Friday, May 14, 2010

The work of six years

A standard question in job interviews - or so I have been told, as I have not had that many job interviews in my life - is "Where do you see yourself in five years?" For anyone over the age of, say, five, this is a patently absurd question: life is too vastly unpredictable to be able to even begin to guess about where it will take any of us in five years. If someone had asked you this question five years ago, would your response have in any way resembled where you are today? Perhaps the response to this question is less relevant than the approach the respondent uses to formulate the response.

If you had asked me five years ago where I thought I would be today, I certainly would not have described anything resembling my current circumstances. But things have changed, and I have had to adapt to those changes. Bend with the wind, roll with the punches, get back on the horse.

But if you had asked me then if I would still be blogging five years in the future, I would have most likely responded "I dunno. Probably."

Six years ago today I sat down before going to work and created the very first post for my blog. It was a placeholder, actually, just something to establish my ownership of the blog name. It consisted of the title "Another monkey with a blog!" and the text "Coming soon..." That evening I erased that text and replaced it with what now is displayed in this post.

Since then I've been blogging. Through thick and thin, success and failure, heartache and...well, whatever, I've been blogging. A few years ago I made the decision to do at least one blog post a day if at all possible, and damned if I haven't kept to that pace...mostly.

The question is, why?

Not why a post a day. I've addressed that before. But why blog at all?

I've given reasons in the past. Lots of reasons, starting from the very earliest posts. But here's one I don't think I have. At least, I don't remember giving it. Heh.

My posts tend to be, as I state in the subtitle of my blog, narcissistic and at least semi-autobiographical. If there's one subject I know pretty well, it's me. Usually.

But it's not vanity that drives this. These things that I write down here...these are my memories. Memories of who I was when I was young. Memories of my grandmother, my family, the animals who have been my friends. Things I have done, things I have seen, things I have felt. Opinions I have held, positions I have taken. Music that I have loved, books that I have read. Memories of the church I have gone to most of my life, and the schools I have attended, and the places I have lived and worked. And the people - well, I have left the people out, mostly, out of respect for their privacy.* Their stories are not mine to tell, and there are big blank spots in my stories where they belong.

But these are my memories, externalized. An autobiography in a million parts, shared with anyone who cares to read.

I watched my grandmother, my mother's mother, slip away into the Great Forgetting of Alzheimer's. This woman who I had known and loved all of my life, who had a million stories and songs and recipes, gradually faded - well, not exactly away, more sort of back in time. She never forgot who we were, not entirely, though she did occasionally do substitutions - my uncle for her husband, my mother for her sister. Sometimes it was a gift. Sometimes she didn't think she was sitting in a nursing home, but instead was in her own home.

And after a few years she died, and all that was gone, except for the things she had written down. Notes and recipes and shopping lists and letters, all priceless artifacts.

The same thing happened to my father. A stroke felled him, as it did my grandmother. Only it was in the other hemisphere of his brain, so instead of causing paralysis as it did in her, it resulted in a loss of mental abilities, aphasia, and generalized weakness. It took him months to learn to talk again, and months to be able to get around by himself. Eventually the Alzheimer's came, as it did for my grandmother, and it gradually took away his memories. Not all at once, and not entirely. At times he would remember a name from his past, a person he had worked with at the glass factory, and he would have my mom make phone calls to the factory trying to get in touch with them. But in the end he became worse and worse, until it was no longer possible for my elderly mother to maintain him on her own while I was at work. And he went into a nursing home, and sustained a traumatic brain injury, and died.

In those last days at the hospital after his fall his aphasia returned, robbing him of the ability to speak coherently. And he rambled and ranted and called me by his brother's name and mentioned names I had never heard before and have not been able to track down. And then he died.

He had long wanted to be a writer. He took classes on writing, studied writing techniques, bought copies of the Writer's Market, even bought a little word processor, a sort of primitive laptop capable of running a text editor and nothing else. He did everything a writer needed to do except write.

Someday, I think, the same will happen to me. Someday all the things I know, all the memories of the things and people and places and everything that has made up my life, will fade away and be gone. Sixty, seventy years from now, tops. Maybe sooner.

Until then, I'm going to keep jotting it down, for as long as I can. Here. In my blog.

Thanks for reading.

*There's an exception for active bloggers, people who have chosen and are choosing to live their lives in public, though this exception is rescinded going forward if and when these people choose to exit the blogosphere, as a few have done.

1 comment:

Gort said...

Congrats on 6 years. Many more to come.