I’ve titled this month’s blog post,” Bits and Pieces,” so it’s safe to assume I’ve written about more than one topic, instead of sticking to a single unifying theme. Lately, I’ve found myself shuttling between news soundbites and images that are both worrisome and wearying. The whirlwind twenty-four hour news cycle plus the frustrating failure to secure an appointment to receive the Covid-19 vaccination make concentrating on any one idea next to impossible. At least twice a day I leave one area in my house and go into another without recalling why I’ve done that, and I don’t remember the reason until I’ve returned to the room where I started. I feel like I’ve purchased a season ticket to the “Short Attention Span Theater.”

woman in black top standing beside wall
Photo by Pouria Teymouri on

So..welcome to a hodge-podge of thoughts.

January 6, 2021:

While watching the chaos in and around the Capitol, I thought the late Gil Scott Heron misspoke when he titled his poem, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Then I did a mental face slap and understood I was not looking at a revolution. I was witnessing a seditious insurrection. My apologies for doubting your word-skills, Mr. Heron.

We need to let go of the credo, “This isn’t who we [Americans] are.” Yes, it is who we are! And the sooner we own up to it, the sooner we can work toward converting the reality of our national character to that which we aspire.

Surely everyone can understand the concept/reality of “white privilege” when they witness how black and brown protesters are treated by the police versus the treatment given to armed white rioters.

January 13, 2021:

The pre-publication copies of my new book, Between a Rock and a Soft Place, arrived today. I felt happy, proud, and filled with a sense of accomplishment. Later in the afternoon, the majority of the House of Representatives voted to impeach trump…for the second time. I felt happy, proud, and filled with a sense of accomplishment.

No particular date:

Why is there a controversy about Kamala Harris’ outfit as shown on the cover of Vogue magazine, versus what she’s wearing in a second photo printed in the magazine’s article? She’s been elected Vice-President of the United States for heaven’s sake! Take her seriously! Four years ago, was Mike Pence G.Q. magazine’s cover boy?

The money I used to spend on restaurant lunches with friends more than covers our Netflix subscription. Some evenings I pause at TCM and search for 1940’s black and white movies. Why do the “Thin Man” series, “Laura,” or “The Maltese Falcon” resonate with me? During that era, Hollywood studios made few films featuring actors of color. That said, some of those old movies offer me an escape from the frightening Pandemic statistics and the videos showing the confederate flag and Nazi-messaged shirts parading through the hallways of the U. S. Capitol building.

A friend told me she watches “Midsommer Murders” every night. She doesn’t give a fig if she’s seen the episodes over and over again. She knows they all end happily and right now she seeks as many pleasant distractions as possible.

Another friend asked me if I’d heard that sea shanties were becoming popular. Uh…why? Do their lyrics conceal secret messages aimed at Q-Anon or the Proud Boys? Are pet stores selling a lot of parrots these days?

January 16th:

Today a talented, über-capable communication specialist/ political speech writer died of cancer… on her own terms. Although her parents had known mine before either of us was born, she and I rarely found ourselves in the same place at the same time. Her loss made me realize how little I really knew about her. I regret that and I mourn her passing. Deeply.

January 18th:

Viv told me the “1776 Report” was released today. The document’s “patriotic education commission,” no doubt influenced by the German re-designers of public school instruction during the 1930’s, denies the hypocrisy of America’s founding fathers who owned slaves while they called for equality in the nation’s founding documents.

By the way, we celebrated Martin Luther King Day today. Irony… can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

January 20th:

Yes and yippee! The inauguration took place peacefully, without any of the violent acts that seemed so possible in my writer’s imagination after the events of January 6th. I am hopeful that we’ll heal.

January 21st:

Yesterday, someone shot bullets through the office windows of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee, where Viv and I spent a springtime afternoon engaged in volunteer work. Bullets are serious, but I remain seriously hopeful that we’ll heal.

January 24th:

Four years ago today my mother died. The passage of time has given me the gift of reflection. Although I remember our conflicts, I choose to believe that no parent can give their child all that the child needs. And if the child becomes an adult who can see/understand that her parent was an ordinary human being with her own set of flaws and unrealized expectations, that adult will be able to forgive past hurts and live in gratitude for all the good experiences her parent gave her.

This month’s blog is written with my mother, Lorraine M. Bess, and Beverly Barnes, the friend I wish I’d known better, in my mind and heart.

© Renée Bess 2021

Renée Bess blogs here the fourth Thursday of the month. She’s the author of five novels, and the co-story collector of the award-winning anthology, OUR HAPPY HOURS, LGBT VOICES FROM THE GAY BARS. Renée’s next book, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A SOFT PLACE, SELECTED WORKS, makes its debut on February 1, 2021.


  1. ‘Then I did a mental face slap and understood I was not looking at a revolution. I was witnessing a seditious insurrection.’ — Yes! Thank you. I also agree with you about VP Harris’s Vogue cover. The image of her wearing Chucks I found to be a nice (and relatable!) touch.
    I look forward to reading your new book!


    • Thanks for reading my blog, thevalleyfate! I’m glad you found agreement with my VP Harris bit. Stay safe.


  2. I must first state — I am Canadian. I live in Canada. Have never lived in the US though I did spend 15 years living in Europe — and still…. this resonates deeply — “We need to let go of the credo, “This isn’t who we [Americans] are.” Yes, it is who we are! And the sooner we own up to it, the sooner we can work toward converting the reality of our national character to that which we aspire.”

    Take out the [Americans] and it’s still true. It’s like saying, “I can’t believe it/they/we/he/she/you did that” Believe it and you can heal. The alternative is to keep believing in the myth ‘this is not who we are’.
    We are all of it and so much more.
    Thank you for this. I too look forward to your book.


    • Hello, Louise. Thanks for reading my post and thanks very much for taking the time to respond. Your comments underline the universality of our tendency to deny wrongdoing long before we own up to it, thus prolonging our misdeeds. If more of us took the time to reflect, perhaps we’d realize that our national history is filled with acts of hatred-fueled violence, but we’\ don’t HAVE TO remain shackled to that tradition. Stay well.


    • Lee, thank you for your expression of condolence as well as your congrats regarding my new title. Stay well, my friend.


  3. I was also wondering at the surge in sea shanty popularity. My first thought was that shanties were originally intended to help sailors who’d been at sea for who knows how long not think about the fact they hadn’t seen dry land in months. A way to distract them from their unpleasant reality. A short stint of research revealed it may be our way of uniting over a common, niche interest (like the phase when everybody seemed to be baking bread). It may have to do with the way a shanty sounds, too; the simple, striking beat helping sailors, or — in this case — 21st century people living through a pandemic, feel united for a short time. *shrug* Somebody with more shanty/music knowledge probably knows better than me!

    Congratulations on the new release!


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