Tara Lynn Johnson

Writer ~ Photographer ~ Tea Drinker

One Side

Not wanting to write about what’s going on in the world, I wait each week for something to come to me. The world overwhelms, though, and blocks my view of the ordinary, which I like to focus on and celebrate.

I limit news intake; it gets through anyway. When something awful happens (which is apparently the theme of 2017), it gets through even louder.

I won’t write about it, I tell myself. I won’t discuss thoughts.

I’ll take a drive instead.

Even when I’m not looking. Even when I’m purposefully ignoring. Like Oedipus, I can’t escape.

Sunday night, behind the wheel of my car, headed to the river, to enjoy the calm serenity of the water. The sun slowly sets to my left. I let my mind wander until I no longer hear powerfully stupid words repeated and see Tiki torches in my head. Eventually, I think only of the sights out the front windshield — corn fields and puffy clouds, red lights and yellow lines.

I reach the road’s end, where I must turn right or left to move forward. A large American flag flutters in the wind near medallions on a small stone wall honoring local men and women and the wars in which they fought (against fascism, for one).

There, a man sits in a blue folding camping chair. His black lab sits at his feet. Staked into the ground on his left, a handmade poster. Around the photo of a pretty brunette whose face I unfortunately now know, his writing (I assume): HEATHER HEYER.

As I come to a stop, we lock eyes. I pause longer than needed, stunned that he’s here, where I wasn’t expecting this to be.

I nod. He nods.

I, too, know her name. I, too, am sickened by what’s going on around me. I, too, understand that the (again) increased visibility of those once forced to remain on the fringe and in the shadows, is not correlated to but caused, and in fact emboldened, by the person currently occupying the White House (and his minions) (which even fellow Republicans said to renounce by calling them by their despicable names*).

I tried to take a day off, to escape what I know.

The universe won’t allow it.

One man demands people look at her, insists we examine what was on display at that rally. One man placed himself so he can’t easily be ignored, at a crossroads (like America?).

At the same time, one man can’t seem to stop himself from always being right, from widening the chasm between people instead of bringing them together, from not being what he should be from the powerful perch upon which he sits.

And one woman — me — can’t escape her fate. I look. I see. I know. And that means I have to do something about it, too.

There are many ones “on both sides.” I’ll do everything within my power to ensure the ones on the side of love will win.

*Finally doing the right thing and reading the correctly worded statement off a TelePrompTer on Monday, on your third try, after finally listening to the adults around you for half a second, doesn’t count, especially when on Tuesday you double-down on the moronic things you said the first time you commented.

Wrestling with writing

I don’t believe in writer’s block per se, but something’s going on. I’m trying to write. I’ve been trying to write. And nothing’s coming out right. *whine*

I didn’t post last week because whatever I had to say didn’t want to come out.

I started a post a couple of weeks ago, inspired by a New York ballerina’s exit from the stage for good and my having watched Manchester by the Sea the day before (see: hellos and goodbyes). I gave up on that one after about a day.

I started another post the other day about the vulture media and the people who say that horrible crimes “just don’t happen here” (our local media in particular has been saturated by the story of the four missing — now known to be murdered — young men, which even YOU have probably heard about all the way over there). I got pretty far with that post, but the ending just wouldn’t tie all the pieces together.

To be a writer who can’t seem to write is beyond frustrating.

To be an introvert writer prone to analyzing, I’ve been thinking about it, but haven’t come to a conclusion as to why these two pieces in particular couldn’t be finished (and why my brain came up with absolutely nothing last week).

My unscientific research so far:

  • The thoughts behind each post aren’t percolated enough as to come out completely (this is difficult because when I write an opinion piece, it usually wraps itself up, so this is unusual)
  • The thoughts behind the posts are thought-worthy, but not necessarily blog worthy (difficult because I think everything is fodder, even the most ordinary thing)
  • The thoughts are too big (I tried to narrow my focus)
  • The thoughts are too small (I’m totally OK with an abbreviated post, but that didn’t work out either)
  • It’s been too long since I’ve done this and I’m rusty as… … … see, I can’t even come up with a simile… … … (this was done for effect, people — I didn’t even try)
  • I’ve read too many comments sections of websites, so beyond the resistance that writers (or any artist for that matter) can feel, I have an additional chorus of unreal people in my head, waiting to pounce and tell me exactly why my opinion(s) is(are) stupid (yes, I know, many of you don’t think that and have told me so, but you aren’t as loud as those rude people and doubt)
  • I’ve read too many zen books that talk about judgment, and so now every time I have an opinion, I think, isn’t that judging? (perhaps I’ll go meditate on that…)
  • The frontrunner: it’s July and I can’t write with sweat pooling in my bra just from sitting still, and the typing is enough activity to make it look like I’m running a marathon (I soooo hate humidity), so I get up from my vinyl-ish office chair then double-check that my thighs aren’t chafed from the experience (all good), and promise myself I’ll try again another day.

Whatever the reason, at least I have learned that when I hit a wall, it’s time to turn off the computer and do something else. Perhaps the thoughts do need more time to marinate. Perhaps I do need to do something different to shake up my perspective and get the creative juices going again (though that’s difficult in July unless it’s near (read: right on top of) an air conditioner).

So I click save and keep each unfinished post, hopefully for another day.

The good thing: I was writing. The not-as-good: I didn’t finish what I started… but wait! I did! I finished this post. Well, at least there’s that.

p.s. To distract myself, I did some unintentional in-my-chair cardio by watching this video (after the toothpaste ad!). Laughter is good for the soul (which will perhaps be good for writing… eventually…)

p.p.s. If any artistic types have tips, I’m all eyes… let me know in the comments.


United States of Moronica

Independence Day gave me independence from life for a few days, which was nice. I spent time, writing, reading, and clicking links on the YouTube. One link led to a bit by the great George Carlin.

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And then, ten

That moment came for me years ago, but I like to remember, to be grateful, for this, and so much more that emerged from it, every day. Especially this day.

Those who fly solo have the strongest wings…

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