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The Snakebite of Death

I told you that I had four thoughts that came out of reading Elan Mastai’s All Our Wrong Todays.  You can go backwards to the first thought, even if you haven’t read the book because these thoughts aren’t tied to the text but rather float above the page.  In other words, reading these posts will not ruin the book, and at the same time, they’re not (I think) confusing.

Next thought.

As I said, at its heart, this book is about Mastai processing the loss of his mother at an early age.  It’s science fiction, but it’s really about how we live and the meaning of our relationships and the impact we have on one another.  At least, that was my take-away.

On page 301, the narrator is talking about the aftermath of a death, when you reach a moment where the pain of the loss can turn you in a multitude of directions:

You love someone for fifty years and then they die. People talk about grief as emptiness, but it’s not empty. It’s full. Heavy. Not an absence to fill. A weight to pull. Your skin caught on hooks chained to rough boulders made of all the futures you thought you would have. How do you keep five decades of love from souring into a snakebite that makes your own heart the threat, drawing the poison up and down the length of you?

How?  I’m asking this literally.  How do you keep from drowning in anger at the world after you lose someone whom you have loved for fifty years?  Or, really, five years or five months or five days?  We’re a community steeped in loss.  We know how much loss can change a person.  That loss hurts because it stems from love; whether it is a cluster of cells or an unborn fetus or a person walking around on earth.

There is a lot of anger in this community that bubbles up from time to time, more so years ago when everyone knew everyone else and less so now that the ALI community has become scattered over time.  It’s not anger at each other but more anger at the situation.  You have love.  You want to give it to another human being.  The universe is working against you, thwarting you from giving that love to another human being.  It hurts.  It can become an internal snakebite just as easily as it can fuel your passion in another direction.

Even outside of family building; everyone has people that they love that they ultimately lose.  How do you keep your anger at the situation — at being furious with the world for taking someone you love from you — from poisoning you?  Will everyone get to the point where they’re not sad it’s over but smiling because it happened?  Because I don’t think that’s true; I don’t think we all get there, every time.

Your thoughts?

September 20, 2017   8 Comments

The Consequence of Intimacy

My favourite book I read this summer was All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai.  It’s a really hard book to describe without ruining anything along the way, but an easy book to talk about out of context (meaning, even if you haven’t read the book) because at its heart, the book is Mastai processing the loss of his mother at a young age.  I mean, yes, it’s also about time travel and alternate realities, but peel away the quirky and it’s a love letter to all the people we will love and lose.

So there are four things I want to talk about with the book.  Again, you don’t need to read the book to understand them, and reading about them will not ruin reading the book yourself.

Okay?

So the book opens with an idea that stems from Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.  That “when you invent a new technology, you also invent the accident of that technology” (p. 14).  So you invent the car, and at the same time, you invent the car accident.  Can’t have a car accident without the car.  And the reverse; as we invent things to prevent the car accident, we are also inventing the problems that could arise out of those solutions.

The main character — the narrator — states on page 15:

I’m not a genius like Lionel Goettreider or Kurt Vonnegut or my father. But I have a theory too: The Accident doesn’t just apply to technology, it also applies to people. Every person you meet introduces the accident of that person to you. What can go right and what can go wrong. There is no intimacy without consequence.

So when you connect with a person, you also create in that moment, the possible bad outcome of that relationship.  We can debate the term “bad,” but at the very least, you will lose that person after a long time of loving them.  That will hurt.  But you could also have that relationship negatively impact your life, from changing your self-esteem to moving you away from places where you would have otherwise gone.  You may not even know that the relationship is tugging you in the wrong direction, or all the otherwises that were in your path and now they’re not.

We talk a lot about the people we’re happy that we met because they changed our life for the better, but we spend much less time talking about the people we regret meeting.  The people who have had a negative impact on our life with their “accident” looming larger than their invention-like side.  It’s a weird thing to think about: The people you wish you had never met.  People you’re sad were at one point in your life.

We can paint a rosy picture, claiming that every interaction is meaningful and adds to who we are as a whole; positive or negative.  But this book so beautifully explores that cost of loving someone, or, at the very least, letting them into your life.

Your thoughts?

September 19, 2017   6 Comments

#MicroblogMondays 160: It’s a Mystery

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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A newsletter I read linked to a fascinating (but old — it’s from 2004) long-read article about the mysterious death of an Arthur Conan Doyle expert, Richard Green, and the Sherlockian way the community has gone about trying to figure out what happened.

This is a little different from a regular Sherlock Holmes story because it involves an actual person. I don’t want to say too much about the article and ruin it, but read it.  You’ll find yourself pausing during it, noting strange wordings and wondering if they have any meaning.

I love mysteries for the same reason that I think most people like mysteries: we want to believe that everything can be known if we give the situation enough attention.  Or, a quote from the article understandable with the world today: “The more illogical the world seemed, the more intense the cult surrounding Holmes became.”

Do you like mysteries?

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Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored post.


September 18, 2017   21 Comments

Things Are Closer Than They Appear

You know know that optical illusion with side mirrors on cars where the objects you’re seeing are closer than they appear?  That’s how my calendar feels right now.

When I make plans, dropping activities and events into future dates, they look completely do-able.  Under what circumstances would I not be able to find an hour to help the kids write their d’var Torah for their B’nai Mitzvah?  Or grab dinner with a friend?  Or write a blog post?  And then I’m figuratively driving up to the date, and that object still looks tiny on the calendar, but it’s looming large over my life.  An hour for the d’var Torah?  Where am I supposed to find an hour for the d’var Torah?

I feel like I am doing something very wrong.  Like I used to know how to drive, and suddenly I’ve forgotten what all the sticks and pedals mean in the car.

I know that all of this will change by the end of the fall.  The B’nai Mitzvah will be behind us.  We’ll be settled into new school and work routines.  A slew of holidays won’t be derailing my schedule.  But even knowing the date doesn’t make the lead up to that end point any easier.

My calendar doesn’t feel like it’s made of paper anymore.  It feels like the same weight as a stack of tires, dragging my head down.

September 17, 2017   5 Comments

661st Friday Blog Roundup

There are some weeks where the only infertility reminders I have come from my own life, and other weeks where it feels like everyone and their mother are talking about uteruses.

This is one of those uterus-heavy weeks.

First Carolyn Hax had advice from someone who is sick of being asked why she doesn’t adopt when she tells people she is going through infertility.  I actually loved it for the answer she suggests the person give when people ask her if she’s planning on having kids, suggesting that she doesn’t share her infertility with everyone:

They: “Are you planning to have kids?”

You: “Ooh, we get asked that a lot.”

If your questioner doesn’t accept that as an answer and presses for more, then you say: “We get asked that a lot.” A little eyebrow-raise says, “Get it?”

Um, I love that.  It fits for everything.

The other was a more touching piece about a dad who pushed an empty stroller during a marathon to raise awareness for loss after his child was born still.  Of course, the reaction proved how desperately that awareness is needed.

“Every time, ‘Hey mate you lost your kid,’ it took a good mate beside me to have a chat so my bottom lip didn’t tremble, as I would try think up quick ways of saying, ‘Yes, I have lost my kid and I am not getting him back,'” he wrote. “As the run continued the onslaught was relentless, crossing over to the second lap I hear on the loud speaker … ‘Here comes old mate and it looks like he lost his kid,’ more giggles from the crowd.”

The post made me cry.  I’m so grateful that he did this and got people thinking.

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Stop procrastinating.  Go make your backups.  Don’t have regrets.

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.

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And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

The Road Less Travelled has a post with a title that gave me pause: “Some people get what they want and some don’t.”  The words come from a book she is reading, and she unpacks it by making the point: this is our life-long work.  Not to necessarily be happy with what we don’t have or what didn’t happen, but to at least live in a place of peace with it.  It’s a simple idea but hard to put into practice.

Bent Not Broken has a post about an uncomfortable moment at the gym.  She writes, “Did the man intend to intimidate me? This question is harder to answer. I don’t think there was necessarily intent, but there was definitely an air of superiority and entitlement present in his actions that led to me being intimidated enough to leave.”  I think this post will hit home for a lot of women.

Lastly, Different Shores has a post highlighting a recent infertility piece in the Guardian that didn’t end with a baby.  I love this thought she included: “her experience has allowed her to see life as ‘less of a string of acquisitions (husband, children, real estate, career accolades, objects)’ and find contentment and satisfaction in what she has.”  A nice end-piece to The Road Less Travelled’s post.

The roundup to the Roundup: Good answers and thought-provoking actions.  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between September 8th and 15th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

September 15, 2017   9 Comments

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