It’s been a month since the Pulse massacre. I haven’t been right since.
Well, to be honest, I haven’t been right all year. Or even since last summer.
If I’m going to be technical about it, it goes back well beyond then, but as far as the most recent dive into the abyss, it does date back about a year.
A fair amount of this is personal-life stuff, primarily related to our three-year-old son more or less getting kicked out of day care and subsequently diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Working through that and trying to find qualified, reliable child care has been, to be frank, a bit of a horror show. I love him dearly, and 85% of the time he’s one of the most wonderful kids I’ve ever met, but he is definitely a handful, and takes an incredible amount of physical and emotional energy to manage some days. That’s left me with very little gumption to do much of anything else, especially writing, which takes a great deal of mental focus that I just don’t have these days.
There’s also been some other personal stuff: physical problems (among them, a fucked-up back that’s made it hard to sit at my desk for more than an hour or two at a time), the financial pyrotechnics necessary to afford child care and treatment; our beloved roomie finally moving out (no drama, just a lot of hassle to do the domestic Tetrising necessary); and some odd friend-circle nebulousness that’s made me feel a bit less grounded than I need to be. Plus all the usual family drama, which is far too complicated to get into here.
All this of course is enough to stress out anyone. Then add in the fact that the world seems to have graduated from an ever-burning dumpster fire to a landfill inferno. Yikes.
I’m sure I’m hardly the only person feeling this way, and undoubtedly many who don’t have the privileges I do are feeling it far worse, but it seems like we’ve had no time to process one tragedy/shitstorm before another one hits us in the face. It also seems like a fair contingent of cishet white people (at least in the Anglosphere) have decided to throw away the dog whistles and just start being openly, viciously bigoted. Refugee internment camps in Australia. Brexit. The constipated mango running for president. The openly sexist and occasionally racist subgroup of supporters of the other major male candidate. About the only place where things haven’t gone completely to hell is Canada, which managed to save our souls at least in small part by electing the delightful Justin Trudeau.
Election years are usually pretty gnarly to begin with. They’ve gotten even more so in the past decade or so as people who’ve had a near-exclusive hold on unearned power for generations are finally having to share it with others, and pitching enormous tantrums because of it. We have people on the right clearly wishing to resurrect George Wallace, if not Robert E. Lee, and a chunk of young, white lefties who seem completely ignorant of the fact that bigotry is most definitely alive and well, and that’s why we can’t focus on nebulous stuff like free college. It’s been absolutely great to have a wonderful president for these past eight years, but it’s clear that his successes, plus the fact that he may soon be followed by the country’s first woman president, have set a match to the wildfire of bigotry that’s been hiding under our country for the past several decades. Even the damned KKK has raised its pointy head lately, being openly gleeful about the racist assgasket who won the GOP nomination. Barf.
This has all been building for a while, of course. Bigots haven’t just suddenly manifested overnight. But they have managed to find each other a lot more easily these days, and they’ve also recruited a new contingent of young men via things like G*m*rg*t*. I’m confident that the rest of us well outnumber them, but the fact that Trump not only won the nom but is getting as much as 40% in national polls is utterly horrifying to me. Yes, it’s true that the lion’s share of his support is coming from cishet white guys and uneducated white women, but it’s still appalling that he has that much support at all. It’s even more appalling that the more successful he is, the more emboldened they are, and the more open harassment and violence we’re seeing. The same thing has happened in the UK and Australia, as some well-known politicians there have been giving support to their own racists.
Even though I’m hopeful that compassion and justice will eventually prevail, things still suck right now, and they probably will for a long time to come until we get enough people in power to be able to make concrete change. Here in the U.S., we’re probably stuck until at least 2020, when districts get redrawn, even if Hillary wins and we get the Senate back, because the GOP has so thoroughly gerrymandered and voter-suppressed themselves into a major House majority. I’m afraid things are going to get worse before they get better, at least on a grand scale.
I’m trying my best to keep my spirits up while all this is going on, but my own natural tendencies toward cynicism aren’t exactly being cooperative when I try to curb them these days. Doesn’t help that I feel so powerless, too. I have a fair amount of privilege in many areas, but that’s offset by all the disadvantages I have, which makes it hard for me to be effective in any real sense. About all I can really do most of the time is troutslap fellow white queer folk or feminists when they engage in some clueless racism. It also means I’m always worried about whether I’m going to be targeted by the next asshole explosion if I do or say the wrong thing. Or even if I just have the audacity to exist. It’s hard not to want to just hide under the covers, coming out only to vote, until things start to calm down, but of course, I can’t do that. At the very least, I need to be strong for my son, even if it does break my heart when I have to explain to him why cops wouldn’t necessarily always be nice to some of his friends at school.
I do know that one of the few things I can do to make the world a better place is write my books, and I feel guilty that I can’t seem to do that right now. As of tomorrow, it will have been a year since I released my short, Bryn’s Folly, and longer still since I released my last full-length novel (Tesserae.) I’ve done a little bit of work here and there on Tesserae’s sequel, as well as the next installment in the Mythic (Harper) series, but I haven’t really gotten beyond just a scene or two here and there. My attention keeps wanting to focus on the real world, and the troubles of real people instead of those of the ones inside my head, even though I have far more ability to solve those problems than the ones in meatspace.
I do see a tiny spark of light at the end of this very long tunnel. We have four months until the election, and I’m hoping that Hillary manages to win so resoundingly that Trump crawls back into whatever hellmouth he spawned from and is never seen again. My personal issues are starting to look up, too. My son’s behavior has been improving as his cognitive development grows, and he’s doing well at his new pre-school. Crossing my fingers that this continues, since that would be a huge weight off my mind. Those two things alone might be enough to calm me down to a place where I can start writing again. Until then, however, I’m afraid I’m going to be spending my time building stuff in sim games and occasionally spam-ranting on various social-media platforms. It may not be exactly warrior-class-level social justice work, but it’s all I can do right now.