Tag Archives: media fast

#24o: Afterinaugurationmath

radiohead___1984_by_onimatrix

The day after my media fast,
I binged on media,
mostly on pictures and stories
of women,
women holding signs
saying things like,
You can’t have my rights,
I’m using them;
This is my resisting
bitch face;
So bad, even introverts
are here;
 I came here to
knit sweaters and punch

nazis and I’m all out
of yarn; and a couple
of my favorites:
a portrait of Bernie Sanders
holding a kitty, how real men
grab pussy, and Sir Ian McKellen
holding a simple portrait of Captain Picard
doing the I-can’t-believe-this-shit
palm-to-the-face move.
And the math was staggering:
3.3 million people estimated in 500
demonstrations across the nation.
And the aftermath was staggering:
Kelley Ann Conway insisting on
the validity of alternative facts
and that Spicer dude saying
that the Trump administration
has a right to disagree with facts, and,
finally, two days after the biggest
march in United States history,
in large part about the rights
of women, Trump signed an
anti-abortion executive order.
I guess he didn’t get the message.
And every day since
has been a train wreck.
I went home from work today
with a stomach ache unlike
most stomach aches I’ve ever had,
not more painful, but placed differently,
gnawing in an unfamiliar way,
and I actually entertained the thought
and real possibility that the first
six days of the Trump presidency
are making me sick.
These are dark times indeed
and I know Orwell is not
necessarily rolling in his grave,
but taunting us from down there.
I hear him shouting, 2 plus 2 is 5.
I told you so. I told you so.

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Filed under Poetry, Politics

#239: 24 Hours, No Facebook, No News Redux (Inauguration Day, 2017)

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It’s inauguration day and I have once again sworn off
Facebook and any internet news or television media
for 24 hours. All I know is that my son watched
the thing in his 5th grade classroom today
and he said some kids and his teacher
were crying. He and a friend, he said, were
angry and felt that no one understood.
I heard a teacher in my building say that
the inaugural address was more of the same
and if that’s an accurate assessment
apparently I did not miss a thing.
My pledge to abstain from the news is
simply an effort not to give any attention
to this man who is not and never will be my guy.
And it’s disingenuous to say he deserves
a chance. He’s had tons of those and blew them all.
It’s disingenuous to say, this is how it is and
it’s your country after all so buck up and get in.
I believe the more patriotic move is to resist
what in no possible light could be considered good
or just or wise or anything noble and high,
anything other than an embarrassment.
What I am missing, I assume, is the good
news about the spreading resistance.
And why wouldn’t I want to see that?
To be honest, I do, I really do want to see that
and it’s very difficult not to climb on board
the media wagon to view the spectacle of this
historic refusal in marches taking place today
and tomorrow and the next day all over the land.
I can always catch up and I know that I will.
To stay away today, to have been completely
present for my students, and for this poem,
to be reflective without the images and the audio
and the punditry of the day, makes it possible,
perhaps, for me to sit with it in solitude
and to prove that it is finally possible to look away,
at least temporarily, until I understand better
what is most needed and how I can be there
in some meaningful way.

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#237: Off Air (a Haiku Followed by Two Lengthy Postscripts)

I will go one day
without Facebook, internet
news. See what happens.

radio-silence-L-M8qvlZ

Postscript: I wrote this poem several days ago, thinking I would post it that evening and begin the next morning as a single day without Facebook and internet news. That did not happen. I’ve been sitting on this one and I find that especially worrisome. Can I do it? I am beginning to have doubts. I made up all kinds of explanations: it would be good, because it’s nice to see the holiday posts of my friends, to wait until after Christmas. Maybe it would be even better to wait until January the first, you know, as part of a New Year’s Resolution. And then the pull of the train wreck that is Trump’s transition into the presidency keeps tugging. I’m still grieving. I keep going back to the news with a delusional wish that today’s controversy will be the one that will finally bar him from becoming our new commander in chief. And if today is the day I abstain and this glorious news breaks into the webnets, I will have missed it. But the fact of the matter is that I’m a little bored with so much free time this holiday break, and the things I really should be doing, making music, reading and writing, are too hard, take too much energy and self-discipline. How crazy, sad, and scary is that? –not to have the gumption to do the things I really want to be doing? So, there are the bargains that I make with myself about the “best” time to begin, and then there’s the reality. Q: Why don’t you stop doing that thing you’d like to stop doing? A: Because I don’t want to. I’d like to but I don’t want to.

Postscript to the postscript: Just as I was reflecting on how difficult it is to stay away from social media, I took a break from the postscript above to check Facebook. Here I found almost immediately why I am grateful for social media and simultaneously why it’s crucial that I take a break from it. I learned that a writer friend of mine, Carlen Arnett, had suddenly passed. She lived clear across the country and if I was lucky I saw her once a year at the annual Warren Wilson MFA Alumni Conference. I saw her last two summers ago. It’s not that without Facebook I would not have learned of her passing, but the experience would have been different, less visceral, less visual, less social–our community of writer friends immediately began an outpouring of grief with pictures and poems and memories. So I am grateful to have learned of it here and to have witnessed with our mutual friends this immediate memorial for such a kind, loving, generous soul. And yes, I need a break from social media, if for no other reason right now, than to spend the next day without distraction to pay tribute to my dear friend, reflecting on the gift of knowing her, trying to be present and loving for my own family and friends–as she would have been, playing some music, reading something brilliant, trying to write something good. For Carlen.

Tomorrow will be a day without social media and internet news. It’s a tiny, baby step, only one day off the air. Somehow, though, I do not predict it will be easy. I may post a blog entry tomorrow with reports of my success (or failure).

 

 

 

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Filed under Poetry, Self Reflection

#236: Media Fast, Anyone?

no_social_media

I cannot help it.
I can’t look away.
It’s a train wreck,
a complete cluster,
and every morning
begins with the same
question:

What’s the outrage of the day?

And now that I’m on
a holiday break I’ve got
something like free time
to keep checking in on
the downfall of my
civilization.

I think I need to stop.

While it might make me
more informed, this incessant
checking of the news, it does
nothing for my present
happiness. I remember a
time, about 16 years ago,
before Facebook was a thing,
when I took a break from watching
the news. I perused the paper
at work so as not to live
completely under a rock,
but I spared myself from
the pictures and the talking
heads and the bullshit
advertisements, and I think,
for awhile, it made me feel
better, smarter even, and
certainly, less anxious.

It might be possible to skip
the stuff that makes me anxious
and only do those social things
that are pleasurable or that
create connection with loved ones,
but even these things, as
necessary as they sometimes feel,
can drive me a little drunk
with dependence.

The power and the influence
of the internet has changed
everything. It’s a bombardment
of the senses and its making
me, I fear, senseless.

So I am entertaining the idea
of a fast with little confidence
that I will be successful at its
implementation. I am thinking.

I am thinking.

And with me, that’s how it always
begins: a desire or a thought,
some words spoken or written,
a visualization in repetition,
and then finally an effort
to make something happen.
What mysterious gifts might
take the place of the ubiquitous web?
How long could I stay away?
What will I miss?  And will it matter?

 

 

 

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#233: A Meditation on Forgetting to Meditate While Meditating

bell2

(for Scott)

Walking the dog,
focusing on the breath,
in and out, in rhythm
with my step, my
digital meditation bell
ticking away for twenty-five
minutes inside my pocket,
suddenly I realize that
I am missing group meditation.
I have to breathe more deeply
through the frustration
I feel for my forgetful self,
meditating and forgetting
to meditate, in solitude
and missing my community.

It’s true, I have been
distracted of late, what with
the end of the world and all,
trying to stay informed and
yet trying and failing to just
stay away, tune out, turn off,
power down, log out, let the
world do its thing, a deep struggle
between doing nothing and
doing something, between
a nagging doubt that says
meditation changes nothing
to a certainty that everything
is changed and that the inward
work resonates outward
and transforms the universe.

This is certain:
Things will work themselves
out one way or another.
The group will do its thing
and I can be both absent and
present at the same time;
and the world will do its thing
and I can be there to push
it along in the right direction
through breath, word, rhythm,
whether I am alone or with others,
sitting, walking, and listening for
the mindful bell that goes off
in my pocket, its sonorous chime
rings once, twice, a third time–
and I’m home.

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