Same Nightmare, Different Day

My nightmare started in 1980 when Ronald Reagan was elected for the first time. Donald Trump is the logical outcome of that process. There was nothing unpredictable about this. Ian Welsh makes the case beautifully and there’s nothing I can add to improve it.

I will be accused of being overly dramatic with that tweet, of course.  Just like I’m always accused of being overly dramatic right up to the point things work out just about like I said they would. It’s not that I’m right all the time. There’s a massive number of things I can’t figure out for crap. But for some reason I have a Cassandra thing going when it comes to American politics.1 Especially when it comes to the lies we tell ourselves.

Donald Trump has no idea what he’s unleashed. He’s vain enough to think he’ll be able to control it, but he’s loosed an animal that is interested in its own survival and nothing else. He made some pretty specific promises to lots of people who like to own a lot of guns. He’s going to have to deliver on them or he’s going to wind up being just one more target. There’s not going to be a pivot. There can’t be. There are armed people who have very specific requirements. They’re not the “alt-right” any more.  They’re in charge. And what are they in charge of? Oh.  Just the most powerful security state on the planet.  You know, the one you voted to give to Bush the Lessor and Obama?  That one?  It belongs to Trump and his Oath Keepers and his Christian Reconstructionists and his Fraternal Orders of Police now.

Mao famously said that political power comes from the end of a gun. Guess who has the guns? And guess who calls Black Lives Matters a terrorist organization? That’s Mr. Donald J. President-Elect Trump to you, asshole. The thing about Trump is he likes power and being in charge. As long as he can be in charge and it profits his family, it doesn’t matter who gets hurt. The French Revolution was crowd-sourced. Trump may have the design sense of Louis XVI’s small intestine, but he’s got no interest in winding up like him.

People are going to be hurt. Count on it. Who’s going to stop them? People who think hashtags mean something?

I voted for Clinton unenthusiastically Saturday and spent yesterday watching enthusiastic old white people vote for Trump as fast as they could get the ballot filled out. The only thing that slowed them down was arthritis and dementia.  They rode their Medicaid and Medicare paid-for scooters into the room and barely missed all the equivalently paid-for walkers so they could make sure that awful black man’s socialized Kenyan Muslim plots didn’t cost white people anything. Or something. I never really quite figured it out. But more than one person told me it was about their way of life. No surprise here, but they didn’t exactly think it through. I don’t know if it’s going to be days, weeks, or months, but sooner or later some of them might notice that that nice Negro nurse is gone or that Mexican orderly isn’t around to help anymore.  It’ll be a shame, but isn’t it nice that white people have a chance at the jobs first now?  That’s the way of life they were talking about.

I don’t know who’s making out the lists at the moment, but could I please be put on the one for Jew-Nigger-Muslim-Fag-lovers?  That’d be great. I’ve seen this movie before. I know how you like to make sure the paperwork is straight and all the trains run on time.

Have a blessed day.


1Without the being a beautiful Trojan woman thing, of course. Weird thought: this election was a tie in terms of the likelihood that a beautiful Trojan woman would be groped in the White House by a member of the First Family sometime in the next four years. Stay classy, America!

Well, I missed a post

I didn’t post yesterday. Technically my streak ended on January 31. I didn’t post that day either. As I recall, I just forgot. I had a couple of ideas, but I got into the mode where I substituted thinking about doing something with doing the thing itself. I do that with emails all the time. Well, I did back when people sent me emails I needed to reply to. That doesn’t really happen that much anymore. Words can’t express how OK I am with that. Seriously. This lack of steady income thing is, frankly, a pain in the ass, but I don’t miss being dismembered one paper cut at a time.1 Anyway, not posting yesterday wasn’t a matter of forgetting. I put it off several times earlier in the day. Not having a damned thing to talk about seemed like a pretty compelling reason to procrastinate. There wasn’t a point where I said “Nope, just not going to post today.” Apparently there was a point when my brain decided that I was going to quit reminding myself that I hadn’t posted because it didn’t occur to me again until I got up. So here we are. I missed a post.

Carla suggested that I write today about what I’ve learned about forcing myself to write every day. Carla often makes suggestions like that. Good suggestions. Rational suggestions. Suggestions about what a person sitting outside my skull might want to hear out of the cacophony inside it. Because my life story is largely a series of cautionary tales for others, though, I usually don’t follow up on them. This time I’m gong to take a shot at following through. We’ll see how it goes.

I resent structure, but I generally do better when I have it. I’ve figured out that when I can get a post up early in the day I’ve probably struck a pretty good balance between structure and creative space.  “Creative space” is what the people who used to pay me money to do things I mostly wasn’t interested in doing called “fucking around.” The more a task was something I didn’t want to do, the more creative space I needed. Why was creativity necessary? Mostly because I needed to figure out how to make whatever it was that somebody else wanted go away so I could continue to get a paycheck without shoving a pencil through my ear2. I joke now that I’m not housebroken enough for an office job. Well, I really never was. And now I’m not in one. So now there’s nothing between me and the realization that there’s a much shorter natural distance between me and someone in a coma than there is between me and a productive member of society. Here’s another example of where going with my gut is a a really bad idea for me. Some people seem to have a built in “Start” button. I have a “Sarte” button. You press it and nothingness happens. I know now that I’m going to have to fight that and it’s never going to be easy. I will mutter a lot.

I’ve read and listened to a few books lately that have really made me look at what I’m doing in a different way. Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy came out back in September. I can’t tell you how much I admire her as a writer and and as a person. Technically those aren’t two different things, but I don’t want to go down that rathole right now. She is such an amazing writer. She’s managed to create this persona on the page that’s kind of like a one-way mirror. We get to look in and see what’s going on, but she’s able to distract herself by making funny faces at herself. She overcomes her fear by being fearless. Which makes no sense if you think about it but is so clearly true you decide the best course of action is to just not think too much about it. The second book is Felicia Day’s You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). Her inner monologues and self-deprecating humor are brilliant. I like to say I like write in a flow-of-unconsciousness style, but she pulls it off. It’s also a great testament to the power of not knowing any better. She had no idea what she was getting into when she did The Guild. Confession: I’ve only watched a few early episodes. I was never a gamer. Doesn’t matter. To pull off something like that is amazing. The book explains exactly how hard it was to create something without knowing what the end product was going to be. I hope it’s obvious why I’d be interested in something like that nowadays.

I’ve discovered I enjoy writing the most when I can do it in the first-person. I don’t know why that is. Probably terminal self-absorption., which is weird considering how little I like myself. I think I grew up thinking people were always pointing and laughing at me so I might as well get ahead of the game and do it myself. I know now that people weren’t pointing and laughing as a general rule, though I did know some assholes growing up who definitely were sometimes3. In a more serious vein, I did come to the conclusion early on that I wasn’t wired like everyone else so I’ve had the blessing or curse (depending on the situation) of not assuming anyone else sees things the way I do. I know now that’s not true all the time either, but damned if I can figure out when it’s true and when it’s not. Thus, first-person seems the safest route. It’s a commercially-limited approach however, mostly because no one knows who the fuck I am and has no reason to care.  That sets me up for posts like this that I’m having fun writing but ultimately don’t matter.

I know I don’t like writing when I’m mad or depressed. I seldom get less of either while writing. It’s probably that self-absorption thing again. I don’t think what I write then is all that good when I look at it later. Maybe it’s because I know where my head was at the time.

I’ve learned I wish I could make money writing haikus. That doesn’t mean I think there’s a way to actually do it, but I can no longer say I don’t have a dream. You want an impossible dream?  There you go.

I like writing jokes. In casual conversation I do OK telling them, but I don’t know that I could get up and do standup. No, that’s not true.  I could do it. I’d have to work on it a lot. I don’t know that I want to do it so badly I want to work at it. I just wish there were somewhere I could write “You know how people always say do what you love for your job? The first time I heard that I thought to myself ‘What? Where’s the money in masturbating?'”

I like thinking about beer. I like drinking beer. I’m still finding out how to write about beer I don’t find tedious.

Many mornings Carla and I hear a bell ringing at the Catholic church that’s across the park our condo backs up to. It turns out that bell once hung in the John Hauck brewery up in Cincinnati. I don’t know why, but that’s what I can’t get out of my head lately. I’m going to write that story. It involves people who are dead, buildings and businesses that are long gone and the small number of still-living people who have first-hand memories of events probably don’t realize they know part of an interesting story. It’ll be a piece of cake.

I’ve got to be working on something. I think this is going to be it.

And that’s what I’ve learned from trying to write every day and missing only two days so far.


1I know there are people I’ve worked with in the past who read this. Understand that I don’t mean the emails you used to send me. I treasured each and every one of those. You know who I’m talking about.
2If at any point I’ve been someone who reported to you, I need you to know that I’m not talking about you. You’re well aware that I’ve done many different things in my life and I’m talking about all those others that don’t involve your wise direction and leadership.
3Probably not you. Probably.

Bump in the road

I’ve never been anything resembling a morning person. I find more and more now that if I don’t get started on what I really need to get done in the morning it doesn’t get done. As the day goes on it’s like my head fills with cotton.

What I’m trying to say is that I had several things I wanted to do today and I didn’t get any of them done  One of them was the post about the great brisket cook.

Here’s a nice picture of s sunrise  I should reacquaint myself with these things.

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A better kind of funk

I’m actually doing a good bit better today. The downside is that I need to spend some time getting some writing done that I’d promised before the happy part of my brain went on walkabout. So here’s more funk, but the good kind.

11 PM and I got nothing

img_0509Carla’s out of town.
I’m binge-watching Daredevil.
Netflix and ennui.

He doesn’t kill crooks.
Traumatic Brain Injuries?
That’s OK, I guess.

A neurologist,
hell, more than one I’d reckon,
plans to buy a boat.

“This guy’s great for us,”
they cry as folks get brought in.
“Keep them coming, dude!”

“Thug insurance sucks,”
The accountants cry as one.
“No one’s getting paid!”

There is much wailing.
But none from the thuggish ones.
They mostly just drool.

In that they’re like us,
the serial binge-watcher.
Eyes fixed and staring.

 

Black dog day II: Electric Boogaloo

I’ve heard depression described as anger turned inward. I know that when I feel it coming on it’s preceded by a lot of frustration. It’s not frustration that triggers it. It’s not that simple. It’s just that everything becomes frustrating. Then, as frustrations stack up on on top of other frustrations, it gets to be too much. You wonder why you even get out of bed. It’s just going to be the same damned thing as yesterday and the day before. Nothing is ever going to change no matter what I do.

Today is one of those days.

I blame movie montages.

I got a credit card bill the other day for the first time since I didn’t know where my next paycheck was coming from. Objectively it’s fine. This was expected. It’s been known and accepted that the household income was going to take a hit the first few months I did this thing. I’m a smart guy. I can write. I can explain things. I don’t have to make a ton of money to be happy. I like solving interesting problems, especially if they involve people trying to make sense of something. So it’s OK. People seem to understand what I say when I explain things. My talent? I can put myself in the place of someone who has no idea what you’re trying to tell them. And I can make you laugh so you don’t even notice you learned something when you remember the punchline. Gotta love a good brain fart joke.

The frustrating thing is that this is going to take time. “What are you doing now?” I’m not sure how to answer that. I’m pretty sure I don’t ever want to have a pat answer. I used to have this piece-of-crap-pickup-truck. People would ask me what model year it was. “Which part do you want to know about?” It was the only answer I could give. I’d like to be able to answer the what-are-you-doing question the same way. “Well, my ambition is an air considioning compressor from a 1972 Camaro.” Makes sense to me.

In movies they compress all this crap to a montage. In one scene I decide to make a change in my life. Montage! Then everything is cool. Roll credits.

It’s all going to work out. I know that. I’m not sure I believe that, but when I’m in that place where I am today I don’t believe much of anything. It’s a black dog day. There’s a reason I’m a cat person.

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Ales & Astros: The last day

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We’re home. There’s really little else to say.

It’s been a great trip. It’s going to take a bit of time to process. It was a week ago today that the conference in Williamsburg, VA wrapped up and we spent a rainy afternoon and evening driving the Colonial Parkway from Jamestown to Yorktown. Didn’t know about the serial killer at the time. Probably for the best. My first overnight train trip was still a day away. It’s amazing how much we packed into just four days in Florida.

Some things that are going to stick with me:

  • Mountains.  I miss them. The drive across West Virginia and western Virginia made that pretty clear. Even today we got off I-75 for a bit to cut down on the amount of traffic we had to sit through to get past the rock slide in Tennessee. We used an old state highway that winds up the mountain paralleling a railroad track and crisis-crossing a stream on a series of one-lane bridges that look like they date back to the WPA or CCC. It all seemed so right somehow.
  • Williamsburg. I’ll admit it, I was seduced by the place. I’d love to go back and spend more time there. One place I’d definitely want to spend time? The Virginia Beer Company. And Alewerks. And definitely the DoG Street Pub.
  • I’ve never been a big fan of vinegar-based barbecue sauces, but there is a Virginia version that I actually want to try out for myself. I had it on a pulled chicken sandwich for lunch last Saturday and I haven’t been able to quit thinking about how good it would be on pulled pork. The weather is supposed to be nice tomorrow….
  • Words cannot describe how miserable I was about 2AM on Tuesday as I tried to sleep in that tiny roomette on the Auto Train. More than once I muttered to myself that I was in hell.  So understand when I say I’d take another train trip in a heartbeat that I’m saying this with my eyes wide open. In a roomette? Not on your life. I’d rather just try to sleep in a coach seat. I think if we’d been in one of the larger sleeping compartments you would have had a hard time getting us off that train. Nothing that was unpleasant about our experience was anything Amtrak could control. I’m a fan.
  • The staff of Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, FL. It wasn’t supposed to be the case, but we saw the last two Astros Spring Training games that will ever be played in Kissimmee.  There was supposed to be a game yesterday that we couldn’t go to that was supposed to be the last one, but it got rained out. It was already a bittersweet ending to a 32-year run there, and I so wish they could have ended it with tha bang they deserved.  I love minor league ballparks because they’re usually so friendly. That’s what it was like at Osceloa. The only way you would have known the Astros were getting ready to leave is because there was a PA announcement asking folks to share pictures of their experiences at the park. Every single employee was a complete pro. You’d have thought nothing out of the ordinary was going on. It’s a great place to watch a game. I truly hope they find another tenant to go in there. They know how to do it right.
  • I’m ready for the season to get started. I’m excited about the Astros. I’m bracing myself for the wailing and gnashing of teeth from Reds fans this year. We lost 111 games in 2013.  107 the year before that. Reds fans have trouble being positive when they’re winning. This isn’t going to be pretty.  I hope the weather is good Opening Day. It may be the highlight of the year.

But mainly we’re home now. Porter, Dunkel, and Mia have each given us our scolding for leaving them and let both of us know we’re tentatively forgiven. Carla has a long day at work tomorrow. I can’t avoid leaving the house for a couple of reasons, but I don’t plan to be gone long.

I’m home.  I want to enjoy that for a while.