- 01/15/2017: Ah, the season of rough hands and split open fingertips rolls on.
- 01/16/2017: A deer stands broadside to the nearest edge of the road on my way home in the dark, and I have half a mind to stop, back up, and demand to know exactly WTF she is thinking.
- 01/17/2017: A sixty minute span of awful food choices following 48 hours of good and now my body, delivering torments in waves of clenching and nausea, says, “Oh no, death would be too easy for you, lardass….”
- 01/18/2017: I admire the three-years-and-counting commitment the neighbor’s dog has made to going apeshit with barking whenever she sees me arrive home, as if I were the first man she’s ever seen.
- 01/19/2017: At what felt like nearly 40°, today saw the arrival of a slush-making heat wave.
- 01/20/2017: Mist rises from the fields as I drive home in the waning light before nighttime and an owl appears out of the gloom to land atop a power pole.
- 01/21/2017: Reviewing my various social media feeds that are blowing up with images from womens’ marches all over the country, I’m disappointed I didn’t figure out a way to get to Helena and back to part of it here … but I am reminded that this is only the beginning.
- 01/22/2017: I am a fat, barely employable, middle-aged Native guy with a chip on his shoulder and no health insurance, living below the poverty line with huge love for much and many, and you can believe I have a stake in this.
- 01/23/2017: I have never been strung out on a particular style or brand of beer before, but two nights in a row now without any Haybag Hefeweizen from Philipsburg Brewing Company and I find myself uncertain that I will survive the night, or find a reason to even want to.
- 01/24/2017: A benefit of oversleeping and missing my first typical hour in darkness is that instead I was at my kitchen window making coffee at the first hints of silver light to the east, before the assault of reds and oranges, when the moving clouds were like the outlines of the states on a map, and the crescent-shaped moon hung brightly in the sky.
- 01/25/2017: If there is anything to enjoy these few days, it’s the sight of federal agencies run by smart people rising up to oppose the will of our newly-inaugurated Commander in Lunacy.
- 01/26/2017: As a person who has never struck anyone in anger, I find the desire to lash out in violent protest — and the wish to see a number of specific people dragged through the streets — most disturbing.
- 01/27/2016: Never underestimate the emotional healing powers of a styrofoam tray heaped with cheap Chinese takeout.
- 01/28/2017: To call the emotions of the past week anything other than despair would be an understatement.
There was a peace march in downtown Missoula Sunday afternoon. I could see it through the front windows from where I was working. I felt lame for not being a part of it, that for all my bluster about “doing my part” I was just on the sidelines. Same thing today — there is a rally for public lands in Helena two hours away that I’ll miss. I won’t be there and it is the thing I am most concerned about in how it affects my actual day-to-day life and I feel like shit about it. I suppose my “I have to work” excuse is valid, but I still feel like a sellout because, once again, I’m more concerned about a steady paycheck than pursuing something important. But I digress.
During the parade of people passing by the windows I saw several signs that were of an American flag, and in the spaces where the stars and stripes would be, words like “Peace” and “Freedom” and “No Hate” were spelled out. It made me think back to some musclehead I saw in a shop earlier wearing jeans with back pockets covered in bling, sunglasses perched on the back of his head, and a tight t-shirt also sporting a design of an American flag, only his stars and stripes were in the shape of bullets. Contrasting the two scenes made me realize, for the nth time, the gulf between people that I really don’t see any hope of overcoming. There is no idea of America in my mind that begins with bullets. And the people who do see that way don’t understand the values of those of us who put a higher value on life beyond the made-up idea of borders and religion and all that bullshit.
Yet today I am grateful there are people out fighting the good fight in spite of the worthlessness of the rest of us. I’m particularly grateful for the workers in the government agencies who have “gone rogue” to post their truths in the face of this abomination of an administration we find ourselves chained to. I’m happy they are out there in spite of the despair they must feel. I’m happy not everyone has bought into the idea of “do what the boss tells you to and keep your mouth shut.” There was never a man who deserved more sticking it to than this fucking one.
For several years now I’ve been in the practice of culling images from catalogs I get in the mail (Patagonia, REI, Filson, etc.) and occasional magazines. I pull them out, then I slip them into plastic page protectors that go into three ring binders that I save as inspiration for both artistic and lifestyle aspirations. It’s like an analog pinterest board of sorts that no one gets to see but ME. Anyway today, in an effort to rest my brain from Trump news for a couple hours, I decided to catch up on a stack that had built up over several months. This image, from a Filson catalog, I love. It reminds me of my favorite book by Denis Johnson, Train Dreams. I know most people point at Jesus’ Son or Tree of Smoke as his best, but I’ll take Train Dreams any day.
Sharing this from bit from Patagonia because they lay it out way better than I ever could, and I’m with them 100%:
Today, President Donald Trump took executive action to reverse decisions that halted Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Trump’s order invites TransCanada Corp. to resubmit an application for its Keystone XL project and has directed federal agencies to expedite the approval of the Dakota Access pipeline.
We firmly stand behind the belief that the Keystone XL pipeline is not in the country’s interest, and the Dakota Access Pipeline poses significant threats to the Standing Rock Sioux. We are asking you to join us in asking the President to not put Big Oil first and prioritize the well-being of our people and planet.
The following is a link to an online petition from the Sierra Club. I’m not sure to what degree online activism helps or not, but these days I suppose it can’t hurt.
The best article about Standing Rock is in the current issue of Montana Quarterly, my favorite regional magazine. The lead feature is written by my good friend Sterling. The entire piece is available online. I urge you to read it HERE. An excerpt:
On the afternoon of September 9, 2016, an injunction sought by the Standing Rock Tribe against the Dakota Access Pipeline was denied by Federal District Judge James Boasberg. Within a few hours the Obama administration, the Department of Justice, and the Army had issued a joint statement requesting that construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline just north of the Standing Rock Reservation be halted until further assessment could take place. I was at a rally in Bismarck with hundreds of others when the government’s request went public, standing in the rain on the long, manicured lawn leading up to the North Dakota capitol building, listening to several Lakota girls give speeches on a bullhorn. I had never heard young people speak so eloquently and passionately, and as I listened I began to feel something beautiful and dangerous to the idea of America was happening. Their words were so powerful, in fact, I nearly cried. Luckily for me I’m an Indian man, and we only cry in ceremony.
I feel honored to know Sterling after having read that piece. He’s a good man. And he bought me breakfast when this photo was taken (or maybe I bought him breakfast — that seems far, FAR more likely) back in April at Paul’s Pancake House in Missoula. We all know how big of a deal breakfast is.
I’m also pleased to have a story (and the photographs that accompany it) in the same issue of Montana Quarterly. Mine is about the Dixon Bar. It was a fun piece to write, and I was/am thrilled because MQ was one of the publications I set high importance on placing some work in, because they are the best around here. Now, considering the current cultural climate in this country, it seems a little superfluous to me. But it’s a start. I have another piece with photos coming out in the next issue. I’m excited about that. It’s fun.
And now my final point. I’ve never been one to shy away from my political leanings, though I don’t talk much about politics in these parts. That is going to change. The stakes are too high. Donald Trump is a loathsome human being with zero redeeming qualities. I’ve felt this way long before he bought his way into politics. He represents everything I despise about our culture. Crass, arrogant, and willfully ignorant. A liar. A gigantic con man. It’s one thing in a reality television host. It’s something else in someone who is in position to shit all over everything I hold precious and seems likely to do so. I’m going to do whatever I can to oppose him.
This following image is a little meme someone put together featuring the words of Charles Bowden, a writer from the Southwest I much admired. His words have resonated with me for years; more now since about November 8th. It’s going on the bulletin board by my desk, lest I forget the importance of every moment left to me.
I remarked I wanted some plants in my office, so I was presented a slip off a larger plant from the living room. It came in this little metal bucket. I nurtured it along as best I could, and it didn’t seem to do much for a long time. I was mildly teased for my black thumb, and my steadfast efforts to keep it alive. It started to grow a bit. Last summer a little shoot appeared in the dirt. It grew quickly. Then another, and another. Now I think I should put this in a bigger pot. The original slip is the branch drooping off to the left.
What does this have to do with gratitude? I’m grateful to this little plant for sticking it out with me, that’s all. We are at my desk together this morning, soaking up what sunlight is coming in through the window on a gray, frosty day. And yes, a number of little Little Brown Jobs are at the feeders, as are a couple norther flickers and a magpie.
I have since received a big sword plant in a pot as well, which I also love. It appears to be doing fine so far too.