Things of the Past

I thought things were changing fast before 2020.

No, seriously. One of the things it really hit was my line of work. I had things I had sold for a pittance and whose rights I’ll never recover, because at the time it was a matter of making a little money, or never making money on these properties.

This was not a great amount of time — 9 years or so, though the big difference came in about five years. In 2010 I was still selling trunk stories and my more… uh….outre novels to small presses, just to make some money out of them.

In 2014, these properties could earn me as much as my “real” novels, even under pen names.

Most traditionally published authors haven’t fully processed this. This is partly because my generation, coming in, took years to break into print, and most of us were over thirty when we did it.

So we’re contending with habits of a lifetime. Mental habits of a lifetime. So, most writers who are dumped or walk away from their publishers (and sometimes that line is blurry-ish. I mean, depends on how many hoops you’re willing to crawl through, and how long your ulcer medicine works) end up teaching. Mostly because they stop writing.

And I’m not sure why. Although I’ve long ago come to the conclusion most other writers make more use of their agents/publishers than I ever did. I’m always mildly puzzled when I read something like “I was having trouble coming up with an idea, so I called my publisher, and we discussed it for two days, and I conceived my great Space Opera series that has got all the publicity.” In fact sometimes I wonder if that’s the trick. If you have to get buy-in from your publisher/agent by making them co-own the idea before you ever sell it to them. It’s possible. It’s also not how I work, and it was never offered. (There were offers to ah…. brainstorm a series, but in fact, what was required was that I write something completely different, which didn’t fit the parameters already established for the world. There were also fairly crazy-cakes revision-requests, one of which was aimed at a character which wasn’t in the book. And who apparently wasn’t acting like herself. Probably by reason of NOT BEING HERSELF.)

So, it’s possible that writers who were used to having their hand held suddenly can’t function without it, and at some point decide to teach instead of writing.

But me and other people like me…. I don’t know. Part of it, I think is that writing pays slowly. It’s all about the long tail and building up, book on book, while teaching pays upfront, and let’s face it, the last ten years have been fairly tight for everyone. (In our case mostly due to paying for sons’ educations.)

For me, it all got complicated by health issues which sent my ADHD through the roof. I was always ADHD. I joke that Portugal is ADHD at baseline. I mean the gene pool is tight enough it’s entirely possible. But even in Portugal I was considered “distraida” which is more or less absent minded, but in point of fact was ADHD.

Things I managed in my pre-teens included walking down the street carrying a book, forgetting I was carrying the book and letting it drop. And not noticing until I got home and was asked about it. (It was where I dropped it, half a mile back.) Or well… losing everything. To this day if you go to a restaurant with me, you’ll see me position my bag (or umbrella) where I’ll trip on it if I forget it. Because I got tired of losing them. And it was never unusual for me for forget I was in class and wander off (honestly, if I hadn’t gone to a school where everyone knew my family!) . And yes, I mean the H. My biggest issue with writing, unless the book is totally immersive or I’m under a deadline is having to sit down and write. And no, the treadmill desk doesn’t quite work because if I get to a scene that I have to concentrate on, I stop walking, fall and scared the cats. (I plan to use it for the non-fiction.) But I had routines which had got me through college. Now my routines are broken — between illness and moving — and the ADHD is really, really, really bad. How bad? Well, standing in line was always a problem for me, which is why having a book with me was necessary, because if I didn’t have a book to read I’d not be able to hold myself in line. But now my ability to tolerate lines is something under three minutes. Which — ahem — is a problem when I’m at the grocery store alone.

So, the adderal is helping. But I still need to rebuild my routines. And I need to learn to finish books without the drop-dead-deadline and someone else demanding I hand it over. Either that, or I’ll have to hire a boss.

The one thing I’m trying to do is delay teaching classes. I want to do it, eventually, mostly as part of paying it forward. But I’m trying to delay setting it up because I know it will eat my writing time if I haven’t established writing routines first. And, you know, I want to be a writer, not a teacher. Not primarily, at least.

Which brings us back to the matter of things changing, and how fast they were changing.

Things were already changing really, really fast. One of the things I told my kids, the last ten years is “learn to learn, and learn your fields in such a way that you stay flexible. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the way things are now in your fields is the way they’ll ever be.”

This was because I was already anticipating that things would change really, really fast. In ten years or so. I also anticipated that we would, you know see the result of the digitization of the market place within the next ten years or so, with things like shopping from home and getting food delivered (my dirt little secret is that I hate going to the grocery store. People get really upset when you abandon your cart in line and go flitting off 😛 ) and traditional publishers getting hit hard (they probably won’t go under until they go under in Europe, where ebooks are still a novelty. OTOH 2020 might cause some crashes of American branches.) I could foresee in fact publishing suffering the sort of fate that the music industry did. And I could see a day when 30% of people or so worked from home. (More if telemedicine and such become more of a thing.)

What I didn’t expect is that it would all hit over a year and a way overblown disease panic.

Sure, I know, at this point MAYBE 20% of people will be working from home primarily or solely at the end of this. And you think “that is not such a big difference.”

Except you’re not thinking. Those people cluster. To a certain extent, and because of legacies from the 20th century industrial age, coupled with archaic laws against working from home, and managers who feared home-workers, those people — almost all of them — lived in largish cities. And were pretty well paid. (Yes, I know it doesn’t seem like that, but part of it is “lived in largish cities” where things were therefore more expensive.

Around these people clustered services aimed at these people: daycares, gyms, restaurants, various retail establishments, heck, even entertainment venues and, yes, grocery stores.

Someone was talking about how we’re seeing one of the “great people movements”in US history and it’s definitely away from big cities, though the details are not fully clear yet.

Now, I’m not going to lie. A lot of us are moving away from cities (for the first time in 30 years, 4 years ago we bought a house in a suburb. Mostly because it was the only house we liked and could afford that would fit our needs. I did it under protest because I don’t like suburbs. There’s nothing for me to do. You have no idea how happy I am right now.) because of the summer of idiocy and unrest coupled with the fact that our mayors and governors think their real constituency is the feral and drug-addicted homeless who have been invited to camp everywhere and who are never to be bothered under any circumstances. (They might be right. I think that’s who votes for these idiots.)

But it’s more than that. After working from home for a few months, most people are going “uh, that commute? That big office with cubicles? Yeah, no.”

In the same way, while I understand it’s been a disaster for some people, I have also gathered that many students prefer remote learning, though not necessarily provided by their local public school…

But what do I mean by “the details are not fully clear?” Well, you know, if you read books from the dawn of the internet, you find how people antecipated it would work. But people never saw all the “details.” Things like ebooks were predicted (for twenty years. Then given up on, and then suddenly–) but no one expected this to kill traditional publishers. (It might not have, if they were doing their job before. But they’d forgotten their job was to publish things people wanted to read and were instead trying to “teach” the public.) And certainly no one expected it to kill newspapers (ditto.)

These were a total surprise and still are in parts of the fields being hit. Just like writers have trouble adapting to the new age, publishers have trouble. They can’t seem to process they’re no longer the only game in town. And newspapers, magazines and “mainstream news sites?” Ah. Learn to code. Because you’ll never make it on your wits alone.

And keep in mind that these changes worked themselves over 20 years of so (and some of us saw them coming, even though not “when.”)_

Now the changes forced on many, many fields this year?

We have no idea, other than “people no longer need to live in expensive cities. None. Where do restaurants (which are closing in droves, due to the government deciding to run them from above. Don’t get me started) go if everyone is distributed? They’re a low-margin business, which can’t survive (as we found) at smaller capacities. What do they become? What about the people who work for them?

And what about grocery stores? When older son worked in a tiny rural place for three months, the nearest non-convenience store that carried groceries was an hour and a half away through bad roads. Is that it? Are we all going to become once- a-month shoppers? Or do stores move to where they can send delivery vans out one-day-a-week to little villages? (This was the system I grew up with, which is why the olive oil (and olives) man and his donkey came on Wednesdays.)

Probably yes. Probably, in fact a mix of all these, supposing our governments don’t kill off every local business and leave us at the mercy of Amazon.

And people? I don’t know. I think people will surprise us. And I think by and large returning to a more distributed pattern will be better for most people. More flexible.

But as someone whose work was hit with the change stick for the last 15 years or so, let me tell you, just the pace of change will be a stress in itself.

Today I was looking over the Daaz 3-D sale and one of the things they were selling was a modular (ah) city office building. You know, the glass things, with some portions illuminated all of us associate with downtown. I looked at it, and all of a sudden I felt a great nostalgia because I suspect those buildings, a characteristic of large cities, are already a thing of the past. And will become rarer and rare (as anything but ruins and the haven of derelicts) within the next five years.

For the times they are achanging.

Hold on to the side of the boat, and build as much of the good as you can. Write, create, build the future you want. Because in times of change there’s both great stress and great opportunity.

Go work.

57 comments

  1. School is definitely changing; I’m hoping that a lot of parents discover they kind of like their kids.

    It’s neat to be doing tech support/coping/JustBeingThere for public school friends and family. ^.^

        1. Oh, in Kalifornia the power outages will be very real. Herr Fuhrer Newsome has banned internal combustion engine cars by executive order; 15 million electric cars must be added to our already overloaded electrical system. The San Onofre nuclear power plant has been shut down and the politicians and bureaucrats are squabbling over how to scrap it. New power plants are Evil and will cause a global meltdown.

          They don’t seem to understand that solar power won’t work so good at night. Or on cloudy days, even.

          1. Or when the smoke from the woke forest management fires gets too thick. I laughed like a hyena when I saw that.

          2. I’ll believe that when I see it. Yes, Herr Fuhrer may have signed an executive order banning the internal combustion engine but 2035 or whenever, but we’ll see what happens when 2034 rolls around and the woke princes of Hollywood realize that their Porches will be banned in another year. I’m willing to be that Herr Fuhrer’s successor will push back the deadline, and the successor’s successor will keep pushing it back.

            To modify what they said about the monorail, California is 15 years away from banning the internal combustion engine and always will be.

            1. their cars will all still have the out-of-state plates they currently sport. lots of them don’t legally live in CA.

          1. even when your truancy is… charging your electric car and running enough PCs so you can telecommute to work and your kids can tele-attend school

  2. I now get a majority of my shelf stable groceries delivered to my doorstep every couple of weeks.
    Amazon of course, but I see several major supermarket chains trying to follow suit.
    Also, there is an explosion of heat and eat frozen meals happening. The tagline for one of the newer ones is “we don’t have to cook any more!” Priced about the same per meal as an inexpensive diner.
    Most middle management hates work from home. They rightly see it as a direct attack on their authority and empire building. But those same middle managers are the ones with the shiny business degrees that were taught that a good manager can manage anything whether they understand the underlying process or not, and that those working for them can be assumed to be interchangeable parts, cogs in the machine with no individuality whatsoever.
    Change is always disruptive, some benefit and some get hurt in the transition.
    Change is also inevitable, as the alternative is stagnation and ultimately decline.
    As I said in another blog today, hold on it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

  3. My hubby and I RPG (the old fashioned paper kind, no models) and have since the kids were little. And about 8-10 years ago, I was looking at life, and thinking/wishing it could be more exciting, like an RPG (we played all over the spectrum from D&D, to ShadowRun to BattleMech to Traveler, etc, and made up a lot of our own). Where there was adventure and cool stuff and neat tech and a reason to get/be in shape and keep your weapon’s skills sharp.

    But, even then, I realized that living that on a day to day basis would be a lot of stress (especially with teens!), and that there were a lot of the unpleasant parts that are left out of living it (just like in the movies, you can skip making 3 meals a day and doing dishes and having clean clothes for the next ‘run.) And now that we are thrust into the prequel of living it (though thankfully, where we live, not the actuality!) it’s not as “fun” a thought as it was before. Ten years on, the thought of change, not so enticing, and not as easy, and it wasn’t easy then!

    So, I need to think about writing my next chapter, before the world doesn’t give me any “choose your own adventure” possibilities that I can possibly survive.

  4. (wags finger at self)
    If * she* can plant her butt in a chair and write, you’ve got no good excuse!
    (Hold on while I go look for a ruler to smack myself with. Shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours.)

  5. A lot of kids that I meet at work are getting very salty when I ask them about school, because some teachers have decided that it means butts in seats in camera view at all times for seven or eight hours, ridiculous numbers of problems, lengthy essays and reports, huge numbers of homework hours after school…

    And not actually grading the emailed work closely! And not helping!

    These are elementary school kids!!!!

    Otoh, I have introduced many kids to the concept that “If you have to write reports on something, do something within your own interests and hobbies. And if you can make the same research or interest serve for different projects in different classes, it is a time saver.” A lot of kids got a crafty look in their eyes when I suggested this.

  6. > Most traditionally published authors haven’t fully processed this.

    Of course not. “I don’t want to handle all those icky business details, I just want to write!” So they have an agent, or a “special relationship” with an editor, who provides that service at some minimal level of enthusiasm, from forgetting to renew copyrights to outright theft.

    “I’d like to be an an airline pilot, but I don’t want to have to keep up that annoying FAA certification stuff.”

    “I’d like to be a brain surgeon, but all that medical school is just a drag.”

    “I’d like to go scuba diving, but I don’t want to memorize the decompression tables.”

    Writing is a business. You can outsource parts of it – heck, some writers even outsource the “writing” part too – but every part you outsource has to be juggled against “and then you get paid.”

    There are those who write for their Art, but the ones who write what I want to read are more likely to get paid.

  7. I don’t think city dwellers will move (or stay!) to extremely remote areas. They’ll want some variety in their restaurants, and a grocery close enough and with a large enough selection that they don’t have to “do without.”

    On the other hand, here in formerly rural Texas, we think nothing of a twenty minute drive to go to dinner, so maybe that will be one of the adjustments. I will watch with interest the New Yorkers who never learned to drive, never owned a car, as they either stay in the rapidly depopulating city or have to learn a new skill from scratch.

    1. Yeah, but even moving someplace like Lubbock or Midland is going to be a sight cheaper than living in Houston or Dallas–and, honestly, once you get past the 100-200,000 people range, you’ve got about as much variety in your choices as you’ll actually use.

    2. My guess is suburbs close to the cities. Or technically within the city. So I’m looking to cash in 😉
      My ideal place would be a smallish town that’s a functional town, with parades, a nice park, maybe a decent library (to work in if I get bored at home) a coffee shop or two, and a farmer’s market in season.
      If it has a local museum I can volunteer at, even better.

      1. *looks around*

        Great, first I get my sister’s dream life, and now I get your dream town? If you’d added “several water-areas for bird watching” I’d be giving you a fish eye.

        1. I’d like lakes, but in parks, so I can walk paths around them.
          And it’s only become my dream town recently. I ALWAYS wanted to live in Denver. Right in the center where I could walk to Museums.
          Unfortunately the Mayor and despicable Polis have decided the homeless deserve the run of the city and normal citizens must leave.
          I don’t think museums, the zoo and the botanic gardens will survive much longer.

      2. My little town (8k) has a couple annual parades and the biggest 4th of July gala in the state. Our local Riverside Park has historic stone buildings constructed by German POWs during WW2. And a shooting range. We also have the usuals: Small library with big regular book sales. Informal park with pond on the edge of town. Weekly paper that still makes some effort to be a newspaper, not a mouthpiece. Unfortunately everyone’s favorite coffee shop died a couple years back, but I’m sure the regulars have found another by now. Pretty good roadhouse-type cafe on the edge of town, two excellent pizza places, and little Chinese and Mexican cafes I know nothing about, plus a dessert shop. (And the usual small casinos and fast food chains, which I ignore.) An IGA grocer and the world’s best Walmart. Feed store, two auto parts stores, tire store, equipment rental, two auto dealerships and a bunch of indy mechanics, several gas stations, Ace Hardware. Walk-in clinic, couple of dentists, eye doctor, several barbers, 3?? banks and a credit union, and a CVS. (Or why I hardly ever have to make the trek into Billings.)

        Ten minutes down the interstate is the Big City (100k or so) with the Costco and the zoo and an old (tho updated) downtown with the numerous small museums and the big library and the 3 usedbook stores that have been there since before I moved out of state (1984, fittingly for moving to SoCal). Not one but two whalloping great hospital complexes, one of which lately grew an outpost on the other side of town.

        Town & Country Grocers hasn’t come east of Livingston yet (100 miles away) but they have what amounts to a full time farmers market. Local stuff, not “bought it at Costco this morning” like most of ’em actually do. We have a gal who sets up at Tractor Supply in late summer, and my neighbor sells surplus produce. (I just give it away.) Plenty around, if you want it.

        When you’ve lived in the Megopolis, you tend to forget that unagglutenated small towns tend to have everything they need to be self-contained and self-sufficient. After 28 years down by L.A., where everything is a day’s hike down clogged freeways, it’s really quite delightful.

      3. We actually have all of that in Hershey, along with the amusement park. I can see Candymonium from my driveway and when downtown, you can hear the screams of the damned. At the annual Halloween parade, Hershey Co. hands out bags and bags of candy to the parade marchers and floats to throw to the cheering crowds.

        We’ve also got tourists (but not this year and it’s killed the town’s budget!) and the entities who own half the land in town and must always be considered by the board of supervisors. We all know who has the power.

        Choose carefully when buying property.

      4. I think where I am might be a little too small. It has parades, a nice park, reasonable library. Coffee shop, sort of – there’s a few decent diners in the area, but no coffee shop, per se. Half a dozen farmer’s markets of varying quality – heck, the place out back of ours is a farm. The best we can manage is semi-functioning fruit/vegetable (soil is pretty crappy, really, not that we’ve done much to try to improve it) garden.

        There actually is a local museum, but it’s a teeny thing and rather… focused. On historical motor vehicles.

        That said, there’s larger towns 15 – 20 minutes away, and if you really want city things, Philly’s an hour (in clear traffic) or there’s Reading or Allentown in about the same length of drive away but involving a lot less traffic and highway.

        The one thing that’s missing is a decent range within driving distance. The local gun club is very much “old boys huntin’ an’ shootin'” territory and doesn’t bother to respond to inquiries about joining.

      5. If we weren’t at 4600 feet, I’d tell you to come by and check my town out.

        Because in non-2020 we have all of those, though the libraries are refusing to let folks work and the parades have all been canceled this year.

        Which might be why our housing market is staying stupidly overpriced relative to local incomes even in 2020. If the average household makes under $35,000, and the average price is $250,000, those folks aren’t buying those houses.

  8. “I was having trouble coming up with an idea, so I called my publisher, and we discussed it for two days, and I conceived my great Space Opera series that has got all the publicity.”

    Cynical translation: “I don’t want to admit I’m a who– er, that it was a work-for-hire.”

    ===

    As to that great urban vs small-town divide, since moving back from L.A. to a village in the Northern Wastes, I am quite enjoying the philosophy that 3 people in line is too many. And (having so long lived a day’s hike from everything that once-a-month shopping is a settled habit) I’m continually amused by the fact that I live far enough out of town to be rural, but could still walk to Walmart.

    There’s plenty to do out here in the Wastes; it’s just not city things-to-do. Seems to me much of the difference is having to learn to amuse yourself, vs having your amusements established for you.

  9. Cynical translation: “I don’t want to admit I’m a who– er, that it was a work-for-hire.”

    An alternate translation might be, “I convinced my publisher that my latest series was actually all his idea so that I could finally get some $@#! publicity.” I’m not sure if that’s more or less cynical.

  10. A couple of things:
    – I lived in a 1-horse town. Hampton – a 1-main street town, was the county seat. My mailing address was in a small suburb of that teensy place.
    I actually lived in an unincorporated village outside of THAT, called Frog Hollow.
    Now, that’s a small town.
    At first, I went nutso at the lack of stores/businesses in the surrounding area. After a while, I got used to the every 3 weeks trip to the Big City (Beaufort, SC), where we would load up on groceries, office supplies, assorted home repair stuff and the like, and enjoy a luxurious lunch/dinner at a swank spot, before heading home.
    I didn’t even have cable.
    You can readily get used to the quiet life. The big events in town were the high school games, church get-togethers, and the annual Watermelon Festival (Vanna White made an appearance one year!).
    With access to internet, you have the world at your fingertips. And, it’s a whole lot less dangerous.

    – As far as the Left, and their intended abominations – Eh. When, and IF, they gather together the Oppressive Forces, and actually manage not to piss off the kind of people you reall don’t want to piss off, I’ll get back to worrying. For now, they’re the most tone-deaf and incompetent bunch of idiots I’ve seen since I left teaching.
    And, one up-side to a cratered economy – less for them to steal!
    I have a high regard for the average person’s craftiness in keeping their wealth hidden from the Leftstapo.
    And, with kids at home more, they’ll have a hard time getting them to pretend to buy into the Leftist agenda (you didn’t think that most of them REALLY believe that horseshit?). In my experience, it’s less than 5 True Believers out of a classroom of 25-30. The rest mostly keep their opinions to themselves.
    Once the colleges collapse, it’s OVER.

    – I’m plugging away at my WIP. Finally got back to writing today.
    Why? After so long away from it?
    Hell if I know. Maybe I’m just finally ready. Maybe it’s the sight of that Real Woman in the SC hearings, looking so normal and all, and not abrasive, but also not taking any shit (like most of the Normal Women in this country). She’s gonna get confirmed, and a major source of unelected power will be yanked right out of their hands. Without that ability to force their boot into our faces, the only thing they have is screaming on network TV – which, as most of us have ‘cut the cable’, is a dying industry.

  11. I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of the idea of working from home for a couple of reasons. The first is that I, like Sarah, am easily distracted. If put somewhere with all my books and all my video games and some DVDs I’ve been meaning to watch and, oh yeah, some work, how much of that last is likely to get done?

    But I’m less concerned about the 9-5 part of working at home than I am about the 5-9 part. If you never go to work, you never get to leave work, and I at least always experience this nagging sensation that I ought to be doing something. It wouldn’t take very long to get those last few lines of code done, everything I need is in the other room, so why am I putting it off? Yeah, it’s 8pm, but I’m not doing anything important, so why not get some work done?

    And that doesn’t even get into whether employers will respect the time boundaries. At least from observation, my husband’s bosses now think nothing of scheduling meetings from 6-7, 7-8, or even later. He used to have occasional meetings like that, but it was always recognized that asking for one of those was a big favor. Now? Well, he’s already at home, no biggie to ask him to get in front of the computer, he can take an hour or two in the afternoon to make up for it. I’ve spent a lot of nights eating dinner alone and putting the kid to bed by myself because someone in California or Japan thinks this is the heart of the work day.

    1. I’ve been living that life for 15+ years now, only I was on the road 5 days a week. Ever since the cell phone was invented, and overseas teams got popular, bosses didn’t worry about 5-9, 5-midnight, or anything. like that. Don’t like it? Here’s Ajay, fresh from Bangalore.

    2. Thankfully my employer is mostly respecting that finishing time means I don’t do any work until I log on the next work morning. Of course, I’m not in an executive track – and I’ve demonstrated that I _will_ log back in if there’s a major emergency.

      Mostly though, I shut the work machine down at the end of my workday and it stays that way until I start up the next morning.

  12. The economics, social disruptions, and incidental difficulties and costs of city living are definitely propelling a diaspora. However, some cities are likely to endure that diaspora and thrive, after some adjustments. I have in mind cities such as Indianapolis, a city of two million people that resembles a suburb more than a Manhattan-like concentrated city.

    There will always be some trades that require proximity of workers to one another. But for persons whose work is essentially informational, proximity can be dispensed with, at least if one has a reliable and adequately high-bit-rate Internet connection. However, the flight from proximity has costs of its own, and it will be some time before we get a sense for their magnitude.

  13. We moved to Tiny Town, Texas several years ago. It is less rural than Peter wanted, more rural than I wanted, and most importantly for us both, within easy driving distance (by Texas standards) to a major hospital and all associated medical complex. So whether it’s dual root canals or the cardiologist doing a checkup after putting in a stent, we have good medical availability, even as we wake up to the rooster announcing he’s the cock of the block, and the distinct sound and smell of black angus in the pasture.

    It’s also low enough cost of living that even with the problems of not writing between major organ malfunctions, we can still stumble along all right. As far as places catering to those who work outside the home – you know, I still use the athletic club in Nearby City (I did all through the shutdown, because they don’t believe in unconstitutional mass house arrest.) And I still go to the coffee shop, sometimes, after going to the gym. (It’s a reward.) And every now and then, I go to the farmer’s market.

    I do not, however, like the grocery delivery, even though it’s an option – I like to go to the store, see what’s available, pick my own vegetables. I have done mass order and pickup on cans, when restocking the pantry, but for week to week, I prefer in person. One of my coworkers doesn’t because she factors in the time saved by not getting Small Child out of the carseat, so clearly it’s not a one-size-fits-all demographic.

    1. Last I’d heard, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all. The best it gets is one-size-fits-a-decent-percentage.

      I was a purely suburban brat. Grew up in the suburbs, lived in suburbs most of my life. And the last 15 years or so have been in itty bitty country town Pennsylvania which I like a lot more than I thought I would. Actually seeing seasons change is nice. So is having farms nearby – although I will admit to extreme gratitude that said farms are NOT mushroom farms (there are some in the area. You do not stop at gas stations downwind of mushroom farms).

      1. or pig farms. I’ve lived in a community that had a pig farm in the middle of it. Thankfully I was far enough away to not smell the stink, but the residents couldn’t get the stink out of their bodies and clothes.

      2. True! Driving through Avondale, Pa is why I wash store-bought mushrooms despite what cooking shows say.

        I >know< what they grow them in. In the summer, you can't miss it even with the AC on and the windows on the car closed.

      3. You also don’t want to live near a cattle feed lot (smelled them driving from Clovis NM to Lubbock TX) or pulp mills (lived near them in northern FL – western WA has a bunch including Vancouver area (Camas, Longview, etc) and Tacoma (“stink row” – might be better now)

    2. the people picking orders for grocery delivery seem to have no idea how to pick meat… especially when they have to substitute!

      1. We had to start turning off substitutions entirely. We would order diet soda; they would sub full sugar. Not right for diabetics. Basically, if they can substitute, they get paid, so they will.

  14. I’ve lived in big cities and in rural areas. One of the main reasons I left Utah was that the small town I lived near had a really thing about prestige as in “my family has been here since the 1800s.” Plus most of us had some kin connection –about second cousin or so. I was always on the outside so never felt at home there. Tiny towns feel like little gossip and gestapo to me.

    I don’t care for big cities either. I’ve lived mainly in apartments, which is not my favorite living style. I would like my own home, a plot of land, and some mountains to look at. Still I have a real problem with cabin fever and wandering feet… not like I’ve been able to do anything about it for several years now.

    I decided recently that if I could do some day trips with someone (it’s been hard to do this without the late hubby), I don’t have that need to run away. We had planned to get an RV after Otto retired and drive coast to coast, maybe become sun birds. It would have been ideal. Some dreams are never meant to pass, I guess.

    I just spent another ten days dealing with gout and then dealing with medical expenses. I just want to scream. Every day I feel more tied down and more caged. Writing and reading does help. I lost the last week because of the pain though.

    I don’t mind being alone, but I think I am too alone now. And all of youse may just be my over-active imagination.

    1. If I’m your over-active imagination, Cyn, can you imagine an honorable and polite way for me to get out of judging a virtual contest this weekend? 😉

  15. “I suspect those buildings, a characteristic of large cities, are already a thing of the past.”

    Office buildings in NYC are -empty- according to news reports. Wealthy people who live there are leaving town. I understand from the news that a million people have left since March. Commuters who live elsewhere are not commuting in. Prices of condos and apartments are falling. Stores are closing. Same thing in Toronto, but the Canadian media is very, very quiet about it.

    Who is this bad for? -Socialists-. They need people herded together and bunched up, stacked in apartments and riding public transit. That’s the true reason why Leftist social planners hate suburbs and cars. Suburbs, everybody has their own house and yard, and their own wheels.

    What is better for people? Suburbs. Diseases do not spread very well, for one thing.

    Rural living is even better. Room to not care who lives next door, room to grow food if you need to.

    Socialists hate all that independence. Hate it.

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