January 02, 2019

Practical Matters

There's a new post directly below this one. As I was completing it, I thought: Yes. I can still write. Blessed relief.

That post explains what happened to me during December and the holidays. In short: nothing good. Health crises, and a spiritual crisis too (previously undiagnosed -- writing that post helped me identify it). I'm slowly beginning to get back on track, both to organize my apartment move in the next five months and to return to writing regularly. I'm working on several new posts at the moment. One of them (and probably more than one) deals with certain aspects of tribalism. Among other things, we will pay a visit to our old chum Andrew Sullivan; when it's not nauseating, his pitiful, ridiculous lack of self-awareness is instructive.

I didn't want to muck up the earlier post with details of my current financial state, so I'll divulge the unpleasant details here. I'm $700 short of what I need for the first of the month bills -- rent, power, internet, telephone. Ah, yes: food. Better make that $800. If at all possible, I should pay the rent by this Saturday; after that, the rent is technically late. Bad things may well ensue, possibly very bad things. My situation would have been considerably worse, were it not for a few very kind and welcome donations made in the past few weeks.

I am determined that this year will be very, very different from last year with regard to my writing -- primarily because I am determined to write regularly. There is more about that in the previous entry. To put it in different terms: if I'm going to survive this year (and the move), I must write regularly. I'm not ready to die -- and I'm also not ready to shut up, not just yet. I still have some things I want to say.

So if you can help out with this month's expenses, that would be wonderful indeed. I will be deeply grateful.

Many, many thanks for your time and your consideration.

Reclaiming My Sense of Wonder

I offer my very best wishes for the New Year to all of you who read this. I hope you had a joyous holiday season. My holidays were utterly dreadful. I had one major health crisis, and several minor health crises. I'm stable now, and sort of okay. Kind of. Most of December was spent in bed, often sleeping 14 to 16 hours a day. It wasn't exactly a restful, refreshing sleep, but more on the order of: Can I manage to survive another day? That sense of imminent, deadly peril is gone for the moment, thank God. Now I only have to deal with overwhelming anxiety, when I contemplate everything that must be done so that I can move to a new home by the beginning of June.

My holidays were additionally awful because of the piercing loneliness that has suffused my life since Sasha died, as I described in my last post. I'm slowly learning how to work through (or around) that, but the tremendous sense of loss continues to overcome me at unpredictable times. I still think I see Sasha out of the corner of my eye now and then.

Life without cats is not my idea of life at all. But I can survive it. I suppose that was the theme of the holidays for me: Can I survive this? I did. Now I merely need to find a new place to live, clean up this apartment and pack up my belongings (I'll be getting rid of lots of stuff, including many books, CDs and DVDs), and then engineer the actual move. All of which seems close to impossible given my very bad health. Well, I have five months to get it done. I can get it done in very small increments, which is the only way I can get it done.

Speaking of moving: if anyone who sees this knows of apartments in the Los Angeles area (including the vast suburbs) that are cheap but livable, please do let me know (or if you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who might know). I've been in this apartment for 21 years. During that period, and in the last decade in particular, our corporatist fucking overlords (sorry, that "fucking" slipped out, but I mean it: fuck those corporatist fucking overlords) have priced apartments in Los Angeles proper into the realm of the ridiculous. Apartments that once rented for $600 or $700 a month now go for $2,000 and more. You're no doubt aware of the "housing crisis" afflicting many of our larger cities, a "crisis" by means of which the ruling class systematically destroys all those who do not belong to its anointed, blessed rank. If I were younger and healthier, it would be bad enough; in my current circumstances, it verges on fatally alarming.

But I am determined to survive this, too. I am not yet done here. Besides not being ready to die, I still feel the need to write more. I wasn't able to do the writing I had planned in December because of the intervening health crises. But I've started pulling together some new posts. I hope to complete a few of them soon. And my goal remains to resume writing and posting regularly. A few readers have told me that they intend to continue supporting me to the extent they can regardless of whether I ever write another word. I cannot tell you how profoundly moved I am by such a gesture, to say nothing of how deeply grateful I am for the help on a practical level.

But I realize that most readers prefer to support a writer who actually, you know, writes. And I myself would be ecstatic to be that writer again and, you know, actually write. Regularly. This entry will now go in a direction I had not anticipated when I began it. My reference to ecstasy caused me to look once more at an essay of mine that is among my own handful of favorites: "Cultivate Your Sense of Wonder, and Live Ecstatically." Here are a few brief excerpts:
If I had to select just a single word to express my deepest feeling about the world, and about humankind, it would be that one: wonder. I consider it a measure of how unevolved we are that so many people appear to be capable of that feeling only when they contemplate an imaginary, supernatural plane. It is hardly surprising that our world holds so much unnecessary suffering, when so many people are willing and eager to condemn it to second-rate status in favor of one they've made up out of whole cloth. ...

Extraordinary events have transpired in history before, and they might again. We need a miracle, but not one delivered to us from a supernatural realm: we require a miracle that we create.

It can happen. Hold on to your sense of wonder; if you do not have a sufficiently strong one, then develop it. For me, it is the most precious resource in the world.

Live in the sense of wonder, and in the world of joy. Take it, feel it and pass it on.

That's sometimes all you can do -- for someone, somewhere, one day. It's everything. ...

I now add that, when you engage in this process, you yourself live ecstatically -- today.

And that is everything.
In the last few years, and especially in the last several months, I've forgotten my own advice. I've been dangerously out of touch with my own sense of wonder. It's not difficult to understand why it happened, given the dreadful events in my life in recent times. Still, I consider it a grievous error. Fortunately, it's an error I can now correct. I hereby reclaim my sense of wonder and my dedication to living ecstatically. I reclaim them to the depths of my soul.

If that strikes you as hokey and sentimental, I urge you to reconsider the matter. Cynicism and bleak despair hardly exhaust the range of "adult" emotional responses. In today's world, cynicism and bleak despair are easy. Wonder and ecstasy require courage and strength. Wonder and ecstasy are brave.

You may consider that to be boastful and self-congratulatory. You bet your sweet, wondrous ass.

Related: Practical Matters

December 02, 2018

In Hope of a New Beginning

This has been a wrenching and devastatingly difficult time for me. Unfortunately, it continues to be so; I don't expect it to change significantly for at least another month or two.

I titled the last post "Alone" because, with Sasha's death, I am all alone for the first time in exactly fifty years, since 1968. During that half-century, a few people have shared my life and living quarters -- but the one constant was that I always had at least one feline companion. For much of the last 25 years, I've had as many as three. But now, I am completely alone. It's an alien experience for me. I hate it. No, that's not strong enough: I absolutely loathe it. Without another living presence here, I barely feel half-alive myself. I'm also too ill and too poor to provide a home for another cat, at least to do so in a responsible manner.

Yet, I do desperately want another cat. For that to happen, I need to resuscitate myself. I also have to strengthen myself as much as possible because I have to move by the beginning of June of next year. The first step in my own revival will be to begin writing regularly again. If I'm able to do that, a few other miracles might be possible. I have many topics in mind; I know I'm alive primarily because a number of subjects and areas of inquiry continue to fascinate me.

I will have a new post up on or before Friday of this coming week. If I'm able to work faster, I will. Because of the damned calendar, I must pay the rent by Wednesday, along with the internet and phone bills, and a couple of other expenses. At the moment, I'm about $600.00 short of what I need. So, as always, I will be very deeply grateful for any help readers may be able to provide. I must add that I extend my profound thanks to all those who have made donations in the last few months. If not for you, I would have vanished by now. I'm sorry I haven't sent any thank you notes recently, but until the last couple of days, it's taken all my strength just to get out of bed. I'll be writing some thank you notes, too, in the coming week.

So, a month in advance of the New Year, I will start a new beginning of my own. I don't know if my new writing will be at all elegant or polished. But at least it will be new writing. And I think, based on my track record, that it will contain some original observations. I've been pretty consistent on that front. Speaking of which: has anyone else noticed that more and more people have begun writing and discussing the phenomenon of tribalism? I became aware of it more than a year ago. I wonder if my writing had anything to do with it. Some of my major pieces on tribalism were published -- wait for it -- almost ten years ago. Here's one important essay: "The Ravages of Tribalism: Learning to Hate 'The Other.'" (If you follow the links in that article, you'll find additional pieces on the subject.)

As you might expect, I have many additional thoughts about tribalism, gathered in the time that has passed. I also want to say a few things about what some others are saying about tribalism. It won't be in the nature of a spoiler to tell you that I often don't agree with the discussions I've come across. So tribalism gets added to my writing To Do list. That subject alone could keep me busy for another ten years.

But there are a lot of other issues and events to talk about. So I'll get busy on that, and I'll be back in the next four or five days (and maybe sooner). And if you have some spare change clanking around, it would be wonderful if you could throw it in this direction. I hardly expect to have a joyous holiday season, but it also doesn't have to be horrific beyond describing.

A multitude of thanks for being there, for listening, and for your consideration.

November 08, 2018


Sasha died last Friday. Her ashes were delivered to me just a short while ago.

I had known she was dying for the last several months. I didn't mention it here because I couldn't bear to think about it, although I was all too well aware of it every time I looked at her, every time I held her in my lap and stroked her and gently scratched under her chin, while she purred very loudly, every time Sasha and I curled up in bed together. But to put the fact that she was dying in writing here ... well, that would somehow make it more real than I could tolerate.

She died peacefully, here at home. Sasha was a wonderfully sweet, completely adorable little girl. My apartment, my life seem desolate without her.

Now I must somehow regroup, gather what strength I can, and go on. I have to find a new home and move in the next six months. And there is writing to do. Oh, yes, I've seen some stories recently that have reawakened my writing impulses. And I may write a bit about grief and dealing with it. God knows I've had more than enough experience with loss and grieving in my lifetime. Here's one post on that subject from six years ago: "Never Enough." That essay concerns living through, and miraculously surviving, the AIDS crisis in the gay community. I got it right in that post. I know that because rereading it for the first time in at least five years made me cry, again.

So now I cry for all those lives lost to a ghastly disease -- and all the deaths that might have been avoided if we as a culture had been more compassionate and caring, and if we had chosen differently -- for Sasha, and for all the cats that have graced my life with their treasurable love and companionship -- for all the beloved friends I've lost to other causes -- for any of you who suffer for reasons that might have been mitigated or even avoided altogether, or for any of a multitude of other reasons.

Please forgive me for the following. I must be crass for a moment. At present, I'm worse than completely broke. I had managed to get an increase in the credit line on the credit card I use for most of my purchases (groceries, certain bills, etc.). That's mainly what I've lived on for the past couple of months; it's also how I paid for all the expenses in connection with Sasha (which were considerable, and none of which I regret in the slightest -- if I had thought it would save her, I would have robbed a bank).

That increased credit line is gone now. So I'm without funds for any of my living expenses for the month -- internet, phone, electricity, groceries. I would obviously be profoundly grateful for any help you may be able to provide.

I'm going back to bed now. My body was already in terrible shape, and the loss of Sasha is wrecking me at the moment. I'll be back as soon as I can; hopefully, some writing will help to refocus me and provide me renewed strength to go on.

My deep thanks to all of you.

September 03, 2018

Just Out of Reach ...

Many, many thanks to the seven additional people who made donations in response to yesterday's post. I'm deeply grateful to all those who help to keep me going. As I've often said, without these blessed donors, I'd have been out of business, and out of, well, everything, long before now.

I'm still $240 short of what is needed for the rent. It's very important (for reasons explained in the previous post) that I pay the rent by Wednesday, if at all possible. After that, I may have to enter into difficult negotiations with the owners. I truly don't want to have to do that. So if you have a little extra money available and would like to help obtain a badly needed reprieve for a writer who would still like to do some writing, I would be thrilled, relieved, and thankful.

I thought I'd better publish this on Monday evening, rather than waiting until Tuesday, because the anxiety and lack of sleep from which I've been suffering hit me very hard today. I've barely been able to get out of bed at all. And I'm not sure when I'll be able to drag my ass out of bed tomorrow morning. So while I'm up, I thought I should take care of this since, as the saying goes, time is of the essence.

I'm hoping that things have been a bit slow on all fronts because of the holiday weekend. Perhaps some more readers will drop by on Tuesday as the world returns to its regular schedule. That's my hope, at least. And then I might be able to pay the rent and the internet bill ... (And heck, even though it's been years since I've been out to have a meal at a restaurant, isn't $240 about what people -- some people, anyway -- routinely spend these days for a nice dinner? Hell, these days, that might be what people spend for a nice lunch. And it would save me from eviction.)

All my thanks once again, for all your kindnesses and generosity.

September 02, 2018

Can't Sleep, Can't Eat, and Generally Falling Apart

My deep thanks to the six people who made donations in response to my last post. Those six donations total $450. That's a little less than half of the rent payment -- and then there are a few other critical bills, such as internet service and the phone. Oh, and food.

Although I'm not that concerned any longer about money for food. I don't know why I seem to be eating next to nothing, even though I still have a little food left in the house. Well, that's probably the explanation right there: I don't want to eat the last of the food, because that would be it -- the last of the food. Don't want to face that. So I don't eat. Yesterday, I ate a bunch of crackers. Was fine, didn't want to eat anything more. Don't feel much like eating anything now.

But I do have to pay the rent. As I've explained before, now that the owners have started the countdown to evicting all the tenants in preparation for building demolition, I know they would be only too delighted to evict me for cause so as to avoid having to pay me the $20,000 that the local regs require them to pay. Rather than paying me the $20,000 directly, the owners opted to set up an escrow account. That means they only have to dole out the money as I actually incur the moving expenses -- and they don't have to pay whatever is left over until I've moved out completely. Nice for them, rotten for me. In any case, if they can evict me for cause, all that goes away; they don't have to pay me a cent.

The rent is due by the end of Wednesday. After that, it's late. I should be okay if I can pay it by Friday. After that, bye-bye, me. So massive anxiety is wearing me down. I toss and turn all night. It's impossible for me to get any restful sleep at this point. I suppose that might be a blessing: massive anxiety for someone with a bad, weakening heart -- that might be the exit plan I need.

Sometimes, I think about all the writing I've done -- and the quality of the best of that writing -- and I wonder how it's come to this. Actually, I don't wonder all that much; I know how it happened. I could have courted acclaim and popularity; I certainly had the opportunity when I was regularly linked by a number of major bloggers. But I chose to tell the truth as I saw it, which proved not to be all that popular. (Those dynamics became especially stark during the Obama Ascendance, when I regularly wrote essays like this one.) I wouldn't even mind that all that much (although I could do without the looming possibility of eviction and slow starvation). What truly sticks in the craw is that so many utterly worthless, idiotic, repulsive jerks are so staggeringly successful. That just seems mean. It's hardly an original observation to note that, if God existed, He would be one nasty, sadistic motherfucker.

Well, thoughts for another time, perhaps. The task for this week is to pay the damn rent and a few other bills. Any assistance you might care to offer would be accepted most gratefully.

If you're interested, the listing of Major Essays on the right side of the blog contains some items you might find worthwhile. In fact, two posts I've made notes for concern older posts of mine and how they connect with stories currently in the news. I admit that I am pleased when a piece I wrote ten years ago proves to have been very accurate in its observations and predictions. A nice feeling. If I can manage to pull myself together a bit, I'll try to get those posts done and published. Or some other ones, maybe a light post or two. God knows we could use a good laugh around here.

Okay, enough blithering. I guess I'll knock myself unconscious and get some sleep.

August 30, 2018

Let the Fall Begin

The fall as in the season, not the Fall of Humankind or something hifalutin' like that -- although, given the overall performance of humans, definitely including the current idiocies being committed on an hourly basis, if not more frequently, it can hardly be argued that the Fall of Humankind would be undeserved or even, from the perspective of other sentient beings out there or perhaps simply the universe in general, unwelcome.

It's not only that we make such a colossal mess of things -- but it should be noted that we do that on an ungraspably huge scale -- but that we are the source of so much completely unnecessary and entirely avoidable pain. And we inflict that pain on everything with which we come in contact.

My, my. You might gather that I am not in the best frame of mind. I do believe what I just stated; if I had more strength at the moment, I would still try to tie such bleak observations to a few strands of hope. Can't do it at the moment. Just can't do it. I deeply regret that I've been too sick to write any new articles during the past month. But the July heat had terrible effects on me -- and on Sasha, as well. We're both still recovering from it. The forecast is that it will get warmer again next week, but I will hope that the heat will not be too excessive. After that, cooler weather may soon arrive. Although I scribble a bit every day, I've been unable to summon the extended concentration required for the kind of writing I prefer. I pray that returns very, very soon. I will keep trying to hasten its return as best I'm able.

Now the first of another month is almost upon us. Thanks to the generosity of 24 donors (and the unusual generosity of a few of that number), I was just able to pay the August rent and the other required bills, as well as have a bit left over for food. I am profoundly grateful to all those who made donations. At the moment, though, I only have about $100 left. So I need to raise funds for the rent, the internet, and food (and a visit to the vet for Sasha, if the universe is in an especially charitable phase). After this weekend, I will have no food, and no money for food. The $100 will be kept for emergencies. Given my health and Sasha's, at least one emergency is all too likely to occur.

As always, I am deeply thankful to all those who make donations in any amount. The only reason I am still here at all is the miraculous kindness of readers who continue to drop by. So a truly heartfelt, "Thank you."

Many thanks for your time and consideration.

August 02, 2018

Help, Please

My deep thanks to the ten people who responded to my last post. I'm more grateful than I can express.

Unfortunately, I'm still unable to pay the August rent, since I'm about $700 short of what is needed. Included in the $700 figure is money for internet and phone service, both of which are critical. I'm not including money for food, which would be nice, but, well, you can't have everything.

If I can't pay the rent by Monday, I will be in very serious shit. I'm sure the owners will begin eviction proceedings promptly. And if I have to deal with eviction in the next month or two, in the midst of this ghastly heat, that will be the end of me. I'm not being dramatic. I have no idea at all how I would survive it. Chances are, I wouldn't.

I'm trying to put together a couple of posts, and I hope to publish one or two over the next several days. Looking ahead to the very near future, I see that they're predicting temperatures in the mid-90s through all of next week. Please keep good thoughts for Sasha and me for the indefinite time ahead. (Hah, "indefinite," indeed.)

I will be profoundly grateful for any help you may be able to provide. I know this is tedious and tiresome -- but, if it causes you to feel a bit more forgiving with regard to my circumstances, be assured that however bad you imagine my situation to be, I can guarantee you it is far worse. I confess that I sometimes wonder (make that, often wonder) if I even want it to continue. But, for the moment, I refuse to give up. Despite everything, my very strong sense that I still have work to do remains close to indestructible, in large part because I see no one else discussing certain issues that I view as absolutely critical. Granted, that may be, in part, a self-protective mechanism. But I also think it's true. My work is not done.

Thank you for your attention and consideration. Sasha and I remain forever thankful for your kindness and generosity, even in this goddamned hellhole called Los Angeles.