Thursday, November 30, 2017

THE END PRESENTS: What I Came Here For

Was it possible that, in everybody’s lymph system, a nascent novel is knocking around?  A few errant cells that, if given the proper encouragement, cigarettes and gin, the requisite number of bad affairs, could turn into something serious?  Living a life is not the same as writing a book, and it got me thinking about the relationship between what we know and what we can put on paper.  For me it’s like this:  I make up a novel in my head (there will be more on this later).  This is the happiest time in the arc of my writing process.  The book is my invisible friend, omnipresent, evolving, thrilling.  During the months (or years) it takes me to put my ideas together, I don’t take notes or make outlines; I’m figuring things out, and all the while the book makes a breeze around my head like an oversized butterfly who’s wings were cut from the rose window in Notre Dame.  This book I have not yet written one word of is a thing of indescribably beauty, unpredictable in its patterns, piercing in its colour, so wild and loyal in its nature that my love for this book, and my faith in it as I track its lazy flight, is the single perfect joy in my life.  It is the greatest novel in the history of literature, and I have thought it up, and all I have to do is put it down on paper and then everyone can see this beauty that I see.

And so I do.  When I can’t think of another stall, when putting it off has actually become more painful than doing it, I reach up and pluck the butterfly from the air.  I take it from the region of my head and I press it down against my desk, and there, with my own hand, I kill it.  It’s not that I want to kill it, but it’s the only way I can get something that is so three-dimensional onto the flat page.  Just to make sure the job is done I stick it in place with a pin.  Imagine running over a butterfly with a SUV.  Everything that was beautiful about this living thing—all the colour, the light and movement—is gone.  What I’m left with is the dry husk of my friend, the broken body chipped, dismantled, and poorly reassembled.  Dead.  That’s my book.

When I tell this story in front of an audience it tends to get a laugh.  People think I’m being charmingly self-deprecating, when really it is the closest thing to the truth about my writing process that I know.  The journey from the head to hand is perilous and lined with bodies.  It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write—and my of the people who do write—get lost… Only a few of us are going to be willing to break our own heats by trading in the living beauty of imagination for the stark disappointment of words.  This is why we type a line or two and then hit the delete button or crumple up the page.  Certainly that was not what I meant to say!  That does not represent what I see.  Maybe I should try again another time.  Maybe the muse has stepped back out for a smoke.  Maybe I have writer’s block.  Maybe I’m an idiot and was never meant to write at all.

---Ann Patchett
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

When I was probably 10 or so years old, Mrs. Chase-- one of my mom's best friends, got me a birthday present:  a brown teeshirt with I'D RATHER BE WRITING MY NOVEL emblazoned across th' front in big, capital letters.  It immediately became my favourite thing in my whole wardrobe and was beginning to fall apart and get full of holes before I outgrew th' thing.  *I* was going to be a writer when I grew up!  *I* was going to be a novelist!

Except, of course, like Gordon Comstock of Orwell's Keep th' Aspidistra Flying, I too was a writer and i couldn't write.  More precisely, while my head might be choc FULL of Patchett's flying butterflies, I never could get any of them down and onto th' page in any meaningful way.  Even before I had Comstock's money problem* of needing $$$ to be able to produce writing, I found that I couldn't put together a decent story that actually had any kind of three-dimensions to it.  I had SEVERAL novels lined up in my pre-adolescence head, but when I tried to put them down, th' butterfly died even without me squashing it into 2 dimensions, cuz th' butterfly was hollow to begin with:  th' story itself, it's plot, wasn't all that interesting and couldn't be sustained for any amount of time.

so, naturally I decided that I wasn't and couldn't BE a writer. I would call myself a "scribbler" and be done with it (you know, after th' unscessful writer / narrator in Jeff Noon's novel Vurt).  There.  That would do for th' nonce:  it told everyone (especially me) that I was a hack of a writer, but I still liked TO write.

And that sufficed for quite some time, and through roughly 11 years of NaBloPoMo, which ends today, and for which I've participated in yet again successfully (actually MORE successfully than in recent years as SOME of th' stuff I've put up has been actually halfway decent; unlike th' drek I've cranked out in previous years).  It wasn't until I began reading Ms. Patchett's book of essays that it occurred to me:  actually, you've been right all along since you were 10:  you ARE a writer, you're not a novelist.  if anything, you're an ESSAYIST and your talent, such as it is, lays in th' personal narrative.  But, like Patchett goes on to say, you gotta do it; you gotta write, and write for hours and hours a day, and when you're done writing something, put it away and start something new.  You're out of practice; you've not SERIOUSLY written like that in probably 8 or 9 years.  

I don't often like being THAT honest with myself, but it has to be done.  Yes, I suppose I can begin to call myself a writer again, though probably not th' professional kind that will e'er be paid for their writing.  But considering I basically write seriously 1x a year for th' first week of November and then loose orbit and interest, if I WANT to be a writer, essayist or novelist or even monologist, then I have to sit down and actually PRODUCE something.   

Well, I says to myself,  I've been writing for a full month now...  maybe I should continue??  I mean, after all, there's no REASON that Still Life has to sit vacant and dormant and empty for 11 months out of th' year...  there's no REASON I can't retreat here several times a month, or maybe even once a week, if I REALLY push myself to write...??  I mean, why stop now??

*But still, it was not the desire to ‘write’ that was his real motive. To get out of the money-world—that was what he wanted. Vaguely he looked forward to some kind of moneyless, anchorite existence. He had a feeling that if you genuinely despise money you can keep going somehow, like the birds of the air. He forgot that the birds of the air don’t pay room-rent. The poet starving in a garret—but starving, somehow, not uncomfortably—that was his vision of himself.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore
faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more...

Through th' years we all shall be together, if th' Fates allow,
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow...

...and have yourself a merry little Christmas, now...

21 years ago my mom died unexpectedly, and all those wonderful, annual and repetitive traditions I loved and lived for stopped abruptly.  For reasons they alone understand, the Fates did not allow us to all be together that Xmas... or th' next 2 decades.  Mom lived in NE Ohio on Erie's shores, I was living in Pittsburgh at th' time, and since have lived back in OH, FLA, NY back to OH and now I'm in NC.  it's been tough each and every year, because inevitably as time goes on, th' Fates do not see it fit for us all to be together.  This year, for example, there are two less cats who th' Fates have allowed to be here in our midst:  Windy died in February of this year, and Tallulah in October.  Oh, Discordia.

Every year as this festive season begins I find myself looking back and missing those halcyon days.  I close my eyes and I can see the world through my childhood eyes; sitting on th' blue La-Z-Boy recliner in th' family room looking at th' bedecked tree; or sitting in th' abandoned living room (why is it in EVERY house I've lived in there's always 1 room that no one uses other than to walk through to get to another part of th' house?) and watching th' snow fall outside by th' light of th' street light.  if I close my eyes tightly and relax far enough into this Vision Splendid, I can for a very brief time, come unhinged in my own timeline and BE there at that time and that place in th' past.

It's temporary, and it's an illusion, and it's no doubt th' exact kind of attachment to a specific time and place that, in Buddhist terms, leads directly to suffering, but it's also th' kind of thing that makes me understand th' motivation of th' mad Soran in th' 1994 Star Trek movie, "Generations":

that disconnect from what was, and that inability to get back there to that good and perfect time haunts me e'ery year, and it's all too easy for me to look back and wish wish wish to be a time traveler in my own life.  It doesn't matter that Emily Webb taught us th' futility of this kind of thinking in 1938 in Thornton Wilder's Our Town, or that I should have learned that lesson when I played th' role of th' Stage Manager in a high school production in 1987 and got to walk onstage and share dialogue with th' dead Emily; it doesn't matter that Wolfe told us You Cant Go Home Again in 1940 or, as mentioned, Siddhartha Gautama taught th' world in circa 445 BCE that attachments lead to suffering and th' only way to break th' cycle of suffering is to break these attachments-- a concept I studied over and over again from my mid 20's onward:  come this time of year, I look to where I am and whom I'm with, which is never where I was and never whom I was with back then and th' attachment to this time and place and it's utter loss tears at my heart.

"You will forge new celebrations for yourself," my friend Djenni told me that Xmas in '96 when I was not invited back to Ohio by any of my family that I'd spent every year of my childhood and into my 20's with.  Through th' years, I've tried, but each year it seems like there's SOME damned thing that happens that puts th' brakes on or dumps cold water o'er everything, and this year it's th' death of our 2 cats.

then, suddenly, as I was trying to figure out how to write this blogcake and where I should go with it, it occurred to me that while th' Fates may or may not allow us all to be together, those who have been so in th' past, there's nothing stopping me from finding NEW people to be with. So perhaps my challenge isn't one of looking backwards in despair at what is now lost and gone, but in looking forward to seeing what may still be...  Maybe THATS where th' wisdom lay...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Don't know that I will 
but until I can find me
th' girl who'll stay and 
won't play games behind me
I'll be what I am
a solitary man
solitary man...

---Neil Diamond

What are you thinking about? she asked o'er lunch.  I thought about a pithy response like, "how much time ya' got?" but opted against it; hers was a worthy question and my answer sounded vaguely assholic, but th' underlying feeling was not in any way snarky:  how much time WOULD it take to answer such a question?  I wasn't sure because as we were sitting there, I was trying to suss it all out and it was a nastily tangled Gordian knot of memories, feelings and loose odds n' ends all hopelessly tangled up with each other.
I tried to figure it out by first opening myself up to whatever I was feeling.  As a wave of sorrow swept o'er me, I had to quickly shut myself down a little bit lest I come apart and begin openly weeping in th' middle of a Chinese buffet over a plate full of hibachi chicken and beef.  She didn't need to ask how I was feeling anymore, though she did as what was making me so sad.  th' problem was, of course, I didn't know.

this kind of thing happens to me now and then, and especially now at this time of year, but I was trying to go beyond, try to find out an actual REASON; what was making me feel this way?  I wasn't particularly aware of being sorrowful; if you had asked me I would've thought I was tired or frustrated or maybe even a lil' fearful of all th' work that I still had to do, but not sorrowful.  Where was THAT coming from?

it's not easy, in th' middle of a Chinese restaurant, a plate of food rapidly cooling in front of you, people and waitstaff going by, talk and th' clinking of silverware, to only partially open th' door to your emotions, peek in and see if there's anything going on in there that makes sense, but th' word lost floated through.
Well, that's not unusual, you often feel lost, she said, but, as she said it th' line from Tolkien also floated through my mind, "not all who wander are lost."  what were these two things, seemingly juxtaposed to each other, supposed to mean?

I began eating again and tried to rationally suss out what was going on with me.  I had a feeling it wouldn't fully work as I wasn't giving all my effort and concentration o'er to it, because, as noted, I was in a restaurant, but I realized I wasn't feeling personally lost myself, but that something important TO me had been lost.  Just prior to her asking and my opening, I had been thinking of Big Jim action figures, and how I always played with them 1 at a time:  Jim was always a solo, aloof person in my imaginative play, as was I as a person myself.  it's not that I felt lost myself, cast adrift and still adjusting to a strange state far away from Backhome, which was still th' trouble I had last year at this time; its that something inside me is gone and feels irretrievable, but I don't know what it is.

Actually, if you think about it, you have more now than you have ever had, she said, and this was true.  I also had a lot more responsibilities than I did when I played with Big Jim on th' picnic table on th' back porch, but that comes with th' territory.  suddenly, into my head and almost out of my mouth came a response, I don't have companionship anymore, but instead I was able to hide th' sudden microexpression of pain on my face by shoving a great forkful of food into my mouth.  Unless anyone reads this, which is doubtful, no one will know such a thought flashed through my head.
I've been trying to evaluate this statement all day long, and as night falls and th' day decays my inclination to write more about it dwindles as well, I don't have any good conclusions yet.  After my 2nd divorce I started a blog I called Ain't Th' Marryin' Type, which I deleted almost as quickly as I started it-- what was there to be said that was of any use to anyone?-- but th' sentiment is th' same; I don't do well in a long-term pairbond, and yet like most folken on this earth solitude eventually makes me feel small and...well, alone.

When I was in middle school I'd discovered th' idea of a Utopian society or a hippie commune.  My limited research at th' time using hardback books and encyclopedia at th' library informed me that these kinds of things never lasted for very long, though th' reasons for why they eventually folded and left were vague and hard to understand to my young mind, but I assumed it was because people got jealous, or there were a few people doing all th' work of th' whole community, or people were on too many drugs to be functional.  I wasn't aware that some folded because th' outside community kept sticking their noses in and didn't like what they saw (usually stoned, naked people having sex in th' daisies) and wanted to drive them away.

In my mind, I thought perhaps th' best answer would be some kind of large common house with large rooms and a few kitchens, surrounded by smaller cottages where folk could come together in small groups or just be alone for awhile.  I've never SEEN this kind of arrangement, not even in apartment buildings, though I've been looking on and off for th' better part of my life.  My assumption, then is that this is simply not th' way most humans want to live, otherwise something like it would exist.  

Monday, November 27, 2017


I remember being young and hearing about gay men who came out of th' closet quite late in life, often after being married and having children (why it took 30 years for someone to write a series like Frankie & Grace is anyone's guess; this kind of thing has no doubt been going on for centuries...).  I remember finding it hard to believe:  how could you NOT know such a thing about yourself??  *I* knew I was bisexual and attracted to both sexes pretty much from th' time of my sexual awakening and even sooner-- I remember having something of a ill-defined crush on Jack Jones when I was in pre-school and Kindergarten; I sho'nuff spent a lot of time admiring him on his Xmas album record sleeve, though by today's standards they should've touched up his eyes a bit.

Long before I formally studied Freud and his concept of repression, I understood what he meant, but still struggled with it:  how could you force yourself to have sex-- even reproductive sex-- with a person you weren't really sexually attracted to?  How could you deceive yourself for so long?  It made no sense.

Then, just about a year or so ago, a random comment on FaceBook about how some friends of mine had hired a babysitter or otherwise farmed out their young children so they could have a lil' "adult time" (hubba-hubba! they said)  got me thinking.  How long had it been for me?  And after I realized it'd been rather a long, long time, I began to realize that I was perfectly OK with that and-- odder still-- I didn't really WANT it, either...  Th' word "asexual" floated though th' transom of my mind and into my consciousness.  A month later, I realized I was one.  2 months later I started self-identifying as such and outing myself to a few people here an' there.  Back in October on National Coming Out Day I publicly outed myself on FaceBook as asexual, panromantic and non-binary.  

No one was really particularly shocked to hear this, i noticed, though th' vocabulary needed a lil' explanation-- th' difference between bisexual and panromantic, for example (in short, I'm not interested in sex, but I am attracted to men, women and non-binary people who exist in that wonderfully fluid grey zone between male and female).  I was frankly grateful that no one seemed to care-- th' online social groups I'd found were choc full of people coming out as "ace" and getting 9 different flavours of hell from family and friends who wanted to argue with them about what they really were; I got a few raised eyebrows, but nothing more and certainly no one trying to tell me what I was or wasn't.

Why did it take ME th' better part of half a lifetime to come to this realization?  I'm not wholly sure:  I think in high school and college I had wanted to build up some kind of reputation as a sexual being, wanting to get a lil' attention and, of course, being horny all th' time, I was always on th' lookout for a good ol' fashioned orgasm.  Perhaps I was embarrassed by my own bisexuality; perhaps I was lonely and got companionship all tangled up with sexual desire, like a lot of us still do.  Th' practical upshot is I find this new identity far more freeing than any others I've had before. 

I was going to write more, but somehow th' whole thing just exhausts me now.  I am what I am, as Popeye says, and I suppose there's no NEED to go back and either articulate or even defend who and what I am now.  This, too, is freeing.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

TH' BOOK OF LOST THINGS PRESENTS: Where Have All Th' Lovely Lil' Books Gone?

Far, far away from this place, out somewhere in Th' Real World, I took my roommate to our church as th' gloaming came on.  It was eve of my last day of school (well, last day for 5 days of Thanksgiving break) and as there was no reason for me to rush back to th' house to do work for th' following day and then rush back to th' church to pick her up, I decided to just bum around while she was in rehearsal.  There is a fairly large library there, and now and then I like to just wander along th' shelves and see if anything jumps out at me.  Almost no one actually USES th' library, though now and then a box of donated books will appear and just kind of sit there, as no one is in charge of shelving these things.  About once a month or so I look at th' various miscellany and think of volunteering time to bring this whole thing into some kind of shape, until I realize just how overwhelming it would be-- where would you even START?  you'd need a team of librarians and pages to help, and as we enter Th' Season, this would no doubt be one of th' lowest priority.

And yet, I LOVE books, and it pains me a bit to see so many that are misshelved or randomly piled on top of one another.  Someone, in another age long ago before I got here, took th' time to carefully type up and then affix Dewey Decimal System stickers to th' lower spines of about 90% of these books and put lending card pockets and cards with their titles into th' back covers (almost none of which have any names on them from anytime during this decade).  Someone cared a great deal for these books, and I am always drawn to step into th' office of Librarian and take over.  Th' problem, of course, is TIME; there's never enough of it.

I was scanning through 100+ titles of theology, of course, when it all became somehow too much.  Too much thinking, too many words about who-said-what and this-means-that, and so many books that basically amounted to intellectual discussions of how many angels can dance on th' head of a pin, and that kind of thing.  I wasn't smart enough to understand th' really big seminal texts, and th' more simple faith evangelical writings didn't interest me.  But still, I was here, there was about an hour of rehearsal to go, and I was loathe to give up and go home.  Nor did I want to spend an hour noodling away doing silly things on my phone, so I walked 'cross th' room to th' opposite side where there were children's books.  Along th' way, I found a section of VHS video and old fashioned cassette tapes-- no doubt good stories contained thereupon, but no one had th' technology to get to it.  I did find a CD called "Ancient Noels" (practically ancient itself, as it was released in 1993) that I took with me (not bothering to fill out th' card, as A) no one would notice it was gone and B) I'd be returning it on th' coming Sunday to exactly th' spot where I found it) and as I was going along I saw, randomly stuck at th' end of a row of books Th' Christmas Tree by Julie Salamon.
I remembered seeing it before, and when I went to th' copyright page I saw it was almost as ancient as th' CD-- published in 1996; th' year that my own mother died unexpectedly and my whole life derailed (it's a story for a different hour, but I thin in many ways I've spent th' last 21 years trying to come back to life, so powerful was that single event in March of '96).  

As I brought it over to one of th' long couches that had an ottoman and opened to th' first page, remembering that I'd read it and immediately dismissed it as dreck in '96, I remembered that there was a time, oh-so long ago (20 years, thereabouts) when this kind of publishing was normal.  A Cup of Christmas Tea had come out sometime in th' late '80's and, of course way back in th' 1970's Hallmark published several holiday specials featuring Good Ol' Charlie Brown and th' Peanuts Gang.  Every year, it seemed, for ages n' ages there was some lil' feel-good book that came out at Xmastide; something short n' sweet, almost always in hardback and smaller than other books, that was to be this year's thing to remind us of what th' season is all about (usually being good to one another).  Where have they all gone?  

Saturday, November 25, 2017


My memory at this time of year is something like a sno' globe:  random and somewhat glittery, but mostly pieces floating randomly.  Just recently, an ancient piece of my own history came loose and I remembered th' Big Jim action figures from my youth (right-- 'cuz you could call Barbie a "doll" but not Big Jim or GI Joe, they were "action figures").  

Though he was smaller than GI Joe, he was definitely a spin-off, though if Joe was a tough military grunt, Big Jim was more like a suave secret agent / 007 kind.  GI Joe would not have a set of baseball umpire clothing, but Jim did (which I also owned, always wondering why th' socks were so incredibly long)
Jim also had playsets and vehicles somewhat similar to Barbie, except, of course, more masculine.  Th' two I remember having are his jet airplane and th' camper:

 I'm pretty sure I got these for Xmas on two consecutive years when I was perhaps 8 or 9, but I'm not wholly sure WHY I got them-- I don't seem to remember asking for them in th' first place.  Like my other post about stories that are only small fragments and have large pieces missing, even though this is from my own timeline and my own childhood, I feel like pieces are missing.  For some reason, these unknown questions about Big Jim have been haunting me this week.

Th' fact that Big Jim could easily be interpreted as th' poster child for 70's gay culture a-la th' Village People may or may not have occurred to anyone back when this toy line was being produced, but they arrived in th' package usually only wearing shorts and them hawtt muscles were almost always on easy display
 I'm going to guess th' underlying homoeroticism never occured to my mum, or else I'm sure she'd never have bought him for me.

so, in my mind I'm torn about what all this meant and if it indeed meant anything at all.  My dad was always more-or-less completely oblivious to everyone else, and my mom could be both spot-on or equally oblivious when it came to me.  For example, I was once shipped away for about a fortnight to distant relatives while mom & dad redecorated my bedroom, and i came home to discover that it was done in shades of brown, yellow and tan (I dearly loved bright pink, blue and green), and th' wallpaper was a sports motif (I hated sports-- indeed, I was in my mid 20's before I even knew how football was played).  It was like asking for cake for your birthday and walking through th' door to find that everyone made boiled cabbage.

And yet, mum could come home with lil' knick-knacks and odd bits that I absolutely adored and would treasure for th' next 2 decades of my life.  Sometimes she bought things thinking (erroneously) that I'd like them or that they were something a boy would like (even then I knew I wasn't either male or female in gender, but had no way of explaining this to her), and sometimes she would give careful consideration to what I actually would like, as weird and idiosyncratic as I was, and get me that instead. 

So, then, why Big Jim? 

Clearly she couldn't bring herself to buy me a Barbie, no doubt thinking that playing with girls' things would turn me gay (or something-- who knows?) but did she also realize that I was not a military, GI Joe sort of kid?  Did she see Big Jim as a kind of compromise:  a doll, yes, but one called an "action figure," and one that was clearly big and studly and masculine (all th' Big Jim figures had some sort of mechanism in their arm that would cause their biceps to bulge when you bent their arm at th' elbow)?  You could buy outfits for Jim and change his clothes just like Barbie, but all his clothes were clearly masculine and manly, and that was OK?  Was it a sort of carefully considered compromise, or was it just more-or-less random?  Did she stand there in th' toy aisle, weighing options and carefully considering th' two, or was it just a random grab and toss into th' cart?

I wonder if it was more random than anything else, for I only had th' Big Jim and one other unrelated action figure bought for me by a neighbour at my birthday time.  Jim had other friends and colleagues in his retinue (none female, curiously enough; no Barbie to his Ken equivalent, as it were), and in researching Jim's history I discovered that there's a figure named Zorak who was Jim's nemesis, and another one with a metal hand called Dr. Steel who was at first considered an enemy but turned out to be another ally to Jim.  I never had either of these nor did anyone ever offer to get them for me, though I do remember mom asking me if there was an outfit or playset I'd like for Xmas. 

Friday, November 24, 2017


Strange things happen at this time of th' year.  We are almost duty-bound to turn th' inner eye to th' past and take stock of where we are and where we've been, ostensibly with an outlook on where we should be going.  Most of th' time, though, we just look back and (in my case, at least) despair. 

For me, old ghosts come and stand around my chair, sometimes wailing and demanding my attention, sometimes just wanting me to note their existence and not to forget them.  and sometimes just bloody odd mashups of things happen that have no explanation whatsoever, but still strike me sideways.  Here's one:

I was in my cell (where I am th' majority of th' time these days), working on something or another, when my roommate-cum-zucchini came in and sat down opposite me.  She had been cooking something and her red hair was up in a bun and she had her apron on that resembles Santa's jacket and belt.  With her reading glasses on, it struck me in a way that I'm having trouble articulating that she could be Mrs. Claus. 

She stopped what she was saying in mid-sentence and asked, "what?  Why are you looking at me like that?"  I'm not sure just HOW I was looking at her, but try as I might to not say anything she insisted I explain.  I told her that somehow, in a way I couldn't quite articulate or explain, I thought she looked like Mrs. Claus.  She rolled her eyes but laughed, and said "I think you've got a hardon for Mrs. Santa...!"

Having discovered just under a year ago that I'm actually asexual, my first instinct was to argue that I had no such thing, thankyouverymuch! but after several seconds of getting past th' surface / sexual / genderist meaning of th' phrase, I started to wonder if perhaps she was right. 

then I thought about it more and came to th' realization that she WAS right, and why not?  Who wouldn't want to have Mrs. Claus as a friend and even a helpmate?  I mean, she's clearly as jolly and effervescent as Santa himself, she's almost by definition got to be a brilliant cook and baker, she's gregarious and giving and-- though it's a bit strange to contemplate-- I'm sure she IS a vibrant and joyous lover (but these things are private, between her and Santa, so we need not pry into that part of their lives).

It occurred to me, again, that Santa must have T-H-E best job in th' known universe, and since I was a child *I* have always wanted to be Santa.  Not th' mall kind, though that might be fun, but th' real McCoy, th' real one as seen in stories and books and all th' good movies (maybe not th' worried one of Rudolph th' Red Nosed Reindeer nor certainly not Bad Santa); th' one who has a high tolerance for snow and a spacious castle and workshop.  Th' one who once a year visits virtually everyone and brings them what they want. 

Long before it became popular to write novels about Santa and what he does th' other 364 days of th' year, I was already wrestling with these questions.  I decided that Santa and his Mrs. would stay at th' pole until at least th' end of January or Candlemas, and then they would get outta' Dodge for awhile and go on world tours.  They would be weary of snow and cold and would want to see what else there was to be seen.  They would go to Europe and parts of Africa during th' cooler months of spring and fall (depending on what hemisphere they were in at th' time) and see what there was to be seen. 

They would help out where they could, pitching in to plant crops or tend to th' sick.  Mrs. C might spent several weeks rocking ill newborns in an orphanage on th' outskirts of Bangladesh, for example, and sing to them and her voice and th' joy she gave off would soak into th' babies and they would grow stronger and content.  Mr. C might grab hammer and nails and pound together a house, or serve sandwiches at a soup kitchen, or dig a ditch to bring in fresh water or take away dirty sewage.  They would not simply sit and eat cookies and watch TV during their off season, but would actively serve humanity, often with an unseen hand, and often in places where Santa was not known to th' locals as a mythos or construct.

I decided they would have a grand time celebrating Dia De Los Muertos in Mexico, celebrating th' lives of those they knew-- especially children grown into adulthood and then into old age-- and in th' week following would make their way back to th' North Pole.  November would start off with several staff meetings and discussions of what they'd seen and what children wanted, and then things would slowly get started.  Th' various workshops would be fitted and rearranged to produce those things that were wanted, and of course Mrs. C would start preparing for her annual thanksgiving feast for all.  Afterwards, of course, everyone Got To Work for that magical ride on th' night of 12/24 (which, coincidentally, is just 1 month away!!)

Out of those dreams of Xmas past and childhood musings, I've come to realize that Santa is more of an office than just a mythos.  We ALL have th' capacity to BECOME Santa, and not just 1x a year when we eat th' cookies, drink th' milk and set th' presents out under th' tree.  We ALL can be Santa at any time we wish, by doing th' very things that he would do in his off hours.  We can visit th' lonely, tend to th' sick, listen to each other and give what we have. 

Indeed, we ALL cam be Santa Claus.