Things I Am Thankful For, 2021 Edition
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United States, and while I think a lot of people these days see that holiday mostly as a turkey-spangled speedbump in front of the unstoppable juggernaut that is Christmas, I do think it’s useful to take a moment and reflect on the things that one has to be thankful for, especially over the course of the year. So here are things I’m thankful for, here in 2021.
I’m thankful for Joe Biden. Not in a creepy, “this is my man and I will follow him unto death” sort of way, because, come on, no one thinks about Joe Biden that way, possibly not even his dog. I’m thankful for him in the sense that for ten months now I haven’t felt a sickness in my gut wondering what damn fool, possibly unconstitutional, definitely self-centering thing our president is doing today. I can in fact go entire days not thinking about Joe Biden, which honestly is both refreshing after the previous four years, and should be my right as an American, with regard to the President of the United States.
Biden’s not perfect by any stretch, and clearly his current approval ratings are, uhhhhh, not great. That said, he is performing pretty much to my expectations, and as well as he can, considering the 50 Democratic senators he has for his majority are actually 48 Democratic senators, one clearly-a-Republican-but-pretending-to-be-a-Democrat-for-lulz, and one chaos agent, considering the opposing political party has lost its mind and would rather burn the country to the ground than do anything useful, and considering that, like every other Democratic president in recent memory, Biden’s first job out of the gate was dealing with all the disasters and time bombs the previous administration left behind. One works with what one has, and Biden’s doing all right with that. Even if he wasn’t, he’s still better than what we had. Thanks for letting me not think about you, President Biden. I surely appreciate it.
I’m thankful I wrote a novel this year. And a novella too, actually, but the novel was, career-wise, a smidge more important. 2020 was a bust on the novel-writing front, for various reasons, mostly relating to the fact that reality was continually pulling focus on me, and the fact that the novel I was trying to write last year was meant to be a bit grim and cynical, and 2020 wasn’t the year to write grim and cynical (or at least, it wasn’t the year for me to write it). So to be able to turn around from that disaster scenario and write a novel that’s a) really fun, b) that I really like, c) and that my publisher is pretty damn happy with too, was, bluntly, a massive fucking relief. There are other reasons to be thankful about it on the practical side of things (i.e., this is how I make my money, and I need money, because we live in a capitalist society, and also, I do ill-advised things like buy six-necked guitars), but mostly, I was just happy that after a year of grinding gears, creatively, 2021 saw me back on track in a big way. Related:
I’m thankful I didn’t release a novel this year. Fun fact: the novel I was writing in 2020 was supposed to be out this last October, and Kaiju was written quickly enough that Tor could have, in fact, slotted it into that release date. Instead, Tor looked at the publishing landscape of 2021 and said to itself yeeeeeeeah, let’s not, and bumped Kaiju into 2022 instead. Which was good! We’ve had more time to plot and plan for the release, and also, hey, you know that “supply chain” issue this year? It’s been particularly bad for publishing, and October was especially a not good month on that score. We dodged an actual bullet on that one, and didn’t make life worse for the authors who did have books out this October by fighting them for, like, paper. Also, hopefully by March we may be able to do in-store events and have a live-action book tour and all of that good stuff.
To be clear, in a perfect world I would have had a novel out in 2021, consistent with the plan to have a novel out every year to keep readers happy. But, well [motions to the imperfect world]. Given everything, waiting made sense. And Kaiju, I think, will be worth the wait for most of you.
I’m thankful for the COVID vaccines. In both the case of the initial set of vaccines and then with the booster, I signed up to get them as early as humanly possible because, I don’t know if you know this, but COVID-19 is a novel virus that is highly transmissible, kills a lot of people it infects — 775,000 in the US to date — and leaves lots of the people who survive the infection with long-term debilitations. It’s bad! And if you get the vaccines, not only does your chance of initial infection go down by a significant multiple, if you do get it, the chance of requiring hospitalization for it goes down by an even more significant multiple and the chances of dying from it go down by an even more significant multiple still. This is just basic math. I got vaccinated and boosted. So did my family.
I’m deeply thankful my family is now highly unlikely to die or be significantly debilitated from this now easily-preventable viral infection that is still killing thousands each week, those deaths now almost exclusively concentrated among people who will not take a safe and effective vaccine because people who should have known better made avoiding a horrible fucking disease and looking out for others by not being an active vector of infection a political litmus test, and counted on their supporters’ ignorance and tribal inclinations to weaponize those positions. “Be willing to get sick and possibly die to own the libs” is no way to go through life, and as it happens, at least some of those who chose that route won’t get through it.
Anyway, get vaccinated if you can, y’all. I’m thankful I did. You’ll be thankful you did, too.
I’m thankful we got a dog. Because Charlie’s cute, and a little bit of canine chaos in the house is fun. Well, mostly. She can be exasperating sometimes too, but honestly, that can be said about any of us, can it not. I do continue to be thankful for my cats, too, just to be clear. It’s not a contest. Don’t make it a contest! We love all our pets.
I’m thankful I got to see friends and go out into the world again this year. From March 2020 to June 2021, I went no further than about 25 miles from my house and saw almost no one in person who wasn’t family or an immediate neighbor. It wasn’t horrible, but even for an introvert like me, it got to be a little much. But then we got vaccinated! And friends got vaccinated! And the chance we would accidentally kill or debilitate our pals by giving them a hug went down considerably! Also, events started to happen again, because sensible “mask and vaxx” policies became a thing. And now I have a real world social life and an appearance schedule again. I appreciate it and don’t take it for granted. It’s nice to actually see friends, you know?
I’m thankful for the usual things too. A family that I love, who is mostly happy and mostly healthy. A job I like and a house that’s nice to live in. That I am doing well enough that I can buy silly guitars. That I just get to live and not worry about my own circumstances most days. All of these things are good, and I don’t want to elide them to note the stuff I have above. So, here they are.
These are (some of) the things I’m thankful for, here in 2021, coming into Thanksgiving and the holiday season. I hope that there are things you feel thankful this year as well.