I’ve been rage donating all weekend. Yeah, it’s a thing. And this time, the jukebox in my head has been playing Bananarama’s 1984 hit “Cruel Summer” on an endless loop in my head. You don’t need me to regurgitate the events of the last few weeks, or maybe you do, because some of you will read this about 10 days after I write it, and in 2020, 10 days is the equivalent of 652.57 years.
We are just beginning to be able to see the damage to and near my old hometown because of the wildfires (which I blogged about here). Other friends in Oregon finally had their evacuation orders lifted, but a lot of friends and acquaintances all over the state lost everything. I haven’t heard from all of my California friends who have been near their wildfires, the ones sending literal plumes of smoke into Las Vegas.
I have been remiss on checking with my Florida friends. I know most made it through Hurricane Laura with only (only! Jeez) a massive power outage, but I don’t know how they made it through Hurricane Sally, and I need to check in.
I heard from other friends who’ve suffered strokes, the loss of a child, car accidents, and heart attacks, not to mention the friends who’ve been down with COVID. And that doesn’t even count what has happened in the national news in the past month.
Yes, I’m emotionally tired, but I hit a last straw over the weekend of 9/19, and I found my inner rage, which is actually a much more comfortable place for me. I can do anger. I suck at acceptance.
Hence the rage donating. I’ve been feeling helpless, as I know many of you have as well, and I realized that the one thing I do have at the moment (unlike so many other people) is extra money. Money I’m not spending on leisure activities.
So I decided to give to political causes (I’ll spare you the details) and to my old hometown and to some fire-related charities.
I really wanted to give specifically to individual locations, which isn’t possible with some of the big national charities. So I dug into local newspapers and websites, searching for the right places to donate. A friend heads one of the major charity organizations in my old hometown, and when I asked her where to give, she listed a place that doesn’t even have a donation button on its website.
The digging made me see a lot of things I would have normally missed—who is moving where, who lost what, who no longer has a job—not to mention what the devastation looks like.
When I let my friend know that there was no monetary donation site for my old hometown, she promised to let me know as soon “as one got organized.” Because people are truly dealing with survival right now.
And not just people who have lost everything.
There are a lot of good-hearted folks who are working food banks and donation centers, making certain that people have a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. Making sure their animals are found and taken care of. Making sure they have masks and can manage to social distance somehow, in the midst of all of this.
There are the workers who are doing everything from delivering food and groceries to cleaning buildings. The healthcare workers who are literally putting their own health on the line to make sure people survive the dread disease (or other dread diseases). The first responders who never quit know what kind of situation they’re going to get into.
The firefighters who have flown in from parts far away to help contain fires, and stop those fires from destroying more than they already have. The people with boats who’ve been rescuing people in the Gulf during the hurricanes, getting them out of flooded homes.
And on, and on, and on.
Meanwhile, people nearby, people in those communities, people who evacuated or who lost power or who find that they can’t breathe because of the smoke-filled air, those people are managing their grief and fear as best they can.
All of them—every single one—needs comfort. They also need an escape.
Because 2020 has been a hell of a wretched year, many of our escapes are not available. Live music, gathering for a good meal, hugging friends—not options.
But if you actually look at how people are taking comfort—they’re reaching out to each other with fictional memes and reminders, to help us all buck-up.
My friends in the Northwest all adopted a system developed by the National Weather Service in Spokane for describing air quality—using Middle Earth. (Apparently, Western Oregon was full-on Mordor for more than a week.)
I’ve heard more than one person say that they’ve been using the post-apocalyptic novels they’ve read to help them negotiate 2020. Whether those novels helped them remember to be a bit more pro-active, a little bit heroic, or whether those novels taught them that the human race is pretty damn resilient, doesn’t matter as much as the fact that they’re using books to keep themselves going.
Stories are how we learn. They’re also how we relax. They’re how we rest.
And yes, they’re how we find comfort.
I was going to write a long post about the business side of this, about going wide and about making sure that your books are everywhere.
But honestly, as I wrote this, I finally found the donation site I’ve been looking for, so I’m going to do some more rage donating, figuring I can stem some of the tide of 2020 misery with a few carefully placed dollars.
I hope you’re making it through this god-awful year with a minimum of trauma. If so, please keep writing. It’s fiction that sustains us, gives us touchstones, and yes, keeps us sane
So write more. Read some. Rest.
We will get through this—someday.
“Business Musings: Comfort,” copyright © 2020 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Image at the top of the blog copyright © Can Stock Photo / andrewgenn.