Rendered Fat Content


Thérèse by Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski), 1938
"I deeply appreciate those of you who have proven yourselves to be dedicated repeat offenders …"

I felt Alonely this week, this isolation's permanence coming into ever sharper focus. Aloneliness feels quite different from plain old loneliness, less disquieting but also more seemingly absolute. I just pretend that I understand these boundaries now. Protests against the Stay At Home Order reinforce my resolve to respect these rules. I think those shunning face masks fools, people who revel in demonstrating that they haven't a clue what they're doing, and deep-down disrespectful. Do we not have a duty—civil, moral, or simply out of courtesy—to continue to color within these inhibiting lines? The neighbor kids don't care and their parents seem just as powerless as I to influence their clumping together. They roam my yard like they roam their own, and every other, littering rocks and overturning flower pots in exuberant play. I deeply envy their easy association, for I remember when those days were mine, surrounded by a noisy throng of siblings, neighbor kids, and sundry hangers on.

I grew up in a family with five kids. I remember spending a significant portion of my formative years fleeing from that throng, seeking some place where somebody wasn't up in my face all the time. I sought space to hear myself think
, and I found no shortage of alternate places. A clutch of overgrown woods surrounding a crumbling foundation from an old mansard-roofed mansion sat just across the road, and I could go there and reliably find a dozen different kinds of solitude. A spring bubbled up beside a slight rise, an ancient tin cup offering up sips of the coldest water imaginable. A pond sat there, seasonally clotted with algae ropes, with rotting flues floating alongside which I used to sail like cement canoes across the breadth of the water. An overgrown orchard bordered a swampy wood where I could swing, Tarzan-like, from tree to tree on almost trustworthy vines. I visited Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland, and thought it a cheap knockoff of my original playground.

I could get lost and then found with family and friends fairly close around me. My brother and I might rig a safety pin as a fish hook, and even snag an occasional trout, or lose patience and choose to harass the crawdads, instead. I could be Alonely there, but never really lonely. Loneliness came later, after I'd gained something I could actually lose. Then, I could peruse memory's echo chamber, asking myself fundamentally unanswerable questions which never once reverberated an answer. Even I decided that I might actually be a social animal, a primate hardly removed from my tribe, though broad swaths of my life so far have been spent in abject isolation. I might have thought myself prepared for a prolonged staying at home. I might have been wrong.

I reach out with my writing and my weekly phone calls, all initiated and executed alone. Staying home amounts to reaching out without ever pulling back in, friends, family, and warm acquaintances maintaining their necessary distances. Six hundred and thirty nine unique page views totted up for my PureSchmaltz WhatNow? Stories this week, though I have good reason to suspect the total. I learned on Saturday, when researching why no page view numbers displayed beneath that story, that the FaceBook gods (small as they most certainly seem) stop counting page views once a group's membership exceeds 249. I'd somehow added the 250th the night before. I culled one new member who i couldn't remember actually inviting or permitting inside, bringing the count back down to the absolute maximum 249 necessary to receive view counts, but I spent an hour figuring out how to achieve that end, and I suspect I lost twenty or so off the count as I struggled.

I take these counts seriously because they represent community to me. I know, numbers serve as numbing replacements for actual engagement, but in the absence of presence, almost any alternative might do. Once I post a fresh piece, I peek back frequently through that first hour. I notice who sees it first, and gauge acceptance by how swiftly the total grows. I browse through the growing census, fondly remembering how I came to know each person listed, and I feel as though my solitude has become more welcoming, less confining. I understand, like I understood in my solitude-seeking youth, that I am securely surrounded and never actually very alone. I could yell for help and at least a half dozen remained within earshot at all times. I never knew true wilderness, and probably have not yet, like I have likely never experienced true loneliness, maybe only the odd Alonelinesses, instead.

I started this writing week
PanDamning, where I reflected upon the contradiction in experiencing hard times as Spring finally breaks.

I next reported on the little fibs that The Muse and I concoct to justify (at least to ourselves) going out when we're supposed to just stay at home in

I then expressed my growing exasperation with isolation supper-making in

Next, reacting to the storming of state houses by people insisting upon governors lifting their stay at home directives on spurious constitutional grounds, I commented on how we seem to revel in calling each other

I next reported on one way I've caught myself coping with isolation in
DreamState. I sure do seem to sleep a lot now.

I commented not on the increasing number of conspiracy theories, but of spurious conspiracy
certainties in Scenario-ing.

I ended my writing week with
NeutronNews, wherein I proposed at ounce of inattention as a possible cure for what might prove to be the very worse effects of this continuing pandemic.

Again, I deeply appreciate those of you who have proven yourselves to be dedicated repeat offenders, visiting fresh stories as I post them. I also celebrate those who stumbled in once and never returned, and those who maybe took a wrong turn and left a comment. You are, whether or not you're aware of this fact, serving as my supportive community now, though your presence might be mostly reflected in mere numbing numbers, I watch each morning as you assemble yourselves here. This means more to me than I can say as I punctuate my dedicated staring out the front window with checking in to see who stopped by. Hey, leave a comment next time. And join in on our PureSchmaltz Friday Zoom Chat.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver