You’re Not The Fucked Up One

This is how I feel:

I feel like I’m the fucked up one. I feel like I’ve gone cuckoo bananapants, because I look out into the world and I see people who think the pandemic isn’t real; I see them not wearing masks anymore; I see people who somehow think Trump is doing a good job, or that believe he’s accomplished anything at all; I see people who live in a reality where blue state cities are places Snake Plissken would have to escape from; where Democrat Pedophiles are shipping children in furniture; where scientists are traitors peddling climate change coronavirus fantasy but Jesus Christ was a white man with an AR-15 who fought to make sure corporations were people, the poor got fucked, and nobody raised his Dad-blamed taxes. I feel like I’m trapped in some Hellraiser puzzle cube, some mirror universe trap where on my side of the mirror there are still things like common decency and empathy and shared reality, and on the other side are people who think that wearing a mask in a store is the same thing as being a Black man summarily executed in front of his family for writing a bad check.

I feel like I’m sitting in a living room and in the middle of the room there’s a toilet on fire, and nobody else will claim to see the toilet, or the fire. And if I push, they tell me, “The fire toilet is antifa propaganda, just eat your fuckin’ Spaghetti-Os.”

It feels like my brain is misfiring.

And once in a while, this brute force attack on our collective psyche, it works. I think, maybe I’m the broken one? Maybe I’m the partisan asshole? Like, is it even remotely possible that Trump is no worse than any other president, that life under Obama was some kind of nightmare realm, that COVID-19 isn’t real? It’s just a moment. And then I remember the people I know who got sick or died from it, and I look at the facts, the actual (sing it with me) facts of life, and I yawp again into the void THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS even though they want me to admit that I see five.

Maybe you feel that way too.

But your brain isn’t misfiring.

I’m not okay. You’re not okay. And it’s okay we’re not okay.

Your response is that you’re not okay because things are very much not okay. It is perfectly acceptable, normal, and expected to feel fucked up in a fucked up situation. Broken politics, Zoom school, gender reveal forest fires, Patriotic Re-Education, Herman Cain tweeting about the hoax virus that he actually died from — in this endlessly scrolling set of brand new WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE* verses, it’s easy to feel like you’re the broken one. But you’re not. You’re just responding to a broken world. And not just broken in a normal way — but broken in a way that’s hard to parse, that doesn’t form clean fractures. The difference between a snapped femur and someone who stuck one hand in a blender. We’re tip-toeing across a tightrope, and on one side is a chasm of Absurdist Incompetence and on the other is a pit of Active Malevolence and we’re just trying not to fall.

I mean, I barely go anywhere, right? But last week, I went to an ice cream place to pick up a couple pints because in this Epoch of Fuckery ice cream is medicine, and in the place, everybody was masked, everybody was good. And then the next day I went to the doctor’s office to get a flu shot and two people who worked there were not masked. In a doctor’s office! A DOCTOR’S OFFICE. Aaaaa dooooooctooooor’s offffffiiiiiice. Where if anybody (!) should be cleaving to good mask protocol (!!) it should be in a god damn d o c t o r ‘ s   o f f i c e. Sometimes I’ll drive through town and I’ll see a group of people where some of them are masked and some of them aren’t and I’m like, how’s that even work? What’s the fucking point? And then you see a parade of dicknoses who I guess believe that AIR does not come out of their NOSEHOLES only their MOUTHPITS and then you get on Facebook and you see some ding-dong relative sharing a screengrab of a spectacularly fake tweet where Joe Biden said something about how he’s gonna raise your taxes and turn your kids into dogfood and change the name of the country to the United Socialist States of Berniecratimerica, and you start to scream? You just scream. You scream into a pillow, into your clenched fists, into a box, into the hollow of an old tree where the Earth takes your scream and nurtures it into a flock of hungry winged things. I’m screaming right now! Just screaming.

Just fucking screaming.

And it’s okay.

It’s okay if you’re screaming, too.

It’s okay if you’re worried and sad and mad all the time and it’s okay if brushing your teeth feels like a heroic moment and if you can’t stop doomscrolling the Apocalyptic Stock Ticker that is social media.

It’s okay if you’re not okay.

I’ve no answers how to make it okay. (Except, obviously, vote, give money to charities and politicians, raise a ruckus, eat ice cream, try not to bite your phone.) Try to secure some peace and pleasure for yourself away from this Hell Realm. I try to put down my phone. I walk and listen to birds and high-five pine trees and it feels a little better. Not okay, but closer to it.

(And I note that even going outside is a privilege right now, with many places experiencing ash and smoke or bad weather. I only mean to suggest you put down the phone and try to steal some moments of peace away from the maw of the maelstrom.)

I don’t know that we’re going to be okay. Individually or collectively. We are under not one but… at least three existential threats I can count. But we can try despite everything to care about ourselves and each other through whatever comes — and that can be our true north, a star to chart the dark.

The things you see are real.

There is a toilet on fire in the living room.

I see it too.

It’s okay that you’re not okay.

And I hope we get to find moments where we are okay, and that we can take it, and hold it, and sustain it. And that we come out of this better than we were before. But it’s okay to be afraid that’s also not what’s going to happen, too. Whatever happens, we’re in this together. We can have a shared reality, a shared empathy. We can rage and scream and we can vote and we can do what we can and what we must to endure.

These are fucked up times.

It is normal to feel fucked up in response to them.

May you steal moments of peace from the jaws of chaos.

p.s. wear your fuckin’ masks for chrissakes

(This is based off a Twitter thread I did the other day that seemed to resonate, so I’m letting it live here, too, in a more blog-flavored format.)

* I used to think that our current reality is broken because of that weasel that fucked the Hadron Collider, but now I fear that Billy Joel pissed off a wizard somewhere and now he’s locked in a tower, forced to write increasingly horrible new verses to WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE that the wizard makes real with his shitty wizard magics. We need to find and free Billy Joel from the wizard trap! Before all of reality is doomed by his songsmithy! We’re coming, Billy Joel! Just hold on! Don’t write any more! For the love of god, Montressor, don’t try to rhyme anything to “gender-reveal forest-fire!” Wait no Billy Joel what are you writing oh god you’re writing SLENDERMAN WALRUS SPIRE what the fuck does that mean oh god oh shit oh fuck

120 responses to “You’re Not The Fucked Up One”

  1. If you’re not overwhelmed, you’re not paying attention.
    Thanks for writing that. I crawled out of a 4 year depression a couple years ago, and now feel like the rope I pulled myself out with is tied to that burning toilet.

  2. Hang in there, Chuck. I know I’m trying to. We just had an earthquake (4.1) last night (9/18) at around 11:30ish. All I’ll say is this: I hope 2020 rots in whatever hell there is! Good. I feel so much better. Although, yogurt sounds good right about now.

  3. I finally had enough and logged off Facebook and Twitter for the foreseeable future. Going to the gym every single morning before work and focusing on me, myself, and I. Selfish? Probably. But I decided to focus the rest of the year on the one thing I absolutely can control—me. And I’m voting for Jo Jorgensen because she has an actual platform that doesn’t involve simply trashing those other two geriatric yahoo candidates.

    • If this were any other election, I too would vote for Jorgensen. Or another reasonable third party candidate. But not now. Not this one. People’s lives are literally hanging in the balance, and we cannot afford to split the vote because right now the vote is between democracy and fascism.

      • This is what I’ve tried to get across to my friends who wanted Bernie. We need their vote. This isn’t the election to make a stand.I believe we do need a legitimate 3rd party and I will fight for that, in 2024.

      • If not now, when? How long do we have to keep waiting before we start changing what’s most screwed-up about our government…the people in office?

        • When Ranked Choice voting is a reality. Until then, there will only be a binary system. So if you want to bring a third party into the equation, you need to follow order of operations first otherwise you are absolutely wasting your vote.

          • No, far worse than wasting your vote. If you don’t vote for Biden, you are risking four more unbearable years. Your vote this year is for survival of the nation.

      • I’ve never agreed with that line of logic. A vote FOR a candidate is a vote FOR that candidate, someone you can throw your hat in the ring with and stand behind and feel good about supporting. No where on the ballot is there a box that says, “Please check below for the people you DON’T want in office.” I will always vote for the candidate whose values I most agree with. Having said that, I would never write someone’s name in who wasn’t on the ballot. But she is a legitimate candidate, seems serious about the job, and I feel she deserves a shot. Think about it—if enough people voted third party this year, what kind of message would that send?

        • I commented above on order of operations, but what your logic misses is the impact to marginalized communities that experience actual harm from the consequences of this election – myself being one of them. This isn’t a philosophical debate about what moral message you are sending. This is a very real debate about my body, my security, my equality, my path forward in society. Please don’t turn your back on people like me that suffer from prioritizing philosophy above reality.

        • The message it would send is that you don’t care about the people who will be hurt by a Trump administration, and you feel that YOU’LL be fine, but for everyone else, they can go to hell. It is literally impossible for the third party candidate to be elected. We are at present a two-party country, and to change that, you need third party candidates variegated throughout the political landscape — not starting at the top, but from the bottom. Or, at the very least, we need Ranked Choice voting, which barely exists here. If you actually have values, then they must be field-tested, not theoretical. Voting for a third party candidate is about theoretical values — it’s a symbolic gesture at best. But it is one with currently dire consequences, and I have no respect for it.

        • I’m with you, people should vote for what they believe in and not have to pick one of 2 bad choices. If enough people vote green or vote liberal, even if they don’t win, then it will push the democrats and the republicans running in that direction to try to capture the vote.


          Not this year. If Trump wins he isn’t going to care at all who you voted for. He’s not even going to acknowledge a third party that won the popular vote but lost the election. He’s going to continue. Biden is not a good choice. He’s in any year, a really bad choice. But Trump is worse. Not with climate change accelerating. Not with what he will do to immigration. Imagine he gets another pick or 2 at SCOTUS. Will he even run a 3rd time or declare himself Emperor Darth Trump?

          So, I am with you, just please not this year.
          Use your votes for what you believe in down ballot. State, City, Sherriff, School district. But please remove him from the presidency and remove his enablers from the Senate and Congress.
          Then in January 2021 start demanding your senators, members of congress and president fix this rigged 2 horse race.


        • “ Think about it—if enough people voted third party this year, what kind of message would that send?”

          Sure, but it’s not going to happen right now. And the electoral college doesn’t help.

          Imagine the reverse. In 2016, if Jill Stein’s supporters had voted for Hillary Clinton, she would have won Wisconsin. And that’s just one candidate in one state.

          If you are dedicated to the third-party vote, be sure to pay attention to which state you live in. If the results might be close, please rethink it.

  4. This describes with perfect accuracy how so many of us feel. I am fortunate to be able to walk my dog daily in a place that is both pretty and has ample room to social distance outside. Everyday we go past a group of shops. The day care teachers wear masks constantly. Outside in humid 90 degree weather leading a group of kids in a game, they’ve got their masks on. Respect. In the hair salon next door where the chairs are barely 6 feet apart I’ve yet to see one person wear a mask. It boggles the mind, but at least the day care gives me hope. As for the rest of the shit that’s going on, I fear that we may be truly fucked. I hope I’m wrong but if I’m not, with dedication and sacrifice we may be able to turn it around though the cost will be high. I worry about my kids and my grandchild’s future and the future of our country. We could have been – should have been – so much better than we are now.

  5. Good Zeus, this is perfect. I’ve had this entire thought process– well, minus the Slenderman Walrus Spire, because seriously, wth. But I’ll one-up you on the doctor’s office… mine was a surgeon AND his anesthesiologist. NEITHER OF THEM WERE WEARING MASKS and I had to tell them to put their masks on or they were not going to touch the insides of my body, thankyouverymuch. They told me “It’s safe here. We get tested.”

    Like hell.

  6. Laughed and cried at the same time…loved this! I too feel all this…like I’m in some bazzaro world 12-step program and I wanna shake everybody and wake them up! Find myself saying “stay strong”, “this too shall pass”, “pray for him/them/her”, “God grant me the serenity…”any serenity now days. Thank-you for writing this:-)

  7. I love this blog spool much! You seem to write what’s going on in my head, and after I read this I can write some sweet romance for someone else’s escapism. Circle of life stuff.

  8. OMG, please tell me again that we’re not the crazy ones!
    Even the American flag has changed on me-in my own neighborhood! How did that happen? It’s gone all blue-black and some of them say TRUMP-are we allowed to put a person’s name on the U.S. flag??
    It gives me a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach.

  9. For those who somehow interpreted this piece as a against both candidates, I am frightened for us, because of you. The toilet fire is completely a result of the current administration, with acquiescence of the GOP. I get it, Biden isn’t your dream candidate. He’s not mine either. But we cannot tolerate 4 more years of Trump and their hate-driven agenda A 3rd party will not win this election, period. You are throwing away your vote. We can reverse 4 years of damage. We will not survive another 4 years. Voting for a 3rd party cements that. And I put that responsibility on you. Vote this toilet fire out, then work with the new administration to make the changes you want to see. You are smart people, you obviously follow a thoughtful author, but your failure to see the direness of this election is alarming.

  10. Thanks Chuck, that did help a little.

    The problem for transgender people like me, is that you have to add “Scared out of our fucking minds b/c our lives and human rights are literally at the whim of people who understand nothing about us”.

    -sigh- And yet we will soldier on…

  11. I’m 68 years old, and this really spoke to me. I was a teenager in the Civil Rights era, but still didn’t understand what was going on (college helped that understanding). I lived through the Nixon era – he was an angel compared to this! I have my own family post scripture references and staunch Trump memes on the same day. What am I missing? I’ve called him “Don the Con” for decades! Holy crap…people are going crazy! I know it’s not me, but it is totally agonizing to watch this fiasco. Thank you for your words.

  12. Do I agree that we live in some unique times? Yes. Do we as a society need to come together? Sure. But that means truly embracing opinions that differ from yours or the most popular. I found this post because a friend shared it on Facebook. I thought a bit after I read this because she and her then best friend were the first people I had ever met in San Jose. In a little shop called D&J Hobby. Out of respect for her, her family and her friends, I will be as honest as I can in response to what I have read.

    Shit looks bad right now. My heart truly goes out to anyone feeling it right now. COVID’s got the world turned upside down. But consider this, would it have been any different if the hot sauce swillin’, country twangin’ yallin’ sure to win candidate had won? Probably not. People are assholes. It is our God given right. I know, I said the G word. That alone will cause many reading this to be triggered and be offended. That is your right, and I will respect that. Conversely, it is my right not to give a shit about you being offended. People don’t wear masks, not because of any policy or opinion a politician has. It is simply because people are assholes and they don’t want to. I mean sure we could make them, but then that’d a whole other can of bitchin’ best left on the shelf.

    We live in a world of shit because we made it a world of shit. There is true evil in the world. We see it in rape. We see it child murder. We see it all around us. But for all of that, there is goodness. We have to be wise enough to see it. There are people finding it hard enough to get through life without some faction telling them that they are some sort of sexually confused transmammalian iPhondroid TicTac or some vacuous personality spouting how they are changing the world by parroting the latest buzzwords. Looking at you Kardashians.

    There is no toilet on fire in my home. My family understands the value of peaceful discourse. We also dont mistake rioting and looting for discourse. I don’t care if people riot and tear up their own shit holes. They terrorize their own people for the latest social injustice. I don’t care about White Privilege. I don’t care about Black Lives Matter. I don’t care about Inclusion. I don’t care about End Racism. Put it this way, if someone with a badge tells you to put your goddam hands up, shut the fuck up and do it. All that lip wiggling can and will get you shot if CNN is to be believed. All of it are empty words and political taglines. None of it matters unless we respect ALL LIFE. That means black, white, whatever.

    Before anyone blames my illiterate racial tirade on my white American penis… I am brown, with a Filipina wife and Mexican children. Go fuck yourself and get over it.

    • I’m going to let this comment through moderation to remind people that this kind of thing does not fly — not racism, certainly not the transphobia on display here. There is no “coming together” with this kind of hateful bullshit, and you can take it as far the fuck away from here as you are able. And then take it even farther.

    • “Before anyone blames my illiterate racial tirade on my white American penis…”

      Can’t we just “blame it” on you being a semi-literate piece of shit, and skip the references to whiteness and penises? That’s what I did.

  13. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’m sorry I’m not the only one, but glad I’m in good company.

  14. When I was young, I lived in a commune (kind of like “The Vow” without the branding.) One of the best things I learned there was how to crochet during the Apocalypse.

  15. We all need to step back – ESPECIALLY FROM SOCIAL MEDIA – and know that progress in society waxes and wanes: It might take a long time, but progressivism (word?) always triumphs, and a little progress is still progress: Read “The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914” that describes all the advances politically, culturally, technologically, infrastructurally (word?) and medically made in Europe from 1814 to 1914, from feudalism to democracy, and “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think” and see verifiable global progress since 1800. Progress is a 2 steps forward, one step back, but it is progress. What might suck is that we’d be stuck for too long in one of the “1 step back” moments, but let’s work for and hope for the best!

  16. You actually made me laugh, instead of wanting to punch some idiot in the face or kick the television. Somehow, over the past 4 years, I’ve gone from being a calm, even-keeled pacifist to someone who has AT LEAST a deathwish a day (that’s a rather conservative estimate), especially for a Certain Personage. Edward Gorey’s Gashlycrumb Tinies have been endlessly inspiring in that pursuit. And then, of course, there are the run of the mill jerks you run across in (limited) travels around the “neighborhood” – it all adds up to one big frustrating and mystifying question: How did we get from pretty normal to absolutely crazy, and where were all these mean, moronic people before?? YOU are not crazy either.

  17. As someone who has watched her husband & 18 yr old son fall into the poisoned Cult45 chalice these past 2 years, thank you for the shared reality and shared empathy. I took my first deep breath in a while.

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