March slips out a snow-dumped, slightly shivering lamb—and the cruelest month is all but here. Here’s a little known alternative fact for you. T.S. Eliot was talking about April in Alaska for that section of The Waste Land. Didn’t know that did you? Although he died 17 years before the first dividend payment, and despite the fact he wasn’t an Alaskan resident, we can be fairly certain that he was talking about how horrible life is in April when you’ve forgotten to file your PFD. I actually know someone who once forgot to file for his entire family. Two adults. Two kids. And I bet you can guess what year. The big year. The Palin payout year. Ouch! Total emotional wasteland right? Talk about a cruel month for him.
I thought I’d take this opportunity to remind a few of you to get that PFD application in before it was too late. Mine is filed, but I’m going back on-line tonight and making a few changes. The news of late has me really worried for our non-profits. It’s bad enough that our Alaskan economy seems to be teetering on some sort of economic wasteland, but then we get wind of the elimination of PBS and the NEA and NEH?
Violent words like “elimination” and “deep cuts” to our arts and public media make me unsettled and, quite honestly, angry to the bone. Sure, scale back arts funding if you can’t afford to care for the sick, elderly, and hungry. Go ahead, quit paying the British for their share of production for Masterpiece Theater if it means breakfasts and lunches for underprivileged children. I understand decisions such as those in times of financial crisis. But as a nation, I’m going to guess we’re not quite there yet. As a state, however, we might be headed that way. Right now we are facing more than our fair share of uncertainty.
Deep Cuts. Elimination. This stuff is troubling. What do we do in times like this? When we feel these emotions for these institutions and programs we rely upon in our very bones? I think the answer, at least for the writers and artists amongst us, is to use our talents to voice our support on the national and local level. Do what I plan on doing tonight, and log back in to your MyAlaska account and Pick.Click.Give—a little more. Then write, or draw, or shoot photos or video, in support of your favorite local non-profit organizations. Donate some of your art or time, or both.
From the sounds of it we seem to be headed into something similar to The Waste Land. And in that world T.S. Eliot revealed to us a place called rat’s alley, and here the dead men lose their bones. I would like to avoid rat’s alley, and maybe keep my bones for a while longer. I prefer the crushed skulls of pack rats and what we can learn from skeletons in “Gnawed Bones,” where our Alaskan treasure of a poet, Peggy Shumaker writes:
If every day
if we live
in the first world
and the last,
let us speak
in our bones
I’m going to take that anger and concern I’m feeling inside, crack these old bones of mine to get the marrow out, and speak. Speak through giving. Speak through financial support, time, and a gift of my words. I hope you’ll do the same.
Alternative Fact: Don Rearden’s new book Never Quit is about how he never quits Pick. Click.Giving.