It’s the beginning of December and it’s time for a review of things. How far have I gotten in life? How much further to get where I think I should be? Is where I think I should be even where I should be?
Ever since I reached 30 years old, I’ve done this in some manner or another. Always just a quick check of things, really, never really an in-depth analysis of things, or a long process.
But the past few years have been different. Well, more than a few as I sit and think on it. And I could just summarize those differences, but then why would I have a blog if I just proffered bulleted lists of events, or charts with colored lines showing descents into madness and chaos and… I shudder… mediocrity.
I will, however, call attention to several things that did happen in this journey, and then one recent event that kinda applied the old boot leather to the seating area of my anatomy, and has made me get up again. So – please indulge me this (and I say this knowing that you’ve already closed the page or gone back to Google if you didn’t want to indulge me) journey as we explore how I “fell” and why I’m trying to climb back up.
But first, the Larch… I mean, some history.
I used to blog every day, sometimes multiple times a day. Back in the very late 90s and early 2000s, I owned this website and used it. I tried for years to get other family members involved and onto the website, offering free online presences, and everyone just blinked at me and waited for my facial noise-hole to stop.
Before online presence was assumed, I was just another person online with a lack of boundaries who was willing to discuss anything that wasn’t deliberately hurtful.
I never really crossed any lines, with the possible exception of cussing, because I do enjoy a serious bout of creative foul language and meandrous application of overzealous linguistic gymnastics to otherwise vaguely interesting events or ideas or concepts.
Meh, I’m so out of practice.
In any case, I was just another social blogger on a young web.
And then I stopped. For multiple reasons that are presented in a sequential course below, but know that they overlapped.
The first ominous sepulcher knock on my blogging days’ office door was that employers started paying attention to online presences. And some of my boss’s bosses started paying attention, and cracking jokes back at me. I enjoyed planting jokes in blog entries for a while, but then I realized that I was skirting into dangerous zones.
Not because of what I was talking about, but because my audience was growing and shifting, or maybe I was just becoming aware of that growth and change in my audience, and some day I would stuff one of my feet in my mouth.
My employer eventually issued a “Social Media Policy” – and the penalties were very in line with behaving poorly in public, but it really drove home the point. I had better be careful. My boss assured me I didn’t have to worry, but I have suspicions that it was because he was a cool guy and not because of any knowledge that the cranial blogging demons were truly safe and without need for leashes or electric fences.
Slowly, my free-blogging days started winding down. I began to hesitate on some phrasing, or topic, and even censor myself. It started slow, and gradually increased over time. I blamed increasing responsibilities at work and generally getting older, but looking back it’s blatantly obvious that I was losing my “edge”.
A second and third hollow, echoing, nether worldly knock sounded on my blogger’s office door when a few personal events happened, and really threw me off my game. I needed time to recover my, if I do say so myself, grace and wit and panache.
But what had already started eroding fully washed away at that point.
I tried multiple times to get back into blogging, and couldn’t.
And the years passed. Wait, why am I hiding it – decades.
I made multiple attempts to get back into it, but I quickly fell back on self-censorship and hesitating.
I’ve only realized lately that the last two attempts were entirely sabotaged by that, and a large helping was dished up by having rosy colored glasses on when looking back at my history.
I’ve stumbled upon a few backups I had of old posts, and what I thought was amazing through the warm and fuzzy recollections was just adequate in some cases, mildly okay in others, a little cringe in yet others. Some were good, but not as good as I remembered.
The above is where I was getting by the beginning of the year.
And if left at that, I probably would’ve just sat on it further, but then I got an invite to Bluesky this past weekend. And I created my account. And I signed in. And I just about lost my mind with joy.
I was back in early Twitter – that place I went to follow authors and artists and musicians and creators and thinkers and the loveliest of examples of humanity.
And just browsing through the “Discovery” section brought back feelings of, and memories of, that old web. Before the Nazis and Creeps and Criminals climbed into the spotlight and chased away all of the decent folk.
Yes, I know the three examples above are kinda similar, but my point is the capital-i-Ignorant people came out and asserted their right to be ignorant, and bullied everyone else out of those places that were good.
And it kinda awoke what I can only call my “Muse”. Well, she wasn’t comatose any longer, she snorted and rolled over. And I think she farted.
But what I thought was a bier with the corpse of my creative forces wasn’t! It was just a really shitty sleeping spot.
So, I really was in a place.
I’ve tried to reawaken my exploratory soul multiple times, sometimes with blogging, sometimes separately. I can’t quite account for the money spent in the attempts, but I can say that many drawing pencils, markers, pads of drawing paper, charcoal, chalk, and other utensils of art have been purchased. Oh, and that doesn’t even account for the phone/tablet apps and computer softwares purchased.
And this – watching Neil Gaiman answer his fans. Seeing physicists explain science to questions, and then explain why their explanations were kinda shit, but closer to truth than to shit, so they work well enough. Seeing visual artists with their sketches and drafts and trades and….
Then I felt closer than ever to things. But what those things are, I can’t quite detail.
It’s like it’s dim and I’m not sure what shapes I see. But there are shapes, and they seem good.
So while I’m making this climb upwards, the newest event happens, and it will probably be the strangest and least acceptable thing. I’m still at a loss, so let me just put it out there.
I found out an online acquaintance passed away a month and week ago.
And when I went to that online place to see what his last posts were, I found out he committed suicide.
And everything vanished.
Fancy words fail when someone is driven to suicide.
Unconscious adherence to the dance of language stumbles. A beat is missed, a toe drags while finding the next step, the balance is upset and there’s a visible wobble.
And the black silence just waits.
I’ve known probably seven suicides, and at least three more people who attempted.
And it is a sledgehammer to the chest.
I’m not putting these words out there to draw sympathy or be manipulative, I’m telling the events that brought me to the login screen of this website, and then to the “New Post” button, and then a side-trip to the “Updates” area because that notification is just so painfully annoying, and then back to the “New Post” button and to this text field I’m currently filling up with this assortment of glyphs.
But, at the time, I thought “Not another one…”
So, I went backwards through his post history, looking for a timeline.
And I found one. It was a thread broken into a few pieces, but I found it.
Without revealing any private information, let me summarize – that the lockdown was difficult for him. That the post-lockdown was difficult for him. That he found he was bipolar, and he had already experienced a “swing,” (using the word “swing” here in a completely inadequate and understated way,) and tried once and failed, before succeeding.
And that really fucked up my night. I’d like to coddle that with some alternate phraseology, but “fucked up” is the only way to describe it.
But reading further around the glass of gin, I found people’s memories of him. Some were clear and detailed, some were vague, like mine, and some were just streams of words and ideas. A worded grief.
Someone found his statements on death, and none involved feeling sad for the dead, only feeling sad for those who hadn’t lived.
And, mildly drunk and with my head spinning from so many about-faces, I went to bed.
I awoke to sunshine. A world without this acquaintance, but sunshine. And his words still on my screen – the ones fearing never having lived over dying in any way.
I don’t entirely agree with him on that.
But it was the final push over the line to making this post.
Maybe in a few years, I’ll be able to psychoanalyze this and make overarching conceptual comparisons and contrasting opinions on what happened, and to see metaphorical allusions and literary devices and intellectual designs and blah blah blah.
But, right now, I’m here. And I don’t fear the blinking cursor. And I’m not fighting myself to make words.
I just fear leaving this post uncreated.
I’ll miss my acquaintance. I’ll hate the fact that I didn’t become better friends with him to try to pry that knowledge and secret hoard out of his noggin. And I’ll hate the fact that he felt this was the only way to leave this difficulty.
I seriously hope he found an end to that, and I thank him for all that he was.
Thanks for reading. I hope I’m back real soon.