Birthday Apocalypse

Yesterday, I turned 36. I spent much of the day eating good food and playing Magic the Gathering: Arena. My partner and toddler made my day special. They usually do. We spent time in the backyard and went for a brief walk.

My partner got me a heavy bag so I could practice what limited kickboxing strikes I know and stay in shape. My mother-in-law sent me a $50 Amazon gift card. I also received a bunch of nice messages.

Aside from this blog, I didn’t do any writing.

Progress was slow on  Spider God this week, but I’m sure I’ll get back to it this week.

It’s been a time for reflection and pause.

Outside, the apocalypse continues. I can’t imagine doing this without an internet connection or alcohol. Supposedly, we’re going to reopen America, but the America we knew is gone. The world we knew is gone. I’m under no delusion things will be the same. My partner says the world is always changing, which is true, but this feels bigger and much scarier.

I’m tired and not okay, but at least I’m not alone.

 

 

Resilience of Routine

It’s 9 am, day I don’t even know of COVID-19 social distancing. I’m listening to my son play. My partner’s in the bedroom having virtual work meetings.

Last night, my buddy Nate Southard and I were interviewed for an episode of the Austin Outsiders podcast. We discussed favorite reads, weird Austin stories, and embarrassing moments from our pasts. Keep an ear out for the episode soon. I’ll probably post a link here when it goes up.

Afterward, I did a virtual watch-along of SLUGS with Austin Outsiders co-host Emily. She’d never seen it before, so it was fun to see her reactions. It’s a very silly movie and one of my favorites.

My kid woke up scared and crawled into bed with us. To make things easier on my partner, I moved upstairs to the couch.

I’m telling you all this, because they’re all things that would’ve happened regardless of the current situation in which we’ve found ourselves. Oh, sure, maybe we would’ve recorded the podcast and done the watch-along in-person under different circumstances. Otherwise though, I feel a sense of routine returning to my life. I’m adapting to this new normal, however horrifying.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still anxious as hell. I’m still frustrated and sad. Scared.

But people are resilient. am resilient.

This may be the end of the world. If it is, I’m going down swinging.

Book Review: DEAD INSIDE by Chandler Morrison

dead inside cover
I used to work as a 9-1-1 operator and let me tell you: my coworkers, in particular, the ones who’d been there a long time had the darkest senses of humor. If they didn’t laugh at the horrible shit they heard about on a daily basis, they’d go absolutely mad.

My mother used to be a lawyer who exclusively handled cases involving abused women. This type of work led her to stop watching violent movies and she no longer laughed at black humor.

Neither my former coworkers, nor my mother are wrong. My former coworkers are not insensitive, and my mother is not a “snowflake.” We all deal with life’s nightmarish qualities in our own ways.

We all have our own coping mechanisms for the apocalypse.

Some of us need experience trauma within the pages of a book or in a film or in a song. Such an act can take the power away from real world horrors. As a lifelong horror fan, I know all about that.

This brings me to DEAD INSIDE by Chandler Morrison. You know the book. It’s the one that caused quite a stir at Bizarro Con in early 2019 after its author performed one of its shocking scenes.

People have written and talked about that particular event at length. This post isn’t about that. This post is about the novel.

And let me tell you: For those of us who need to feel the fullness of the world’s horror and absurdity in the pages of a book, meet your new favorite read.

This is not an easy read. Often, I had to stop in order to catch my breath. It’s got a sense of humor as black as Texas crude. It’s got gross-out moments which would make even the most seasoned fans of extreme horror blush. There are sex scenes to make you feel at once aroused and disgusted.

More than anything, though, DEAD INSIDE has a tremendous amount of heart. These characters, abhorrent at first glance, are tragic figures. One has lived with his monstrousness all his life and doesn’t know how to face actual love. The other became a monster after facing intense childhood trauma and, despite occasionally wishing she could, she never looks back.

I don’t want to say much else. This is not the sort of book you want to spoil, so I’ll close with three comments:

First, context is king and even that infamous scene has a purpose in the novel’s narrative. So much hinges on that moment, the story couldn’t exist without it. It is the opposite of gratuitous.

Second, my God, does Chandler know how to end a story. Both DEAD INSIDE and UNTIL THE SUN left me screaming for more. He sets it up so you should see it coming, but he’s so clever, you won’t.

Last, I’m not an asshole. This book is not for everyone. We all deal with our apocalypse in different ways. If you’re like me, and you rely on dark fiction for catharsis, grab DEAD INSIDE now, and prepare to revel in the ways it will hurt you.

Dumbest Apocalypse Ever

So, multiple states decided to exempt churches from shelter-in-place orders enacted as a result of the Coronavirus.

I’m not a religious person. “Spiritual” is probably a more apt descriptor of me, but that word’s been cheapened in recent years. That said, I’m not going to go on a tirade about how religion is poison and the Bible is a fairy tale. I’m not sure I feel that way. In fact, when I stayed in a psychiatric hospital for a long weekend, I saw how religion really gives hope to addicts and the mentally ill. Attempting to take that away from them like most militant atheists try to do seems needlessly cruel.

What bothers me almost as much as how attending religious services in person puts the most vulnerable among us in danger is the defense used by some of these religious types.

Their logic stems from the belief that the blood of Jesus will protect them. I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds like a case of putting God to the test, which Matthew 4:7 explicitly warns against.

So, I dunno, maybe listen to your own scripture and stop endangering people, ya jerks!