This last year has been a form of hell. The shock that the country submitted meekly to what I was sure — and turned out be right — was a massive psy-ops over an otherwise unremarkable cold/flu virus. I was astonished and revolted no one was questioning the bullshit handed down, even to meekly donning the masks that everyone knows do nothing, if they so much as read a couple of studies. (Yes one study showed they were maybe beneficial — the result was within the margin of error — but that was for 17 layer masks worn for no more than 20 minutes per mask. Frankly, I and other asthmatics couldn’t breathe through 17 layer masks.)
I was appalled that, even with the numbers of the Diamond Princess showing this was mostly very dangerous to the very elderly, but even to them not as dangerous as many other viruses, people chose to run panicking and screaming. That people allowed governors to become mini-kings who decided who got to win and who got to lose at life; who was essential and who wasn’t.
And there aren’t words to describe how viscerally revolted I am at the churches that closed. They closed, at government command, at a time when their flocks needed them more than ever. They submitted to sign ups and bullshit, rather than do the only thing they really exist for: serve their flock. People have died for their religion, but our unspeakable main line “pastors” were too scared of fines and being spoken harshly to or about.
As the election approached and the insanity continued, I realized why this was going on, and what it trended to. It was no more and no less than an attempt to both crash the economy and steal the election.
And they did. And we let them get away with it. Not that most of us could do much about it. Which is when I realized how little I could do, and that my country might die, and I couldn’t save it. I’m just one person, and my reach is limited.
Mind you, I don’t think they will HOLD the country. They can’t. And they know it as well as we do, which is why we have a bizarre military occupation of DC. I stand by my “on the outside, two years till the Junta’s hold breaks completely apart.” I just can’t tell how it will do it or how bad it will get. But they are, at best, toddlers running around with hammers hitting things. And our interconnected world is too complex to take much hitting. There’s only so much resilience in the system.
But I don’t know what comes out of it. I don’t think the country will break apart, but it might, at least for a while.
You guys know how I feel about our Constitutional Republic. The thought that the country might die — is dying — which took hold sometime mid-summer punched me hard.
It took the underpinnings from beneath me, and I spent months — MONTHS — unraveling my life and trying to figure out if what I had done was ever worth it, what I could have done differently and feeling guilty for everything I’ve DONE.
Like, you know, if I’d never left Portugal, yeah, I’d be an old maid living with my parents, but at least they’d have someone to look after them, and Dan would have married this woman who was making a big play for him when I came on the scene and he’d be living in the South East, which is safer, and he’d probably have been happier, because I’m so complicated and fraught to live with.
And if I hadn’t insisted on being a writer, we could have homeschooled the kids and–
Just on and on and on, unraveling everything I’ve done. It is not an exaggeration to say these wide-awake nights (always at night) often ended with “And if I hadn’t been born, everyone would be happier.”
Except by unraveling everything, I then had to reweave it. I had to find out how things have happened, and would they really have been so very different if I could do it again? And most of all I had to find out what matters, and what is worth it.
So, sure, I could have stayed in Portugal and fulfilled my traditionally expected role.
Except by now I’d be a murderer. Probably several times over.
The role is traditional, but I’m not. And I don’t take well to authority, to handed down maxims, to demands I obey because of who and what I am.
At best, if I still survived, I’d be stunted and full of bile. Stunted because mom is very different from me, but doesn’t understand it. She doesn’t even understand how different I can be. So she worries about me, and this translates into an obsessive need to treat me — still — as though I were about 10 and make all my choices for me.
That means living together for these last 30 years, we’d probably be each other’s hell. Normally you hear this about people getting divorced, but: we love each other, but we can’t live together. And my deciding to stay there…. would have been good for no one.
Dan MIGHT have been happier. But let’s face it, he bores easily. And that chick was none too smart. He might also very well have a string of divorces, and be bitter and hate women.
Who knows? He wouldn’t be who he is without me, because we’ve become DanandSarah. I wouldn’t be who I am without him, either.
And you know, as much as I drive me insane, I LIKE US.
And I’m happy when we’re together. Now, is that all the time? Well, no.
Could things have been better? Sure. If we went back in time and retained our memories, we’d have done things differently and we’d have had a better life.
BUT with who we were, when we made those decisions? We’d have fucked up in different ways that’s all.
I do regret writing. Not the books.
I regret the effort to break into trad publishing. Someone was saying something about a writer friend needing less stress. I’ll be honest, insane levels of stress are sort of part of trad pub, and part of what has fucked me up, health wise.
The problem in trad pub is you have NO agency. It doesn’t matter how good you are, you can get fucked by issues outside your control. OTOH that’s not my FAULT, that’s the field. The field was fucked, yo, and it was the only game in town. Yes, it would have been better, if we’d lived a lot tighter and I hadn’t tried to publish, just written my little things and put them up when indie became available. BUT that gets to the way I’m put together, okay?
Any career path I took, I was going to try to clamber to the top. And btw, the more I find out about the shit done to my books…. I might not be the best writer around, but it took them a lot of work to keep me from getting to the top. (Not skill, not talent, but sheer determination and work. Meh. In the field as it was a talen for stabbing in the back might have got me there.) And I didn’t KNOW indie would be a thing. No one knew. (Oh, and they didn’t do it to my books only and probably in most cases not on purpose. It’s just the field is fucked up, yo.)
I AM worried for the guys and DIL. DUH.
I’m somewhat worried for us, too, but the funny thing is “not too much. We’ll survive. We’ve done it before.”
BUT here’s the thing: I can get maudlin and “envy the barren.” BUT even with all the shit that was needed to have #1 son and how much the delivery messed me up?
I cannot and will not regret that the boys are here and are alive, or that #1 son found DIL
Like with DanandSarah they’re Thehoytfamily and they make me happy, and I love it when we’re together, even when #1 son is fussing over maybe not having made enough food, like an Italian grandmother.
It’s like the cats: some of them have been pills, and dear LORD I’d have refinished a lot fewer floors without Euclid the piddle pot, but if I had to do it again, the only one I wouldn’t adopt would be Randy, because he was in real suffering after about 8 weeks, and anyone else would have put him down.
The others? I loved having them around when I didn’t want to kill them, but one way or another, they made life “better” or more life or something.
Even with he horrible parting all too soon.
I wouldn’t give up the boys, even when they’re pains in the butt. NOT even for the chance to be a billionaire, or whatever. And I could never give up Dan because he’s part of who I am. And together we’re bigger and better than the sums of our parts.
Yeah, #1 son was planned, and was born at the WORST possible time. And we moved three times before he was one, and I was very ill for almost two years, and couldn’t even think straight. But in the middle of all that, what made it worth was…. #1 son. Those were the good times. The times I held him, or played with him, or read to him. I don’t know if I would have survived that year without him. EVEN if I hadn’t been so sick. #2 son was completely unplanned. We found out I was six months pregnant in the middle of moving.
And he was less needed to save my life, (as it were) and my only regret is that while recovering from pneumonia I put him in pre-school. I should have kept him and had more time with him. (And less time to write, but bah.) But he’s been a wonderful addition tot he family, and his quirky sense of humor and mother-hen ways has helped me through this year from hell.
Come hell or high water, what makes life worth living is the people and living things we love. It’s much easier to go through the years from hell with love. Easier even than going through paradise years without.
As I unravel my life and my decisions that’s what I can’t unravel. Because I can’t regret the love or the time with people I love. And I’m not talking romantic ecstatic love. That’s not what married life or parenthood are.
Sometimes you want to throw them all in a sack and walk away. Of course you do. Other people are HARD and harder for introverts. But you don’t do it. And you worry about them. And you do things for them. And somehow, through all that, you’re happy. It’s a weird form of happiness, but perhaps better described as “I don’t have time to obsess and catastrophize about myself” (which is a danger for ALL writers.) And I know I’m doing something worthwhile, and it’s not JUST my stupid volition and a search for an abstract “happiness.”
Look, some of the unhappiest people alive kept themselves “free” of entanglements.
I know someone who is very rich and completely free of entanglements. She has money for the foreseeable future. She’s very healthy for her seventies. She owns several houses and buys cars like I buy books. And yet her greatest hobby seems to be to tell people how rich she is and how much sex with younger guys she’s having. And none of it sounds like happiness.
Or take this person we tried to be friends with for years: no woman was good enough for him. And if he ever had kids, they had to be perfect which could only happen with the perfect woman. And the most important thing every morning is determining whether he’s happy. Hint, he never is. Since he’s the only thing he has to fuss about, he fusses about all sorts of imaginary symptoms, and he spares himself any hard work, so he’s not rich either. And he just spirals deeper and deeper into neuroticism. And even people who would like to help him eventually get disgusted and walk away. Because all he keeps trying to do is make himself happy. And you can’t make yourself happy in isolation. Happiness, long term happiness, is a result of living, of doing, of loving.
Actually most dems in politics and the arts live like that, for themselves only, (which is why those that are married have such miserable families) and their one focus seems to be stealing mo’e money, because that makes them happier.
They live on the impulse of the moment of what would make THEM happy at that moment, with no regard for anyone or anything else. And somehow, this brings on the most acute sort of self loathing and misery. And all the money they steal, and all the power they claim can’t cure it.
In a way loving others and paying the price of that love: worry and work, and living for them is the key to happiness. If you don’t do that, if you never risk loving others, you’re forever an emotional infant, excepting happiness to somehow descend on you, and being upset when it doesn’t.
Something that was REALLY hard this last eternity since the lockdown was realizing how little I as an individual can do to keep this country going, to keep it free, to keep the world from hurtling into madness.
But I’ve come to terms with the fact that there’s stuff I can do to make my little corner of the world better: work at the tasks appointed to me.
Write, and look after the husband and the kids and the pets. And try to insulate them and make things better for them.
EVEN if Earth should fall, I’ll be here, keeping the roof over my family, and doing what I can to keep them happy and fed. And in that, there’s a sort of happiness.
Sure it could all go horribly wrong, and we could all die. Everyone dies. Until we do, the only thing we can do is live: live as hard as we can.
Beating ourselves against history is kind of like a fly beating itself against the window pane. It doesn’t do anything but kill us. (And by that I don’t mean kill us in a political martyr, taking a stand sort of way. Those are sometimes needed. I mean kill us in a “I fretted so much I had a heart attack.” That helps no one.)
Looking after what we can look after, and keeping our values?
Yeah, okay, we might lose IN THE VERY LONG RUN. But until then? Meh. We’ll go through some terrible times, but we’re still alive and trying. And those of us who are religious KNOW we won’t lose in the long run, either. Because Himself is not a dystopic author.
Sure this regime is a horror, and we’re outraged daily by the attacks on the republic, but please let’s not make them worse than they are. They would just put us all in camps if they could, but we’re the vast majority of the country. And the country itself is vast and varied. WHO is going to put us in camps? And are WE going to let them?
Sure, there will be some people who will be lost. My guess is mostly people in the establishment. Because they still trust the establishment.
The camps aren’t sure to happen. Nor are mass executions. For that this crew would need to be minimally efficient. And they’re not. They’re more like toddlers running around with hammers, in a glass shop. Which means, yes, the next few years are going to be very difficult. FOR EVERYONE. Yes, being married, having a kid, caring for other human (or not) beings might make it worse. OR NOT.
Keep in mind that #1 son kept me alive through that horrible year, with no jobs and continuous moves, and money so tight we could barely eat. Because without him, what was there to live for, really? Hell, there were times the cats, as complicated as they made every fucking move, kept me alive, because I couldn’t just give up and let them starve/be taken to the humane society and be euthanized.
A lot of us look forward and see only bleakness, but it’s important to remember you can’t feel/see the future. This for me is a big deal, as I have at least a little bit of forward-sight. Or as I call it, I’m a bit unmoored in time. So I’m used to “sensing” what comes next, and for a long time last year I couldn’t.
HOWEVER ninety percent of “I can’t feel the future” isn’t that. It’s more that we’re outside our experience. We’re caught up in really big world events (this shit is worldwide) and when the dice are rolling no one knows how they’ll land.
Or if you prefer a friend’s terms for it: “we are at a huge inflection point, and everything is on the table.”
But — for what it’s worth remember I have a lot more in the hopper than most of you for the subconscious feelings I get. I’ve lived through revolution and counter revolution; I won’t claim to have read more history than most of you mugs, but I’ve read a lot of it, and I spent years reading about revolutions and progroms and the most unplesant people of history — and m sense of the future has come back. And as it did my feeling has gone from grimdark to “this will get better.” And “The future is better than the past.”
I REALLY feel what we’re going through is largely undoing the statist, centralist fixation of the 20th century. I REALLY feel (not think, because how do you think through that?) that in the end we win, they lose. Now, what is the time frame? I don’t know. The future is a very long time. And yes, for a while things might get worse before they get better. Though I still don’t think this Junta holds very long.
I will keep up my corner of the world and work and serve those I love.
So, my advice is this:
If you’re young enough and of a mind to marry but have no one, make yourself into the sort of person who will attract a mate. Part of this is making a living serving your “highest, best purpose.” If what you’re suited to do is make really good furniture, do so. Give yourself to it with your whole heart. (I’m fairly useless. All I can do is tell stories and sling words. But I’m going to do that as hard and as well as I can. In my case, not to attract a mate, but to help my family.) This will serve you well in looking after a mate and a family when you get there. Oh, and put word out you’re looking. You never know.
If you’re in a relationship but not married, and the relationship is good, commit to it. Get married. Go all in. Being half committed is not enough to see you through the hard times. As with whatever occupation you find yourself in, do it with your whole heart and soul.
If you can have children, have them. Looking after them is the best way to become adults, and it’s what makes us fully human. Besides, they will give you something to live for through the hard times.
If you can’t have kids get a couple of puppies, a couple of kittens, something that needs you and whose hpapiness matters to you.
If you aren’t and can’t get married, if you can’t have children, get a friend or a group of friends and make them important to you. Commit yourself to their happiness, to their success. when I say make connections and how important it is to you, remember that good connections you go all in on, as much for the other person’s sake as your own.
The next few years are going to suck. I’m not lying to you on this. Imagine things getting very very difficult. They will. Prepare as well as you can, and work to make it worth to live through the max suckage to get to the other side. Try to make sure others you love and care about get through the max suckage, and feel it as little as possible.
Put one foot in front of the other. And love. Love as much as you can, as many people as you can. Seeking your own happiness and relevance is a dead end. Working in the light of our principles to secure freedom, prosperity and happiness for those we love is the way this is won. We love them, so we do what we can to get them through this. And loving them gives us a reason to get through this. And on we go.
This is how we win. One person at a time. One day at a time. Even if we don’t see it in this life.
Be not afraid. Go work. And I will too.