I used to collect what one might call “kook lit.” Unhinged prophesies and/or conspiracies, feverishly illustrated and/or single-spaced, filled with gentle pleadings for humanity and/or violent threats. The kind of thing brought into Kinko’s @ 2AM by disturbed souls, with copies destined for car windshields, radio station PO boxes, who knows where else.
My collection is long gone, although I curated the hell out of it for years. One reason is that the Internet made it almost trivial to publish whatever you wanted. With few exceptions such as Time Cube (look it up), online kook lit didn’t have the same “bite” as the hard copy screeds. A second reason concerns my own sanity, and how hypocritical it was to have a cheap laugh at those who weren’t all that much deeper into the abyss than where I have been from time to time.
No, I don’t collect that stuff any more, but I remember the cadences, the dream logic, the occasional poetry entangled in the fused synapses of fevered minds trying to communicate … something, even at the risk of ridicule by downpunching asshats like me or visits by the authorities.
And I am here to testify as a former crackpotologist of note that all of my collection put together made more sense than the President of the United States does on Twitter on this 11th day of August in the Year of Oh Dear Lord 2018.
Just a quick reminder that in the Year of My Sweet Lord 2018, so far: Not one policy of or action taken by President* Donald J. Trump is in conflict with the stated goals of white nationalism. Not one.
It’s a weird thing to look back on, but when I was a small child I made promises to myself as an old person, if I ever got to be an old person. The most important one was the most stark: that I would never become a father.
Some of you know why already, and I won’t get into it again here. It’s enough to say that it was a kind of “the buck stops here” commitment. I’ve kept that commitment, and I have never regretted it for a second of my life. My waking life at least.
One night when I was 35, I had my one and only dream of fatherhood. Tybee Island, Georgia, a place I knew well from childhood. My grandmother Smith lived in Savannah, and I loved visiting her and I loved Savannah and I especially loved the beach a few miles down the road. In the dream I was an adult, it was early morning, and I was walking along the beach. I was blissful. And there was a child with me. My son. He was stopping every few yards to pick up handfuls of sand and sift them through his fingers. He was blissful. I started to say something super-duper profound to him as we walked, something about never taking anything, not even the sand, for granted. Suddenly he looked up and shouted excitedly: “Mom!” I looked ahead to see a beach house, a screen door, a figure behind the screen. I looked closer, curious to see who this woman was and I woke up.
I started crying violently almost immediately, for I knew this idea of being a father could never come true. My commitment was too strong, stronger than any principle or ambition I have ever had in my underachieving life. It has been my Prime Directive, the price for staying alive.
I never dreamed that dream again. At times I have wondered if it was a peek into an alternate universe or timeline where I am still me just not as damaged but I have no regrets whatsoever. It has to be this way, and I believe I have prevented suffering because of that childhood promise to myself, now.
As some of y’all know I’ve been substitute teaching at a high school in SW VA. I asked the administration to throw everything they had at me, because life is short, I am old, and I don’t have much time left to decide if I really want to teach. So I not only get the math/science classes and Jr/Sr grades I’m aiming for, but also phys ed classes and – sigh – 8th and 9th graders. It’s what I asked for and I’ve been getting better at class management, working toward a professionally stable medium between unhinged pushover and unhinged nazi when it comes to in class discipline.
Consider a Venn diagram of:
(1) people who jump into online discussions correcting others over what the AR in AR-15 stands for,
(2) people who jump into online discussions correcting others over what the official Confederate flag looked like, and
(3) people who jump into online discussions claiming that there was no GOP Southern Strategy and that Democrats exclusively are the real racists.
That Venn diagram would be three nearly identical and concentric circles.
I am ambivalent about Mastodon. Not the interface – that’s fine. Not the decentralized networks nor the open source code – I’m definitely for all that.
It’s just that having walked away from a Twitterful of imaginary friends already, I’m not sure I’m up to making new imaginary friends, or being one myself.
Hello Twitter friends. It’s time for me to go. Pretty simple, really. I have no desire to be “the product” any longer. I will delete this account over the weekend. I have one remaining social media account: (at)k4doh on Instagram.
I have no idea if I’ll be hearing from people on Twitter again. I will miss several personal friends and online acquaintances. Same thing happened when I left Facebook, only more so. People probably still think I’m dead over there.
I’m here on this site I seldom update, with intention to do more always. I have e-z to find email addresses. Instagram and Flickr even. I’d be honored if you could drop me a line just to say hello at your convenience.
I have the world’s best commute: 14 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway in SW Virginia. I also have a ham radio: the Kenwood TH-D72A. On 25 February, I stopped on an overlook at Mile 168 in Floyd County and took a hiking path up to about 3550 feet. I thought maybe with 5 watts I could scare up a contact or two. Instead, I was The Popular Kid, hitting a Greensboro, NC repeater with ease and making several QRP contacts on 146.52 simplex with operators in NC, and VA.
I lived most of my life in #Alabama. Spent too much time tolerating bigots just to get by without making waves because i had things to do. Sometimes I whined #notallalabamians when my state did something reprehensible yet a-rsfcking-gain. Didn’t matter. Our name was still used to represent everything embarrassing about the South in 21st Century.
I was not an effective advocate for getting our heads out of our asses. I just voted for losing candidates and complained on the Internet. Surprise! It changed nothing. Alabama is insular and self-spiting even compared to the rest of the Deep South.
If Judge Meatwad wins every Alabamian and everyone who cares about Alabama is going to have to endure an unprecedented tsunami of scorn and it won’t matter if we deserve it individually or not. It won’t matter how many college football games Bama or Auburn win. Emphasizing college football is just another way we let ourselves get played by the reprehensible oligarchy that run the state anyway. But that’s another story.
It’s coming. You won’t like it. I won’t like it. It may not be fair, but it is understandable.
Clyde Lee Smith
SWVA, December 12, 2017.