I haven’t had a car for over ten years – I gave up my 1986 Volvo when I moved to Seattle and have been reliant on public transit ever since – but even I know how bad traffic has gotten in my city in the last few years. I mostly know because everyone is constantly complaining about it. Public transit is subject to traffic, too, though, so I also experience the rush-hour-levels at 1:30 on Sunday afternoons or at 8 o’clock on a Monday night. I was thinking about this on the ride home recently; it’s actually not that we “experience” traffic, we are traffic. And the same is true for culture. Continue reading Culture is like Traffic
A couple times a week, I start the morning with a whole-body-work-out yoga routine. At the end of the video, the instructor introduces the “rest and receive” time, where you lie on the floor in what’s called “corpse pose,” with a quote from Sylvia Plath. “Remember, remember that this is now. And now. And now. Live it. Feel it. Cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of alI I take for granted.” I could remember this quote, much like every song I’ve ever heard, after the first time I heard it; I have the auditory equivalent of a photographic memory. A therapist once made the incredibly validating comment that it is really important to have a specific memory; to cultivate remembering details. I don’t have to cultivate it; it just happens. This sounds like a neat party trick, but it’s actually super annoying to a) remember everything you ever hear, including horrible songs and really mean things people say to you and b) be the only one who remembers things like conversations, agreements, etc. Turns out, though, that this kind of memory that I’m good at, is about the past. Continue reading A Good Memory is the Key to the Present
Recently, a Facebook post has been making the rounds listing some good things that have come out of the Trump administration so far. Things like people getting more involved, people knowing more about Hitler, the Constitution, people different from them, etc., than ever before…Trump’s election proving that “anyone can be president.” I appreciate the attempt here but to me, it feels like meager anesthetization. For one, democracy requires constant, committed work so it’s a little bittersweet for me that people are just now becoming more involved…maybe if they had been all along, we wouldn’t have gotten to this point of utter disaster. Two, I don’t think ignorance of the Holocaust or of the Constitution caused the mess America and consequently the world are in. I think Trump and his appointees are the cause, honestly. And I don’t believe they have no idea what they’re doing. But, the point on this list that worried me the most was that “anyone can be president” was being said as a good thing. Continue reading Anyone Can Be President
I’m avoiding writing about politics. I’m trying to limit my intake of the news, too, because there’s really no use in “staying informed” if it makes you sick and paralyzed with anxiety. I’m also just tired of the constant shock and awe. Maybe people keep being surprised because the media reported 45 as a serial liar and they’re learning that he intends to keep every one of his planet-ruining, livelihood-decimating campaign promises. Or maybe it’s because we were all taught in school that corruption in government is always “there” (Africa, Asia, Russia), that it could never be here. 45 always acts in character, though, and the never-ending “did you see what he did NOW?!” is exhausting and, quite frankly, naive.
I am tired. I am tired of asking for help. It’s not the vulnerability that’s difficult for me – my nature gives me no choice but to be embarrassingly and shamefully vulnerable almost all the time. It’s the astounding lack of follow through on the part of others. I’ve been thinking over and over how to follow the advice to writers out there – how to create good content that people actually want and need, how to find an agent, how to land a book deal, etc. – and I just can’t do it. None of it feels right. I can’t get any of it to work. So, I guess this blog is just for me, then. I guess, after all, even though one of my deepest desires is to write for others (I mean, I write “for myself,” too, but that’s called journaling, and not at all the same as what I think every Writer actually wants), maybe all this is just for me. Continue reading I think a title is supposed to go here.
There’s a flurry of posts and articles swirling around calling Donald Trump mentally ill, speculating on various disorders he might have or outright diagnosing him: sociopath; narcissist; oppositional defiant disorder. While it’s clear that he’s temperamentally unfit for the presidency, I think we need to be aware of how accusing Trump of being mentally ill is making things much worse for people who are already really vulnerable and who Trump’s administration is only going to make more so: those with so-called ‘mental illness.’ Continue reading Donald Trump May Be Mentally Ill, But It Isn’t Helping to Say So
My last post was angry and sad complaining against the Church. Not a day later did a staff member of the church I’m attending inform me of their holiday tradition of giving to those in their congregation who could use a little extra help. It’s doubtful she saw my post. The point is that I feel bad about complaining, not because my problems are magically fixed and not because, in this particular case, it was premature to assume that the church I go to doesn’t look out for its own, but because I just don’t want to be that kind of person. So what follows is not done in the spirit of criticism, but hopefully in the spirit of hope and encouragement.
We hear about the power of story everywhere. I’ve already mentioned one of my issues with that, but I’ve got a few more. The first is simply that hearing stories about a lucky break – which nearly every writer who’s been invited to speak before other writers and give advice on how to succeed in that isolating, rejection-packed, dehumanizing world has – are not helpful. Sure, there’s definitely jealousy there, but I want to hear stories from people who didn’t get a lucky break, who didn’t get discovered, who didn’t have contacts either at all or who were willing to help them, who found success without the chance encounter or surprise discovery by an editor or recruiter. I can’t replicate someone else’s luck and, since I don’t seem to have much of my own, I need to learn how to succeed in the world without it. Or is that not possible and that’s why there aren’t stories out there like that? (My invitation to share stories of hardship was a serious one.) Continue reading If I Can’t Work, Maybe My Theology Degree Can
We hear a lot about how narratives are powerful, that if you want to move someone, tell them a story, that we are creatures of story. As a writer, I’d like to eat all that up. But our culture is rapidly composting story into gossip and substance into insincerity. Journalists claim to “go where the story takes them;” what if that story is of a dangerous hate-spitting buffoon who doesn’t even really want to be president but gets himself elected anyway? Is there no moral obligation to do more than repeat ad nauseum atrocious and odious things he does and says, thereby normalizing them and desensitizing the public to them? Continue reading Can We Please Talk About How We’re Talking About Stuff?
Does this post look familiar? “Would at least three of my Facebook friends please copy and repost? I am doing this to prove that someone is always listening. #SuicideAwareness 1-800-273-8255.” It’s been making the rounds on Facebook lately and it’s heartening to see that many people care about those the incoming government is planning to leave behind. So I mean absolutely no blame or shame with this post. From someone who has attempted to call and use the National Suicide Hotline, you need to know that encouraging people to call it is not the most helpful thing you could be doing. This is a difficult time of year for many people and things are about to get a lot rougher in general in the coming months, but this is why we need to do much more and much different than directing people in mortal pain to talk to a stranger (who may or may not be available anyway). Continue reading The National Suicide Hotline