Since his ink hit the parchment Shakespeare has been spot on, in understanding the complexities of the heart, the highs and lows of passion, unchecked ambition that leads to treachery, and everything else that makes up the human experience. Line after line from dozens of plays and sonnets are etched forever into capturing our collective predicaments. This past month I have been steeped in such verse, wrapping up the tearful Romeo & Juliet with Freshmen, falling under the justice of Hamlet with Seniors, and delighted by a stage performance of The Tempest; curiously, this week, my thoughts run straight to Macbeth. How could they not, right? Basically nothing on any of our screens is what it actually appears to be, our entire world of commerce and health gone topsy turvy, while revenge leaches out of every Whitehouse tweet; this is the stuff of our headlines, for in every direction we face, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” We are media addicts all, scrolling from meme to meme, filtering out our own crow’s feet to fetishize our own sphere of influence. As we look to replace the bloat king, who dyes his comb-over and sports a cheap spray tan, (not that I take issue with hair dye or make-up, in fact I’m all for looking your very best, but his external duplicity only mirrors every level of his notorious and self-heralded double dealings); I want more than anything to see what is. Let’s step away from the media barrage, and recall Macbeth, as he chided himself against his own false faith in the witches: “Infected be the air whereon they ride; And damn’d all those that trust them! ” Let’s stop trusting those who cause more helter skelter, more “fog and filthy air.” Let’s face ourselves as raw and naked and vulnerable as that will be.
The whole world is Twitter mad once again, and even though I hold the platform at arm’s length, it is hard not to be obsessively scrolling over the tweets bouncing back and forth like discordant sound. Even if you try not to get embroiled, headlines and soundbites echo the 280 characters driving a wedge between us all. Thanks to these Twitter tantrums, hate talk replaces straight talk with the ease of a click. Perhaps that was not always the intent of social media.
“At times during 2011, the term Arab Spring became interchangeable with “Twitter uprising” or “Facebook revolution”, as global media tried to make sense of what was going on.
But despite western media’s love affair with the idea, the uprisings didn’t happen because of social media. Instead, the platforms provided opportunities for organization and protest that traditional methods couldn’t.
In the words of one protester, Fawaz Rashed: “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world.”” (Maeves Shearlaw).
But over the past two years we have witnessed the lack of ‘coordinating’ in these minute messages, in fact, dialogue across spectrums has sunk to the worst form of discourse thanks to a lack of social norms in social media posts. Or just some new allowance that we can’t back away from perhaps.
It really isn’t because I’m reading Claire Dederer’s latest memoir, Love and Trouble, but I must admit, she’s gotten me thinking. About how I wished I wrote with her daring pen. About all those crazy-ass years when I was running straight into the black, and these slightly more stable years, when some of that crazy is boomeranging back. But it isn’t totally that either, it’s my job and the demands that are clear insanity but you can’t actually admit to it because it’s your job after all and you need to keep it a few more years; it’s the guy in the White House who I can’t bring myself to call president or give his title a capital letter but still, you know he’s there and the whole world is acting like he didn’t in fact steal the election but somehow might be qualified even though he’s the very definition of shit show; it’s about summer’s abrupt end and my love of drinking a tad too much rosé, okay my addiction that hasn’t stopped even though I know better and one should stop drinking Summer’s Water; but ultimately it’s about racing and racing every day ahead of just about every deadline so that I can feel like I have it together but know I don’t. Yeah, today, it’s all of that.
There is, generally, within a disaster, some small yet distant point of light along the horizon. Katrina, Irene, and now Harvey have that in common: the disaster and the light. Although my Vermont school community is not directly affected this time, their personal memory of Irene has spurred empathy and compassion for the residents in Texas hit hard by Harvey. On our first day of school there were whispers which grew to serious conversation until an unified plan took shape to support the relief efforts. As we are hundreds of miles away, raising cash seemed best.
As June melts into July, and we settle into yet another new home, there is plenty to fracture and divide our time from our desire. There is unpacking and all those decisions of where to hang this mother’s portrait or that Bowie painting. There are boxes of cleaning supplies that look too much like work, so I vote to banish them to the cellar while she might actually want to use them. There’s me wandering on the front lawn in my bathrobe to catch the early light and getting sidetracked by raindrops on broad leaves instead of finding the lid to the pot still stuck in a box somewhere. Me wandering. Finally, I’d add. Stop the lists of to-do’s for a single moment and feel dewy grass.
For ever I’ve been writing as ideas come crashing in. During certain blocks of time these writings took on titled forms, like poem or novel or stage play. No matter the name, these pieces wholly occupied my time and sense of self, appearing like hidden treasures, each a gift on the page. Unlike the wonder and joy I felt while writing, however, forays into publishing were as consuming as quick-sand or as frustrating as a sand-trap: regardless the simile, this aspect of my writing process did not bear fruit. An occasional academic or periodical publication but not with the fanfare in which I suspected a titled “writer” would receive. A person with piles of papers covered with words stored in boxes. Is there a title for that kind of writer? Certainly there have been times when writing did not appear like fairy dust. In fact, I had a particularly dry stretch. After working with an unhelpful agent for a disappointing year, I lost interest and direction, and for a while I stopped writing: for months actually. But then, (and how wonderfully lucky I am), my dearest one suggested I consider blogging. What do I have to say? I responded immediately. I doubt I got more than her one eyebrow lifted before I broke into laughter. Plenty, yes, I’ve had plenty to say, and apparently continue to say, for there is no shortage of ideas springing forth for my weekly posts. This is how it was, during a distant dreary November, now six years ago, that Nine Cent Girl came to me. I’m so glad she did.