Category: Humor

Weekend Links – the Cataline Conspiracy, only stupid

Hi kittens, still depressed but getting better slowly.

Also, since I seem to be something of a statistic…are we all hitting a wall, or are we all just coming to grips with a series of crippling failures on top of one another? Strongly starting to suspect it may the latter.

First and foremost: how to help people in Texas right now.

Another crowdsourced masterdoc on how to help.

Long live Larry.

The best description I have for my ovearching feeling about Trump is contempt, he’s so pathetic and unworthy as both a person and a leader that I’m loathe to give him more credit than he’s due (even though I believe he’s responsible for so much damage). But I have no hesitation in saying that I hate Minority Leader McConnell. He’s very good at wielding power, and is a savvy politician, for which even I can admit to having a bizarre sort of grudging respect for sheer Machiavellian instinct. Years ago I told my brother that I thought he was the most important politician in DC and I stand by that…which is why I hate him so much. I hate him for choosing power over principle and if not embracing then condoning the very worst in our society if it kept him in power. More than anyone else in the Trump years, he could have chosen and steered a different path for our institutions, and every single time he didn’t. And even now, he tries to thread this needle as though the timing of the Senate trial wasn’t dictated by himself and I hate him for it.

Tl;dr: McConnell is clearly pulling a Ceasar as told by Sallust…and yeah, how did that go in the long run, Julius?

If they think they can just pretend he’ll go away, they’re delusional. And anyone who has ever known a malignant narcissist in a bad relationship will tell you, he will need to reassert control over you to protect his own self image (brand, if you will). And like a malignant narcissist in a bad relationship, he will compel you to do a lot of horrible things that in the long term are utterly against your own and everyone else’s wellbeing to keep you tied to him and in line.

Yeah…this is straight up eugenics.

Grim indictment of leadership.


More important Black History Month journalism, this time first person slavery accounts. I find it jarring but vitally important to see images of former slaves taken in the 20th century, similar to Civil War vets driving around in Model Ts. We are not nearly as far away from this history as people find comfort in thinking we are.

Pinning the blame for political violence on the lunatic fringe, rather than ordinary members of society, is a comforting lie folks tell themselves to avoid the reality of our political situation, how we’ve gotten to this point, and the possible futures leading forward from here.”

Yay, science!

Photo of the day.

Brava to FKA Twigs for confronting domestic abuse and violence as it should be done.

Control over our own bodies and reproductivity is foundational and fundamental to almost every other autonomous right women claim. It is the historical difference between our ability to be free individuals and citizens (it’s not a mistake that suffrage and reliable birth control came along at roughly the same time) and actual legal property. Anytime women lose this control, demand how, who did it, and why they did it or allowed it to happen. Wherever it happens.

Look, let’s be blunt. Ted Cruz, an anti-immigrationist, climate change denying, healthcare legislation enemy and bad faith blowhard needing to just “get a little break” from the ravages of huge weather catastrophe battering the area of the country it is quite literally his job to protect and represent, and so fleeing to a country he routinely derides for a luxury vacation…all against the BACKDROP of a once-in-a-generation public health crisis is almost too perfect an example of irony. Like, this was cooked up in the cosmic writers’ room in the ninth circle of hell, it’s that spot on. It’s objectively hilarious alongside being grim.

Much like Rush Limbaugh in passing, he deserves the derision he’s getting NOT because it’s fun to whale on people. Even if Senator Cruz seems to have made himself so unpleasant that even his allies have very little to say that’s positive about him. It’s because when you make it your entire lifelong career and personality to take public and powerful positions, and use actual power to back those positions ups, your actions and behavior can and should be judged against that body of work. And if the lens of attention is harsh, that’s truly on you to examine why that may be and make choices accordingly. Either do better, or double down into your own villainy; repent or commit. But for god’s sake stop whining to us all about cancel culture in bad faith.

Speaking of media literacy, journalist specializing in the topic of misinformation Charlie Warzel has a fascinating piece on the subject that made me think this week:

Weekend Links

Hi darlings, your internet aunty is deep in the throws of a depression spiral over here, so this note won’t be as perky or as snappy as usual. Like everyone else, I seem to have hit some kind of horrible wall recently. Must be the upcoming one year anniversary of our LATEST bout of existential threat or something. Seasonal depression, meets pandemic depression, meets normal depression.

In between multiple bouts of crying every day, I’ve slapped together a surprisingly good bunch of links for your reading pleasure. Seriously, there is a lot of great and fun stuff for you this week, just in case like me you are completely unable to summon any serotonin.

The Senate of the United States, having a normal one over here…

Our building has seemed suspiciously quiet for a while now

My long term thirst for Henry Cavill over most of the competition was and remains solid evident of my good taste. And is there any more petty but thrilling pleasure than when your aesthetic preference is also acknowledged to have been The Correct Choice? It’ so satisfying. The Man From UNCLE is still a great and underappreciated movie, though.


Oh good, only a year and change too late.

Friend of the Blog Caitlin Kelly strikes again, on how Bridgerton’s influence is only beginning, and how it’s giving whole communities of experts and enthusiasts their due.

Speaking of costuming, let me recommend a couple of channels and creators to truly send you down a rabbit hole this weekend:
Abby Cox, a dress historian specializing in the 18th century and not afraid to Go There when it comes to stuff you really want to know about boobs, periods, corsetry, and more. She’s also hilarious, historically rigorous, and just an overall feminist delight. Bernadette Banner, an Edwardian expert and former Broadway costumer who uses her personal experience with scoliosis to delve into dismantling myths about shapewear, highlights traditional craftsman and houses, and roasts fast fashion using medieval tailoring. She’s a babe. I particularly recommend her latest vid about the effects of Bridgerton on athleticwear. Yes, really.

Overdue but still very welcome for Black History Month. We would not have almost any genre of American music, much less global dittos, without the unique heritage of Black culture and pioneers.

Well well well, if it isn’t the consequences of our actions

What a badass.

Likewise, what a gent–even when no longer with us.

As per usual, Ronan Farrow (speaking to Amanour and Company) breaks down the differences in the insurrectionist mob of January 6th, what separates them, and what unites them in thoughtful and accessible ways. Worth a watch:

My honest to goodness reaction at seeing this story was, “OMG look at the itty bitty dinosaur!”

Anti-Asian racism and racist incidents are on the rise, including for Pacific Islanders and many ethnic and racial groups that come under that broad category. Don’t forget that we can and must advocate for several communities individually as well as under broad umbrellas such as “immigration” and “people of color.” If your privilege protects you against certain bigotries, stand up for individual communities as well as broad groups. These are not mutually exclusive.

Ignoring the headline, which I expect will put some people off, this is an excellent discussion on the role of conservatism can play in preserving democracy or breaking it. Ardent and die-hard leftist that I am, I actually agree with the thesis that it’s the behaviors of the right that really determine the path of governments because they are often the institutional guardians of what we retain and why, while the left’s role is (broadly speaking) to push for change. Both of the institutional tensions need to exist in healthy ways for democracy to work.

Good. Because I have no faith that the Senate will impose any consequences. Literally none.

This week I learned a fascinating piece of history for the first time, and one that showcases the complexities of racial privilege in America. Mixed race families, slavery and sexual consent, “passing,” and class differences all rolled into one, and a Second Lady you have never heard of.

I AM NOT A CAT. The 2021 battlecry of everyone who has utterly lost the Zoom plot.

Weekend Links

After a series of bizarre and bad decisions which has made the per capita infection rate in the UK the worst in the world there for a while, the nation does actually seem to have a grip on the vaccination efforts. LONG LIVE THE NHS.

We’re still likely to be stuck inside until the end of summer. …Hooray?

I’m still amazed no one was removed from office or public life because of this. We live in the upside down.

If you’ve been paying attention to the, uh, utterly ugly and bonkers “Rothschild space lasers” discourse, you may be asking, “Why is antisemitism present in practically every conspiracy theory?”

Extremism, [Mark] Pitcavage said, “is a perennial problem and needs to be dealt with institutionally.”

Grim. Jobs need to be lost over this.

RIP, Sir Tom Captain Moore.

One ecological disaster a time, please?!

If this is the future of influencers, I’ll take it.

If I never hear the screeching retort of, “What about ANTIFA?!” again, it will be too soon. It’s not an organized movement, it’s mostly a few whack job anarchists (opposed to organization by…design?), no leader, no comprehensive agenda, no common cause besides the superficial, and a hilarious amount of discordant ideas amongst the various factions who get slapped with the lable. They are NOT the equivalent of organized, hierarchied, and known fascist or extremist groups.

See above: left and right protests are not managed or policed in the same ways. I’m pretty sure I shared some links to reporting on research on this in a previous links post.

So, we can’t trust our elected government to ensure consequences? Thank goodness we have the…ridiculous US legal system – which has become one of the few ways to enforce personal and now corporate responsibility? Love that for us… (Hope it was worth it all, Fox News.) (ETA: hoo boy, trying HARD to avoid that lawsuit now, aren’t they?)

This post from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on how we must use the current moment to really reconsider our thinking about global health – often a euphemism for rich, western, white countries benevolently giving to poorer, non-European-descended ones to avoid having to think about the discrepancies in the first place – is worth your time. Globally and locally, public health is something that affects us all, it requires collaboration and participation – and for the love of god, adherence to science and research and not the feelings of a few people who are lucky enough to not have to worry about most communicable diseases and therefore think that means they aren’t really, or something.

The Year of Intention: January

So, I know I JUST talked about this publicly, but in reality I’ve been working on this month’s goals since New Year’s Day. Admittedly with mixed results. But with intention, we’re also practicing generosity this year, kittens because in case you hadn’t notice…times are rough!


Fully paid off my credit cards. Holy shit, that feels good to type.

Put an extra 1,000 in savings this month.

Did a month-long break from takeaway food orders – with two exceptions; one listed below and one moment of weakness when the depression hit too hard to cook.

Did a meal prep project every weekend, which definitely contributed to achieving the first two weeks. Also, I am slowly mastering the art of French Onion Soup.

Started physiotherapy for longstanding knee injury and hip joint problems. Twice a week sessions are unmaking years of damage in noticeable time. It’s honestly a bit shaming to think how long I just didn’t get around to getting help for this stuff.

Read a book a day – because I can finish romance novels or classic murder mysteries in a single sitting, and because I listen to audiobooks on a least double time walking to and from my physio appointments twice a week. Health hedonism at its best.


I was doing Dry January…but then extremists stormed my seat of government and Jeff and I spent nearly 24-hours glued to the news. So we decided pizza and red wine was an acceptable coping mechanism. And – because I’m an unhealth all-or-nothing kind of person, I decided prosecco was also acceptable and continued to indulge. Oops.

Weekend Links

Kittens, I suspect even my mild case of COVID hit me harder than I thought it did. One month on and a persistent feeling of exhaustion remains, and I’m trying to figure out it it’s just the usual January blues, the pandemic lockdown blues, or the widely touted longer term effects of the disease which has officially killed over 100,000 people in the UK.

Chicken and egg, eh? Am I broken…or is the world just kinda like this now?

I have no conclusions. Scholars remain divided.

Anyway, in spite of…everything…there are moments of joy to celebrate. Hannah’s THIRD book was announced, and X got engaged! Truly friendships are the balm of the soul, I’m so delighted for my girl squad I could just bust. Here’s your usual mix of Deep and Dumb from the internet to get you through the last weekend of the first month of this sure-to-be-cursed year.

We are still finding out more about the Capitol raid and ProPublica has a great (if somewhat distressing) compliation piece on the POV from Parler before it lost its hosting options. Sidenote, the whole attempt by the GOP to just pretend that January 6th never happened is sort of making me lose my mind.

And as America has exported QAnon conspiracy theories across the Atlantic, European conspiracy theories and disinformation are also making their way to the United States.”

I think people aren’t nearly concerned enough with the Fermi paradox overall, but that’s just me. If the universe is empty but for us…why? And if it’s not…where is everybody?

Everything Is Broken. “If…the idea of mass brokenness seems both excruciatingly correct and also paralyzing, come sit with me. Being on a ship nearly 4 million square miles in area along with 330 million other people and realizing the entire hull is pockmarked with holes is terrifying. But being afraid to face this reality won’t make it less true. And this is the reality.”

100,000 people are dead in the UK and still these people

If you want it in a sentence, I guess it goes something like this: The GameStop saga is a ludicrous stock mania born of pandemic boredom and FOMO, piggybacking off of a clever Reddit revenge plot, which targeted hedge funds, who made a reckless bet on a struggling retailer—and it’s going to end with lots of people losing incredible amounts of money.” It was a wild week on Wall Street, fam.

Facts may not care about your feelings, but your partisan view does not care about facts. That’s bad and scary for all of us.

Trauma-bonded nostalgia for the 90s and how the 30-year cycle of reboots displays itself in pop culture and politics. Also summarized generational anxiety in its current form more succinctly than anything else I’ve come across: “…and young people don’t feel trapped by the future, because nobody believes in the future anymore.” But also a plea to give up on nostalgia and try brave and terrifying alternative possibilities instead.

My freshman year roommate at university and I had a theory, that The Emperor’s New Groove is the most quotable movie of all time and that there is a quote for practically every occasion. I have yet to be proved wrong.

The gamers are at it again.

Natalie strikes again. This video is nominally about TERF doublespeak, but as per usual, is also a parable for so many more issues related to bigotry and what underpins it. It’s also a timely examination as to how all kinds of groups use specific language techniques to have the conversations they WANT to have (“Why should I be forced to think trans identities are valid?”) instead of the conversation that actually IS happening (“Do people deserve respect, legal autonomy and human rights?”).

Introducing the Year of Intention

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world
– When Death Comes, Mary Oliver

This is nearly a month late, even though it’s been sitting in my drafts folder since December. It never felt right to finish or post something so self-centered given all the genuinely huge and existential stuff going on at the start of the year. But since this weird little corner of the internet is where I document and ponder on stuff, I didn’t want to put it off any longer.

As has been mentioned, resolutions are useless; I prefer themes. And that’s in a NORMAL year, which I’ve pretty well assumed 2021 will not be.

This broader framework approach to success and growth feels especially necessary this year because the truth is, who the hell knows what’s going to happen this year! Best and unlikeliest case, we’re all out of our homes and back to “normal” by April – which is not going to happen. Worst case society collapses and we join up with a roving band of warriors to survive in a post-apocalyptical landscape. And between is a literal infinite amount of possibilities. One or both of us might lose our jobs, or we may get promotions. We may have to move, or we may need to extend our lease. We may get vaccinated or we may have to wait months for our number to be called.

Who. The. Hell. Knows.

Staying motivated through monotony is challenging.

Finding contentment in isolation or confinement requires a lot of mental practices, discipline and gratitude being chief among them.

Trying to conceptualize a future while surviving a horrible present is rough.

Trying to mark time without the benefit of observing holidays and enjoying seasonal change is antithetical to the entirety of human experience!

That being said, I do think that it’s possible to live intentionally, regardless of circumstances, and that’s why I chose the theme I did. 2020 felt like something that happened to us that we had to constantly catch up and respond to, we were living reactively – and that’s okay! But in 2021 I want to find ways to live more proactively, even if circumstances stay as they are for a long while. In fact, I think it’s best to assume they will, and plan accordingly. So what is intentional living going to look like for me?

Financial: a new big picture

Being intentional in our financial planning. But wait, C., don’t do you have the same goals every year? Not exactly, dear minion, let me explain my feelings.

2021 is going to be the year we (hopefully) see the end of our debt, which has been a long time coming and which has been my “big picture” motivation for a long time. And that means I need a new big goal to think about and use as a north star. While I think this is going to take shape in several micro goals or challenges throughout the year, as is my want, the new big intention is to make significant progress towards home ownership through savings and new investments. Small projects are fun, but I find they work best when deployed in service of a bigger vision, and buying a house feels like a bold new horizon to shoot for.

Health: healing, not coping

I mentioned in my last yearly theme post feeling burdened by emotional or psychological weight I don’t want to drag around with me anymore. This is perhaps a bit woo woo and fluffy for some, but I want to approach my both mental and physical health and energy in 2021 with a forward-looking intention. Jeff and I were talking about how many minor small issues we’ve just sort of lived with and accepted with our health rather than trying to find permanent solutions.

Rather than coping with old traumas and managing health issues, I want to use the resources I have like therapy and my healthcare access to truly heal what I can and make better choices about what I can’t.

This may mean leaving behind or changing relationship dynamics with some people. It may mean seeking a second opinion on certain issues to see if I can get better outcomes. It may mean choosing the more invasive option rather than the therapeutic one to try and fix stuff permanently – and yes, this is both literal and metaphoric, roll with it.

Ultimately I want to feel more that my health and wellbeing is something I’m making deliberate and intentional choices about, and less something that’s happening to me. I kicked this off a bit early by scheduling a health assessment over the Christmas break to get a battery of testing done and some one-to-one time with both a nurse and doctor to review the results.

Pleasure: an obscure goal for healthy hedonism

This is a strange one to try and articulate, but I have sort of assumed that no matter how much I may wish it, my physical world may be very small this year. But for me, part of living intentionally means finding ways to maximize the pleasant and positive sensations I am able to cultivate. I hope to be able to travel to one of my brother’s weddings this summer, but I can definitely enjoy various kinds of media without guilt or snobbery. I hope to be able to see my best friends this year, but I can certainly choose to wear fancy pajamas on the weekend or when I work from home. I hope to be able lounge on a beach with my husband, but barring that I can definitely have a weekly fun night at home.

There is a culture taboo against coziness, comfort, and rest but these are things that I want to lean into this year. I’m not talking about mindlessly scrolling the interwebs until going to sleep, but I do mean intentionally seeking out media, experiences (as far as I am able), and sensory opportunities that are based purely on healthy hedonism. What feels good, does not harm others, and allows me to pass time during lockdown isn’t just acceptable, it’s to be lauded!

This might mean dressing prettily for no reason, it might mean enjoying “fluffy” media of some kind, it might mean eating more decadent food than I should (though it might also mean choosing to, say, stretch for twenty minutes rather than do a vigorous exercise regimen). Trying to find things that feel deliberately good and comforting does not necessarily mean indulgence, greed, or wanton disregard for consequence. And if ever there was a year to try and discover the difference and fine tune the balance, I think this is it!

Do you have a theme this year? What made you choose it and what do you think it’s going to look like?

Weekend Links

It’s amazing how much better I have felt this week after the US inauguration. I didn’t realize until it was over how frightened I was for something ugly and dramatic to happen and disrupt or derail the day.

Now, the background buzzing dread of a pandemic badly handled in both my native and adopted countries, heightened political tensions, and general instability is still humming away. Don’t get me wrong, things are still bad, but I am enjoying the sensation that the institutions that govern a large portion of my and my loved ones lives aren’t actively making things worse on purpose.

In other words, I’m excited to return to a world of unintentional mistakes instead of willful ignorance or malicious intent. Humble goals, fam.

This week I’ve found plenty of fun things to read, but I’m clearly still concerned about the next phases of extremism and alternative realities which have taken over too many people’s lives. It’s a mistake to think that these worldviews or behaviors are going away.

Well, yo ho ho.

This article is a profile of a single person, but is an excellent perspective into the wider movement. “For her, QAnon was always less about Q and more about the crowdsourced search for truth. She loves assembling her own reality in real time, patching together shards of information and connecting them to the core narrative.”

I’ve shared this before but it’s worth reupping right now. Particularly the aspect of “forcing the end” in extremist movements, and in the wake of the Capitol storming. Yes, it’s the length of a film. Get some popcorn and watch it anyway.

So, what is going on with QAnon you ask? Well, predictably, some people are going through a faith and grief crisis…and already others are doubling down again. And they are already being targeted by other extremists groups for recruitment. Again.

A really interesting interview on why too many people (guilty!) are looking to European fascism in the 20th century to explain radicalism in the US and we need to look closer to home in our own Civil War and Reconstruction.

How to create a healthier media environment for yourself in 2021.

Honestly, just grim. Necessary (for both military and law enforcement more generally), but grim:

Oh look, that thing I’ve been worrying about for a long time now and fully anticipate we’ll have to deal with next.

WE’VE BEEN SCAMMED INTO BELIEVING Q!!!” a Telegram user declared. “WHAT NOW?!?!?! Indeed, random QAnon Avatar.

Palate cleanser of pure delight.

I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more VP coverage in general, as (not entirely unlike the role of First Lady), it’s a job that seems to get a lot of ceremonial attention but less practical. And in the last administration the coverage was frankly tabloidesque – understandably. That being said, I ate up this insight into the temporary VP residence with a spoon. I need that 18th century teal wallpaper.

And in a typical display of howling hypocrisy from me, loved this insight into inaugural fashion for Dr. Biden.

I’m still awash in delight at the Moment that Bridgerton has produced in the cultural zeitgeist. More fantasy! More women’s POV! More sex positivity! More over the top fluff just because it feels good and is fun to enjoy! At some point I’m going to have to do a full post on it. In the meantime, if over embellished tops and embroidery on the Zoom calls, tea sets, and thirsting over male forearms is the new normal, I’ll take it.

POW. Right in the feels

Weekend Links

How do we reattach people to reality and facts? This is the big philosophical thinking I’ve been debating in my own brain this past week and have no earthly idea what the answer is. Whether the need to behave in specific ways and take certain actions to control the spread of the pandemic, or the political unrest founded on outright conspiracy theories…how do you reach a consensus on truth when it’s the very thing that’s being “debated?” My brain hurts.

As you may have surmised, this week’s batch of links is a mix of grim current affairs and abject silliness wherever I found it. It will not solve any of your philosophical conundrums, but it will clear your skin and help you lose five pounds.

Who knows, it might. Truth is relative, after all.


Yes, let’s talk about police response to broadly leftist and rightist protest activity in the US:

“Their hearts, minds and wallets were taken advantage of,” Ms. Mace said, her voice rising in fury. “Millions of people across the country who were lied to. These individuals, these hardworking Americans truly believe that the Congress can overturn the Electoral College.”

Take a moment to educate yourself about the memes and iconography that identify specific ideologies and groups.

Patriarchy is a big part of the problem, but it requires women’s involvement to work. See also, Trumpism.

He resigned before making these statements. (And reminder, they are not actually pro-police so much as they think the police are “against” they same groups they are, and the moment this is questioned, they turn. If you’re not with them, you’re against them. Because they’re fascists. Obligatory trigger warning.)

Oh, and theocratic nationalists…those too. Ultimately, the point it to have enough power to exert your power, regardless of being a minority, because you feel you are morally right to do so and that there is a genuinely a risk to society if you aren’t able to enact your agenda.

Brief palate cleanser time, let’s learn about peanut butter!

Meanwhile, in Britain, an optimistic timeline means Jeff and I will be vaccinated by…September. Woof.

National mythology is powerful and the stories we tell ourselves ABOUT ourselves are important. We need to rethink the framing of those stories. Desperately.

Damn, I might have to use Signal instead. And still I somehow justify using Instagram. I am hypocritical trash…

Shock. Surprise. Whomst could have guessed, etc. etc.


Something something, “a few bad apples,” something.

Jesus. The long term effects of COVID on mental health are just starting to be understood but I feel that the final toll is going to be grim.

Influencers will be the end of us.

So…this is just going to get worse, huh?

If you have been feeling physically done in recently, you are not alone; and yes, Ms Rona is doing this to us.

Weekend Links

Guys, I just

I mean…

The thing is…

I can’t. Have some links. Let’s catch up in the comments.

See, the American right needs its viewers and product consumers absolutely livid with rage and grievance…but not enough to actual riot over it. That’s a tricky balance, and I’m not surprised they lost control over it. That’s always the end result of rabble-rousing. I wrote about this back in 2016 and the last four years have only reinforced my thinking on the matter.

Hells yeah, and I’m one of ’em. Shout out to my doctor who explicitly said she didn’t want to take me off my meds in winter in a normal year and she definitely wasn’t going to do it in 2020. Bless her.

A story about emeralds, the best gem:

Indeed, there are things from 2020 we need to retain, and righteous anger is one of them. And activism, which is not at all what the storming of the Capitol was.

This story is bizarrely engrossing.

America under Trump became less free, less equal, more divided, more alone, deeper in debt, swampier, dirtier, meaner, sicker, and deader. It also became more delusional.” Yeah…but he owned the libs, so…

I know we shouldn’t be surprised by anything this may does anymore, but still – HOLY SHIT.

A grim assessment.

Locking the barn doors after the horses have stormed the Capitol….

Who cleans up after the coup?

When you feel betrayed by your messiah figure, what happens to belief? Well, you despair, you hold out hope, or you wait for a sign. MAGAland is bang on target. But I feel obliged to repeat, this is also bang on target for fascist movements which will stay enraged and look to the next guy to lead them to victory. Apart from his personal failings, which are legion, the long term risk of Trump was that he would pave the way for someone much better at the authoritarian dictator gig than he was.

Starting to think misinformation is bad and dangerous, fam…

Understanding the new mutations of the coronavirus.

Recapping the Year of Back to Basics

Time to do a brain dump, buckle up!

Longtime minions know that I don’t like resolutions but find a lot of value in yearly themes and tracking the current one was a long running series. It fell off in the last few months – and I have zero guilt about that – but I’m going to be resurrecting it because it’s fun, it keeps me writing, and I’ve learned a few things worth documenting.

The Year of Back to Basics…oh hell, is this whole thing my fault?

Never could I have imagined that the universe would take me so spectacularly at my word. It’s hard to be more back to basics than literally being locked in your own small space for nine months with only your significant other for company, and an utter loss of the sense of time. That’s pretty basic.

I tried to be consistent in my blogging and goal keeping but towards the end of summer I just gave myself permission to not worry about progress. For someone with my personality type, this is huge. Being extremely goal and achievement oriented in a situation where a lot of the kinds of growth or change I wanted simply wasn’t possible (on a global scale) was A LOT. I struggled mightily.

No one is driving this bus!

A sense of control. L. O. Bloody. L, amirite?

Nobody is in charge. That has honestly been one of the great revelations of adulthood for me, and while upsetting, it’s also pretty freeing. 2020 was one long exercise in watching people, whole governments, and industries really just do the best they could–or stubbornly refusing to. There is no grand design, no comforting conspiracy theory, and no cheat code. Shit just happens sometimes.

I think my generation was sold the idea of formulas for success: do X, Y, and Z and you will be successful. Our entire adult experience has been debunking that notion over and over again and while that’s cosmologically scary, there is also some strange benefits to finally letting go of this idea

Accepting that “control” is too often a myth and you won’t prevent shitty things from happening releases you (or me at least) from the vast amounts of energy expended trying to control various situations. Bad stuff happening isn’t a punishment for a lapse of character, failure of skill, or faulty plan…it’s often just the universe doing its thing. Meaning that doing the best you can to manage the circumstances you are in is okay. It doesn’t keep you from making goals or progressing, it just makes setbacks or failure so much less wounding than previously felt.

It took me months to find some kind of balance and come to terms with the fact that far from losing weight, I gained it. That’s what happens when you go from walking two to three miles a day just living your life to being confined to a one bed apartment. On the other hand, my relationships thrived and our money situation improved – for the moment! I don’t preclude the possibility of future disasters!

In a year where we couldn’t go anywhere or do much, this was an important personal lesson from me and one I want to explore more in 2020. To slightly adapt the words of the motivational poster that probably resided in your middle school guidance counselor’s office somewhere, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail because failure is a faulty construct anyway?”

Setting down the psychological load

One of the most concrete realizations I’ve had as a result of the Year of Enforced Basicness was that there are a lot of things I just don’t want to have to carry around with me anymore. I’ve been thinking a lot about this thanks to therapy–and being confined in a small space for the better part of a year has certainly kicked this along too. My world has gotten very small. This has had a lot of unexpected positive benefits. In a similar way that reducing your physical space helps you understand and prioritize what you truly value and what’s just junk, reducing my psychological space has undergone a similar examination.

Like most people I have a small bundle of traumas that I like to keep a close and watchful eye on, cuddling some of them tightly because the known pain feels more secure than the great unknown of what could slide into their places if I let them go. This is, of course, a supremely stupid way to live but in my defense I don’t know a single person who hasn’t done some version of the same thing. I just think I’ve done it for too long and don’t want to expend energy in this way.

There’s a lot of negative self imagery that feels, with the benefit of hindsight, more like emotional masochism than anything.

There are a lot of old grudges or anxieties – some more valid than others – that have too much power over my day-to-day psychological state. There is a difference between symptoms and habits and with mental health, it’s really important to understand which is which and what you’re actually experiencing. My anxiety and depression are real and managing them takes a lot of effort. But I also have practices or habits that are within my control, and a lot of them are thought patterns which I’d like to break.

At the end of the day…

Like the Spanish Inquisition, no one expected 2020 but even though my regular posts on the topic dried up, I’m going to call the Year of Back to Basics a success.

Did you have a theme? Did 2020 force you to change it, recontextualize it, or update it?