Given my love of Halloween and Christmas, and that it seems like I've seen everything, it's probably surprising that I had never watched The Nightmare Before Christmas. Tim Burton films have always struck me as slick and empty, the entire thing being this layer of chocolate that is missing other layers. Anyway, I did watch The Nightmare Before Christmas recently. It was okay. The occasional witty line or touch, via passing asides.
I had posted on Twitter a few weeks back--or whenever it was--that the amount of rushing yards the Patriots gave up to the Titans was troubling. Some meathead replied that it was all part of the game plan. Right. Because many game plans are built around the idea of giving up 300 rushing yards. Definitely part of the strategy.
Well, the Colts ran it right down the Patriots' gullet the other night. The number one thing in football has always been, will always be, stopping the run. This does not mean that if you stop the run all will be fine. No--you can still be awful. But if you can't stop the run, you have little chance to be successful. This is a passing league, but the run will always be the foundation of the game, because being able to run at will will always crush the other team. Just like not being able to stop someone from running at will will crush your team. There's a psychological element, too.
I am not saying this means anything--it doesn't mean much--but Jimmy Garoppolo has a higher quarterback rating this year than Tom Brady. He is not as bad as he is frequently made out to be. He's effective, for the most part, and he wins at a high rate. Garoppolo's issue is his inability to remain healthy and his lack of toughness. He's better than Mac Jones, but Mac Jones is tougher. Will Jones remain healthy? He has to get bigger and stronger.
I will be alone on Christmas for the tenth Christmas in a row. I have not even spoken to another human on Christmas--save when I've gotten coffee--since 2011. This year I had been invited (normally I'm not invited anywhere) to the house of the Admiral and the Captain--who feature in the "A Midshipman Lights Out" essay from Salmagundi that is in the essay collection I'm currently reading back through one last time--to hang out and watch football, but I haven't had the booster yet--I'm getting it, along with a flu shot, 12/28--and they have a family member who could struggle if they contracted COVID, so I don't want to put anyone at risk.
My feelings on COVID have always been the same--I believe in running stairs. Run stairs, and everything will be fine. Don't smoke. Don't drink. Problem solved.
I will take a vaccine because why not? I wouldn't have resisted the polio vaccine, for instance. Line me up, I say. It's not a big deal to me one way or the other. When I am able to schedule a time, I'll do it and go. I don't think that the vaccine makes any difference for me personally. I would be comfortable not having the vaccine. But if it's there, why not get it? Matters are also simplified when I go to the museum, the symphony, the ballet, the Brattle.
Having said that, I think it's hypocritical for people to say, "oh, protect me, protect me, protect me!" when people make so little effort--and I hate laziness--to protect themselves by living healthier. But it's ridiculous not to get something practical like a vaccine because one is sufficiently narrow-minded and unthinking that they view it as an infringement upon their liberties and personage. If you don't want to get it because you run five miles every day and you take care of yourself, okay--if you're a fanatic about what goes into your body, maybe. If you don't want to get it because you're throwing some childish, preemptive tantrum, then that's an issue. It's sad, really. It's pathetic. Because it's not really a cause. And if something like this is your cause, what that tells me is you're a simple person who couldn't stand up for a real cause, or even recognize one. This isn't it. Not getting the shot isn't this triumph of the human will and your civil liberties. There isn't a shot-based version of Walden waiting to be written.
But let me qualify once again. Life is now a constant retreat, and a retreat is a form of devolution. We retreat from everything. Vulnerability. Individuality. Responsibility. Intelligence. Effort. We celebrate excuses, mediocrity, obesity, sloth, delusion, a lack of knowledge, cowardice. We just call those things other things. Acceptance, tolerance, social justice, trigger warnings, safe spaces, body acceptance, social media, equal voices, "my truth." We retreat from COVID, too. One more excuse not to live. Just live. Move forward. This isn't going anywhere. Accept that. Drink less. Get on the treadmill.
I likely would not have gone to this small gathering anyway--or I may have, I don't know--because the way I look at this is Christmas can be Christmas again for me when I get out of this situation, this hell that is worse than hell. I can be Fezziwig then, and host large parties in a house by the sea.
When that happens, I will look back on these days, these years, alone in the wilderness, both hunted and run from, and I'll hold my loved ones close--because hopefully I will have love in my life later--but also myself, if you will, and say, "You did it, sir," and those words will have a meaning to me that they could never come close to having for anyone else. Someone who loves me might look at me and wonder, "What is he thinking?" That's what I'll be thinking. All of that. And recalling these days, too, and how I put them behind me, and became something I would not have become otherwise.
What I think I'll do is take the train to Concord or Manchester-by-the-Sea and hike the woods alone. I'll breathe the cold air, I'll think about how I will attack in the new year, and create; I'll see some birds, maybe a beaver, maybe a fox. I will sing a song, I will recite a poem.
This morning I started making notes for pieces I might do next year for Halloween and Christmas. I hate to think like this. That I will still be here then grinding away on these works that take so much effort and that pay so little. But I prepare nonetheless, figuring that I can just ditch efforts of this kind when things do change.
Someone was supposed to run a 2200 word piece I wrote for Thanksgiving, told me it was going to run that Tuesday, then didn't run it, then kind of snapped at me and said it wouldn't be running any time soon, and then received a 2700 word Christmas piece from me they assigned which they also have not run. They are ignoring everything I send them. A friendly note about something else, perhaps. It feels like I am being punished. I can't write nearly 5000 words and have it go to waste. That's...it's a brutal punishment. For what? The money is a small amount, and I need that money, but the money isn't enough--I need this work out there. It's great, for starters, and the money isn't enough to make it "okay"--doing this much work, I mean.
That's a year of production for a lot of people in publishing. It's more than a year of production for most of them. You can't overstate how little most so-called authors actually write. This editor is a good person, so I'm not really sure what is going on. They're professional and competent. They post a lot on social media about things I would consider extreme comforts in life. They are basic things, sure, but they are things I don't have, and they seem to have a lot more time than I do, though I also know that they're likely the sole person running much of this venue's operations and they must always be exhausted and stressed with that. So it could just be a life thing and I don't want to point a finger, especially at someone like this, who I respect. But I also don't know what is going on, I worked my ass off, there is not a lot to do to get my pieces up, and I don't have an explanation or an idea, really, for one. Then I'm in the position of having to write again, and I hate that. I hate trying to get in someone else's head. I hate having to think, "should I phrase this this way? I don't want to cause offense. Is this okay?"
It's different, because they are not the person this person is, but as I've said about editors on here many times, the last thing I want to do is to be writing you a second time or more. I want to send you what I have, be that a story, a book, a pitch, and I do my job and you do your job and eventually you write me having done your job in good faith. You think I wanted to be writing an unstable, toxic termagant like Raluca Albu ever? Like that was fun for me? Something I ever wanted to be a part of my day, with all I have to do, deal with, and write, trying to get a response out of a noxious, incompetent individual like that? Torture. Torture trying to find another way to write someone to get them to do their job, maybe be a little less of a bigot, whatever it is.
Anyway. This person is a normal person I respect a lot, but it still puts me in a hard position. Or maybe they have something difficult in their personal life going on at the moment. I try to be sensitive. But like I said, it's hard, and I stand to lose a lot in terms of the time and energy I put into great works that were bringing me so little financial remuneration as it was, especially when compared to that time, effort, and the quality of the work. I also hope that everything is okay with them and their family.