Last day of 2020, and so it goes.
By my math, we have been doing this for 80% of the year.
And we’re still going.
Cryo Chamber has released another in their series of Lovecraft-inspired dark ambient collaborations. This time, it’s Yig. I’ve been revisiting the previous ones (Cthulhu, Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, Yog-Sothoth, Shub-Niggurath, and Hastur) before I give this one a spin. Seems like a perfect soundtrack to the waning days of the year.
I don’t know why I mention this. It doesn’t matter.
I’ll try again with some prefatory remarks.
Someone I went to high school with (I don’t recall who), astutely called me out on something once, observing that the more uncomfortable I get, the funnier I become. I have been aware that I often use humor to deflect a lot of things, and if you’ve been watching carefully, I’m mostly reduced to odd news, memes, and other things calculated to make people laugh. My sense of humor tends towards pitch black (even as a child), and when it gets too dark for some people, I try to gently remind people that gallows humor is how I cope.
Except if I’m being honest, I’m not really sure how much I’m actually coping.
People wonder how Robin Williams (arguably one of the funniest human beings of all time) could have killed himself. “He seemed so happy! He was so funny all the time!”
I am in no danger of killing myself. I’ve only seriously contemplated that once, and while I recognize that once you crack open that door you can never close it, that door is safely in another building, in a foreign town, in a foreign land (see? humor, for those who get the reference).
This year has brought much pain to all of us.
In addition to this completely unnecessary pandemic and the general death and suffering that has come with it, I’ve lost a number of friends and acquaintances, human and corvid. My social anxiety has increased a hundredfold. I find myself becoming ridiculously territorial, studying pandemic spread by zip code, even within our county, and city every day.
I go through cycles of nightmares. Dreams of suddenly finding oneself maskless in a crowd are the new “going to school naked” dreams. Other dreams usually involve me not being able to find my son, or me getting killed in some fashion. Suddenly waking up as I feel 6 knives plunge into my body at the hands of some multiple-armed creature has happened more than once since this whole thing began.
Also, my fears of having to evacuate due to fires during the pandemic were realized.
Worst of all, the thing that I didn’t want to happen is happening (other than us getting infected). It’s starting to affect the kid. We try our best to keep positive spins on things with him, but he has been feeling more anxiety lately than any 9 year old should. I never wanted this for him. I wanted him to not have to deal with demons. Especially at this age. I know he is strong, and this will only make him stronger, but it’s still incredibly painful to see.
I find I miss the early days of the pandemic, when people (mostly) came together to try to “flatten the curve”. We stayed at home, watching musicians on TV all day. We laughed as every single ad started with sad piano music, and the words “In these times…” and kept repeating the same messages “together” and “we’re here for you” and every other platitude large corporations hurriedly focus-grouped into production. I miss how one of our local brew pubs coordinated efforts with local food producers to make food boxes available with ridiculous amounts of meat and produce at affordable prices.
Looking at the positives of 2020:
I still have a job. I can work from home. My employers have done some very generous things, both in the community, and for their employees. Same with Amanda.
I’ve made new friends! Mattia Roland Galliani was incredibly generous and helpful to me at a time when international shipping became weird for a bit. Grazie!
I have been grateful for conversations with and a gift from a Certain Publisher of Arcane Tomes. If you read this, I hope you know who you are.
Damian Murphy and Nathan Ballingrud both provided me with some of the best reading material I’ve had of the last several years.
Momentary side note: I’ve been trying to come up with a list of things I’ve read since this began. I’m probably missing a few things, but in no particular order: Carrie (Stephen King), ‘Salem’s Lot (Stephen King), Daughters of Apostasy (Damian Murphy), The Star of Gnosia (Damian Murphy), Charnel Wine (Richard Gavin), Omens (Richard Gavin), Tomato Sauce (Hanns Heinz Ewers), Cold Skin (Albert Sánchez Piñol), Songs of a Dead Dreamer (Thomas Ligotti), The Castle (Franz Kafka), The Green Face (Gustav Meyrink), assorted short stories by Edgar Allan Poe, and Clark Ashton Smith, Serpentine (Philip Pullman), The Outer Dark (Cormac McCarthy), Dark Matter (Michelle Paver), North American Lake Monsters (Nathan Ballingrud), and the Blackwater books (Michael McDowell). There’s probably more, but that’s everything I can think of right now.
I’ve also been able to reconnect with friends. I am grateful to all of you. ALL of you.And I am beyond grateful to Amanda and the kiddo. We’ve been in close quarters for a looooooooong time. I’m sure I get on their nerves regularly, but they still put up with me.
2021 will begin much as 2020 ended. The virus is on its own timetable, and all we can continue to do is fight it in hopefully more effective manners than we have so far.
One day we’ll look back on this and laugh.
Or, I’ll be in some kid’s video with the title of “See this 85 year old shut in go outside for the first time since 2020!” and you’ll see me in a vineyard smiling, weeping, and dancing.
Or whatever I can manage.
Let’s all have a better 2021, okay?