there is a part in the lord of the rings where tolkien says that elves aren’t afraid of human ghosts and i gotta say: that rules lol

Last night I celebrated the end of 2020 by kissing Dante on the head and eating an edible. Minutes later, after midnight, when all the bombs were going off in the sky, I made myself a cup of coffee and sped off in the car to do a whole lot of aimless driving. Usually it makes me feel at least a little better to do this . . . there is not much else to do here, after all, and hardly anywhere to go on foot, so you can either sit inside and despair or drive around to delay the despairing you will resume once again when you return home. But for some reason it didn’t work on me last night. It is always frightening when my creature comforts and coping mechanisms sputter and begin to fail me. The repetition of the few things I have that bring me any sort of peace is what starts to kill it, and then I’m left on the other side of the thing without any reprieve from a dark world growing darker by the day. And so last night I couldn’t help but feel hollow about all this. What difference did it make if I could escape into the black wilderness in a warm car for a few hours? I still had to go back to the world and get trapped inside my own head again. And when I did finally pull into the lot, round about two in the morning, I didn’t know what else to do other than drink a capful of NyQuil and go to sleep. But before I did sleep, I remembered that my Switch was still set to California time, and that I had precious few minutes to check on my animal friends on Acheron Island before the start of the New Year:

And yeah, I popped a party popper and waved a little yellow glowstick around. If anything, the happiness my villagers seemed to be experiencing only made my real-world sadnesses all the worse. Why couldn’t I just stay there with them? I mean, for god’s sake, look at us! Big-ass celebratory top hats and not a care in the world!

Of course I had to leave them, and so I did. I went to sleep. I had horrible nightmares. Leila was in most of them, probably because I had been talking to her all night New Year’s Eve. In most of my nightmares we were Scooby-Doo’ing around and being chased by phantoms and scary people. I woke up in the late afternoon absolutely terrified, thinking it had all been real, and saw that it was grey and rainy outside. I made coffee and put on my robe and sat on the porch for a little while. It was cold and miserable. I noticed that everyone had unplugged or taken down their Christmas lights, and so the whole neighborhood looked cheerless and sad. I wondered why anyone would take down their lights, or get rid of their tree . . . I would be holding onto these things as long as possible. What else is there to look forward to, or even look at, that doesn’t immediately fill you with absolute sadness? We need the light! That’s what I think, anyway. . . .

Tonight I went driving again. I was out of food and all the grocery stores are closed until tomorrow. So I got a sandwich and a cup of coffee at Wawa and just kind of putzed around until I felt I had seen enough, which happened pretty quickly. The roads were rain-slicked and devoid of cars and, just like back in the old neighborhood, everyone had foolishly taken down their lights and Christmas decorations, or else they lay dark and deflated in the cold wet yards of darkened houses. There was a real grimness out there, is what I decided. Now I ain’t saying I’m clairvoyant or nothing, but you don’t need a fortune teller to know things are going to get worse before they get better, and I sure did and do feel a foreboding . . . something is about to happen, I think, that will compound these miseries we have already experienced. I asked around and am not alone in sensing this. I mean, being alive right now feels like watching my own life on TV. It just doesn’t feel like real life (in a bad way). As my friend Cecelia put it: “Anything that’s happened to me, hasn’t happened to me.” That sums it up!

WELL: It is once again three in the morning, and so in my continuing effort to not stay awake until five in the morning, I am going to try to go to sleep right now. And I’m not going to take anything to aid me in that endeavor. I have to do it unaided! It can’t be good to keep relying on magnesium citrate and melatonin and weed and NyQuil to knock myself out. Maybe the dread I feel for the future will be enough of a sedative. I can’t wait to not be awake anymore. Let us lie down and see what happens. What else can you do, really, here at the end of all things. . . . ?

i understand that people have maybe become numb to this by now, but let me just say that 3,700+ people dying of covid every day is FUCKING INSANE

oops! i stayed up all night reading about 19th-century toilets and neoclassical architecture lol

i sometimes forget that most people don’t stay awake until three or four in the morning like i do because i’m nuts lol

It has been six weeks, and I am still in my hometown, which is an undisclosed location in the great state of Virginia. And I gotta say: it is a bizarre and spooky feeling to be here. This time exactly five years ago, I was in a similar quandary, what with my being between two places and in a sort of limbo. The situation feels less dire this time, because I know I’ll be back in the place I want to be sooner than later, and for the most part I have about as luxurious a lifestyle as someone with my station in life could hope for during these dark days. Which is not to suggest I’m living it up . . . hardly! It’s just that I stay up late and take baths and watch movies and read a lot and hang out with my cat, and get gas station coffee and go on long walks and midnight drives in the direction of nowhere. And no one tells me what to do and I don’t have to be anywhere. In the Before Times, when the Shadow had not yet swallowed the world in darkness, these are the sorts of things I would be doing anyway in order to maintain some semblance of sanity. The difference here is that I am not hindered by having to go to a job or do normal human things with any regularity. Though I often struggle with the utter hopelessness of the world at large, I just try to do my best to keep it together. That’s really all any of us can do, I reckon.

All of this is to say: there are worse fates than being marooned in self-exile on a remote asteroid from which I happen to have come from.

THAT BEING SAID: I do feel a sort of despair that I could only experience here in this place. Everyone I ever knew is gone now, so I don’t know when I would come back, or why, or where I would even stay if I did. There is nothing new that can happen to me here. I can only gaze through a glass darkly at what came before, and what good does that do me, really? In some ways is strips the meaning from it all, which is a scary thing for me to feel. There is just no way to make it anything more than is, or was, which is a constellation of tens of thousands of memories that I alone hold inside my head like a curse. On the periphery of my mind are these thoughts exactly:

I am trying to enjoy it for what it is, which is a vacation into the past and / or a haunting of my own life. But when I wake up it will all go away forever. And so when I walk through old parts of town, or in my grandmother’s neighborhood, or through the forests and farmlands where I am from, taking all the paths I have taken for decades, I know that it will be one of the last few times I will ever tread that way. I’m noticing all sorts of things I did not see when I was younger . . . and remembering also the houses I have seen my entire life, and wondering if the people I used to know who lived inside of them still live there, even though I already know the answer.

My friend Cecelia is driving down from NYC this weekend to stay with me. This will be the second time someone has driven down from NYC to see my weird little hometown, a place I could not otherwise imagine someone visiting on purpose. I assume we will do what it is I do alone here every day, which is to get stoned and drink coffee and drive around looking at stuff with the heat on. And I think she said she wants to watch THE THING, so of course we will! We both miss Califoria. I guess we’re probably going to talk about that a lot too. We need to plan our escape from the East Coast and get back there. And then what? Who knows.

How can anyone know right now?? Maybe Cecelia can tell me, though I have a feeling she would ask the same of me. Hmmmm. . . .