You know, I’ve read a lot of dystopian/post apocalyptic fiction over the years. One of the things that used to sort of bug me about it is that the authors would always skip way ahead in time. We’d jump in with characters who were living, say, 80 or 120 years in the future, and there wouldn’t be much discussion of exactly how things had gotten so bad. I would think to myself, “How could they skip over the part that seems so interesting, the part where everything went to hell?” I actually remember that I appreciated that about The Handmaid’s Tale when it became a TV series, because they included scenes of how normal life became abnormal.
That’s how I used to feel. These days, when I’m at my most pessimistic, I feel like we are whimpering our way into a surprisingly tedious apocalypse. I imagine this entire year as a few of those casual expository lines thrown in by a world-weary narrator at the beginning of a dystopian novel (“Even as the entire west coast choked on forest fire smoke, borders closed because of the raging pandemic, and our reality TV star president restructured government to profit himself and his family, many of us carried on with our daily lives. Back then, we naively believed that the next election would be fair, that it wouldn’t be our last, that it wouldn’t devolve into a bloody civil war.”) If I read those lines in a novel, I’d be eager to know more, thinking, “Whoa, what was all that about?” But as a character in that particular novel, actually living through it feels simultaneously monotonous and demoralizing.
The point is: I don’t really like to read dystopian fiction these days. Like I said the other day, right now is all about light romance. Here are some other things that that are cheering me up these days.
I re-watched the entire series of Friday Night Lights. I’d always liked that show, but knowing that the series’ plot lines all get tied up into neat little bows at the end absolutely made me want to just sink into Dillon, TX for a little while.
I am texting voters. I especially like texting for Warren Democrats, because their system has all sorts of game-ifying motivators, like compliments, confetti, and cheering you on:
Yes, absolutely!! LET’S GO.
Sometimes, I do embroidery. Honestly, I’m not doing a ton of it, but if I am really, really cranky or stressed out during the day, I may listen to an audiobook or music and sit in my front yard and embroider.
If I am, indeed, listening to music while embroidering in the front yard, I am almost surely listening to my recently established Spotify playlist, which I call Feel Good. For this list, I like a tempo that is cheerfully upbeat without absolutely compelling me to dance. And also, only happy or neutral messages.
Meanwhile, at any time that I may encounter a brief video of a terrified, diseased, and malnourished dog who is rescued, rehabilitated, and placed into a loving family, I will absolutely stop everything and watch that video. The Dodo is a good source for this. I know that I am being manipulated, and I do not care. I will lean into that shit right now.
In fact, when I realized that these were soothing me, I decided to reorganize my Twitter lists a little bit. I’ve always been a fan of Twitter lists for myself. I’ve got a list of reporters I like, a list of more conservative people to get that perspective, local news, etc. I had a “Pure Fun for Me” list, but I realized that a bunch of those folks are actors, singers, or comedians, and a lot of them are talking politics these days. Which is fine, you know, feel free, but I decided I needed a full-on “Escape” list. So I created a new list with things like art (#WOMENSART and worldpainting) and travel (My Beautiful Destination) and animals (Life on Earth) that specifically avoid any downers. Like, if your account is videos of baby elephants, but then you’re going to talk about poachers and disappearing habitats, then you’re kicked off the Escape list. This is still a work in progress, so suggestions are welcome.
Along the way, I’ve also enjoyed some lovely mood boosters from others, like when my office sent me a delightful care package gift basket full of goodies. Turns out my cats like the basket, too.
And look at the pretty, pretty flowers I got from my parents for my birthday.
And, of course, there are walks. And workouts. And raking leaves is pretty cleansing.