Seasonal Election Disorder

I’m lost, I’m numb, and I’ve drifted off to sleep at least twice since Wednesday, while trying to write blog posts, on deadline, over the last 48 hours. 

And you know why.

For God’s sake, NO, I did not switch to DECAF in the middle of National Blog Posting Month!  It’s like you people don’t even know who I am, anymore!

Nope, it’s not a lack of caffeine, or… for the most part… a lack of sleep.  What’s been lacking in my life since my head hit the pillow, and I closed my eyes to the gentle voice of Steve Kornacki softly ringing in my ears late, late on Election Night, is…


I had kicked around the idea of how not having to see Dr. Oz buying crudité in a Pennsylvania grocery he didn’t even know the name of, might bring some kind of exhale to my life, but what I wasn’t expecting was how I no longer gave a shit when the next 5 minute commercial break on my free streaming of Mystery Science Theater 3,000 reruns, or the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions didn’t involve my diving for the remote and pounding the mute button before I leave the room in a fugue state, where I come out of it covered in Cheetos dust.

Now I’m falling asleep in my comfy writer’s recliner after my third cup of morning coffee, lulled by commercials about class-action lawsuits, and medications that make you sicker than the diseases they cure.

Of course, if I lived in the State of Georgia, I’d be actively looking forward to commercials trying to convince me that Herschel Walker was an FBI agent, in his off-hours between undiagnosed NFL concussions.

Damn, okay, I just dozed off again.  Sorry, Georgia.  Maybe you can catch a nap after December 6th.

And now, for you.  What ubiquitous stressor do you recognize as “seasonal”?  Do you suffer from allergies?  Seasonal Affective Disorder?  Mid-term Election Anxiety?  Maybe even National Blog Posting Month?  Tell me. 

I really want to know.

Yard Signs

In all honesty, I don’t think we saw it ending this way.  I mean, it was subtle.  Imperceptible, if you didn’t know what you were looking for. 

Most folks didn’t know.

Their loss.  I don’t know which I would’ve preferred, if I’d been given the choice between seeing it, and not.  And it wasn’t like any of us had a lot of time to prepare our exit strategy, as with the Flood of Noah, or Y2K.

It started with the yard signs.

And before you scratch your head, or set this historical record aside, yeah, I know that yard signs weren’t new.  Not in 2015, yard signs weren’t new.  But it wasn’t even what the yard signs said.  It was what they implied.  So now, years after the yard signs implied that maybe we, as a long-incorporated landmass, were thoroughly and eternally fucked, this is what we’re left with.  Writing from our basements.  On typewriters that should be in museums, if museums still existed.

A little backstory, or maybe just a long story, short.

I had a friend, who I used to take walks with in their neighborhood.  A nice neighborhood with all kinds of nice people.  But in the yard of one of those people, was a sign.  One of those signs.  Now, at that point in human history, the world knew who those signs were about, but not everyone knew what those signs would turn us into.  My friend only knew that the sign made them afraid of that neighbor, which was very unlike my friend.  One day shortly after, my friend and I talked about the sign, and about why the sign made their nice neighbor now seem scary.  Then, we talked about the message of the sign.  My friend said that the candidate the sign represented, didn’t scare them, it was the neighbor with the nice lawn, displaying the yard sign, who truly scared them.  

And while the two of us didn’t seem to see eye-to-eye on what exactly was the scariest of the scary, the neighbor or the sign, I came away with a thought that has stayed with me all the way from then, till now. 

“You’re not voting for a candidate, you’re voting against their followers”.

The next year, those followers got their wish, and their candidate won.  Then a few years later, as was the way of things when there were so many lawn signs, on so many lawns, came the push-back, from the people about whom those scary lawn signs referred.  And like a pendulum, another push, and before another generation could push one more time, lawn signs were no more, and people didn’t care what the lawn signs would have said anyway, because after the tanks rolled over their lawns, they were busy with more important things, like food and shelter, and just not dying.




It’s been years since the last of the yard signs, but they say there’s a new election on the horizon, and with it, new yard signs have started popping up in the old neighborhood.  Just a few so far, on the lawns of the nicest houses.  And if you ask the neighbors whose houses don’t have lawn signs why they don’t, well, none of them cares.  That’s because nobody is even sure what the new signs even say. Now they’re printed in Cyrillic.  Because English isn’t allowed these days, only Russian.  And still, nobody knows if it was bots on social media, or President Musk, or a hundred different maybe answers why.  They say I’ll be moved to a reeducation center in a few days, I assume so that, soon, like the old days, I’ll be able to read all the yard signs again.

33×34, Men’s Large, Size 12

“You won’t always be able to meditate or journal you’re way out of every difficult situation in life.  Sometimes you will experience things that are hard, and no matter how many tools and exercises you do to manage your pain, grief is grief and it is hard to sit in it.”

Minaa B., LMSW

Remember yesterday when I alluded to having written in a personal journal since the summer of ’17?  In case you missed it, I’ll wait…


…okay, I’m done waiting.  You can read it after you’re finished here.  Today’s scribble is kind of the other side of that post.  Today is for saying that sometimes, there just aren’t enough pages in a journal, or hours in a day to write in it, until you experience “better”, if “better” even comes at all.  I’m quoting the words of a PhD in today’s intro to let you know that writing till your hand cramps is not always the way out of whatever you find yourself in.  No recommendations will follow at the end of this post, but I trust that you, or someone you trust, can find those resources, should you wish to.  What I am saying, in just these few words, is, healing takes time. 

Sometimes, lots of time.

Mine took almost three years.

One size doesn’t fit all, though if you’re considering something for Christmas or my birthday, the specifications are 33×34, men’s large, size 12, thank you in advance.  And one size definitely does not fit all when it comes to matters of the heart, or the head.  Often, the one size that does not fit all comes in the form of a NEXT.  Whatever it was that you lost, or somehow lost you, we are being present-day-cultured to replace that loss, as soon as fucking possible.  We are led, and often coerced, to believe, that, “To get over someone is to get under someone”.  Or, “When you’ve been left, swipe right”.  People charging blind into the unknown, just because they were blindsided, or as Mike Tyson actually said,

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”.

Yes, actually said, when a reporter asked him how he would handle the strategy of his upcoming opponent, Evander Holyfield. 

Humorous side-note, Tyson lost to Evander Holyfield.

Tyson had a plan for someone’s plan.  Holyfield had a plan for Tyson’s plan.  Holyfield waited five years to show Tyson what a plan could really be, if you actually had one.

Now real life is NOT boxing.  Well, real life is not REAL boxing.  One day, you can ask me all about real life as it is summarized in the creative words and fictional worlds of writer/directors Sylvester Stallone and Ryan Coogler, but not here and not now.  Now is when I say that reacting, when you ought to be healing, should not come highly recommended.  And that, while time, by itself, heals no wounds, maybe time is the one thing that your healing needs most.

So I’m gonna ask, was there ever a time when you know you should have taken more time?  We’ve all got our answers.  I’d love to hear yours.

That’s the end of week one.  See you tomorrow.

Aware, Better, Fun

“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”

Ray Bradbury

“Well, that’s the guy I see in the mirror, every day.  Some days, I just avoid making eye contact with him.   These journal entries are the closest I ever come to talking it out with him.  These entries have done me good, no doubt.  But they haven’t made me better, just more aware.  I guess awareness is important, but I believe change is better.”

Personal Journal – November 6, 2022

I began writing a journal in the summer of 2017.  I had tried several times before this attempt, always failing, always falling short of my goal to put my thoughts on paper.  The first time was in 1993, after my wife and I had lost our first-born son.  The last time was after I began an emotional spiral because of… yeah, um… because of something I still don’t talk about here.  Anyway, the point is, after almost 25 years, I finally started, and dutifully continued, along a path towards my own awareness.  Now if that path only had a sign along the way that read,

“BETTER: Next Exit”.

I would take it, and probably write all about it.

But in the meantime, as Bradbury said, my intuition knows, and I finally got myself out of its way, at least in my personal journal.  Now if I could just get out of the way of what I know to write, everywhere else.  I hadn’t written a legit blog post in almost two years.  After writing two books for publication, I haven’t written one of those in almost five years.

So this month, I decided to use the time, 30 days in November, and the place, NanoPoblano, to work on finally getting all the way out of the way, because truthfully, until a couple of weeks ago, I had given up on the idea of ever blogging again, let alone doing it for 30 straight days. 

And I had absolutely given up on it ever being fun.

But, guess who’s been having fun?

Now, I know this is only Day 6, and some days have already been less fun than others, but for the first time in the 7 chances I’ve had to write through November, some I’ve finished, some I haven’t, and some I haven’t even tried, this is the only time I can write honestly saying, this has been fun.  Maybe the sign I should have been looking for all along was the one that read,

“FUN: Next Exit”.

And now that I have you here, tell me, in the almost one week that you and I have been blogging in November, have you been having fun?  And don’t feel bad if your answer is a resounding, ALL CAPS “NO”.  I don’t think I ever really had fun doing this until now.  But if you are having fun, let me know why.  And if you’re not, tell me that, too.  Because I believe that awareness comes before better, and it damn well comes before fun.

I’ll be reading you.

See you tomorrow.

Heisenberg’s Blend

This post is a time traveler.  That’s because I wrote it last night, but now, you’re reading it today. 

Random thought number one… in the late 1980s, Trader Joe’s… if you’ve never been to, or heard of Trader Joe’s, we’ll just call that a YOU problem, not a ME problem… sold a coffee called Heisenberg’s Blend.  The coffee’s name was based on the work of early 20th century German physicist Werner Heisenberg, and not the fictional high school science teacher who made the baby blue meth.  The principle states that we cannot know both the position of an object, and the speed of that same object, at the same time.  It is called “Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle”. 

The coffee got its name because Trader Joe’s decided that, if they took all their leftover coffee beans that accidentally lost their labels at the warehouse and couldn’t be sold as whatever the hell they really were, they could just put a new label on it that made the bean’s origin an even bigger mystery, and it would fly off their shelves… especially at the reduced price of $2.99 a can.

It was genius, just like Heisenberg.  And it was the only coffee I drank until the first Starbucks moved into my neighborhood in 1993.

Okay, if I still have your attention, you’re probably wondering, “What did that anecdote have to do with time travel?” 

The answer is, “Absolutely nothing.”

Like most of life as we live it.  An entire day, or night, of seemingly random, essentially disparate occurrences that, because you aren’t seeing them in the same place at the same time, you just file them away in the “Nope, can’t measure THAT” folder inside your head. 

Random thought number two… There is a strong likelihood that, over the course of my life, I received not one, not two, but THREE mild concussions.  I say “mild” because none of the three incidents of head trauma caused any of the, what are now understood to be, concussion protocol red flags.  All three of mine happened within a period of 5 years, between the ages of 15 and 20.  The first was when a car hit me on my bicycle, and threw me ahead, 30 feet into the distance, landing me on my head.  The second was a solo, head-on collision between my car and a parked, family-sized van (don’t ask).  The third, and last, was while playing in a hockey tournament, when I got checked into the boards by a 230 pound defenseman while attempting to retrieve a loose puck.  None of the three resulted in examination, hospitalization, a diagnosis, or… after each… a second thought regarding the possible consequences of any of the above.  All three incidents came with an immediate “graying out” that is known to be a common symptom of a Grade 1 concussion, and in each case, a “getting on with it” after the fact.  From gray to “I’m good” in just one to two minutes, and only the loss of a bike at 15, and the loss of a couple of teeth at 20. 

Are you still with me?

All this backstory to say that, by the time I had entered my mid-twenties, and having not noticed anything like it before, I began experiencing something that has been the underlying theme of this post.  No, not time travel, but the uncovering of seemingly disconnected thoughts that, for reasons previously unexplained, would find their way to the surface from god only knows where in my brain, only to show up spontaneously, into thoughts, conversations, stories, essays, just about anywhere words were being used.  And before that, it never happened, not that I can recall, anyway. 

Now, going on 40 years later, it’s as everyday a thing as yawning before bedtime.  And I have to believe it’s the single most consistent, driving force that sends my fingers over the keys like this.  Especially in the month of November.

And now, as is my plan for every post this month, tell me, is there a something that has happened to you in the course of your life that has seemingly gifted you with something that otherwise might just have slipped through the cracks as random, unrelated, or practically immeasurable?  I can’t wait to find out.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Just a West Coast Rant

Contrary to what well-meaning friends tell me, I’m old.  At least in my head, I’m old.  This belief is what you get when you’re raised by people who grew up during The Great Depression. 

I hate staying up late, which might seem like an odd thing for a writer who worked so many years on the graveyard shift to say, but I do.

THE Great Depression.

So last night, I stayed up late.  Too late.  Stupid o’clock late.  And all because… I love baseball… and because now, I live on the East Coast.  And now I know why New York is “the city that doesn’t sleep”. 

Let me explain.

I spent the first 61 years of my existence living in and around the city of Los Angeles.  Yeah, palm trees, year-round sun, the beach just a few minutes away, but all that takes a back seat to what I learned was, as I grew older, the best reason that

living on the West Coast is living on the Best Coast. 

That World Series games on TV start at 5 PM, not 8 fucking PM in the middle of an East Coast night.  An East Coast night from which I usually excuse myself around 9 PM, so I can drag my writerly ass out of bed before sunrise the next day, and clear-headedly… after a ceramic bucket of coffee… write. 

And that did not happen today. 

Well, the ceramic bucket of coffee happened, but not before sunrise.  And now, here I sit in my big comfy writer’s chair, writing in the afternoon, when I should be having lunch and watching reruns of Supernatural on TNT.  All because my love of baseball is getting in the way of my love of doing old people stuff, like waking up before the birds, or watching the sun rise through the red leaves of the Japanese Maple in the front yard.  Or doing things the way writers who are old, do things on the West Coast, like watching pretty much the last good surviving memory from your childhood… baseball… take you away from what’s good in the life you’re living now.

And yes, I know there’s a thing called a DVR.  And yes, you know that it’s not the same thing as anything happening live on TV, and that spoilers are real, and in just a couple more days the World Series will be over, and I can go back to my old guy life, where the sidewalks roll up at 9 PM, and coffee tastes better before sunrise.  And where words flow better from fingers, through keyboards, before day turns back into night on the East Coast.

And while I’ve got you here, tell me, is there a good memory from your childhood, a good thing that still exists, that you would, even temporarily, let invade the good in your life, here and now? 

I really want to know.

But in the meantime 9 PM, and all those rolled-up sidewalks, are calling.

See you tomorrow.

Only Magic Enough for Me.

I once wrote, “Magic can be stressful as fuck.  More stressful than people who don’t rely on it can know” (August 23, 2017).  In the years that followed that adorable tweet, I went from this tenuous-at-best belief in magic, to no belief in magic at all.  But now, I may have learned the most important lesson magic ever shared,

“I have only magic enough for me”.

I will spare you all the nonsense and double-talk, smeared on society’s cage bars like angry gorilla feces at the zoo, about “the magic in all of us”, or “the way of the empath”, or any other such crap that South Asian-appropriating white saviors and plagiarist self-help gurus fling around the internet, and simply say that I, in whatever way you wish to define it, still do believe in magic.

And it is in short supply.

I mean look, I’m writing a blog post for the third day in a row, for the first time in almost two years, so there’s got to be some magic in that.  But I’m not talking about “magic” being magic that science hasn’t explained yet, because I can directly attribute the magic of three consecutive days of blogging to the science of coffee, as easily as something involving the mystic arts of word alchemy.  One person’s magic is another person’s French roast.  What I think I’m saying is, I have only enough of myself left to take care of me.  Where I used to exhibit seemingly-infinite patience for the wellbeing of others, I now equate caring to a chore.  And it’s not that I’m faking it when I lovingly engage with others, it’s that after, it feels like my soul needs a nap.  Like a three-year-old needs a nap after cookies and juice.  Like a mother of two preschoolers needs a nap while sitting on the toilet.  Probably like God needs a nap in the two minutes between the end of evening news and Jeopardy!.  Really, I swear, if I am there for you, I am all the way there.  But if I’m not there, I’m using all my magic on me.

And I know I’m not the only one.

You have magic, too.  You have magic, and you use it every day.  On those you love, on total strangers, even if just not to punch them as you buy gas at the corner Valero station, and on those you see in need who, for whatever reason, are not using magic on themselves, when they so desperately need to.  I see you, if only because I have seen me, first.  In a mirror, in the ragged sound of my own voice as I mutter to myself while deciding between another cup of coffee, or eating actual food.  Or in the way that sometimes, no matter who I see in need, I know my soul needs a nap before I can impart any magic, even a little, at all.

It’s okay knowing that, “I have only enough magic for me”.

So, today’s question for you is, “How’s your magic holding up”?  And, “What do you do when it runs out”?  Also, it’s okay not to answer until after you’ve had a nap. See you tomorrow.

Random String Theory

Or, everything is connected, even if we can’t see any of it.

The “random string” was lifted, by me, from a post by a fellow Pepper in an overnight Instagram story.  Don’t ever think that the eyes of the world aren’t watching, as we all try to write our way through these 30 Days of Creative Night that are National Blog Writing Month. 

It is day 2, and I’m already telling you that it’s hard.

But if that’s what I’m telling you, what am I telling myself?

I’ve done this before.  More than once.  More than twice, actually.  I don’t need to be told, “You can do it, Duffy Moon”.  My awareness is well aware.  However, the ONE BIG DIFFERENCE in this, from every other NanoPoblano is… for 2022… I’ve decided to fly creatively by the seat of my stretchy morning pants.  No advanced plans, no maps, no charts and graphs, no organizational schematic, narrative theme, or any other literary devise with which to cheat/don’t cheat my way through.  This year, my challenge to me is, park your ass in your comfy recliner and do not get up again until you start from scratch and finish the day’s post, and hit SEND.

So, yeah, when I just wrote that I’ve decide to fly creatively, what I should have said was, panic creatively.  Or, if all goes well, treat NanoPoblano 2022 as one great big exercise in undisciplined discipline.  And here’s why.  An infinitymillion years ago… say around, 2009ish… I thought my future in writing was going to be in some kind of long form, fiction or possibly thinly veiled as fiction, semi-autobiographical, fat book you can dog-ear the pages of while you sip coffee and get cinnamon grease all over your fingers at a great big Barnes and Noble near you.  Then, an industrial-sized dump truck of writer’s block landed in my lap and, over the next few months, I found that I could not write anything longer than the back cover of a matchbook, just above the “close cover before striking” warning.

Uh-huh.  In other words, I became a poet.  Or as my earliest online biography stole from Spike of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a “bloody awful poet”.  Also, just as ironically hilarious, I lost every bit discipline that I had trained my scribbler’s brain to muscle memory a story out of, on deadline.  I became a prose-crusted cliché, waiting for some muse to blow inspiration up my metaphorical skirt, before I could get any words onto the page.

And like any life that is totally devoid of discipline, whether that discipline involves mixing in a salad, drinking 8 glasses of water a day, or trying to regulate exercise, or sleep, or get enough fiber to adequately poop, an undisciplined life, an undisciplined writer’s life, is a very uncomfortable life when all you want to do is crap out thoughts, like magic from your fingertips as they clackety-clack over a keyboard, but you can’t.  Not anymore.  And you know that to change that, it is going to take some kind of dramatic action on your part to change what has become more than just a pattern, but a life.

Hello, November.

Remember yesterday, when I said that this NanoPoblano was going to be as much about you as it was about me?  Well, I mean it.  So, here’s what I’m asking today.  In the comments, tell me what change or changes you would like National Blog Posting Month to make in YOU.  As a writer, a reader, or just a human being.  

I can’t wait to see your answers.

An Enormous Eggnog Latte

Well, I’m back.

I was once told that the most important thing in life is just showing up.  I stopped showing up for things back in 2020.  Most of us did.  For me, that was the last time I shot my shot here in November, for NaBloPoMo, or what also goes by NanoPoblano in that portion of the bloggy-sphere I affix myself to.  I stopped showing up, not because of some hardship, or an unavoidable change in plans, but simply because I got bored.

Bored with my own story.

I discovered that it’s easy to get bored with your own story, because not only are you the one telling it, you’re also the one who lived it.  And I don’t know about you, but once I’ve lived a something, it really better have been damn spectacular to get me to relive it again.  And while my 2020 was different than what I expected it to be… and whose wasn’t?… what it was not, is spectacular. 

In brief, mine was UNEMPLOYMENT, PANDEMIC, CANCER.  Oh, and the Dodgers won the World Series, which was not boring, to me, but there was no way I was going to write for 30 consecutive days about the Dodgers winning the World Series for the first time in 32 years.

You’re welcome.

So, in November, 2020, after 17 straight days of trying to, in different and entertaining ways, tell the story of my “funny cancer”, I got bored.  I got bored, and quit. 

Also, you’re welcome.

So now, what is there for me to write about that I won’t find boring, and you, by extension, won’t find boring before I do?  I’m not sure.  Yet.  I know my life is different than it was on November 17 of 2020.  I’ve moved three times, the last time, all the way from California to New York, and I could probably write at least 10 posts about how, on April Fool’s Day, the day I arrived on Long Island, I couldn’t understand why the thousands and thousands of trees along the 495 looked like barren telephone poles, rising from the mud on each side of the big road.  But, guaranteed, that would bore you and me, so before I start down that literary goat path… yeah, anyway… New York.  And, after the leaves began to make their appearance later in the spring, I realized that I was, without really planning on it, writing another collection of poetry.  But this time, things felt different, they read different, when I read them back to myself, aloud.  I mean, it was my words, my voice, but some shit had shifted from the last time I put things together between the covers of book.

And maybe that’s what I’m actually doing here now.  I’m saying “Hi” to you again, whoever you is, this time.  This time, when I might have something to say that means more to you than “funny cancer”, or some hyper-broody poetry, written a decade ago, by someone who thought they had it all figured out, then figured out that they hadn’t. 

But enough about me, or we’ll both get bored before day 17.

This time around, besides sharing me, I want to get to know you.  Because, since this blog life is more about sharing than it is about what I had for breakfast… which, so far, is two cups of black coffee and one enormous, homemade eggnog latte… but you didn’t need to know that.  This time around, I will be writing, sure, but I will also be reading.  I will be reading you.

And that’s enough about me for today.

But do me a favor.  After you’ve read this, or, I don’t know, after you get bored with reading this and quit, leave me a word about yourself in the comments.  Just a line about who you are, and why you’re here.  And tell me what you don’t think is boring about yourself.  Because that’s going to make a good first day for both of us.

And with all that, I’ll see you tomorrow.