And So June Begins

The 2023 hurricane season begins today, June 1. The names awaiting assignment to potentially deadly storms for the season are: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harold, Idalia, Jose, Katia, Lee, Margot, Nigel, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince and Whitney. I know of only three storms that bear my name, John. The first was a Pacific storm in 1994; the second, another Pacific storm, struck the  southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula on September 1, 20006, causing only minor damage. The third was yet another Pacific storm. It skirted Baja California, but did not make landfall. The storms do not “bear my name,” actually. They bear the same name assigned to me at birth. What, I wonder, does the 2023 hurricane season hold in store for the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts? How many ships will be lashed by the fierce winds of tropical storms and  hurricanes between now and November 30? Who will write music and lyrics honoring the seafaring victims of this year’s storms, now that Gordon Lightfoot has died? I wonder whether any songs have been written in honor of people killed by the brutal onslaught of hurricane wind and water? Just curious, though the thought that people may have died—but no songs were written about them—makes me feel a bit melancholy.


June is Pride month, too.  Until recently, I thought the United States had largely gotten beyond the bigotry associated with homophobia, etc. But the progress made in the recent past is under increasing pressure intended to reverse the advances. Bigots are coming out of the woodwork, emboldened by Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, and their ilk. For that reason, alone, those of us who are allies of the LGBTQ+ communities must be prepared to fight people who want to turn the clock back to times when gays, et al were forced to conceal their sexual orientations and other attributes viewed by bigots as “dangerous” or “immoral.” Will humanity ever evolve to a point at which bigotry dissolves into the hideousness of history, with no chance prejudice and intolerance will again rear its ugly head? I am afraid not.


If not for the inconvenience of chaotic—and possibly distant—parking, I might have a good time attending an Arkansas Travelers baseball game. And I might enjoy going to Centerville Speedway some Friday night to watch racing…stock cars, modified stock cars, street racers, etc. I seriously doubt I would find either event truly riveting—at least not sufficiently joyful to warrant changing my attitude and giving me the urge to participate in spectator sports with any frequency or regularity. But I imagine this unanticipated interest will be short-lived.  Both events would, under normal conditions, be of absolutely no interest to me. But I suppose conditions these days are abnormal; certain elements of my personality are subject to momentary deviance.

That having been said, I sometimes long for a place to go, habitually and often, with people who—without becoming addicted—want a place where audience energy is palpable but not intolerably frenetic. After watching the event(s), I can imagine moving on to a welcoming, comfortable tavern where the group can have decent (but not snobbishly expensive) wine, good local draft beer, non-alcoholic drinks, and various types of bar food…burgers, pizza slices, fries, fried green olives, steak tartare, fried green tomatoes, jalapeños stuffed with shrimp and cheese, assorted mixed nuts, etc., etc. Food and drink tend to melt away social trepidation and misanthropy.


There is a certain kind of joy in accomplishing something with one’s hands that cannot be replicated in any other way. Intellectual accomplishments usually cannot match the satisfaction of “building” something. Painting, sculpting, metal art, working with glass, model-building, jewelry making, and on and on get in a person’s blood; they become his salvation in a brutal, unforgiving world. But for someone like me, whose attention span seems to get shorter with every passing hour, even salvation is not enough to keep interest in the endeavor high. Writing, a poor cousin to creative handmaking, is my refuge. Yet as I type, hoping my “creative outlet” will keep me occupied, I remember this: I have forgotten how to write—I just process words through my fingers. Characters, words, sentences, and language at large simply spill from my hands’ tentacles onto a keyboard and subsequently onto a screen. Language, sentence structure, etc. by default. Ideas and concepts may (or may not) be buried beneath the sea of alphabetical characters.  But sculpting and welding and plasma cutting and painting and sewing and chiseling stone and making statues out of bronze and porcelain and clay are sure to increase the trickle of creativity to a powerful flow. At least for a minute.


It is time for me to shower, shave, and get dressed. All in preparation for another visit to the audiologist to try out a hearing aid. I will not be persuaded to buy one today. I am certain of that. I have decided to have someone who does not sell the devices test my hearing. Not that I am a skeptic, of course…well, of course I am skeptical.

Perhaps this afternoon will present another opportunity to engage in conversation and otherwise enjoy the company of a friend. We shall see.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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