The Strange, Wonderful, Is That Poop I Smell Year


Photo Credit: jadiwangi Flickr via Compfight cc

It’s been a strange year. One where the word “strange” can’t contain its multitudes, a year where the globe itself seemed to be ripping at the seams, or be one of those cartoon images where a character is literally steaming, smoke out the ears, fire-engine face, sure to blow. That kind of year.

Many, many people have written about our president, much more eloquently than me. I’ll keep it contained: our president is an extraordinary liar, a man of the shallowest conceits, a man with no concept of decency. I believe he has taken our country to dangerous places, to uncharted immoral waters, the consequences of which will affect us for long time to come.

But I am complicit. I’ve allowed this administration to get deep in my head, so that it’s affected my well-being, my sense of self and yes, certainly my writing. I’ve participated in the collective howl against the regressive tide, but other than signing many petitions, contributing to a few progressive causes, and making bitter statements in the grotto of my skull, I’ve done nothing. Well, I have done something—I’ve ceded a lot of my thinking and consciousness over to anxiety, and mostly pointless anxiety.

Anxiety Lacks Nutrients (But Could Fuel Some Writing)
I’m not going to be as generous with consenting to this fruitless anxiety over government malfeasance, though I will continue to resist the lies of our original fake news purveyor. But of more use to me as a writer, I’m going to turn some of that stomach churn to the keyboard, and see if there’s redemption there.

There’s a quote from poet Jane Hirshfield in the latest Poets and Writers that reads thusly:

“Remind yourself why it is you wanted to write in the first place. That might be done by revisiting work by others you find awakening and electrifying, or find disturbing in useful ways, the ways disturbed soil can become receptive ground for new seeds.”

I’ve been disturbed all right, and this year’s soil has smelled distressingly of poop, but there has to be some flower potential in there. With all the earthquakes and floods, and California burning, so much has seemed apocalyptic. But the year’s not a total wash: lots of good things written, lots of good things read, travel to the Caribbean and Europe, my mother, at 95, still alive and happy. Still moving, still drinking—er, I mean thinking—still seeing sparkling mornings.

There’s still plenty left to write about. Join me—let’s type together in the new year. (Oh, but I’ve got dibs on the “e” key.)

2 thoughts on “The Strange, Wonderful, Is That Poop I Smell Year

  1. I feel your pain, Tom, because … I feel the same pain. At the deepest level, I am afraid that breathtakingly bold lying is soon going to become the norm from our public figures. Not quite Orwell’s much-feared doublespeak; the new-lying I see coming does not even require that second, contradictory thought in one’s head. No, just the wrong one will do, and thank you kindly for stuffing it into your head without questioning.

    Ugh.

    Fiction, though! Yes, sir!

    In my view, the only logical response to repression is excellence. Excellence in what we do. It’s our best revenge, and the most effective way to right The System.

    I originally got the inspiration from those African-Americans in D.C. who were struggling with how to face their world in 1865 when the Civil War was finally over and they were finally truly free. How to survive in an absurd, rigged system? Excellence. Education education education. And then excel at what you studied; strive to be the best in spite of all the odds. And it worked for that cadre of fearless good people. Engineers, doctors, lawyers, scientists …. why, some of their spirit lives on to this day, a century and a half later.

    And when it comes to excellence in fiction, why, Tom—you and I have none other than Pinky DeVroom to work with. We left him tilting at leaden windmills. Lead—the most deadly non-radioactive element, and the one that GM/Standard Oil/DuPont needlessly poisoned us with for well nigh 70 years—lead and Trump are one and the same.

    Perhaps we should take our revenge and achieve our next excellence by pitting Pinky against Trump/lead in an epic running battle of wits and stamina and grit. We simply need a new character who boldly lies where no man has lied before.

    And grits. Even in Boston, there should be grits.

  2. Rick, excellence is a shield (and a weapon) in fighting the good fight. That reminds me of the elusive—but winning—sense of “quality” in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Did you ever read that? There’s much to be praised in simply making the effort toward excellence. (And napping on Sundays.)

    Pinky still has a lot of work to do: just today I read about the departing river of EPA scientists, included one who specialized in environmental issues with lead. They depart because our woeful administration has as much respect for science as it does for an independent news media.

    Gritty times indeed. Keep ’em flying, soldier.

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