Category: Writing

The view from here

I’m trying not to let my current state prevent me from getting writing done so right now laying in bed with the laptop on my lap. It isn’t comfortable but it isn’t as painful as sitting upright either and right now avoiding pain is what I am all about.

Yesterday I took a minor fall down the stairs which banged me up but, at the time, didn’t seem to cause any real damage. Except as the day went on an area of my ribs started to ache and by this morning it was full-blown pain. The chances that I cracked it are pretty good – after all, I have been know to crack ribs in my sleep just by laying on my side for too long. This is the thing with bone metastasis. It’s always there and always reminding me that it is there. Even when I’m feeling good and am considered stable my rib bones (where the cancer is) are still weak. I’ve spent the morning debating calling the oncologist but the last time this happened they told me to go to my family doctor to get a requisition for an x-ray and then I had to get the x-ray done and then the x-ray didn’t show anything because minor cracks and fractures don’t show up even though they hurt like hell. It showed up a month later though when I got my bone scan and the evidence of a recent fracture that was currently healing was right there. Honestly, just thinking about all those steps has me exhausted and I have to get out of this bed in 10 minutes to make lunch for my kids. There is nothing they can do for broken ribs anyway although at this point I would take any painkillers they offered because I don’t have any. Truthfully, the first couple days after a rib fracture I need the good drugs but I never have any on hand. This is something I’m going to have to fix at my next oncology appointment.

Anyway, I went into April feeling excited and focused (after weeks of the stomach flu going around the house). I have some pretty intense physio therapy exercises I am doing to try and fight the complications I have been having from my mastectomy last August and those are painful but at least they are helping me work towards a goal. With the rib pain I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself. I know it will pass but you know that feeling when the universe feels like it is conspiring against you? Yeah. I’ve got that feeling. But right now I’m trying to organize a reunion for my elementary school and I can do a lot of that laying down. Planning an Harry Potter-theme 11th birthday party that is being held in two weeks (and I haven’t started planning yet) is going to be more difficult.

Also, whenever I am bed-ridden my children freak out because they remember what it was like when I couldn’t get out of bed at all and then the mommy guilt takes over. (Another thing pain does is make one grumpy and, in my case, slow and stupid. It has taken me most of the day to get this blog post out there – my children have long since gone back to school from lunch and I wrongly posted this earlier and it didn’t show up and it took me a while to figure out what I had done wrong.)

Art by Elisabeth Alba on the Everyday Witch Tarot deck by Deborah Blake.

In less than a month I’m traveling east to go on a road trip with my sister Amandato Salem, Massachusetts. We are both really excited about this and get to bond over our love of all things witchy and historical. We have rented an AirBnB for five nights and then don’t have anything planned for after that which is taking me WAY out of my comfort zone (I’ve had all our summer vacation and activities planned and booked since early January) but my sister is more adventurous than I am so I’m relying on her to figure things out. (It’s not like I need *everything* planned. I just like to know where I am sleeping and that I will be able to make food instead of eating out a lot.) We also hope to stop in Concord, MA to visit the home of Louisa May Alcott.

Anyone else been to Salem (and area)? We are open to suggestions for things that might not be listed in the touristy guidebooks.

The Back to the Blog Movement

I have taken that title directly from Kerry Clare’s post on her blog: Pickle Me This. If you haven’t read her post I strongly encourage you to go click the above links and read it. But even if you don’t it’s okay, I will be quoting heavily from it.

“I blog to make sense of the world,” is the way that I’ve always explained my attraction to blogging, the way that I use my blog as a workbook, a scrapbook, part of a process toward understanding. But in the last couple of years, the world hasn’t made very much sense at all, and in ways great and small, I’d started to suppose that blogging was futile. Certainly people weren’t reading blogs anymore, and enticing readers to do so required wading into the mires of social media, where standards of behaviour were abysmally low and one gets the sense that with every scroll, the world becomes a place that’s slightly worse.

Kerry Clare: The Back to the Blog Movement

I think the decline in genuine personal blogs in the past few years is a real tragedy. There are so many – too many – ways for people to (over)share their lives on the internet these days that the world of social media seems filled with a whole lot of noise. Back in “the day” people wrote blogs because they had something personal to say, because they were processing something, because after years of writing in a diary it was nice to have someone to share these thoughts with. Then the monetization of blogs got a hold of the movement. Then Facebook. Then Twitter. Now Instagram (and I’m sure there are others but I’ve stopped at Instagram – a platform I both love and hate depending on my mood and the time of the day). Some of my closest internet friends I met through the blogging community almost 20 years ago (TWENTY YEARS Jen! *insert old ladies of the internet joke here*)

I noticed the shift almost 10 years ago I was contacted by a marketing company asking me to cover the opening of a new shoe store. They were looking for Calgary’s hippest bloggers (their words). I asked them if I they had actually read my blog. Moira was a baby and I was struggling with this new identity of motherhood and the lack of sleep that accompanies all newborns but in particular ones who are born TEETHING (oh, hindsight). Anyway. I directed this company to some actual hip, young, pretty local bloggers but they kept at me until I went to the store (not the opening – that was in the evening and I was on a very tight night anxiety schedule at the time) and talked to the people and picked out a pair of ridiculously expensive boots that they gave me for free. And then I didn’t write a blog post about it because I honestly had nothing to say about a shoe store – even a decent one. I still feel guilty about it and have never agreed to do anything like that ever again – because if you think I felt overwhelmed then then imagine how I am feeling these days with the constant SELL SELL SELL of the internet.

The boots are gorgeous by the way, and I still wear them on occasion .That teething baby will probably be wearing them soon.

Over the years I’ve tried to figure out what kind of blogger I am. Even though I wrote about motherhood in those early days of motherhood I never wanted to be labelled as a mommy blogger. I devoured craft blogs but I could never commit to something like that either. I tried to be a book blogger but I hate writing book reviews and am quite terrible at it. I tried to be a food blogger but the market was already saturated then with new vegans creating recipes and, to be honest, I feel like an idiot every time I pull out my phone and take a photo of my food in public (and at home). Even now I don’t think of myself as a “cancer blogger” although I do use this space on occasion to work through what I am going through on that front.

And I think that is what the best blogging is really about. As Kerry says in her opening sentence, “I blog to make sense of the world.” I find this is still true for me. I blog to make sense of my world – and by not blogging I haven’t given myself the opportunity to organize my thoughts and see where they lead. I too am affected by the shortened attention spans our phones have created. I too am affected by collecting “likes” on posts and scrolling by the lives of other people while not living my own in the “authentic” (barf) way I want to.

It has been over six months since I’ve last posted on this blog. My last post was a goodbye. We packed two backpacks and took three girls on a month long holiday to Ireland. I posted about it on Instagram but for the most part those memories are starting to fade. Also, those snippets on Instagram were never the whole picture – the travel fatigue, the stress of organizing our family from one stop to another. The stress of the Mister navigating the totally whack Irish roads with a wife who really wasn’t feeling great for most of it because she had large cancerous tumours making her uncomfortable with every movement. There are members of my family that now refuse to get back on an airplane.

Things happen and I think about writing about them, but then I feel guilty for not writing and that guilt keeps me away. It’s the same thing with the other writing I’m trying to do. Because I haven’t been able to label myself as a blogger in the new world of blogs I’ve felt like a fraud. But what are labels anyway? Usually something to throw off. Maybe I’m not any kind of blogger which makes me every kind of blogger. A blogger’s blogger if you will. And I think it is great if you can figure out a way to make a living writing for your blog but I’ve never been able to do that, I’ve never had enough of a following or a loud enough voice for people to hear me. But I’m still here and I’m still writing and with Kerry as an inspiration I’m going to do what I have done every day since I’ve been diagnosed with cancer: get up and try and try again. Get sick. Stop. Fail. Get up and try and try again. Succeed. Get sick. Etc. It’s the only life I know right now. With all the noise out there I think blogs that focus on the words and not the flat lay or the aesthetics are needed more than ever.

What if we stopped spending our time on websites owned by multi-million-dollar corporations that are demonstrably making the world worse all the time? What if the forty-five minutes I spent this evening having my brain turned to jelly trying to fathom the perspective of some guy on Twitter cheering on a right wing politician had been spent on anything else? What would life online be without the bots and the manufactured outrage, stupid algorithms, the trolls and the racist uncles? Totally meme-free, with unlimited characters, and nobody’s sharing any fake news article created by a shady network in Outer Siberia.
It would be a blog, of course. Right back where we started in Web 2.0, with stories and voices in a range that the world has never before been able to read, voices not in chorus, but not so polarized either. Connected, but not in a thread, more like a quilt, if we’re thinking in textiles. Niche onto niche, something for everyone. With room enough for stories, and questions, and nuance, and reflection, and changing your mind. And also for changing the world, in the small and subtle ways that blogs have always mattered—turns out I’m not ready to give up on that one just yet.

Kerry Clare: The Back to the Blog Movement