For a while, I couldn’t write anything here because of the disaster in East Palestine, Ohio and the (disgusting, hypocritical) response from just about everyone involved.

For the sake of my mental health, I avoid the news. I don’t listen to npr anymore, I don’t have any news apps on my phone, I don’t read the Times (New York or Los Angeles). Even then, things like this are unavoidable. While I do believe that it’s important a tragedy such as this should be the headline of every outlet, when the response is just sadism from the state, then it’s less news and more propaganda for hopelessness. The news media, for some time now, has no effect on governance and therefore is simply a public relations firm for the interests of capital.

I was discussing the idea of fear with some folks the other day and so many of mine relate not to the nature of the world but rather the force of economic necessity that has been built into it. The experiences of cultural understanding, social purpose, and self-reliance are all fractured by a system like capitalism. This is the sum total of what it takes from us: our very humanity. A forced relationship between the idea of personhood and the individual’s ability to profit. The understanding that a life is considered meaningful only in relation to its economic value. That achievement is a monetary success.

This is why so much of the news is depressing. Not only in its tragedy, but how that tragedy tends to reinforce all of the ways that we live under inhuman values, where only psychopathic ideologies stand a chance at living comfortably. We can all see that things are going to get worse before they get better, but most days I wonder if they’ll ever get better at all.

There are plenty of reasons to dislike Valentine’s Day—it’s a con job for florists and the greeting card industry, it’s impossible to ‘get right,’ there’s no set list for expectations (like how on Christmas, there are presents, or on Thanksgiving, there is food).

But truth be told, the reason I can’t stand it is that it’s like Columbus Day in that it’s a completely arbitrary holiday that makes a whole bunch of people feel like shit. Like, Veteran’s Day doesn’t shame you for not having signed up for the Marines. New Year’s is literally about a clock ticking. The message of President’s Day isn’t, Well, you should have made something more of your life and maybe we’d be celebrating you.

Valentine’s Day is basically, Oh you’re in a relationship? Good luck getting this one right. Maybe you should reconsider the entire thing. Maybe you are the problem. Oh, and that whole giant crowd, you all are single? Fuck you. There’s just nothing nice about it.

The kind of romantic love that Valentine’s Day ‘celebrates’ is difficult enough to come across, much less maintain for any length of time. The entire notion of having a ‘holiday’ for it is insane, because that sort of hyper-focus is so reductive to the idea of love that it either complicates existing relationships or compounds loneliness. All of that is to say the very nature of this day is antithetical to the concept of love, and we’d all be better off if this shit was just scrubbed from any and all future calendars.

February is objectively the worst month of the year. The days are still short, the nights are still cold. There’s one invented holiday at the beginning where people pin their hopes for the end of dreariness on a magic weasel. Then there’s another invented holiday in the middle where half of the people feel guilty about the relationship they’re in the other half feels ashamed for not being in one. All just to sell greeting cards and candy.

Ironically, the only benefit of February is that it’s over as soon as possible—yet it somehow constitutes a ‘month’ despite having an inconsistent amount of days that are always fewer than 30. Rent, however, still costs the same.

Then it ends, and it’s still just fucking March.