Herewith, my annual Christmas letter:
Christmas Eve, 2021
The other day, I was walking in my condo complex when I spotted this couple seated outside their unit. I did a double-take. Hadn’t I just seen them a month or so ago? Huh-uh. They’re down here only for December each year.
What!? It had been 11 months? “Scary!” I yelled.
Indeed, this year has passed faster than any in my life. New conspiracy theory: The Democrats have conjured a deal with the devil to speed up Earth’s rotation so the mid-term elections arrive before COVID-19 gets any worse.
I have so much on my plate that it’s spilling onto the floor, which I need to clean before the renters arrive in mid-January. Yep, I’m movin’ out – at least for awhile. Heading to Tampa until the end of March to determine whether I want to make a permanent relocation.
Maybe it’s just nostalgia. I vividly remember crossing the Courtney Campbell Causeway to Clearwater in the twilight of that warm September day eons ago, excited for the new adventure that awaited at the Tampa Tribune. Did I say something about time flying?
Loved my two years there. Nothing is holding me in Palm Beach County anymore. The writing community is sparse, jazz and symphonic music almost gone even as the population has soared, social outlets uninspiring. Got out of my contract with the publisher of Blood on Their Hands and am putting out a new edition, hoping it can spur reader interest just as the new edition of my life might infuse it with zest. That hope is enhanced by the possibility of finding more-fertile ground for my books, which I plan to augment next year with publication of a work of creative nonfiction tentatively titled LITTLE RAG DOLL: The Story of Wanda.
Toothless man in Deliverance
I’m hearing the echo of “Scary!” But I was scared at age 26 when I left for Europe with $350 in my money belt, and it proved a great experience. Like then, I know no one where I’m headed, but one reason two rating agencies ranked Tampa as the No.1 city in Florida and among the top 25 in the country is its friendliness. Indeed, I found that quality in good supply on a visit a few years ago. Then there is Tampa General, one of the country’s leading hospitals; three sports teams – baseball, football and hockey – that rank first in their leagues; one of the country’s best newspapers, the Tampa Bay Times; and enterprising, Democratic governance that embarked a few years ago on a 10-year, $10 billion growth plan.
But before I go, I have to get more dental work done; I look like something straight out of James Dickey’s classic novel/film Deliverance, with most of a front tooth missing. I know you all want to shower me with gifts at this time of year, but all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth. The one next to the compromised incisor is a little loose, and it may have to go, too. (This just in: I found a dentist who said he could put a crown over the damaged tooth and shave a little off its unstable neighbor to help with the bite, and I could resume my avocation as a vampire.)
This is just the latest in a series of dental woes that have beset me in 2021. I flew to Costa Rica in March for five implants by a young crackerjack of a dentist, then Nicaragua in October for crowns over the implants. But I still needed crowns in my lower left and a crown in my upper right. I’m wearing so many crowns that people are bowing to me. Even Trump, up the road a bit: He’s not sure whether I’m related to Kim Jong-un or Vladimir Putin.
While I’m talking teeth, I almost got a taste of canine chompers during my condo trot, and I’m not talking about the ones in my mouth. Fear gripped me at the roar of a Rottweiler that lunged, barely restrained by its owner, as I walked past it. I warned in a letter to the board that it was just a matter of time before that beast would put somebody in the hospital. Two weeks later, upon my return from Costa Rica, I learned it did just that, sinking its fangs into the leg of a guy sitting on his bicycle while chatting with the dog’s owner. The guy still had numbness in his foot.
By now, you’re probably wondering when the political rant is coming. You know what? I’m ranted out. I think the situation is hopeless. One-half of our two-party system is bent on obliterating our democratic system. I fear it will all be over in 2024, when the Republican loses the presidential election, but GOP organizations in the red states find ways to declare whoever he is as the winner by finagling with an obscurity in the Constitution, which various groups already are working on. The right-wing, Trump-appointed judges will approve of their insidious machinations, and presto, we have an autocracy. It will be bolstered by a horde of other Republicans declared winners by state governmental bodies that manipulate electoral laws to overturn Democratic victories.
I read a lengthy piece the other day in which several psychiatrists discussed the evidence that the country is in the midst of a mass psychosis. It makes sense, which is what a significant segment of the population seems unable to do, indulging in these insane QAnon conspiracy theories that go beyond the imaginations even of science fiction writers. These people swallow the criminal Big Lie, perpetrated by the power-mad politicians of one party, that the election won by Joe Biden was stolen. It’s traitorous, which the GOP politicos know but don’t care, and their extremely gullible constituents are too ignorant to realize.
Sen. Joe Manchin
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema
And the Democratic Party is unwilling to confront them head-to-head and wake people up. Why is the party putting up with the stonewalling of Biden’s policies by two of its own senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema? If they were Republicans, the GOP would severely punish them. It already punished Liz Cheney, divesting her of the House Conference chair, the No. 3 position, for doing what was right by refusing to deny that Biden was legitimately elected. Manchin heads the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, but the damn Dems are too timid to remove him. He’s threatened to join the GOP. So call his bluff. He’s only hurting the party, and the country, anyway. Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about; I’ve not heard one pundit or politician suggest this. But it sure makes sense to me.
Rep. Liz Cheney
Politics and romance would seem to be odd bedfellows, and were indeed for me. I had a several-month fling with a gal I met at a ballroom. She is well-off, and is extremely generous. I kept trying to elicit her position vis a vis Trump, but she was noncommittal. I was having suspicions, and in our final spat, she abandoned all deception, declaring that Trump did a lot of good for the country and Biden is bad for the country. That did it for me, hands down. I don’t shun someone for being misguided, but if hesh is unwilling to discuss hiser opinions honestly, it is obvious the relationship will not work.
I mean, it’s a simple concept. Forget that Donald Trump is a sociopath, a person without a conscience; has been a cheater all his life; told 30,000 lies while president; screwed up our relationships with our allies; broke our nuclear weapons treat with Iran, which now is ramping up the supply; worships dictators; declared bankruptcy six times in 10 years; downplayed the pandemic for political advantage instead of leading to defeat it; behaves reprehensively toward others; and on and on. Put all that aside, and just consider this: You know that Donald Trump lost the election to Biden fairly and squarely, and that he refused to accept defeat, instigating attempts to overturn it that included a violent insurrection. You know those are gross violations of our Constitution, abdications of the rule of law. And yet you follow him like a helpless little puppy dog. That makes you a person I sure as heck don’t want to associate with.
Typically, this woman pays almost no attention to what experts in myriad fields tell us less-connected souls. She is, in a phrase, woefully uninformed, fitting neatly into the fold of Trumpian idolaters. Also typical, she doesn’t need to pay attention, because she already has all the answers. I should have known, when she told me her last, late husband was a fan of Rush Limbaugh.
So we march on into an uncertain future in this country and on this planet. We can only hope and try for the best, heeding the Death Row inmate/author in my now completed Little Rag Doll manuscript, who wrote shortly before his execution in 2013: “The one thing I am absolutely certain of after 58 years on this rock is that LOVE is the foundation of the cosmos, the very essence of what we call God. This is the one lesson we all must learn, and will learn in time, and which gives me my peace.”
A very merry Christmas and hap hap happy New Year to all.