Reintroducing myself

(I found this Jan. 3, 2020, entry at the beginning of a journal. I’ll have to think what I would add after the ensuing 18 months.)

Hi Warren. Remember me? It’s me — Warren.

My favorite books — Nineteen Eighty-Four. Pretty much anything by Ray Bradbury but Dandelion Wine most of all. The Scarlet Letter, of all things. To Kill A Mockingbird. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Harry Potter and Harry Bosch and Walt Longmire and Doc Savage, and the first 38 issues of Spider-Man and the first 51 issues of Fantastic Four. The Adventures of Kavalier and Klay. Brave New World.

My favorite movies — It’s A Wonderful Life. The Wizard of Oz. Casablanca. E.T. Arrival. Serenity. Raiders of the Lost Ark. Then it gets less easy to rank — John Carter, Avengers: Endgame, the best Star Wars movies (The Empire Strikes Back and The Last Jedi), True Grit (the newer one), Field of Dreams, Dances With Wolves, Bringing Up Baby, It Happened One Night, Meet John Doe, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Contact, A Christmas Story, A Christmas Carol (with Alaistir Sim), Miracle on 34th Street (Stop the car, Uncle Fred!!), Spider-Man, Doctor Strange. Too many to count.


I thought of that movie as my mind shifted to my philosophy/politics/no, my philosophy. Politics is the art of convincing people that they need a big brother — well, convincing them that other people need a big brother so the government will take care of them, one way or the other.

Zero Agression Principle: People are free to live their lives as they wish as long as they don’t initiate force/violence against other people or interfere with others’ lives and property.

Tenets of Common Wealth (from The Imaginary Revolution by moi)

  1. Act in love.
  2. Go in peace.
  3. Give more than you receive.

No one owns a dog

Nipper in the RCA Victor logo tilted his head at the sound coming from the Victrola, adopted from a painting with the title, “His Master’s Voice.” The little dog was drawn to the sound because it was …

We have talked of dogs’ masters and pet owners, but can a person truly own a dog, any more than they they can own a man or a woman? There’s something eerily wrong about the statement, “You’re mine,” just as there’s something wonderfully right about the statement, “I am yours.”

A living creature cannot be possessed; the sharing and the caring should be voluntary and mutual.

I put my heart in the care of a gentle golden retriever, and she put her trust and care in me. She was “mine” only in the sense that we had assumed responsibility for her well-being. I don’t think I ever thought of her as a thing I possessed. You don’t own another soul, certainly not a soul as big as hers.

The library book

What hands have held this old tome, how many minds were touched by its story?

If there was a monster inside, how many monsters were imagined? If the monster had wings, were they scaly or feathered or rigid like a plane’s? What light flashed in its eyes? If the devil had horns, were they long or short?

Even if the author supplied the details, each reader saw the monster and the other characters differently. Each moment of the story struck each reader at a different level for a different reason. It could be no other way: We each bring our own set of experiences to the table, at this unique point in our lives.

It looks like one, innocent book, lovingly or carelessly or recklessly handled by dozens or hundreds of readers, but it is as many books as hands and minds that have touched it and been touched by it.

Naming Summer

We were driving south to North Milford to make the down payment on a golden retriever puppy who will be born July 23-ish. The house has felt empty since Willow left us in March, and Dejah, who was little sister for seven and a half years and an only child for the last three months, has shown signs of needing a companion of her own species, or perhaps of missing Will as much as we do.

As we journeyed we bantered names back and forth to try them out for size. We pre-picked names for Willow and Dejah, and it has worked out. I still get chills remembering when I picked up the tiny bundle of fur and asked, “Are you Willow?” and she settled against my chest comfortably, forging a lifetime bond.

We were hoping to come up with a name that might be an homage to the late and wonderful Willow — maybe one that starts with a W like Windy or Winifred or Wanda or have a warm sound with a double-consonant in the middle like Winnie or Hollie or Cassie.

We went through other characters from Buffy the Vampire Salyer (where Willow came from) or other TV shows like Firefly. Inara was a contender; Buffy herself had an outside shot. We tried state names and country names (After all, Henry Jones Jr.’s dog was Indiana), so Colorado and Arizona and Georgia and Albania were tested and rejected. Red looked up the names of elves and trolls and humans and other beings from Lord of the Rings, but nothing struck our fancy. (I think Fancy may have been one of the suggestions.) We easily considered more than 100 possibilities.

And then one of us suggested Summer.

I don’t know why, but as the name rolled around my brain, I saw a little golden retriever puppy running through the grass as Willow had that first day. She loved that field. I could sense a beautiful golden retriever standing in the sun and answering when we called her: Summer. I got a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, and I choked out, “I don’t know why, but Summer has passed the break-up-Warren test.”

Red didn’t say anything for a few moments as the highway raced by. Then she smiled and, in a voice brimming with as much emotion as mine — because she had also was talking through a lump in her throat, as it happens — she said, “Me, too,” and we both laughed and cried.

And so, assuming all goes well, little Summer will join us in mid-September. And thanks to Windsor, a big gregarious fellow who seems to love people as much as people love him, and Lady, a regal girl almost as beautiful as Willow herself, Dejah will discover what it’s like to be a big sister.

I will miss Willow forever, and Summer will never replace the hole left by The Best Dog There Was. But Summer can certainly dig her own place in my heart, and I’m starting to look forward to that.

Pick the right sky

“Your dreams should be as big as the sky,” the weaver said.

The boy looked up from the street corner, surrounded by skyscrapers.

The girl looked up from the forest floor to see the canopy of trees, a patch of far-away blue peeking through the heavily leaved branches.

“The sky isn’t very big,” the boy said.

“That little sky up there?” the girl said.

The weaver finally saw the problem. He winked. And in that wink, the boy and the girl were standing in a meadow. They didn’t see how it happened, they didn’t feel the shift, but they saw the sky.

It was big and blue, and puffy clouds dotted the expanse. They could see to the horizon, and the horizon was farther away than they had ever imagined.

“All right, then,” the weaver said. “Your dreams should be as big as this sky.”

He blinked again. The boy was back on the corner. The girl was in the forest among the trees.

But now they were dreaming.

Power down, power up

You have heard it said — the prophet of long-ago 1960s said it —
“Tune in, turn on, drop out.”

I say,
“Turn off, tune in, drop what you’re doing.”

Turn off the devices,
relinquish the electronic toys,
clear your mind of debris,
use your eyes and ears and hands
to see and hear and feel.

Open your mind
to the infinite

Work, play, and somewhere in between

A box full of Full

I did finish that day-job writing I told you about the other day, but I forgot that I told you I was going to try to have fun with it. Not that it was painful or unpleasant; I just didn’t approach it in the spirit of “Wheee! I get to play!” that I try to bring to my not-day-job writing.

There can be a thrill to the idea of “writing the first draft of history,” of telling the community the important stuff you’ve learned and that they probably want or need to know.

Some days, though, especially after years of doing it — or in this case when the deadline was looming and and I knew people were waiting for my words to come out so they could get on with designing and printing pages — the thrill is not as thrilling as it once was.

And so, after the chores are done, you go off on your own and play.

And it usually does feel like playtime most of the time. I get to dig in the sand of my imagination and build sand castles or words of wisdom or whatever I like.

Of course, then there are the opposite days: Those are the days when wheee! I get to play! but I sit down at the typewriter like Tigger. Oh, bother. I have to write some more of my novel. Oh, no, I should bang out a blog post. Oh, man, I wonder if I’m ever going to write that short story or even that flash fic I was thinking about writing. Oh, woe. I’m such a doofus. I can’t even have fun with the stuff I do for fun. What a failure.

How dumb am I on those days? I mean, right?

I have little reminders posted around my computer: Have fun! Look to your zest! See to your gusto! Encourage! Entertain! Enlighten! When you have a God-given talent, you must use it all the time! Can you believe there are days I look at all those encouragements and go, “Meh”?!

Some days I am so full of words I can barely keep up with my fingers, whether they’re scrawling stuff into my journal or tapping along on a keyboard.* Then there are days I have to drag the words out of my psyche like they’re made of concrete or something heavier. I don’t understand what gets into me on those days.

Today is an in-between day. I’m almost giddy with anticipation because UPS is going to deliver a box full of Full, my latest book, and I’m overflowing with gratitude because I’ve already sold more than a box out there in the wild. This is the best reaction I’ve ever received to a new book, and I’m tickled to death (but also a little nervous because I really don’t know what I did right this time, so how am I going to do it again next time? It’s a good nervous, of course).

On the other side of the proverbial coin, these words you’re reading today have been coming out slowly. It’s more like work than play; I’m going back and adding a paragraph here and re-arranging sentences there and expanding and contracting thoughts all over. It’s not like sailing across the page like a speed skater on fresh ice. On the other hand, it’s not like pushing the horse to plow through dry, hard soil that doesn’t want to be plowed, either.

So it’s not exactly work, and it’s not exactly play. In the end, though, it feels exactly like what I was meant to do. And there’s more than a bit of comfort in that feeling.

*I’m ancient enough to remember when the expression was “banging” along on a keyboard, not “tapping,” because of the amount of force it took to get those manual typewriter keys flying hard enough to imprint ink on paper. The electric typewriter was the first step toward “tapping” along, and nowadays it’s barely a tap to make words appear. Now that’s progress. Welcome to the future, old sod.