It’s been twenty years or more since I last said your name

16 11 2018

Brett died. Cancer.

His Twitter pic. There’s only one tweet.

He moved to Falls in the eighth grade, smart, funny, odd. I was immediately. . . not smitten, but taken. He was It.

All through eighth grade, through high school he was the one. Alas, I was not his one: I watched as he pursued Jane and Lori and Bridget—especially Bridget, who had him the way he had me—and others, and with each new or renewed girl, my heart cracked.

He wasn’t cruel: he just wasn’t taken with me.

We were friends, we were more than friends, but as much as I wanted to be his, he was never mine. We were sometimes close, never ‘official’; he was the high school boyfriend who was never my boyfriend.

After high school we veered in and out of each other’s lives. We kept in regular contact while I was in college, less regular when I was grad school. The last time I saw him he was living in Sheboygan with his dog, and into biking. I don’t remember when that was.

I’d think about him, over the years, wondered about running into him on one of my trips back to Wisconsin. I knew we’d never be together, but was I still taken? I was.

And every  time I heard this song, well, it brought him to mind.

 

Goodbye Brett. I’ve been missing you for as long as I’ve been carrying you, and the possibility of you.

Now, I’ll carry the memory of you.

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When we lay down our weary guns

11 11 2018

The graveyards remain. Many of those who died in battle could never be laid to rest. Their bodies had been blown to pieces by shellfire and the fragments scattered beyond recognition. Many other bodies could not be recovered during the fighting and were then lost to view, entombed in crumbled shell holes or collapsed tranches or decomposing into into the broken soil battle left behind. Few Russian or Turkish soldiers were ever decently interred and many German and Austrian soldiers kill on the shifting battlefields of the Eastern Front simply returned to earth. On the fixed battlefields of the west, the combatants mad a better effort to observe the decencies. War cemeteries were organize from the outset, graves registration officers marked the plots and, when time permitted, chaplains and the dead men’s comrades observed the solemnities. Even so, at the war’s end, the remains of nearly half of those lost remained lost in actuality.  …

Their number is enormous. To the million dead of the British Empire and the 1,700,000 French dead, we must add 1,500,000 soldiers of the Hapsburg Empire who did not return, two million Germans, 460,000 Italians, 1,700,000 Russians, and many hundreds of thousands of Turks; their numbers were never counted.

—John Keegan The First World War

But perhaps the only truth that would emerge from the cataclysm which had shaken the world was that war inevitably breeds war, the triumph eventually turns into defeat, and that only the brotherhood of suffering endures.

That night of November 11 was one of jubilation for the victors and despair for the conquered. But at any rate the most brutal war of history had finally ended. General Wilson, walking home to Eaton Place from his dinner with Lloyd George and Churchill, was breasting the enthusiastic crown still swarming in front of Buckingham Palace. In the midst of unrestrained cheer, he came upon an elderly, well-dressed woman who was sobbing in loneliness. Distressed, Wilson said, “You are in trouble—is there anything that I can do for you?”

“Thank you. No. I am crying, but I am happy, for now I know that all of my three sons who have been killed in the war have not died in vain.”

—John Toland, No Man’s Land.





There’s a red cloud hanging over us

6 11 2018

A little over a year ago I wrote this (among other things) about Donald Trump:

Donald J. Trump is a man without qualities.

He has no character, no public virtues, no apparent principles. He demonstrates no consideration for this country, for the Republican party, or for his followers; they matter not in and of themselves, but only insofar as they are of use to him.

He focuses on transactions, not relationships. He cares for others only to the extent they reflect him back to himself; if he doesn’t like what he sees, he blames the mirror.

I think I was too kind.

Anyway, I didn’t ask if he was a fascist because I thought that he lacked any concern for anything beyond himself meant that he couldn’t be a fascist. (Cue quote.)

I still don’t think he’s a fascist (too empty, too lazy), but I don’t think he’d mind fascism, if fascism would help him. Some of the people around him are fascists (the rest are opportunists), some of the people who show up at his rallies would welcome fascism (the rest simply wouldn’t mind), and Trump looses the kind of rhetoric on his “enemies” that gives fascists the goose-steps.

So let me state that more strongly: Trump enables fascism, brings it to the surface, encourages it to breathe.

Outright fascists are a small minority of the American polity, but there is an unhealthy minority of folks who wouldn’t don’t have a problem with fascism clad in a MAGA hat. They applaud ignorance, cheer brutality, and delight in their own cruelty. They consider themselves brave and strong and true and in a show of their superiority would gladly stomp the rest of us into submission.

And the tepid supporters, the silent Republicans, the ones who don’t approve of curb-stomping? They’ll tut, and do nothing.

Why, the night before an election which may slow the roll down, mention fascism? Because those of us who are not fascists—who are anti-fascists—have to do everything possible to gum up the gears to the Trump train.

Because we know where that train leads.





I really don’t know clouds at all

22 10 2018

It’s finally autumn in New York, so it’s time:

Enjoy.





It happened down in Birdland

17 10 2018

Twitter ain’t all bad.

It ain’t all good, either, but I have discovered something tremendously useful: how not to say anything.

Now, many of you may have learned this particular lesson oh-so-long ago, but it’s one that took is taking me awhile. I mean, I once introduced myself as someone who “has lunch and opinions.”

I don’t necessarily have to opine on every little thing, but if I don’t know something, then I’ll jump right in with the what’s-its and how’s-its and whatnot; if I don’t have answers, I can at least have questions.

But on Twitter I am uncharacteristically quiet. I retweet often but comment rarely, and when I do tweet something, I try for shorter rather than longer. And if I’m uncertain of whether or not to tweet, I don’t.

Me! Not saying something! That never happens.

I don’t necessarily fill every space I’m in with words, but it is the case that if I’m in a group and I go awhile without saying anything, others will comment on it. It’s nice sometimes just to listen, but I also feel as if I’m not showing sufficient interest in others if I don’t say something—anything—at some point in the conversation.

But on Twitter? Nobody knows I’m there, so nobody cares if I’m piping up or not.

Also, while I can be witty, so can everyone else, and they’re all quicker on the Send than I am. When that happens, which is almost always, I don’t need to chime in with the same note.

So I simply enjoy hanging out in the blue bird’s unruly parlor, letting whatever comes, come, and letting everything go, too.





Workin’ in a coal mine

15 10 2018

Still doing clean-up work on the main freelance project, but I am beginning to see the light!

After which I’ll be doing some ongoing work for this gent, but it shouldn’t (?) be so intense.

I do want to get back to this, if only because I miss writing in my own voice. I’m ghosting his, and he is, as I told him, a more “enthusiastic” writer than I am. While I don’t have too much trouble getting the basics of it right, I am leery of adding too much of his beloved “WOW” moves. (No, he doesn’t actually write WOW, but he does like to dial it way up.) So I send him a pale imitation of his style, and he cranks the color.

It works for both of us most of the time.

I’ve worked for him before. He’s a good guy, straightforward in dealing with any conflicts, and he pays on time. It helps tremendously that he works in a field that I care almost nothing about, so it’s easy for me to yield when there is any difference of opinion: I’m not invested in being right. I want to do good work for him, and it’s up to him to decide what that good work entails.

After all, it’s his name on the cover.

Oh, and I’m not at all conflicted about ghosting. It’s his project, his ideas, and he’s got the last word when it comes to editing. I do offer my thoughts when I think it might be useful, but mostly I’m filling in a sketch he offers. I’m a bit more than an amanuensis, but it’s easy to think of this as work I do for him, rather than my work.

I mean, I’ve worked for organizations to which I’ve contributed my words and ideas and only rarely has my name been attached to those items. That’s kind of the job: they pay me to think and to write, and they claim the output.

And, again, I’m fine with that.

But I do miss my writing, work that I claim as my own. I fell away from it before I took on this latest project, but now, having written tens of thousands of words for someone else, I’m kinda juiced to reel off a few for myself.





Hush hush, keep it down now

28 09 2018

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
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HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
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HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m on deadline for my freelance gig (which is great, by the way, but has left me no time for nothin’), so can’t say anything more eloquent than this now.

But boy o boy. . . .