I'm Not Dead
I'm just a little underwhelming right now
Things have been sparse around here lately. The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. The problem is just that I haven’t gotten much quality time in front of a computer lately.
I have a good reason. Please allow me to explain.
As I’ve written about in this space over the past year, there’s been a lot of adjustment and healing that I’ve had to do over the past couple of years. Hitting a brick wall at 120MPH when it came to my lifelong faith was a huge part of that, but my personal deconstruction has gone down a lot of unexpected and sometimes even deeper paths, and as anyone who has done it knows, the process can be very messy. I had, and probably still have, a lot of childhood issues to address, and I think many of these were hidden beneath the façade of faith and its attendant duties, along with a desire to retain a functional working relationship with my parents and family.
As I alluded to in a previous post, that all went tits up last summer. The short version of what happened is that our oldest married a really low-quality guy over our objections — not just an “I don’t like him” guy, but a “he was sentenced to a year of jail and two more of probation on a felony breaking and entering into my home after threatening my wife and our daughter still stayed with him” guy — and my parents and siblings supported the marriage even though the guy’s criminal history is just the beginning of the red flags I shared with them. We’re worried about our daughter and what she’s gotten herself into, and the bottom line is that they disregarded our concerns, undermined the principled stand we made out of love and a desire to protect her, and, as a friend of mine put it, “laundered our approval” — tacitly replacing us as the family that would accept the unacceptable.
This led to a whole bunch of people who are related to one another not being on speaking terms anymore, and essentially altered the course of my life, and those of my wife and children, forever. I’m not here today to litigate this issue in public, only to give a brief explanation and move on. I was vague in the past because of course it’s deeply personal, but because of its central and destabilizing role in my life, I think this a demon that bears at least some cursory exorcizing, just as the emotionally abusive environment I grew up in does when it comes to my attempts to become a better man, and to recognize the damage I’ve done by repeating this behavior, especially with this oldest child. As I tried explaining to my parents when we were still talking, I can’t fix me if I can’t acknowledge how I got this way.
In any case, I’ve got a long habit of protecting the people who have caused me the most pain out of some screwed up sense of loyalty, and it was costing me too much. My ability to do that is wearing very thin. What happened back in July was the culmination of years of insufferable family drama, much of it unresolved. And if I can’t work it out with the people in question, I’ve just got to patch the holes the best I can, and move on.
It’s time to do exactly that.
Part of moving on, for us, was realizing that the move we made to New England last October was a mistake. In hindsight, I can see that I was attempting to escape from the implosion of my faith and the social sphere I’d built around that after the fallout at my parish last year. I didn’t want to be around not just the people who had judged us for standing up to our “pastor,” but those who could only see me through the lens of being a major Catholic commentator. I still don’t know how to get people who’ve known me as a Catholic for decades to see or accept me as an agnostic today. Those conversations are painfully awkward, and my own reticence over being made uncomfortable tends to make me irritable and cranky. I don’t want to explain over and over why it doesn’t make sense to me anymore, and I’m still angry enough about feeling used and brainwashed by the Church that I have to actively avoid resorting to my acid tongue. I really like and respect some of these people. I don’t want to alienate them, but I also don’t want to feel pitied by them, as though the only way I could have reached the place where I am is by means of some defect in myself. Like I’m just emoting, and not thinking any of this through.
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The second realization about our move, which was even more subconscious, was that I was also running towards nostalgia when I headed to New England. Most of my happiest memories from my childhood took place there, and it seems likely that I was trying to recapture that, and share it with my own children. The feeling of nostalgia I had was incredibly strong, but the reality didn’t measure up. We were isolated, unhappy with where we chose to live, and felt that we never fit in. It was, in many respects, a wonderful mistake. We got to see and experience a bunch of very enjoyable things, but after about 9 months of spinning our wheels trying to find our place there, we realized that we didn’t fit in, and that we’d left everything we needed behind in Arizona. The fallout with family meant there was no reason to be within a day’s drive of our relatives on the East Coast. Homeschooling wasn’t working, and although we’d done well with some of our real estate investments, with me no longer running my publication, we needed a new source of regular income while our kids went back to school for the first time since before the pandemic.
So in August, we bit the bullet and quietly moved back to Scottsdale so we could pick up the pieces of our life and started putting things back in order. Now we’ve got six kids back in school, and doing well. With me working through all this mid-life stuff, I haven’t been in a good place to focus enough time and energy on building up new content channels for fun and profit, as my sporadic writing here has proven. Instead, we’ve been putting a lot of effort into re-establishing our longstanding real estate business. My wife has been a Realtor for over 18 years, and holds a broker’s license in four states. She was less active in the years I was running 1P5 full time, so we had a bit of rust to shake off — we needed a website redesign, new marketing collateral, new platforms and systems, and new partners. I do a lot of the back-end technical, design, and marketing work for her, and it’s kept me rather busy. We also have a very rambunctious 16 month old, who is a veritable tornado of destruction. While Jamie is out meeting with vendors and clients, I’m chasing him around the house as he destroys…everything, all while we try to gradually get moved in to a place that’s quite a bit smaller than the house we just moved out of. We’re swimming in a sea of unpacked boxes and furniture that won’t fit, downsizing one little bit at a time. If I were playing original Doom, the difficulty level on everything we’re trying to accomplish right now would be set at, “hurt me plenty.”
But it sure beats sitting around in a daze, unable to do anything because your world just fell apart. We’ve got actual stuff to do, and we’re doing it, day by day. It’s not just aimless and angsty up in here.
Suffice to say, I don’t have, at this phase of our life reconstruction, a lot of uninterrupted time to write. In fact, with the baby finally down for his nap this morning, I sat down to take a crack at this, only to have him wake up and start crying before I made it past the third paragraph. Every week I think I’m going to crank a piece out, only to realize with an involuntary shudder that it’s somehow the weekend again and I’ve missed my chance.
C’est la vie.
The good news is that I’m feeling much more like…well, not my old self, because so much about me has changed. But like my “normal” self, if there is such a thing. The random bouts of unexpected grief over all that has been lost have mostly subsided. My interest level in topics I’d like to write and make videos about has risen significantly. I no longer feel like I’m constantly fighting off a lingering case of depression that saps me of my ability to make or do things. If I was in a dark tunnel heading towards the light for most of the past year, I’m not quite out into the open, but it’s only a few car lengths ahead, and I’m hitting the gas.
The most frustrating thing is not being able to get to everything. I haven’t figured out how to squeeze six-hours-at-a-o writing sprints into that, to say nothing of research. There’s a lot to talk about, too, especially on the UFO front. Sightings are ramping up, and Congress is due for another report on UFO activity by the end of the month. For my part, I have a growing suspicion that there really is crossover between the traditional understanding of entities like demons and the kind of scientifically-measurable-but-still-elusive phenomena that are going on at Skinwalker Ranch, which also happens to be a UFO hotspot. And I am going to write about it.
So to sum up: this post is to tell you that my writing here will continue to be sporadic for a bit, at least until we get all our new business systems in place and running properly and new clients in the pipeline on the real estate side. It’s of course a bit of an awkward time for that business, what with interest rates and overinflated market prices, but there are still people buying and selling homes, and we’re here to work with them on making it happen.
I thought about pausing all paid subscriptions until I can contribute more regularly here, but some of you have expressed to me that you’re not concerned about that, so I’ll leave it up to you if you want to keep on. I’ll still be writing here and there, I just can’t promise anything like a regular schedule just yet. I’m excited about the weird and interesting and fun things we have to talk about. I mean, they’ve come up with a crazy underground lab designed to capture particles of dark matter, this year’s Nobel prize winners in physics have sought to prove that the universe is not locally real, and there were UFOs spotted popping in and out of the airspace over the Vatican — the crossover we’ve all been waiting for!
I’ll be doing as much research as I can on this kind of stuff during my in-between-busy moments so I have more to discuss when I do have time to write.
Thanks to all of you who’ve stuck around despite my inconsistency. I’m glad you’re here. But the toddler is chucking things from my bin of computer parts all over the floor now, so I really have to go.