Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the USA. If you’re reading this at another time of the year, that’s okay as long as you accompany the essay with some leftover turkey. It can be deli turkey. I know getting an entire roast turkey in June is difficult.
I’m grateful for a lot of things, in both November and June. The rest of the year? I sway between (1) utter disdain for my circumstance and acquaintances and (2) disdain that is slightly less utter. But today, given the crisp fall or drippy summer air, I’m feeling especially reflective. That’s probably just the sweat and turkey grease giving me a healthy sheen.
But in addition to being glossy, I’m also thinking back on the year and all the things for which I’m grateful. I’ll share a few with you here.
“If you wrote something a while back, but haven’t written anything lately, you’re not a writer. You’re someone who has written.”
I heard someone say this online recently. I thought it was odd that this unfamiliar dude would call me out personally in front of everyone like that. Typical anonymous internet sources, always being jerks.
He had a point, though. Writing is like playing a sport. I used to play football, many decades ago when I was young and my thick skull could take the trauma. But to call myself a football player today would be a massive stretch, and let’s face it: my 46-year-old groin isn’t that flexible. It’d be more accurate to say I have played football, in the present perfect tense. I know that’s the present perfect tense because, as one who has written, I have studied the intricacies of English grammar. And, accordingly, I have been fun at parties. Even with my inflexible, aging groin.
“I’m pretty sure no one here has a single clue as to what they’re doing.”
Somewhere between the third and eighth security check, my negativity went from frustration to sadness to anger. It made scheduled on-time stops at “what the fuck?” and “you’ve got to be kidding me!” I’m immensely familiar with both neighborhoods.
I had arrived in Kenya a few weeks earlier with the rehearsed acceptance of an intellectual, tolerant liberal. “Their way is not wrong or right, it’s just different!” I’d tell myself at the first, second, and four-hundredth illogical inconvenience. And I’d traveled enough to know that each one of those illogical inconveniences was lining up in anticipation of my arrival.
I came from the air-conditioned, 246-years-removed-from-colonization Land of the Free. I’m a white man from a country—and planet—where white men historically get their way, and my expectations of “how things ought to be” are often just thinly-veiled privilege.
My dog, Lemmy, is obsessed with flies.
It’s beautiful these days in Northern Virginia, where Lemmy resides. To that end, I find myself working from our balcony and leaving the door open. I enjoy the fresh air. And the constant roar of Reagan National Airport reminds me of a simpler time when great winged beasts filled the skies with hellfire and fury. Sometimes, I simultaneously play the fife and lute to augment the ambiance. It isn’t easy, but that’s the level of authenticity I bring to imaginary scenarios.
Having the door open allows all creatures great and small to wander in and out as they please. Well, “all creatures” with either wings or access to the elevator.
“Is it just me, or is that really stupid?”
The lady gestured broadly toward the six adults chatting across the dog park. I had been thinking the same thing and found myself catapulted onto my feet like I’d been swept up at a tent revival. The open invitation compelled me to commiserate with my newly-found kindred spirit.
Minutes before, a little girl in that oblivious group’s “care” had met me at the gate. Her grabby little mitt thrust through the chain-link holes as she yelled “DOGGIE!” at my little buddy. I’ll give her credit; Lemmy is indeed a doggie. But he’s a very particular kind of doggie: the kind that doesn’t like children. Or little people. Or people with crutches or walkers. Or people who run, or seated people who then elect to stand up. Or men.
He makes a begrudging exception for me, mostly because I have treats. And I always share them with him.
Lemmy is a rescue dog. We don’t know much about his earliest experiences, as we adopted him when he was around one year old. We weren’t able to conceive a dog naturally, so it was our best option. Maybe check your privilege, okay?
If you drive through the coastal plains of Texas, you’ll see a few standard images. Cows behind barbed wire fences. Gas station and barbecue restaurant combos. And around this time of year, you’ll see young suburban families desperately pleading with little Ambreighlynne to LOOK AT THE GOD DAMNED CAMERA as they trespass to get the locally coveted “Toddler Among Bluebonnets” photo.
The state flower of Texas is the bluebonnet. It’s a bright blue wildflower that grows in friendly territory, such as busy highway medians and other people’s land.
Listen here, y’all: do not pick bluebonnets under any circumstances.
Ask any Texan. Or don’t, as “asking” isn’t a prerequisite for getting Texas-specific information from Texans. Posing your cherubic tykes with bluebonnets may be mandatory, but picking bluebonnets is illegal.
“Imagine” is a catchy tune about the pitfalls of religion and materialism, written by a guy who got filthy rich selling jangly three-minute pop songs about love and walruses and shit.
That sentence is a good summation of my bitterness as of late. I’m having a hard time enjoying much of anything, even ubiquitous peace anthems by former Beatles.
I turn on the TV. How’d some lousy sitcom actor get to be famous while I am sitting here in obscurity? I drive to the store. Why does this asshole driving next to me get to roll a Jag instead of this banged-up Prius?
This whole setup is horseshit. I’d like to speak to the manager of…the world? Sure. The whole damned WORLD.
This is the post I’ve avoided writing for seven months.
I lost my restaurant.
No, I didn’t misplace it. It’s stationary. If it were a food truck, that might make sense, like I parked it somewhere and now I can’t find it. I’m a known drunkard, so it’s not that far-fetched. Plus, I make stupid jokes to keep from crying.
But no, I lost my restaurant in that I had to make the decision to shut it down permanently. It’s not all that funny. I had seen other people lose their businesses before, and that was fucking hilarious. But this time, it happened to ME, which was significantly less funny.
My dog, Lemmy, isn’t much of a problem solver. He’s a
world-class problem announcer,
Lemmy’s definition of “problem” ranges from “someone rang a
doorbell on TV” to “someone rang the actual doorbell.” In other words, my dog
is a redundant doorbell. And unlike my actual
doorbell, Lem Lem shits a lot. My actual doorbell hardly ever shits.
I’m just kidding. I don’t have a doorbell. This blogging
thing doesn’t pay doorbell-having money. If you want to see me in person,
you’ll have to knock on my door. I won’t answer it, but to be fair, I also
won’t answer it if you push the spot where the doorbell button is supposed to
be. Lemmy will flip the fuck out either way, though. Your move, Knocky.
“Problem announcing” has much less value to society than problem-solving. That’s why Lemmy still lives with his mom and dad at 28-dog-years-old: his complete lack of marketable skills.
Dear 15-year-old me,
It’s me. That is to say, it’s you, but from the FUTURE!
I’m writing to give you some perspective on the years ahead
of you, i.e. the years behind me. It’s 2020 now, and so much is different today
than it is for you in 1991.
In the coming years, a lot is going to happen. Some of it is
so insane, you probably won’t believe me. Then again, I’m assuming you’re going
to believe that this is a letter from the future, so I should probably maintain
this presumption of your gullibility for consistency’s sake. You were (are)
pretty naïve, as I recall.