I came across a signed copy of Julip Saturday and bought it. Maybe you would think of me as an idiot or maybe you would be surprised that someone would keep such a thing, who knows? What is the point of collecting something just because a person signed it, one that you have never met and never will? Your grave is still a mystery and yet you would visit the graves of those that you admired if you had the chance. I can hope that you had your ashes spread and by chance a part of you is somewhere close, inhabiting the landscape in a way that haunts that which you enjoyed and loved so much. There is a film crew tracking your steps, visiting the bars and walkways you once traveled. I don’t know what they will find along the way or how accurate their movie will be. Everything is about perspective and if they want to paint you in a positive light or make you out to be the crass asshole you could be at times. I personally hope they find a middle ground and point out that you were just a man. Your aversion in being compared to Hemingway is understandable, a high marker that no man should be compared to because no matter how hard you try nobody could live up to the expectations one would immediately have on you. How fair is that anyway? It was a different time, a different world and only one person could possibly live the life is the one that he lived. That mold was filled and it was not reproduced with you. I was tempted to try my hand at ordering off of a menu as you had done, pointing to various items and saying “this… and this… oh and this too” going on until the table was filled and I would have to sit there until my buttons popped and people looked at me like I was a crazed individual that had just escaped from a concentration camp. Instead, I ordered the pork belly BLT and called it good. I’m not at that point yet plus I need a reason to go back and try something else. My life isn’t on the road and if I am to be in towns often that I don’t know I need something to look forward to. The sky finally cleared today, the weekend was clouded in gray and the cold rain hung over like a wet blanket of despair. Winter is not here yet and already I dread the lack of sun and the depression that comes with it. On the other hand, it leaves no option than to sit down and write, something I am lacking these days. I have noticed that once in a while you will mention books that you have read over your lifetime and I’m thinking about starting a list. Of course, I don’t know what exactly you enjoyed and what you didn’t but I have to assume that if you liked something that’s what you would have recalled, if I’m wrong you can always haunt my ass and set me straight. The deer are on the move lately, roaming the streets searching for food to prepare for winter. A giant buck has made it clear to me who owns this neighborhood and I am nothing but a nuisance in his eyes. I have considered going deer hunting this fall and after seeing him I wonder if I could actually pull the trigger this time if the option presented itself. There is a big difference between shooting a squirrel, catching a fish and having that disconnect between yourself and the life you took. The deer on the other hand seems to be a beast that knows you are out to get him and has an opinion about it. I suppose if I was hungry these thoughts wouldn’t come to mind and that could be the trick to a successful hunt. Leave with an empty stomach and you won’t have any qualms about taking a shot and dragging something out of the woods. Sorry bucko, I have mouths to feed and you looked pretty good at the time. It is the nature of things. Would things have been different this weekend if I had to shoot the pig behind the brewery to enjoy that BLT? I would like to say not but I know better. There is something different in a person that can take a life and even though I have been the end to many squirrel and fish I don’t know if I have it in me to take something bigger. That could be the next challenge I face this year. What is the worse that can happen? I have a nice day out in the woods? One couldn’t ask for less on a good day.
The woods were silent yesterday morning except for the roar of truck tires on 131 to the west. The sun was hidden by the morning fog over the field as we walked through the grass trying to find a trail. The state park has been doing the best it can to erase our footprints. Two track trails are cut off by fallen trees and streams that appeared out of nowhere, eroded through the soil and sand, etching its way into the swamp below. The shotgun in my hands wasn’t as heavy as I remembered. The squirrels reminded me just how dumb we are. Creatures with the technology to send us to the moon in our pants pockets can be tricked by the slight of hand of the woods. In the early hours of the morning the woods came alive to the sound of woodpeckers, deer snorting at the scent of two men wearing freshly laundered clothes, crickets in the field, and blue jays fighting over the remains of a nest they bullied their way into. The hunting was good, but it wasn’t great. One rabbit slipped past us disappearing into the three-foot-high grass and we found more coyote tracks than we did deer. At the end of the hunt two unfortunate souls were in our bag. Last night we enjoyed wine, a Chianti and a Spanish red I had never heard of. Both were thoroughly enjoyed over much needed conversation. It is during hard times that we learn who our friends are and receive the comfort that we need. There is a magic in air as I walk through the trails and listen to absolute silence and a good drink is one that is enjoyed with friends. There is still joy to be found in the roughest of seas, calm waters do not make a good sailor. The world has a strange measure of perfection that is expected from everyone but no one can achieve. The woods don’t judge. The world is perfect in its imperfect beauty. It is rare that man will create something that will improve on its own. The empty lots and dilapidated houses of my own town remind me of that. This system that we created will fade away on its own, eaten up by its own rules and horrible expectations. The only solution is to castrate the world and let mankind disappear in a low whimper. Life continues to go on. Is there anything more to ask for than good company, a walk in the woods, some wine, and a full belly. Anything more than that doesn’t matter.
This book saved my life. Poorly written, and breaking barriers no one wanted to see broken, what started out as a way to kill long lonely nights turned into a gateway to freedom that I needed. Five years ago, I put a book on Amazon before knowing what it was. It was raw, filled with misspelled words, bad grammar, and horrible dialogue and somehow it sold.
At that time in my life I was divorce, living alone, dating life had a bunch of downs and no ups, and debt was pulling me down. I had branched out into various hobbies, things that I had wanted to do early on in life but held back by different things which no longer influenced my life. Included in these hobbies was writing.
One of the first things I did after my wife and I split was going to best buy and picking up a laptop to write on. It sat in a closet for a year before I took it out and started pecking the keys. I had many adventures after my thirtieth birthday. Fishing, hunting, and gardening took up a good portion of my free time. Once hunting season was over and winter was in full throttle I was stuck inside, without a television and the radio my only outside friend. Sitting in my dining room with a bottle of red wine and a pipe filled with captain black gold I started to write a short story. I had lost track of where it was going and so I wrote another. I continued this process until I had three or our stories in front of me and realized I was writing them all in the same world.
The last couple of days have taken me back to that time. Sitting at a dining room table like I do now and listening to classical music from NPR, I go over my first novel and rewrite the work for the last time. I found the original version, the one I uploaded with all of its horrible flaws, before the suggestions, edits, and critics took over. Starting from scratch I’m turning it into what it could have been all along and something that is truly mine again. I have learned some lessons along the way. Don’t look at sales figures. Don’t read the reviews. Don’t let people distract you with other projects that are not your own. Drink less beer. Write drunk. Edit sober… sometimes. So maybe I haven’t learned my lessons on a lot of things or maybe some of those things are myths to begin with. You don’t have to always enjoy what it is that you are doing but it helps.
As I go through these pages and play with the words, slowly transforming this thing into something else entirely, I know that I will still come back to it a few times. Reading an audiobook will point out a few more changes along the way and that is okay. After this year I will no longer come back to this book. My life has changed since that time and I have written several things since then that nobody wants to read or talk about. After the Day has turned into my white whale and it is time to put it down for good.
“Why do we have to wait here in the cold,” Daisy asked her father as they sit in a blind made from nearby tree limbs and branches.
“Deer run away when you go out looking for them,” Bill replied.
“There has got to be a better way to do this?” Daisy said trying to stay warm while snowflakes fall around them. “Why don’t people hunt in the summer?”
“You already know that from your hunting safety class. The cold preserves the meat so that nothing goes to waste. Now pipe down, all this talking is going to scare everything away. We won’t even leave with a squirrel.”
“That’s gross,” daisy said shrugging her shoulders.
“There may come a day when you have to eat what you can.”
“I’ll wait until then,” Daisy said. A second later the sound of leaves crackling followed by a twig caught their attention. Bill tapped Daisy on the shoulder to ready her shotgun, a .410 they had bought the summer before. She spent a few hours at the range with it, becoming comfortable with the kick. Neither of them said a word as they looked at the ridge, waiting to see what would climb over.
The pounding in her chest made her wonder if her heart was going to explode from her ribcage. Her breathing slowed down as her eyes focused on the ridge line. The cracking and popping of leaves and sticks continued and a second later a pair of brown ears extended from the earth. The deer ascended and a large doe appeared, thick and stocking it was a few years old and ate well before the winter. The doe faced Daisy and had not notice the two hunters behind the blind. Bill put his hand on Daisy’s shoulder and squeezed. She lifted the .410 and waited for the kill shot to appear.
Long seconds passed. Daisy took long deep breaths trying to slow her heart beat but nothing worked. Her skin tingled and the blood rushing through her veins was warm. Every sound, every movement, happened in slow motion. The deer was taking its time until it turned, looking at a tree, sniffing the bark for a potential meal. The side was exposed and Daisy could see the furnace, the hotbox of death. One clear shot and there wouldn’t be a chase, no tracking to find her kill. Daisy clicked the safety off in front of the trigger and took a deep breath. Her heart was still beating fast, the veins in her neck throbbed as she closed her left eye and lined up the sight.
The shot happened. The loud clap of gas exploding out of the barrel caught her off guard and she was startled when the deer stumbled and fell to the side, down the hill and out of sight. Daisy panicked and rushed out of the blind before bill could stop her.
The ridge overlooked the start of a swamp and on the other end was the open fields the older hunters preferred. The public hunting lands were thousands of acres of everything a deer needed to thrive. The sun was setting with a blood red hew painted across the sky. Daisy could see an orange clad figure walking in the field a mile away, his hunt ruined by the shot she had made. Looking down she found her kill and a few feet below that was a fawn that she had never seen. The mother was dead, the fawn looked at Daisy, turned and ran. A few seconds later the fawn disappeared into the swamp, thick brush hiding it from predators like Daisy.
“You did good.” Bill walked up behind her seeing the clean kill.
“It had a fawn,” Daisy said. “I just watched it run away into the swamp.”
“It will be fine,” Bill said.
“Are you sure?” Daisy asked.
“This deer was a fawn like that one at one time. Trust me, it will make due.” Bill pulled a buck knife from his pocket and unfolded the blade. “Remember not to nick the intestines.”
The future doesn’t consist of a world where one can become anything they want just by pursuing it through hard work and really wanting it, although that was a myth. Instead we have a future where we have a very good idea of what is going to happen, the only catch is that we don’t know how soon it will happen. Currently the predictions of climate change are speeding up and what climate scientist originally thought was going to take decades to happen is now occurring at this present moment. The year (2017) has seen the second year that the arctic hasn’t frozen over and the current temperature (Feb 9, 2017) is fifty degrees higher than normal. Oklahoma reached 100 degrees today as well. The arctic hasn’t been free of ice since human kind started civilization 40,000 years ago.
I bring this up for several reasons. Our current administration denies that climate change exist. A witch hunt is underway for scientist and government employees who study the weather and its effects. As if silencing the scientific consensus will somehow change the fact that the human race as a whole is under the threat of extinction. The rate at which our climate is changing is happening faster than anybody anticipated. The release of methane from the arctic is expected to speed things up even faster. Methane is a more toxic greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and there are large amounts of it trapped under the frozen surface of the Siberian tundra and the waters of the arctic. When that methane is released temperatures will rise regardless of the carbon dioxide levels measured by our governments.
The earth is changing, and if mankind is going to survive he has to adapt to it or risk going extinct like so many species that came before. So, what do we do?
As I write this my girlfriend is 9 weeks along with our first child. If things go as planned it will be our only child. At 37 years of age there isn’t much room for anymore and I don’t want to run the risk of being mistaken as grandpa when they are in their 20s. Boy or girl there is a long list of things I will be teaching them along the way. Much of it should come as a normal part of life. A healthy curiosity for learning is key. Self confidence in themselves will hopefully be instilled. But beyond that there are simple skills that most people don’t have anymore. Fishing, hunting, gardening, respect for the earth and everything it provides. Enjoying your life. The part of the collapse I look forward to is the disappearance of the banks and the 40 hour a week bullshit of a thing called a job. Seriously, homesteading would be a permanent vacation for me. There are more skills that will be taught and with the way things are nose diving into the ocean I don’t know if there is enough time to get everything in. The reality of being a parent is knowing you won’t be around forever to take care of them. The natural way of things is that eventually the child replaces the parent.
It’s no secret I don’t like how things are going right now. Between climate change, the banks, a fascist president, internet surveillance, and war on the horizon how is one supposed to have confidence in anything other than their own ability? When the people you are supposed to trust let you down repeatedly at what point do you walk away from the mess and go about it on your own?
For the second day in a row I was outside cleaning my yard. Racking leaves, cleaning out the garden, this was February 14 and it was almost 50 degrees in Michigan. This kind of thing has been a re-occurring trend in my state. Granted, the state is known for having all four seasons in a week, or sometimes a single day depending on its mood. For most of my adult life I cannot recall the last time we had a real winter, the type of season where kids could build snow forts and have snow ball fights while hiding behind snowmen. The last time we had an accumulation of snow and it stuck around all winter was 1999/ 2000. That was 17 years ago, in the early 2000s we had a snowless Christmas with 70-degree weather and I was outside wearing a t-shirt and shorts.
Again this year, the weather bureau stated this was the hottest summer on record and the warmest winter ever recorded. Last week the arctic was 50 degrees warmer than normal and was the highest temperature ever while humans have been on the planet. The arctic, for another year, never froze over.
I know that things change, the childhood that I had was not the world my parents had, and the world I grew up in was my version of normal. Every generation goes through that transition. When I was growing up war was a televised spectator sport, celebrities had live trials, and the president’s sex life was broadcast on television. That wasn’t my parent’s world. The one that we are moving into isn’t the world I grew up in either. Normal for my kid could look like snowless winters in Michigan. Animals I saw alive at zoos will no longer exist. If some people have their way, the National Parks might not be around either for them to enjoy. A think called privacy will become an odd habit for prudes. The world I grew up in, the one that currently exist will be gone and what comes next will be the new normal, the only one my child will ever know. The fast-changing world is a challenge for parents, seeing their kids with things they themselves do not understand and are too busy working several jobs to have the time to keep up with the times. It’s no wonder there is a disconnect between the generations.
The times they are a changin, and what the world will look like I can only guess. Winter has become a short one month event with bits of fall and spring dotting the calendar here and there. The bits of warm weather at the beginning of the year has caused havoc with the fruit trees, causing blooms too early for bees to pollinate and catching the flowers in early season frost to dry off, killing the chances of growing fruit. Hunting season has been thrown off as well with the rut taking place earlier in the fall so that it is done before gun season opens. The earth is changing and the rest of the planet is trying to catch up in its own way, but nobody knows how to do that. In a world that we depend on to remain normal I find myself questioning what exactly is normal?
I had lunch with a friend yesterday who is worried about the current world situation. Bob and his wife (names have been changed for safety) have started to buy food for storage and try to figure out other things they might need for surviving the Hitler… I mean trump administration. By the time we left the restaurant, we still had not heard about the threats made towards Iran or the friction between ourselves and one of our greatest allies, the Australians. What we did know was that Trump had ordered a raid on a house in Yemen that resulted in the deaths of 9 women and children and one 8 year old girl who was a US citizen. Keep in mind we have not been in Yemen since early 2015. When the white house was asked about this they stated it was “collateral damage.” There it is. The status of humans in this country or others doesn’t matter to the president of the united states. While others would have pretended to care this guy does not give a shit. That is what scares the hell out of me.
I found out a few weeks ago, that I am going to be a father. While many would say “there is never a good time in life to have a child” my question is: what about a time in history? The scientist that run the doomsday clock have moved the minute had to the closest time ever set even beating the height of the cold war. My long term concern of climate change has been something I always thought would be something I could teach my kids to adapt to and survive. Now with the crazy nut job that the few in this country elected I don’t know if any of us will be around more than a few years from now.
My friend Bob has a right to be concerned. His daughter is old enough to remember the good old days and still adapt to the new world she will be growing into. My kid however, all of this crazy shit, will be normal. Maybe that’s for the better. There won’t be a chance to deny what is happening or a longing for what we once had.
With the new year, and a new job title that I will have in the coming year (dad) I started to take some steps to try and adapt to the new world. I cleaned out my house taking several boxes of items to the local goodwill. After all the things you own end up owning you. I took out the canning jars from the basement and sorted the seeds I would be planting in the spring. Currently I have four lights focused on tomato and pepper seeds for future planting. My closet was cleaned out and books thinned out to make space for those I would read and concentrated on those that are important and educational. By important I mean classics, anything pertaining to survival.
While my girlfriend and I have discussed moving in together there is one thing that stands out, both of us are upside down in or mortgages. Neither of us can sell. The upside is that I have a huge yard that I can grow food for us in, and I can use several square feet of the house as a tax write off for a personal business. Eventually we will get tired of paying so much for two houses we don’t need but then we have to figure out who’s credit is ruined because of the mistakes made by Alan Greenspan and George W Bush. The world is changing and my life is changing with it. the garden I hope will relieve some burden from that stress while providing organic healthy food for the three of us.
If I had a child during the bush administration I would have told my child not to join the military, a large problem solve with a simple statement. These days I will have to teach all of the material from my books plus some extras. Camping, fishing, hunting, gardening, shooting, archery, trapping, and much much more. The world of my books, a science fiction/ fantasy world of dystopian rule has become reality. Thanks Trump.