another, because some settings he has found himself in have been “isolating.”  He described books as being friends when it was difficult to find the traditional definition.  He described an hour of reading nearly every night while he was in office as a way for him to slow down and gain perspective in a job that seemed determined to hit him rapid-fire.  He even spent a couple of years in college with only books as his social life, on purpose, and teaching himself how to write from reading great writers.

You don’t say, Mr. Obama.

Polarization is a given now, but I’m grateful for the chance to be awkward, to keep finding reading as an acceptable aspect of my personality, and to have that be something I don’t apologize for but encourage in others.  I’m a farm girl who loved the city, a city girl who misses singing Aerosmith tunes to the cows during round-up (beef cattle tend to prefer “Rag Doll” or “Dream On” from my experience; not big Armageddon soundtrack fans).  

I’m awkward in-between…aren’t we all?  Or am I the only one?

*****

Yesterday was the Women’s March series of protests around the world; and I have to admit I think we all needed that.  After all of the finger-pointing and polarization (see above) of the election, I honestly thought that maybe empathy wasn’t a part of the American fabric anymore.  But yesterday all kinds of folks showed up everywhere, on the coasts and in the rust belts, of all ages, ethnicities, orientations, genders, and all levels of awkwardness.  People who voted for Trump went, stating they wanted him to know he was on a short leash; people fighting all kinds of stereotypes went, voicing their distinction.  

So, in a sense, Trump did bring us all together; just not to back him.

Some media outlooks and cynics critiqued the events:  “What’s the point?  He’s still the president after you protest.”  All I could think of was the words of a Garth Brooks song from my Midwest years, right after the Oklahoma City bombing:


Sometimes that’s a good start.

Others ask us to “give the new President a chance.”  Fair enough, then my ask in return is this:  Where’s your line?  At what point will you be disgusted, too?  He’s bragged about sexual assault, he’s made fun of a prominent POW and a disabled journalist, he’s accused the last surviving leader of the Selma freedom march of “no action”…are you going to stop short of him assaulting puppies and children, or…you?  Where’s your line of “that was too far”?  He’s crossed mine; where is the one you’re letting him walk to so that I know when we’ll have your support?

Just asking…for a friend.

*****

Ok, if you made it this far, you’re ready for what I’m reading lately.  I’m still plugging away at the Finnegan memoir on surfing called Barbarian Days, and dragging out the last hundred pages because I am loving the narrative of this book.  You will still never catch me on a surfboard, but then I don’t need to surf to love this writing.

The New Yorker is still on the list, and yesterday the trains weren’t running so I visited the Carlsbad Library and checked out the latest Winterson book, even if it is Christmas-themed (I love her stuff just that much), and The Nix by Nathan Hill.  I shouldn’t have done The Nix; that one has holds and I only have it three weeks and the hardback is the size of a breadbox for Chrissakes, but…literature, shrug.  I’ll never shake it.  Me and the guy I voted for, finding friends in the pages.

In film I found some solace in the fight against a Holocaust-denier theme of Denial, a better understanding of Edward in Snowden, and I’m soaking up the last of Sherlock (ok, that’s not film, but close enough).  All the royal treatment on Netflix and Masterpiece/PBS lately has me hooked (that’s the history minor in college kicking in) as well.

And in the tunage department…still listening to Sharon Jones (because she’s alive as long as I keep her music playing, right?), Beyoncé, and Natalie Hemby.  If you don’t know Natalie go find her and listen to “Worn” from her Puxico album.  And there’s my Missouri coming up to the surface.

For now…doing my best to smooth in the face of my severity of awkwardness…take care.✨

#Post2016


Ah, yes, year in review.  I didn’t have such a bad 2016, although it was disappointing.  I took a chance and tried another job, one that pays better and has cheaper insurance and sits closer to the home base (would we really call it home?) and allows me to work from home occasionally for the first time, but…like the last job it isn’t the job description I was promised.  I was promised analyst, and I’m still Band-Aid girl for the agent statistics, making up numbers to cover up boo-boos, and a different set of leadership is scratching their heads wondering why desired results can’t be obtained.

There were other disappointments, too, but they were more of learning experiences.  I would go into greater detail on these little growth spurts, but they are probably going to carry into 2017 and some days I fall off of them like their surfaces got slippery.  Rome wasn’t built overnight and I’m sure they had to stop occasionally due to rain.

I’m about halfway through my own personal Colesium, you might say, and I had to tear down another parking garage before I could start building this thing, so I’m a bit behind.

But I’m getting more efficient at the brick-laying.

*****

To revert back to the standard updates in the posts…here is what I have been doing lately (the continuous nod to Jamaica Kincaid):

Books:  I’m reading The New Yorker, New York Times, LA Times, and Washington Post, but never fast enough.  I’m also working my way through Barbarian Days:  A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan.  I’m reading this book for the same reason that people see the movie Raging Bull when they don’t like boxing; I am not a fan of surfing and probably never will be and yet this book kind of fills in the gaps like caulk.  Finnegan is one hell of a writer, and I love his stuff in The New Yorker, and occasionally he “diversifies” as he calls it in the text and you get less surfing and more of the rest of it.  It helps that I now know where most of these places are (minus Hawaii, and I’m not sure I want to take that one for a spin).  I think of Finnegan’s passion for surfing as comparable to mine of baseball; we can hold our own at a bar with our respective topics of expertise, but we will mute ourselves after a bit if a blow-hard steps in.

Sometimes humility is better, although it’s more and more seen as weakness.

Music:  For some reason I’m on a Florence + the Machine kick (blame the film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), but other stuff beats on–Miranda Lambert (damn, Jo’s back in country stuff!), Childish Gambino’s latest album, Beyoncé on shuffling repeat.  A week or so back I was on an “Angel of the Morning” kick (covered by various artists).

Film:  I enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children more than I thought I would (kind of wary of Mr. Burton’s films, but this one and Big Eyes were pretty good).  I’ve watched a little Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, naturally, and a movie called A Dangerous Method that seemed a bit on the clinical side for being all about sex and Freud and Jung.  I saw Fences and was fine until Viola Davis got in Denzel’s face and my struggle with 44 years of men helping themselves to me made me cry.  That was nothin’ compared to Moonlight, though, which, for a movie that has very little CGI and no storm troopers was the best piece of cinema I have ever seen in my life.  No “probably,” no “in my humble opinion;” I’m owning this one.  Moonlight was complete genius.  We’ve seen film after film of minority communities, of drug culture, of LGBTQ issues, of feminist struggle, and then a director and a playwright from the same part of Miami get together and get it right.  They just effortlessly execute it and make it look like “Duh, this is what you meant,” and the pure, bald-faced news of the story was like Viola Davis’s speech in Fences for TWO HOURS.  There’s an introvert in Chiron, an unloved in Chiron, an observer in Chiron, and there’s a part of every life in him.  Someone finally got the engine streamlined.

Social media:  I’m present less and less on all of the platforms, and spending more time sitting in coffee shops, bars, and restaurants actually talking to people.  Yesterday was magical (magestical?  I saw Hunt for the Wilder People too) in that I took a Lyft (ridesharing as a microcosm) to a newish restaurant in Carlsbad called Campfire (recommended by friends in the East Village) and sat at the bar.  I have been sitting at the bar for years; bartenders are a wonderous lot to me, and not just for the booze.  As I was munching and imbibing, two little boys climbed on the bar stools next to me and ordered shots of milk.  One boy was 4 and the other was 6; the 4-year-old was from here and quiet, and the 6-year-old was from the UK and could speak the Queen’s English and Japanese.  These are the wonders I moved west for, and some days I find them.  

I find I have more time to read and write as well, being off the snark sites more and more, and at some point it’s probably just going to be my blogs and that’s it.  So…much…judgment on social media.  I’m reminded of high school, and I hated high school.  My happiest days were college, where my best friends were classmates and professors and a former Californian who told me I didn’t know anything from university and that I should feel lucky to have any friends or lovers at all because I wasn’t beautiful and took after my father in looks so I was just going to get worse.  “Not nice, actually,” Natalie from Love Actually would say, but in those days I thought she walked in water because of where she was from, as though California birth is a stamp of worldliness in itself, so I followed her around between semesters and after graduation hoping to meet her expectations.  I started losing myself when I lost college and lost my mother in the same damn 18 months; I loved college because I was working full time teaching and going to school for literature.  

People have suggested that I go back for my Masters, and I’ve thought about it.  It is time to write, though, and I would have to follow more prescriptions in going back to do that.  I feel depleted on the social platforms and remember reading and writing as my community at university; it’s been brought to my attention that I’m being anti-social in this aspect, but…social sites have turned anti-social.  One half hates the other half because both halves want the whole, and listening occurs less and less.  I have to admit that I would be shocked if more than one friend in my circle read this open letter to the world, but I’m the listener in the crowd of them; it’s not so much that I am more and more anti-social, but it’s getting too difficult to have a conversation or connection.  I don’t consider it giving up as much as finding out if there are people out there who think I’m worthy of a conversation instead of just worshipping folks for putting up with me.

It is possible…I have to believe that.  I cannot settle for less…less I don’t want to live for.

Dear reader, may you have a blessed and wonderous 2017; you are deserving of it. 🙏🏻✨🎉

#Gratitude and #GoodTaste


This isn’t a typical nightstand chronicle, although I’ll talk about books first and bury the lead for those who are fine with facing all manner of topics.

What I’m reading lately…Still working on The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro; I do not want this story to end.  This book and Alice’s rabbit hole seem to fit the year to a tee, and I want to make it last.  I have added a daily seasoning of The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times to my readings in The New Yorker.  All of this non-fiction/news is still in my bubble but is written in moderation…which I’ll dive into a little more here in a moment.

What I’m listening to lately…Miranda Lambert’s new album, Leonard Cohen in little slivers (sure, want it darker occasionally), and…the Hamilton Mixtape.  This Hamilton thing has been a blessing compounded on a blessing; first there is the history itself, then the book written on the history (a wry wonder of a thing that brings old to a surface of new), and then a musical written by a rhythm based on the book, and then a mixtape produced by a love based on the musical.  The marketing folks are releasing the album in pieces; every time a new track drops I am back at square one, learning the whole picture, learning more about myself, loving life a little better.

What I’m watching…I started The Crown on Netflix.  The first couple of episodes were rough going (I struggle with the baser side of bodily functions in movies and television), but I’ve powered through and am head over heels for the history.  The current episode I’m on is talking about the record smog that hit London in December of 1952 and…I’m fascinated with the thinly-veiled comparison to the climate change denial of today.

Which brings me to the meat and potatoes of this Thanksgiving post.

*****

This election was hard on the lot of us, wasn’t it?  Some of us got into it, others of us just counted the days until it was over.  And then it was over.

Something in that win immediately created an ending for me.  I was tired of smoothing over wrinkles.  I was tired of making myself available in a world of screens where I worked so hard to be available to everyone and where I was still lonely.  So I backed up a little.  I put Facebook away.  I find I can’t get away from Twitter or Instagram, but it’s easier to find something hopeful there.  And I read and write a lot more.

Alienation.  I was raised on a farm in the Midwest where the overwhelming literature was Reader’s Digest condensed books and Good Housekeeping magazines.  I have a mistrust of intellectual elites and a mistrust of the cultural opposite of intellectual elites.  I love things in moderation, and things created in moderation.  I love food with flavor profiles beyond sugar and salt, but when the McRib comes back in town I have to have at least one.  I rest in the middle of a cultural road where both sides are the dictionary definition of extreme.

I voted for Clinton because she wasn’t Trump when the candidate I really wanted is still in the White House.  I was willing to settle for Bernie, but Clinton was better than Trump.  I fell in love with Obama, and still love him, because he was a writer first.  I fell in love with his writing first; the first black President was just icing on the cake to me.  If voting for him and supporting him means that I’m an elitist, then I’m an elitist.  A writer in the White House was my dream come true, even if they don’t always have the best qualities for leadership (the working alone, the measured approaches sometimes too slow for critics to accept as progress).  I imagine that an entertainer in the White House is a dream come true for others (Reagan, and now Trump).  I had eight years of possibility and hope.  That’s gotta last me.  And that explanation has to last me.  If I’m alienated for the next four to eight years, then that’s a definition of a culture shift I refused to see.  That’s my fault.  That’s what I live with.

Do I find Trump in bad taste?  Yes.  I find him in bad taste because of his wild mood swings, his lack of humility, his shape-shifting opinions.  I am fully tired of his extremes.  He is all sugar, all salt, in a world of diabetics and heart disease.  He serves as a great fix for the moment, an instant gratification, a McRib 24/7.  He serves as a fix once in a great while, but his extremism poisons me, and how he got here poisons us all.  I need my vegetables.  I need ice cream with hints of vanilla and cocoa.  I need pumpkin pie that tastes like pumpkin and spice, not sugar and lard.

On the flip side, I don’t want to be criticized for how I love what I love.  If I’m crossing a T wrong or dotting an I with a heart, I get to have that foundation.  If my contribution isn’t intellectual enough, then maybe we can assume I’m erring on the side of compassion instead.  I’m a safe zone.  If it’s no longer safe to wear a safety pin, I won’t; but don’t be surprised if I question other trends or keep them.  My goal is life in moderation, so not too much in the head, not to much in the gut reaction.  

Good taste isn’t elite.  It’s moderate.  It’s not normalization.  It’s balance.  I’m grateful for any good taste I can find.

Happy Thanksgiving. 🦃🙏🏻