Delay of game for coffee and a little Christmas shopping this morning. You see… no, let me back up a little. This has been an interesting year. You know that. For me, it’s been oddly normal with an underlying foundation of pure stress. I go to work five days a week, wear a mask, deal with what was incipient asthma that has bloomed into full on why-can’t-I-breathe-that-hurts asthma, and on the way to work I dictate stories. At lunch, I make art. After work, I clean up dictation, write more if I can, and do promo marketing stuff (lamely, more on that in a minute). On weekends, I make more art, lay out publication projects, and work on client design projects.
So, Cedar, why can’t you reduce the stress in your life? Huh. No idea. Also, why have you become a cranky angerball who can’t seem to mop up the dripping sarcasm well enough to keep it from leaking on social media. No idea. Look, these days I’m powered by caffeine, sheer determination, and spite. The sunshine will come back when I can actually see it again. Which will be a few months.
In the meantime! I’ve got a novel to format and upload this weekend. I probably shouldn’t do two launches so close together, but what the heck. I’ve already delayed The East Witch several times. I want it out in 2020. So it’s coming out. The Cute Moose was a labor of love that has become a little ray of joy in my life through seeing how many people love the story I wrote for my sister. My sister loved it, too. My heart is full. Messing up the publishing schedule was so worth it.
And this morning, I checked on the outstanding orders for Christmas (most stuff is already under the tree) and realized that I’d ordered something for my son, over a week ago, and it hadn’t even shipped. It wasn’t going to be here in time, if ever. I try to be cautious, even when ordering through the ‘Zon, about the actual seller. You have to be, in this day and age. There are, always have been, and always will be, people who just want to take your money and run. They promise a product, and then don’t deliver. (this is related to writing, I promise) Now, my Little Man has been a trooper this year. It’s the first year he’s had the experience of being an only child, after almost 15 years of being the baby of four. That’s been rough on him. He’s lonely, and losing school on top of that has been hard. We are homeschooling, and he’s got some buddies he can video chat with, but that’s the extent of his social interactions. I worry about his long-term adjustment to this… anyway, the Little Man (who wanted to keep that nom-de-blog as he is now six inches taller than I am and finds it deeply funny) is very unhappy to look forward to a Christmas morning with only him opening a stocking. His sisters are both working, and we plan a get-together before the end of the year but…
It’s the little things that snowball into big deals. So I am trying to find a replacement for his gift that I can have under the tree Christmas morning. However that morning goes, this year, the year that traditions die. And I am thinking about 2020 and how we have broken the postal service in this country this year. The First Reader was shipping for me (art! and some Christmas gifts) and the lady at the post office told him that in 27 years, this is the worst she has seen it. I’m hearing from friends all over the country that packages are going wildly astray, disappearing, or showing up slit open and looted. Now, I have been doing a lot of my shopping online for years. I frankly loathe going to the mall, and flat won’t do it during Christmas season. I’d rather just have the gift delivered to me. Or the recipient, since it’s less expensive to have it dropped direct to them rather than ship it myself. Most people, though? Are suddenly discovering that they have to do it this way.
Catastrophic ripples follow small course changes. We’ve had, in this global pandemic situation, major course changes. Following the ripples outwards, and plotting their collisions with the new ripples formed at those intersections… will be the work of generations to come. I’m going to avoid talking about why, in favor of looking at ‘what next?’
It’s been too crazy to even write into a fiction plot. But we’ve lived it, and it’s been ugly real. That, and it’s not over yet. Yes, there are now two vaccines available here in the US. That’s an amazing feat of science. It really is. However, they are not a panacea, for so many reasons. One, this is a coronavirus. It is not, contrary to media hysteria, actually that lethal a disease, and it is already adapting in favor of even less-lethal strains. Which is great, and not a surprise. However, it means the vaccine may not be effective for very long. Which frankly is not a big deal. If it can calm the hysteria, it will be a useful tool. Sadly, I’ve been watching the usual anti-vaxx hype frothing into overdrive for months, and I think that’s going to be a problem. When people are saying ‘it’s gene therapy!’ I’m over here doing the sinal salute and reminding myself that over half the population is below average. In intelligence, in education…
As a fiction author, I could write this as ‘then they lived happily ever after once they had their jabs.’ As a scientist, it’s more like: coronavirus are a known quantity. This one, having been novel, ripped through the population like a wind-driven wildfire. Sadly, that meant that a lot of the vulnerable population, already weakened by other conditions, was felled. In twenty years? This will be another ‘cold virus’ (there are a lot of them, and we almost never test deeply enough to differentiate) and it won’t be noticed. It is not a virus that we can eradicate, like smallpox was. Coronavirii have animal populations it can ‘hide’ in and re-emerge again. That’s how we got this one in the first place, along with quite a number of pathogens. Again, this is normal and expected if you have any knowledge of infectious disease. What I worry about? And should probably try to explore in my fiction? Is the next one. After the terrible mismanagement of this pandemic, which was a pandemic on the easy setting, what happens when the next one emerges. It is coming. It’s been overdue for some time.
We’ve had generations to forget what the scourge of disease really looked like. Pray that we are not about to be reminded. This wasn’t that. This was a panic. Go back and look, really look, at history. It’s not pretty. We still have it cushy, packages being delayed and everything. Sure, there are some shortages in the stores. But not like it was. Not like it could be, if the sprockets really do jam in the machinery of society. I’m bleak these days, not from looking at where we are, but as a result of knowing what might be on the horizon.
So I’m going to celebrate Christmas and the meaning of ‘gift’ in that context. And may the New Year bring you joys.
And to end on a more cheerful note. The cover for The East Witch, which I hope will be released in time for you to gift it for Christmas! Ebooks don’t have to rely on the post office for delivery, so they make fantastic last-minute shopping gifts.