A COVID Afterworld

On Monday, the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will go in my arm. I’ll have roughly 80% protection within two weeks. I’ll have the second shot three weeks later. And just like that I’ll be protected from the virus that has swept the country. Three brief scares, one of which bound me to the house for a week, and that’s all I suffered from the grand pandemic.

I didn’t suffer epic loss directly. A close friend had a mild case and that’s it. No family members lost to it. No major grief. My dad, my biggest fear, is vaccinated fully. I can’t claim any major loss of plans. I took two vacations after all. I’ve been to Hot Springs a few times. I haven’t been scarred by COVID.

But I’m like a lot of the country. I’m scarred by it in another way. I’m scarred by the anxiety this year has given me. I have joined the rest of the country in breaking at the slightest sickness. Any scratchy throat was the apocalypse. I had a bad cold and it was a nightmare I had to be talked down from. When I had a stomach bug during a trip, I was treated like I needed to be locked up. (Which worked. I was over it by dawn.) Being sick won’t be the same again.

And there are things I’ve lost. I love going to the movies. I only went 3 times in the last year and only one was a new movie. I’ve had very few new films. Bookstores, comic stores? I’ve seen both close. Shopping has changed. There’s a liquor store I love I haven’t been in in a year. A lot of places I haven’t been.

Oh and I have a different car and job. Those might or might not have happened without COVID. The former I think would have. I don’t know about the latter. Working from home was a mess but so was that job.

But now everything is healing. Godzilla vs Kong has tickets on sale. Marvel’s keeping its dates. Vaccines are flying out. Places are reopening. My wife is going back to work. The world is getting back to normal.

What a weird feeling this is. Even though in Arkansas lockdown was never THAT bad, it’s likely I’ll be back in restaurants more. I can go to bars. I can see friends and family without fear. Eventually I won’t wear a mask everywhere. Do I know how not to?

The thing is, it felt a year ago like the world might dramatically change. We had a violent, dangerous plague. It felt like the order of the world was about to be upended. And no it really wasn’t. We learned we could do a lot remotely but the systems stayed in place that will stay in place. Work from home won’t last sadly. The oligarchy stayed put. A normal will return.

But it leaves behind its dead. Far too many dead. We haven’t begun to reckon with what we lost. I don’t know if we will. I don’t know if you can face almost 200 9/11s. Because that’s what we’re looking at ultimately. Wow…

And I don’t have any answers. No conclusions. Just thoughts. I don’t know what’s coming. But I’ll learn

Melting Down

Two COVID scares. My wife was sick to the point of two ER visits. Lola had a bug so bad she had to stay home from school. I got sick on my vacation. There was the ice storm. The snow storm. The second worse snow storm. A week of work lost. I’ll have less days I worked on this check than didn’t. And I still have to get my W2 from my old employer. Twitter drama,. Today the ice melted and I think so did I.

I don’t intend this as a long entry but I do intend it as an entry about surviving this period. Because can I be honest? I wonder how much I have. I’m very worn out. Sure I had a week inside. It was nice and I read a lot. God it was great seeing my brother and when I wasn’t expelling my body it was cool. But this last two months has tried to kill me in many ways. It’s been violence on my nerves.

And you think there’s some deep idea you’re supposed to come away from stress thinking. You know. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. What trash that is. The truth is what doesn’t kill you leaves you almost impossibly broken. That’s what stress does. It leaves you damaged and tired. So damned tired.

I don’t vent any of this because I want sympathy. I want it noted I did survive. My family will likely be deep in medical bills at least for years. I’m scared to think about my taxes. But yes I am alive. And I hope I’m ok in the future.

Full Moons, Black Flames, and Grey Havens: A Meditation on Loss

The longest two week stretch of my life is almost over. I’ve made it through Christmas 2020. I’ve made it through a COVID-19 scare that sidelined me for a week. I’ve made it through a long New Year’s week. And today I’ve made it through an ultimately futile quest.

See, I was supposed to be on a trip today. Initially it was going to be to Memphis to look for books. Then it was to Northwest Arkansas to see my brother. The COVID scare stopped me–my dad is 73 so I’m not risking his infection–so it’s ultimately been a day hunting books at the flea markets in my area. And as I expected, the pump was primed to write.

I’m feeling a great degree of sadness as I return from my quest empty handed. I didn’t find anything that grabbed me. That’s not shocking. I usually don’t. But today, maybe more than ever, it hits me how much is fading from my world and how much I never had.

Today Lola and I hit up several flea markets and not one yielded much but more to the point several I love are gone, closed. We went to Books A Million too and yup, nothing I couldn’t get elsewhere cheaper. In the past I could have hoped to find new books days earlier. Today, days before the Mandalorian novelization, nothing. Walmart has shrunk their book section violently as have many other stores including all the chains. Hastings and their successor Entertainmart are gone. All but one of the comic stores in LR are gone. There’s at least two major cities in Arkansas with one or no bookstores

Then I hit the place that broke my heart. I visited a used bookstore in Little Rock. They didn’t say they were closing but with violently reduced stock, I knew they were going. They won’t see 2022. I definitely did not find anything there.

And I thought of the loss I’m experiencing. These were places I could get lost in and they’re truly no more. My brain can’t light up at visiting these places anymore. I can’t have the thrill of finding a new Star Wars novel. I’m having trouble simply finding a Thrawn novel that came out in paperback last year. It’s a little thing but the death of physical media hurts my autistic soul.

There’s another reason I’m thinking of this. I’ve been listening to a history of Full Moon Pictures. I don’t have any nostalgia for the company, they made trash, but I do have a sadness for the end of the video store. I miss the surreality of the posters, the boxes, the atmosphere. Full Moon was there through so much.

I think a lot about how everything is condensing to digital and how overrated that is. Oh it’s neat to have every option possible at your fingertips. But when everything is accessible, how much of it matters? I lashed out at a criticism of the content stream but it’s not untrue that when you have a ton of things at hand, none have the weight of a good physical book.

And you fail to see the limitations. I’m constantly searching for horror movie novelizations. A friend hooked me up with several this year but many are unavailable and I learned why. They’re banned from ebook sites by and large. They don’t circulate. They’re not allowed.

So I’m left with the Black Flames of the title. I have a few Black Flame books but mostly I missed my chance in 2004-2007. I can search used bookstores and Goodwill forever but limited print runs and a rabid collector market mean that I’m left to never get many. I can experience them, a good friend has phenomenal audiobooks, but there will be no epubs or print copies unless I fire mountains of money at sellers.

I’m feeling sad today. Sad at what is lost. Sad that I’ll keep searching fruitlessly at increasingly shrinking venues. Sad at the homogeny of Amazon. Sad at the homogeny of everything. Missing the feeling of my brain lighting up at a find. Mourning what was and will never be.

Physical media and all bound to it are heading to the grey havens. I mourn it all.

The Tie-Ins That Bind: Marvel’s The Avengers: The Extinction Key by Greg Keyes

This book made me angry.

I’m starting there because I think that’s a good way of understanding why it took me so long to write this book up. Mind you this isn’t the only Marvel book I’ve read this fall that I haven’t written on. I read Brittney Morris’ incredible Miles Morales novel and I read the spectacular Triage/Tempus book by Carrie Harris. I love both books so much that I may never get to reviews on them because I can’t say much more than they were perfect read s. I also need to get my very different rereview of Diane Duane’s Venom Factor trilogy up since I went 180 on it.

This though? I’ve needed to write it up because it’s the rare perfect example of what these shouldn’t be. And that’s not fun to write. Nobody wants to explain how not to do something. But here we are with one of the very worst Marvel Comics novels ever written. An almost miraculously bad book.

Here is my attempt at a plot for this book. The Avengers must stop the threat of Zodiac from ending the world. At the same time in the background, threats from AIM and the Abomination bubble under. In the abstract, this is not a complex plot. As I’m about to explain, this is a trainwreck.

I want to start by noting the importance of choosing the threat for a prequel story. Obviously some characters are off the table and that’s fine. David Liss was lucky in that the Spider-Man game gave him an instant villain with The Kingpin, a classic Marvel villain who needed no explanation. Morris for her Miles Morales prequel got to use The Vulture, a threat who we instantly knew. They have easy, clear motivations.

This has Zodiac and right off the bat the book is hopelessly lost. First, they’re not an iconic threat. They’re not Hydra or even the Serpent Society. Also, the Zodiac has twelve signs. That means twelve members, all using names other than the standard ones we know. You need a spreadsheet to understand who the villains are and what their powers are. To quote Linkara, you fail.

To be clear, you can have multiple threats. Dan Abnett’s fantastic Everybody Wants to Rule The World pit the team against almost every threat they have. It worked though because they were distinct villains with clear powers and names. Also Abnett is a really great writer. He paced the book well.

See, that’s this book’s other big problem. This is paced like a car in a snowstorm. Everything takes forever. And that’s just plain fatal. If I’m not enjoying the story, I want to be out of it fast. This was a lot of beige bilge. Exactly what I didn’t want.

And since the threat was so un-Marvel, it felt like I was in a fantasy book. Harris used two lesser known mutants for her book but I always knew I was reading the X-Men. It had the tone and energy of modern X-Men. This? It’s a generic fantasy book really. And that’s weird.

Greg Keyes has done good work before. He will again. I’m aware the game is kind of a mess. I’ll find out soon. Maybe it couldn’t have been otherwise. But this book is a giant miss.

A short crisis

When I lost my job on August 28, I expected it to be the start of a long, crippling crisis that tested my resolve and made me wonder about who I was. I expected it to force me into a long identity crisis that would force me to examine what I wanted my future to be. I expected a long period of crippling depression.

None of that happened. More days than not I had phone interviews before the president of Arkansas Flag and Banner saw my resume and set me up in their marketing department where I’m coming off a week of invigorating work. Everything took 5 weeks from job loss to job gain. So this is definitely a victory lap entry.

But it’s a meditation too. Because I’ll be blunt. I spent 12 years expecting to lose that job at the paper. Gloom has hung over that business for years. That’s not a judgment. It’s just how newspapers are. It’s a tough era. Many of my friends did get cut. I thought long and hard about life after. And I expected there not to be much after. I thought I was locked in because of my training.

Which is completely untrue. I’m actually doing great at my new job because I have immense skills to bring. I’m actually really excited about what my future looks like. I have ideas percolating to bring to future ventures already. That’s cool as hell.

So I’m left to look at something surreal. A brief period of crisis. Just a very tiny one. I only had a few days where I got low and maybe a day where I was at my pit. But that’s it. And I honestly don’t wonder much why I only had a brief moment of panic.

I’m not who I was in 2007. That’s an understatement. I’m older. I’m more worldly. I’m mature. Well more mature. I also have experience. I’ve gained skills over the last 12 years. I’m stronger for it.

The reason this last month went as brief as it did is two fold. One is luck. I’m lucky my new boss saw my resume and found where I fit. But that’s one reason. The other is will. I got my resume out. I applied at well over 150 jobs. Were some bad fits? Yes. But I was trying. And I landed where I belonged.

And yet… I’m aware I don’t think this is fully resolved. I think in a few years I’ll clearly know how I feel about the paper. I know there’s some anger there that I have yet to really process. I know there’s a lot of nostalgia. I think I’m struggling just to know what to think since for 12 years I knew nothing but it. That’s okay. It’s not something I have know or solve soon. Or ever really.

What I can’t and won’t do is lament that this was indeed short. No, that I raise a glass to. It was a short crisis because it turns out life can be good. It turns out there are amazing people in this world. There are amazing opportunities.

And so as I often do, my mind turns to the words of the great Richard Matheson in his classic The Incredible Shrinking Man. It’s a film about an unfathomable existential crisis, to shrink into seeming nothingness. And yet it ends on such intense hope. I didn’t go through anything like that, I lost my job and found what I truly believe will be a better one, But these lines give me hope so allow me a quote.

I was continuing to shrink, to become. . .what? The infinitesimal? What was I? Still a human being? Or was I the man of the future? If there were other bursts of radiation, other clouds drifting across seas and continents, would other beings follow me into this vast new world? So close – the infinitesimal and the infinite. But suddenly, I knew they were really the two ends of the same concept. The unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet – like the closing of a gigantic circle. I looked up, as if somehow I would grasp the heavens. The universe, worlds beyond number, God’s silver tapestry spread across the night. And in that moment, I knew the answer to the riddle of the infinite. I had thought in terms of man’s own limited dimension. I had presumed upon nature. That existence begins and ends in man’s conception, not nature’s. And I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears melted away. And in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation, it had to mean something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something, too. To God, there is no zero. I still exist!

No, I don’t think I will

What is there to say about now?

I’ve considered a few entries and ultimately I’m like Captain America. I could speak but “no, I don’t think I will.” I won’t say anything foolish. I won’t go into details. I won’t say anything I don’t have to.

But I am in flux. Greater flux than ever. My background is in one thing. And that’s gone. It’s not at all possible for me. That world is gone. And that’s okay. It happens.

What I know is this. I’m capable of so much. I’m autistic. I’ve made it to 36. I made it through college. I made it through high school even! (Ok that’s a stretch to care since I loved high school.) I am a father. I am a husband. I am Austin Shinn.

I will say I’ve tried to strike a balance. Self care has been key. A ton of Superman comics. Big Nate too. But I’ve fought. 10 applications a day. 3 interviews. And that’s in 10 days. More are scheduled.

What I know is this. This blog is meant as a resource for autistic people and allistic people. To not address what’s going on is to lie. I need to be honest and say my life is in conflict. But it won’t be. Because I have the tools to make it so. I am strong. This is a blip. I am the success story I believe in.

I could have a meltdown. I could break. I could give up. But no, I don’t think I will.

My 10 Favorite “Weird Al” Songs

“Weird Al” Yankovic is the greatest at what he does ever. He’s the funniest comedy musician ever and by far the most musically gifted. We all know this. There’s no need to explain it. It’s the mass held view and I see not one reason to disagree. He is the best of the best. So let’s not waste time. This is my top 10 list.

First though, a backup list of 5 great songs.
*Amish Paradise. The proto White and Nerdy. It works.
*Christmas at Ground Zero. The perfect dark Christmas song.
*Captain Underpants Theme. In the canon of Weird Al theme songs, usually the song is better than the film. In this case, it’s the perfect punctuation to a film that oozes his influence.
*Young, Dumb, and Ugly. Yankovic crushing it riffing on AC/DC and like AC/DC, it kicks hard ass.
*Do I Creep You Out? The very last cut and it was close.

10/Everything You Know is Wrong. Pure infinite wackiness. There’s just so much silliness that it must make the list. I put this over Dare to be Stupid because I connect more with the 90s vibe he taps here. It’s goofy. It’s silly. It makes no sense. And it’s therapy to blast.

9/Good Enough For Now. Country has a long tradition of tongue in cheek songs. Ray Stevens was immensely successful in that realm and no we will never cover his work. Country loves corniness. So getting a country riff isn’t shocking. And this honestly feels earnestly of that tradition. It’s not too weird next to Elvira. It’s just so toxic depicting someone proudly settling. At least for now.

8/Stop Forwarding That Crap. There are few songs where I cheer like I cheer here. With this, Yankovic gets angry. And it’s blissful. The song feels like a cry from a man frustrated at something we can relate to. Even his gentle tone that builds to rage feels right. An honest declaration of rage.

7/Foil. This is almost so short it shouldn’t fit. Epics like The Largest Ball of Twine in Minnesota are off here. But there isn’t a single missed second. The first half is vintage “Weird Al” food parody then with a single sip of tea he goes into his wildest rants ever. Wedded to a just perfect song to riff on, the song becomes a twisted rant just perfect for the rising conspiracy age. Every detail is precise.

6/White and Nerdy. I feel like the power of this parody is wholly an accident. Ridin’ is about police badgering innocent black men while White and Nerdy is about the people the cops don’t go near. There was no thought on the connection. It’s simply a funny song that happened because White and Nerdy and ridin’ dirty rhyme. But it does give it an undercurrent of strength. That said, this is why I like Yankovic touching rap. He never laughs at the form, doing extra work to match the flow of the performers. He doesn’t miss a single beat here. He uses it to play up his extreme whiteness but it’s so gentle and genuinely hysterical. And in a way this song is a nice moment, the last time this was our image or nerds and not reddit fueled bigots.

5/Nature Trail to Hell. Yes, I definitely gravitate towards the darker “Weird Al.” For all his image as a light, goofy guy, and I’ve never heard any evidence he’s not, his work often reflects the sense of humor of such men and it’s gleefully black. Or is it? Because no matter how dark or gory things get in a song like this love letter to slasher films, it’s really ultimately the innocent humor of 10 year olds trying to top each other. There’s no punching down when you describe a crazed killer murdering 2-3 cub scouts in every scene of a film. It’s just silly absurdist humor. And man do I get the impression Yankovic loves these films. He got to play such a killer in Batman vs Robin, playing it so straight he’s credited as Alfred Yankovic, and he was great in it.

4/Word Crimes. Yankovic mined two Pharrell Williams beats for Mandatory Fun and both are so good I put almost both here. I’m going with Word Crimes because I think it gets at the essence of his comedy. The man loves words. He loves the sound of them. He loves how they word. So much of his comedy is just word play. And on a track entirely devoted to grammar rules, he reigns. The song is nothing more than a long list of common grammar errors people make. It shouldn’t be hysterical. But there is such energy and such perfect word choice in laying everything out that it becomes that. Taking a song with a great beat but lyrics about coercing a woman into sex and letting us enjoy the good cleanly was a gift.

3/Skipper Dan. There has always been an edge of fatalism to Yankovic’s career. Most comedy musicians get a novelty song and vanish. Spinal Tap had one soundtrack worth of good music and the magic was never repeated. At any moment it could have gone away. Now of course we’re long past that. He’s a legend. But I think the what if haunts him and bleeds into this song. It’s actually a tremendous track musically, a Weezer pastiche that’s better than anything they’ve done past 2002. But the lyrics are where it shines, a dark study of a would be acting god reduced to working on the Jungle Cruise ride. It’s a profoundly sobering study of how chasing your dreams can yes be a mistake and if you are lucky, to celebrate that luck.

2/Why Does This Always Happen To Me? I’m almost cheating to put this on here because it’s not really a style parody but more a collaboration on the level of Under Pressure. “Weird Al” doing the vocals and Ben Folds delivering his trademark piano riffs. The result is something that has the best of two legends. And the lyrics are the funniest Yankovic has ever pulled off. Sheer sociopathy.

1/ Hardware Store. What is it that makes this song Yankovic’s grand magnum opus? Is it the shamelessly silly subject matter or the epic breakdown where he rattles off an endless list seemingly in one breath? I think it comes down to what makes the man the American icon he is. He’s fascinated by American culture with not one trace of condescension. Like David Lynch or John Waters, he soaks it all up and sees what we see as bland as incredibly weird then points it out. This song is an ode to a very common experience we’ve all had, being excited by an ordinary business, and makes us notice it. It’s tight musically, wall to wall odd details, and impossible not to grin ear to ear at. His best song.

So there you have it. My list.

Life in COVID-19: July 2020

It’s been a strange year.

If you have an anxiety disorder, 2020 has been a year where the voice in your head that traditionally tells you that it’s just paranoia has gone mute. He’s instead given up and sighed “the other guy is right, sorry.” And you have to live with that. There really is something to fear. How odd.

It’s been almost impossible for me to write about my life as a result. I’m in the same purgatory as all of you. My life is on hold in a way it hasn’t been since 2007-2008. Oh I’m still working mind you. I’m working harder than ever. I think I’m honestly at the best I’ve ever been at my job. But I’m doing so from home and that’s a surreal experience.

In some ways I’m lucky. Arkansas never went as hard as other states on lockdown. I wear a mask in public but I’ve still hit up Barnes and Noble and Ollie’s. I even ran to Pine Bluff to buy a great book. My routine isn’t as disrupted as it could be.

I’m still struggling though. I had a breakdown last week. It was a fair one. I was overworked, my cat died, and I hadn’t had any release in months. I don’t get to go to the movies. There’s one theater in town and they don’t show anything I MUST see. I’m overdone mentally.

And there’s that idea. That pervasive idea this is real. It is real of course. I know people who’ve recovered. I know people who have it now. I know people online who’ve had family become victims. COVID-19 is real. And I don’t get the safety of saying it’s not. And god the things I keep hearing. It really takes a toll. Yeah things are bad. Have. Patience. I want to scream.

So now I come to an unlikely place. I’m taking a vacation. In the midst of a pandemic I’m leaving my house. I’m not going to a mass group setting. A few bookstores. A few liquor stores. Mostly going on a drive. But I need it. It’ll only be a day and end here in LR. but it’ll be nice.

And so I go on.

Review: Loki: Agent of Asgard

This was a ko-fi request. I could’ve done it on one of my review sites but chose to put it here for variety. 

When a character breaks out, it’s usually a blessing to a comic company. Marvel and DC have swam in cash thanks to Deadpool and Harley Quinn. Marvel in the 80s clearly loved watching The Punisher grow from villain to hero. There’s story after story of unexpected characters becoming fan favorites then icons.

But what do you do when a character breaks out that would require a massive overhaul to make work? Loki, the God of Lies, is one of Marvel’s unrepentant villains. He has never been good. He cannot be good. But he was played by the insanely charming and handsome Tom Hiddleston so he developed a fanbase. And he would inevitably get a comic where the perpetually ugly and evil Loki was a pretty hero.

What wasn’t inevitable was just how intensely metafictive Loki: Agent of Asgard would be. Here is a book that should feel like a shameless attempt at playing to a new group of fans but instead reads as a meditation on the character as a whole. Writer Al Ewing did some of his earliest Marvel work here and like his other book I’ve written on, The Immortal Hulk, he crafts s book as much about the past as the present.

The premise of the book is far from simple. The idea is that a younger Loki, though not the youngest we’ve seen, agrees to help Asgard in exchange for getting redemption in myth. The problem is the first mission of his sends him to fetch dark energy revealed to be his future self, who also looks like the more classic gnarled, creepy Loki. His future self knows Loki is fated to return to his ways. He may have even inspired this redemption attempt so he can turn his most evil. Frighteningly, the notion never ends that everyone may need Loki to be evil for security. And all throughout the book, the question looms: can you change your fate?

I’ll get this book’s big issue dealt with so I can just praise it to the sky. It’s convoluted. You do need to keep notes. Wikipedia is so helpful. Loki has a tangled history and Ewing never lets you forget it. I’m not going to lie and say I have the fullest understanding even with a thorough read.

But that’s exactly the point. Ewing wants to examine the idea of mythical characters having multiple incarnations. We have what amounts to the Hiddleston Loki vs the Classic Loki and Ewing is pondering which version is valid, ultimately concluding every version is. Indeed, at the end it’s obvious Loki himself has made peace with that.

And that’s what makes the book sing. It’s a comment on the need for status quo. Loki is fighting a world that does not want him to redeem even if they’d be better off if he did just as comics would be better if they’d let characters grow but instead find comfort in the status quo. The book that marked Ewing’s first truly major work at Marvel pulls no punches in questioning how the company runs.

That’s not to say that the book is just a work of self analysis. It’s a ton of fun just as a read. Ewing and artist Lee Garbett know what makes a rollicking bold read. Loki is written as a clever, funny, bold hero who always has an angle. You’re always excited to see what he does next. I also loved his sidekick, the bitter cynic Verity who can tell who is lying at all times. They’re a fun platonic pair.

The book looks great too. It’s got a very classic look to it. Garbett gives detail to every scene. Action looks bold and clean. Characters has a life to their expressions. It’s a book to soak in.

Loki: Agent of Asgard is a fascinating book. A book caught between the past and future that ultimately shrugs and embraces not knowing what will come. Highly recommended.

The Moment You Hope You Never See

One of the most traumatic moments of my life was the day that my 4th Grade teacher decided to explain to us that one day a pandemic like Ebola would strike and threaten us all. She decided to tell children this was something we would face. Because of that lesson I had an outright panic attack that day. I became convinced I was going to die. There are elements of that trauma I’ve never confessed before like how for weeks afterwards I was certain I would not wake up after I went to sleep. I’ve obsessively washed my hands ever since.

That was 25 years ago.

So… here we are. Staring down that very thing my teacher discussed. It’s not ebola but it’s something. And I need to use this space I’ve got carved out here to talk.

How am I doing right now? I’m going with okay. I think I’m okay. I know that changes and it’s an average but I think for now I’m at a decent level. I can live with this basically for now.

But it’s going to get worse. I know it will. I know the quarantining will get more intense. I know the death rate will spike. Someone I know will get it. Someone I know may die. The economy may be irrevocably altered.

And all of these things scare me. Right now when everything is at least normal adjacent I can function. But what happens when it’s not? I don’t know. I don’t know who I’ll be. And I’m as scared of that as anything. I’m scared I’m weak for sure.

I wish I could be the pure moralist I’m seeing emerge online. The person who tells everyone what do do. But I can’t be that person. Was I at a Wingstop for pickup today? Guilty. Will I be at at least one liquor store or gas station or grocery store in the next few days? Guilty. I won’t be “the good person” I need to be all the time in the coming weeks. I’m going to at some point have a meltdown about something very petty and make someone very angry. I’m going to make my family annoyed with me.

And I’m scared about real things too. Maybe I’m scared of those the most. I’m scared of losing my job. I’m scared of losing a loved one. My dad is 72. I can’t put my head in the sand here. I’m scared of how things I love will be affected which might belong in the petty factor but not for me.

What I do believe is this. There’s going to be a moment after. And it lies between now and then. I have to trust I will get there.

But right now, I see the storm clouds in the sky. The rain is coming. And I can’t escape it.