It’s a wee bit bonkers to be doing my Blogging from A to Z theme reveal mere hours before posting my first entry, but never let it be said that I haven’t always made every attempt to corner the market on bonkers. And, yes, I do realize that Theme Reveal Day was March 23, but I couldn’t make up my mind to sign up until today, so I magnanimously decided to grant myself an extension.
Moving right along, after not very much thought and minimal due consideration, I have chosen my theme:
A Grab Bag of Delectable (and Occasionally Edifying Interwebby Wonderments
Essentially, my plan is to offer up an A to Z bouquet of linky goodness, connecting you to a treasure trove of videos, articles, and other online fabulosities that I hope will either enrich your already vast stores of knowledge and/or entertain the socks off you.
Of course there’s always the possibility that you’ll find some of them utterly frivolous and fluff-ridden and a complete waste of your time, but that’s life, really, isn’t it? You take the meh with the good, or you exercise your clicky rights and navigate yourself to greener pastures.
My mother died when she was a year older than I am now. Lung cancer. It was a pretty wretched exit by any standard, and she wasn’t ready to go, although she navigated her final weeks with a remarkable degree of grace and dignity.
Don’t misunderstand. She had more than a few flashes of crankiness, too, like when she asked one of my sisters to buy her a clock so she could see the time from her hospital bed, and my sister brought in a tiny little clock you’d have had to use a telescope to read from even a short distance.
And let’s not forget the time we bought her what we thought was a lovely, fluffy, fabulously cozy blue robe, and she got mad because the temperature in the hospital tended to simmer at a few degrees below boiling and really she’d just wanted something light and cotton-y to over the institutional tie-in-the back nightie. Something to make her feel more human, less like another generic sack of bones.
She reserved those flashes of anger for us, her daughters, the people she trusted to understand and forgive her. Never once did I see her lose it with one of the nurses, orderlies, or housekeeping staff, or even speak an unkind or ungenerous word to them. She was dying, in pain, hooked up to a machine that gurgled and bubbled and hoovered the fluid out of her lungs while she struggled to breathe; she was grieving the loss of each precious passing moment, and she still found the strength of will to treat her carers with courtesy and gratitude.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, in part because I feel my own mortality nipping at my heels a bit more vigorously these days, but also because I’ve been reckless enough to spend a bit too much time the comment threads on various news and social media sites. I won’t get into the specific topics, because in many ways the topics themselves are irrelevant. Haters gonna hate, as Ms. Swift says, and the interwebs, much as I dearly love them, provide the perfect foul and festering breeding ground for intolerance, malice, and pure viciousness.
How is it that we, as a theoretically highly evolved species, seem to find ourselves over and over again on one side or the other of an unbridgeable divide regardless of the issue under discussion?
And how is that, whether we’re weighing in on religion, capital punishment, the homeless, writers becoming stalkers, readers becoming trolls, or the value of the Oxford comma, we find it so easy to tip over the edge from reasoned debate into judgement, name-calling and excrement-flinging?
It’s not a new behaviour. Before the web we could channel our inner stabbiness by writing nasty letters to the editor, sending poison pen letters, and spreading our vitriol through good old-fashioned gossip. There’s no denying, though, that the internet makes it far easier and safer for people to unzip their covert vileness from its lurky hidey-hole and hurl it forth into the virtual stew of online thumpery and mayhem. And there’s no denying that people are taking full and unreserved advantage of that ease and safety to bludgeon the interwebs with their hatred and self-righteousness.
Would it really be so impossibly difficult to confront our differences with courtesy, compassion, and curiosity instead of reaching for our M16s? Apparently, yes, it would. But sometimes I think of my mother, lying there raging against the slow and miserable suffocating her her light, yet finding the wherewithal to remain a decent, caring, curious human being.
When I was halfway through writing this, I remembered reading an article Chuck Wendig wrote last year, On the Subject of Cultivating Empathy. He wrote it in response to some of the smug, sanctimonious and just plain shitty comments people were posting on Facebook during and after the protests in Ferguson, and I think it bears re-reading.
I also remembered watching Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot video, which I highly recommend as an antidote for all the webbish ugliness we slog through or turn away from on a daily basis. (Just don’t read the comments if you click through to YouTube, because, yeah. Haters gonna hate.)
Hey, hey, dear bloggy friends. If you’re wondering why this space has been post-free for the past few weeks, for a change it has nothing to do with general indolence or shirky distractions. For the second time in two years, I’ve been coddling my brain after giving it a good thumping in January. Ah, post-concussion symptoms, what stabby little thorns in the side of daily life you are.
Clearly I shouldn’t be allowed to leave the house without a suit of full body armour. If any of you happens to have one kicking around, perhaps we can negotiate a fair price? Or perhaps I should just learn not to fall on my head, although if I haven’t mastered that skill in the past few decades, I’d say the body armour is probably the more realistic option.
It’s taken a while, including several weeks off work, and several more weeks of returning to work with modified hours, but next week I’ll be back to full-time. I’d say I’m operating at about 75% of pre-concussion capacity, and every week is a bit better than the last. Baby steps, right? No rushing a pummelled brain, apparently.
It’s been hard to be patient, though, and every now and then I fly into a panic, worrying that the changes are going to be permanent, that the fall has distorted my personality and turned me into not-quite-Kern. I find myself examining my behaviour for evidence that I am now Not-Me, and I end up having the following kinds of conversations with myself (mostly in my head but, sadly, not always):
Neurotic me: Oh, crap! I’ve become testy! and impatient! and unwilling to suffer fools gladly! Less neurotic me: Hold the phone, self, you’ve always been testy and impatient, haven’t you? And, really, does anyone suffer fools gladly? Suffer them, sure, because, really, short of homicide, what’s the alternative, but gladly? I think not.
Neurotic me: Oh, no! I’ve turned into a grumbly-grumping cranky pants! Less neurotic me: Wait. Never mind. The tendency to cranky-pantsing pre-dates the concussion by a couple of decades. At least Face it, self, sometimes you really do sweat the small stuff.
Neurotic me: Oh, woe! I can’t type a paragraph without woofing out at least two typos! Less neurotic me: Um. Yeah. So very not new. While you’re at it, why not blame the concussion for your horrible penmanship? And your inability to draw a straight line? Not to mention your atrocious housekeeping skills? Honestly, know when to grab hold of an excuse, woman.
No, my personality, for better or worse, seems to be pretty much intact. And everything else–the sensitivity to light, noise, people in groups, anything sudden, people with shrill voices, and so on–is livable.