1 September 2015

Getting Trumped: Bimbos, Smart Pills, Good Hair, Rapists, Jews (I AM VERY GREAT!)

By: Jon Katz
Getting Trumped

Getting Trumped

I have decided to get Trumped. All my life, I have been swimming upstream, no one told me there was fame and money in being stupid and hateful. Why am I broke?

Last week I read on Facebook – those mysterious ads popped up on my page –  that Donald Trump, Warren Buffett and Denzel Washington, three successful older men, were all taking the same smart pill, brain and memory enhancement tablets available only on the Internet. They all swore by it, they said it was a wonderful pill, it was a key to their success. They no longer needed to nap, they said, their IQ's had doubled overnight, their memories were sharp, their minds racing.

Hmmm, I thought, I could use a brain enhancement, I want to double my memory, I have to stop sometimes to remember my name.

I found the pill on Amazon, it arrived yesterday, it is miraculous. It has already changed my life.

It is supposed to work instantly and it does.  I was up all night,  I watched two mysteries on Netflix, finished two novels, started a third and woke Maria up, demanding to discuss the spiritual symbols and sexual habits of Nefertiti and the ancient Goddesses. I asked her if she thought I was sexy now that my brain was enhanced.

Maria rolled over and yawned, she told me she would break my fingers if I bothered her again, and she said I was crazy to buy brain tablets online. It was a scam, she said, and we couldn't afford it.  I pointed out that she was not being good to me, she was a bimbo and a slut and was probably on the rag as well. She will never be great.

A few minutes later, I woke up on the floor with a sore butt and a bruise on my cheek. I was confused, Maria did not praise me for speaking my mind and for not being afraid to be a complete asshole in public. If I had known sooner that there was so much money in being ignorant and hateful, my life would have been different.

But it is not a straight path. Maria had pushed me out of bed with one foot. Reporters were not calling to ask my opinion about climate change. I was undeterred, my brain was racing, nourished, spinning.  My memory was amazing, I was recalling every stupid and hateful thing Donald Trump had ever said. "Oh, no," Maria said. "God help us."

I got up and looked in the mirror. My new hair was there, the pills were truly amazing.

Red took one look at my hair, and he growled and bit me on the leg and ran and  hid under the dining room table. He wouldn't come out, not even to herd the sheep. Fate came running over and tried to jump up and grab my hair. She acted like my hair was her toy or something, I kicked her across the room. She is just a slut. And I love sluts. They are great.

I told Maria to get with the program, that  I was going to allow my hair to grow out, with the new pills it would not take long. I will tell you in all honesty, my hair is great, I am great, it is not a wig. Everyone loves it, everyone is telling me it is great. I asked Maria to pull my hair, and she did, but she yelped and claimed it bit her on the finger. She says she won't touch it anymore. She says she won't touch me anymore. I am not worried. Women love me, I love women. They are great.

This morning, focused and alert and feeling sharp and successful, I got up, took the dogs, went to Stewart's, the convenience store where all the farmers and the men in big trucks hang out every morning, their trucks idling  outside, they gossip like girls. They grunt and grumble. They are great, they love me. I walked up to Bridget Shaunessy, the tough old Irish mom behind the cash register,  and I asked her what she thought of my hair. She said it looked like a ferret was nesting on my head.

I called her a stupid whore and asked her if she was bleeding from down there, and she came around the counter and whupped me upside the head with a coffee mug, and then her three sons, whose pick-ups were idling outside, picked me up and threw me in the dumpster. I said she was a pervert, how could she think I was referring to her time of the month, I was just explaining myself. She poured coffee on my hair.

A group of  Scottish-American farmers gathered around to see why I was in the dumpster, they helped me climb out. They were all named McLanahan or McClachlan. I unveiled my agricultural program to them. First, I said, we had to send the Jews back to where they came from, we were not getting the good ones, the Jews we are getting are not great, they are not good people, they are all thieves and scumbags and lechers. Rapists too, maybe.

Just look at the politicians mailing their penises all over Twitter and Facebook, some of them are Jewish. Send them back, we will build a huge wall around the Jews to keep them out, it will be beautiful, we'll make them pay for it, they'll be happy to do it, because they know I am great, we will all be great again, it will be a great wall, don't listen to the media, they are all bleeding from down there, they are all perverts. And I love Jews, and they love me, they think I am great. And I have to be honest, I am a Jew. I have worked with lots of Jews, and some are my friends, I will have to send them back where they came from, but they will still think I am great.

The farmers loved my idea about the Jews, they looked a little puzzled, they hadn't heard those things about them, and didn't know they were causing such trouble, but they said I was telling it like it is, I was not afraid of the politically correct people who are ruining our country with their stupid demands that we stop persecuting people and telling them how to live. America needs to be great again, I said, we have to get back to hating people and discriminating against them and persecuting them and stealing their money and making the poor miserable. You know, the good old days when women did what they were told, they were not loud-mouthed bimbos like my wife. Why not look into owning people again, get business moving, start some more wars? I got a round of applause for that, although I noticed most of the farmers were slipping away.

Good, I said, thanks, you are great, we will be great together. After the Jews are gone, let's send the Irish and the Scottish people back across the sea, they are all drunks and probably sleeping with their sisters and cousins. We don't need farmers, they don't play gold or stay in expensive hotels, they are dirty, probably perverts. We can buy what we need from peasants and coolies and poor people in other countries, we can put up condos and golf courses on all of the farms, that's what I do all over the country. And you know what, it's great, it really is. The media will never tell you that, but just ask my stockholders, they will tell you how great it is.

The mood changed, the farmers and the big men in trucks didn't like that, they threw me back in the dumpster. Everybody is afraid to speak in this country, not me. Let's talk I said. I asked them to pull my hair for themselves, and a young woman said she would and gave it a tug, but it pooped on her hand, and she screamed, and then it bit her too, she said if she had rabies she would come back and find me and sue me. Not if I sue you first, I said. The bimbo. She owes me an apology, I'm sick of all this sensitivity.

As I moved quickly away from Stewart's, there was an incident. A red squirrel jumped out of a tree and landed on my head and tried to have sex with my hair, there was a lot of squealing and screaming up there. My new security detail came running over the tried to shoot the squirrel, but the bullets just bounced off my hair, and I think the squirrel is hiding up there. I don't blame him. It's great up there. It was no big deal. There's room for him if he wants to stay.

I love my new pills, and my refurbished brain. I love being Trumped, I am reborn.  For just $30.  My memory is twice as good, I don't feel like taking a nap. I am awash in new ideas, as you can see.  The truth is, I am great. I have great ideas. I always have. Some people don't like me, but hey, you can't make an omelette, right….? I see the whole world as eggs to break, when you think about it, it's a brilliant idea. That's who I am. I am just a brilliant man, that is why everybody loves me.

I am loving Donald Trump. I am being Trumped. I like finally being loved, I see the path. There is no future in this writing stuff, my pills have already made me see that.  Last night I sat up until sunrise reading some of his quotes. Like this one: "I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present. That's where the fun is." If you think about it, it's very true. It's great.

I woke Maria up to read this to her. She did not get the program, I might have have to find a new wife, one who appreciates me. That will be easy. Women love me so much. I have always loved women. Women are great, and I am great, so what is the problem?

Maria threatened to spray me with some disinfectant in the kitchen if I didn't stay away from her. She said she would call the police if my hair came anywhere near her. Or if I did.

She said she was going out in the barn to sleep with the donkeys. She said if she was going to sleep with an ass, at least the ass ought to make sense and not have a dead and smelly thing on it's head. She said my hair belonged to Fate, and I should give it back to her. I said she was probably just another stupid whore, she will be left behind when America is great again, and then I ran out of the bedroom before she could get out of bed and slug me once more. I do not think she will ever be great, she is just a bimbo like Megyn Kelley. As I ran, I yelled that she should be apologizing to me. Because, you know, after all, I am great.

My head barked at her. How great.

And oh yes. I do not wear a wig.

Posted in General

Training Fate: Can Work With Sheep Be Fun? Confusion And Joy And Mistakes.

By: Jon Katz
Having Fun

Having Fun

I noticed early on in my work with border collies that there are many critics and experts out there, but very few people who share the process of training honestly.  You will never see Cesar on TV failing to train a dog, you will not ever see videos of a border collie wiindbag failing to herd the sheep.

For me, sharing the training of a dog means showing mistakes as well as triumphs. I have a lot of both. People are afraid to be authentic on social media or You Tube because a lot Internet warriors – the bands of the righteous – will pounce on them for it. That is unfortunate.  I love to share my mistakes, that is the only way we all can learn and show the truth. I value being pounced on, it means I am alive and learning.

I don't generally give advice, but I will share on bit of training lore: do not trust anyone who will not share their mistakes with you out in the open, they are lying to you. You cannot train any dog, let alone a turbo-charged border collie puppy without making mistakes.  People who never share their mistakes, who love to judge others know nothing. The real learning comes from the mistakes, not the victories. I will always share mine and take what comes. That is what it means to be authentic.

Can working with dogs and sheep be fun? I believe it ought to be, and the first day it isn't, I'll quit. Fate has a joy for life and work and I don't want to extinguish that. I got five ribbons in my year or two of going to herding trials, I never had fun at a single one of them, perhaps because I was nervous, and because I wasn 't that good at it, and also because I started putting a lot of pressure on my dogs to get that blue ribbon (they still hang on my wall, though, hypocrisy lives everywhere.)

I also noticed that there were always lines of people waiting to tell me what my dog was doing wrong, even when we won.

There were a lot of people around, they were constantly critiquing one another, their dogs, the judges. I don't want to generalize, I met some great people, some were having fun. But not too many. Fate and I are having a blast – we always have fun – as Dr. Karen Thompson wrote me, we appear happy and relaxed in our videos. That was music to my ears, just what I want to do. If I am grumpy or in a bad mood, I just stop. The dog deserves better.

I am working with Fate to clarify some of the confusion and fuzziness in our earlier work. Because we worked so much with Red, Fate tends to look for him and cue off of him. "Come bye" often meant racing around the pasture with him, now it means she should run clockwise around the sheep. She is getting it, we are working alone, Red is put away in the house when he isn't working.

Fate still can't move the sheep by herself, we are getting close to that I think. In my training, there are always steps forward, steps back. All of the mistakes are mine, not hers. I have my own style of working, it works very well on the farm, the dogs are efficient and invaluable to me here, we have no need of ribbons anymore.

This morning, Fate and I worked on clarity. When Maria and Red and I are in the pasture, she isn't always sure where to look. So we are working alone, quietly and calmly – and happily – to clarify that, a new phase. She is getting it, as she always does. Fate is very quick and we are communicating almost telepathically now, come along and see in this video.

Posted in General
31 August 2015

Understanding Friendship

By: Jon Katz
Friendship

Friendship

If I were to use one word to characterize much of my life, it would be aloneness.

I was never able to make friends, comfortable making friends, or able to keep friends. If I didn't run a way from friends, friendships ran away from me. I did not have a single friend in childhood, nor a lasting one in my adult life. Close relationships – any kind of intimacy or closeness – made my intensely uncomfortable and still do, in many ways.

In recent years, I got serious about healing myself and understanding myself and several wonderful therapists and spiritual counselors – and my own hard and determined work – helped me to open up to closeness. The dogs kept the door open for me, then Maria and I found one another, I can say honestly she was the first person apart from my daughter and my sister that I have ever permitted to stay close to me, or who I never gave up on. Maria was surely the first truly intimate relationship of my life, we are both friends and lovers.

I love my life, I do not complain about it, but sometimes it is unbearable for me to look back on my life and not shudder at how sick I was for so much of it.

Relationships are no longer terrifying to me – the first Bedlam Farm was a castle with a moat in many ways – but they are not simple. West Hebron is a good place to go if you want to be alone and unapproachable, and yet it was there I met a person to finally love.

Perhaps because of that, and for the first time in my life, I have one or two friendships that are close and that I have begun to trust and accept. I am wary of them also, I  have learned that men run from friendships, find reasons to break them off, put them aside when life becomes complex. I don't really trust men either.

I was getting close to Paul Moshimer, I thought we might be lasting friends, that was not to be. He and Scott Carrino and I formed a Fabulous Old Men's Club, it reinforced my wariness of men and friendships. It seems I did not know Paul well at all.

I told Maria that my friendship with Scott Carrino is perhaps the most serious and honest friendship I have had with a man. I hope it lasts the rest of my life, yet he and I are both complex, and in some ways, volatile people, and I would be reluctant to predict the future, I suspect there are many broken relationships in both of our past lives.

I have a fear of closeness that will always be a part of me, perhaps an attachment disorder, which would hardly be surprising given my shattered family. I could not ever learn how to attach to people in that awful maelstrom of anger, abuse and fear. I am exhausted just writing about this, which is why I need to do it.

I am 68 now, getting to be old, and there is a voice inside of me that says "don't screw around, you don't really have the time for it any more." I will be authentic, or die trying. And I might just die anyway. I have nothing to lose, nothing to hide, a sacred space.

I am in touch with no one in my original family apart from my sister, no one in my family of marriage apart from my daughter, no one in my life farther back than four or five years. No one. Not from college, from work, from the 20 different places I have lived. That is a profound kind of aloneness that was inviolate and impenetrable for me – it was my very identity –  until Maria burst through the walls without firing a shot. I am most at ease being alone, it my natural state, my default position.

In one way or another, I have felt betrayed by almost every friend I have ever had. I remember just a few years ago, when I got divorced, broke down on my mountain, went to pieces, every friend I had in the world vanished and ran away from me, I was just too much to bear I think. Maria saved my life, and not figuratively.

Love is powerful, it can break through the thickest walls.

As I move through this next phase of my life, I am thinking about friendship, how to keep those doors open, the castle gates unlocked. I am open to the world, vulnerable yet stronger than ever. I am liking myself these days, but I know i need to keep changing, keep the hinges oiled. I need to know how to work through problems rather than storm away from them, how to accept rather than judge, how to let go of the past, rather than live it again and again.

I often talk to the five-year-old me, shaking in terror in his pitch-black attic room, waiting for the footsteps on the stairs, and I tell him it turned out all right, we got the girl, we made it to the other side. He didn't even know what a friend was.

I have learned a lot, about relationships, about boundaries. Boundaries are the foundation of friendship, it's glue and nourishment.

I do not put past troubles on my friends, they do not matter anymore. I do not try to save my friends, they must save themselves. I will not accept friendships that are one-way, we must care about one another. I am not seeking to be a savior, but a friend. I am not a therapist, but a sympathetic ear.  I hope my friends help me if I am in trouble, but I do not look to my friends to soothe me or be my guru, I have learned how to soothe myself and be my own guru.

Being older means learning something, understanding something, viewing the world with perspective and humor.

I am not here to tell them what to do, to mother them or harass them into living my kind of life. Friendship is about trust and acceptance as much as anything. But I have been alone for more than six decades, that is a lot of change to accommodate. Yet I have. Maria challenged me to change in profound ways. So have my new friendships.

I think I began to trust my friend Scott after my open  heart surgery. He appeared at the door regularly without being asked, and came with food. He is a busy man, but he found the time to come.  He came once or twice a week to sit with me in my shock and bewilderment. I suppose you are never more alone than when you wake up after they take your heart out and stop it, and then put it back. If feels as if your very soul had vanished.

Scott was just there. I didn't ask, he didn't ask, he just was a presence. It mattered. Not too many people know how to do that, not week after week.

Scott and I are honest with one another, I see. We worry about each other, but not in an oppressive way. We support one another but we don't take over one another, or try to. We each do some things the other person would not do and does not like, but we accept each other as we are. We can not solve one another's problems, it would be unhealthy to try.

Still, I get wary of it sometimes. I get wary of everything sometimes except my wife. When I get the impulse to run away or withdraw back into my other self, I recognize it as my flaw, as a symptom. I am tired of running away from friends. I talk about how I feel, I always ask myself if I am being honest, and if I am not, or can't be, then the friendship is no good. So far, so good.  I don't have enough time left to make and lose friends. Maria has opened me to love and trust and new experience, she has given me a great gift. I hope I have done the same for her. That is something to build on.

I know I am not the kind of person to have many friends, nor do I want many friends. I don't love everybody as Maria does, and everybody does not love me.  One or two good friends would be fine. I am very close to accepting that. I also know that with men, friendship is a difficult and troubling story. The women I know seem to gravitate naturally to friendship, they turn to one another when life gets intense. Men tend to run the other way when life gets intense.

My new friends have not run away from me, nor me from them, and life has been intense. So I am letting go of the past and embracing the present. It is, as they say, what it is. It will be what it will be. I cannot control the suffering of the work, I can only make a joyful noise.

One day at a time. The motto of every broken human being trying to put the pieces back together.

Posted in General

On Main Street, Community Lives

By: Jon Katz
On Main Street, Community Lives

On Main Street, Community Lives

This beautiful block on Main Street is the heart of our town, which has less than 2,000 people in it, a rich mix of farmers, working people, nurses, artists, writers and laborers.  There are two restaurants on this block, the Cambridge Diner on the left, the Round House Cafe in the old bank on the far right. In between is the Battenkill Books Store, the Over The Moon Bead Shop, a real estate office, the Hubbard Hall Opera House and Arts And Education Center, an artisans shop, The Hubbard Hall gift store, an antique dealer.

Community lives on this block, it is a beautiful and defiant block, it has seen awful times and good times, it has been preserved, restored, argued over, re-imagined. Rural communities have been abandoned all over America by greedy and soulless corporations, arrogant bureaucrats, feckless politicians and economists who have forgotten what people are for.

This block is a triumph of community and of the human spirit, it perseveres, it does better than that. It was exhilarating to stand there with my camera and look at it. We have lost a pharmacy, I thought, but look what we have gained.

Posted in General

A Funeral, A Celebration. O’Hearn’s Closes On Thursday.

By: Jon Katz
A Funeral, A Celebration

A Funeral, A Celebration

I stopped by O'Hearn's Pharmacy today to check on Bridget and Margaret, they have been working side-by-side for years, they are virtually telepathic with one another, efficient, smiling, attentive. I love Margaret's system of record-keeping, she sticks price labels on her arm all day to keep track of what has been sold. The pharmacy, which has been in operation in our town for 40 years, is closing on Wednesday.

She will be filing paperwork and sending faxes for weeks, she says.

It felt like a combination funeral and celebration at O'Hearn's, people came in to cry, laugh, hug Bridget, thank her and Margaret, worry  about their medicines. It is an emotional roller coaster for Bridget, I could see that, she loved being a pharmacist, she had a wonderful gift for it. Some people love caring for other people.

I can't wait to see what she does with the next chapter in her life, we are both warriors for change, it will be wonderful to see her move forward. I am okay with it, Bridget will be missed, but we are lucky to have another pharmacy in our town, life is what you make of it. I believe they will take good care of me.

I won't speak poorly of my life. I think this photo will be my last visit to O'Hearn's, I don't want to be maudlin about it or overdo it. In America, we all know this kind of loss, most of the country lives in places where the very idea of Bridget is unknown and unimaginable. A young woman messaged me from California and she said she thought pharmacists like Bridget  vanished after World War II, she had never known one. Good to remember.

We are lucky to have known one. I will be hanging on to that. Bridget always talked about the art of the pharmacist, she was a true artist.

Posted in General