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

Apocalypse

It means “disclosure” or the “revelation of great knowledge.” Of course we’ve twisted the ancient Greek word for two millennia and layered new usages on it so it now means some kind of desolation, a wastescape. Some look forward to it, convinced it will benefit them (and deliberately harm or condemn their enemies), others view it primarily through the lens of media and pop culture usuage.

It’s fitting.

Trump’s presidency ends in mere hours when I’m typing theis and for all the harm and damage I believe it caused – which we will spend a long time repairing, from our pandemic response, to wealth inequality, to our national standing in the wider world – I do give it enormous credit for something important: it revealed.

It revealed the racism and misogyny still rooted deep in American history and institutions, and how insidious offshoots manifest everywhere.

It revealed the motives of extremists of all stripes. It promoted or sheltered ideologies by forgoing dog whistles in favor outright declarations.

It revealed how much of our government relies on honor and shame as preventatives – which both should bring some degree of comfort considering who has come before and what they have decided not to do, and should serve as testament how manifestly inadequate they are as guardrails in the

It revealed the collaboration between populism and plutocracy. It laid bare how specific audiences are whipped up to identity-based furor to claim power, before turning around using that power to benefit a very different audience entirely.

It revealed the difference between popularity and power. Both have limits and uses and taking the advice of Machiavelli to heart, the one that chooses power is likeliest to take the necessary steps to hold onto it even at the expense of popularity – or representing a majority of the people.

It revealed a cultural spirit of spite that I found genuinely breathtaking in its malice and breadth.

It revealed the fissures of race, class, and other identity markers and how

It revealed (or certainly reiterated) just how the tattered threads of our so-called safety net truly are, and therefore how fragile our overall systems are in the face of shock.

And finally, it was a powerful revelation to many, many groups of people that democracy requires and demands participation. And the administration provoked response and organization in truly unprecedented ways.

My greatest worry now is that with the intersecting challenges we face as a world and country, too many people will see a new administration as a chance to go back to complacency. Almost none of the circumstances which enabled this man and his people to come to power are resolved. Meaning, as exhausted as we all are and, it could happen again if we aren’t careful. My fear is that Americans tend to have short memories.

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.

Heh.

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.

WOMB CANNIBALS.

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.

When your worldview is a lie

I know I am not as sympathetic to those caught up in conspiratorial thinking as I logically could be. I know how the manipulation works, how media echo chambers function to reinforce the things you already believe or want to be true and insulate you against any difference of thought, and how radicalization works regardless of whether it sends you left or right, religious or secular.

Humans and groups are complex and there are no tidy narratives. I saw people attacking and beating police at the Capitol and I saw people ostensibly on the same side trying to protect those victims. I am sure there are people who never imagined that a protest would turn into a violent storming of the Capitol…but I am equally sure that there are people who knew exactly what they were doing and planned for it.

The evidence of this is mounting every day.

How they were meeting, coalescing, and coordinating on social media.

How specific some of their individual or group agendas were.

How they are not going to stop.

How more is already being planned.

Sympathy for the devil?

And so, no, I do not think of all of these people involved in the storming of the Capitols in exactly the same way…but I am struggling to parse the categories correctly. I think many of them are victims, but where does that victimhood end? In addition to willful bad actors, some were probably just caught up in a moment, the collective conscious of a mob. The vast majority of them have been lied to and isolated from alternative points of view for so long that many people do believe we are living through some kind of cataclysmic crisis.

If I believed some of those things, would I be willing to do something drastic about it? Yeah, if I’m honest with myself, I can see the appeal or at least the logic. Everyone likes to think that if put in the circumstances of history, that they would make the valiant and historically vindicated choice. Well, a lot of these people think that’s what’s happening and they are trying to make what they understand to be a valiant choice. There’s a strange sort of bravery in it.

The problem is…the underlying premise of their belief is deeply, tragically flawed. The people who converged might have nuances and differences, but underpinning all of them is a collective, fatal lie; that the election was invalid in some way.

What do we make of genuine attempts at heroism for a false cause? It’s the same logic of ISIS, the crusades, leftist eugenics of the late 19th, early 20th century, and more. Fervent commitment to a false cause is a human problem, it’s always been with us.

So, what do?

So while I want the people who did illegal and violent actions on January 6, 2020 to face the requisite legal repercussions for their actions, I still think the long term focus MUST be on the ecosystem that made this not just possible but probable. Garbage in, garbage out. We should hold people accountable for their individual actions, but we MUST hold responsible the people who should have been a check on the worst of this and didn’t. And yes, that includes the President, which is why I think impeaching him is the right thing to do. There needs to be deterrent for leaders and those in power from feeling able to leverage violence and extremism – whether through incitement, tacit approval, or passive acceptance – for their political benefit.

I don’t know what to do long-term, however, about the problem of living in alternate realities that are founded on these beliefs. QAnon believers still believe President Trump has a plan to take down a global pedophilia and hormone harvesting ring of Satan worshipers (yes…really…). NeoNazis are already spinning last week as a victory that validates their views and appeals to new recruits. Lots of various other groups believe that they are going to be marched into concentration camps, have their guns confiscated, that the government is about to enact martial law, and any other variance.

Each of these worldviews shares a trait: they have an almost religiously protective reaction to any attempts to persuade them otherwise. It reinforces their faith more than harms it. It’s why I wrote about giving up most of my attempts to argue with people who disagree with me with a view to convincing them – because I’ve lost confidence that it actually produces an effect.

But then, what will work? The only thing I can think of is rooting it out, which is also why I favor deplatforming and push back strongly when it’s called censorship. It isn’t.

We have to confront the ecosystems that create and sustain brittle and false worldviews. This is partly what activists mean when they want to dismantle white supremacy/racism/misogyny, or dispute terminology in a way that makes conservatives mad. It’s also what produces so much backlash against this activism – see paragraph above. If your worldview premises are challenged and they are somehow fundamental to your identity (religious, political, social, you name it), you might interpret a different opinion or movement as an attack. And you might respond accordingly–that’s exactly what’s happening.

We don’t have to be talking about “isms” for this logic to work. I could say the same same is true of the systems of education and media and politics in which we find ourselves, which have helped shape deep and entrenched identities. At a deep level, I’d say this gives insights into how left-leaning people like me position themselves and why. Because I don’t want to dismantle existing systems of power (white privilege, patriarchy, the worst iterations of wealth inequality, and so forth) because they are MEAN or UNFAIR–a criticism often lobbed which I think is juvenile and patronizing. I want them to end because they are founded on lies or false narratives.

We have to confront the lies at the core of these identities. Otherwise they will do what extremist and reactionary movements have always done – reconstitute themselves underground until they see another chance to break out again. History demonstrates this over and over.

The Big Lie

Ultimately I keep coming back to thinking about lynch mobs, that horribly American historical precedent. This is absolutely stemming from seeing a gallows erected on Capitol Hill. People are frantically debating whether it was meant to be symbolic or was intended to kill people…and I think that utterly misses the point.

It’s as useless an argument as whether we were supposed to take Trump “literally or seriously,” because ultimately…it doesn’t matter. The big lie enables and justifies either outcome. That’s why it’s so dangerous.

Looking at the history of lynchings in America, it is actually rare that every single person would have participated in the actual torture and murder of the victims, many would have been spectators or even treated it as some kind of ghoulish community event. But everyone in those crowds would have thought what was happening was “right,” “justified,” or even “righteous.” They would have believed that this action would have been taken because the victim, almost inevitably a person considered inferior or dangerous (whether Black, Jewish, German, Chinese, or any other group) “deserved it.”

You didn’t have to be the one slinging a rope over a tree limb to participate in the big lie of racism. They believed what they were doing was right, whether they watched from a picnic blanket or murdered with their bare hands. These might not be considered equivalently evil acts when viewed in isolation through a purely objective lens – but you can’t do that. Both are categorically underpinned and linked by the same false and evil premise and you cannot detach one from the other.

To do so is to capitulate to the lie. And ultimately, that’s what they want.

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.

Do. Not. @. Me.

Fascism is at its most base and basic, the singling out of chosen, “superior” in-groups to enjoy the protection and backing of those in power–from vicious rhetoric through violent means–at the direct expense of villainized outgroups who are denigrated, disempowered, and at worst violently targeted.

And here’s the thing: you can’t fake it. You can’t cosplay fascism on the weekends. You can’t indulge in a little light fascism for fun and profit. You can’t enable it, it thinking it will benefit you but that you can leave it behind when it becomes just a little too distasteful. You can’t flirt with fascism. It’s not what you believe, it’s what you do.

Because due to the very nature of the ideology and by design there are ultimately only two categories–the fascists, and their victims. You are either with them or you are against them, and all the evidence of history shows us that there is no room for conscientious objection. The structure does not allow for it. Sooner or later, whether because you truly believe in it, or are just willing to look the other way while others enact it, you end up with the fascists or on the enemies list. Every. Single. Time.

A lot of people have cosplayed as seditionists and lite-fascists for so long that that’s what they have in effect become. It frankly does not fucking matter what is in their heart of hearts. Fascism is what you do, not what you believe.

You can be shocked but only the dangerously or willfully ignorant can claim to be surprised over the events of the last 24 hours. This is the wholly predictable (and indeed, predicted!) culmination of years of media manipulation, deconstruction of institutions (including the very notion of god damned objective truth), and the coddling of the absolute worst of our national character and history. It doesn’t matter the numbers of their minority, what matters is the vigor of their commitment and intent.

Every single politician who did the devil’s arithmetic and calculated that they could infinitely head a mob, continuously whip it to greater heights of rage, and expect to stay in charge of it, your ignorance alone should disqualify you for public office. The entire weight of history is against you. Every person who told themselves that by staying in the room and abetting the worst tendencies of a malignant narcissist with the nuclear codes they were somehow doing us all a favor, your hubris is insulting as it is laughable. Every official who is performatively resigning with less than three weeks left in their tenure, your cowardice and self-interest after spending four years enriching and empowering your ingroups is naked. You deserve to be hounded from public life. Every single person who shrugged at the antics and rhetoric (which you would NEVER have tolerated from anyone outside your precious ingroup), you are complicit not in just the coarsening of our public life, but in a rising tide of nationalism and authoritarianism which you were happy to go along with when it benefitted you…BECAUSE of the people it harmed, not in spite of it.

Fascism isn’t something you believe, it what you do. And you are either with them, or you are against them.

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?

Weekend Links

HAPPY NEW YEAR, KITTENS!

We starting 2021 with a COVID diagnosis (seriously. We got the results on Christmas morning which is just so…on point…), and another lockdown that Britain is refusing to call a lockdown. Let us all hope this is not a case of beginning as you mean to go on! I hope your Christmas and New Year’s celebrations were safe, rewarding, and a welcome break in the midst of the bleak midwinter. Glad for another year around the sun with you all, even if it’s another weird one. I like our little corner of the internet together.

Horrible plot, and yet still horribly on brand for 2020 in its camp elements…

Between rulings on revenge porn, upskirt shots and more, things are moving in the right direction but it’s truly staggering to consider how much mere existing in the world opens women up to unique threats that have to have legal recourse for protection.

Well thank god for this because it’s been the totality of our social life since March.

Truly getting the last laugh:

The uber dark and compelling world of mommy influencers and conspiracy theories.

What on earth is wrong with people?!

Resolutions are for suckers. And mostly have been commercialized past the point of usefulness to us.

Not much, as it turns out…yikes.

Ed Yong has done some of the very best reporting and writing on the pandemic and his piece on what needs to happen in 2021 before anyone so much as hints we’ll get to the other side of this is worth your time.

Weekend Links

Greetings from a new Tier Four lockdown (in a three tier system. Shhhhhh, don’t ask questions). We’re spending the weekend trying to squeeze as much holiday cheer out of the circumstances as we can. Thus far we’ve had a Zoom family recital with all our nieces and nephews performing Christmas songs and jokes, and we’re likely going to spend a good chunk of Sunday baking up a storm. It’s a garbage year, but carols will be sung and The Muppet Christmas Carol will be watched!

What a story

Yay, another semi-lockdown – excuse me, Tier 3 – just in time for Christmas. /s

This is a long overdue change to a medical practice based in outdated social science, and which contributes to harmful stereotypes. In a year where a lot of LGBT+ communities faced new stigmas and challenge, it’s a nice win.

2020 in pictures.

This woman knows how to divorce and I love it. Redistribute that wealth, gorge!

Because, TRICKLE DOWN ECONOMICS DOESN’T WORK AND NEVER HAS.

RIP, Lipstick Index.

McCay Coppin’s latest at The Atlantic on Mormonism as the quintessential American faith is a wonderful read. He punts on a few topics, such as LGBT issues, but as per usual I think he does a really good job in making the highly bespoke world of mormonism accessible and understandable to sympathetic outsiders. “What happens when a religious group discovers that it’s spent 200 years assimilating to an America that no longer exists? As their native country fractures and turns on itself, Mormons are being forced to grapple with questions about who they are and what they believe.I thought, in that moment, about the difficulty of [church president] Nelson’s job—about trying to steer a 200-year-old institution in a world that refuses to sit still. Mormons like to say that while the Church’s policies and programs may change, the core of the gospel is eternal. But identifying that core can be hard. What do you keep, and what do you jettison? Which parts are of God, and which parts came from men? What’s worth preserving in the endangered Americanism that Latter-day Saints have come to embody, and what’s best left behind? These are the questions that Nelson faces as he tries to figure out what Mormonism should mean in the 21st century. And he knows he’s running out of time to answer them.

Oh look, grifters be grifting. God these people make me so angry. They are leaving a trail of ruin in their wake and are going to face zero consequences for it.

It’s become commonplace to measure the virus’ death toll in terms of the casualties of war: In the United States alone, the fatalities already amount to five Vietnams, more than 40 Iraqs and Afghanistans and upward of 95 9/11s. Americans could mark all those past losses together, with hugs and handholding, collective tears and tender mercies, candlelight vigils and choruses of “God Bless America.” By contrast, in bedside farewells via FaceTime, drive-by burials as under-attended as Jay Gatsby’s, and digital funerals on Zoom, we’ve been forced to mourn the victims of the novel coronavirus in a numbing new way: more or less alone.”

Of course people aren’t having babies right now, is anyone shocked by this research? Pandemic aside, if you want people to have families, you need to make sure that having a family is feasible. Healthcare costs that start at 10 grand for birth, through to decades worth of debt for the typical college experience, and a lifetime of wages not meeting cost of living and you want people to breed? The pandemic was the crap icing on the social insecurity cake.

I loved this interview from Anne Helen Petersen about how Bro Culture relates to the “fall of empire” worries and mentalities of masculinity and honestly, a lot of things make more sense to me now because of it.

The kids may be alright, but they are often still quite weird.

I’m so excited for this Shondaland adaptation of a Romance world classic series. I’m sure it’s going to be scandalous and fun: