The End of the World

It’s hard to shake that feeling – the world is ending.

American dominance of the global economy and politics – that’s gone now. When Trump got elected, we started this descent into irrelevance. How can a country that elects a lying, grifting buffoon be trusted to do anything right? We have seen it during the past 3 years in regular everyday affairs, but now in a genuine emergency, Trump’s criminal ineptitude is putting the nail in the coffin of American Exceptionalism. Donald Trump shows us that the only ways in which we are truly exceptional are stupidity and cruelty.

It’s very hard not to have anxiety and dread about this – endings are typically painful. When that ending is monumental like the sunsetting of a super power, and the rise of a more chaotic era, anxiety and dread about the future abound. Living in a time when our technology and industrialism can destroy life on this planet will only amplify those feelings exponentially.

Will the end of this era lead to the end of the world?

What I Miss

What I miss
I miss Jason’s touch
When our fingers intertwine
And the world becomes a different place
If only for that moment
I know
I matter
I am here

What I miss
Random
Bumping into
Not expecting to see you
Then seeing you
A surprise encounter
So good to see you!

What I miss
Kindness
Decency
Respect
Acknowledgement of my humanity
Being able to acknowledge your humanity
Competent moral leadership
Honest journalists
You not having blinders on
Me being able to take my blinders off
Your humanity
My humanity
Humanity

What I miss
Solid beliefs
The real deal
Hope
Going outside whenever
Stores
Crowded places alive with energy
Looking forward to tomorrow

That’s what I miss

Social Media is Poison

There’s that moment when you get that feeling of wanting to punch someone really hard when you are reading their social media post. It’s an urge to smack them so hard that their head spins into next week. Can you feel that surge of energy vibrating down your arms to your hands? What they wrote is so obviously ridiculous that it requires and demands an immediate response. You’re bristling and ready to pounce.

Why is that?

Sometimes people post things to get a rise out of their reader for pleasure, or to share their current feelings, or to manipulate their reader into either siding with them, or against them, and fuel an argument. This is about intentions – why is that person writing/posting that? What do they want from me?

I assume that infuriating things have been written for pretty much as long as we’ve been writing. The behavior is not new as provoking is a natural tendency that humans do all the time. Indeed, provocation is an important part of the maturing and learning processes we go through – how else do you determine limits if you don’t push them? That push provokes. How many times have you provoked a reaction in someone, who was ignoring or not paying enough attention to you, when you wanted their attention?

Combining the urge to provoke and the need for attention, with the dopamine high of the social media experience, gives you aggressive and demanding interactions. They play out in a digital ether littered with virtual salons of distrust, anger, and rage. The furious posting of links to back up or refute an argument fly back and forth. The anticipation generated by someone’s typing… makes your will focus and narrow on the instigator of your wrath. The driving need to slay them and bend them to your will fuels every keystroke. Every time you hit send is another blow against an enemy, whether unreal and imagined, or living and breathing. The dopamine buttons on your keyboard take you closer and closer to that mostly unrealized paradise of OWNING them.

In the earlier days of the internet, it was said that no one knows you’re a dog. Nowadays, it seems that social media turns everyone into a demagogue.

How to be Productive During an Apocalypse?

Focusing on my work is one of those things that has always been a semi struggle for me. I can have an excellent focus on my work, but it takes having a well ordered environment for me to get there. A good chunk of my work is done in my home studio, which is also my bedroom. I learned a long time ago that if I wanted to get something done, incorporating home/studio maintenance was an absolute necessity. Being in an ordered organized environment gives me the calmness that I need for that focus and the ability to create.

Now, this is not to say that I can’t function in chaos, it’s actually quite the opposite. Chaotic situations cry out for order and that makes my focus go into overdrive. Emergencies are a type of situation that I do well in, as I can quickly and calmly focus and figure out the best course of action. It is the demand to make order that gets my focus.

The current situation we all find ourselves in is something I have never encountered before – an apocalypse. (I don’t use the article ‘the’, but ‘an’, humans have encountered these kinds of events before and we will again after this one passes.) The similarities to the AIDS epidemic are definitely there, but that experience did not prepare me for this – the fear of just going outside or doing the simplest of tasks, like being around other people to do basic shopping. To say that this is overwhelming is an understatement.

The chaos has made me focus on the immediate needs – do we have enough food? Is the house clean enough? How do we pay bills? What precautions should I be taking? The never ending horror show of our government has been all consuming and unbelievable and has been putting me into an almost constant grief state. It is utterly unfathomable and stupefying to me that the things that we are witnessing. A chaos that is out of my control. While I’ve always been a keen observer of society, I’m able to separate the things that were out of my control and let them be. It took a while to nurture that ability and now I find that I have to re-develop it for a unique moment.

Going Outside

I’m lucky that I’ve got a good place to live – comfortable, pleasant, centrally located, and a small yard/garden. Being able to actually, physically go somewhere else, though, has become a revelation. The world is incredibly small. I don’t have places to go to anymore, and now my life is in an even much smaller area than before. No going out for pleasure, no going to Oakland to play hockey or see the boyfriend. No going to my studio at Gray Area. No nights out just to see people, live music, movies, performances, or anything else for that matter.
With no hockey, the only intense exercise I’m getting right now is bike riding. I’ve always enjoyed it and with the plague keeping everyone inside, it’s taken on that quality it used to have when I was little and first learned how to ride a bike – it was liberating and exciting to be able to go fast and go places more easily. Now, it’s a liberation from the gilded cage of home.

Grief

Grief

A while back in the hazy memory of a few/several/some days ago, I read an article, don’t remember by who, or from where, (who can remember things anymore?), but the author (some type of therapist/counselor) wrote about how the experience we are collectively feeling now is grief.  I hadn’t really thought what I was going through, I was just trying to get through it, what else can you do when the world falls apart?

Ever since, more than 2 weeks ago, I started getting messages from people and saw reports from reputable medical professionals that I know, I realized that all hell was about to break loose. My thoughts rushed into extreme preparation mode; I had just recently restocked our earthquake supplies and had a list in my head of almost all of our supplies at home.  Aside from certain things, my household is ready for about 2 or so weeks. Our water, though, would last about 5-6 days. It didn’t seem enough…BUT WAIT – I had to remind myself that this wasn’t an event that would destroy infrastructure, but people. Neutron bombs and viruses are as destructive as hurricanes and tornados, just in a different fashion.

Day to day has become a so much more involved effort – the hour wait to get into the grocery store (metered entrance, limited number of people in the store, 6 feet distance as much as possible) and the empty shelves. Consistently 20%-30% of the shelves are empty. And their hours are shortened, both by being open less hours, and reserving certain hours to those over 60. 

My roommates are definitely a blessing – when surviving becomes a more group effort you need a good group to be part of. Cooking together, watching movies, playing video or card games. Hanging out and talking, or just letting one another be in our thoughts as we all process this shock. 

Shock is too light of a word, this is something that locked me and froze me. And each day is *another* fucking bombshell, a continuous, ongoing shock and trauma. How does one peel oneself away from it? It’s coming to you live (and in color!) from the internet, directly to the palm of your hand, etched into your brain. The horror makes it impossible to think about anything else but how to survive.

And then I read that article and i started thinking about how immobilizing grief is – it’s a hole in you that you can never fill and sometimes it feels like it has swallowed you forever, disjointed and broken. There’s no stage for this grief, and no one alive right now has ever experienced a large die off in our species. How does one react to an apocalypse?