Five-Twelfths Over and Done

This morning, I’ll treat this blog as my journal.

Yesterday, I spent some time with a man who is my political opposite. I try to avoid any conversations of politics with him because my blood pressure and my voice tend to rise when I hear perspectives I consider ill-informed at best and blatantly idiotic at worst. The conversation yesterday went haywire after a disagreement over some words I included in a draft of a story I’m writing. More on that in a minute. That disagreement devolved into a furious exchange, after we were in the car heading home, during which he expressed his undying love for Trump’s policies and attempted to serve as an apologist for Trump’s lies. I wasn’t having it. I lit into Trump and anyone who supports the man. It got ugly. He responded by railing against Hillary Clinton, calling her a piece of shit who, he says, is a far greater liar than Trump. If I thought I could have gotten away with it, I would have pushed the man out of my car at 50 mile per hour as I drove back toward the Village from Hot Springs.

The reason I spent time with this man involves a writing project. He suggested the project, lured me in, and then promptly relinquished all responsibilities for writing (he does not type—anything he writes he does in long hand and his wife types it for him). I’ve continued working with him only because I committed to doing it, early on. It no longer holds my interest the way it did, in large part because of him and the questions he asks of the woman about whom I’m writing. Originally, I liked the idea of telling the story of a woman who came to the US as an eight-year-old child from what was then Yugoslavia, speaking not a word of English, and built a successful life for herself (with enormous help from her parents and the Serbian community). I still like the idea. But I am finally understanding that he seems to want to use the story to spotlight the fact that her family immigrated to the US “the right way.” Or, at least, he wants to make damn sure the story doesn’t suggest that “just any immigrant” is good for America, only the “good ones.” I want the story to highlight the value of immigrants and their contributions to society.  After a year of periodic interviews with the woman, I’d hate to walk away from her and the story. But I don’t know that I can stomach working with the guy any more. We are by no means “friends,” but I don’t want to make him my enemy, either. And, as he regularly says to me,  he wants the story completed before he dies. He’s in his eighties and not very healthy. We left it as follows: I’ll continue writing, using my notes as sources, and will get in touch with him and the woman about whom I’m writing when I feel the story is finished. I made it clear it would be on my timeline and it wouldn’t be soon. I need time to decompress, I think.


After yesterday’s debacle, I got home just in time to go to a talk delivered by a guy who started the Gangster Museum in Hot Springs and who’s written a book about the gangster history of the area. He’s an engaging speaker and we enjoyed hearing about the colorful history of gambling and gangsters. Early in the twentieth century, Hot Springs’ population was more than 25,000 and attracted as many as one million people to come take baths in the hot springs and gamble at the casinos and drink the illegal but openly accepted liquor distilled in the area. At the same time, Las Vegas, Nevada had a population of around 5,000. When gambling and gangs got rousted from Hot Springs, the city began to stagnate, while Las Vegas grew rapidly.  Interesting parallels.


Our next door neighbors were at the same talk with another couple. After the talk, we all went to a relatively new bar & grille in the Village, where we enjoyed drinks and small-plate appetizers (like tapas, but not tapas). We were having a very nice time when, suddenly, a very bad muscle spasm/charley horse behind my right thigh. The pain was sudden and excruciating. One of people at the table, the woman friend of our neighbor, suggested I eat mustard to address the problem. She left the table in search of mustard and brought it back (in the meantime, I could not sit; instead, I limped around the room, grimacing and whining as quietly as I could). After I downed a couple of tablespoons of mustard, a co-owner of the place brought me a gallon zip-lock bag of ice. After applying it to the back of my leg for a while, the pain subsided enough that I could carry on a conversation. I’ve never had a muscle spasm in that spot before. The rare muscle spasms I’ve had have been in my lower leg, generally in my calf. I hope last evening’s experience was the first and last one in my thigh.


Today is the first day of June. We’re five/twelfths of the way through the year. Imagine, if you will, that the circle represents a full year. The shaded sections represent those parts of the year that have passed. Those parts of this year will never again be available to us to live through. They’re just gone. Zap. Nada. No more. Memories may remain, but the actual year parts are gone forever.


My wife is planning to go out today to get her driver’s license renewed. She  hopes to get the new version which will allow her to use it as ID to board planes. I think the entire “upgrade” to IDs is just another step on the road toward giving everyone a national identification number. If I could start a revolution, I would.

About John Swinburn

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