Archive

Uncategorized

via The Giant Exhale

The winter exposes the bones of the landscape,
the skeleton of the world.
I have cried at the table because the meal
brought me back to who I used to be.
It was easier to put a dog down when I was younger;
now, my proximity to death scares me.
I took pictures at her funeral to prove
to HR that these were actually bereavement days.
My mind blurred as I read his poems.
I wanted the words to bend one way
and they didn’t. I wished he was drunk.
Listening to Tupac’s “Brenda Had a Baby”
and I cried at the lines, “She didn’t know
what to throw away and what to keep.”
How the fuck did he know that?
That’s fucking sad and brilliant.
And while I was meditating,
I forgot to breathe in.
I exhaled my life out through my nose.
I will be so happy when the currency
of the flesh is no longer at war
with my internal life,
but that might be the GIANT exhale.
The loss of that tension might
equal the loss of drive.
Letting it all go.
Letting it all out.
Forgetting to breathe
in.

Jason Fisk lives and writes in the suburbs of Chicago. He has worked in a psychiatric unit, labored in a cabinet factory, and mixed cement for a bricklayer. He was born in Ohio, raised in Minnesota, and has spent the last 25 years in the Chicago area.

I have kept quiet up to this point on the Black Lives Matter protests. I fully support the protests and have not been quiet about that at all. My social media shows that clearly. But I have hesitated to add my voice to the cacophony of voices available on the topic. I am an educated white male and didn’t feel that it was my place to say or do anything other than provide silent support. This movement does not need a white savior but should be lead by those who have needed the voice for so long. They should get the attention and the platform and the focus. My experience is so removed from the pain and crushing scrutiny our neighbors endure every day of their lives, that I was not sure I had anything at all to add to the conversation.

However, as a writer, I have a talent and an audience that many of the voiceless of this movement have no access to. A friend of mine pointed that out. She said that writers have an obligation to be the voices of the voiceless and to speak to our audiences in a language that the movement may not be able to speak to.

So, from the view of a white man on the privileged side of the tracks: Protest!!! Grind it all to halt. The system we have is not working and must be rebuilt. But you can’t do that while you’re still clinging to the old. I know this will alienate or freak out many of my relatives and readers, but I’m okay with that. I would rather be alone on the right side of history than hang out with the losers on the wrong side.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that All Lives Matter. But you can’t really say that the system works that way and until it does, the system is broken. When a white criminal and a black criminal receive vastly different police interactions and prison sentences. You cannot say that All Lives Matter. When the police routinely choke and beat black youths. You cannot say that All Lives Matter. A police officer pulling their gun should be the very last resort in any situation, not the first.

If you actually believe that All Lives Matter, then you should be in the streets protesting too. Because our justice system does not believe that All Lives Matter has demonstrated that time and time again and again and again.

It will only stop when we as a nation demand that All Lives really do Matter, every one of them. That is not what we have today. And that is why I support all of the protests.

My wife, Sheri, and I went hiking this weekend. We hit two different trails around St Louis. One we had used before and explored a new one. We enjoy hiking because it’s a mix of exercise and nature. I’m not a fan of staring at a wall or an idiot box while exercising. In fact, I would usually prefer the blank wall if given a choice. However, since it was a beautiful summer day we chose to go hiking. We even saw a very young fawn still with its spots and was able to get rather close. The mom was nowhere to be seen and at one point the little one was calling her, so we scrammed.

Anyway, we shared the trails with a number of people, both on foot and mountain-bike. But everyone was so completely lovely and polite, stepping off the path to let others by and greeting each other. It was a nice change from the usual city-people grump we experience.

Sheri commented on how polite people were and I said that assholes don’t hike. Upon reflection, I think that is generally true. Her is my proof: Hikers are usually nature lovers. Nature lovers are usually very empathetic people. And empathetic people are generally very polite due to their empathy. Therefore, nature lovers are generally very polite and caring people, i.e., assholes don’t hike.

See… No Assholes!!!

20200607_135233

I took my personal space for a walk today. It was a beautiful day. So, when I got home from my day job, I rescued my wife’s personal space and took it to the park. She has been working from home and was desperate for some air. Tower Grove in St Louis is a beautiful park not far from us. Not within walking distance but close enough that it is our goto for park walking.

The sunny weather had driven a lot of personal spaces out of the house, many with dogs. The park was scattered with them, but by watching you could still tell that they were keeping their distance more than usual. I tend to do that anyway. I’m am not a touchy friendly person and have a personal space that is much larger than most. There was a clear sphere of space around everyone.

It got me thinking about the ‘after’ of this crisis. Even if we are all suddenly immunized for this bug, the experience of knowing that we could get deathly ill merely by being near someone must leave an impression. Yes, this has always been true, sicknesses and plagues are nothing new. But we’ve never had that fact drilled home nearly as sharply as we now have.  Not many personal spaces will come out of this unchanged.

I can imagine a future where we no longer shake hands with any old willy-nilly stranger. We save that most professional of greetings for closer acquaintances or business contacts. Hugs and kisses will become fewer and more precious. Bars and clubs would not be nearly as crowded. Body-pressing will become frowned on. Etc…

Except I doubt any of those visions will happen. Humans are icky, ill-mannered, and hard to housetrain. However, I do feel us becoming less in-your-face than before. Being standoffish is okay. I respect your personal space and expect the same of mine. All personal spaces should expand a bit, be more free-range. Instead of man-spreading, we’re personal-spreading. This ain’t grand-dads personal space, know-what-I’m-sayin.

The future is cloudy and swarming with diseases and icky humans. We don’t know what, if anything, we will retain from this experience. But, yet, I am very sure my own personal space will remain large and hard to get into. I don’t invite people, even friends, into it very often. My spread will remain intact.

Space, people… Give Me Space!!

With St Louis on a mild lock-down and the rest of the world falling apart around me, I’ve been taking advantage of the time to work diligently on my book. However, there is only so much time I can spend focused on any one thing.

So, here’s some cat-porn to help you through your day.

20190714_092124

This is Turkey. He’s a cat and he’s pretty good at it.

 

I much prefer to call the virus COVID-19 than the Coronavirus and definitely better than that idiotic Chinese Virus. I think it’s because of the added distance the code implies. In my mind, there could be a Mr. Corona Virus out there bopping around and getting picked on, hating his life.

Whereas COVID-19 could easily be an evil AI out to destroy us all or an alien monster-robot or … a killer virus released to infect everyone in order to blackmail the world for all of the money. Any time now, the Evil Genius responsible will reveal himself and make his demands known while dangling the antidote just… out of reach.

But overall the name change makes it much easier to hate the thing. COVID-19 you bastard!! You will never break us COVID-19!!

 

thumbnail_20200315_140329

Hand editing

I am nearing the end of a rewrite and editing a particularly sticky scene. I’ve been struggling to reconcile with a previous scene and using my new laptop and my massive new monitor. However, I’ve found that the technology is getting in the way. I’m not a big fan of ebooks anyway and prefer the physical product in my hands. So, when it comes to editing I am still of the old school. I can write and do basic editing through a keyboard, but for deeper editing or reconciliation I really need a hardcopy to mark up and rifle through.

So, I currently have a print of the offending scenes on the desk in front of me and the electronic copy on the monitor.

I feel that I’m at the crossroads between technologies. Like when cars were first on the roads, but the roads weren’t up to snuff so horses were still used to get them out of the mud. Or when electronic calculators came out but the student still had to use a slide rule for trig functions.

Maybe someday I will get comfortable enough with technology to put down the pen and edit by electronic means only. But for now, I’ll stick to what works for me. And after last weekend’s laptop apocalypse, I know my pen and paper won’t die on me.

PS: I still own a slide rule!!

I am not all worked up about the virus at this point. I am just making other plans for my weekends because concerts are now frowned upon. So, I guess I’ll just sit in my office and work on my book in the hope that people will still be around to read it.

Which is a legitimate concern when one is dealing with a pandemic. It’s not just a normal epidemic but pan-demic. Like comparing normal thin crust pizza to a pan-pizza!! One is most assuredly better than the other.

I just imagine a herd of closeted writers curled up in their rooms safe and sound and clicking away on their plague-punk novel that will be the hit of the post-demic world. I would read that. I am not going to write it though. There are others much more prepared to jump on that wagon.

 


Sometimes I like to play photographer. I have no training and don’t have the delusion that I’m an ‘artist’. However, I do like to think that I have an eye. An eye for what I find interesting anyway. I am an engineer by profession and tend to think visually, so I will find myself seeing a picture in my head and then try to recreate it. It’s never as good as I imagined, but sometimes I do surprise myself.

One of my favorite themes in my writing and photography is Time. The passing of it, the waste of it, the grasping for it. Abandoned places are a great place to find images of this. The decay of human endeavor and possessions fascinates me because nature doesn’t care what we think is beautiful or valuable. It will chew it up and turn it into life regardless.

This image was taken in an abandoned farmhouse in Nebraska. I found it odd that the television was still in mostly one piece, possibly even sitting where it was last used how many decades ago.

If you listen closely you can hear a raccoon hissing in the background.