My single-lens reflex used to be a constant companion on my trips, something I carried with me everywhere so I could have visual records of my experiences. Nowadays, my only intention is survival. Always trying to make sure I’m never too hungry, tired, anxious, or sober, lest I have breakdown in an unfamiliar place. It leaves little room for comfort, even less for any form of artistic expression. Fortunately, I always have with me a smartphone with a camera. It may not be able to give me the razor-thin depth-of-field that I favour, but it can capture things in slow motion, which is great for cockapoos who are born to fetch.
I thought I was stable enough to make it a few hours in a house alone with one of her brothers, but the anxiety attack I had while trying to fall asleep taught me otherwise. Being in the presence of a person with such a flat affect reminds me too much of the time in my life when I was so numb and broken that nothing could provoke interest or emotion. Sometimes I’ll find him in a lounge chair for hours, legs reclined, completely motionless and silent and staring into space. Even though we’re all glad he’s home and no longer living on the streets, being around him can be a discomforting still-face experiment I’d rather not take part in.
Her mom knows how hard it is for me to leave the house, let alone travel to another town, so she always makes her contentment known when I show up at her door. The shelves in her house are adorned with pictures of couples, families, children, records of a life rich with friendships and memories. I’m honoured to be among them, for I cannot concede to being significant enough to take up such space in many other homes.
She’s the closest I’ll ever have to a mother-in-law, and she gives me a hug and tells me she loves me for the first time as we leave. Heather will later ask if I think it’s true, knowing how hard it can be for me to process and accept love after so many broken relationships with significant people. I tell her I haven’t been given a reason believe otherwise.
I only knew Dooce through her infamy as the first person to suffer real-life consequences for things she wrote online. It’s hard for me to be interested in the life of anyone I don’t know personally (exceptions made for people I feel inspired by or am crushing on), and the handful of times in twenty years that I was curious enough to visit her website, I was met with some entertaining writing about marriage and motherhood that I couldn’t give a fuck about.
The last time would have been a few years ago; I tend to check up on a few bloggers every so often when I’m wondering how the landscape has evolved. As one of the few who were popular enough to make a living off the witty revelations of personal details, she easily made the list. That’s why it was so disconcerting to find that some months there was a single post, and the post was a list of sponsored links to things people could buy. It was especially strange to find her discussing digestive issues while a giant banner would fight for my attention underneath: “And for anyone who may be experiencing what I am, ButcherBox is running a special promotion through the end of the month where new members receive ground beef in every box for the lifetime of their subscription.”
How much of her writing was genuine? How do I trust the words of a person who seems to be capitalizing on her misfortune?
Perhaps that’s why I wasn’t particularly moved when I found out she committed suicide two months ago. It felt like I never knew who she truly was beneath the curse words and products being hawked. I also have a hard time empathizing with anyone who would describe pregnancy as an “endless trove of content”. For me, that kind of mindset reeked too much of melodrama, which I find distasteful enough to avoid in real life.
It glads my heart when I stumble across another online diary nowadays. A genuine one, of course, not updates from a company or a cooking blog that’s stuffed with photos to pad the time someone stays on the page before the recipe is found. No one entertains same audience as they used to, and I much prefer that to the kind of interactive “confessional” Dooce had, or the social media influencers of today.
I’m reminded of how fortunate I am to still have this little corner of the web to express myself, a place where I’m not beholden to an audience for a source of income. So often I find myself too broken to get out of bed, too strung out to pursue my projects, too busy to find 15 minutes to work on a lick. And during the stretches of time when I’m recovering and there’s nothing noteworthy to talk about, I’m relieved I don’t have to manufacture experiences to keep anyone’s attention. I still get mail asking if there are any spots for advertising or availability for sponsored posts, and they all get promptly get filed away in the trash.
It was sudden and completely unexpected; one afternoon we noticed that he kept to himself, curling up in dark spots that he wasn’t known to frequent. We knew there was a problem when he wouldn’t eat, then he passed away at the vet that day. That was almost three years ago, but I haven’t had the strength to properly eulogize him. It’s too painful when I already spend my days either crying or cried out.
I didn’t even have a chance to say bye.
That’s why these drafts keep piling up. I miss writing as much as I miss the hairy little companion who would jump on my lap for attention every morning, but taking the energy to create feels so meaningless when I barely have the spoons to cook for two people and keep a clean house. I don’t even know if I’ll be alive in another year. The jury’s still out, and I’ve decided they can take their time for now instead of rushing towards a verdict.
It’s also why I’ve been on a regular dose of sedatives since last winter. I used to have to lie down for blood tests, while vaccinations were totally fine. After all, there’s nothing being drawn, no crimson essence I can see rushing from my body into little vials. But when I almost passed out, then vomited, at a clinic for a booster shot last year, I knew mindfulness techniques and breathing exercises could do only so much.
Continue reading “blood simple”…