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Watching mud dry as an antidote to the madness of the world

How’s that for a blog title? Sounds like one of those avant garde 1960s plays, doesn’t it? (The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade — that sort of thing.)

Actually, it’s the plain, mundane, and muddy fact of the day. Just now, I was sitting in the bedroom-to-be, sipping a cup of sweet tea, kicking back in a bentwood rocker (maybe I should add that to the title), inspecting/admiring/critiquing the wall I taped and plastered this morning.

And it occurred to me that when this project is complete — by the end of this month if I stay on schedule — I’ll have to face real life again. I’m not sure I’m ready for that.

I certain I’m not.

When this work is done, it’ll be back to: one book to finish; one book to revise; one short story to complete; and gazing out once again upon the insanity that prevails in post-rational America.

The physical labor of creating the new bedroom has been good for mind and body, especially now that I’ve reached the stage of finishing walls and applying trim. So has working to the deadline I set myself: move-in time, end of January or first of February.

And I’m moving nothing in until the last stick of molding and dab of paint is done. This time I’m not going to move into a room promising myself to tend to that last detail in a month or so, only to find said detail glaring accusingly at me two years later.

So I’ve been working at a comfortable pace, with a motivating goal. And the main thought on my mind as I wake up and go to sleep is the latest measurement of progress and the next step to take.*

These are such sane thoughts to think. This is such productive work to do. It began to dawn on me a couple of days ago that once I’ve met my goal, then cleaned up some of the rubble and wreckage that my house has been in for the last seven months, I’ll likely find myself staving off depression and despair.


The other day I appeared to agree with Trump on the question of “sh*thole” countries (though I don’t agree with his views on immigration). And while I do think it’s useful to call a spade a spade, if we’re still allowed to use that expression, I’m actually as horrified as anybody else that the U.S. has such a vulgar, pernicious, self-regarding, impulsive, light-weight, and certifiable moron at the top of its eternal political PR machine.

It might be a great idea for the people of certain countries in the world to admit, “Yes, we live in a sh*thole; is there anything that can be done to improve the situation, like maybe educating ourselves beyond tribal superstition or ceasing to tolerate autarchs and their thieving cronies?” But having the president of the U.S. announce to all the world that your country (or your entire continent!) is a “sh*thole” isn’t a great means to that end.

Particularly if he announces it between preening about his own genius and paying off a porn star.

OTOH, I remind myself, I’m the one who wrote that a political office, no matter how powerful, deserves no more respect than the most odious oaf who plants his butt in it. We’ve been granted a fine demonstration of that truth with Donald Trump. Shouldn’t we be glad to see that reality so starkly revealed — even though Comrade X pointed out the other day that Trump has thrown the gates wide to admit even worse “leaders.”

As excited as I am about finishing the bedroom project, I’m dreading getting back to a world dominated by such “news.” Not to mention a world of corrupt autarchs, thieving cronies, and a future being formed by our own version of tribal witch doctors who have their own incalculably destructive superstitions.


* Actually, the first thought on my mind this morning was — for no accountable reason — a prehistoric beer jingle. But after that …


  1. rochester_veteran
    rochester_veteran January 15, 2018 11:51 am

    Glad the bedroom is almost finished, Claire! Good work!

  2. MacGregor Phillips
    MacGregor Phillips January 15, 2018 12:53 pm

    That PBR commercial brings to mind the old commercials for Hamms beer.

  3. Mike
    Mike January 15, 2018 8:56 pm

    It can be a frightening experience seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and finding out that it’s closer than you thought it was. Looking back over the years and all the things you have done, I think that what happens when you leave the tunnel is just one more small challenge that I’m sure you will overcome.

    Oh, and as far as beer ads go Brahma Beer had some of the best… 😂

  4. larryarnold
    larryarnold January 15, 2018 9:09 pm

    AAARGH! You beat me to The Land of Sky-Blue Waters.

    I still believe Trump is better than the alternative.

  5. Pat
    Pat January 16, 2018 5:05 am

    The Pabst Blue Ribbon commercial may have been prehistoric but I preferred its length (1:03) to the multiple 0:15-0:20 commercials that weave in and out today. The longer commercial not only gave us time for tele-flush and preparing snacks, but gave the PR guys time to develop a better commercial. (Granted, the Pabst one wasn’t the greatest.)

    I sympathize with Trump’s way of speaking sometimes. He’s used to saying what he thinks in “business-like” shorthand, and being understood because everybody is on the same page and doesn’t take him out of context. In politics, *everything* is “diplomatic” and deliberately misunderstood if the fine print isn’t there in black-and-white. Like legalese, you have to read the whole page to know what it’s really saying (and often it’s not clear then). Trump doesn’t know how to speak that way.

    You’re doing a good job, Claire. Take your time and get it right. The home you want gives you the stability you need to do a good job of whatever work you choose to do.

  6. fred
    fred January 16, 2018 5:22 am

    Larry-I still believe Trump is better than the alternative.
    So do I,thats the scary part.Next time around we will get even worse,and so on and so on.Im thinking maybe I will withdraw from politics all together and let the world sink into depravity without my input.Lets be real,my one or 2 votes from this household has no bearing on what gets elected anyhow.

    I was a trump supporter,my vote didnt even get counted being from calif, ‘we’ wanted hillary

    Time to just chuck it all together.Might I be a lot happier without the constant pointless BS the political idiocy constantly bombards me with?

    Maybe instead wake with wonder watching a sunrise,and a day unfold,and see just ALL good things instead.Its out there.Time to legalize hallucinogens and see the other things,open those other brain pathways that are closed now?

    Thinking life is being wasted on nonsense.

  7. Bob
    Bob January 16, 2018 7:09 am

    Many of us deplorables find Trump crude, but refreshing.

  8. Jolly
    Jolly January 16, 2018 7:43 am

    Seems as if only Dick Durbin actually heard that phrase, and Trump denies saying it.

  9. Claire
    Claire January 16, 2018 8:02 am

    Didn’t at least one Republican (granted, IIRC it was the Trump-hating Lindsay Graham) confirm it? I did hear that two other R’s denied it, but they were both known Trump loyalists who’d be expected to do just that.

  10. lairdminor
    lairdminor January 16, 2018 10:24 am

    “a vulgar, pernicious, self-regarding, impulsive, light-weight, and certifiable moron . . .”

    I’m with you through the first four; “light-weight” is a matter of opinion; but a “moron” Trump certainly is not. In terms of raw intelligence he is every bit the equal of the previous two occupants of the Oval Office, even if you don’t agree with the manner in which he applies that intelligence. I find his personal style every bit as obnoxious and offensive as you do, but i have to give the devil his due: I support almost everything he has actually accomplished during this first year. Judicial appointments, regulatory relief, tax reform (which could have been better, but is still a worthy accomplishment), improvements to the refugee admittance process, withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords, all of it. My only real area of disagreement is with his constant harping on trade protectionism; he appears to be an advocate of what in an earlier era we would have called “mercantilism”, a thoroughly discredited but seemingly ineradicable economic philosophy which appeals only to the economically ignorant and the politically avaricious. But so far he hasn’t actually done anything about it (other than to with draw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but that was an unmitigated disaster on every level so he gets props for that, too). So perhaps it’s just all posturing. We’ll see.

    “Better than the alternative”? Without question.

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