I am not your enemy

I wander onto social media and see all these memes designed to provoke and divide us, and I wonder why some people are so intent on splitting us into warring camps. 

The memes contain the essence of one political party’s talking points with the implication that to disagree is to believe the extreme opposite in the cruelest sense. You know the sort of thing: “I belong to my party because I don’t believe kittens deserve to be eaten.”

Every couple of years in the U.S., a professional pig wrestling tournament is held — some call it an election — in which the participants are cast in terms of good and evil, honest and corrupt, noble and ignoble, and once the wrestling is over, the expectation is that the winners are to go into a room and cooperate to solve all our problems. The thing is, if they believe what they were saying about each other, how can they possibly work together? And sure enough, the ensuing conversations are little more than a continuation of the pig-wrestling campaign.

And now so many people are caught up in this belief that one political party or another is the sole champion of truth and justice and morality, and if you don’t swallow every tenet you surely are a spawn or a pawn of Satan, or at least of Russia or China.

Don’t get me wrong. Folks are free to say and believe what they want, and I don’t want anyone to police or censor “hateful speech” on social media. For one thing, reasonable people disagree over what hate speech actually is. You may see a passionate defense of your political party while all I can see is your hate seething from the page, and vice versa.

I just suggest that you put yourself in the shoes of your opponent and consider that they seek a path to truth and justice that’s simply different from yours, not evil. No one is opposed to truth or justice, except perhaps someone who benefits from pitting humans against each other. Who do you suppose that might be, and why would they want to do that?

Not alone

Listening in to Bob Goff’s “The Writing Room” podcast, and he asks co-host Kimberly Stuart why she writes. What’s it all about, anyway?

“I write to remind us all that we’re not alone,’ Stuart responds.


That’s what all the stories are about — that’s what all the songs are about — that’s what all the words are about: We’re not alone.

I’ve been there, that dark place where you think no one else possibly could ever have gone. I’ve been there, celebrating with a joy that is surely once in a lifetime. I may not know exactly how you feel, but you’re not alone.

The words are a comfort against the storms storming everywhere and always. They fend off the scary monsters and make us safe. It is the best news a lonely person can hear:

We’re not alone.

buh-wong and it’s summer

The other day “When Will I Be Loved” by Linda Ronstadt burst out of the radio during my commuter reverie, and it was the Summer of 1975.

The highway and the sunshine and the song morphed into the control room of WDUX radio in Waupaca, Wisconsin, and I was a rookie news guy volunteering for an open disk-jockey shift. I think my then-girlfriend was visiting the studio, because I associate her smile with Linda blasting out of the speakers — because “When Will I Be Loved” is one of those songs that deserves to be played loud.

That unforgettable cold intro — buh-wong “I’VE been cheated” — buh-wong “BEEN mistreated” — buh-wong “WHEN will I be loved” and the band winding up to rollick through the song. It is one of Ronstadt’s signature moments, when her powerful voice matched the arrangement like the proverbial hand in glove.

The jangling guitar solo in the middle is note perfect. The recording is a joyous celebration of summer longing, and I danced around the studio in my memory as I rocketed along the highway 48 summers on. 

Music has that power to transport you back to where you were when the song was fresh and new, especially when accompanied by a similar environment. “When Will I Be Loved” just sounds like a summer day ought to sound, and when played on such a day, time travel becomes real.

That studio was special, being the centerpiece of my first professional job. That young woman was special, my first love in “the real world.” That summer was special — you only go out on your own for the first time once. And that song was special.

Music soothes the savage breast, even when the music is full of jangly guitars and the genre is country rock. That was an inspired two minutes.

Stuff your eyes with wonder

I am of the opinion that it would be fun to use my July 19 blog post, “See the world!” as the jumping-off point or anchor to my next collection of blog posts.

I try to make these volumes somewhat coherent, grouping reflections around a common theme more or less defined by the title piece. “A Bridge at Crossroads” morphed into a collection of encouragements. “Gladness is Infectious” became the first in a series celebrating gladness. “Full” evolved into a book, well, full of words.

I like the idea of finding posts — and writing new ones — that expand on this theme of seeing the world, not in the sense of traveling but in the sense of paying attention to the beauty and wonder all around us every moment. And what do you know — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — it’s an idea I can trace directly to Ray Bradbury.

Because on the page in my journal where I scrawled what became the July 19 post, I see that I wrote down this Bradbury quote:

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’ll drop dead in 10 seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made of paid for in factories.”

Bradbury was born in August 1920 (on the 22nd, to be precise), so maybe it’s natural for me to be feeling Braburyesque around this time of year. In any case I am charmed by this notion of seeing the world and “stuffing my eyes with wonder.” There’s a lot of wonderful stuff to be seen, all around.

I know that smile

The girl was new at this. She rolled down the slight incline of her driveway, suddenly perhaps realizing that she could possibly roll into the path of my oncoming car. Then she rotated her arms wildly in the way people do when desperately trying to maintain their balance, and finally she stepped off the skateboard.

She smiled sheepishly at me and, in the instant before my glimpse of her ended, I saw her smile inwardly at herself.

She’s going to be all right.

The smile said, “I don’t have this yet, but I will have this. It’s funny that that guy saw me fall short, but we both know I will get this.”

We see the Olympic snowboarder defy gravity. We never see the thousands of times she fell or the hundreds of smiles she smiled at herself after she had to flail her arms to keep her balance.

We see the all-star quarterback throw the tight spiral into the arms of his sprinting receiver 25 yards downfield. We never see the thousands of times he didn’t.

“You got this,” they say to themselves after they fall short. And eventually, if they keep trying, they do.


Red and I met via AOL, talked on the phone several times and were intrigued enough to arrange to meet — the three of us including Son of Red — on Aug. 2, 1997. Coincidentally, we moved into the house we built together on Aug. 2, 2012. So this is a big day on the calendar.

It’s very weird, not having her in this world. I had no idea that emptiness could be so vast or emotion so thick.

“Go ahead, let it all out,” they coo as they try to comfort us. But I wonder if it ever gets “all out.” I suspect the grief just becomes a part of who we are, until one day it’s time for us to go, too. I think someone who bonded with you for so many years is going to be a part of you forever and, every so often, a memory is going to wreck you all over again, and you will be overwhelmed all over again.

The best we can hope for is what happened to me as I wrote that last paragraph: Something shifted in me, and I smiled, and I said, “Yeah, but —”

Yeah, she’s gone, but she fit me like a glove. Our personalities meshed; oh, we liked different things, but we liked enough of the same things to enjoy them together. We liked driving along the water by the bay and watching the geese and whoever else was down there. We liked watching the sunset from the park down the road from us.

Yeah, she’s gone, and I’m still adjusting to that reality, but the previous 25 years were the best of my life, and I’m so grateful she found me, and kept me, and let me stay, and I’m so glad we had those last seven weeks when she was in the hospice and rallied enough that we had time to say goodbye and tell each other how much we enjoyed our time together.

Yeah, she’s gone, but — I’m so grateful she was HERE.

Year 4 starts now

Three years ago today, I posted a little fantasy about how the telescreens of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four came true in the form of the personal devices that we spend so much time staring at. For a title I used the words of an astonished Winston Smith when he encountered a telescreen that actually had an on/off switch: “You can turn it off!”

I had a hidden agenda that day, one I didn’t talk about for a few weeks because I have a habit of announcing grandiose plans and having them fizzle: I resolved to blog every day from August through October, a total of 92 consecutive days, more than I had ever mustered in my years of blogging since 2006.

I made it to 92 and kept on blogging; today marks the beginning of my fourth year as an honest-to-goodness daily blogger. Monday was the (365 times 3 equals) 1,095th consecutive day that I have posted something here at warrenbluhm.com

Lesson learned — no grandiose announcements, just quietly do your thing, right? Wrong. Not long afterward I announced I was writing a new novel about a character named Jeep Thompson and I’d be publishing it in 2021. I did publish the first third of the novel — on May 15, 2023 — and have high hopes of getting the rest of it on the market in time to be under your Christmas tree this year. 

I’ve been doing some thinking about goals for the rest of the year, and I’m itching to share them, but I’ve seen time and time again what happens when I share my big plans.

Lately I’ve been thinking that part of my problem is a lack of focus — when you have six novels in various stages of incompletion, a daily blog and a day job, it’s easy to get in a state where your eyes glaze over when it’s time to write. And so I decided to pick three projects and only three for the rest of the year.

One is the afore-mentioned Jeep novel, which got a boost when the people who have read the first third (What? You haven’t read it? Rectify that by clicking here) not only didn’t hate it but had nice things to say about it.

The second is a short novella or novelette that I have managed never to mention in public. Before now. Oh, I’ve jinxed it now. Make believe I didn’t say anything about a sequel to a beloved Christmas classic.

And the third is the project I mentioned the other day. I’m hoping to generate a little excitement about this project by dropping hints every few days, like this one.

Oh, and I’m still planning to keep blogging every day, so I guess that’s four projects, and I still have the day job, which technically is a fifth center of focus, and — see how this stuff gets away from me?