Category Archives: Politics

Guest Blog by Jane Freese: Dare to Examine Romney’s Mormonism

At the Las Vegas Book Festival (Nov. 2), Sally Denton, author of American Massacre and Faith and Betrayal said that she was puzzled by the lack of scrutiny about Mitt Romney’s Mormonism

Like Denton, I am a woman of Mormon ancestry, and I too am troubled by this lack of religious scrutiny. Being a Mormon is not the same as being a Presbyterian or a Methodist.  Being a Mormon is closer to being a Scientologist.  Anyone who has been a Mormon knows that being Mormon is integral to one’s character and belief system. As a Mormon friend of mine said, being a Mormon is “who you are.” It is not a religion.  It is a cult.

 He is Better Than You

To put it bluntly, Mitt Romney is not one of us.  I would not be surprised if Mitt has never tasted a beer, coffee, Coca-Cola, said a swear word, or had sex with any woman other than Ann outside of the marital bedroom. Is this an indictment? Not necessarily, but it does tell us that he cannot relate to the non-Mormon population without feeling self-righteous and superior.  To Mormons, all non-Mormons are “Gentiles.”

As a young man, Mitt participated in a rally supporting the draft, yet he was excused from it because he went on a religious mission to France.  That’s right, France. I have no problem with him avoiding the draft (who wants to go to war?), but to demonstrate in favor of the draft for others who might go to their deaths when you know you will not be put in that position is cruel and disgusting  Apparently, standard rules don’t apply to Mormon elders or the sons of governors.

Mitt has always known he was better than others. This knowledge gives him license to behave badly.  When he was in high school, a classmate’s flamboyant haircut offended his masculine sensibilities so much he recruited his posse of fellow gay bashers to assist him in a physical assault on the boy, tackling him to the floor and cutting off his blond locks with scissors, terrifying and humiliating him in the process. There were no repercussions.  Mitt claims to have no memory of the “hijinks,” but I do not believe him.  The young man came out as gay years later, but Mitt claims that people “didn’t think in those terms back then.”  Bull shit.  Homosexuality is a sin in the Mormon faith, one that invites excommunication. In other words, it will send the gay person straight to Hell. The defeat of Prop. 8 (marriage equality) was largely due to the millions of dollars the Mormon Church invested in its defeat.  Good work, bigots.

How many French people did Mitt convert to the faith?  There is no clear answer.  For a numbers guy, he cannot definitively take credit for a single conversion.  Apparently the French are not keen on abstention from wine, sex, colorful language, and the pleasures of being a little naughty from time to time. Good for them. But Mormon missionary work is not really about converting non-believers as much as it is about indoctrinating the missionaries themselves; the future patriarchy of the church.

Mormons are constantly told and encouraged to declare as part of their testimony that they belong to the “true church.” Other religions are not simply misguided. According to the church’s founder, Joseph Smith, God considers other faiths to be an “abomination.” Pretty strong word, wouldn’t you say? Abomination.

Prepare for the Apocalypse

Mormons stockpile food and water for the upcoming Apocalypse.  According to Mormon belief, Mormons will be notified first of a coming disaster through the church hierarchy. It isn’t enough to be a Latter-day Saint to qualify for the “run to your bomb shelter” phone call. You have to be on the bishop’s “Mormon in good standing” speed-dial.  The rest of the population, the Gentiles, will be doomed to extinction.  Poor bastards. They should have put down their Starbucks and listened to the missionaries who had only their best interests at heart.

Do we really want a president who believes that the end of the world is likely, soon?  Push the button, Mr. President; after all it is God’s will. Wouldn’t want all those cans of evaporated milk to go to waste now would we?  It’s all good.  Heavenly Father is purging the Earth for the Second Coming of Jesus.

Not only do Mitt Romney and other Mormons believe that they will be assigned to rebuild the Earth, they will be gods of their own worlds in the hereafter.  Sorry women, only males will be gods.  Females cannot gain entry into the penthouse of heaven (the Celestial Kingdom) on their own, they must be escorted “though the veil.” Without a priesthood holder (man) to escort them into the Celestial Kingdom, she will be relegated to the lower levels, doomed to dwell for eternity with the dreaded Gentiles.

The Celestial Kingdom is for Mormons

Other than Mormons, I can think of no other religion besides Muslims that envision the afterlife more concretely with their lakes of fire and harems of virgins. All is to be sacrificed for the ultimate reward—Heaven.  Romney knew that focusing as much as possible on “the Creator” in his closing statements at the debates he would win the hearts of Christians.  What they don’t know is that Mormons don’t consider other Christians equal to Mormons. Mormons believe themselves to be closer to Jews than to Christians.  The Hebrew Bible states that Jews are “the chosen.”  The Book of Mormon states that the Latter-day Saints are “the chosen.” How lovely it is to be a little bit better than everybody else.

If you are raised in a Mormon family, this fabulous position is yours, and just as the Jews were persecuted, so were Mormons.  The Mormons were driven into the desert to establish a promised land—Zion. I was raised hearing great tales or deprivation, sacrifice, pioneer heroics, and miracles. There is no doubt that the Mormons did astounding things with very little resources.  There is nothing quite like religious zeal with its promise of celestial reward or eternal hell fire to stimulate construction and agriculture.

How this applies to Mitt Romney is simple.  As a former Mormon from a long line of Mormon pioneers I know that there is a sense of obligation to the sacrifices made by our ancestors. Like Romney, I too, am a descendant of Mormon polygamist Mexican expatriates.  When the federal government outlawed polygamy many families decided to flee the laws of this country and settle in Mexico.  Although polygamy was against Mexican law, President Diaz turned a blind eye to the domestic practices of the Mormon colonists in exchange for the commercial enhancement that Mormons brought to a desolate area.

Whites Only

I must point out that the Mormons colonists, although friendly with their Mexican neighbors, never integrated.  They still celebrated the Fourth of July and flew American flags.  According to the Book of Mormon, dark skinned people are Lamanites.  The light skinned people, the Nephites, were good and dark skinned people were inferior.

I was taught, as a child, that the reason blacks could not hold the Mormon priesthood was that Africans, and therefore African American blacks, were marked by Cain’s ancient curse for killing his brother Abel and lying to God.

How can people living thousands of years after an event (if you believe it ever happened at all) be blamed for it?  Here is another dimension of the Mormon religion that few know about.  Mormons believe that our souls exist before we are born and that we are assigned a family to be raised by.  So, souls assigned a Mormon home are just a tiny bit better than those who are not. Souls assigned an African American family (mark of Cain) must have done something to deserve it. How any person of color can be a Mormon is beyond my understanding.

Although Mormons pride themselves for being early abolitionists, they didn’t believe that black people were their equals. God apparently changed his mind in 1978.  Now African Americans can hold the Mormon priesthood. Oh goodie!

 “You People”

I was also taught that wealth is endorsed by God.  My grandparents worked hard to establish a successful mink business. They amassed a small fortune.  They made it clear and it is dangerous to let others know how much money you have because they will try to take it away from you.  Romney’s refusal to reveal his tax returns reminds me of this paranoia.  In an interview, Ann Romney was asked about their refusal to divulge more than two years of income tax returns.  She used the phrase, “you people.”  As in “you people don’t need to know.” “You people” indeed.

I’ve worked for the Obama campaign. I hope he wins.  However, there is another part of me that knows that if Romney wins his presidency and he is unsuccessful in fulfilling his excessive promises it could be detrimental to the Mormon cause.  The great Mormon patriarch, bully boss, High Priest and god in the making, could bring about the downfall of the middleclass.  Mormonism is the religion of misogyny, racism, self-righteousness, and oppression.

Political correctness cripples free speech and an honest examination of ideas and beliefs. Saying that Mitt Romney has contempt for 47% of the population is generous.  If only about 2% of the US population is Mormon, then I would assert that he has contempt, or at least pity, for 98%.  He said he cares about 100% of us.  I seriously doubt it.

 

“Horrible Mistake”

Jacques Tourneur directed some cult classics under the producer tutelage of Val Lewton in the early 40s, “The Cat People” and “I Walked With a Zombie.” And in 1957 he did   “Night of the Demon”/ “Curse of the Demon,” (UK) which I saw with my parents. My father was surprised and let down that Dana Andrews was in this horror picture as if had chosen to be mired in B movies. Amazing what one dredges up from childhood.

Andrews had been in “The Best Years of our lIves,”1946,  ”Laura,” 1944, ”The Ox-Bow Incident,”1943,  and “A Walk in the Sun,” 1946, most of these A films. Tourneur and Andrews also worked together in “Canyon Passage,”made in 1946 with Susan Hayward, Brian Donlevy (memorable in “Beau Geste” as a vicious sergeant, 1939)  Ward Bond and a very young Lloyd Bridges. It was a standard B flic in which Hoagy Carmichael introduced “Ole Buttermilk Sky,” a rather homely man who often tinkled the ivories in several movies and was the composer of the classic “Stardust,”and “In the Cool Cool Cool of the Evening.”

“Canyon Passage” was nothing much as a film but directorially it did have one or two nuances, especially the executing of a convicted murderer off screen, subtle for an oater. Why I recall this film which I have seen off and on within the last few years is a memorable line spoken in a bar by Onslow Stevens, a dry and durable actor of the 30s and 40s. It is delivered off hand which makes it more telling and while the actor’s back is to the camera, thus even more effective.

When Andrews confronts the gambler Stevens about all the loses his friend Donlevy has incurred at his poker table, Stevens is also upset at that also but as he rises he says, “Mankind is a horrible mistake.” I don’t recall a memorable line from “Ben Hur,” “Spartacus,” “El Cid,” or ”The Bridge on the River Kwai.” I wonder how the writer and director in 1946 got away with this noirish comment. In fact after the war up to the mid 50s were the years of film noir, much of it was a response to what the war had taught us about humanity. Tourneur directed the classic film noir “Out of the Past.” And Welles made the greatest noirish B movie, “Touch of Evil,” in which there are several memorable lines by Marlene Dietrich (Welles’ friend and assistant in the magic act he used to entertain troops during the war) in a cameo as a madam.

In some way, in some fashion, the line about “horrible mistake” resonates in me, fits suitably into my general frame of mind. I relish that the suits at the front office missed that one acidic if not brilliant accusation about the species – its innate failings. As I look at the debates and observe how one is condemned for showing feelings (Biden vs. Boy Scout), I see how nauseating and politically correct we are. Watching that blustering grotesquerie, Russ Limbaugh, blame and castigate Martha Raddatz, as the moderator for limiting Ryan’s performance, I conclude that we are indeed a horrible mistake.

If a truth is accepted after denial, projection and other psychological human defenses are let down or worked through, we come upon a realization or an awareness that we give large measure of credence to. For me mankind is not as much a species, very much the animal. For me it is as profound a truth as it is for a die-in-the-wool Catholic that Christ was the son of God–but he wasn’t, nor did he rise, fitting mottled mythological musings for an animal.

Recently I was labeled, in essence, by some old cocker about my age, a curmudgeon. He could not grasp my comments about authority or rules and regulations, for they spoke of disgruntlement, which is not allowed. For me it was my ongoing battle with authority. As I walked out of the place in which he was a volunteer, he muttered words, in effect, wondering how I could exist as a person and how my wife could endure the bleakness of my soul. Ah, to be judged by a volunteer.

He went so far as to show me a plaque on his desk ostensibly to be used with misfits such as myself. It had a homily about accepting old age which was an Irish proverb and I had the temerity to tell him that of all the proverbs he could give me, Irish ones were near the bottom, and I also felt but did not say that if your insight came down to a Hallmark sentiment how pathetic you were. It is the misbegotten belief  that if you shove a bible into one’s hands you will find the truth. Hogwash! Books are not life. Words are not life. Learn how to live moment to moment free of other people’s convictions and musings and then you will be free.

Jane and I looked at one another. He didn’t get it, never did, never would, for his life, if I may judge, was spent as an adherent. And because he didn’t get it, he labeled me. I became a “horrible mistake” as a person.

Again I am nauseated by culture, any culture, and especially sickened by this one, in which a political wife speaks of her husband in an attempt to “humanize” him to the populous. Now that is real resurrection of the dead! If he ain’t a human being, why run this cadaver for office and why must we endure such a pathetic plea. And little Sarah that Todd knocked up in the backseat in his truck as her fanny wriggled uncomfortably on a spent Coke can, this vagina on stilts, is off to the side yelling at Romney to pull the trigger.

What is one to do if one sees all this cant? It is the perennial question — rush off like Thoreau to the woods for a respite, not bad if you are single and have the time for it; go out and try to change the system (never works, only leads to reform which leads to more structured recalcitrance until the next reform is required — the history of revolutions teaches us this; start with Condorcet and end with Robespierre and then Napoleon.) Human stupidity is a repetition compulsion.

After decades of living I have reached some insight and thus some concluding propositions. I conclude that all I can do is be free of the bullshit, to cleanse myself on a daily basis; that I am surrounded by human frailities, gross behaviors and lunacies that assault me on all sides. It is a struggle to be free of religion, of others in particular, of parents, of the state, the government and of one’s own blindednesses. By the by, isn’t that the curriculum of a meaningful education?

I have also concluded that it is a losing proposition to sustain, yet I continue to do so, for in a way I too, for others,  am a “horrible mistake.”

 

 

 

If I Had to Choose

Since mid September I’ve been involved writing my third book within the last two years and it is finished, which means editing follows, proofing, grammar checking, footnoting, and all the many little details before it is really finished. This book has been a pleasure to write and it comes in about 41,000 words or maybe 134 pages, nice, short and compact. As you have read in prior blogs, it is about my long distant relationship with Krishnamurti, perhaps the greatest spiritual genius of the twentieth century. The book has taken on the air of an extended memoir, a reminiscence that has lingered for over three decades. Wafting through my writing of this effort are the remembrances of things past, as I associate to my younger children, my wife, Rochelle, of the good and difficult times we had during the seventies and eighties, struggling times. As I write about my response to K, I recall the place and often the time, what I was doing as a teacher, like asking an Egyptian slave to remember how he schlepped a massive stone with others for Ramses’ pyramid. A sweet melancholia drifts across my mind, but not for too long, but it is the kind of melancholia that makes you smile a little like Mona Lisa, it is there, but encrypted.

The book contains my fevered youth, rising in the morning, heading out to work, writing, parenting, whatever that is, working as a shrink part time late into the evening and rolling in after one a.m on Wednesday nights and up five hours later to go to work. And now I skulk about the house and fart along down the stairs as I am superannuated. In Nevada I experience anomie, for it is an environment, at least in Henderson, in which you have to join an organization in order to curry attention for your existence and from that you may extend your connections to others. It is an implosive community out here and this New Yorker is sometimes looked at askance, nervy, et al. At least I have nerves as opposed to abdominal fats for a brain. Nevada is the equivalent educationally of Mississippi in the 50s. It is a well kept secret. The difference, let us say, between Nevada and New York comes down to guiderails, that is right, guiderails. Here if you drive near a cliff or a significant precipice you do not come across these metal barriers, whereas in upstate New York they are manifest. I have figured it all out. If you go over the side, that is your fault, your responsibility and the government stays out of it; if you are less than a rugged individual, the consequences are severe. In New York State the government evinces a reasonable concern for your safety.

Once you step out of the Strip, you are in Paducahville. My long range plan is to become an ex-pat, living in Costa  Rica, let me say, with a woman Presidente, drug-laden packages bobbing toward shore late at night, and outrageous insects crawling about, beautiful beaches, not so expensive homes for a couple, with the knowledge that this country is corrupt as well as ours, except they know it and we don’t, free of our hypocrisy. And so I write my book about K, stemming from my years as a spiritual seeker, if you will, while the decadence about me almost oozes through the windows. I am a stranger in a strange land and the humor for me is that I enjoy that, for it allows me to experiment, to observe freely without conditioning, to be outrageous in my thinking, braver in my feelings, outlandish in my perspective on things and savage about the “governing” we are experiencing as a people. Everyone should, at least once in his or her life, experience being a loner or outsider, but better still, rather than recoiling from that situation using it as an armed combatant, bravely. Imagine all the well-bred shnooks who cannot conceive of ever going against their society, these jerks who refer to protesters in Wall Street as “mobs.”

You may feel that I hopped the rail here and that I’ve gone on a rant. Yes and no. As I wrote the book on K I “relived” the issues I had with him and I recalled the new thinking he presented me, especially on conditioning, indoctrination and the need to question authority. Hiding latently in that miasma that is Washington, is the latent expression that might lead to repressive measures if we are not attentive. I observe “newscasters” on Fox news in their late twentties and early thirties, especially ahistorical women reporters, expressing archaic and rigid philosophies that sadden me, for I can only imagine how much more arthritic they will be in their later years. I wonder what went wrong in their childhood to produce such mean spirited thinking, often without any historically accurate references. So street protests are equated to “mobs,” the Tea Party protests were orderly, neat, anal while others are labeled as “lefties.” I can’t wait until the word ”pinko” returns.

Socialism is constantly bandied about, although these historical nincompoops haven’t the slightest idea how socialism was the coming wave throughout the ninetenth century and if W.W.I had not occurred, we would most likely be living under a kind of socialist state. They don’t want to know, they don’t want to read. We are a notoriously unread people and we really know little about our own history  which has a strong genocidal streak to it, as an example. The Yahoos are in large measure in charge in Washington. I may be accused of cutting and running, leaving our desperate straits here for other Americans to handle. I have several responses to that red herring. Implied in this is that it can be rectified, implied in this is the old American myth of the can-do people, that Americans can be suckered but that they finally wake up and ultimately act nobly. It reeks of American exceptionalism. Patent nonsense! It reveals, to me, an inept capacity to assess human nature. In the thirties some in Europe realized the threat and got out, I’m thinking for example of the immense array of artist emigres who fled to Hollywood — Wilder, Wyler, Lorre, et al. The only loyalty I have is to my own personal freedom and my family. Since Individuals are now being told to leave America and go elsewhere, I may very well heed that “advice,” but for different reasons. At this point, at this time, we have become crazed.

Of the candidates running for the Republican Party, does it flabbergast you that except for Huntsman, all of them are Creationists?

I Am Planning My Escape

While Michele Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, dance for the media and he practices “reparative psychotherapy” on gays which the American Psychiatric Association has declared disreputable and of no worth and indeed, might create confusion and conflict additionally on unwilling clients; while Marcus himself sends out latent homosexual vibes himself, one can only imagine why he has devoted something of his life to this nonsense, should I say projection, displacement and inner self-contempt; and one more “while” –In a famous letter (1920s) from a mother of a homosexual asking Freud what was she do for she was at a loss, Freud wrote back urging her to embrace her son, to love him dearly and to accept him as he was. Clearly Marcus Bachmann has not read the DSM IV or V in which homosexuality is not listed, if I am correct, as a neurosis, psychosis or anything such as a personality disorder. Marcus Bachman belongs in a Boschian painting, near the bottom, often where a pitchfork is shoved up a tortured creature’s ass. Finally, picking up a recent issue of National Geographic with ape-man pictures in it and a skull of a woman-like creature dating to 4 million years ago, I wondered how the Bachmanns deal with evolution. Sickening to hear or imagine their responses, for they are the trash we in this country feel competent to run for office. Shame on us!

If you love your country more than you love yourself, that is, you sustain an idol of the mind and you are conditioned beyond belief, stop reading now, for I am going to give the specific reasons why I am planning my escape. I first got turned off when McGovern ran against Nixon, and that foul creature won. I could not believe it. Having grown up under Eisenhower during the Fifties,  I had a real good bead on that joweled-psychotic. A whole generation of non-readers had no idea what they were voting for. After that, I knew my masses well and didn’t vote for many years after. I could have predicted Watergate, character is destiny, the Greeks knew so well. The last decade or so has been abysmal politically. I never thought that a major TV station would become an ally of a political point of view, Fox News; when I first watched  it I caught myself challenging almost everything said, for the news was not “fair and balanced,” that insane mantra, but biased, often subtly so. I grew up with Murrow, Sevaried, Brinkley and I was left to decide what to do with the news. And there is that evangelistic Glen Beck, crypto -racist, deranged human being, maudlin, stuffed with treacle, who pandered to America’s worst biases, stuffing his Mormon cheese into the collective olive.

And there is Palin, that grotesque, phantasmagoric entity spewed from the head of John McCain who is the idealized pinhead housewife of America, raising the dysfunctional family to greater heights, with her dull Ahab fisherman spouse and Bristol, who recently penned a book about her vagina monologues. Have you noticed at rallys with her special needs child beneath her left arm as if a ragamuffin child, an emblem of how adversity for her and her child can be overcome, how she can mother and be a politician and be split in so many ways and remain whole, the foisted American dream that some women think they have to live up to, is beyond parody. Screwed into the cortex of Bachmann and Palin is an unwavering spinal rigidity which  comes from seeing life simplistically, without shades of gray or nuance, proof that a college education in this country is the equivalent of a junior high school degree.  Hold on, I am enjoying this rant, for it is the basis of my considering leaving the States. I am prepared to go to any sinkhole outside of this country so that I can best see us for what we really are, although I have a good handle on it now. I will not bother to answer questions about this idea of mine, for they will be as conditioned by being an American more than by anything else. I am not an American, nor am I  un-American, for these are not issues for me. I owe more to my heritage than I do to nationalism. American exceptionalism, to use the jargon, is defecating all over this globe. Have you noticed?

As I mentally spin the globe, Costa Rica came to mind, as well as Belize, Panama, Ecuador, and Roatan. Checking out some stats about each country, Costa Rica looms large. I could not have Medicare there but if you become a resident you can get health care; the doctors are just as good or bad as they are here. The government is reasonably democratic which is what ours is as well; there is no extant democracy in this world at this time that I can see. Perhaps Costa Rica in mind rests on my own personal and idiosyncratic contention that this culture has become unbearable for me. I don’t flee to Costa Rica for safety; I flee America for it disfigures and appalls my own personal sensibility of what a culture should be. I have an affinity for life. i do not have an affinity for this or that countrty. I live once. So do you, reader. Think on that. So when and if I get it all together, I will gear up and vamoose.

The bromides we have in this country to deal with disaffection are legendary. We have lost, if we ever had, the capacity or the willingness to look at  ourselves in the mirror and to correct, remedy or change the lingering maladies we suffer from. The essential character trait of this nation, as I see it now, is a moral blindness to how we affect the world, other nations and the very planet itself. So wrapped in the stars and stripes are we, that we are blinded by our grandiosity. If a man or woman begs for change in the street, he is viewed as lacking character and the poor schnook probably believes this rap. In other words, poverty as in Dickens’ time, is a character fault. And the poor buy into it. And when things get really tough, the capitalistic slime comes out and offers workshops on how to market yourself. We are experts on marketing ourselves. Oh, yeah, what an achievement! In the fifties I would be called a pinko or commie. And what would you call me now? Un-American. Just a bromide. We are brilliant at making the disenfranchised despise themselves. Hoffer argued that the role of the undesirables in this country was essential for its greatness. That has long since passed.

We are a war-mongering country and as outlandish as that charge may be, if you pause and consider where we are in the name of “democracy,” you detect a glimmer of reason to this argument — we are stationed all over the planet; we are involved in two wars and our defense budget is the largest in the world. We are a bloated empire with a bloated ruling class which is now the classic cliche of the 2%. The fiscal crisis was the well-to-do, the ultra wealthy fucking this nation and being rewarded as a consequence. Tell me, who has been charged with crimes against the American people in the years since the crisis?

I am an exile in my own country, a stranger in a strange land, and America has become a very strange land. A writer, a decent writer, a serious person, has to have in some measure a sense of disaffection, of not belonging, of looking in from the outside. In short, an exile. I can spend my self-exile in Costa Rica because here, in America, I don’t belong any longer. And what does it matter except to me how I see my world. Judge me if you choose, and how American that is.

 

Giving, Giving, Gone

Inwardly I have noticed, rather, I have known that at this time in my life I feel like a farmer’s silo burdened with the riches of harvest; however, there is no market for what lies within, the heavy volume of months of growth and ripeness. It is as if there is no market for the wheat that can turn into flour and bread. I have scanned sites for volunteers here in Henderson to no avail. The work is unappealing to me or simply does not make my bones knit enough to go out and apply. Picking out what to volunteer for is like applying for the right job. I’m not into working in hospices, ladling soup, or faxing flyers. It has to have some meaning for me. I check out the suspicious ads on Craigslist for jobs in education which are mostly tutorial which I find as dull as I ever did when I was teaching. I scan writing/editing jobs only to find the ridiculous sums they pay for “writers” or those who think they are writers or those who make it difficult for other writers by selling their souls for measly amounts. And so it goes for other categories — non-profit organizations, etc.

It may be me but my sense of Henderson and its environs here in Nevada is that it is exclusionary. One apparently has to join a group or organization, strive to know everyone and when that has occurred you may then be able to break into another group and so on. It is not a welcoming situation and goes far to explain what I feel is a spaced out “community” whose major task is creating anomie. “The Lonely Crowd” reigns here.The Strip is not Las Vegas; Henderson and other communities are really towns  one might pass through on the great Plains, a gas station, the Elks lodge, the John Deere outlet and Sears. It is a blue collar state with all the associations, good and bad, one may have of that — I am underwhelmed personally. I associate to the class warfare between Richard Dreyfus, scientist, and Robert Shaw, fisherman in “Jaws.” The values are so different. I had the dubious distinction of being in a local gym and asking to change Beck on Fox News to CNN and greeted with dissent, for here was the evangelical demigod spewing his anti-Semitic and apochryphal shit across the airwaves. I would die emotionally, psychologically, mentally if I had to teach students in Iowa. Yet, Henderson , one of the better sexurbs of Vegas, is not all that bad, but nauseating enough. My next door neighbor, a nice guy, love that term, can only speak of his ambitious needs to better himself at work and nothing much more than that — books, no, future pension yes, ideas no, income next year and so on. I can only listen and mentally remove myself from his chatter.

Imagine poor Todd Palin sleeping next to lithe, cheery and gushing Sarah late at night and one may get a taste of what I consider hell on earth.

I am retired, but not retired, if you get my drift, for that is a conditioning given to us by an aimless society bereft of sanity and sense.  I am still trying to make my way in a crazed world amid a crazed culture, seeking, perhaps that is the right word, to make some shape or configure some form that will give me something to do, to be, to become aware as I move to the cliff of despond. In me dwells an amorphous feeling, mostly realized in mind,  of wanting to give of what I have learned all these years. With Jane I give all I can academically, therapeutically, psychologically, lovingly to someone who is accepting and receptive to my ravings sane and scholarly if that. As Jane knows so well, if you are unsuccessful in this society it causes shame, one feels less, a calvinistic cloud of diminishment enshrouds you. The rugged individualism of capitalism presses you down as a thumbtack driven into cork for your “failure” to amount to anything. You are considered so little, so less if you do not brandish yourself as a product, a thing, if you don’t market yourself, just another tendril of a Dickens-like industrialization. The striving and striven aspect of capitalism  is like an immense state augur just boring into your skull all the time, enforcing that you are guilty for your state of being, that you are poor because you are poor of spirit. Systems driving systems driving systems and very few of us are awake or aware of this constant pounding. Watch “The Elephant Man” and listen to the soundtrack that rumbles and roars throughout the film, the unceasing pounding and beating which is the very sound of the industrial revolution, that endlessly horrific event.

So I struggle, little gnat that I am, on this speck of nothingness in orbit about a third-rate star, a total irrelevancy trying give myself some meaning existentially, for there is none otherwise. To believe in religion is to run from the facts, like denying the moon is not in the night sky. To face one’s own irrelevancy is to face the denial of death, our daily bread. I seek to volunteer to help me, not solely the other. To give is a selfish act that hurts no one, for it brings one into awareness, the only thing that really matters for this dumb, brutish species.

Consider That One May Tire of Society

On a clear day one can see forever. This lyrical snippet comes to mind. Given the collective melt-down in Japan, the aerial incursion into Libya, the weekly Jeremiads by Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin meeting with the Israelis to strengthen her bona fides, Ms. Angle running for office once more in Nevada, the moral detritus of the republic oozes into our consciousness and reminds me of how fragile is the human condition, how like a pie crust we are the seething cauldron beneath, all unconscious abroil, and how flimsy is our conscious awareness. The mind-numbing decadence of this age is everywhere, like shit on the pavement, there but unseen until stepped into. All is unrest and clear thinking is rare. Leave it to Jon Stewart and Lewis Black to harpoon the whales. Humor always lances the abscess.

Malignancies such as Palin have metastasized. Brave new world! The yahoos are in charge. Candidates denying that they are witches, Anne Coulter writing columns on how radioactivity is not that threatening (I’d like to give her a year’s worth of isotopes to test it out), the appalling conflations and confabulations of Glenn Beck, tele-evangelist and scam artist, the metamorphizing of the Republican Party into a stalwart ideology, the fulminating hatred of Fox News which has morphed into the arm of the Republican party, the dark humor of Donald Trump, now a “birther,” feeling he is presidential timber, and President Obama presiding over all this, revealing his charactertological flaws, his flight into safety, his unwillingness to emancipate himself from his flight suit.

The center doesn’t hold. The recurrent nonsense on the media makes we wonder how parents deal with all this lunacy, how they make their way when questioned, and rightfully so, by their children about adult behaviors they cannot quite comprehend or metabolize. If I were still teaching, I’d have my sophomore class watch Beck for five straight days in class. When they return on Monday, I’d ask this question: What fears, if any, are you experiencing?  If you cannot grasp this question or it eludes you, answer this one: What, do you feel, is the state of civilization at this time?  Finally, if you are stymied, try this question: What is it about your own adulthood that you are worried about?

I would put this up on the blackboard in a few days:

All generations are failed by the ones that come before.

I have contributed to the general state of ignorance, somehow and in someway.

Sadly, I must say that you need to start all over again for you have been marinaded in ignorance.

That you must shut down the idiocies, ignorances, conditioning, fear-mongerering, racism, plutocracies you wade in much like the Japanese had to shut down their reactors. Unfortunately, life is triage whether or not you are aware of it.

Finally, in capped letters, you need to be free of me and this school, all teachers, all schools. What does one do when the world has failed you? Think on these things.

The world I knew is no more. The world I thought I knew is no more. The world is in desperate disarray. That which I thought civil apparently no longer holds; new rules of behavior are in place, a different self-conduct rides this land like one of the four horses of the Apocalypse. I have to personally make choices about my existence at this time. I live in Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas, Nevada, which is a hapless, hopeless, crime-imbued sin city, where education is the last recourse, where blue-collar values ride supreme, where coherent thinking succumbs to nether impulses.

I have found myself unemployable as a human being in this city and in this country.

What is to be done as I sip from the waters of anomie? I say grandiloquently. I opt out. What shape or form this takes is unclear. It is not a clear day for me to see forever. But one goal is to leave this country for democracies are appallingly insufferable, such as the USA, when they more than wander off from their principles, which are often myths as well. I can handle an honorable myth but not the myth we are telling ourselves and the world at large. The United States Senate, to wit, is owned by major corporations and the dumbfucked — and mindfucked – American people cannot see this at all. Time to leave. At least let me go to some banana republic that admits to being owned by corporations and does not delude itself that it is honest. In America the hypocrisy is that we are free – we are not, that we are honorable – we are not, that we care for people — we definitely do not. Give me the honest hypocrite, for I spurn the democratic one.

What an interesting turn of phrase it is to say that one wants to live out his days. If it implies that living is more meaningful than the usual humdrum daily existence, then I want to live out my days — but elsewhere. The thickened cholesterol artery that is America at this time is much too much for me. You know, there is an eternal literary debate over Thoreau. Some argue that he left civilization without engaging it, without trying to improve its lot, that he copped out; that he wasn’t into causes; the other side of the argument says that he needed to “live deliberately,” that he wanted to work from the internal to the external. Judgments are made on his endeavor to improve his interior self. I argue that the societal world now, and very much so for Thoreau then, is so corrupt, banal, and corrosive that for mental well being I need to nourish my “soul” elsewhere. I am at the point of throwing up all that inward fetid mess in my mouth from living in this land. The only respite I have is the eternal given — nature…my wife, my Jane… Jordan, my son. Dawn, dusk, a breeze, the smell of grass, the spring birds, et al. give me respite. The rest is human folly. I am not depressed, on the contrary, I can now see forever. Grab an infant’s neck and inhale the sweet smell of it and that’s about all that is humanly good.

Disparate Tangents

While working out at the local community gym thoughts began to coalesce about what I might write for this blog, associative threads formed and here it is. The most compelling is my dance to the death with the Arizona tax department and an audit. They are claiming, of course, I owe them money because I have not shown any profit in my writing. After five years I suppose I am to show a profit or I cannot claim on my return all the costs that come with writing. Consequently my writing is labeled more of a hobby than anything else. At first I almost caved, that is, pay them what I owed. On second thought I waited until I saw my accountant who advised that I challenge this because if I don’t they will come after me year after year for past monies and then the Feds will come in to put their grubby hands into my pockets as well. If need be, he would represent me. I had to advocate for myself, and I felt exhausted before I began.

So here I was having to defend that I am in writing to make a profit, that it was not a hobby, that I explain myself to the monolithic tax department, really a latent and manifest assault on my integrity, on my self. I am particularly peeved when I am asked to explain myself especially when I know I am innocent of the alleged lie, fault, crime, malfeasance or misdemeanor. I bit the bullet and did not become ironic nor sarcastic but simply in list form machined gunned out all the awards, 1099 Misc forms (royalties), books published, stories published to substantiate that I am an author seeking to make a profit. Of course, in this nation being an author without earning a profit or not thinking in this manner is viewed as simply ridiculous. Fuck you, America! I felt like the local Muslim who has to justify his existence, explain why other Muslims are malfeasant or not, all the rest of the McCarthy-like attributions Rep. King from New York is yapping about. Of course, he glosses smoothly over his advocacy of and connection with the Irish Republican Army years back. I almost feel like joining the Libyan rebel forces but seeing Jewish stars markered over posters of Hosni Mubarak’s face (Jew hatred to the nth degree) in the last revolt I will defer for now. (No reporter has commented on that.)

It was a quick step for me to consider how corporations rule this country, our  two-percent of the population plutocrats who control congressmen (and this is not paranoia, reader), with their offshore tax shelters and teams of accountants who keep them free from taxes with financial murder year after year. I find it remarkable after all these years of living that the obvious basis for this country is still opaque to most of the masses, using that term appropriately here as they are herds. Long ago through lobbying and all the rest of the horseshit we lost this country. We do not have a Republican party, what we have is an ideological group who manifests a Social Darwinian drive. Allow me as a writer or therapist to share some felt-truths and reach some conclusions you may or may not appreciate.

Let us for a moment look at Governor Scott Walker. I don’t need to know about his family, how active he is as a church member, how he is loyal to his wife, how he never has masturbated. Let us just look at his face. Behind those eyes is death. Just his face reveals a coldness to the man, an inability to soften, to negotiate, to reflect. We have seen that face hundreds of times in all the old movies about the western cavalry and its Indian wars. Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld all have that death mask, an inability to really express empathy much less sympathy. I believe it is characterological of the American male in this country, right from our historical beginning.  It was the face the black man saw, the Indian saw, women saw, unions saw, an unrelenting, blunt, cold, stone-walling mind set — callous, hard, cruel, stubborn, determinatively driven by causes and racist. Americans run from this assessment, although at one time for more than 100 years we had a caste, mind you, not a class system in this country as rigid as the untouchables in India. Read your An American Dilemma. In my fantasy Glenn beck would be an Indian agent handing out blankets saturated in small box in order to wipe out all the Progressives on the reservation.

It is also my sad contention that Anne Coulter, MIchelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Laura Ingraham, Megan Kelly, all the in-house stable of Fox Views are the female versions of the American male, Gorgons all, featuring a stiletto wit, vicious  bite-biting asides as crooked as Greta Von Susteren’s mouth, and just an overall toxic perfume issuing from their pretty, dolled-up faces. Very few of them give credit to the feminists who labored hard to set them free, ingrates all.

Given these tangents, I will share further thoughts I have. I recall that in the Thirties artists, writers, actors, quick-witted Jews all sensed the racist rot in Nazi Germany and emigrated to the States. I am contemplating becoming an ex-pat; I really believe we are in a dour decadent period that I want no part of it. I would not leave like a good American because it is cheaper to live in Belize, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. I would say fuck you to Medicare because in some of these countries the care is about third world as it is here in Henderson, Nevada which is a medically unsafe environment to get seriously ill in. This state is so blue-collar that they are gutting the university financially because education is really not important — that is right, it has never been important in this country. So I would leave the USA because it is no longer democratic, is controlled by a hegemonic few. The differing points of political points of view are now taking on a variation of class warfare and it is remarkably close to becoming a feudal country, with the few at the top of the pyramid and the rest pf us fighting like serfs among ourselves. Note: not one stock trader or CEO on Wall Street has had charges brought against him!  Americans have the memory resource of a gnat. We get angry, we fight and quarrel but clear thinking is never an aspect of our consciousness.

Will it be better elsewhere? Of course, not. We all know that. The jolly in all this is that I will act upon a sound realization, an awakening of intelligence, if you will, that until i die I can at least choose, for the time being, to act, to opt out. I think watching America from abroad will be self-confirming as the internal tsunami of collective rot will cross the plains and mountains and cleanse both shores.

The Razor’s Edge

The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over: thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard. – KATHA UPANISHAD

Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge was turned into a movie I saw decades ago, starring Gene Tierney, Ann Baxter, Tyrone Power and Herbert Marshall. It was not a memorable nor near great movie but it did have things in it that I remember. It’s the story of Larry Darrell, a man in search, experiencing a spiritual quest, much as Capra’sThe Lost Horizon reeked of a spiritual Shangra-La. I have not seen the Bill Murray version of The Razor’s Edge probably because I like the performances in the old version. I bring all this into the open because a spiritual adventure or a spiritual quest I find intriguing, pleasing to my sensibilities. I would find it more than admirable if each one of us went on such a journey, and I do not mean that cliche variant spoken of by Oprah.The closest I ever came to that was several years of reading Krishnamurti, learning from this great spiritual teacher on my own, and wrestling with him so that ultimately I began to see in a different way.

In a serendipitous way I acquired Maugham’s book and read it quickly, for it is well written. It came down to a few last pages and the question posed throughout the book is finally “answered.” What is “success?” Americans are skewered and praised by Maugham as to their value systems, one subtle comment is that Americans do not value money in itself but as a symbol of what you can do with it, a different slant on materialism. Maugham plays himself in the book, as observer, as writer, as shrewd reader of personalities. Of all the characters in the book Darrell is the most “successful” in that he has chosen what it is he wants and does not want to do in life and with his life. In short, he is a free man. If I were a young adult I would be stirred by the ending and this character. One might have the same response after reading Walden Pond. The conditioned narcolepsy we live in, in all our cultures, prevents, deters, or persuades us not to question nor to see. Fortunate is the human being who breaks his head through the ice above and sees the newer terrain all about. More fortunate is the individual who crawls across the ice to the other side and the newer experiences. Think of The Matrix, what is seen and unseen, what is reality and is not reality.

I believe that the human being who asks the right questions without seeking answers, who senses somewhere in his molecular makeup that there is more than the heralded and advertised slogans of this culture, will become master of his fate. As a measure consider this: Palin may be “religious,” whatever that folly is, but she is blind to any other sense of the spirtual self. And how do I know this? Ah, there’s the rub. If you believe that Mother Teresa is a saint and a spiritual self you haven’t read much about her (see Christopher Hitchens’ book). In this culture we are sold a bill of goods about what is spiritual and what is not, in addition to other cultural nonsenses — the American dream, the pursuit of happiness (Yes, we do chase that; clearly the opposite of what the spiritual self does.) I believe we abhor the search, the quest, because it offers no reward that we esteem of worth.

Here I want to speak about writing and what Maugham writes about Darrell who has been reading over the years and decides to write a book and self-publish it, and this, in the novel’s chronology, is in the thirties and Maugham’s book came out in the forties.

“But you can’t expect a book brought out like that to have any sale abnd you won’t get any reviews,” Maugham advises Darrell.

“I don’t care if it’s reviewed and I don’t expect it to sell. I’m only printing enough copies to send to my friends in India and the few people I know in France who might be interested in it. It’s of no particular im-portance. I’m only writing it to get all that material out of the way, and I’m publishing it because I think you can only tell what a thing’s like when you see it in print.”

Of course, this resonates with me and the work I do. For a considerable group of people today would think this is outright nonsense and reading this in the forties must have been over the top, for it challenges what we do in life and what we think is valuable and not. The revolution in publishing will and is bringing us to the day when publishers may be a fraction of what they are today and agents may have to drive taxis. Within the context of the novel, however, it expresses Darrell’s perspective on life; that it is not to ber hawked and merchandised; that writing is expression and not business; that spiritual happiness is not obtained by reading Wayne Dyer’s Emersonian sallies. It is not for the frail of heart, the weak, the materially obsessed.

At the close of the novel Maugham reflects:  ”He [Darrell] iis without ambition and hehas no desire for fame; to become anything of a public figure would be deeply distasteful to him; and so it may be that he is satisfied to lead his chosen life and be no more than just himself. He is too modest to set himself up as an example to others; but it may be he thinks that a few uncertain souls, drawn to him like moths to a candle, will be brought in time to share his own glowing belief that ultimate satisfaction can only be found in the life of the spirit, and that by himself following with selflessness and renunciation the path of perfection he will serve as well as if he wrote books or addressed multitudes.”

One sure thing stands out. This country is diametrically opposed to this; it is a threat. The question is: are you opposed to this as an individual? After all, tempus fugit.

Blood Libel and All That Jazz

Impressions. Since Sarah Palin does not write her own books — nor credit the ghosts who do, I suppose her “Blood Libel” talk was composed by speechwriters. I also suppose that ignorance is usually surrounded by ignorance, the undereducated in league with the undereducated. Quite likely that team Palin had no idea about the loaded meaning of that term for Jews. And that is point one. Palin comes to us without historicity. She dwells in the present abandoned by cognition of the past. In short, she doesn’t know gradations of feelings or emotions. What drives her is pure unadulterated narcissism which is as American as apple pie. The dynamic of her family and her relationship to Todd, the capon, is fascinating to observe and what can be derived from that is very little, alas. What we are given is mirrored images and so appropriate for a narcissist. Pundits, left  and right wingnuts, ask what is the hold she has on her detractors. I think she is the new American, poorly educated, grandiose, having broken through to her “real” self so that she has the chutzpah to declare that ignorance is bliss, that ignorance is strength, for she is hatched from Orwell’s world. She is dangerous, mark my words, as she barrels throughout the culture, for she has made it safe and secure, she has made it honorable and appropriate to be blazingly stupid and yet go for the holy grail — the presidency. A quick survey of our present legislators reveal an appalling group of stupid men and women which only reaffirms Palin’s belief system that anyone can run for office. The days of Harry S. Truman are long gone. I wouldn’t trust the man in the street with my nail parings.

Impressions. I have observed her, from time to time, growing more facile with the language as she is being prepped and prepared, more certain. Doubt, for her, is indecisiveness. That is why religion is up her spine. People who do not doubt ultimately damage others. And as she learns it only serves to make her feel more commanding than ever. That speech pattern and sound of her voice is grating and pressured as if she has a ton of verbal garbage she has to emit, for she is on automatic and every day as she gathers more data and “learnings” it will become a steady stream of sound, like a flat tire endlessly flapping its tread on pavement. Some men find her attractive, physically, that is; some women admit she has a way about her, perhaps like a doped up cheerleader. I find her to be encapsulated, as if ensconced in a cloud of nothingness. She is Alaskan ice, pristine and pure, but a confection of temperature and water. And Palin is a hard personality which makes some women enthralled with her and some men envying Todd’s tool. Palin is not so much a castrator as she is a chilled presence, for her warmth, look carefully now, is manufactured, for I think this is how she has managed to get as far as she has and what an interesting defense that is. Growing up, one can imagine how she figured out how to behave in order to sustain her own vapidity. Perhaps she subliminally concluded to make pretend, to choose a self and play it out for all time. We all do a variation on this.

Impressions. I cannot say, I don’t really know, I can only imagine and I don’t have all the facts to render an intelligible interpretation or conclusion. Having learned from Sarah that this is in no way an impediment, in fact, it is an energizing kind of self-actualization, I will go on with other observations, emboldened by Sarah, my culture hero. Her children. I see them as an extensions of her own narcissism and her own planetary self worlds. The shabby presentation of her teenage daughter to the media, the lack of parental restraint, of protecting and securing for a child a parental “hold” does not apply for Saran (notice the Freudian slip, Saran instead of Sarah; I love our minds, for she is cellophane) for her children are “things,” apparently in her eyes. When she struts her retarded child on to a stage, having him in her left arm as if he were some kind of doll, I associate to Michael Jackson’s stupid behavior with his child on a balcony, such an inept man-child. That child is part of a twisted narcissism, see how I can make him part and parcel of my world, my very extensive world; Palin should be home with her children, attending to them in loving ways. What appalls me is the using of children to further her image of the magnificent mama grizzly. What she lacks is grace.

Palin’s monumental inability to put aside her own political shenanigans in order to disinfect herself of “blood libel” gets me to my final impression. If there is any spine to this blog, it is the one I will give now and that is her inability to empathize, for I find her inordinately hard and unfeeling as a person. My intuition tells me so. And narcissists, of course, are notorious for not seeing the other person’s difficulties, anguish or pain. A mirror has no depth, it only reflects. In the old movies of the fifties that dealt with flying saucers and such, the classic line was “Watch the skies!” In the years ahead watch her children, for in that will be the real testament of her as a human being. “Watch her kids!”

Waiting for Messages from the Unconscious

I am sitting here, waiting, registering myself, thinking, wondering what will ooze forth. Lately I’ve been having the uncomfortable sense that many of my stories sent to online literary editors, probably from ages 25 to 45, may not relate to the kind of stories I write. It is a false fear, I know, because the bones of a good story cross over generations. I have come to that remarkable point in my life in which I am seemingly superannuated.

Here I am with all kinds of skills and talents which are “worthless” in this society, grounded in capitalism and the values thereof. Jane’s ex made millions providing the edgings that go around tables, really ridiculous, and yet this provider of laminates, whatever, is part of the mighty course of this country’s business. I cannot fathom – nor could he fathom me – what the production of that requisite societal shit does to one’s mind, “soul” or spirit. The effort put into some kinds of business just fatigues me, the very thought of it creates a moral nausea. The concept, the idea of equity is a mental quicksilver and has no place in this writing, for fairness, justice, et al is as random as the the whirl of planets in their voids. It simply is what is, but I can comment on that because as a writer that is my task, my laminate “business.”

If you are awake or aware and you are retired as we know it in this country, a cultural artifact of significance, what do you do with your time, or your time left? It is a question that should be asked when first consciousness dawned in your noggin ( recall the Wagnerian sounds in “Space Odyssey: 2001″) I have more time than ever to cogitate over this day and the day after, of how best to “use” the time or the time left to me, as I live in this temporary husk — on loan, by the way – that has been and is being ravished by wear and tear. After all, how long can one’s innards endure stress, digestion, arterial plaque, the accruing deposits of bad cholesterol, the heart pumping for year after year, etc. It is and has always been this needling question for me, at least for as long as I can remember, of what to do with existence, for that is what I am asking.  The only man who I have learned about and who I have read who apparently wrestled with this in a rational way for decades and spoke to all the issues that beset me and you was Krishnamurti. I cannot describe or assess him other than say one must read what he has to say and yet that is not enough for me. I will die in my own little Venetian glass bottle thrown upon the sands of time.

With issues like this in mind or with concerns I take seriously, I moved early into writing which is just a mere expression of my character. You can see why business in itself entirely bores me. I am figured to work out my life in other ways. That genetic  reptilian part of my brain is soused in consciousness, reminding me how a good and decent tomato or cucumber can easily be soured in brine to make something else. I feel that awareness or consciousness is much like taking a pickle from a jar, soaking wet, dripping  and how one must shake it a bit to get at the total savoriness of it all. No matter how we are aware we still reek of the reptile, all instinct and aimless instinctual discharge.

Here I am with perhaps 10 years or so to live, or to die, besotted with the same questions that have pickled me in brine for decades. I believe we flower, wither and die without any sense of who we are, much like the flower in the field. Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan are throwaway existences who see so far and yet so little and aimlessly live but that is their choice if they are cognizant of realistic choice rather than the rush of drugs. Humorously society now tells me to “live,” to enjoy retirement which is appalling for society is nothing more than another abstraction or “idea” concocted by this culture at this time; entire companies and medical plans are obsessed with this concept. Capitalism in no way is concerned and never was concerned about the moral welfare of human beings, for it is rooted in the abstraction of money, its making, its use, its entrepreneurial aspects. After all these years, I would like to proclaim a national day of rest which means a day of rest from ideas and any conceptualizing at all, for ideas gave us religion, systems, castes, slavery, anti-semitism, conditioning, cultural anomalies and monstrosities such as the Inquisition and colonialism. Ideas have spawned Beck, Palin, Bachman, Hannity, O’Reilly, Cavuto, Laura Ingraham, the cultural pus of our present day America. Everything ever written or said about masturbation is the ejaculation that comes from ideas about it. Americans love the mind/body split.

And so like the little mouse with his very little piece of cheese I struggle to nibble away at my existence in ways that go beyond mere survival or struggle. I have not been successful. My failures are in all my writings. It is the task I willingly self-assign myself, and I will go to my grave nibbling at whatever intention I can find for myself. It may be as wasteful as designing another laminate for the kitchen island.

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