Small Things, Big Things

I’ve never thought of myself as bothered by Seasonal Affective Disorder; now I’m beginning to wonder if that’s the case. Where I live in west Michigan has not been hit with snow and cold weather as severely as the northeast, but we are in the midst of one of the worst Februaries in our history. The temperature hasn’t gotten above freezing yet this month, and the snow—well, yesterday morning I was out blowing the stuff onto snow banks that are already waist high, when the thermometer said -2 and the wind chill was -20. When you come in from 45 minutes out in that @#$%, your body feels like somebody’s been punching on you.

So, yeah, right now it’s difficult for me to see the half-full part of the glass, and it makes bad things look worse and what are actually small things seem much larger. If you want to stay upbeat, you probably should stop reading right now.

One small thing: I will hit 70 later this year. My doctor said last week that he considers me a “young old patient”—someone not afflicted with a variety of debilitating problems. One big thing: my mother died at 75 and my father at 79. I do seem to have, so far, avoided many of the health problems that did them in—colon cancer, prostate cancer, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease. All of those genetic toxins seem to have been funneled into my poor brother, to be exacerbated by his reckless lifestyle choices.

It may be just as well that I die at 79, though. My financial advisor says that, if I retired today, my money would run out by the time I turn 80. And people wonder why I haven’t retired yet. (I had four kids and didn’t make a lot of money when I was younger, so not much went into savings.)

Another not-so-small thing: Bob Ingalls, the owner of the publishing company with whom I currently have a book under contract, died last week. Bob was one of the most gracious, congenial people I’ve ever worked with. Right now his wife and others who run the publishing company are deciding what they’re going to do with it. For the first time in over a decade I’m not sure if I’ll have another book published. Yes, I do know there are all sorts of self-publishing options, but I’ve grown accustomed to working with traditional publishers and, at my age, I’m not sure I can master the technology to self-publish, or if I want to.

I have several book projects in various stages of development. A couple are mysteries, a couple of others are in other genres (historical, middle-grade). At my age I doubt I can find an agent willing to take me on. I haven’t had any luck so far. One of my latest projects is a cozy mystery, one of those about a middle-aged woman who owns an antique store/quilting shop/garden store/pottery shop in a small town and has a dog/cat/dog-and-cat and is always stumbling over dead bodies. You know the type. Those do not appear with a man’s name on the cover. Can I find an agent/publisher who would let me use a pseudonym? I don’t know, and I’m so down right now that I can’t convince myself it’s worth the effort to try.

One big thing: I’m scared to death that the situation in the Middle East is far more serious than anyone realizes or will admit to realizing. James Baldwin said, “The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.” Or, as Cicero put it two thousand years ago, “We fight to great disadvantage when we fight with those who have nothing to lose.” That’s exactly the situation we’re in. Jordan and Egypt joined the fight only when their own nationals were harmed. Glad to have you aboard, but if we have to wait for other countries to react in that self-interested way, ISIS will win. We have to see ISIS for what it actually is, a threat to civilized society—not western society but any sort of civilized society.

Well, have a nice day.


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