Tag Archives: ragtag daily prompt

Blowing Dust

Small comfort,
pithy post-nailed note:
I want you here”
scrawled in fading ink
on timeworn paper.

(Image credit: στρατός. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

There are days, and then . . . there are days. It seems like there’s been a lot of those days lately, and with the holiday season in full swing there’s the added stress of things to do, people to see, dealing with shopping for people . . . things can get just a tad overwhelming.

And is it me, or are people getting harder to shop for anymore?

Lately I’ve been feeling a little touched out by the constant activity. Not to mention I’m falling behind on fitness. I’ve got a whole bunch of things I’d like to be working on but I have no time for. My guitars are dusty and lonely. I need to just take some time off to decompress but we’re too short-staffed at work to allow for it and the first available days off are out in February, so . . . screw me, I guess! The only way to get time off is to be sick, and I’m famous for not getting sick. 200 hours of sick leave: pointless. Over eighty hours of vacation time: unusable.

And then there’s the real enigma: how I can do my very best at my job, improve on practically everything I do, pull off some great work and train great people on how to do our jobs well, and get trashed on my yearly performance evaluation by — apparently — the only person whose opinion matters; based on situations and metrics that either can’t or won’t ever be corroborated; to the confusion of the other supervisor who had to read the eval to me, who later told me that he tried to back me up but . . . well, we both know how that goes with the boss. Once something’s on paper, boy it is done! There’s no defense, there’s no reasonable explanation, and there’s no appeal that’s going to make that steaming, smelly pile of contrivances go away.

"starr-100218-2532-Dianella_sandwicensis-habitat_with_helicopter_landing_and_blowing_dust-Helu_West_Maui-Maui" by Starr Environmental is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I suppose I’m fortunate that this has no other negative effect on me other than weighing heavily on me; in order to keep this career I have to just accept my fate and admit that I will never have any chance at success so long as I am assigned to this shift. I’d have a better chance making it as a helicopter pilot. Good news is, my boss’ boss wants me here so I guess . . . that makes it better?

Yep. I guess I have to keep that bit close to heart, to keep me warm during our 30 days of nights.

(Image credit: Starr Environmental. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

I had to get that off my chest, anyway; I apologize if it’s a real downer. There’s certain “morbid” statistics associated with careers in law enforcement, and though I never intend to be a statistic, I’m starting to see how one gets behind that curtain. This job attracts certain types of people, and some of them should not be given power over others. For my part, I just want to help people — legitimately, help them. I think I do that well but I’ll never win any awards doing it and I’m fine with that. Just don’t micromanage me, nitpick me, poke or prod me with baseless accusations and falsified accounts of behavior that no one else can verify. Don’t lie on me and then laugh it off like it’s the end of a Scooby-Doo episode. That shit burns.

Forget about the holidays. The rhetoric about the time of year, how we should be all happy and nice and forgive people their trespasses, all that noise; make it a way of life. Those whom you have responsibility over, make sure you support them and validate their work. Don’t forget that they’re human beings. Don’t squash them because you think it makes you look good, like you’re doing your job when you’re letting others get away with murder. You know who’s going through a lot right now? Everybody. Don’t be a dick.

That’s my PSA; I sincerely hope you enjoy the remainder of 2021, in case I don’t get a chance to write again this year.

*This post was brought to you by Tanka, where Haiku is a lesser included offence

Sumptuous Spring

Sucker punches fade;
These thawing skeletal shards,
the harbingers of rebirth

So . . . last night’s post took me forever to write — like eight hours or so, with the constant diversions of doing my job while sitting in the building’s control center. But the real issue wasn’t working around work, but trying to figure out WordPress’ interface. You see, I haven’t been posting regularly for several years, and so I find myself paying the price of having fallen behind. The interface changed. In a way, it was totally alien from how I was doing it before, and so there is a learning curve there.

Fortunately, I’m starting to figure this thing out, and it looks like I might actually have a few more toys to play with. Building a post, it’s now like stacking Legos, and how much better is that than hacking together html, copying, pasting, etc? It seems like there’s even potential here for site layout design.

I’ll keep digging on that.

But anyway . . .

Believe it or not, Spring is right around the corner. Here in North Dakota, where we have a reputation for cold weather, proper winter didn’t really set in until several weeks ago, and then a couple weeks ago the temps just plummeted. An unseasonably mild winter became car-killing weather, as though Mother Nature jumped, realizing that February had crept up on her and cranked it all the way down to -11.

And the irony of it is, even if we’ve really only had a month or so of bitterest cold, it’s still too long for my taste. I hate cold weather. I’m still not lucky enough to have a home without drafts or cold spots, the window panes have thick layers of frost on them, and even keeping the thermostat at 68 does little to ward off the cold that likes to sink its teeth deep into my flesh.

But I think there’s a sumptuous spring right around the corner. Literally and figuratively, we’re in a position to rebound, to move forward and make things better. Four years of bald-faced political chicanery. Insurrection at the Capitol. No real closure. Winter storms, power outages, water shortages . . . staggering losses. Human losses. Have we had enough yet?

Some people fight change, while others fight for a better tomorrow. It would be nice if it felt like there were more of the latter than the former.

Let’s bounce back. We can make tomorrow even better.

Tanka Tonight

Dreaming astride an abyss
then sailing away
anteceded sudden loss —
as though stars fade out
while slumber eludes my grasp

Wisdom is a funny kind of thing. It feels like one of those things that, it would seem, the more of it one has, the less of anything else they have. In spite of this, some people relentlessly seek it out and perhaps for the same reason some people avoid it like it’s a disease.

Not to be confused with common sense, which surely works the other way around, wisdom comprises a set of indissoluble truths that can only be truly gleaned through honest observation of, and interaction with, the Universe. Like Pokemon, some believe you gotta catch ’em all, and yet it seems like each one is as wriggly and slippery as an eel. Each truth is hard to hold, harder to keep, and one can’t possibly internalize the entire set in a single lifetime.

Maybe it’s an undesirable side-effect of middle age, but it feels like the more time wears on, the less wisdom is in evidence in the way affairs are carried out in the world; common sense, too, seems to be falling by the wayside. The news is full of examples of this seeming decay.

Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before we are all plunging into that infinite abyss I saw in my dream — each of us just one in a crush of lemmings driving recklessly toward the edge precipice.

"Dark" by Revise_D is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
“Dark” by Revise_D is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Is that too negative? I don’t know . . . I can’t pretend to have an infinite well of optimism. Perhaps there’s little wisdom in saving my writing for just the sunny days. There are other days — darker days — and those need to be aired out just as much, if not more.


I like to beat the bag like it owes me money. Sometimes it feels savage, sometimes it feels like more effort than it’s worth. And while many might think there’s catharsis in such activity, I feel like doing it for that reason alone is dangerous . . . because even when you do it for the physical aspect, when it gets you dialed into a meditative state, makes you sweat, makes you want to win at everything — it still trains the brain to know what it’s like to punch something. And sometimes when you’re dealing with a particularly difficult person, part of you is curious about what that feels like.

Of course, for me that’s very rare. I tend to be cool, and when things heat up I’m more likely to walk away than lash out, because the skin of my temperament is so thick its lineaments do little to betray the scars of my youth; the rifts and cracks long left behind now barely show, to the point where I sometimes question their continued existence. At this point, they’re fading quickly into the past. That’s where they belong.

There are days and then there are days — those days when you happen to find the one person who is going to test your patience. My thinking is, it’s best to have a deep, deep well of patience if you hit a bag on the regular.

No issues here, and no regrets. My well is so deep.

Not just another Tanka Tuesday

Have you ever found yourself clearing out a craft space that has long sat unusued, only to discover a finished product that never saw the light of day?

I said the other day I’d be working my way through the handful of drafts in my draft folder. Here’s one that I found today, and it was fully written. Here it is, with zero changes. Originally written on December 20, 2016, this post dates from about a year after the lights started going out on my original spate of blogging . . . about three years solid, and five years since post one (seriously, I just scrolled through all of it; Holy Hannah Banana, I have a ton of material!) Today this blog is nearly eleven years old and I have some cobwebs to clean out, but as it turns out, I also have something left over to offer — a little look into the mood that pulled me off the page for so long . . . .

room by room
turning off the lights
unsure as to why
I get the impression
it’s time to withdraw

I’m pretty sure I’ve been islanding. I’m almost certain that it’s not entirely my fault — I blame some of it on climate change. Things aren’t the way they used to be, and I can’t tell whether that’s because I’m always either resisting or having trouble keeping up, or whether it’s simply because I am no longer a kid, and I get that now. 

Every year the ocean levels are rising, and the shores of my island become smaller. I’m being forced inward. 

Or maybe it’s supposed to be like this. As the drum beats time marches on, and as we disconnect from the Matrix of old social paradigms the tubes and wires connecting us to them pop off, leaving us cold and alone in our very own pod, surrounded by a sea of machines and trite little tchotchkes, a blip of life in a Universe drowned in invisible data.

But I can’t believe that; it’s fatalistic. It’s dark, I know — and I promise that it won’t always be this way. But sometimes to find treasure you have to be willing to dig through a mountain of trash, decaying remnants of old life, mouldering bones and offal. It’s a dirty job for sure, but someone ought to do it. 

I’ve had the good fortune to be a WordPress blogger for years, even in spite of long absences, and this place has helped shape who I am. Writing gives us an outlet and a place to put our thoughts and ideas in order. To put ourselves in order. And I must write more, or risk losing myself in the shuffle. And I guess that means getting some of this stuff off of my chest and working it out. 

I find it ironic that I use this space to talk about how I see technology as an increasingly efficient disabler of the natural social construct, leaving unfulfilled more and more the visceral call to community that built the world that made WordPress possible. 

Maybe it’s evolution, or maybe someday it will turn out that my job was to document the fall of humanity. If so, then I might be woefully behind as outsiders have already set up shop within our borders. Or maybe I’m just looking for something other than myself to blame. 

This is me, digging. 

I know the pieces fit . . .

I know it’s hard to believe, but my ideas don’t just spring out of thin air. In the past, I’ve relied upon writing prompts to help spark the old whirlygig in my head when I had nothing else going, and more often than not it helped bring out some of my better writing.

For some reason, that river seems to have dried out. Exhaustive searches have struggled to turn up a current source of daily writing prompts. It took me a little more digging to discover that I used to go to a blog called the Daily Post, and headed over there only to find myself a Lone Wanderer, looking at a monolith of the past . . . something that I failed to consider might have an end, but is now sitting unused, flecked with rust in the spots where the paint has chipped off. But then in my inspections, I came upon a whole new realization.

I don’t want to generalize my own habits, but maybe I’m not the only one that does this: sometimes you get used to skimming, and you forget to really look at the little things. Over the past few years, falling out of the writing habit . . . all of my best work has been done at the behest of some assignment for school; a card in need of some pithy, heartfelt message; an incident report that I was lucky enough to have to write for work . . . just enough to wet my whistle, but hardly enough to satisfy. You know.

In the rush and bustle and Cram of life, I had gotten so used to looking at the forest I forgot there were trees. Shrubs. Blades of grass. Individual grains of . . . soil? And throughout and underneath all of that, a massive mycological network that both feeds and feeds on all of that. All of a sudden, I realized this whole time I was looking at something truly valuable and not even seeing it.

I’m snapping out of that feckless state! It’s tough work. The WordPress interface has changed completely and I’m hacking my way through the process, trying to come up with new shortcuts to do the things I want to do. But I’m now saying goodbye to leaning on writing prompts when I need inspiration, and hello to looking for it on a more granular level.

I find that, at least for me, writing is a lot like Tetris. All the little pieces that fall . . . it feels like the game is sending you what you need. What really matters, then, is what you do with them. The pieces fall, and you place them, you wait for the right piece that will give you the space you need, and you keep on kicking those lines out. You try not to choke and start spamming the hard drop. But the goal isn’t really to win, per se — it’s to get better. To improve, to find new ways to do the same things over and over.

To get creative.

Life is a lot like that too. Things we do, they can feel old after a while. But the world throws so much at us, we can sometimes get so used to dodging that we fail to see the inspiration whizzing past our ears. We avoid change, to our detriment. 2021 is a new year, this much is true today. But every day is a new day. New things are coming down the pipe all the time.

So it’s time to pay attention. Keep your head up. Strengthen your communication.

It’s always “go” time.