24 days until the holidays... I know because the Santa nutcracker on the entertainment center tells me so.
Four days ago our living room was in the throes of autumn, with lovely fall decorations everywhere -- rustic autumn leaves wrapped around wood and copper and bronze ornaments on the mantle, a huge and beautiful cornucopia SuperWife made herself two years ago atop one of the bookshelves, a big stuffed turkey on top of the entertainment center. Then the most delicious Thanksgiving dinner in my personal history (entirely prepared by SuperWife, with hamhanded 'assistance' from yours truly, and celebrated this year with all the SuperKids, as well as SuperNate and SuperWife) came and went (along with one of the most historic nationally televised Turkey Day pastings of the Detroit Lions ever), and we found ourselves sucked in to the dizzying Christmas whirl.
Now, our living room, as well as both bathrooms, the kitchen, and the comic book hallway, firmly reflect the Yuletide season, and we're all exhausted from the effort... which is only 2/3s done, as weather and relative fragility due to recent sicknesses have prevented us from getting up the outside decorations as yet.
I'm targeting this weekend as a hopeful date to complete that stage.
I love this time of year; the holidays (starting with Halloween and stretching to New Years) and especially Christmas itself (from Black Friday through the Day) are always much too short and precious a time for me. I enjoyed the Christmas month even back in my miserable bachelor days, kind of idly and in a bittersweet fashion, and now that I have SuperWife and the SuperKids to share them with, I find them to be generally a joyous occasion indeed, unmixed with the gut twisting loneliness they once used to instill in me.
There's more stress to them this year, though. Our financial circumstances are not as dire as they could be, as long as Congress keeps extending my Unemployment benefits, but the perpetual strain my continuing joblessness places on our fragile domestic economy cannot help but be somewhat corrosive to the holiday spirit around here. It's entirely fair, of course, that my personal failures should harsh my buzz somewhat, but it kills me that it so dampens the seasonal joy for SuperWife.
I look around the Internet and everywhere I see writers more qualified than I am on much more popular blogs than this one begging for reader support, in the form of tips as to paying online writing gigs and direct contributions to their tip jars. It fills me with fury and resentment; the world is densely overpopulated with people who want the same jobs I have been running after most of my adult life, and those slots have never been scarcer or more invaluable than they are now.
My baffled rage upon seeing this sort of blegging solicitation by other writers for leads and direct sponsorship reflects poorly on me, I know; I should be feeling sympathetic, and perhaps formulating grand schemes for organizing my fellow out-of- work authors into some powerful and lucrative online tide that will somehow lift all our boats to economic salvation. Yet instead of this, all I can see is a forest of greedy hands waving back and forth as they frantically grab for an ever diminishing resource that I myself have yet to be able to access in any meaningful way, and all I can hear is a cacophony of needy voices drowning my own out.
It drives me crazy.
Worse, of course, is that the wisest and most knowledgeable among us all opine sagely that this is going to get worse before it gets better, and how much worse, none of them will hazard a guess.
Will we all be trundling wheelbarrows full of nearly worthless hundred dollar bills up to the supermarket cash registers in six to eighteen months, while the wily wealthy rub their gold krugerands together and smirk knowledgeably at each other from behind their tinted, bulletproof limousine windows?
Will I finally find work on a Federally funded works project somewhere, rebuilding a national highway infrastructure we don't need and will never use as the global oil supply continues to mercilessly deplete, and a ruined America with its broken military and worthless currency can only watch helplessly as China and Russia suck up the steadily lessening dregs of crude that continue to ooze and trickle out into the international marketplace?
Will I have to scramble to secure a precarious position with some local warlord, or just hide out in my basement trying to keep my kids from breathing too loudly as the scavenging cannibal gangs sift through the empty boxes stacked up outside the storage room door, hoping they'll give up before they find us?
My deepest fear, of course, is the starkly realistic realization that, as older, wiser, more authoritative and infinitely wealthier heads confer on a new economic engine to drive us out of the current quagmire, their primary point of contention is, as Westinghouse once reputedly asked Tesla -- "where do we put the meter?"
I don't mind my tax dollars going towards some kind of grand mutual civilization with a built in social safety net for the worst off among us; I won't do well in a lawless anarchy where the lights don't work and the furnaces don't start up and the pipes won't pump hot water, and I truly believe that all societies are fundamentally measured by how well they take care of their weakest and most helpless members. You can increase my taxes and I'll pay them with a smile, as long as I have a decent job and I'm sure that a good part of my payroll deduction is going to help those that need it most.
I am, however, getting sick of watching my labor, and the labor of millions like me, go to prop up the exorbitantly decadent lifestyles of multi-million and -billionaires who, when asked if they might be willing to give something back in exchange for the mountains of steadily devaluating cash they are asking for to bail out the companies they have run into the ground, respond as Ford CEO Alan Mullaly recently did -- "I think I'm OK where I am".
These people have wrecked the world while lining their pockets, and when asked to put something back in the pot now, well, they're okay where they are.
Bleak, bleak holiday thoughts.
Best to think that America's own Magical Negro, despite a disturbing proclivity for appointing the same corporate lackeys who got us into this mess in the first place to positions of power in his own administration, will, nonetheless, somehow pass a miracle and save our happy consumer culture for another generation.
Hey, at least a Democrat won the election.
Ho ho ho.
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Postscript -- sorry, this post went to a much darker place than I intended it to when I first sat down to type it. As Stephen King once noted, at 4 in the morning, you're either asleep or staring around yourself in utter despair, with no middle ground... the paint is off that gaudy old whore, the world, and there are no illusions left in the dark, cold gun barrel of the predawn.
Sometimes the dark place is the only place you can go to.
I thank whatever karmic dregs I have built up over the course of a mostly wasted lifetime that I somehow stumbled onto SuperWife and the SuperKids, and if I were a praying man, I would mostly pray that I can somehow find a way to bring them the things they need and want in the days ahead. I wish I had more faith in my own individual resourcefulness, but, well, if this and other past blogs of mine reflect anything, it's a complete lack of that.
Still, things could get better. You never know.
I have RED TIGER substantially finished; I need to color in about five more pages (I think) and then I can throw the whole sorry lot up online, where everyone but X, Whoever He May Be, will pretty much entirely ignore it. But at least I'll have managed to start and finish yet another useless, pointless, mediocre and stupid creative vanity project. That's got to be worth something, right?