I’d Become A Nihilist, But I’m Not A Joiner

Kage Baker subscribed, personally, to the famed quote by Groucho Marx: “ I don’t care to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”

Mind you, there were qroups to which she wanted to belong. Not many, though; and most of them were not the sort that solicited members anyway. She wanted to belong to the I Won A Hugo Club, but what she had really enjoyed was just being nominated. The rocket pins delighted her. She did win a Nebula, which would have meant more to her, anyway.

The things to which she most comfortably belonged were things that had no rosters, no boards of directors; they were things she had found fascinating, and with which she liked to be associated. Things like the Renaissance Faire or the People Who Preferred Keds. SFWA, and EBay. They described what she made, and what she liked to acquire.

I think a lot of the groups into which Kage naturally sorted herself had no idea she – or any other member – existed. They were not the sort of groups that kept track. Kage was just the sort of person who kept track, in her own head. And it pleased her to self-identify as certain things. In fact, she went so far as to create whole other worlds to which to belong.

She did a good job. Lots of other people decided to join her there.

I am not much of a joiner. (I had no choice about joining Kage’s multiverse. She assigned me there.) I did join the Renaissance Faire, it is true, but I was one of a gaggle of  young women who all joined as a lark, long ago in the springtime of the world … and none of us realized what we were getting into, until it was much, much too late. A good thing, too, because it was the best thing I ever joined.

I vote regularly, but I don’t like to join in Party politics – I am only a Democrat out of self-preservation. I do write to my representatives, but that too is in the interests of survival. My high school class will hit its 50th anniversary in 2021, and I have not been to a single reunion; I’ve always been too busy performing something or other to submerge myself in the warm tide of alumnae once again. I am suspicious of organized religions, of athletic associations, of book clubs. Basically, if they want me, I probably don’t want to go.

Lately, I don’t want to be part of anything any more. Emily Dickinson is where I have taken my inspiration. Not only the ascetic  “The soul selects her own society” but the much less high brow “I’m nobody – Who are you? Are you nobody too?”*

This past week has been a real shit show, Dear Readers. Not just for me, by any means; all of us here in the Land of the Free are racing as fast as we can just to stay ahead of the wolves. Soon, some of us will start throwing companions out of the sleigh and into the ravening jaws of the pursuers – the states of Alabama, Ohio, Georgia (and far too  many others) have already decided to toss half the human race to the wolves.

Things here in lovely Atwater have been unusually wretched the last several days. My daily perusal of MSNBC and the local news has left me physically nauseated. My email is full of people screaming for money, for support, for blood. The storm was nice this morning, but when it finally began to sweetly rain I had been awake for 24 hours – sleep has been hard to come by here of late, and while my family managed to actually get some rest last night, my insomnia decided to strut its hour on the stage. Interminably. I feel like an armadillo on the side of a Texas highway.

This is part of why I didn’t post last night, for which I apologize, Dear Readers. I kept thinking I would fall asleep, and lay there in the dark grimly relaxing, waiting for my brain to slip away. When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I read  – The Uninhabitable Earth, by David Wallace-Wells. I thought it would be dry enough to stun me into sleep; instead, it made my hair stand on end and then strongly tempted me to set said hair on fire. It’s strong, nasty medicine about climate change. Read it if you have put all the sharp objects safely away.

In the meantime, I am abandoning good intentions for the night. I’m gonna drink gin and lime juice. I’m going to eat raw raspberry Pop Tarts. I’m going to take CBD oil. If I don’t sleep, it’ll be sugar and alcohol until dawn – my own private party club. Hallucinations are welcome, as long as I don’t dream of anything that is actually happening.

Let us all be nobody together for a while.


*I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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2 Responses to I’d Become A Nihilist, But I’m Not A Joiner

  1. Brad Campbell says:

    Yeah, I felt like we had a lot in common….I think I’ve mentioned before that I subscribed (joined) ONE Blog. This one. In High School, myself & a few friends started playing chess at lunch. more decided to do the same. The day one of them said, “Let’s form a Chess Club,” I walked. Except when it comes to you & Kage, I am indeed a Lurker. Most of my HS class think I died in Viet Nam, and I wouldn’t want them to learn otherwise. Like I said earlier, I enjoy this exploration of Sisters Kage & Kate, and it takes a lot to get me ‘involved.’ There’s a lot here…Thanks.
    Now excuse me while I slip behind this curtain…


    • Kate says:

      Oh, do I understand the deer blind impulse! Kage lived most of her life in ambush, and I was her enabler. We were, I think, first adopters when it came to answering machines: we’d never answer the phone unless someone identified themself, and they were someone we wanted to talk to. Got a lot of futile threats from our friends and family – Harry the parrot learned to respond conversationally, but luckily no one managed to coach him into answering the phone. I love your comments, but feel free to lurk whenever you like.


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