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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

I am thankful for so much.

So it turns out that there is a coming day for giving thanks and I shall avail myself of such a chance.

The other night my daughter texted me "love you so much."

I am thankful for her and her peculiar kind of genius.

I am thankful for my mother and my family.

I am thankful for all of my friends, from my various beer-drinking buddies (scattered across half a dozen states now) to my former colleagues, to all the people who have befriended me in my 55 years.

And during this odd little trip I've been taking this year, I am incredibly thankful for all the new people who have reached out to me during my difficulties.

I cannot thank enough the complete stranger who offered me his guest cottage on Lake Lemon. He's not just given me a place to live but has become a trusted friend.

I thank another stranger who loaned me his Caddy SUV to travel to a job interview in another state.

I'm thankful to all the social service agencies, particularly the smiling volunteers at Community Kitchen.

I am thankful for all the small gestures of support and friendliness on what could have been a lonely road.

I am thankful to beautiful nature, which I didn't always appreciate when I was a busy and slightly bombastic editor.

I am thankful, not in order, for the servers who've befriend me, Netflix, A-A Ron Rodgers and his Packers, "The Queen's Gambit," fellow journalists in what might have been the most difficult year for reporting since 1968, beer, mountain gorillas, John Couger Mellenball, this dumpy little laptop that keeps me connected to the world. Hell, I'm thankful for a great glass of water here in Bloomington, which has delicious tap water by the way.

And, dear readers, I am thankful for you so much. My first blog had a total of 55 page views, of which 45 were mine and 10 from my executive editor. Had I known how much attention this endeavor would attract, it would have been much more sophisticated.

I'll return Monday unless I have breaking news.

Peace and thanks unto you my brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

I wrote Monday's post because it's the truth.

I sought neither sympathy nor sorrow, both of which can be addictive.

Sometimes life sucks.

How's that for a former philosophy major?

One of the things I dislike about social media is the false narratives. Life is always great, meals are the best, children are perfect. (Note: Actually, my kid is perfect -- so shut up.)

The reality of course is that life includes successes and difficulties, quiet moments of peace and histrionic moments of despair. And I had grown concerned I was not always being truthful. I don't care if this blog has no readers -- I do care that I remain pinned to truth.

Buddha understood this 2,500 years ago when he determined that suffering lies not with tragedy thrust upon us but our own reaction -- want. We want a perfect life and it hurts when reality intrudes, time and again. There will be death, there will be tragedy. Worse, the Green Bay Packers will lose.

So part of healing is understanding that bad happens and accepting that, staying mindful through the painful times and staying mindful through the positives.

I can't really consider myself as a Buddhist, as I don't believe in karma and reincarnation.  But the rationalist in me likes the idea of an inward change versus expecting that everything will be awesome.

Thank you, friends, for reaching out.

I'll be OK.

But I'll also be truthful.

And hopefully, there will come a day soon dedicated to one giving thanks.

Peace and truth unto you my brothers and sisters.


Monday, November 23, 2020

BREAKING -- I have another week at The Hermitage, a cottage on Lake Lemon.

For this I thank my benefactor, a person whom I believe has one of the biggest hearts in Monroe County. His patience, calmness and kindness are incredible. And I thank him publicly.

Yet...

I don't like complaining. I think it is among the most useless of tasks, although I understand the psychological benefits of letting off steam.

Today, at lunch I tried to choke my way through a small bowl of spaghetti. But my appetite has gone to hell and I'm largely subsisting on cheese and crackers. I don't pick up meal at Community Kitchen anymore because I couldn't eat all the food. And I hate to waste.

I've now started waking up to dizzy spells, something disconcerting as a I sleep in a loft.

I watched as people in a newspaper interview a couple weeks ago looked at the tremors in my left hand, something that started in the last month.

My body aches from head to toe, all day long.

I'm not a doctor nor have I ever played one on TV but I ascribe it to being a big, fat ball of anxiety.

Nearly seven months of not knowing what's next have taken a toll. I can't imagine what it's like for those who have less than me. I saw three guys on a bench at Seminary Park taking slugs from a handle of rotgut vodka last week. I thought, "Do what you have to do man -- do what you have to do."

Peace and coping unto all of you my brothers and sisters.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

 I'm going to go deep, deep undercover for three days.

I'll write Monday.

Peace and prudence to all of you my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

 No one should feel sorry for me.

That idea strikes me after some reactions to my post yesterday. Some folks sent emojis with what I take to be tears.

After all, it's not as though I suddenly became a fan of the Chicago Bears. Imagine this -- they are struggling at quarterback, something they've been doing since Sid Luckman retired in 1950.

I'm merely changing shelter again and extraordinarily appreciative of what I've had for the past six months. I wanted to describe the beauty of the changing seasons.

In the time since I was laid off, I have found an extraordinary number of friends who have impacted my life. That calls for celebration, not sorrow.

And I keep taking the next step forward, inexorably, understanding how precious are the gifts in life, friends, family, life, nature, science and a couple of beers at the end of the day.

No, don't cry for me Argentina -- or any other country for that matter. OK, Albania, you can cry for me -- but no one else.

I'm pretty blessed even in tough times.

Peace and blessings unto you my brothers and sisters.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

I will miss The Hermitage, my temporary home of six months.

Changing seasons have not diminished the beauty of place, only changing it.

Now the leaves that swayed in the breeze carpet the forest floor, allowing a beautiful view of Lake Lemon that I could only glimpse before.

The squirrels have grown fat as they ready for the winter -- and they haven't touched the keto diet books I've scattered about the place.

I haven't seen a snake in some time -- fine by me. But I do miss my early friend, Severus, a black rat snake, that used to wind himself around the posts on the deck. 

As well, I haven't seen the two skinks that played on the deck. They were Tessio and Clemenza, named after the capos in the first "Godfather." At least they weren't skanky skinks or stinky skinks.

And the unnamed squirrel who, each day at about noon, would find a black walnut and use the deck to get access to the tree canopy without using the trunk. I think he's too engorged for that kind of activity now. I know how it feels.

I shall miss my home, just as I miss Motel 6 and even the apartment at the Herald-Times, decorated by the set designer for "Mad Men."

Peace and shelter unto you my brothers and sisters.

Monday, November 16, 2020

 My heart skipped a beat over the weekend as I filed my weekly voucher for unemployment.

The Indiana website where I filed said, I thought, the end was nigh for payments, even though I thought I had about six weeks left. On closer read, those on extended benefits couldn't receive payments past Nov. 14. I'm not on extended benefits, just regular.

But my consternation followed shortly after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that if -- if -- there's another COVID relief bill, it be meager as compared to previous legislation.

Why?

McConnell likes to pretend he's fiscally conservative but he lead the Senate passage of the 2017 tax cut bill that will produce trillion-dollar deficits through 2027. (Hidden in the bill was an increase in taxes, starting next year, for those making $75,000 or less: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/31/opinion/republicans-biden-taxes.html)

There's another reason. Remember that McConnell is the man who told his GOP caucus in 2008 that they would not support anything President Obama proposed even if it was good for America.

Another stimulus bill, needed as current benefits are running out, would be good for America but it also might be good for Joe Biden's administration, anathema to McConnell.

It's not just party over country. It's party over people.

I have met the people hurting out here -- people like me. I've searched for and applied for jobs everyday for coming up on seven months. Even though I've applied for beginner-level jobs like server, I'm a 55-year-old and that's not attractive to anyone hiring employees. (For the record, I'm not physically attractive, either.)

People are still hurting. We're still struggling. But I know better than to hold my breath that will ever matter to some.

Peace unto you my brothers and sisters.