First: the next few days are going to be spotty because of the holidays and family obligations and such. And if you’re saying “How spotty can it be, boss? Because it’s not been all that reliable around here for the last couple of months?”
Very spotty. Which is okay, as I imagine it will be spotty for a bunch of you next couple of weeks, too. I’ll try to post every day, because– well, I’ll explain. But the hours might be very weird.
Anyway, getting to the explanation. Yesterday was one of those days when everything went wrong. Now it was mostly MINOR things, like the shower door not closing properly, and then the handle kept falling off, and I put it back on, and it fell off, and– But there was also major “this is gonna cost us money” things which I’m not even ready to talk about YET, and which came about without our even realizing.
And then in the evening, after an entire day of being away from online, partly because we got the replacement laptop and were setting it up, partly because everything took ten times as long as it should, I logged into the chat with the (smallish) group who have become my extended family over the last five years, and I found that someone not a part of it but definitely a friend had died, and had died in circumstances that most of us have a horror even thinking about.
Prepare yourself if you read indie SF.
This was someone I knew from a seminar, a friend of a friend who went indie after a lifetime of trying to publish trad, and did spectacularly well. The entire time I’ve known him (8? years now) he was semi-shocked/delighted at how well he was doing in writing. He commented here a few times, and I’m actually hitting myself that I don’t remember when the last time was.
Curiously, just about a month ago, I thought, “He lives alone, doesn’t he? I wonder how he is doing.” It was already too late.
Doug Dandrige, Brother To Cats, a gentle soul and an amazing writer has died sometime in the last few months , alone in his house with his cats, and no one knew. It was only yesterday that family members broke into the house. And please say a prayer for his family too, because that can’t be easy. It’s the sort of horror we wish never to face.
And I feel guilty and stupid and angry at myself that I didn’t notice him slipping away from our circles. But he’d been depressed and blocked, as a lot of us are, and there is a tendency to go and hide, particularly for our kind, like wounded cats or something. We emotionally can’t even engage.
Part of it, of course, was the new FB User Interface, who I swear only shows me statuses of people I don’t care about, having forced me almost exclusively into my smaller groups. Beyond the fact that it takes so long to do anything, I’ve been going there less and less and less.
And part is this incredibly unnatural way we’re living. While Doug lived alone, we would have noticed if he hadn’t showed up at LC, and someone would have reached out. Perhaps — I don’t know when he died — in time to save his cats.
I don’t know and I don’t think anyone will till the Post Mortem, how he died. I’m 99% sure it wasn’t suicide, but only because he wouldn’t do that to his cats.
I have a vague memory he had a bad heart, but I have a bad memory for that sort of thing, unless I’m actually talking to people, when the file opens up and it all comes out. At any rate, over the last month I’ve lost six people in my extended and fringe sets (fringe being people I only see/talk to at cons) to heart attacks and strokes. Must be the ridiculous stress we are all under, honest.
And in any case, and probably stupid, I keep feeling he’d still be with us if everything had been normal, and we’d been bumping along in the normal way of normal life. More importantly I’m sure he’d have been found well before MONTHS had passed.
This is heart-wrenching to any cat owner, particularly those of us who are responsible. I would hate for my death to mean death for the fuzzies. And it if it did, I’d rather it came cleanly, with a shot at the vet or humane society, rather than slowly starving to death, feeling the world had betrayed them.
Anyway this hits way too close to home, because in the last months of covidiocy I’ve become aware that I’m losing touch, I’m losing my sense of where everyone is, in my groups, in the commenters here (ya’ll have been too “absent” for long periods for me to know if it’s something serious or just the lack of spoons that’s also affecting me.) Normally I keep an eye out. The only reason I’m not frantic over CACS for instance, is that I know RES would tell me if something is wrong. I did have a strange worrying dream about Emily, so I hope she’s keeping track of her meds and stuff (though she commented here the day after the dream, so….)
So, this is what I want to say: Sure, we’re resisting (wait till I do the om symbol in starts and stripes!) and we’re trying to minimize the money we send to left people and institutions, because it needs to be done. They’ve been doing it for decades, and it’s why they have the advantage they have. It’s time to fight back.
But it’s also important to support the good. Back in May I had a post about keeping the good restaurants going, with no regard to the political color of those running it. I’m not as ecumenical now. As much as it hurts me, personally, I’m cutting out discretionary spending to the people who want to hurt people, take their stuff, and rule them with a boot on their face. Even if they’re just useful idiots, who are supporting it because it’s “cool” and “the smart thing to do.” Don’t care.
But at the same time I’m going out of my way to support the good people who are decent human beings, who are lovers of freedom, who are suffering through this, and particularly who are good at whatever they do.
When I have to buy on Amazon, I’ve started assuming it’s worth it to pay twice as much, if not made in China, for instance. And if I know we have a crafter (we do, my friend Wayne Blackburn, who does wood things, and my friend Jonna who does fabric thingies, and — I probably should have a day for people to advertise their non-book stuff, soon.) who is a liberty lover, I’ll buy from them first, (provided their stuff is good. Don’t reward crap. It doesn’t help anything. To a certain extent the left fell into that trap.) and the same with books and drawing and covers, of course.
I confess it’s part of the reason I started doing the promo post, and it’s self selecting because hard core lefties don’t want me to promo them, when I or people ask.
I’m trying as hard as I can, and knowing there’s at least a couple of harder and harder years ahead (sorry guys, it’s obvious, now look at how much money the “stimulus” package is blowing and to whom it’s going. It’s vezenuelization at speed. If we’re good Americans it will be SHORT.) to create, build and positively help people, instead of just passively. It’s going not very well and SLOW because I’m working against my own endless depression, tiredness, fear and heartsickness over what I see coming, but I’m doing something positive, as well as something negative. Meaning trying to support, not just take revenge.
And if you can’t support physically or monetarily, try to support remotely with your presence. Check on people, particularly those of us who live alone, but even people who live with just one person, and who don’t have a support network nearby.
And if you live alone or are just you and a spouse, make sure you have someone check on your regularly. Preferably more than one person.
No, you’re not safe if there’s two of you. Particularly not if you’re my age or older. A couple of years ago, we had a situation where my MIL collapsed, my FIL tried to lift her and had a heart even, and they were just lucky my SIL went by within an hour, unexpectedly, or they and the doggies would have been gonners. This stuff happens.
It’s okay if your check in is remote, if the person has instructions on someone local to call/activate if you don’t answer for say 24 hours.
And this is why, btw, I have a chat program with my remote extended family. I check in every day, either morning or evening. (Though there are three people living in this house, and one is young.)
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A NETWORK. And for your own sanity, I encourage you to have a chat with a group, small or large, and stay on it.
I know it’s hard, but just saying “hi, I’m okay” is a good thing for you and the other person. It lessens the stress and the isolation.
When this insanity started, in addition to the extended fam, I had three people on my Skype I texted with daily.
Since the election, I haven’t heard from one at all (and I’m worried. Yes, she’s alive, but I’m worried she’s mad at me, though it makes absolutely no sense.) and the others I hear from very sporadically, because we’re all mad as hell, and it’s hard to talk when you have no spoons. We need to stop that shit.
It’s instinctive to go somewhere, and pull the world in after you. It’s also deadly. Take my cat, Pixie, of blessed memory, who got hit by truck and crawled in our garage to die. He had multiple cranial fractures, stuff wrong with his spine, and internal injuries.
When he didn’t show up to eat, I was worried, and kept going to the front porch to call him. He crawled out of the garage, at my voice. It took him half the day to make it up the steps, and to the front porch, leaving a trail of blood, but when I saw him, we dropped everything and spent the 10k we’d saved to buy me a car (we were a one-car family, which meant I was stuck at home when Dan was at work.) to save his life. He spent 3 weeks in ICU and we’d have given up except he OBVIOUSLY didn’t want to. He went on to live another 13 years, and help us raise the boys. So, you know. But it would never have happened if he hadn’t responded to my voice, as painful and hard and “feels like dying” as that must have been.
BE LIKE PIXIE. If you’re in trouble, send up a smoke signal.
IN the fam we’ve already dealt with one person trying to hide and die without bothering anyone. Don’t do that. We need you. I don’t care how old/infirm/useless you think you are. You’re a part of our community, and just by being here, you give us courage and strength.
Create a network. Create Checkpoints. And if you’re in trouble, send up a smoke signal.
And if you’re a praying person, send up a prayer for Doug, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and a great writer. I’m so sorry, my friend. When we meet again, I’m going to apologize SO MUCH.
And you, yes, you out there don’t break my heart. Yes, we’re heading into terrible times. Yes, the fight is already engaged and it is evil and rips your guts out in many metaphorical ways. Yes, we’re in big big trouble.
But it would be much worse alone. I value everyone of you and I do not want to lose you. Stay in touch, stay connected, work as you can, create alternate streams of income — remember, belt and suspenders — keep your weapons and clothes where you can find them in the dark. Have a plan Z and a bugout route AND if you get in trouble, if you’re going under, even if it’s just “psychological” or “I don’t feel so good” SEND UP A SIGNAL. Let us help you. It might be nothing. Or it might be everything.
Stay with us. Fighting alone sucks. You’re needed.