The other day, I ran downstairs in between meetings to reheat a cup of coffee, for probably the fifth time. I was staring at the microwave, watching the timer count down from 2 minutes 30 seconds (our microwave is very tired, and things take longer), absently humming a song from A GOOFY MOVIE, and I came to a strange realization.
I was happy.
Not like, insanely happy, but more the content variety. Things were good, and I felt like I could breathe, and I was looking forward to a few things. Then the microwave dinged, I went back to work, and didn’t think much about it the rest of the day.
I’ve been ruminating on that feeling of happiness that stood out to me like a flame in a cave, plus a few other similar but different moments that have happened recently, and I realized it all ties into a larger theme I’ve noticed. 2023 feels different than the last several years.
And like the fine folks at Arby’s once noted — different is good.
I sat down and tried to articulate why exactly this year feels different than the years that preceded it. Could it be that I am no longer:
- Having to deal with the day-to-day reality of watching an idiot, sociopathic traitor try to Make Fascism Work Again, and failing only because he and his merry band of losers were just so goddamn inept
- Watching a global pandemic kills millions, and gives 10-30% of those who survive long-lasting health problems that may also kill them
- Wondering if said pandemic is going to kill the people in my life that I love
- Just kidding, those last two are still active events; I’ve just done the best that I can to protect myself and take precautions where I can, and am otherwise letting go of the worries
- Jealously watching millions just go about their lives like we aren’t in a pandemic while I go full recluse to do my part to end the pandemic and protect my loved ones
- Exhausted every moment of every day
- Actively worrying about a very sick or dying dog, and the associated caregiving and vet bills that resemble a mortgage on a nice house
- Not knowing the city that I will be living in in six months
- Wondering when the vault wherein I’ve been bottling up my feelings my entire adult life is going to become so densely packed that it just collapses into a black hole
Some of these things aren’t suddenly new and magically different this year. Despite his best efforts, the traitor Donald Trump has been out of office for two years now. But it feels like he’s exerting less influence on the Republican Party than he once did. So that’s allowed some relief to gradually leach into my soul. Regarding the pandemic: like I noted above, it’s still happening, still flourishing. But aside from still doing what I can to do my part, I am mentally moving on. Not saying that is the right or smart thing to do, but it’s happening.
Those things aside, the biggest reason that 2023 feels different to me — is, well, me. As our lord and savior Taylor Swift might put it:
Like I said in my ADHD post, I feel more like me than I have in a long time. I credit therapy and putting in the work to get my shit sorted, plus drugs (the good kind) for a lot of it. These things have better enabled me to make a concerted effort to get out of the house and do the things I want to do and see people I want to see. And just as importantly, if not more so — to say “no” to things I don’t want to do and not feel guilty about it. It’s all given me space to flip my own personal reset switch; to think about who I want to be and work to get there.
If you’re rolling your eyes right now, or thinking “oh god Josh has gone woo-woo-y, is he going to find Jesus next” — I get it. Doesn’t change anything for me, but I get it. I am comfortable with sounding a little woo-y. And no, Jesus seems like a cool dude, but I am not going to start subscribing to his newsletter any time soon.
So: I have no doubt that 2023 will have its troubles, because that’s life, and also because we’re all so #blessed to be “living in interesting times.” But I have a confidence now — one I’m not sure I’ve ever really possessed — that I will get through them, and things will be fine.
Last week I shared a pretty personal look into my experience with ADHD. I received a surprising amount of feedback, all of it nice, so thanks to those who reached out and said something. If this blog feels more personal now than it used to, that’s because it is, and it’s been an active choice. My hope is that talking about some of the things I’ve been going through might help others. And if not, hopefully some of it will make you smile, perhaps even chortle. I’m not expecting guffaws, though. I’m not that kind of funny.
Here’s what I’ve been up to this week.
It took me a solid fifty pages to get into THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS, but I’m glad I picked it up again. The majority of Stephen Graham Jones’s novel is set on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, and the main protagonists are members of the Blackfeet tribe who were friends who Made A Big Oops as kids, and are being hunted down later in life by the vengeful spirit of an Elk. I don’t read a lot of horror fiction, and I rarely read anything so firmly rooted in indigenous American culture in a way that doesn’t feel exploitative (that’s a critique on me). THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS is a wonderful example of both.
Brainiac on life after Tim Taylor: ‘He used to walk offstage with bruises in the shape of his effects pedals’: a fun if bittersweet interview with the surviving members of Brainiac about Tim Taylor, the band’s breakup after his tragic death in 1997, and their recent reunion.
DEEP WATER. On paper, this film had all the ingredients for being right up my alley: an erotic thriller starring Ana de Armas (loved her in KNIVES OUT) and Ben Affleck (he was the bomb in PHANTOMS, yo) and, and based on a Patricia Highsmith novel (who also wrote CAROL/THE PRICE OF SALT, a novel I recently raved about) — but the way the ingredients came together, the recipe if you will, was not great, and produced a meal that was lacking in flavor. (Alright, I’m done with the awkward cooking metaphor.) This is a movie that wants you to think the main characters are clever, but they all make idiotic decisions that a person who is not a character in a movie would never make. Every movie has some of that, sure, but poor writing will derail a thriller or mystery so fast. Don’t get me wrong, DEEP WATER is an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours, but a modern classic this ain’t. Mostly, it made me want to go watch another Ben Affleck erotic thriller: GONE GIRL. It’s a much, much better film and would make an excellent palate cleanser (sorry).
This Rymek Classic Mechanical Keyboard. Do I need it? Absolutely not. I have a great Bluetooth keyboard that let’s me easily switch between multiple computers. Am I going to lust after it anyways? 100%, yes.
Over on Twitter, I occasionally share helpful career advice.
It’s interesting to me to discover where one has cultural gaps in music pop culture. Things, for various reasons, we just… missed. One cultural gap I have, when it comes to music, is that I am not terribly familiar with the works of Patti Smith. This is something I’ve been enjoying remedying of late. Like this live version of “Because the Night,” which I very much dig.
Featuring his dump truck derriere.