Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous, Thinking Thoughts on a Thursday

2020 – What the hell was that?

As a self-imposed tradition, I have at the end of each year done a series of posts called For the Geek in me 20XX was awesome. This was further split into three sub-catergories of Movies, Comics and TV, my holy trinity of pop-culture interests. I had planned to do the same this year, but then I realised something, I have been the cinema once this year and have bought precisely one newly produced comic this year. So I wanted to do something a little different and just look at the year in general, rather than look at it solely through a pop culture lense. Kind of hard to do when the world is looking more and more dystopian as things go along.

January was as always a cold and long month, with being paid before X-Mas the paycheque has to go a little further than normal an it can be a tight period, so you tend to go out and to do less. The news was about the horrific wildfires in Australia and over in the states there was impeachment proceedings for Trump and our PM fresh from a snap election victory moved towards Brexit with enthusiasm which didn’t match his capability. February came and went with it’s usual mix of cold and miserable and when March began all the shit hit the fan.

The Corona virus first seen in the Wuhan area of China started spreading overseas at a drastic rate and One by one, many countries in Europe started to go into an enforced lockdown and in late March, so did England. Schools closed, non-essential shops, restaurants, hair and beauty places, venues and airports all closed down immediately. Food shops and financial services remained open, which meant that while the MIGHTY Rosie and SuperSam stayed at home, I went into work as usual.

Work became more difficult than ever before with financial assistance being a really bit thing and this affected my job on a huge scale. It hasn’t really let up since and it is now 9 months later, but I digress. So many people were trapped at home, online sales of food went up since no one dared go outside, we had online pub quizzes, lots of facetime/zoom meetings and we all went out and clapped for the NHS once a week as they manned the front lines as the number of Corona virus (or Covid) sky rocketed. Thousands infected and hundreds dying as NHS workers were compelled to put anyone over a particular age as DNR (do not resucitate) meaning so many more died. People worked from home and we all sort of just watched the news waiting for something positive to start happening.

I don’t know if the Black Lives Matter movement was that, but it certainly saw the majority of the western world acknowledge the disparity in the way people of colour were treated by police compared to white people and it was upsetting viewing as the need for change was highlighted, as was the violence that stemmed from clashes between police and protesters. It was a moment in history and they never seem to be pleasant things at the time.

In the summer, the rise in cases seemed to slow down and restrictions lifted somewhat, some restaurants opened, some non-essential shops did and there was talk about schools opening, giving hw hard this lockdown had been on SuperSam and the MIGHTY Rosie, this was reason to feel optimistic. But that optimism wouldn’t really last.

In September the team added a new member (joining me, Giselle and Disney Princes) is CheekyMrsJ who has the filthiest sense of humour of any woman I know with the clear exception of the MIGHTY Rosie. She has also suffered with her mental health and more than that isn’t mine to tell. Between her humour and history we had enough common ground to get on and have become good work-friends in the last three months. There has been also inter-departmental strife over the recent furlough and job retention scheme shenannigans and more than a couple of times were there have been tellings off, including complaints to the directors regarding management. But in that there were victories. After years of animosity, myself and Gisele have got to a good place and we made the complaint together. In the end little came of it, but we stood up for ourselves and one another and I see that as a victory.

Also in September, SuperSam went back to school and got new teachers, new restrictions, but seemed to be having a better time and that lasted a few weeks, but with a greater sense of isolation and a little bit of bullying, we have had to deal with some old problems, but there were staff at school that helped and he ended the term in a much better place.

After a couple of weekends away fell to Covid, we planned to take advantage of the lessening of restrictions to book a week away at Christmas to a cottage in the west-f***ing-nowhere section of Wales, with a long year already we felt we needed a win for the end of the year and could relax and enjoy from a distance the theatrical fiasco that was the 2020 US election. It did not disappoint. There was a high voter turn out, despite covid having killed over 250,000 americans, there was a lot of mail-in voting and so many accusations of fraud and bad-faith actions on both sides. Ultimately the incumbent was defeated and after 4 long years, Donald Trump was beaten, not that he accepted or conceded this fact. There was lawsuits, unsubstantiated accusations and twitter tantrums and some of this is still going on. But the outcome is clear the 70+ old man with a questionable record with women that wasn’t Trump won. I mean congratulations to Joe Biden and his running mate/former rival Kamala Harris and it’s great to see the end of Trump’s reign, but things over there are going to get worse before they get better and I don’t think better will be much better, but I will be glad to see him leave the White House or be dragged out.

Work got harder, the rules kept changing and Christmas seemed both so far away and also appearing out of nowhere, we were going away, then we weren’t and then came a second lockdown and when it ended there was mass-testing and even a period when SuperSam’s school finished for a fortnight over a couple of cases in his school year. It was okay though, because no matter what we had a couple of weeks off together. Then on Thursday 17 December we learned that we were on, a  week in the countryside, no neighbours and no work related stress. We started panic-packing and getting things ready to spend Christmas away from home and then 2 days later it was completely cancelled. So with few gifts for one another (the holiday was the main present) and no great amout of food in the house we were faced with a lacklustre Christmas period.

But we didn’t get that, we had time with each other, time with my parents, time with her sister and her kids and lots of time together and ultimately it was one of our better X-Mas periods and now as I write this, we are near the end of 2020.

The reason I wanted to write something was that I was looking at my FaceBook feed and it shows you the stuff you wrote in previous years and most of mine for today pointed out how I was looking forward to a better year and it seems that this better year never actually happened. Maybe it’s time to look back at the positives of the year rather than the crapfest that 2020 so with that it’s time to find your 5.

1: I finally sorted my teeth out, at least getting the bad ones removed, a task I have procrastinated for a decade.

2: After several visits we were able to sort LoopyLottie’s tail and our dog is happier for it, no longer being in pain with it has made walking her easier and her training is going better?

3: Work has been better, not easier, but having another person there has made a difference and the whole vibe of the office is better than it ever was and when I had management problems I was able to deal with it in a better manner than I have before.

4: This  has been a bit of a crucible year, burning off all the unnecessary bits and forging tighter bonds inside our family. I feel closer to the MIGHTY Rosie than I have in a while and that’s helped deal with many of the challenges that we have faced this year.

5: I made it, after my relapse last May I have had many concerns that my depression and anxiety would flare up and cause many problems as mental health problems have been exacerbated by the lockdown and the endless Doomscrolling. But it hasn’t. Have I struggled? Yes, buy hasn’t everyone? Haven’t you internet people? But we got here. Not all of us and not easily, but we did. I still have all of the things I need, I have my family and my job, meaning a roof over my head. I have had 4 or so covid tests as part of the city’s mass-testing and all clear each time. This could have gone so differently,  but I got where I wanted to get to, safe at home with those who love me and whom I love.

 

In closing dear people, this rant/ramble was a way of saying that it’s going to be alright. Vaccines have been developed (maybe a good thing, maybe not) and I genuinely believe we will get through this. I do, because as bad as 2020 was, it could have been worse and there were some shining moments, I have seen smiles, laughter rainbows and the simple joy of a 10 year old at Christmas. It’s been a rough year, but after having a few of them already, I thing I am going to get through this one too. The important thing to remember is although we are socially distant from one another, we are not alone. We have overcome miraculous odds just to get this far and we are not giving up yet.

I think the reason we do the new year/new me thing is that this time of year gives us a chance to start again, to write a new tale in the new year. Maybe our resolutions and goals pan out, maybe they don’t but let us try.

The words I have ingrained into my boy about adversity are two fold. One is that you always get back up. The other is The only time you ever fail is when you give up, everything else is a set-back.

This is going to be a HAPPY new year and if it isn’t, I’m going to make it one.

Who’s with me?

Posted in TV Stuff

5 Christmas Episodes

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat. Well after living under restrictions, all weekends indoors and stress eating, goose isn’t alone. But at this time of year, I like that there is so much available in regards to TV 📺 and film 📼

With the season upon us, I wanted to look at TV episodes that aren’t Christmas specials, but have Christmas at the heart of them.

Justice League: Comfort & Joy

Season 2: Episode 23 – Airdate 13th December 2003

This is the only stand-alone episodes of the excellent Justice League series and is made up of a series of vignettes starring pairs of Justice League characters. Green Lantern and Hawkgirl show each other their Christmas traditions, Superman takes Martian Manhunter home to enjoy a traditional Kansas holiday season and the Flash battles and  then teams up with the Ultra Humanite to make Christmas for some orphans. Is it a little sentimental? A bit simplistic? Emotionally manipulative? All three are a yes, but most good Christmas fare is. It is charming and plays to each character’s strengths and makes it either a great Christmas episode, or part of a whole series rewatch equally well.

Smallville: Lexmas

Season 5: Episode 9 – Airdate 8th December 2005

After arranging a shady deal, Lex Luthor is shot and lies near death. Clark Kent and his friend Chloe help deliver presents as during his coma Lex hallucinates a life he could live if he abandoned his pursuit of power. It’s a bit ‘It’s a wonderful life’ and of course the lessons he could learn are completely ignored since we know any redemption he could experience must pass him by as he is destined to be a villain, but it’s an interesting character study of a villain before he becomes that villain and it all takes place around Christmas which reinforces the parallels with the earlier mentioned Christmas film.

Community: Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas

Season 2: Episode 11 – Airdate 9th December 2010

This is the most recent one, yet also the most whacky and deep one. Distraught over his mother choosing her new family over her Christmas tradition with him, Abed goes off the rails and perceives the whole world as claymation. Acting as though he is in his own Christmas special Abed’s behaviour grows more and more bizarre and outlandish and his friends/study group band together along with Greendale’s psychology teacher try to endure a guided meditation/therapy session to help Abed find some kind of peace. The claymation makes this a bizarre episode playing to the show’s off-kilter sensibilities while removing anything remotely resembling reality. In the end it has something to say about the meaning of Christmas, but never leaves you in doubt of the silliness of the whole experience.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Amends

Season 3: Episode 10 – Airdate 15th December 1998

As Christmas approaches, Angel is having nightmares and hallucinations over his victims, both over his first 150 years as a vampire and his recent reversion to Angelus and it’s driving him mad. He seeks help from his at the time ex-girlfriend Buffy as well as her mentor Giles (whom he had horrifically tortured 9 months earlier) and it brings up all kinds of feelings about Angel’s past, his culpability in these actions after his soul had been restored and how much of it was caused by a malevolent being knowns as the First Evil who wants to lose his soul again and since that’d be caused by sex with his girlfriend, Angel wants this two and as he seeks to kill himself to save everyone from his own weakness, a Christmas miracle prevents it. It’s another great look at how redemption is an ongoing process and that being a good person isn’t easy, especially when what people remember is the evil you have done as well.

Bones: The Man in the Fallout Shelter

Season 1: Episode 9 – Airdate 13th December 2005

The guy who played Angel (David Boreanaz) returns to the screen as Seely Booth in this cracking little police procedural which put science alongside silliness to make a show unique at the time. In this episode the medico-legal lab at the Jeffersonian Institute is quarantined after a toxin is found in the bones of a body found in a fallout shelter. The worst thing is this happens at Christmas and the whole team including series leads FBI Agent Booth, and Forensic Anthropologist Dr Temperance Brennan are trapped at work and kept from their families and friends. The solve the case and find the lover of the victim, who has gone 50 years not knowing what happened to him. We also learn of Zach’s large family, Angela’s dad being in ZZ Top and Booth’s son Parker and we get to see more of the team as people rather than their jobs and it’s a touching character piece that had me invested enough to watch another 9 seasons. I think maybe starting a re-watch of Bones may be in my future.

Well that was my five, certainly among my favourites as they highlight how Christmas means different things to different people, but means something to a great many of us.

I don’t know if I am going to post before the new year, but certainly not before Christmas Day itself, so take care of yourselves internet people, take care of one another. The thing that Christmas means to me, isn’t presents, isn’t big meals and silly jumpers. What this time means to me is that in the darkest and coldest time of the year, we display the warmth in our hearts and share that with anyone we see. We wish one another well, we do secret santas, we give bigger tips and try just a bit harder to be nicer to one another. Isn’t that a nice thing, to be the light in the darkness that we all need to see. In this darkest of years, we need all the light we can get.

Thankyou internet people, for everything, because if you are reading this, you have helped me and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a New Year that is better than we have had this one. If Christmas isn’t your thing, then greetings for whatever festivities you do observe. Take care

Ta ta for now.