I am home from a mini-vacation of three days at the beach. We took a trip to celebrate twenty years of marriage, and my birthday is coming up pretty quick, plus, I needed to get away for a few days. The non-stop activity of the last few months had taken its toll. I needed to sit and stare at the ocean. I needed to feel the sand beneath my feet and the cold ocean water washing up on the shore. I’m incredibly thankful for my life, happy to be alive. We’re lucky to have Santa Cruz only a two-hour drive away and blessed that we could take such a trip at all. For many years we couldn’t, and didn’t, we had other priorities. We’ve decided we’ll be doing the “stay-cation” at home next year, so, I made sure to thoroughly enjoy this trip. I’ve just about got the house put back together now, laundry is done, plants watered, etc. I am trying, however, to maintain my Santa Cruz state of mind. I’ve realized that I breathe easier near the ocean, literally, but I sleep better in the valley. What is it that tells us we are home? I was born less than twenty miles from the ocean, and I feel at home near the water. But I’ve lived most of my life in this valley, and it always feels right coming back here.
Fall is typically my busiest time of year because of the holidays. I’m a regular domestic goddess about some things and take my homemaking pretty seriously, not Martha Stewart level, but I love this time of year. I’m doing my pre-Christmas decorating cleaning over the next few days. After last Christmas, I made the bold decision to throw away all the old Christmas lights. I spent three hours getting all the strings to light and said, “No more of this! We need new lights!” So, of course, now we have no Christmas lights and I can see that I’m going to be scrambling to get everything done, and on budget, as usual. This brings me to the fact that this year has flown by. How is it Veterans Day already? How? How is it coming up so fast on Thanksgiving? It’s been a pretty good year so far, thank you, God. But it has certainly been going by quickly. I think the more I want to savor it all, the quicker it seems to be going.
I was going to say that I haven’t had time to work on the book at all lately, but that isn’t true. Having some down-time gives the mind time to contemplate, that lets ideas wander in, so even when a writer isn’t writing, they’ve got something brewing.
There are some other topics I wanted to touch on, but I don’t know that I want to ruin my mood. For four days I didn’t watch any news. When I did watch the news again, they were still talking about the exact same things, still running the same narratives into the ground. I think it is important to stay informed, but I also think it is important not to be consumed by the propaganda no matter where it is coming from. And there is some straight-up propaganda happening out there in the American media these days, and the blatant bias and obviously slanted opinions being broadcast and perpetrated as news in some arenas are a slap in the face to any thinking individual anywhere. I used to check into CNN (also known as the Communist News Network) every now and then and I don’t anymore. The way some of these persons are framing their questions has changed, they don’t care what the answer is, (which makes me not care what the question is) they’re inserting their answer (opinion) into the question. That isn’t reporting, that isn’t journalism, that’s the media making statements about their personal opinions and trying to manipulate conversations to support what they’ve already decided, which makes it not reporting or news but propaganda and propagandizing. Mark Zuckerburg got a big dose of that the last time he was dragged in front of congress to allegedly answer questions about how he runs his privately owned business. ( I haven’t used Facebook for a couple of years now, I do use Instagram.) We hoped that kind of thing wouldn’t ever go on in our government here, but it is. We didn’t think that kind of thing would ever go on here, in America, in the mainstream media, but it is.
The other thing I was thinking about touching on is, again, the dumbing down of America. While we were out and about, I began to notice things out there in the world that had been purposely misspelled for the sake of space or expediency. One sign on the side of a mini-mart read, “Snaks, Pop, Beer.” Well, that isn’t how you spell “snacks,” but leaving a letter out made the word fit on the sign. The problem with that is there are actually people who don’t know that isn’t how the word is spelled, and there are those who don’t care. People think that one little thing, one little intentionally misspelled word, is nothing, but that’s how it starts. So the references to the film “Idiocracy” are becoming more surreal than funny at this point. It might be time to stop making up words for a while, and get a firm grip on our language skills, on proper English, again, before our ability to communicate in an intelligent manner is lost forever.
Now, here’s where each and every one of us has an opportunity to quietly become a holdout, an adherent to intelligent discourse, to hold ourselves to a higher standard than the misspelling of “Snaks.” I quit high school when I was seventeen, in the middle of my junior year, though I still managed to get my certificate of proficiency. ( I also spent what amounts to two semesters in junior college later on, which is super fancy, I know.) I maintain, as has been said by many others before me, that all actual education is self-education. If a person can read a book, they can learn. I still look up the definitions of words, read about history, read conflicting points of view, and am curious about the world. When someone tells me something, or when I hear something on the news or on television, I very often say to myself, “I’m going to look that up. I’m going to learn about that for myself.” We have a unique level of freedom in the United States. Each of us has the opportunity to think for ourselves, to gather information, disseminate facts, to decide for ourselves what we think as individuals, to actually know what we are talking about, and to not follow the herd. Unless, of course, having thought for one’s self, one finds one’s self in agreement with the said herd, that does happen on occasion. But, you know what I mean, I hope.
I’m still in a great mood!
I’m going to post some other Santa Cruz pictures over on the imagery and poetry page later on today. The coast of California is nothing less than completely stunningly beautiful.