Actually, We Could Use Some Water

It rained yesterday (and again today) in metro Atlanta.

First time in a long time.

43 days.

That broke the previous record of 39 days.

Set in 1884.

I assume that record is accurate, though it dates back to when Jeb and Cletus kept count with chalk marks on the side of a barn.

If that image fills you with nostalgia, just wait until you see the president-elect’s science team.

Anyway, a long dry spell, as Jeb and Cletus would say.

And yet … I hadn’t really heard much about it.

I knew it was dry recently, but only in the same vague way I knew it was a bit warm.

It’s not like the news is very good at following more than one apocalypse at a time.

Frankly, I haven’t lately paid attention to much weather beyond my own mental fog.

Then, of course, a lot of things have been on fire across the south lately.

That’s pretty serious.

You can tell because our governor went so far as to issue executive orders saying, essentially, “it’s dry; don’t burn things, dummies.”

While that might seem like obvious advice in a drought, this is Georgia, where his predecessor once, during a drought, no shit, led a prayer group to ask God for rain.

Leadership is relative, folks.

Speaking of which, don’t look too closely at that science team, not unless you want a serious excuse to up your anxiety and/or alcoholism.

I won’t bore you with the data, but I feel it in my bones.

Huh. With statements like that, maybe I can get a job on that science team.

I don’t have a degree in the field, but that hardly seems disqualifying for working in this administration.

Then again I actually believe in science, so maybe not.

Regardless, this is just the beginning.

Fires and drought and T-shirt weather into winter.

Sea ice? What sea ice?

Buckle in.

Meanwhile, Jeb and Cletus will keep making marks on the barn, until the fires or the floods come.

We Don’t Need No Water

Tweets like this weren’t funny even before this guy got elected to lead the country.

I’ll get some flak for saying this, but it isn’t disrespectful to burn the flag.

It is disrespectful to suggest that the rights of someone choosing to burn a piece of cloth should be tossed to the wind under a would-be despot’s say-so.

BUT IT ISN’T JUST A PIECE OF CLOTH! IT REPRESENTS THE VERY SPIRIT OF THE COUNTRY ITSELF!

Yes. Exactly. Now, what I want to know is, how do you expect me to respect you when you scream louder, make more noise over that symbol than you do over the very rights it represents?

Get mad about the flag being burned.

But also get mad that hate crimes are up in the wake of our presidential election.

Get mad that the VP-elect thinks it’s okay to try to “convert” LGBT youth to be straight.

Get mad that the president-elect has made more time for his foreign business partners than taking intelligence briefings.

Hell, get mad that the president-elect is spending time on Twitter picking fights with reporters and actors and comedians and activists when there are far more important things going on.

Get mad that the same people so upset over this expression of free speech shrug their shoulders when asked about the surge of another unpopular expression of free speech — white supremacy.

Finally, get mad about a president-elect who openly talks of punishing citizens for an act that is protected by our nation’s constitution and legal precedent.

Then talk to me about how much that flag really represents.

Let’s Have a Dialogue

[The other day, as I got bored writing an administrivia post about my comment policy, I created a dialogue with an imaginary internet denizen. I … kinda liked it. Or he did. Or the part of my mind that is that guy did. I’m not really sure. Probably this is not a psychotic break … right? Anyway, welcome back Internet Bob.]

INTERNET BOB: I HAVE A NAME NOW?

lastgreypoet: Yeah. You like it?

INTERNET BOB: I DUNNO. I THINK IT’S MAYBE A BIT TOO CUTE.

lastgreypoet: Nah. It looks good on you.

INTERNET BOB: I DO NOT GET YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR.

lastgreypoet: And that’s Reason A why you exist.

INTERNET BOB: YOU MADE A LIST? WHAT’S REASON B?

lastgreypoet: I kinda felt a need for a foil.

INTERNET BOB: REYNOLDS WRAP?

lastgreypoet: Nah. More like an épée.

INTERNET BOB: I DO NOT GET YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR.

lastgreypoet: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before …

INTERNET BOB: …

lastgreypoet: Okay. I’ll behave. Ish. What’s on your mind Bob?

INTERNET BOB: THINGS ARE AWFULLY UGLY ONLINE RIGHT NOW!

lastgreypoet: And this is different from any other day how, exactly?

INTERNET BOB: WELL, IT ALL SEEMS VERY PERSONAL RIGHT NOW, ESPECIALLY WITH THE RAGE BACK AND FORTH OVER THE ELECTION!

lastgreypoet: Yeah. I get that. It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

INTERNET BOB: NO? YOU THINK WE CAN MAKE PEACE WITH THE ENEMY?

lastgreypoet: Well, I suppose that depends entirely on how you’re defining “enemy.” I don’t see a bright future for a country divided into two halves constantly hating each other.

INTERNET BOB: SO, YOU DON’T SEE A BRIGHT FUTURE, IN OTHER WORDS.

lastgreypoet: Touché, Bob.

INTERNET BOB: STOP WITH THE FENCING JOKES ALREADY!

lastgreypoet: Oh. I didn’t realize you got those. I thought they went over your head.

INTERNET BOB: OF COURSE YOU THOUGHT THAT. YOU’RE A CONDESCENDING ASS.

lastgreypoet: I … have no defense for that.

INTERNET BOB: NO. OF COURSE NOT. WHY WOULD YOU? I MEAN, YOU BASICALLY CREATED ME TO BE A CARICATURE OF PEOPLE WHO ANNOY YOU ONLINE, EVEN — FUCK THIS — even to the point of having me write in all caps, despite how hard it is to read. You want a dialogue? Something even quasi-believable? Make me real, not a straw man.

lastgreypoet: Yeah. Okay. You were never intended to be exactly a straw man, just a slightly exaggerated version of, well, people who annoy me online. I thought by talking to you out loud like this, I could establish the concept that two people can have a conversation that isn’t all-rage, all-the-time, come to a common understanding, and move life in a more positive direction.

INTERNET BOB: Did this imaginary conversation end, perhaps, on a joke at my expense?

lastgreypoet: Probably.

INTERNET BOB: Look, I get it. This whole election outcome is weighing heavily on you, to the point that you’re back at the keyboard, feeling compelled to play writer-hero, in some sort of Quixotic dream that you’ll put just the right string of words together and someone will read them and go, “Oh. I never thought of it like that. I guess maybe I will rethink my entire worldview because Jon is good with words.” You know better.

lastgreypoet: I do. But I can’t get past the point of trying. “All that is necessary for evil to triumph …” and all that.

INTERNET BOB: You sure you shouldn’t write out the rest of that? I mean, you do still doubt my intelligence.

lastgreypoet: No. I don’t. At least, not at this point in the conversation. Besides, there’s always Google!

INTERNET BOB: Always with the jokes.

lastgreypoet: It’s laugh or cry, man, 24/7 for the past week.

INTERNET BOB: Fuck that. Talk it out. Pretend I’m the therapist you probably should have been seeing for the past decade. Or, better, pretend that I’m the people you really had in your head when the idea for this dialogue occurred to you. Talk. They’re listening.

lastgreypoet: …

INTERNET BOB: I can wai-

lastgreypoet: I love you.

INTERNET BOB: That’s it? That’s what you got?

lastgreypoet: No, that isn’t it. But that’s the important bit, the bit to get right up front. Trust me, it’ll be important to remember later. It’s why I said it on the eve of the election. Hell, it’s why I repeated it after the outcome became apparent, although I admit it was said a bit grumpily the second time.

INTERNET BOB: “I love you all. I’m really fucking disappointed with some of you right now, though.”

lastgreypoet: Yeah. That.

INTERNET BOB: You really believe it’s possible to be both? I mean, there are plenty of takes on this election that place the blame for Clinton’s loss squarely on that kind of condescending, I-know-what’s-better-for-you-than-you attitude for th-

lastgreypoet: Stop. I don’t care to hear yet another explanatory hot take, even in abbreviated form. Frankly, at this point that’s horseshit for professional politicos to sift. Not my bag. The why is of far less concern to me that the outcome itself and the ramifications thereof.

INTERNET BOB: Like, how are you going to look these people in the eye?

lastgreypoet: Yeah.

INTERNET BOB: Is that going to be harder or easier after what you’re about to write?

lastgreypoet: I really don’t know. There shouldn’t be any misunderstandings, though.

INTERNET BOB: Forever the optimist.

lastgreypoet: Shh. Just listen. Please.

I can assume you aren’t racist, misogynist, or some other form of bigot.

For real, not just the “blinded-by-white-privilege” version of not being those things.

I am left to believe you either didn’t notice these problem areas of the president-elect’s campaign, or you opted to ignore them because other policy issues mattered more to you.

Well, now we’re all stuck with the consequences. And as much as I really don’t want to dismiss certain details — like all the policy details — I’m willing to narrow focus.

Maybe you’re right.

Maybe he is just a guy who “tells it like it is,” and I don’t like hearing what he has to say.

Maybe the worst thing that will happen over the next four years (aside from everything, policy-wise) is that the presidency will be occupied by a pig, and I’ll just have to get used to that, same as you had to get used to the gentleman we had the last eight years.

But maybe you’re wrong.

If you’re wrong, as part of the political coalition that brought this to pass, own it.

If you’re wrong, but you aren’t racist, misogynist, or some other form of bigot, rise above those you’ve put in power and help deliver a better, more equal freedom to everyone.

If you’re wrong, stand by me, and fight oppression.

Administrivia: Eating the Elephant

[Administrivia posts exist to tell you what I think about what I write. Writing about writing, I guess. Not necessarily boring, but not necessarily essential reading, either — unless you care about things like how and why I run lastgreypoet.com, in which case you should click on the administrivia content label and make sure you’re all caught up.]

—–

If you aren’t familiar, the old saw goes: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

That isn’t a metaphor, and this isn’t a political post. (Not today, anyway. Later.)

This is a list, for me and you. A list of objectives and things that are on my mind as I emerge from a long funk and get back to work. A list of obstacles and my plans to overcome them.

1. It’s lastgreypoet, not lastgreypundit. While I certainly reserve the right to write in any fashion on any topic, I need to remember that my forte is less analysis/longform/serious and more musing/essayish/whimsical. The motto “wit, whimsy, and ruminations” will remain.

2. You’ve probably heard “the perfect is the enemy of the good” or maybe “don’t make it perfect, make deadline.” It doesn’t have to be perfect. (Huh. I should have put this one at the top of the list, now I think of it. Look at me, not revising!) I have always struggled with this. I will continue to struggle with this. I will cringe when I realize how much better something might have been … but I will let that go and move on to the next set of words.

3. I struggle with depression/anxiety. Maybe I’ll talk about that some time. Just keep it in mind if I disappear unexpectedly for a time.

4. Quotations. I used to always use them atop my newspaper columns, even though an editor friend called ’em a crutch and distraction from my words. Eh. Blame Joel Rosenberg. I learned the technique reading his fantasy novels. Or blame Robert Aspirin, for the same reason, only he did it earlier. (He also had a habit of making quotations up for comedic effect. And he punned like a villain.) I’d gotten out of the habit when I started lastgreypoet.com, but I dusted off the technique the other day for “My Dog Died” because it felt right. Going forward, I’ll let those feelings be my guide.

5. On a similar note: Fuck form. It may not have shown, but I spent an awful lot of time worrying over uniformity of length/appearance/pattern/tone across pieces. Even when I “loosened up” it came in the form of structural patterning (Wordless Wednesday/Caturday/Sports Sunday). I’m done with all that. I’ll write each piece the way it needs to be written, then I’ll be off to the next one.

6. Which brings me to movement. Like a shark, not a clam. Actually, no. Squid. My totem. Swift movers, but also capable of lying around if needed. Adaptable. Comfortable in the depths. Ready to fuck you up with ink when the situation calls for it.

7. You don’t have to be a liberal to like it here, but I’m not going to go out of my way running after some false sense of balance to try to please everyone who comes in the door. Related to that, it’s not exactly coincidental that I went back to the keyboard in the wee hours of the morning America voted to go back to “being great again.” In absolute candor, just between us, if you’d asked me Monday how I’d have reacted to that election outcome, I’d have told you to expect to find me in my cave, with writing the last thing on my mind. Life’s funny, though. Turns out, my anxiety is kind of a pushover, so long as I’m pushing with adequate rage. As noted above, that doesn’t mean it’s all going to be political. If you need an example, look no further than my November 11 post, “Remember, Remember …” Those are words I’ve wanted, needed, to get on a page for a very long time. This was the year.

Administrivia: Don’t Read The Comments

[Administrivia posts exist to tell you what I think about what I write. Writing about writing, I guess. Not necessarily boring, but not necessarily essential reading, either — unless you care about things like how and why I run lastgreypoet.com, in which case you should click on the administrivia content label and make sure you’re all caught up.]

—–

I’m not Jim Wright, demi-god of the sea, who petrifies his enemies then carves their heads into beautiful bowls, all without spilling a drop of his whisky.

Nor am I John Scalzi, who wields the Mallet of Loving Correction with judicious glee before turning back to more important pursuits like cat photography.

My comment policy, while sharing something in spirit with theirs, is a bit different.

Comment moderation is ON, and anonymous commenting is OFF.

Does that makes sense? How about a Q&A? I bet that would help.

I HAVE TO REGISTER TO POST? WHAT IS THIS?

It’s easy, is what it is. You have to either be signed into a Google account or an account from one of several other online services. (I honestly can’t keep up. They’re listed for you on the comment box, though.)

I figure if you have an internet connection and the web savvy to get here, you probably have access to one of those services. If not, email me.

MODERATION? WHAT IS THIS, A DRINKING SUPPORT GROUP?

No, but we might talk about alcoholism some other time.

Moderation means your comment goes to me for approval before it hits the site.

EVEN AFT-

Yes, even after you went to all the trouble of remembering your AIM password to log in.

In practical terms, this means there will be a delay before your comment shows up. How long depends on what I’m up to.

If it’s a typical day, I’ll get the email ping, and if time allows I’ll read and approve a reasonable comment in short order. Then again, your comment might hit at a bad time (such as a time when I haven’t been writing much and you’re hitting up an older post and wanting to start a discussion but it turns out I’m wallowing in a cave).

YOU HAVE A CAVE?

I have a fondness for metaphor.

LET ME BACK UP TO THAT BIT ABOUT “APPROVE A REASONABLE COMMENT.” WHAT?

If your comment meets my standards of decency, I’ll allow it.

(Trolls, professional devil’s advocates, and assholes I went to high school with may find themselves disappointed with said standards.)

FREE SPEECH!

That isn’t a question, but you are welcome to speak freely in whatever public space you find yourself. This isn’t a public space. I realize it may be confusing, given that it’s publicly accessible, but that’s not the same thing.

Think of like this: No shoes, no shirt, no minimum IQ or sense of decency, no service.

Actually, scratch that. I don’t care what you’re wearing (or not wearing). If you’re a decent human who isn’t so dumb as to get on my last nerve, I’ll probably let you in.

WAIT A MINUTE, YOU MENTIONED SENDING YOU AN EMAIL, BUT I CAN’T FIND AN EMAIL ADDRESS ANYWHERE ON YOUR SITE!

Well spotted. You might just clear the aforementioned minimum IQ requirement.

WHAT ABOUT FACEBOOK? TWITTER? CAN I COMMENT THERE?

If you know me there, be welcome.

DID YOU REALLY HAVE TO WRITE THIS Q&A LIKE A CONVERSATION BETWEEN YOURSELF AND AN IMAGINARY YELLING INTERNET DENIZEN!?

No, but it was more fun that way. Nice use of “denizen,” btw. I dig that word.

STOP COMPLIMENTING YOURSELF IN THE THIRD PERSON AND GET BACK TO WORK