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The sun is out for the first time in days. The day is comfortable. Progress is being made in unpacking. The living room looks like a living room again.

Why the discontent?

Water finds its own level. So it is with the writer’s thoughts. As the imposed routines become fewer, the old routines have room to return. And with them, the questions, the thoughts, the realities I can’t control. One world, and another: I am not fully in either one.

I never want to see another “thing.” I never want to see another box. I never want to try to figure out how to cram two households into one house’s space. I never again want to doubt myself. I never want to see another rejection. I never want to have to promote myself in a job-search cover letter that an algorhythm reads and rejects.

I am fed up. Is it obvious?

We live in a world in which good enough is good enough. Where skill and will count for next to nothing. Where a head full of gold won’t bring the price of coal. Where all the talent in the world is an assurance of nothing. Is it any wonder, knowing these things, that I choose the created world?

I’m not a negative person. Really. This is tiredness and dust and clutter talking. And injustice. And unfairness.  Soon enough, I will dig myself out from under it. Tiredness will become energy. Dust will become sparkling cleanliness. Clutter will become order. Injustice and unfairness will still be there, but I will face it differently.

But that’s tomorrow. Today I am stamping my mental feet. I am saying bad words. I am grumping through a day that has vanished, somehow, from under me. I will write. I will smile. I will love–and like. I will have a glass of wine and sleep in. I will cherish all the wonderful things that are there to cherish.

Once I get past this mood.

 

 

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Reading. It’s the occupation of rainy days. The companion of uncountable subway trips. The bulwark against solitariness. The food of souls. The intercourse of minds.

People are doing less of it. Why?

In a world of bytes, of information pre-chewed and delivered in spoonfuls—a world of reality TV and world problems broken down into two-minute news segments—reading is effort. It’s an interactivity that demands effort. And thought. And time.

Are those things in such short supply in our lives? Or are we just lazy? Or is it something else?

Bookstores are intimidating, in their way. They represent choices beyond counting, with barely the time to explore them. Finding a new writer to love makes demands of time and money. It asks us to clear a space in our lives to accept new views of the world.

It ain’t like plunking down $XX for a movie…a spending of time that hands itself over into our heads, asking no more of us than open eyes and a couple of hours; that tells us in minutes whether the exercise was worth the effort. So instead, when we read, we choose brand names…the easy gimmick rather than the challenge….the safe over the unfamiliar.

How do we muscle the reader into discovering that infinite universe-in-print?

Publishing is in worse shape right now than it has been at any other time in my life. Publishers are looking for the safe, the predictable, the formulaic. The new paradigm of what makes us read is yet to be created. The time to discover our next favorite writer is in short supply.

We read, increasingly, at the pleasure of electricity; with the fast-food instantaneity of e-readers. Perhaps the future is here. Perhaps creating our own worlds, our own markets, through e-channels is part of the paradigm I was talking about.

But the love that drives the enterprise? The foundational respect of the language itself? Here, the problem is…well…more problematic.

Daily, in business communication, in social media, in emails and tweets, we see the butchery of language; the disregard of those building blocks of communication upon which our civilization is built. We no longer seem to know how to write. We no longer seem to care to know. How, then, will we respect  reading? Why should we care?

Thinking that the occupation of my life is going the way of the dinosaur—that scares the hell out of me.

And that is the rant of the day.

The best and worst. In Nature. And in human nature. I’m seeing it all around me.

The best…as in the people who are going to extraordinary lengths to help, to care, to do what needs to be done; the breathtaking empathies-turned-to-action. The small, hopeless, delightful baggage of human nature that could see bright hope in a double rainbow at the edge of the devastation—a freak of Nature that was a symbol of the hard-wired human drive to discover the faith that all would be well, that hope would continue.

The worst…in the disaster-tourists who drove into the devastation just to say they’d seen it…the people who’ve come for more sinister reasons…the outsiders who turn the indescribable horror into opportunities to make jokes or to glean attention for themselves.

The woodwork spawns all sorts of ugliness in tragedies. The recent catastrophes in Japan, and a so-called comedian (whose name will not soil this space, but whose talents were better suited to being the voice of a duck than to an open mic to the public ear) who made jokes about it. No. No. And more: Tweets that forgot that self-glorification was not the appropriate response either for the space or the moment. No. No. The United Airlines ad at Ground Zero that declared “You’ll like where our planes land.” No. No.

All of these, people who should know better. People with whom I have no patience. Acquaintances with whom I’ll have a hard time speaking, knowing what I know. No-brainers are exactly that—or should be. Political correctness is not political. It is just correctness; the good sense to understand that words have the power to wound already hurting hearts.

These are the times that amaze. And appall. That give hope and rob it. To care: Our capacity to feel should be the most immediate and overwhelming instinct of all of us. Indifference is the thing that rips our souls from their foundations and tosses them to the winds.

Joplin, my heart is still with you.

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