The News Conference

I think what he’s trying to say is that climate change is a Chinese hoax, the Ukraine and Democrats rigged the 2016 election for Hillary, this virus thing is a Democrat take-down attempt, the Stock Market has been in freefall because Democrats and the “enemy of the people” NYT and Democrats are evil Democrats tell Democrat lies destroy the country Democrats want millions to die just go to work you’ll get better Hillary Obama Soros Bernie Chinese Impeachment hoax should get the nomination Schumer Pelosi false teeth Burisma Bernie not Biden Hunter Lyndsey Rudy Russia are you listening to the impeachment hoax no quid pro collusion biggest hands ever and the election victory historic ’cause the mall was packed inauguration bigger than Obama tapped my phone crooked Hillary e-mails Melania’s a ten Obama where’s your birth certificate anyway Kenya shit-hole 3 million illegal Mexicans voting for her massing at the border an INFESTATION I know all about viruses it’s like a cold latest hoax it is nearly contained because fake tan hair teeth brain healthiest president to ever serve hamburders most successful presidency ever in millions of years your favorite president fake news stable genius flush the toilet 20 times tariff windfall coffers exploding trade deficit bad bad bad crafty Xi biggest tax cut in the universe “very low IQ person” shit-hole Baltimore racist civil rights hero stupid Maxine what have you got to lose? top advisers and fixers in jail ’cause Cohen’s DISLOYAL but not Roger Stone punch up counter punch how’d ya like a nice Hawaiian I like heroes who aren’t captured so cover that boat name he’s in Hell they’ll follow my illegal odors I think I’m the chief law enforcement water board the shit out of them blood coming out of her whatever rat-infested “urban centers” you can’t die from the flu I gave those veterans the money and the kids cancer charity too naked Miss Teen America it’s my right and when you’re famous they’ll let you do it anything I want as president no you can’t see my taxes Two Corinthians am I right Franklin? I’m a nationalist Mexican judges born in Michigan can’t be fair Trump University drugs and rapists Muslim ban and killers maybe some good people too I don’t know on both sides Secret Service Mar-a-Lago $550 a night that’s fair and balanced #MAGA I heart dictators Kim we fell in love and Putin never lies why would he? And neither do I said “wouldn’t” at Helsinki but the Washington Post and CNN and never Trumpers Cryin’ Chuck and Crazy Nancy Shifty Adam Shitt Pocahontas sad because they’re losers it was a perfect call NOBODY testifies and NO BREAKING RANKS counterpunch and whatabout that guy who shot Scalise fast and furious Solara pizzagate Benghazi FBI SCUM traitor Sessions “Justice” Dept intelligence my ass sons of bitches stand up for my song better go back to school deep state conspiracy CIA never-ever-Trumpers push me out and my friends in law enforcement and the biker gangs Breitbart and Fox who knows nobody wants it but maybe we’ll have a civil war it could happen probably not would be a shame but overturn the vote and I know more about it than anyone only the best people tweet you’re fired droned blown to bits whimpering like a dog so lonely stable genius with only my phone and no one to hold my little hand.

I Have Nothing to Say

You know, sometimes there’s just nothing to say. I have been, for the last couple of years, as they say, largely “silent” as a writer. Some claim writer’s block. I, on the other hand, claim it not. It’s different. It’s more as if, with the great cacophony of opinions swirling around the – I can’t say it – blogosphere, the prospect of adding one’s lonely voice to that tiresome, bloated chorus is just a little bit demoralizing.

Or a lot. I don’t know. But this is what I do.

Suffice to say, I am crawling back to the surface like some college boy tossed into the pool at the 3 a.m. mark of the frat party. Why? Because, oddly, I must. I have no excuse for it. I have been working on some fiction, which I believe I’ll start stapling out on this board for anyone who may be interested. And I’ve got matches – matches for sale.

Seriously – I have felt like some primordial mud pit long crusted over but with an insistent bubbling magma beneath – some of which must surface, and form some strange new organism, while other channels must stay submerged, flowing forever beneath the surface. So it is.

I won’t say my mood is good, but it’s not too bad. There is, again, a kind of pacific stability to my life – it is the peace I crave in order to hear myself in the quiet, and also the peace I abhor because, let’s face it, life is not a study hall.

I mean, dude.

There’s so much to say, I have no excuse for not saying it. So here we go. I was reading over the old entries here today, one day after I pulled the switch and registered as my own personal domain*. So here’s my pledge to you, dear possibly non-existent public: I will take up the mantle of explaining life inside this mortal coil once again, and try to make public sense of this world – the one we drop into, like a baby set adrift in the rushes.

But we can leave all that behind.

Are You Trying to Kill Me, Mister?

During a recent diversion on an Internet “forum” dedicated to a novel (yes, I’ve come to my senses since then), someone proposed a thread of topics on “amazing things that have happened to you.” I rather liked the little tale I told, so here it is, slightly…modified.


When I was about 11 I lived near Naples in southern Italy. My neighbors were an American expatriate married to an Italian woman and their family. Even though he was American and lived in an American enclave, you got the distinct impression he didn’t like Americans. At least, he didn’t act very cordial to the adults in our little housing area. As foreigners of the same nationality living abroad will tend to be, the rest of us were quite chummy. But not this guy.

Their son, who loved everything American, which probably pissed Dad off even more, was quite fond of me. They were planning a trip to the beach, at Sorrento, and he invited me to come along. Sounded good, so along I came. I didn’t consider him a great friend, but he was OK, and I was hoping to see his hot older sister in her underwear or, better yet, naked.

So we go to Sorrento. At one point, the Dad said we would go rock climbing. I’d never done it, but being a game lad I was ready to give it a try. So we all headed out to a cliff he knew of that was apparently good for rock climbing.

We got out onto this cliff, which was very steep, and here I was suddenly clinging to rocks on a sheer cliff, which I soon discovered ended about 50 feet down in a completely sheer (90 degree) sea wall, itself about 20 feet high, and below that were rocks and crashing waves. The sea wall went on for as far as one could see in both directions.

I realized that if I lost my footing and fell–50 feet down the rocky cliff, then the 20 feet of the sea wall and onto the rocks jutting from the sea–I would probably be killed.

The going got tougher. I could barely find any places to hold on–the rocks seemed to get further apart, with only scrub in between. A few times I almost fell, and grabbed instinctively onto the scrub plants to keep from falling.

“Don’t do that,” says my friend’s dad, “those won’t hold you.” He’s perfectly calm, like he couldn’t care less if I do fall.

Meanwhile, he and his son are scrambling along like mountain goats, obviously experienced at this and familiar with the terrain.

Somehow, I made it to the top of the cliff. I didn’t get too freaked out at the time, but later realized that I could have easily fallen at any point on that climb–especially since I was only 11 and completely inexperienced at rock climbing.

Later, we’re going to go swimming. These guys are big swimmers, and since I’ve only been in Italy a few months, I have never experienced swimming in surf. “We like to swim out to that rock,” Dad says, pointing to a large moss-covered rock about a hundred yards out in the bay. “Kind of a race.”

They dive in and start swimming to the rock. So off I go after them, quickly realizing how difficult it is to swim against a current. But I make it to the rock, only to realize it’s wet mossy surface means you don’t get to climb up on it and rest – you have to tread water next to it. “OK, well, let’s head back,” he says. I’m not sure I can make it, but being a kid I don’t say anything. I just start in after them.

I almost didn’t make it. They were way ahead of me, standing on the beach while I was about halfway between the rock and the shore. I slowed way down, treaded water for a while to rest, then swam some more. I finally made it, but was completely exhausted. A few more yards and I would not have made it.

It was strange. After a while I realized that the guy was probably hoping I would either fall off the cliff or drown in the sea–perfectly explainable “accidents.” He seemed disappointed for the rest of the trip, didn’t speak to me much.

I’ve often wondered since growing up what kind of person would toy with a child’s life like that, concluding that the guy was kind of nuts.

I pretty much avoided that family after the trip.

Notes on the Passing Scene…

I’ve been thinking about “a lot of different stuff,” as the kids say.

  • It appears our elected officials are doing their level best to prove they are interested more in themselves than in governing. This is nothing new, of course, but it’s reaching epic incestuous proportions – at present, the House is wrapped up in whether it should have an Ethics Committee to investigate itself or not; the Senate is bogged down in endless debate and frequent press potshots on whether it should change its rules on the filibuster; the administration is ga-ga over Social Security “reform”, although it has no actual plan. Meanwhile the rest of us are thinking about–hold on to your hats–the actual issues facing the country.
  • I hear teenage girls are now using steroids to “tone up” or win at sports. Why girls would want to raise their testosterone levels is beyond me, but somehow I’m not surprised. The whole country seems to be on a de-evolutionary binge, trying to become less civilized and more…barbaric. Violent entertainment, violent pastimes, increasingly violent personal interactions, “aggressive” business tactics, a foreign policy based on instigating wars–it goes on. It’s as though we’re all in basic training, toughening ourselves and putting our “game” faces on to get ready to…what?
  • The Republican party appears to have become the official political wing of the religious right. In case anyone wanted to know.
  • Some people don’t take compliments well–inferiority complex. The Democrats don’t take to political advantage well, retaining the politics of “shrill indignation” even when they’re gaining ground–fear of success? Or just plain dumb?
  • I heard some “experts” talking today on why the U.S. cannot seem to find Osama bin Laden, who is, incidentally, living quietly in a condo in northern Pakistan with his two cats. The one expert, an apologist for the government, said essentially that we don’t need to find him–that to spend all our energy trying to capture one man who is not directly involved in current threats to the U.S. would sidetrack more important anti-terror efforts. Funny–that sounds like the case not to go after Saddam Hussein.
  • In a little town out here on the Plains, a teenage girl burned her house down, killing two siblings in the process. She was trying to kill her dad, who was sexually abusing her and taking pictures of the rapes for his personal collection. She’s only about 16, but she’ll be tried as an “adult,” because…well, I guess because no one will stop them. Dad survived–he’s in jail now on child porn charges. Oh, and the attention of the case led authorities to arrest mom on outstanding bad check charges. Just one all-American Iowa family.
  • Around here, folks like to hunt Morrell mushrooms in the spring. This year, they’re getting shot at by nervous farmers who think these folks are setting up meth labs. Three words: know your enemy. One more word: relax.
  • Speaking of meth, a local grade school teacher was just busted for dealing it (though not to her students, apparently). She’s claiming hardship because she couldn’t survive on her $31,000 annual salary–which is about 1,000 times the average Guatemalan’s annual salary.

Happy Birthday

The most interesting thing to me about getting older is the fact that my inner self does not age. I remember when I was younger, I always imagined getting older as becoming someone else. What will I be like when I’m 40? How will I be different? I’d look around at all the “old” people and try to imagine being one of them. It was always a sense of dread that accompanied the thought, that background fear of youth that we will lose our youthful desires, humor, outlook, passions, and become bogged down in a static 9-to-5 grind punctuated by weekend lawn mowing.

After all, we change so rapidly in youth, from child to adolescent to young adult. And with each age comes dramatic change in appearance, knowledge, experience, and world view. We “mature,” and with each of these early phases we seem to become a new person.

But then comes the time when we seem not to change much anymore. Physical appearance seems to stabilize, excepting the visible signs of aging – a few wrinkles, a little extra weight, a little less hair. But more amazingly, the person inside ceases dramatic change. We do not discover life as we did. We reach milestones and pass them, never to experience the “firsts” of youth again. We learn the basics of just about everything – politics, nature, geography, history, philosophy, art – and all subsequent learning is just so much augmentation or revision of what we already know.

Most odd, though, is this sense I have of being the same person, with the same hopes, dreams, fears, likes and dislikes, as the person who was me twenty years ago. Although young people seem to keep getting younger, I don’t feel any older. I know I am perceived differently by youth, and perhaps my wardrobe is a little less interesting than it used to be. But the me of my youth lives on inside this aging body, still hungry for experience, interested in new things, passionate for art and music, devoured by love, occasionally bored, puzzled about the future.

It’s as though I rode this rollercoaster of life change in youth, got off at age 21, and I’ve been walking around in the parking lot looking for my car ever since. But as soon as I find it, I’ll get going again.

So this weekend – June 7 – was my birthday. We had a fun barbecue with friends, I got some cool gifts and had a good time. Just like we always do. And I was a year older. Does it matter? Not as much as it used to.

Another key fact about aging is that although I feel like the same person I have always been since reaching adulthood, I thankfully have more to anchor my life and define my existence. I have the great gift of my family to remind me that the searching and yearning of youth can be answered at least for the most part by finding someone to build the rest of life with, and together to continually build life. To find someone to share life with can be, and is, more fruitful than to endlessly search for that someone. I repeat this truism because I believe our culture actively promulgates the opposite notion.

And I like what we’ve built so far. It is good. I’m ready for the next phase. I just won’t anticipate getting “older” anymore, because apparently, except for my skin and bones, it’s not going to happen.