How do you make a difficult and consequential decision? Me? I often flip a coin. Heads, yes. Tails, no. So, that makes me as crazy as Two-Face, the Batman villain, who decides everything not in terms of good or evil, but rather, heads or tails. This is not normally a good method of decision-making. Unless, of course, you wish to become a Batman villain.
But flipping a coin never actually makes the decision. If I get a yes, I often think about the consequences of yes and flip again… best two of three, three of five, four of six, and on and on until I have given it a thorough thinking-through… or until I get the answer I wanted from the beginning. It is not really the decider, but rather, the think-about-er.
On Sunday I made a coin-flip decision to not go out Uber driving in the afternoon. A half hour after making the decision, the damaging high winds hit the city. So, the coin flip kept me from being caught out in the storm.
Life is not random. It is merely ordered in really weird ways.
I received the first copy of my book Fools and Their Toys.
It is the story of an autistic man with hidden talent for ventriloquism, an irrepressible ventriloquist’s puppet. a zebra. with a habit of insulting the right people at the wrong time, and a lurking serial killer who targets young boys for sexual torture and death.
It is in many ways a continuation of the story in Sing Sad Songs.
I have so many books published now that it is rather hard to photograph them all together in one picture. Of course, this fool feels compelled to put some of his toys in the picture.
Spring has sproinged on us, and springy-sproinged hard. We have had a wet March and a wet April so far. Pollen is heavy in the air to a record degree, and guilty of making my head ache blisteringly for the third day in a row.
I will also have to take a while recovering from my tax headache. I owed money again either because the overworked retirement system representatives didn’t figure the withholding tax correctly… again, or because Trump’s tax-cut bill required more money from pensioners and poor people… again. Either way, I have no emergency funds in the bank once again, one of the perils of bankruptcy and a source of headaches..
Another of the perils of bankruptcy is the lovely way the court treats me, sending me letters in the mail that suggest they are about to drop their bankruptcy order and allow creditors to swoop in and skeletonize my bank account like piranhas, just as they do to James Franciscus in that crappy man-eating-fish movie of the seventies. (Piranhas, not creditors, I mean, though the differences are small,) The skeletonization will strip meat off the bones of my financial health for about ten months at this point. And why are they suggesting such a personal Armageddon for Mickey? Because mortgage-payment-verification paperwork wasn’t confirmed for two days. Now there is another plan-adjustment hearing scheduled for the end of May. My lawyer says it is all routine. Don’t worry. But I still worry that I have tastier flesh on my bones than James Franciscus had on his in the seventies. (Never let it be said that Mickey doesn’t know how to flog a simile to death!)
So, I could potentially starve to death in the coming months, have my bank account skeletonized, and have my head explode from allergies. Somehow I must deserve all of that, right? And, meanwhile, Trump has survived the Mueller Report with the help of his criminal friends. He may even get re-elected to the Presidency, because there is no accounting for voter stupidity.
It is a springtime full of various headaches, and they have all got me down.
There is so much I need to get done. I need to finish mending my yard’s retaining wall before the city decides they can no longer put up with my old-man, do-it-yourself stubbornness.
I need to do my taxes. My wife insists we do them separately now because Trump’s new tax policy costs retired people so much more than previous years that she can no longer put up with my crippling tax burden. I need to know how much Uber-slavery I will have to do to make the IRS less miserly.
My status as a wizard is called into question. A wizard should be able to solve problems and overcome anything.
A dragon is ravaging the suburbs? No problem. I can imprison it in a fire-proof giant soap bubble. Aliens invading the DFW metroplex? No problem. I just show them my psoriasis sores and they will worry about getting infected from eating Earth people so they will run back to Zeta Reticuli as fast as their spaceships can fold space.
The problem is, it is raining. My old diabetic and arthritic bones are aching from the cold Texas rain. I can’t Uber-drive today. I can’t work on the wall, or let my son work on it either (wet bricks are too easy to drop). I can’t even eat pretzels and write blog posts. My pretzel jar is mysteriously empty. So, you can see, I have no choice but to stay in the nice warm bedroom and play with my dolls… er, action figures. They like posing for photographs and are really good at holding still while I snap the pictures.
Being retired is a total pain in the Biblical word for donkey. I thought I would be challenged with nothing to do and probably die from lack of challenge as so many do who find their identity in their profession. I was a public school teacher. I loved being a public school teacher. I lived for the challenge of working with kids, especially trying to teach them to write well. And then my health began to betray me, and I was forced to retire.
In this country, loss of a job that defines who you are makes you basically worthless. Republicans will tell you that you go from being a “maker” into being a “taker”, and takers are basically parasites.
So, now I am a parasite, a blight on society, a “taker”. Decent hard-working people shouldn’t have to put up with a burden on society like me.
“If you don’t work, you shouldn’t be allowed to eat,” they self-righteously tell me.
“So, if I’m too ill to stand in front of a class all day, I should starve to death?”
“No, of course not! Don’t dramatize! You just need to do something else.”
So, I haven’t just sat back and enjoyed my pension which I worked 31 years to get. I have done things. I rebuilt the siding on the back wall of the house. I repaired all the cracks in the pool twice (once getting it back into shape for swimming, and then fixed only to be forced by the city to remove the pool because I couldn’t spend $9,000+ to bring the 1970 electrical system up to code.) I am now re-setting the bricks in the retaining wall.
I also took up driving for Uber to earn extra money. I needed extra money because hospitalizations cost me so much money I had to take out a bankruptcy which I will be paying off for the next five years while supervised by a State-appointed executor. And then a lovely Texas motorist bashed my car in the driver’s-side door costing me car-repair money (because insurance can’t be expected to pay everything) and leaving me unable to get well enough to return to driving for at least five months (up to the present day).
I have at no point had money enough to go on vacations or do the recreational activities that other retired seniors get to do (at least the rich white ones with lots of investment money and property). I haven’t been well enough even to be a substitute teacher (which I loved doing back in 2006-2007 when I was well enough and between teaching jobs). So what can I do with all my “free time”? Besides deal with aches and illness without the medicine I can’t afford, I mean?
Well, I did start out in life with a passion for writing and drawing. I am living proof you can’t even make pocket change for indulging those passions unless you’re as lucky as former teacher Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes. But I have the time and the incurable obsession.
I began the most creative and productive period of my life by writing eight YA novels. I have two more well into the writing of the first draft. I also re-started work on my graphic novel which takes lots of time when you have arthritic hands to draw with. And I have been blogging practically every day.
So, since I retired I have basically been doing nothing. Well, nothing for the greater good and advancing the fortunes of mankind as a whole as my Republican friends who criticize me for being a “taker” on the dole apparently do with their retirements.
I had been promising my daughter for a while that we would build the gingerbread train. I was looking forward to it as an art project. She was impatient to eat it. So, on December 27th, I was finally feeling well enough to do the deed.
So, we prepared the work space on the kitchen table. We laid out the items that we could use for assembly. I made my daughter promise to stop eating elements of the train before we could actually put it together.
I started decorating the Christmas trees that go into the baggage car. My daughter ate several of the sugar-ball decorations.
The baggage car was assembled first. I call it the baggage car because even though it is in the tender position for a steam train if we called it that, that would mean that the engine burned Christmas trees instead of coal. My daughter snuck a few more decorations as we argued about that.
It was encouraging that the first part came together without looking too incredibly terrible.
My daughter decorated a majority of the engine and only ate a few more of the decorations while doing it. This was no small thing given how much she loves to eat gumdrops.
It ended up looking vaguely like the picture on the box. We had a great deal of fun making it. And the last time I checked, portions of it still were uneaten… something I am confident won’t be the case for much longer.
This is not an essay about what I am thinking while sitting in an airport terminal. This is about the end of things. Not just my own personal end, which via heart attack or stroke may happen at any moment. But the ends of hope and dreams, of birds and bees, and possibly life on earth.
On his last hunt, Eric bagged two illegal immigrants and a lion. He would’ve bagged the girl too, but his dad the President reminded him that Judy Garland is a white girl and he doesn’t have a current hunting license for that.
Now, I just eliminated 75% of Trumpkins with that last joke, mainly because they didn’t understand, but also because they feel insulted by it. Whenever I say anything about how the current government policies have impacted my health, wealth, and happiness they tell me I am a snowflake and they insult me further because I hurt their feelings. 25% will keep reading to find ammunition to use in hate memes on Facebook and rage tweets on Twitter. After that last Facebook kerfluffle, I am tempted to disengage from social media. They are not buying my books because of it. They are only getting madder and madder at me and hating me more and more for being a goddam liberal. Though, when asked, they still assure me they would never unfriend me.
Relationships with people I have always known and cared about are one of the things threatened with imminent demise. The domination of politics and government by the Republican Party is the reason why.I
I myself don’t have to worry too much about the demise of prosperity. I am already bankrupt and planning for a future life living in a cardboard box. But as Trumpian economics continue to work on world markets, everyone else will soon be joining me in suburban-yard farming and eating insects for protein. Tariffs and trade wars are already destabilizing the world’s economy. Stocks are beginning to fall. Of course, the consequences won’t fall on us like a ton of bricks until after enough Republicans win re-election in 2018 to protect Cinnamon Hitler from the crimes he committed to become President.
Of course, the biggest coming demise that I wish to lament in this post will basically take care of all other things. The demise of all life on earth will pretty much take care of anyone’s need to lament about anything. As the world becomes hotter and hotter, and the oceans turn to acid and rise to swallow Miami, and the planet becomes more of a twin to Venus, the Koch Brothers and others who profit from polluting will be laughing about it. They will either be safely dead of old age or ensconced in gilded survival bunkers. They may even have another planet to live on already.
Okay, as I hyperbolize and carry on about doom and gloom, I need to remind you that I am a pessimist. I always plan for the worst so that I can only be pleasantly surprised. And it really can’t get worse than what I am planning for here. But that is not to say there is no hope. All of these problems have solutions. But I don’t anticipate they will be solved under present conditions.