Are These ‘My’ People? Am I ‘Theirs’?

Dearest Rachel –

So, last night was spent online with the group of VIP chatters from PJMedia. It’s another of my many efforts to kickstart a social life, now that mine no longer revolves around you, what with you being gone and all that. The strange thing is, I didn’t get involved in it for that purpose, because you were aware of it, and even participated in it, however briefly.

A word of warning; this letter is going to get a bit political, and it’s by design. The group I hung out with is coalesced around a news organization that at least has the decency to acknowledge its bias. Indeed, that’s part of its selling point; a reminder that those of us with a certain political bent are not, in fact, alone in the middle of a world and culture that despises us and wishes we were not polluting the earth with our presence.

I honestly don’t know how it all started. For all I know, it may have begun with our second trip to Israel, and the surprising realization that our tour guide (as well as the organization he worked for) were enthusiastic supporters of the fellow I’ll refer to as the Bad Orange Man. For our part, you’ll recall that we were not at the time – we thought of him as an egotistical blowhard, one who could most charitably be described by Abe Lincoln’s assessment of his Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, as “a good man, but whose theology is flawed; he believes there is a fourth Member of the Trinity” – but he had the virtue of being better than Hillary. I don’t know if it was through the tour organization, but we and users are never informed as to the byzantine ways of how our emails are sold. Regardless, I began receiving newsletters from various news organizations, and occasionally, I would look into the stories. It was from them that I learned about the Abraham accords, and understood why Israelis appreciated the man.

Since at the time, I still harbored aspirations of becoming a voice actor in my own animation web channel, I would practice my reading voice by reading some of the articles to you and Daniel. In particular, we all seemed to enjoy several regular columns such as Insanity Wrap and Florida Man Friday, but I would read meatier articles as well from time to time.

Then the pandemic hit, and there was a little more to do but read and watch stuff. So we got into this a little further over time, and began to tilt ever so slightly towards the right. Eventually, I decided to subscribe to the service – with your knowledge and permission, of course – and dipped my toe into the community of subscribed readers

One of the things they had going for the subscribers was something that had started during the pandemic, where several of the writers would get together in an online video call – they would discuss the issues of the day (or, rather, the week, since it was a weekly affair), while subscribers could text them – and each other – throughout the several hour long session. I’d attended a couple of these while at the ‘office,’ and introduced you you to the concept while you were there one week when it was going on. The following week, you logged on from the house while I was tuned in from the ‘office,’ and we both contributed to the conversation, talking with the hosts, the other readers, and to each other.

Two days later, you were gone.

Curiously, I spent more time in those online chats in the few weeks that you were around for them than I do on any given Thursday in the many months since. With our standing invitation from the folks’ each Thursday, i usually find myself leaving early so as to pick up Daniel and make it to their house for dinner. It doesn’t bother me – I’d rather be with my parents than these veritable strangers online – but it does strike me as rather ironic.

In any event, it’s led me to dabble in social media sites. Not the big ones, necessarily – although Daniel tells me that Twitter, for one, is starting to heal these days, now that there’s expected to be new ownership and management – but some of the more niche sites, where most of the readership hangs out. This way, I can contact others at times other than Thursday afternoon, which isn’t quite the most convenient.

This is what brings me to last night’s get together. It seems that one of the more active members is located here in the Chicago suburbs, and has invited the group – and the writers, at least one of whom has accepted – to come up and visit for a weekend in late June. Being in the area, it would be silly of me not to accept the invite, when others are coming from as far afield as Arizona and the Carolinas. So the meeting was, in part, to discuss the particulars of arranging the meetup, such as timing and location. It was also a chance to actually get my first look at the other readers, as opposed to being just a cluster of texts with names beside them.

So, will I be going? Yes, I think I might as well.

Have I found a new social group? Eh…

It’s true that we share a certain political affiliation, but in all honesty, politics is not really what these folks really want to talk about much when they get together, even though we generally agree on things, and aren’t likely to fight about this or that issue. However, when that’s your literal job, I can understand that you want to put that behind you in a social setting, and just have fun. The thing is, we don’t necessarily share a commonality with regard to what constitutes ‘fun,’ such as drinking. An occasional drink a couple times a year is one thing, but making a drinking game out of the conversation… it’s not exactly my style. And these folks appear to know their stuff, too; even if I was interested, I’d be out of my depth in such a discussion.

Still, in a way, it’s not all that different from when I get together with the fanfiction writers at an anime convention (and now that I mention it, some of them have been pushing to get together at next year’s CPAC convention in February, which I might look into just for a laugh); as long as we have one thing in common, we can work through that on an occasional basis. Whether that can go any farther than that – or even if I might want to try – remains to be seen. Still, I might as well expand my borders where and while I can, wouldn’t you agree?

Anyway, I’ll talk to you later. Keep an eye out for me, honey, and wish me luck – I’ll probably need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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