Updated 3/4/2013 to remove references to a reclusive family member.
Fri 2/12/2010 11:07 AM Dear Joe, I'm reading Deer Hunting with Jesus. But it’s more important for people like my brother...a machinist with a worn out body, a good mind, a poor education, and dyslexia...to read it. Last July, I gave him an iPod loaded up with Howard Zinn, Chalmers Johnson, Thomas Frank, Naomi Klein, and many others, and he's absorbing it all like a dry sponge. His awakening is a wonderful thing to see. Many of the people you talk about in your book would do the same if they could read. I fantasize about starting a movement, Audio Books for Working Stiffs, to pass out loaded iPods, as a counterweight to the miseducation they get from Fox News, talk radio, and shopping mall churches. Please let me know if there are any plans to turn Deer Hunting with Jesus into an audio book. Heck, I'd be willing to read it myself, but it needs your voice. Best wishes, Sharon Dymond
Fri 2/12/2010 12:59 PM Dear Joe, I've been reading your blog for awhile now and am currently reading your book. You speak to me, Joe. I believe we were both born in '46, and we're both from working class, white trash, southern roots a/k/a Dogpatch. I'm from, Brittany, part way between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, LA. Started first grade barefooted like the others. Growing up Mormon (those missionaries do get around), I was culled from the herd of Cajun Catholics early. I went the only route for a weird girl with cooties, good grades. Graduated valedictorian of Gonzales High School and headed off to LSU, the only college around, for all I knew. LSU was a nightmare. Fraternities, football, fifteen thousand freshmen alone, doubled-up dorm rooms, civil rights, Viet Nam, drugs, sex and rock-n-roll. This, plus my own struggle with Mormonism, consumed my energy and put the kibosh on my academic career. Wrestling with the usual crap...bad marriage, single motherhood, making a living...I re-invented myself often. Sharon Dymond 60.3 is the contract software developer version. Life as a contractor means getting flicked off like a booger on a routine basis. I've been knocking around since my house outside New Orleans was destroyed by Katrina and my insurance company went belly-up. Since then, I've worked on contracts in Houston, New Orleans, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Lafayette, LA. I'm in Albuquerque now ... Why am I writing to you? Because I've been out of work for months, have exhausted unemployment, and am now eking out a living selling what I salvaged from Katrina on eBay. This leaves me with a lot of time on my hands and a lot of stress. When I'm stressed, I suffer from acute hypergraphia and I need to write to people. (Can’t afford to drink.) I spend hours on blogs (where I found you on The Confluence or maybe Chris Floyd) and Facebook, THE vacation destination for The Great Depression Redux. Hypergraphia often gets me in a lot of trouble as I'm prone to write former employers, executives, CEOs and such to give them the benefit of my advice. I need to stop doing that. I don't think I'll get in trouble writing to you, and it's why I love you, Joe. Please take better care of yourself. I need you to live a lot longer. Best wishes, Sharon Dymond
Sat 2/13/2010 1:29 PM Sharon, Your letter made my heart ache for you and the millions of others like you and me. I just wrote you a long reply by email, and hit the wrong key and lost the damned thing. If you want, send me your phone number and I'll call you this weekend. Use this email. It's my private email. joe
Lo and behold! Joe called and we laughed and chatted like old friends for a couple of hours. I´d been yearning for some time to move to Mexico because I couldn´t afford to retire in the US with any dignity. We discussed the logistics of his move to Ajijic, Mexico where Joe was living comfortably on his Social Security. Another coincidence...our SS checks were the same to the penny. Alas, it was the only time I talked to him, but we (mostly me) continued to email back and forth while I kept him up on my progress packing up my roadshow to move to Mexico.
Sat 2/13/2010 4:05 PM This is the brother (6 years younger than me) I told you about mesmerized by an old clock in a shop on Magazine Street in NOLA. C. 1970. (6 of us I’m the oldest.) When I got this print back, I saw for the first time how beautiful he is. It took my breath away. A machinist that can make anything out of any exotic metal, but cannot read. He has a phenomenal memory that gets him over most hurdles in his work. Like a blind man’s sense of hearing. He’s thirsty to understand what has happened to him. Love, Sharon
Sat 2/13/2010 5:12 PM Joe, ... Please don’t let me overwhelm you. Just say, “Whoa Nelly!” if you feel inclined. Love, Sharon
Sat 2/13/2010 7:34 PM Joe, the story of our lives…
This Was Once a Love Poemby Jane Hirshfield
from Given Sugar, Given Salt (Harper Collins)
This was once a love poem,
before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short,
before it found itself sitting,
perplexed and a little embarrassed,
on the fender of a parked car,
while many people passed by without turning their heads.
It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement.
It remembers choosing these shoes,
this scarf or tie.
Once, it drank beer for breakfast,
drifted its feet in a river side by side with the feet of another.
Once it pretended shyness, then grew truly shy,
dropping its head so the hair would fall forward,
so the eyes would not be seen.
It spoke with passion of history, of art.
It was lovely then, this poem.
Under its chin, no fold of skin softened.
Behind the knees, no pad of yellow fat.
What it knew in the morning it still believed at nightfall.
An unconjured confidence lifted its eyebrows, its cheeks.
The longing has not diminished.
Still it understands. It is time to consider a cat,
the cultivation of African violets or flowering cactus.
Yes, it decides:
many miniature cacti, in blue and red painted pots.
When it finds itself disquieted
by the pure and unfamiliar silence of its new life,
it will touch them-one, then another-
with a single finger outstretched like a tiny flame.
Sat 2/13/2010 8:12 PM Hi Joe, My resume is online at www.sharondymond.com. My Facebook page is under Sharon Dymond. I was born Sharon Dunn. Married and became Sharon Dinkins. Married again and became Sharon Dymond. (Now single and plan to stay that way.) I have some great conversations going on my Facebook page amongst my huge, scattered family. (Turning sentimental in my dotage. Aargh!) My father was a Welsh coal miner’s son from Pittsburgh who was stationed briefly in Louisiana during WWII and spotted my mother riding her bicycle on Airline Highway and brought his Jeep to a screeching halt. My mother was “Scotch-Irish” with almost white hair. Daddy had never seen anything like it. Her father farmed his homesteaded acres and ran a little general store and post office that my grandmother, the post mistress, named Brittany. I’m having some great conversations with my long-lost Pennsylvania cousins. Getting to know my neighbors again via Facebook. Wish you would join us as you really are part of the family whether you know it or not.... Love, Sharon
Sun 2/14/2010 8:47 AM pics
Sun 2/14/2010 10:51 AM Thanks for the pictures. The Garden of Eden. Your place, a palace compared to ours. I love the Mexican sense of color. I’m an artist who hasn’t done art in years because I can only do one big thing at a time. Painting, reading, writing…whatever it is, it’s total immersion. Pharmaceutical science has given us a name for the artist’s condition, OCD, and a drug, Prozac, to treat it. When I work, I take Prozac, which makes me indifferent, so works like a charm. I’m tired of that shit. I want to feel what I feel. Do you know what I mean? I’ve fantasized for years of dropping out to paint. I can hardly believe it’s possible…and on social security. Thank you, FDR. I have some stuff to clean up in Louisiana. I’m going down there in a couple weeks. Don’t know how long it will take. If all works out, I may actually come away with a few thousand bucks, which would be pissed away in a year here, but would set me up in Ajijic. My kids are a little stunned, but they see the upside. They feel connected to Mexico. Their boarding school in AZ sent them on extended field trips there to plant beans and work in orphanages and such. They lived with humble folks who had no plumbing (the way I grew up until age 12): they loved those people; the people loved them. ... We’re hopeful. I was thinking of what you said of the corruption in Mexico. I wonder if it’s worse than here or just more primitive and transparent. Our politicians are all bribe takers, but they’ve codified, legitimized, sanitized it. One of the biggest bribe takers of them all won the Nobel Prize. Under the radar, he took the early lead in bribes from Wall Street. In politics, it’s the early money that makes the difference. Dick Cheney is not the puppetmaster, but we still have a puppet, I fear. For your entertainment, I’m sending you a picture of my Mormon family, summer of ’64, standing in front of Temple Square in Salt Lake City. We made the pilgrimage to be “sealed” . All turned out in our home-made finery, all shiny and clean. I’m the tall one. What were you doing summer of ’64?
Mon 2/22/2010 4:57 PM Dear Joe, I’m seriously jonesing for some new stuff on your blog. I’m going through it trying to find the point where you quit Belize and move to Ajijic. You were so committed to that community in Belize, I’m curious to know why you left. Do you write about that? If so, could you point me in that direction? I’m seriously working on getting my ducks in a row to move to Mexico. ... I assume you’re in Ajijic on a tourist visa since you come and go so often. That’s probably what I would do since I have a dear sister in Houston I cannot live without for any length of time. Love, Sharon
At this point, Joe quit emailing me back. I don´t know if my intensity spooked him or if it was something else. I do know he did a European book tour during this period. It didn´t matter. I kept right on pouring my heart out. I think this is called emotional incontinence. Aargh!
Fri 2/26/2010 5:36 PM I’m reading your latest post…and weeping. You’re so hopeless. While I was reading Deer Hunting, it occurred to me that maybe minds like yours and mine were hard-wired by our fundamentalist upbringing to accept and expect End Times even though we’ve rejected Christian fundamentalism on every rational conscious level. Sometimes I hope against hope that my hopelessness is nothing more than habit of mind. I guess that’s hopeful in a cockeyed way. But then I think of the handful of Jews who left Germany before the holocaust and of the millions who did not. Many, of course, didn’t have the means or mobility to leave, but many did and chose to stay, undone by hope. Leaving Sunday or Monday for Brittany, Louisiana…my return to Winchester. Trying to get my life organized to move to Mexico…or Costa Rica or Ecuador... I promise I won’t show up like a stalker on your doorstep. Love, Sharon
This is Joe's essay that had me blubbering: Round Midnight: Tortillas and the Corporate State
Fri 2/26/2010 6:00 PM It’s astonishing how much we’re on the same wavelength. I had only read a couple paragraphs when I sent you my take on hope and now I’m reading your take. It’s eerie. Love, Sharon
The music must have been coming out of my ears again. Following is the passage in Joe´s essay that made the hair on my neck stand up:
Americans are hope fiends. We always see hope somewhere down every road, chiefly because honestly looking at the present situation would destroy just about everything we hold as reality. Personally, as I often state and catch readership hell for, I do not like hope. When Obama ran it up the flagpole for us to salute, and so many saluted, my blood chilled. Made me feel that we were all in deeper shit than I had supposed. (Nevertheless, I reluctantly voted for Obama. At the time it seemed it was either Obama, or continuing war, debt, and diminishing civil liberties. Ha! Hope is magic thinking, believing that somehow, some larger unknown force is in motion to set things right.
The world is what it is, and its injustices are set right by peoples and nations morally intact enough to challenge its malevolent forces.
Hope is political pabulum for an infantilized nation.
Tue 7/13/2010 10:25 AM Joe, My sister read and loved Deer Hunting. I’m right now reading it to my machinist brother…the one I told you about who can’t read…and he’s enjoying the hell out of it. Really speaks to him. I hope you’ll make it to some Baton Rouge, New Orleans, or even Houston book store to do a book signing when Rainbow Pie comes out. I’ve been reading a lot of Kunstler on your recommendation and also stumbled on The Long Descent by John Greer at The Oil Drum. Greer loses me in the last chapter, but other than that, a valuable book with some really solid advice. Also planning to read Vaclav Smil, Tainter (The Collapse of Complex Societies), The Limits of Growth, and Overshoot. Phew! Based on study so far, I’ve influenced my daughter to consider going to vet school after she completes her biochemistry doctorate next spring. I’ve decided to buy the old farm house I grew up in because there’s lots of acreage and we can build a sustainable life here. We plan to start a livestock vet practice…something sorely needed in the area. Right now selling stuff to get the $. She recently talked me through set up on Skype (as you suggested) and my sister and I had a blast watching chicks hatch in real time. I intend to enjoy these tech riches while they last. I’m so glad to see you posting again. Sharon
Sat 1/15/2011 8:56 AM Joe, I read the horrible news. I can’t think of anything comforting to say to my selfish self, let alone to you. I don’t pray, but I do hope, and I’m hoping fervently that you’ll pull through this. I love knowing you and your work and I crave much more of you and of it. You’ve helped me so much. Love, Sharon