Sunday, January 19, 2020


There is the truth.

And there are lies.

That's hard enough.

But then there are what true things we choose to say.

And those we don't.

And with that, we can fashion a world.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Best laid plans

I went up to shelve a cart of non fiction at my library.

"I don't feel like standing up in the stacks writing a blog post." I thought.

"I don't feel like reading any books." I thought.

"I know what I'll do. I'll shelve this whole, giant, fat cart of non fiction books as fast as I can!"

So I took the first book sequentially on my cart, Basics of Drawing, 741.2 V, and looked for its spot on the shelf. 

741.2 B, 
741.2 D, 
741.2 L, 
741.2 K. 

So I switched the "K" and the "L" to their proper places. 


741.2 R, 
741.5 S, 
741.2 S. 

So I removed the 741.5 S, found its location a shelf and a half down, and shelved it. 


741.2 T, 

and then there was my spot!

I shelved my book. One down and

Then I wrote this.

Also I couldn't help but notice there was an interesting book of conversations with Flannery O'connor on my cart for when I'm done.

Friday, January 17, 2020

It only takes one

I went down to the river for my walk and was quickly informed by the world that it was deep Winter. It was cold. The path, roughly scraped of the previous night's snow, was unevenly slippery. Everything was quiet, even the hard Northern wind.

The river, which does not freeze well or easily, flowed sluggishly, and it had formed a strange yellow shelf of ice all along the shore. Even more odd were the large black stones strewn thickly on this shelf ice, running steadily on and on up the river. But these I could only barely register out of the corner of my eye. I was too busy picking my way with concentration and caution along the icy silent path. I heard the wind, my footsteps, and absolutely nothing.

And then a singular honk gave the game away. 

All at once I understood: large black stones do not settle onto newly formed shore ice.

But geese do.

Aha! Hundreds of geese huddled into rough dense balls of themselves all along the shore. 

But in that very moment of their revealment to me, and as if it was because they had been given away, or at the marshaling of a single sound, they all uncoiled, frothed, and leaped into the air. They spread their even, perfect wings, and, with as little fanfare as they could manage, the whole vast lot of them flew off into the wind.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

How to talk politics in the library

With Politics comes the passion. Everyone these days has so many feelings about it all. In our perilous time even the people who don't care have become strident and unbearable. "I don't care!" They cry, exasperated and near tears. "Let me exhaustively explain why everyone should just leave me alone!" The ignorant are passionately clueless and filled with conviction. The informed are inflamed with a futile, desperate urgency bordering on hysteria. The half-informed leap to wild conclusions that look 100 years old. And everyone is pretending they are kidding half the time. "I'm not really calling them fascist." "I'm not really a racist." "It's all brainwashing." Except no one is kidding! Not even the comedians know how to kid anymore. Every joke is now a message to be extracted. And every message is food for some rage somewhere.

I'm as bad as the rest of them. I'm as bad as you. But I work at a library.

And here alone I am committed to a wild neutrality. I don't even believe in the neutrality of the newspapers. I think those people need to come to some conclusions for god's sake. But the library? You are welcome here. You want Mein Kampf? Let me help you find it. You need help printing out your racist tracts from the computers? In my role as a physical expression of the library, I am here to help. A bit of the American experiment dares to live on here, all open information and whatever freedom we can manage out to the very limits of the law. It is so delicate now. I do not dare to raise my voice. I could scare it all away. The last precious American thing we have left.

And so I have learned the trick of talking politics with everyone.

The secret is:

Stick to our common ground.

And what is our common ground?

Is it our hope for the future, our common culture, our community, and our shared dreams?

Ha! Maybe it was once. I can't even remember.

No, it is our overwhelming disgust and dissatisfaction.

"It's terrible what's happening. Things are going to hell and a handbasket in this country. It's a toxic environment out there. People will say anything these days. People don't listen anymore. Some of the media is spewing pure evil poison out there. Facebook is horrible. Politicians are corrupt! It's a crucial election and the desperate fate of the country depends on it. We are on the brink of disaster and there are so many lies! So many lies!!!"

Just keep it non denominational. Keep it general. Let us rage together all we like.

And then, satisfied, I can return to my Kropotkin and you to your, well, whoever. 

I'd rather not know.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Sleepless nights


Seriously. What's wrong with them? 

Lazy, ineffective, inefficient, self-righteous, entitled, and irritating. They're just so damn irritating! And what's the point? Really, what's the point of all these people? We could easily run this place with... nobody.

Here is the sad thing I learned. You may know it. You may learn it. You may learn it here. You may never need to learn it, and learn it again, and again. I hope you never need to learn it.

And I'm not saying don't do it. You may have to. I may have to. But

For every moment we dwell on the flaws of other, we will equally burn with our own.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The good news

In the course of beginning a new decade my library system instituted an array of rare, and exclusively generous, circulation changes. We have lessened some of our late fines rates and have entirely eliminated the ones for youth materials. There are a couple other things as well, but the one I would like to discuss concerns how we now check out our DVDs for three weeks instead of one week. This is a big deal in libraryland! It requires a fair bit of discussion with the patrons, who were blindsided by it, but it is pretty much all good news for them. That's even more time to not get around to watching the DVDs they checked out from the library. 

It's nice to give out good news. People call and want to renew their DVDs and find out how much they owe on them. A suppurating wound on their forefoot is preventing them from getting to the library and they are wondering just how late those DVDs are now.

"Not late at all." I get to tell them. "Little did you know they are now checked out for three weeks instead of one, and so your DVDs aren't even due for another 11 days!"

"Oh." They say, which is their equivalent for being super thrilled, except they have a suppurating wound on their forefoot and it dampens their happiness.

Most of the interactions around this are from people who are confused. "My DVD checked out for three weeks." They say. "Is this a glitch? I don't know what date to trust, the listed due date or everything I've ever known."

Then I explain the situation and they're pretty happy. "Three weeks?" They say. "That's a nice long time."

As much as I enjoy giving out good news I have started to tire of this identical discussion over and over. So I've begun to present it differently. "The check out period changed." I say a little sadly. "It used to be one week. Now you have the DVDs for three long weeks. That's a really, really long time."

"Yes it is." They reply.

"I suggest watching them in slow motion."

Monday, January 13, 2020

Even children get older

I have taken much delight in my impassioned following of Lionel Messi, the greatest soccer player ever, and, by complicated extension that you really don't want me to go into, possibly the greatest athlete ever. But he is 32 years old, and for a soccer player that means his days are seriously numbered. Whether he be magically great for another week, or year, or three years cannot be known, but there's way less sand in this top half of that hourglass than there is in the bottom half. Way less.

Will I need to pick another greatest athlete to follow then? Who even is out there? It's looking pretty clear that the gymnast Simone Biles is the greatest gymnast ever. And there is the Olympics to follow her through this Summer. But there are three problems with that. One, I don't like entirely judged sports where a panel of judges' scores determines everything. It's bad enough already in soccer with the referees, at least there are actually goals even if they're increasingly fond of disallowing them for various reasons. Two, I'm not keen on most of the stuff in gymnastics in between the tumbling, where they awkwardly pseudo dance around, and, perhaps most importantly, three, Simone Biles is 22, which, apparently is ancient in gymnastics. She's almost certainly closer to the end of her mastery than Messi is. She is old.

The fact of the matter is that all these performance based jobs have their age limits. Gymnasts, as we see, age out very fast. Sprinters have a last gasp peak at 30. Soccer players generally start to fade in their early thirties. Marathoners peak in the mid thirties. Painters, just to jump into the arts, hit their peak in their mid forties, supposedly. I read that one on the Internet and since the two greatest painters I've ever seen both died in their late thirties I have a lot of questions there. In music I've found that one might take over the world in one's mid and late twenties, but if one is really brilliant they can have a late career masterwork in their mid thirties. Nevertheless it's all a precipitous decline from there.

And what about writers like me? I first looked into this when I was in my early fifties, which was roughly the time of writers' late masterworks, and so I was satisfied. Now I am in my mid fifties and we must face the very real possibility that the greatest of my blog posts will soon be behind me. Yes, the quality here may well start dropping off to the point where you will need, like me with Messi, to consider following another wildly obscure, ridiculous and transcendent library blogger who writes every single day merely for the uniquely wee bit of good it brings to the world.

Good luck with that.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Low comedy

The other day I walked into the library. "Ouch!" I cried. "I should use the door."

Wait, let's start over.

The other day when I arrived at my job at the library one of my friendly co-workers, apparently just coming from a conversation that made the question relevant, asked me "Did you see that film yesterday?"

"What film yesterday?" I asked, genuinely confused.

"Sue said she thinks you saw the movie yesterday." My co-worker explained without explaining anything.

"I don't understand. I don't think I saw any movies yesterday."

"No, the movie that's called Yesterday."


Which reminded me of how I was out at the desk a few days ago and I was talking with my co-worker partner and a young, early high school aged volunteer. I don't remember how, but "Who's on first" came up in passing. The young person got excited. Apparently he knew it really well and immediately rattled off "Who's on first, What's on second, I don't know's on third, Why is in left field..."

"Wait." I interrupted, confused "Who's on first?"

The kid looked taken aback. "Who's on first." He said like I'm not too bright.

"That's what I'm asking you." I replied. "I'm asking you who is on first?"

"Right" He said cautiously, vaguely confused and speaking slowly. "Who   is    on     first."

Then someone came to the front desk of the library. I had to help them so our party broke up.

I actually have no idea whether we were performing the routine or doing it for real.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Dag Hammarskjold letters part four

Dear Dag Hammarskjold,

As you know from my previous letters I come across your wonderful quote everyday that I walk to work. It is driven right into the surface of the stone of a lovely little plaza, just as it should be. And whenever I see it I read it and think about it. 

It is:

“We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny, but what we put into it is ours.”

Now imagine my delight when, in seeking clarification on this quote, the author of it (you!) turns out to be completely helpful and responsive to all my many letters about its nuances. Your generosity, clarity, and wisdom have meant the world to me, and I finally feel like I really and truly understand this quote in all its depth and richness. Thank you so much.

I have not mentioned this so far, but part of why all of this has been so meaningful to me is because I am a bit of a quote writer myself! I really just dabble so far, maybe nothing worth writing in stone, if you know what I mean. But I do have my dreams.

And I've made a go of it.

I wrote 

"In my past life I was a Buddhist. In this life it's my only one." 

Which I thought was pretty good. I mean maybe not "stone" worthy, but worth sending around to all the big quote anthologies.

No luck.

I wrote

"They really are out to get me, though fortunately they're not too serious about it."

Not bad, right? Still, nothing, not even a paving stone somewhere.

Nevertheless I carried on. I thought maybe I'd try marketing to a large niche audience and came up with:

"If practice made perfect there would be millions of professional golfers."

Readers' Digest didn't even respond to my submission. And that's when it hit me:

It is not my destiny to be a famous. I can do whatever I want, but it is never going to go big time. It is simply not my fate.

Okay. Fine. But you're obviously really smart about stuff like this so I thought I'd ask you:

Do you think there's any way I could change that?

Thanks for all your help.





Friday, January 10, 2020

The Dag Hammarskjold letters part three

Dear Dag Hammarskjold,

Thank you for the further clarification of your quote that I see every day on my walk to work. As you know from my previous letters your quote is in a mini plaza I pass through, where it is etched in stone, which just goes to show that other people have found it as important and inspiring as I have. In case you forgot it's the one that goes: 

“We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny, but what we put into it is ours.”

So I get it now that you can't change the frame of your destiny (thanks, it's so obvious now), and that includes any resizing (thanks again). I also understand that I can put whatever I want into it. But what I'm wondering is, can I put a different frame of my destiny inside the frame of my destiny that I'm given, so long as I can fit it in?

And if I can, do you think it will look weird?

Thanks again for taking the time to help me out with this.

Yours (again),


Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Dag Hammarskjold letters part two

Dear Dag Hammarskjold,

As I recently mentioned, everyday I walk to work through a little plaza that prominently features one of your most illustrious quotes:

“We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny, but what we put into it is ours.”

As you have recommended I have been spending a lot of time lately carefully placing things into the frame of my destiny, trying to make sure it's not too cluttered and that nothing sticks out. Unfortunately I think there's something, I don't know, off about it. Something is not quite right no matter what I try. I understand now that it is not possible to change the frame of my destiny, but do you know if there's any way to adjust the size?

Thanks for your help with all this.




Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Dag Hammarskjold letters part one

Dear Dag Hammarskjold,

When I walk to work in the morning I go through the University. I pass along something called "The Scholars' Walk" where great, honored scholars are memorialized. In the middle of it all is a sort of mini plaza that features a quote, etched lavishly in stone no less.

It's by you!

Well done.

It says “We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny, but what we put into it is ours.”

So I wanted you to know I have been totally packing the frame of my destiny with all kinds of stuff, just like you suggested. Unfortunately, no matter what I try I cannot seem to change the frame of my destiny. Surely this can't be right!

Is there some button I'm not seeing?

Any tips you can give on this would be super appreciated.




Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The business of upvoting

I have only recently discovered that a curious, even ridiculous feature of my work email at the library is that it is possible to upvote emails. So someone sends around an all staff email like "A box of DVD cases seems to have gone awol in the delivery. If you see it around please let me know." And there is a little thumbs up near the top right of the message where I could, if I so desire, click. 

One upvote.

Someone liked it!

In my exhaustive research for this post I learned that not only does it show how many people liked an email, but it even shows who! I feel like I've discovered a little universe here, with an emphasis on "little". Not many people seem to take part in this upvoting feature. Or, fairly speaking, maybe almost everyone does, but most people can't find any message they quite like enough.

Still, I've learned a few things from the votes. For instance the head of automation tends to get a couple upvotes on his messages, even when they're dry as can be. One of them is always some mysteriously random name I've never heard before. No one upvotes our branch manager, which makes sense I guess. It doesn't seem like it would suit him, all that fuss. The Circulation Manager gets upvoted only by people outside of circulation. I think they're trying to cheer him up.

The biggest number of upvotes I've seen on any all-staff email is the one we got from the library director wishing us a Happy New Year. The upvoters on that email were exactly who I'd think they would be, a more aloof, ambitious group. I was not inclined to think well of any of them. Well, actually, one of them was okay because I found in my research that that person upvotes pretty much everything by anyone.

I think from now on I'm going to cc her on all my messages.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Expanding on a theme

Yesterday I touched briefly, almost in passing, on some solutions to the current WWIII precipitating crisis involving the U.S. assassination of an Iranian General. He was something of the number two guy in Iran, and much of that country is on the streets crying out for revenge.

I'm not taking sides.

I just want a peaceful resolution to this dangerous situation.

And in that neutral spirit I propose that America hands over to Iran their Vice President, Mike Pence.

Yes, yes, Iran would probably want to blow Pence up or something, but that's up to them. And the U.S. will invariably want revenge for this, but at that point Iran could just hand over in kind their new number two guy. Surely they'd have one.

Presumably at some point the two sides will tire of killing all those endless number twos, at which point they can maybe start storing them in warehouses.

Eventually they could start renting them out as doormen.

I don't know, I don't have all the answers.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Gallows humor

I don't want to be too harsh on us, but I think toying with WWIII might not be the brightest course of action for our country. Assassinating the second most powerful person in a large, reasonably well-armed and powerful country can have... repercussions. If those repercussions are that they then kill our second most powerful person, and we go back and forth killing second most powerful people like that forever, I could probably live with it. I mean fair is fair. On the other hand if it leads to the extinction of all life on the planet, I probably can't live with it.

Get it? Can't live with it? Cause we'd, like, all be dead. Except maybe some clever bacteria. But they wouldn't really be that happy without us. We're surprisingly cozy.

And if you are inclined to think, actually like I am inclined to think, that this all is not our fault, that most of us here in America distinctly do not support this sort of, um, murdering, I can only be of two minds. Sure we've opposed this sort of thing all our lives, but, um, we kind of mumbled when we did so.

One of my favorite things to mumble about is the press. I find they have a tendency to disassociate from reality and context at convenient and controversial moments, taking refuge in obtuse reporting. But I'm only going to go so far into that thesis here as to say this:

Today one of my local papers, The Pioneer Press, loudly screamed its headline from the newspaper boxes:

Trump: Aim of killing Iranian general was to 'stop a war'

So I did the only reasonable thing I could think of under the circumstances; I broke open the box of newspapers, threw them all away, and left a note:

Pioneer Press,

I have removed all your newspapers to foil thieves.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

What is a Romantic Comedy

Seeing as we have been discussing Romantic Comedies in this space lately, it has occurred to me that it might be useful to articulate what, exactly, a Romantic Comedy is.

It's a comedy, with romance!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Oh, we laugh, and laugh and laugh and laugh!, but in my regular, deep researches of the Internet for more Romantic Comedies (there are never enough!) that is precisely the definition, whether they'd admit or not, that most people are willing to go by. And the reluctant truth is that I understand. Does it raise my hackles a bit to see a relationship comedy like Annie Hall featured prominently on so many "Best Romantic Comedy" lists? Yes. But if I were putting together a list of the greatest 20 Romantic Comedies, after I'd plucked the super easy low hanging fruit of pure Romantic Comedies like French Kiss, Long Shot, Music and Lyrics, and Moonstruck, I would eventually start to come to movies I love that are portionally Romantic Comedies, that are like Romantic Comedies, that feature Romantic Comedies.

After all, most comedies have a romance. Nevertheless I'm afraid that does not make them Romantic Comedies, no matter how much I, or anyone else might love them.

That is why maybe, sometime, we should discuss here just what, exactly, a Romantic Comedy is. 

Oh, right, we are.

No, I didn't forget. I was just, you know, kidding.

Yes, I know it's super hard to tell. For me too.

So let's cut to the chase.

A Romantic Comedy is a humorous movie (comedy!) centered primarily and essentially on the happy coming together (romance!) of two decent (ultimately) and appealing (mostly) people.

That'll do.

Nevertheless there are more or less pure Romantic Comedies. The fabulous Notting Hill (more of that low hanging fruit) is a pure Romantic Comedy, steadfastly and thoroughly concerned with the romantic union of the characters played by Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. But what about the roughly as charming About Time or Morning Glory? Both of them center strongly on happy romances, but they're just a piece of the whole picture. The romances resolve early, run into some trouble, and resolve again, much like a pure Romantic Comedy, but they do it early. They aren't quite fully centered on that romance. The relationship takes a larger share of About Time, but it is as much a family comedy and drama as it is a Romantic Comedy. And Morning Glory is more of a workplace comedy, more concerned with the heroine's work success and her relationship with Harrison Ford as mentor/foil than with her romance with the guy who rowed, for Yale. I love those movies so I would feel a temptation to just toss them into my list of great Romantic Comedies. Because after all, these movies feel the same way as a Romantic Comedy does to me, and they do have a Romantic Comedy in them. 

But somehow I know it's not right.

Maybe this will help.

One more rule for an authentic Romantic Comedy: 

To truly qualify as a Romantic Comedy the penultimate, or ultimate scene has to be of the two main characters emotionally and dramatically getting together. 

How's that?

We can figure out how to squeeze My Big Fat Greek Wedding in later.

Friday, January 3, 2020

World of the Romantic Comedy

As with any other genre or piece of art there is no singular way to measure the quality of a Romantic Comedy. But that doesn't mean there aren't motifs, or certain qualities that come up to shine regularly in the best of them. I mean, there are my personal hallmarks of great Romantic Comedies, like how many tears fall from my eyes in the last third of the movie, or how often my wife and I are willing to watch the same movie over and over, or how many times while watching the movie I think "I need to write a blog post about this!" But there are slightly more objective measurements as well; how fresh the writing is despite all the deeply entrenched and must-be-observed structures, how charismatic the lead actors are, and the one we're going to briefly explore today, how manifold and rich are the side characters.

What the best Romantic Comedies do, aside from the given of having rounded, engaging leads, and teaching that love is the answer, is they populate the world with a society of quirky, complex, amusing, and delightfully authentic associates, friends, relatives and bystanders. The charming Isn't It Romantic, starring Rebel Wilson, which (mostly) cleverly lampoons the tropes of the Romantic Comedy (on the way to being one) suggests that the quirky side characters exist to serve the main characters, like the gay best friend who positively lives in the joy and excitement of helping, egging on, and heartening the heroine of the movie. And while there is an underlining truth to this, in the best Romantic Comedies something quite the opposite takes place with these characters as well; they build a world.

World building is something more familiarly discussed in regards to Fantasy novels, but Romantic Comedies, while generally set in our own specifically real world, take enough liberties with that world that they become slightly fantastical worlds in their own right. They take sufficient dark edges off the world as it is, they are leavened enough, that they become lightly fantastical worlds in their own right. Just Like Heaven, with Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo, has on the one hand the specifically fantastical element of a ghost-like materialization of a woman in a coma (an essential and main feature of the plot), but it also includes as a key feature of the story an apartment, affordable apparently to both a medical student and to a depressed, unemployed landscape designer, that, in looking up a roughly comparable rental on my little computer here, would go for $8,000 a month. This, as Isn't It Romantic well knows, is its own particular kind of fantastic. It's a fantastic that needs a little weight so that it doesn't drift away. It needs a population of characters who suggest whole universes of themselves, that can tether the movie to earth.

I like Just Like Heaven. I did not come here to use it as an example though. A good, but not great Romantic Comedy, it is buoyed by terrific leads. It has a nice story. And it contains, for modest proof of my exegesis, precisely one very quirky and eminently engaging side character, Jon Heder, an occult bookstore clerk and/or an expert in the field of extra sensory phenomena.

But compare this to two masterpieces of the genre, one acclaimed (though not enough),  and one (I suppose justly) a bit less so. 

I went to look at the cast of Moonstruck, the greatest of all Romantic Comedies. I was trying to come up with a number of eccentric, strangely appealing, and entirely gravitational side characters who swirl around the epic performances of our romantic leads, Nicholas Cage and Cher. I found it impossible. Aside from the obviously brilliant supporting role masterwork by Olympia Dukakis, Vincent Gardenia (the parents), John Mahoney (a side character who interacts mainly with the mother) and Danny Aiello (the fiance), there are a series of side characters rendered with exquisite and increasingly brief brushstrokes; the expressive aunt and uncle, the old man (that's actually his character name! He is Cher's grandfather in the movie), Bobo the waiter, the undertaker who is a genius, Chrissy the bakery counter staff who loves Ronny, but he could never love again since he lost his girl and his hand, and on and on until we've descended to roles like the almost incidental arguing and making up married couple with a liquor store, an unseen priest at confessional, the fiance's dying mother who has naught but a few gestures in the distance, or the hairdresser taking out the grey in Cher's hair, each of them tinily rendered with an economical charm. Moonstruck is an enormous confection, but one so lavishly and relentlessly decorated with purpose that the weight of its Italian New York is as ridiculously grounded and real as any two hour movie of any genre could ever be.

Originally I conceived of some vague version of this post in the glow of watching Music and Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. It's successes are surely more modest in comparison to Moonstruck, what wouldn't be? Nevertheless the same richness of side character is what gives the movie its level of power and conviction and places it among the best of Romantic Comedy. The eccentric yet grounded elan with which the roles of the agent, Brad Garrett, and the sister played by Kristen Johnston, are perfectly done, but like with Moonstruck the quality of the characters does not diminish as we run down into smaller and smaller parts; Cora, the at once over drawn and convincing pop star, the brother in law, all the way to the charming apartment desk clerk who is tone deaf but listens to the leads' songs, and to Derek, the guy who provides steamy and sticky beats. All of them are engagingly rendered. The romance of the main characters does not set the rules of the universe on its own, nor does it exist precisely in our own world, but it does fit perfectly into the ever so slightly daft, swirling world of the defined and colorful characters that thickly populate and even create the film they live in.

Like I said, there are no hard rules. One could even, somehow, put together a good Romantic Comedy on the strength of the excellence of just one of the leads, if, for instance, it's John Cusack in Say Anything. The nutty, almost garbage plot of When in Rome can be charmed into quality by the sheer vim and conviction of its brilliant cast. And surely one could come up with a very fine Romantic Comedy with simply two wonderful leads and a thinly rendered supporting cast, but I have had no particular luck in my search for an example of that so far. But to be honest, I'm not that interested in finding it. After all, I don't see why I should be responsible for watering down my main point. So let's just let it stand.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

By a river at one in the morning

As I looked out on 2020 I was astounded at how late it had become. Late in the future. Late in the World. Late in my life, even if I am not so very old.

And a tiny piece of Buddhism flashed through my heart: 

Be here now.

There is a religion surely written by an old person! You can't be here now. Sure it would be nice. Yes, try for it if you will. But without the past and without the future there is no story. 

We are as much story as we are water.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020 New Year's resolution for us all

Recently the librarian in charge of the themed book display cubes at my library was collecting books for "New Year Resolutions". Because I was loitering, or shelving, or whatever, in the non fiction section at the time, I pitched in on the project for a bit. It quickly became apparent that the whole field of New Year's Resolutions, while certainly self-improving in focus, is also rather negative. The books I collected, or that were being collected, said "Lose weight", "eat better", "exercise", "be happy", "learn a hobby", "get organized" and "start managing your money properly". And all of that's fine, but it also has a way of saying "you are currently a fat, unhealthy, depressed, broke person who is a mess that fritters all your time away on nothing!". We managed to throw some "travel the world" books into this sea of negativity, but then those books simply salted the wounds with "and you never do anything or go anywhere!"


Well the buck stops here, at clerkmanifesto. Cast away whatever cruel New Year's Resolutions you have drunkenly assembled in the run up to this new year. This is not the time for Yankee can do. I have your New Year's Resolution for you for 2020. All you need to do is trust me.

New Year's Resolution, 2020:

You who have accomplished so much, if ever there was a time to coast...

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019, year in review

Welcome to my 2019 year in review. 

It's short because...

In the end, nothing much happened.

It is a terrible, terrible thing that nothing much really happened in 2019.

And a bit of a relief.