Truthfully… for a fiction writer, a humorist, a former school teacher of junior-high-aged kids, telling the truth is hard. But in this post I intend to try it, and I will see if I can stand the castor-oil flavor of it on my tongue.
The simple truth is, I rarely tell the unvarnished truth. And I firmly believe I am not alone in this.
Yesterday I battled pirates. (While this is not literally true, it is metaphorically true.) They were the scurvy scum o’ the Bank-o’-Merricka Pirates who are suing me for over ten thousand dollars despite my efforts of the last two years to settle 40 thousand dollars worth of credit card debt.
I hired a lawyer, but in spite of what he told me, I expect to lose the lawsuit and be wiped out financially. I also believe Donald Trump will win as President.
I am a pessimist. And it helps me through life. I am always prepared for the worst, and I can only be surprised by happy and pleasant surprises.
My son in the Marines has developed an interest in survivalist gear and chaos-contingency plans. We are now apparently preparing for the coming zombie apocalypse.
I like to draw nudes. I have drawn them from real-life models who were paid for their participation. But no bad things happened. It was all done with professional integrity even though I am an amateur artist. Chaperones were a part of every session.
In high school I identified as a Republican like my father. In college I became a Democrat (Thanks, Richard Nixon) and voted for Jimmy Carter. I argued with my father for eight years of Ronald Reagan and four years of George H.W. Bush.
My father has now voted for Barack Obama twice and will vote for Hillary this fall if he is still able. We spent most of our conversations this summer exchanging “Can you believe its?” about Donald Trump.
I have been collecting pictures of sunrises for three years now. I stole the idea from my childhood friend who now lives in Florida and takes beautiful ocean sunrise pictures over the Atlantic. But I do it because I know I don’t have many more sunrises to go. I have six incurable diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, and COPD. I could go “BOOM! …dead” at any given moment. I believe in savoring it while I have it.
I was sexually assaulted when I was ten years old. I can only tell you this particular truth because the man who assaulted me and inflicted physical and emotional pain on me is now dead. It is liberating to be able to say that. But I regret forty years’ worth of treating it is a terrible secret that I could never tell anyone.
Telling that last truth made me cry. Now you know why telling the truth is not easy.
I really do love and admire all things having to do with Disney. And when I was young, I really did want to find a picture of Annette naked. There was no internet back then. That quest helped me learn to draw the human form. I know how bad that sounds… but, hey, I was a normal boy in many ways. And I don’t draw her naked any more.
Finally, I have to say… in all honesty… I don’t know for sure that everything I have told you today is absolutely true. Truth is a perception, even an opinion. And I may be wrong about the facts as I know them. The human mind works in mysterious ways. I sometimes think I may simply be bedbug crazy.
(P.S.) Bedbugs are insects with very limited intelligence. They cannot, in fact, be crazy or insane. Their little brains are not complicated enough for that. But it is a metaphor, and metaphors can be more truthful than literal statements.
(This is an idea that comes from Bruce the Bottle Imp, so, don’t blame me if this humor blog-post isn’t really very funny.)
The thing I am grumpy about today, besides the dog chewing up last night’s pizza box and spreading the shreds all over the kitchen before I had a chance to take it to the trash barrel, is the fact that it seems like the world is ending.
I know, the “How can you say that?” crowd are going to argue with me if I say it’s because we let Adam Sandler get away with making too damn many movies. But in spite of the existence of Jack and Jill, I actually kinda like the cartoons where he plays Dracula and Selena Gomez plays his daughter. So, Sandler doesn’t give me the feelings of existential dread his movies used to provide.
No, I think the reason is because when I went out to walk the dog this morning on a sunshiny and blue-skyed dawn, and took a deep breath of fresh air, I nearly coughed up a lung thanks to that yellow-gray patina delicately painting the horizon.
We are running out of time.
President Grandpa Joe, the mildly confused one, is proposing a huge infrastructure bill that is even larger than the one he rammed through congress without a single Republican vote in order to keep the poor and the middle class from starving and becoming homeless… and potential fuel for the zombie apocalypse. The infrastructure bill will provide a starting point for building green-energy projects, providing thousands of green-energy jobs to an ailing economy, bullet trains and healthcare improvements, and life-changing transformations to rival FDR’s New Deal, which Republicans will also vote against. And he might actually do it if Senator Turtle McConnell doesn’t convince Senator Grumbly-Grampa Joe Manchin to vote against his own party in dismantling the foofy filibuster and then voting down the infrastructure bill both to fully insure the extinction of the human race.
For some reason, probably involving dark money, Republicans want so badly to see all middle class and poor people die a horrible death that they are willing to sacrifice the lives of their own grandchildren and great grandchildren. After all, they will mostly all be undead and undying critters by that time, and they won’t want pesky younger generations to support using money from their treasure hordes that they are planning to swim in like Scrooge McDuck for eternity.
I am also deeply grumpified by the whole Congressman Eddy Munster… er, I mean… Matt Gaetz thing (seen pictured in the Vampyr Paffooney above.) That happy-go-lucky blood-sucker is facing child sex-trafficking charges involving a 17-year-old girl, and the investigation was started under Attorney General Bill Barr, Trump’s Fred-Flintstone-impersonating, Yabba-dabba-doo collusion-denier. Senator Al Franken(berry) of Minnesota, a leading Democrat, had to resign from the Senate over a picture where he wasn’t actually touching the sleeping Republican-lady’s boobs, just making a crude joke-photo the way former Saturday Night Live comedians will often do… er, well… doo doo. But Eddy Matt Gaetz doesn’t have to resign, or even give up his assignment to the Judiciary Committee. And that’s because we’re okay with unindicted criminals running our country, just not Democrats.
I hate to say it, but, now that we have gotten rid of the Orange Prexydent at long last, if we still can’t prevent human extinction, we deserve what’s coming to us. We have work to do…. and things to grumble about… and Republicans have acts of vampire-evil to commit.
It’s not easy being green…. the color of so many ordinary things…
Especially as you grow older.
Because green is the color of growth and youth and life. But those things seem beyond the grasp of your outstretched fingers on your spotty and wrinkled old hand.
I am definitely no longer green like Littlebit, the Oceanian ship’s boy from the seas of Talislanta and the pirate ship, Black Dragon.
And, yes, an Iowa boy living as far away from an ocean as you can get in the United States, in all directions, you are bound to dream of pirate ships and the high seas, especially when you’re twelve and your favorite book is Treasure Island.
But now that you are old, green is more often your color because you don’t feel well… again… every day….
But there is still bright green in dreams.
You can still go there and be a child again in memories and your imagination.
It’s just that now the green is written down in sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and cantos.
And talking to your kids about movies, art and artists, stories and writers of stories…
Did you know the favorite color of all three of my children is green?
I have known it since they were small and I could sing to them songs by Kermit the Frog, like “Rainbow Connections” and “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”
And with paint, you make green by combining the blue of sadness with the yellow of sunshine and happiness.
***** I really had in mind another long and laborious complaining post today. But somehow it only morphed into doggerel verse. Sorry about that. Bad poets can’t help but inflict the stupid thoughts in their poet-guts on the unsuspecting sometimes. While I’m at it, I haven’t yet shared with you the FREE BOOK PROMOTION for March. This book, celebrating its first birthday, is free from this moment until midnight tomorrow night, 3/23/21.
I am diabetic. I am not supposed to have donuts for breakfast any more. Hence the obsession with donuts. I am only guessing here, but I think it may have something to do with the fact that the very name of donuts tells you what to do.
“What?!” you say. “What goofiness are you talking about now, Mickey?”
Well, I’ll tell you. I had a donut for breakfast this morning… with nuts.
The name “donuts” is literally a command. It tells you to “Do nuts”. So I had nuts with my donut this morning. Peanuts to be precise. Of course that’s what is wrong with the whole scenario. It doesn’t mean “peanuts”. It is commanding you to do something nutty. Maybe more like eating a donut when you have diabetes. No matter how good that particular donut tastes when you eat it, an hour later you are going to suffer.
So here’s the result of my being nuts this morning. I have come to the conclusion that the root of all evils in the modern world is “donuts”. Especially when it is pronounced “doo nutz”. Yes, eating a donut subjects you to the command, “Do nuts!”
And we all know how bad Trump’s diet is. Could he be imbibing donuts? Horrors! That explains Twitter, cabinet firings, tariffs for the fun of it, random protestations of “No collusion!”, and even “Covfefe”. Although Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary is an evil beyond even the power of donuts.
And how did Trump even get elected? Do people in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan glory in eating donuts before voting? How about disgruntled Bernie Bros? And one also suspects that middle-aged white women can’t resist a good donut… or an evil one either.
Could it be that I am down on donuts because I ate one and now I am writing this with a pounding high-blood-sugar headache? Well, yes. Eating one inspired this post. It was a chocolate donut with green, mint-flavored frosting. And it was evil. It is taking out its evil revenge on the blood vessels in my brain.
So, I implore you if you are reading this… no, I’m not going to tell you not to “Do nuts”… I am going to tell you, “Please, for the love of God, keep donuts away from me! Eat them yourself if you have to. But be warned! They have a secret meaning.”
It is cloudy outside. The sky is a cool, damp gray. No rain. No snow. Just dreary and gray. The world is gray today.
We have now been in a lockdown and wearing masks for an entire year. I have lost a lot of ground. Color-blindness runs in my family on my mother’s side. Great Grandma Hinckley was completely color-blind by the time she was in her 70’s.
I myself have known I had the color-blindness problem since I was in high school and the school nurse gave me a vision test that proved it.
In the dotted circle, I could see the blue-green number 29, but I could also see the red number 5. I was told that I had a slight color-blindness on the red/green scale. Believe me, I had no idea what that meant. Still don’t. I just know I have never seen colors the way other people with normal vision do.
But now, after twelve months of lockdown, I can definitely detect the fact that I have lost some more of my color vision.
Great Grandma saw the world in black and white and gray since she was 70. That, for me, is now less than six years away.
As a cartoonist I use a lot of pen and ink. I also love black-and-white movies. Being partially colorblind, you might think that I would be okay living in a film-noire world. But I am not. It is simply not enough. I have always craved color. I particularly love to create with bright primaries, red, yellow, and blue.
I will sorely miss color when it is gone.
And I have always loved cardinals. Not only because they are bright red songbirds, like the one singing outside in our yard on this gray and slightly blustery day. But because they never fly away when the winter comes. They stay even in the snow and cold. Trouble doesn’t drive them away. I shall not give up when I lose all the colors.
I remember the world being gray when I was a boy back in the 1960’s too. TV was only black-and-white… and gray at our house. I watched the funeral parade for JFK on the black-and-white… and gray TV. And around that time the three astronauts Grissom, Chaffee, and White had a similar funeral parade… also black-and-white-and-mostly-gray.
The Viet Nam conflict on the TV news with Walter Cronkite. The riots at the Democratic Convention in 1968 with the Chicago Seven going on trial. The world was very, very gray.
But then, in the Summer of ’69, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. A giant leap for mankind! And I saw that also in black-and-white-and-mostly-gray.
There was a hope of color in my life after that. And we got a color TV in the later 70s after that. And even with my partially color-blind eyes, I saw color everywhere.
And now again is a good time to anticipate color coming back into my life. I am on the waiting list for vaccination. My eldest son has a steady girlfriend living with him now. And we have a better President who actually seems to care if we live or die. Good things are over the next hill.
I know there is no surprising news here if you are in one of the 44 States hit by this weather, but we are snow-covered and frozen still, even in the sunny aftermath of the storm.
My number two son, the jailor for the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, works the night shift. Saturday night’s storm caused him to cover a Sunday morning shift for someone who couldn’t make it in. He worked for 16 straight hours. Then drove home in dangerous conditions, a 36-minute drive, got 3 hours of sleep, then had to go back to work for another night shift. He was so tired that my wife drove him to work through severe storm-warning weather, and then spent the night in the parking garage waiting for him. Of course, the Sheriff’s Office asked him to work a second straight double shift because of employees who couldn’t make it in.
The thing is… there are no medals for either of them.
And the city was hit with rolling power-outages all day. The Texas power grid is a mess. Someone ran over the connector-box in our area removing internet connections in the neighborhood until noon. Bummer for me and the Princess who has a college paper to write. But nowhere near the trouble number one wife and number two son had to deal with.
There is lots to complain about in this weather event. My mother in Iowa endured super-cold temperatures like 20-below-zero, but fortunately she got her second vaccination before the weather set in.
Even the birds are disgusted. They fly South for the Winter. But for a lot of them, Texas IS South. The snowbirds are grumbling today.
It did give me a few lessons, though, on how to take pictures of snow in sunshine while the glare is threatening to overexpose the image. You gotta add them danged shadows in the picture..
I woke up late this morning with a headache and my eyes crusted shut. Sick again. Not Covid. My temperature is 37 C. I have no symptoms that correspond. I am suffering instead from allergies. And high blood pressure. And diabetes. And arthritis. As well as psoriasis and COPD. Six of them. Six incurable diseases on top of being a cancer survivor since 1983. Soon I may be facing diabetic depression. It is crucial that I constantly take stock of my health conditions. It is how I have stayed alive for 64 years.
Being unhealthy is really hard work.
The dog and I were talking about it during our limping walk this morning. She’s been suffering too since she found and gobbled my wife’s secret chocolate stash. She nearly destroyed her liver, kidneys, and digestive tract by doing that stupid, greedy act of theft. Now she’s on milk-thistle supplements to keep from dying. At ten years of age, she’s the equivalent of a seventy-year-old woman.
“We have to keep walking on our walks together. Our lives depend on the good effects the exercise has on out hearts,” she says.
“Okay. I agree as long as you don’t make me sniff bird poo the way you do.”
So, we finally have an understanding on that one point.
I need to keep laughing too.
I have been adding a lot of comedies to my Disney+ watchlist. My Netflix watchlist too.
I need to write more too. I haven’t really written anything beyond my daily 500 words more than three times in the last two weeks.
I have novel projects ready to start; The Boy Who Rose on a Golden Wing, There’s Music in the Forest, and Kingdoms Under the Earth.
I have projects still to finish; AeroQuest 4 : The Amazing Aero Brothers. and Hidden Kingdom.
I simply need to re-energize my daily writing habit. I need to write more things that make me laugh again. I need to write a lesser number of things that make me cry as well.
These things all represent my reasons to go on living.
So, I am sick and relegated to my bed again today. The sad thing is, that doesn’t vary much from any regular day during the pandemic. It is hard to stay well. I need to eat very carefully, noting the numbers of carbs and not getting too little of the right kinds of proteins. More peanut-butter sandwiches and chili with beans. Soup is good food. I need to stay warm and keep my psoriasis sores as clean as possible. I need to stay near the airflow of my electric fan to keep me breathing well. I have a new heating pad, inherited from my recently deceased father, and I need to apply heat wisely to my lower back for just the right amount of time. And I must keep fighting to stay alive. My eldest son has threatened to kill me if I die on him before he’s ready to lose me. (I never bothered to ask him how that consequence happens.)
Sometimes we all get a little tattered, a little weather-worn. Especially during this pandemic.
I rescued the little Valentine Bear from the pile of stuff from my mother-in-law’s house, the one that was sold this last spring. We still have all the rescued stuff on our patio, open to the weather, and the raccoons from the city park across the street.
I suspect he belonged to one of the two nieces that each lived for a time with Grandma. Sarooty Incaboody or Maroody Walladooty. One of them, though not both of them, and I haven’t given you their real names. Grandma had to move to San Antonio where there are more Filipino relatives to protect her from the virus. But less room for a lifetime of stuff that once belonged to her and my long-gone father-in-law.
You can see his right ear is damaged and needs to be resewn with red thread. His fur is a little crusty from the rain this last week and the dirt blown by the cold winds from this week. He’s a mess, and I thought I better bring him in and fix him up before the park fairies do the whole Velveteen Rabbit thing to him. After all, we don’t need a baby polar bear wandering around the Dallas suburbs, do we? And someone once loved him enough to keep him. He deserves to be cared for in retirement as much as I do.
I myself am a bit tattered and weather-worn by this pandemic. Being trapped in the house all day every day deprives me of the physical activity that keeps my heart healthy and my diabetes under control. My mental health is a little ragged around the edges as well. In this house we tend to get kinda snippy about money woes and unpaid bills. My wife and I now have separated finances. I am bankrupt and she is counting on Armageddon to overcome her credit-card-debt monsters.
My answer to the crisis continues to revolve around books and writing and movies and documentaries. I retreat into stories and ideas, both in the form of fiction and well-researched nonfiction. I throw myself whole-souled into the promotion of my books by earning the necessary points from Pubby by reading and reviewing the books of others and spending the points on honest reviews from other writers reading my books. I have never reviewed so many books before. Especially new is the number of badly written books that I have to slog through and then review honestly in a way that doesn’t crush the spirit of the slow-learning writing masses. I think so far I have only driven one writer to quit the review exchange. And I have only received two cruel and unfair reviews on my work. Which is, of course, less than expected.
The least mind-bending activity I use to repair my psyche is fixing up and playing with dolls, as indicated by the photos I have used in this post.
In these pictures you see five bargain-bin dolls and toys, two dolls bought at Goodwill and cleaned and dressed in a reclamation project. One repurposed aquarium decoration (the skull) and one Pinkie Pie that I bought with Christmas money at the full six-dollar price.
By doing these things, I have managed to avoid getting Covid 19 and generally avoid depression and mental illness.