Monday, October 18, 2021



Dear Jane,

Why do they always tell these stories about you?  Why is it always procrastination, break-down, and sorrow?  Songs of failure titled Jane.  Books of self-destruction titled Jane.  Well, Jane I want your story told right, so I will tell it myself.  

Jane stole for you, for you and your addiction.  She wanted nothing more than to make you happy, make you free.  Jane pulled all her punches, and she hid the body for you.  Jane's real story is that she never would settle for what was offered her.  Jane wanted something real, in a world of phoniness, or worse, apathy.  She tended a small garden, illegally, behind the big warehouse.  She gave the food away, and she lived in a little trailer.  She didn't have a car, but when she needed to move, she'd find someone who would do it for a knitted scarf.  

Jane's real story is that she mostly just keeps on, and no one even notices much.  She doesn't break down over death or losing a man, and she doesn't lose a step when a child is lost, because there is always another child that will need to be looked after, there is always another day, and she is not so selfish as you seem to always write her.  And, I'd like to think, that if anyone was listening, you could hear Jane say it.







Tuesday, October 12, 2021

the wind in the trees


Young Pines and Sky, c. 1935
oil on paper
88.8 cm x 58.2 cm
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr Trust

Dear Nature-Lover,

Maybe I should have addressed this to the "word-lover?" because my letter today is to give you this fine word, psithurism.  I got it from a young man that I met at my job, and I have been saving it for you for nearly two years now.*  

It means the sound of the wind soughing through the branches- sounds like sawing, but also sighing, so a kind of back and forth movement seems to be indicated in thinking of this word.  Psithurism also sounds when spoken like the wind in the branches.  It reminded me of another favorite of mine, petrichor, which refers to the smell of the rain.  Here is a very fine list of words, including petrichor and psithurism.  

And so to your song of the day, In the Pines.

That might seem funny, folding up a beautiful word like this one in a little scrap of paper, like a saved slice of cake from a party, and then waiting so long to give it to you; and it is funny, and even a little odd, but I am big saver of things, a hoarder, even, if you like, and I was saving it for The Right Time.  The time when I might add another little something to this offering, in this case, it's the song of the day.

Sunday, October 3, 2021



Dearest Ones,

Are you feeling down in the dumps?  Under the weather?  Low?  Maybe just a mild case of ennui?  Well, as I have remarked before, without coffee, there is no reason to get up, but, I realize there are actually two reasons to get up:  One, coffee.  Two, Laurie Anderson.

If there is any love left over after showering it onto Laurie Anderson (because make no mistake, I love her with every cell; that kind of love where you desire only to be subsumed by the object of your love, the love that can only be satisfied by becoming Laurie Anderson), I send it to you, dear heart!

Until we next meet.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

UBI Now (or, Worker Oppression is as Old as the Hills).


Dear Working,

I thought to address this letter to 'dear workers,' but I wanted to be sure you understood I don't just mean people who receive a pay stub.  Here are some of the job titles I have been this week:


video producer










in home caregiver





inventory manager

IT specialist

Those are just the ones I can think of in two minutes.  Let me elaborate; I don't mean that I can do those jobs a little bit, or kinda sorta.  I mean that I am totally qualified as an expert in ALL of those areas.  If a magic fairy dropped me into the rolling desk chair behind any of those jobs, I could do them without batting an eyelash.  Let me further elaborate; I know that you, too, are qualified for a career list at least as long as this, and very probably longer.  Now, I am glad we settled all that, because I don't want any argument about how over qualified you already are for your life and work.

What I want, now, is to introduce you to two new words (at least, they were new to me, and in true shock of the new fashion, horrifying):  Upskilling and Reskilling.

Yes, these are the two ugly elves you heard about- the ones you must recall the names of, if you want to climb up a tower on someone else's hair.  They are five in all:  Upskilling  Reskilling, Deskilling, Mob Killing, and Up Yours.  Just like in the stories, you must be on your guard around these tricksters.  You may enter into a contract with Reskilling only to find that the money you spent does not qualify you for more pay.  All it did was lengthen your list of abilities and line the Skilling Boys' pockets with more silver.  There's a moral to it, as TweedleDee tells Alice.

It's a lot to ponder, especially if you are thinking of making a career move, whatever that is anyway.  As further beseechment, I offer you this essay, by Anne Helen Peterson.


I am pretty sure I am not supposed to -ment the verb beseech.  Direct any usage complaints to the ugliest elf, Up Yours.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Affection for Affliction.


Dear Doubtful,

Self-doubt is the kind that picks up every available bit of doubt and glues it to itself, growing ever larger like a cartoon snowball (yes, I agree; real snow hardly sticks at all- another great childhood myth shot to hell and back).  This wonderful ball of horrors and self-induced disaster is the stuff that nightmares are made of, and it has no limit on how large and all-encompassing it can grow.  It's also, and this such a shock, completely, absolutely invisible to others.  This giant monkey is only our own, and even if others catch a glimpse of this King Kong, they don't believe it could actually be a problem for you, I mean, you?  Come on, no way!?  Sensitive self-doubters, at this point, will take whatever it is that you may have exposed in your own self-doubt, and quickly pile it on to their own.  Like this:

Self-doubter X:  Well, I just hope my report was what they wanted...  (wistfully, uncertainly, speaking of a task they completed yesterday).

Self-doubter Y:  What??  Your reports are the best!  You are so good at them- I wish I could do half as well!  (reassuringly, confidently, even as they mentally consider the single report of their lives, filed 6 years ago, for a job that they were laid off from, at a company which imploded two months later in a scandal that had nothing to do their report at all).

Okay, now, here's the real mind-bending part:  See all that love, care, and detail I have used to describe self-doubt?  What about that, eh?  What if I love my self-doubt too much to rid myself of it?  What if I really am addicted to my self-doubt?  What if my affection for my self-doubt is all that the whole thing is anyway?  It never occurred to me.  Until I heard this song of the day. 




and self-doubtfully,