Mirror Year

I am tired, I am weary
I could sleep for a thousand years
A thousand dreams that would awake me
Different colors made of tears

This is the year that we launched my book about Milo. This is also the year that Milo kicked me (more than once) out of his Telegram chat.*

This is the year that my stepfather died (December 10, may he rest in peace and rise in glory). This is also the year that I got to spend six weeks living with my mother and brother, taking walks around her neighborhood and staying up late into the night talking about meaning and patterns with my irl bro. 

This is the year that my dog Joy died. This is also the year that I got to spend every day for the eight months before she died playing with her for hours out in our backyard since I was not having to go into campus during that time.

This is the year that my teaching in Spring got thrown onto Zoom. This is also the year that I launched my own series of videos about Tolkien on Unauthorized.tv.

This is the year that my panel on Heaven got thrown out of the Medieval Academy program for “reasons.” This is also the year that every conference was cancelled completely

This is the year that I was told definitively that I am not (according to my departmental colleagues) a “proper” historian (based on my second book). This is also the year that I began to write poetry with the members of my Dragon Common Room.

This is the year that nobody was allowed to attend Mass in person for months. This is also the year that I watched Mass daily on livestreams while out in the garden with my dog.

This is the first year since 2003 that I have not spent going to fencing practice. This is also the year that I spent walking miles while listening to Big Bear talk about breaking the spells.

It’s been quite a year.

I feel under-appreciated, humiliated, taken for granted. I feel like I played the game fairly and was punished for being too strong. 

I feel blessed beyond telling for the support that my Dragon Common Room has given me, for the invitation from Vox Day to make videos for Unauthorized.tv, for the chance to talk with Owen Benjamin (a.k.a. Big Bear) on his livestream, for the videos that E. Michael Jones was willing to record with me (two of the four are available now on Unauthorized.tv, along with my videos on Tolkien and Medieval History and all of Big Bear’s livestreams), for all of the invitations to make videos over the past three years—and for the many invitations still pending!

I feel as trapped as the next person by fear of the virus (parse that statement carefully!). I feel blessed that my brother was here to talk with me about what he has witnessed in Europe and to share my concern about what is really behind the lockdowns.

I feel angry and scared by what the Powers That Be want to do to us. I have been appointed by President Donald J. Trump to serve on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee. (How’s that for a plot twist?!)

I read Vox Day’s blog every day, wondering how the God-Emperor is going to make good on his promise to expose the fraud. Then I listen to Owen talk about homesteading and how Trump is just as much a Judas goat for the Right (think: LGBTQ rights and Universal Basic Income, not to mention Hillary and the Wall) as Obama was for the Left (think: numbers of blacks in prison, drone strikes, race riots and BLM). 

I no longer believe that there are clear sides in the political arena (not that I ever fully did), only actors playing roles for the sake of the spells, the only response to which is not to take the lollipops and fancy pants, but (as Owen puts it) to have lots of children, build your own home, and grow your own food.

But I also still believe in tradition and education and training the soul.

I’ve gotten fat on chocolates and pies and corn chips and my brother’s cooking while at my mom’s, but I have also walked miles and miles and miles while listening to Owen. 

I have thought about whether the Earth might, in fact, be flat; considered the possibility that King Arthur sailed to America long before Columbus; turned over and over and over the question of what it means to be Christian; worried about what it means to wear a mask. I have been mocked here on my own blog simply for asking questions. I have been surrounded by signs of joy.

The Bears have welcomed me into Beartaria even as medievalist colleagues on Twitter have mocked my White House appointment. I have on-going discussions in my Telegram chat about becoming black for Jesus (“Nigra sum, sed formosa”) even as I am assumed by my. medievalist colleagues to fantasize about being “white.”** 

Nothing is what it seems. Everything is upside down.

I have a list of priorities for 2021—the year when we break out of the mirroring. My husband and I are planning on adopting a new puppy, so we need to set aside several months to train her. I am back teaching on campus in Spring—courses on the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, dialectic) and training the soul (a.k.a. “How to Be Good”). My Telegram chat is gearing up to write poems for Beartaria—Christian fairy tales for reading to little bears. I have more videos to make for “The Forge of Tolkien” (an inexhaustible well!). I want to get back to playing the fiddle (all our classes since March have been on Zoom—it is hard to motivate playing alone). And I have academic papers to write on Mary and poetry and praying the Hours. 

But today—on the eve of the New Year—my Telegram chat was rocked once again by how to talk about the JQ, nobody knows who the President is going to be after January 20th, the puppies are not (to my knowledge) born, and I am still forever banned from Milo’s chat.

I wish I had the answers. I am so weary of being afraid. This time last year, I was celebrating the lessons we had been learning in Milo’s chat about virtue and vice. This year, I am a new-old bear, as yet unsure of her role in the wide wide world.

It’s time, I think, to take another walk. And pray. 

Shiny, shiny...

*Most recently, on October 9. My dog Joy got sick that night (diagnosis: pancytopenia, a.k.a. she was drained of blood). She died October 27. October 2020 was a hell of a month!

**Polar bears are not white, just FYI. They are translucent. I am Translucent Bear—bearified by Big Bear!


  1. Thanks, Rachel. This inspired me to write about my 2020, which included how I met you and how much you have helped me. You brought light to me, then to people around me. I wish you the best in 2021. God bless you.

  2. I'm very sorry about your dog.

  3. God bless you, Rachel. He will always guide you and show you the way. Thank you for your thoughtful wrestling with ideas and Truth---and for the birthday wishes! Here's to 2021 and Beartaria.

  4. Understood, especially on the professional level. Keeping the faith and tradition in the face of materialists is our fight.

    Your series on Tolkien is excellent. A great class for all time. You have rekindled my love for him I had as a young man.

  5. RFB your stories of conquering the challenges set before you (and US) are indeed an INSPIRATION to U S all. Thank You for showing us how to Fight the GOOD fight.

    Nihil Minor Quam Optime Fencing Bear !!



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