I'm still here. I don't really feel like writing but after a month of radio silence, I decided I should post something if only to let everyone know I'm still alive and the site isn't dead, at least not yet.
I could tell you I've been focusing on my novel, or my family, or any number of other useful things but it's not the full truth. I have made some progress on my novel but not as much as I hoped. I've spent time with the family over Thanksgiving but we didn't go anywhere and folks were in and out of my house after food and football. The only Black Friday shopping I did was for weekly groceries in an almost empty store.
The truth is I've been pretty down. Work hasn't gone well which carries with it all sorts of fears. I went through my cancer check procedure which induced a ton of anxiety both due to the unpleasantness of the procedure itself and the prospect of a recurrence. (I got the all-clear so that's the good news). Along with personal struggles, the world itself feels like it's unraveling. The horrors of war, the stupidity of politics, a country that feels like it's marching straight into a Christian nationalist dystopia and no one knows how to stop it. Hell, it feels as though things I've written about in my novel are coming true even before I ever publish it which frustrates me that I didn't finish it a decade ago.
I don't feel like I'm enough. Lately I haven't been enough in my job, for my family. Not all of the problems rest solely on me but my mind won't stop going over the bad decisions or stupid things I've said. Questions haunt me like "Why didn't I save money during the pandemic so I could give the job the middle finger and walk away?" "Why did I trust certain people who never followed through on promises for years?" "Why didn't I deal with situations sooner?"
The ridiculous part of it all is that I'm privileged and my mind knows that things will work out. Yet I see my privilege almost as another failure. I'm not privileged enough to help everyone who needs it, and choosing who becomes paralyzing. Then when things go wrong I look inward at how I can protect myself even when my problems are insignificant. I want to rage at all of it though it accomplishes nothing.
The silver lining to all this is that it's shaken me. Like many men, I considered myself strong enough to weather the storms on my own. I've assumed that I have it easy in comparison to others and somehow that means my problems matter less. I'm privileged by being white and never experiencing poverty. My parents never divorced, and my evangelical upbringing never featured the horrors some people experienced. I'm supposed to be successful because I've been set up for it and to ask for help is failure. A sad thought process born straight out of Evangelicalism.
A friend said something profound to me recently. "Pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps was meant as a metaphor for the impossible." I'd never really thought about it as I considered the idiom to mean "putting on one's own boots and working" but the phrase really means "lifting oneself into the air", an impossible feat. No matter how hard I've tried I can't make real progress on my own. There are things about my upbringing that are unresolved. I may be affected by depression or anxiety. No amount of willpower can fix it.
So this is a deeply personal post and different from what you'd normally find here. It's not a cry for help, I know I need it and I'm embarking on the health insurance nightmare to seek it out. If anything I hope it encourages someone to do the same.
I'll keep posting but it will be somewhat sporadic. I'm working really hard to finish book one by the end of the year and start querying it. I'm also working on short stories to submit to sci-fi mags. In the social media landscape, you can find me active at Bluesky which appears to be going public any day now. I'm somewhat active on Facebook in that I check it once in a while, and I still have a Twitter/X account but we'll see how much longer that's going to last.