Abilene hanging out at Iron Smoke Distillery.
I’m not certain of the actual date, but in the midst of it all, 2022 got to be too much for me. So, with the exception of the stuff I actually get paid to produce – words that bring in the grocery money – I took a break from writing. No blogging: The Critical Mass is a vanity project anyway. I set aside the novel in progress: the bookstores are overloaded with them.
This year, the self-reflection that accompanies lining up words in the correct order felt too much like self-flagellation.
Despite assurances from the anti-Fauci stormtroopers that COVID was imaginary, I contracted the virus in May after attending a radio convention in Philadelphia. It lingered. I still feel it now. Or I still feel something, something’s leached into my bones….
This year, I lost my 92-year-old mom and my 14½-year-old dog. The actuarial tables insist those were good, long runs. That doesn’t make it feel any better. That dog and I, we explored Turning Point Park together many, many times. In the kitchen most mornings, I would hear Abbie’s toenails clicking on the wood floor as she wandered in to see what I was doing.
Of course there’s a piece for you….
My dogs – my college dog Hormel, the first Weimaraner, Mosel – have always made the world a more comfortable fit for me.
But in this most forgettable of years, a loyal dog was not enough salve to ease me through 2022. Beyond death and COVID, many of these other cuts were small, for sure, but they hurt like hell anyway. I have felt robbed of community intimacy and connectiveness.
I was still going into the office. But for vast stretches of 2022, we weren’t going out to hear music or eat at restaurants or see Rochester Red Wings baseball games. If friends visited, we sat on the deck, hoping the summer breeze would blow any lingering virus into the neighbors’ yards.
I’d go to the grocery store. I’d be one of the few wearing a mask. True, the infection rate of the virus had been dropping all summer. So wearing a mask was perhaps less preventative than it was the act of the neighborhood crank yelling, “HAVEN’T YOU HEARD? THIS THING HAS KILLED MORE THAN A MILLION AMERICANS!”
Yet as the year crept on, when I ventured out, even I was leaving my mask in the car. Throwing caution to the wind. Perhaps it was a belief that Americans are blessed, almost to a state of naïveté. As if, if we so choose, any of us can be Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Or, “Herschel Walker Nearly Goes to Washington.”
That right there should be a reminder: It’s not smart to rely on herd mentality, and the public in general making wise choices. My casual maskless summer is now being reversed. From what I have read, COVID might be making a comeback this winter.
Winter. It’s astonishing to see the photos of the record-breaking snowfall in Buffalo. And impassible roads throughout the country. Yet weirdly, here in Rochester, some 70 or so miles east of Buffalo, the snowfall has not been deep enough to completely cover the grass in the front yard. As I’m typing this, on New Year’s Eve, it’s 51 degrees outside with a drizzling rain. No snow in sight.
Earth’s weather. Astronomers tell us Pluto is cold, somewhere between minus-375 and minus-400 degrees Fahrenheit. At least it has an excuse, it’s 3.7 billion miles from the sun.
What’s our excuse? This cold Earth is no comfort for the people of Ukraine. And for the people in the United States who watched as the Supreme Court ruled that it, and not the women of this country, have control over their bodies. We have at hand and we need to lead just and productive and fulfilling lives. Yet we live like we are victims, controlled by circumstances that are within our reach.
As My Friend Frank Bilovsky just wrote on Facebook…
Trump’s tax returns, released by Congress this morning, conclusively show that he is a lair, a cheater and a fraudster. (Example: He earned $50,000 for a speaking engagement but claimed $46,000 in travel expenses to deliver it.) But 30 percent of the voters will excuse it on the grounds that they also fudged their tax returns and got $78 larger refunds than they should have.
That 30 percent is a cold, hard fact standing in the way of charging Trump with instigating the Jan. 6 invasion and vandalizing of the U.S. Capitol building. It will take some gallant nerve to keep pushing it forward.
And when Republicans take over the House next week, it appears they’re going to abandon that investigation and launch endless show trials over whatever is in Hunter Biden’s laptop. Which, according to reputable news reports of its contents, falls a tad – a really big tad – short of instigating an invasion of the Capitol building, where Proud Boys shit on the floor and endangered lives.
Earth is a cold place for the thousands of Americans who mourned death delivered by the teenagers who can legally walk the streets holding a weapon of war. Republicans have made a hero of Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old who went to a protest following the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a police officer (Not the first time that’s happened, if you follow the news). Rittenhouse brought along an automatic rifle, he must have been planning to use, right? And he did, killing two people and wounding a third. Found not guilty of murder, after he bawled like a baby during his court testimony, the kid did a tour of conservative rallies and media outlets, and lent his name and image to a handful of products. Including “Kyle Rittenhouse’s Turkey Shoot,” a video game in which a cartoon Rittenhouse shoots turkeys that represent the media.
It’s all a game. Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar, Madison Cawthorn and Lauren Boebert, all Republican members of Congress, battled over which of them would hire Rittenhouse as an intern. He met with Trump at the White House. A $1 million book deal was reportedly in the works.
I’m a writer. Where’s my $1 million book deal? I’d kill to have one.
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