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The Years Go By

All too quickly.

I went to the optometrist last week. I thought it had been three or four years since the last time I had been. Their records show it’s been since 2012. So, yeah, seven years. Not three or four.

Awhile ago I started writing a story. It was inspired by this statement from Bob Zeanah

Spent the morning staring at the water on Mobile Bay and watching a Blue Heron fishing.

That statement came from a weekly feature on Toasted Cheese. A great site for writers, back in the day they had a Friday feature. Five questions for us to respond to. Pretty regularly, one of the questions was along the lines of “Three good things from the week.” And Bob’s comment about the Blue Heron and Mobile Bay came from one of those exercises.

There was something about that comment that tickled my brain and I began to write¬†The Irrepairable Past. It’s a story about a man who has ended up alone on the shores of Sullivan Bay. A place where he wallows in being alone. In memories of all he has lost along the way. His father. His high school love. His wife who became an ex-wife. His children. All of it. He has ended up back where he began. On the shore of Sullivan Bay. Alone.

I’ve lost track of how long it is that I have worked on and pondered this story, but in looking at the tab at the top of this page, I first posted chapter 1 in 2011. So, yeah, eight years. I would have guessed maybe four. Maybe five. But eight. Damn, I’ve been in this rut for a long, long time.

Today I finished the thing. At least a draft of it anyway. I had hoped that I could squeeze 50,000 words out and claim that it is a short novel. I didn’t get there. It clocks in at about 36,000 words. Which means it is comfortably novella length.

Here’s where you come in, my faithful reader. (All five of you.) I’m looking for a few people to read it. As readers. Not as editors. Not as fellow writers. Just to read it and let me know what they think. Once I get feedback from a few beta readers … assuming the feedback is a green light … I’m going to run it by a guy I know who might just be a really good editor. He lives in the California foothills. He knows who he is.

I’m excited about this story and need to know if it is well-founded. That I finally have finished it is huge news for me. It feels like a wall has crumbled. A block has cleared.

Let me know in the comments or at mpaxson55@gmail.com.¬† I’m going to pick a few people to do this and then go from there.

And then I need to figure out which other stalled project is the next one for me.

 

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Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter was President when I started to get interested in politics. He is truly a remarkable man. One America should celebrate and embrace. Instead, a portion of our country can’t stand him for no reason other than that he’s a Democrat. That’s the definition of insanity and a perfect example of what is wrong with this country.

#Paxson2020

Why I’m Running

No, I’m actually not, but if I were, here is why.

The two parties have been taken over by their extremes, offering little to the majority of Americans who reside in the middle, who want a government that works for them. Both parties have been taken over by people who demand 100% compliance with a rigid orthodoxy that meets the needs only of the extremes and not the rest of America. And when they don’t get it, they yell, they rage, they stomp their feet, and drive out more and more reasonable people from the two major parties.

I spend way too much time reading three blogs. On the liberal/progressive side I read Kevin Drum’s blog at Mother Jones and Daily Kos. On the conservative side I read PowerLine. When I point out on Mother Jones that Elizabeth Warren is just as unelectable as Hillary Clinton was, I’m accused of being bigoted. When I point out my current first choice of the Democrats is Kamala Harris and ask how I can be bigoted, I get silence. But the next time I criticize the favored candidates of the progressives on one of those blogs, I’ll get the same charge. Anything less than 100% compliance means you’re bigoted, you’re a Trump supporter. You are either with them or entirely against them.

And it’s the same thing on PowerLine, just coming from the right instead of the left. I’m accused of being anti-semitic and when I point out that I married a Jewish woman and raised my children in the faith, I am accused of lying about my family. I am accused of celebrating the assassinations of police officers. Why? Because I don’t agree with the commenters on PowerLine.

I see a lot of evidence of this, not just on those three blogs, but in pretty much every other corner of our modern world. On social media channels, in the mainstream media, the right-wing media, other blogs. You name it, the intolerance of the extremes is everywhere and they are dominating the channels by which people get information and engage in debate.

The two extremes try desperately to keep the world divided between their extremes. They don’t want to acknowledge that there are shades of gray in the political spectrum. They want this to be a battle between two absolutely rigid ideologies and drive those of us in the middle either out of the debate entirely or to force us to pick one extreme over the other. Compromise is the dirtiest word in both of their lexicons. A close second is solution. Any moderate voice, any approach to real solutions is drowned out by the noise machines of the right and left.

Meanwhile, America continues to suffer. We grow more divided. Our government is more and more non-responsive to the needs of our country and its people. I’ve seen references to the idea that our country is engaged in a cold civil war. I’m beginning to think that’s an excellent way to describe our situation. Our leaders are focused on winning that nonsensical war instead of leading our country.

But amidst all of this noise and rage and anger, there are a lot of people who want something different. Something that they are not getting from either major political party. I see it on Twitter, on my blog, in my personal life in the people I know and get to know in my work and travels. People are so tired of our current politics and want this dynamic to be blown up.

The problem is that our system is entirely focused on the two major political parties. We have been indoctrinated into the idea that this is how it is, this is how it must work, these are our choices.

Well, I think it’s time to throw this system out. Blow up the boxes. It’s time for radical change. Yes, radical change led by the mushy middle. A revolution led by the quiet among us. One that demands that government pay attention to us instead of the noisemakers. Because there are actually more of us than there are of them.

So, if I were to actually run for office, that is why.

#Paxson2020

A Little Memory

I was re-reading my last post and at the bottom there were other recommended posts from my blog.

This was one of them. I cried just a bit while I read this. It’s what happens when you get older and realize all of the things that have happened, the things you’ve missed, the things you haven’t, and all of the stuff that goes into a life. As described in the post, the moment I officiated my niece’s wedding is just absolutely at the top of the peak for me.

Jenny, in case you find this little spot where I wrote those words and share them again, just know that you are one of those people who hold a special place in my heart. Always.

Sitting At A Bar

I went out today to take pictures of tulips. Once I was done, I ended up at The Shack, a corner spot in East Sacramento that has a great collection of craft brews and my new favorite burger. It’s called the American. Two patties, American cheese, onion, pickle and mustard on a really good bun. I’ve fallen in love with this thing. Unlike the last time I was at The Shack when just about every beer they had was an IPA, they had a Kolsch from Almanac Brewing today. I may have had one or two. And all was good in my world.

I took my printout of The Irrepairable Past and picked up where I had left off, reading and editing it for a few more pages while I sat there.

Shortly after I arrived, a young couple sat next to me. For the next 20 minutes, the guy talked to everybody but the girl he was with. I wanted to lean over and tell her she could do better. I didn’t. It probably wouldn’t have ended well if I had and I’m all about avoiding things that don’t end well.

For months now, I’ve been on the verge of painting. Fear holds me back. Fear of wasting my time. Fear of being a fool. But I had an epiphany while sitting at the bar today. Until now, I’ve always thought of painting landscapes, sunsets, things like that. What if, I thought, I painted a message.

The New Zealand mosque shooting, all of the mass shootings here in America, all of the rage and anger that is coming out in our political debate. It is all so incredibly hateful. I’ve written occasionally about the importance of recognizing each other’s humanity and of loving instead of hating. What if I came up with a painting that represented the concept.

Before I forgot the idea, I wrote down four sayings that have cropped up over the years that express some element of the concept.

Stronger Than Hate

Love Over Hate

Love Will Find A Way

I Choose Love

I want to fiddle around with these sayings and words and maybe add in a few more and come up with something I can paint. They’re written down now, I’m gonna keep pondering this.

As I was wrapping things up, a gentleman sat on the other side of me. He ordered some food to go and then turned to me. “What are you reading?” he asked. I explained that I was editing a story I had written. I don’t remember how he got there but he started talking about the divide in this country and all that was going wrong and I agreed with him.

And then I pulled out the piece of paper I had written those four statements on and showed it to him. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about. Something needs to be done.” Or something like that.

He looked at the statements and asked for my pen. Underneath he wrote very carefully “Jesus believes in this!”

Some may say that this might be just the sign for me. And you would be right. It was the sign for me to leave. Which I did. I was this close to telling him that I didn’t believe and that my thoughts were not about Jesus or inspired by Jesus, but I didn’t. There are times I want to have these conversations and times when I don’t. Today was not one of the talk about Jesus with a stranger sitting at a bar kind of days.

You don’t need Jesus to understand that love is better than hate. I don’t and never will.

 

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