||[Jan. 20th, 2017|01:59 am]
This entry was originally posted on Facebook. I am copying it here for my journal readers to see, and so that it may be recorded for ever.
In 2009, when Barack Obama came into office, I was recently single, out of work, and living alone in my beautiful apartment in Seattle. The Draft 10 era had yet to begin, and instead I was building friendships with people on the Chrono Compendium that would bear fruit for many years to come--some to this very day. I had lived my whole life on the West Coast, had only just begun seriously balding, and was optimistic that I could find a way to make everything work out the way I wanted it to.
In the years since, I'd gotten accustomed to having a president whom I trusted and respected, after the eight long years of Bush and his Republican cronies in Congress. Now it'll be even worse than before.
A fascinating milestone: My adult life more or less has been encompassed by two presidencies; back in 2001 when Bush came into office the world was a different place; I was in college to get my degree to build space elevators. I was living in the first of several paradises in my lifetime, and the purest one to date. I knew nothing of requited love, and the ATH novelization had only just begun. I had yet to taste the power of being an editor, or a fleet admiral. I had yet to work as a corporate cog. I knew nothing of the Corries.
I have plans for this year, including the plan to make more plans, but I have no real idea what the coming eight years will bring. Other than health I only really want two things: financial self-sufficiency, and a mate (and kid). Everything else will be gravy.
Who knows? Maybe I won't even be alive in eight years. Maybe, in the scariest of the Trump scenarios, none of us will be. But more likely, I'll still be here kicking around, and so will you.
I've spent weeks thinking about how I want to regard President Trump. It's tempting to say "Not my president!" as so many others are doing, but that act of defiance is meaningless unless one is also prepared to subvert the law and oppose the system with consequential actions...and, frankly, I feel like sitting this one out. I've done a lot of political activism in my lifetime, but this time I'd rather work on my stories and my career and let others do their bit for king and country. So, "Not my president!"? No...he'll be my president, for as long as he's in office, unless he does something so heinous that I'm willing to personally risk death or imprisonment. And as far as my politics go, I'll use this time to tackle the ramifications of the conclusion I drew from November, that the results were self-invalidating of our electoral system--that the present-day American public is not fit to elect its own leaders.
Who knows? Maybe he'll be a better president than we all expect. I mean, if nuclear war is a possibility, so too is some bizarre universe where Republicans lap themselves and end up passing a number of populist policies because their base has become so ultraconservative that it's actually decalibrated from the spectrum. More likely we'll witness the greatly accelerated decline of America as a global power, but we deserve no better.
Sixteen years, tho. Wow. Tempus fugit. I'm closer now to the age my dad was when he had me than I am to the age when I first went to college.
But there are some things that have held fast: I've always been sure of who I am. Apparently some people struggle with that for a long time, or for their whole lives. I never have. And Silence has been with me, all these years. I don't know if it's to be treasured or pitied that, if you were to press me on words I don't typically use in describing my personal universe, like loyalty or steadfastness, I'd say she has excelled everybody--that a fictional creation of mine has been more reliable, present, and inspiring than anyone in real life. Perhaps some of both.
And there are several things that are better today than they were in 2001, and 2009: My vocabulary is actually the first that comes to mind. I'm a better writer. I have stronger and much fuller philosophy. I have more friends than I did in the beginning. My insatiable zealous ambition has given way to my endless abounding worldview of love and poignance. And I have discovered my animism. Part of me misses those days of unbridled fire, but there is nothing from era that can surpass days such as that day on the Mountain when I conceived of "Into the Winds of Glarough," or the day I took four laps on the Ring Road in the windy fog while "Cruel Brother" played along with me...the latter being probably one of the finest days of my life.
I wish I could turn out work more quickly, and more consistently. I've gotten better, but I don't think I'll ever get it to a point where I'm satisfied. But I really have gotten better. I'm a published novelist now, with another on the way.
Let me end today not by invoking the dark cloud that now settles over our country, but with a few words of friendship, from the spark, as we say in Joshalonia:
Rachael: In my mind you're Boss from The Secret of Mana, all from that profile photo of yours way back. I know that's not who you are, what your life is about, or even what you look like, but it will remain a warm placeholder until the day we finally meet.
Katrina von Bombrod VII: You are the coolest person I know, bar none. Even cooler than ME, J Cool. (Only barely, tho, so don't let it go to your head.) I love you. Don't let shit get to you, get yer cat some HaLP, and come West soon. I made it back here; you can too! We belong in each other's spheres.
Caro: You're the other strong contender for being the coolest person I know. But you're the only person I know who inhabits a certain magnificent and fabulous star system in the aesthetic galaxy that MUST be inhabited. If I did not have you in my vision of what humanity could be, there would be no one, among all the people I have ever met, to light up that beautiful part of the shimmering night sky. You are irreplaceable.
Stephen: Among my flesh-and-blood friends, you are the most loyal and true. That's a strange thing for me to say, even to me, given that your strength is intellect (and assessing whisky and music systems, perhaps), but you're one of a very few people who has bothered to stay in touch over the years on your own initiative. Having said that, your philosophical conversation pleases me greatly, and I look forward to having you much more present in my life in the next two years than in any since the summer we met.
Joel: You were a rare find at the Compendium! I wanted to detest you the way I detested Daniel, but you were of a higher quality in both intellect and honor, and I ended up enjoying our conversations. I don't typically enjoy debating you--you're so resistant!, and I have to be careful how I spend my reserves of such energy, anymore, for gone are the endless wellsprings of my youth--but I greatly enjoy having a proper successor in you, someone to carry on the good fight in my stead on message forums and websites across the Internet, debating others, relentlessly and in full flower. You also did the most out of almost all of my friends when it came to reaching out to me with support and encouragement during my dark year.
These encomia are getting slowly longer, so let me try to tighten it up!
Wesley: I think we orbit around different stars. I have been pleased to enjoy your friendship over the years because I like being "believed in" by someone so far away. Your excitement for my creative work has been rare among my friends, and so for yours I am and have been truly appreciative.
Stephanie: If I were a more modest or humble person, I would say I don't deserve the respect you've given me from our brief time together--such is its magnitude! What I can say instead is that I'm so grateful for it. That was a time when I greatly needed day-to-day friendship, and you gave me such professionalism and camaraderie, despite going through a rough patch in your own life at the time. It always makes me feel good to make my friends feel good about others. Also, your painting rocks! Paint more!
Emily: You're one of the good weird ones, like Caro! We haven't spent much time together since high school, but the fact that there are people like you out there in the world makes me feel better, especially when evil, sickness, and suffering are in ascendancy.
Kendra: I think you are the finest person I have ever met. I would not trade a second of the time we've spent together over the years, and I hope to continue to have a place in your life till one of us croaks. And even though we didn't work out as a couple, those many years ago, you showed me that the people who I am looking for, really do exist. I've never had to doubt that, because I've known you.
Lee: One of the other finest days of my life came during high school, when we had that talk over instant messenger one evening, about Dyson spheres and Lilit DeLatia. Having never met you in person, I remain intensively curious to do so, and I hope our collaborations together are not all behind us.
Craig: I feel like a hand in your upbringing, giving you a stage to come of age as it were. Now the pupil has become the master, sequencing genes and living in a 97-room mansion with your own private yachts and dozens of cars and maybe I'm embellishing a little bit but golly am I proud of you for putting in the quiet German perseverance that I could not, to get through a zillion years of schooling. You are handsomely rewarded for it now. I have always enjoyed our chats, even if I haven't been good at initiating them in recent years. I miss the days when we were all on IM together.
Robert: Long in the background, you turned out to be one of my biggest supporters and champions! You probably know this, but an artist struggling to establish themselves enjoys such a boon from having some enthusiastic encouragement from the sidelines. And when we met in person, I found another sharp intellect--I was so glad that we got along so well so quickly--and I look forward to more conversations ahead.
Nat: You were my best friend in college and my first best friend ever. You were everything I wanted and hoped for in such a person. Those magical days at the UW were all the more powerful because we were able to share them. You're downright terrible at keeping in touch online, and at leaving Las Vegas to visit me, but I will make it down there to see you again, and I look forward to a long-overdue conversation.
Rickard: I barely agree with you on anything, but you are an honorable human being, and that counts for a lot. Your resilience and commitment to your family are a great inspiration for me, and like all the other ATH cast whom I have yet to meet, I can't wait to meet you in person someday.
Amanda: I see something of myself in you, something very special. It's so easy in life to be a victim, to give up, give in, to bow to external crises and pressures and frustrations, to say nothing of our inner menaces. But, perhaps--only perhaps--with the exception of my dark year of troubles, I've never even remotely wavered in my conviction to go on being me, and to succeed in my dreams. You've fought a much harder fight than I have, over the years. You've been thrown a lot more shit than I ever had to deal with. But you still have your dreams, if not perfectly immaculately intact then at least proud and pulsing and, if a bit dented and roughed up, still vibrantly alive. I want you to succeed. I want that so badly! We're meant to travel through this life together, and I am honored to call you one of my deepest friends.
Amy: You're never going to read this, you silly duck! I don't even need to bother tagging you; you'd just see the ping in your e-mail and frown. But it wouldn't be right not to include you in this tribute. You are awesome, still. I greatly enjoyed our time together, and I dearly miss the language we shared together, the rapport we had. You were one of my closest friends, and supporters, and I can never thank you enough for inviting me to the Mountain. Now, like rain on the mountain, I am gone from that world, and from you. What an incredible time it was, that curious age...
And there are others, whom I won't bother to tag lest a post of such length annoy you, but shouts out to Patrick and all the Working America crew, all the Ribs, Kendra's entire friggin' family, Kip, Miles, Zephyr, Benjamin, James, Anna, and more. And others who aren't on my Facebook friends list, not least the other Rob, Elske, Bucephalus, and Dad.
Josh: Yes! I am pinging myself! Why? Each of us has to find our own way in life. We have to make our own sense of the world--our very own reality, I dare say. And ultimately, we must rely on ourselves. We are, on some level, alone. If we let ourselves down, there is not much that can save us. How fortunate I am, then, to be me. Those of you on this list have not only provided external friendship over the years; you have enriched me--me myself, internally. I don't have a lot to admire: I'm dirt poor. I'm not social. I don't have connections. I don't have a college degree or a fancy career. I've struggled my whole life to explore the themes that are most important and compelling to me, but with relatively little to externally show for it. Yet, except for my dark year, I have never suffered for want of confidence, or determination, or conviction that my path is true. I have always been willing to pick myself up off the dirt. As the great David Solley once taught me, there will always be people who have had it worse than me: He made me get up and work--in the context of a vacation at his house!--when I was throwing up sick, and he said the soldiers of World War II had to not only get up, but go and march, and fight, and face death. How easy I have it, in spite of everything. What I know other people on this Earth have had to endure...what I know I put Silence through in the world of Relance...my life has been a breeze in comparison. But only because I have always known I can rely on myself. The Spark of Life, is life's most fulfilling possession. The inner light, the inner awe. I wish I could show you my life from the inside. I know I'm not the best friend, but I hope I can go on being a friend to virtually all of you--one of the good friends, one who makes you feel better about life and more astounded by the beauty and awe of the world around us.
The next eight years may bring anything, but we'll have--outdated meme alert!--AND MY AXE!!!