The Blogosphere Of Poems

 Folks are starting to respond to Robin Rendle’s declaration “that we are a poem and not software”, and that perhaps the personal sites and blogs we make for the web ought to reflect this.

I’m sort of dragging the conversation in a different direction slightly here but what Katherine touches on is the oldest question on the internet: what should our personal websites do? Should we prioritize getting a new gig or selling a service? Or can we be ourselves? Weird and fun and peculiar? Should we talk about topic X but avoid topic Y? That’s a common one I hear from fellow bloggers.


These are all very interesting questions but for me, the more pressing question is a slightly different one: which you is your personal site representing? We often don’t pay too much attention to this but we all have different ways of being ourselves.


I realize that the main issue here is that I need to be more comfortable and patient with myself. I also need to share whatever I want, because at the end of this day, it’s my personal site. I’m not selling an image on here. I don’t have a brand, classes, e-books nor am I asking for money.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Winnie’s exhortation that we ought “normalise being whole persons”, a construction I’ve cited way more than once, most recently when picking up on Kevin Lawver’s description of the blogosphere as the great empathy engine of the web.

Manu is right, of course:

A personal site is—or at least it should be—a reflection of whoever you want to be. It could be the complete you, one of the many versions of you, or even an aspirational you. Just be comfortable in your digital home. It’s all that matters.

What I still want, though, is that normalization of whole-personhood. Understanding all the reasons of—if nothing else, but certainly not limited to—privilege that keep some from being able to embody their full selves online, it’s the web (and the world) that should be.

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Bix Dot Blog

08 Dec 2023 at 00:49

I Have No Blog And I Must Feed

 First came RSS Club from Dave Rupert wherein bloggers commit to some number of their posts being made available only through RSS. Definitionally this has varied from posts that literally only appear in RSS feeds to posts that technically still get publicly published to the blog but don’t appear in any post lists or searches on the blog itself.

This seems mostly useless to me, although at worst it’s just harmless fun. It does seem strange to me, though, that last approach. If you want it to be RSS-only, then make it RSS-only?

Then came The Underground, an entire blog from Chris McLeod that publishes solely via RSS (or, really, Atom), with nothing published to what would be considered the blog proper. There isn’t a blog proper. I’m not even sure using that TLD can be anything other than ironic?

Then again, people have had blogs where you had to create an account before you could read anything, and those were still blogs. I’m not going to be pedantic here, I just find all these linguistic nooks and crannies interesting, so long as I don’t let myself get lost in them.

I wouldn’t go as far as oguchi and call it “dangerous” (although that might be intentional hyperbole), but it definitely sits in a peculiar space with regards to the open web. It’s not closed, but it’s not locked or even lockable, but at least (since some RSS-only blogs technically do have the posts on the blog, too) you’re not supposed to link it, and it’s not even clear to me whether participants even want you discussing what they say in RSS-only posts…anywhere?

Anyway, I always feel vaguely uncomfortable when I come across an RSS-only post in my feed reader, for reasons I haven’t fully explored. We’ll see how I feel about them over time.

There will not be any RSS-only posts here, however. Even setting aside the technical headache that would introduce, I don’t have the cognitive bandwidth to decide who gets to see what. I’m having enough trouble with that right now regarding Bluesky and Mastodon as it is.

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Bix Dot Blog

07 Dec 2023 at 02:56

What I’d Need To Know In Order To Move The Blog To Kirby

 Briefly this past October, because of Kev, I spent some time looking into Kirby as a potential replacement for WordPress, because at this point that CMS is bloated and my solutions to things often pretty janky. It didn’t take long browsing the Kirby documentation for a legit anxiety response to kick in. The kind that feels something akin to claustrophobia.

This is frustrating to me in part because I’m not entirely incapable, although I regularly have to re-learn things that I’ve done in the past. Back in the early days of blogging, I routinely made custom Blogger templates for myself. For years I self-hosted first Moveable Type and then WordPress blogs on a custom-built OpenBSD box that served sites over my home DSL connection. This blog currently is self-hosted from a droplet.

Nonetheless, every time—every single time—that I try to delve into Kirby, I seize up cognitively. In part, although I do not think in whole, it’s because the entire thing is customizable, and in fact requires it. You need to build “blueprints” for the CMS itself, not just templates for the public-facing site. It’s all done through configuration files; there’s no such thing as, say, a blueprint builder or generator.

This blog contains a bunch of the aforementioned jankiness to get various things to do what I need them to do, and much of those solutions come from weeks of frustrating conversations with ChatGPT to come up with custom functions for several things that WordPress itself has never found important enough to solve natively, and many of which apparently aren’t popular enough use cases for the plugin ecosystem to solve either.

Last night and this afternoon, I did sit down once again to try to make some headway, but once I left behind simply working on basic templates and started looking at functionality, I hit that wall all over again.

As I said in October, I couldn’t actually afford the $85 license of Kirby anyway. Nonetheless, I thought it might make sense to write up a list of all the things I’d need a Kirby-based blog to do. All the things I do here, whether they are no-brainers under WordPress or things I’ve had to fight with ChatGPT to solve.

For these purposes, assume that I’d have a directory structure that follows my current permalinks scheme. This post, for example, under Kirby would be located inside a 2023 directory, then inside a Dec directory, then inside an 05 directory. This, of course, also presumes that Kirby has a way of saving files correctly to such a structure, with a blog post being saved to its relevant day directory based upon the post date when publishing.

The front page

As I currently understand things, what makes the most sense here is that my front page would use the home.php template that’s in the home directory.

My front page consists of:

  1. The title and content of the most recent post. Presumably there is some way to do this in Kirby, but it’s not clear to me how it works when your content is organized by the above date-based directory structure rather than simply all your posts in one directory.

  2. Site navigation (which here is in sentence form). This is not complicated at all, and I’d probably maintain it using a snippet for ease of getting to it if I need to make any changes.

  3. The next fifteen most recent posts, with a link to the Posts page for more. See item (2) regarding how this works when you’re using my date-based directory structure, and here I also use a “days ago” format for the <time> element and had to get ChatGPT to do that for me.

  4. Any posts published on the current day in previous years. To get this to work under WordPress, I had to turn to ChatGPT to make me this code. I’m not sure how you’d do this under Kirby, but I somewhat imagine someone must have done it before, although (again) I’m not sure how my directory structure impacts this, if at all.

  5. A list of recently read blog posts, link to my Bloglog folder on Instapaper, and a sentence linking to my Linklog folder on Instapaper. Again, for WordPress this came as a solution given to me by ChatGPT, although I believe it simply uses SimplePIE which presumably would be usable under Kirby, as well, although maybe there’s a plugin for this.

  6. A list of places to find more blogs. This is simple HTML and again I’d likely maintain it in a separate snippet so I don’t have to go rummaging through the home.php template.

The posts page

This presumably would function out of a posts directory using a posts.php template.

My posts and archive page consists of:

  1. The page description. This in part under WordPress is dynamically generated using custom code, again from ChatGPT, to get the total number of posts, the total word count, the total number of sources (categories), and the total number of years represented; the rest is written by hand.

  2. The search box. I’m simply going to assume that Kirby naturally has some sort of easily-implementable search function.

  3. The sources list. Here I used ChatGPT again, but this is a simply list of sources (categories) and the number of posts in each, and is the sort of thing I assume I could either figure out from the documentation or would find an easy answer on the forums.

  4. The years list. This came together in much the same way as the above list of sources (categories), and I assume must not be overly complicated although I haven’t looked into it at all.

  5. The posts list. A simple paginated loop through all posts, reverse chronologically, at one hundred posts per page, with different <time> format than the front page, and I started to look at this when I was tinkering earlier today and got confused, I think in part because of my directory structure but I don’t remember.

The source pages

I’ve done no looking whatsoever to see how Kirby handles category pages, but I assume there must be some form of templating involved.

My source (category) archive pages consist of:

  1. The page description. Much like on the Posts page, under WordPress this comes through a combination of the written text of the category description and ChatGPT both gave me shortcodes for the post and word counts limited to the current category and a function to allow shortcodes in the category description.

  2. The posts list. A simple paginated loop through all posts in the current category, reverse chronologically, at one hundred posts per page, with different <time> format than the front page.

The date pages

Here I should note that ChatGPT this afternoon did give me one Kirby approach to this, although it clearly was incomplete for the totality of my purposes. It suggested that I essentially use my default.php template to run the date archive pages, allowing me not to have to have templates defined for every single year, month, and day directory. I’m not entirely sure if using that approach all the other things I need to do are possible.

My date archive pages consist of:

  1. The page description. This again uses custom functions from ChatGPT to call the post and word counts for the year or month or day in question, but also then uses custom functions from ChatGPT to list the categories used during the relevant year, month, or day.

  2. The posts list. A simple paginated loop through all posts in the current category, reverse chronologically, at one hundred posts per page, with different <time> format than the front page.

It’s important here to note that as constructed in WordPress, only my year archives work, because the date archive code doesn’t recognize the custom %monthname% tag in my permalinks setup, a custom tag that came, again, from ChatGPT.

Also, I’m entirely unclear on how one would get Kirby to output in the page description, for example, “December 2023” instead of “Dec” on a year archive, or “December” instead of “Dec” on a month archive, or “December 5, 2023” on a day archive. Understand that I am trying to avoid having to build, manually, .php and/or .yml files for every single year, month, and day directory.

The posts

My posts consist of:

  1. The post title. There’s nothing mysterious here, and in most ways as far as Kirby is concerned, making the article.php template probably is the easiest, most straightforward thing.

  2. The disclaimer. On posts older than ten years (or maybe it’s ten years and older), a disclaimer appears. Here, again, I presume this is doable in Kirby although I’ve no idea of the specific process.

  3. The post text. See above (1).

  4. The post meta. I have my post metadata in sentence form, and here again I can’t imagine there’s anything especially taxing to figure out.


So, there you have it. That’s my “spec” for moving the blog to Kirby. Ignore the issue of actually moving the content from WordPress.

I’ve been doing a major project restoring twenty years of blog posts and doing most of this by hand anyway, so I’m not even concerned about how the posts would get moved, and I’m sure if that time came I could jury-rig something to export my posts out all set up in my Kirby directory structure.

If somehow you’ve bothered to make it this far, I more than welcome any feedback or tips on any or all of these items. I don’t expect one person to solve them all for me, but if enough Kirby folks over time stumble onto this post, maybe I can build a library of solutions over time.


  1. To show you how exhausting this post was, I forgot entirely two critical components: untitled posts and internal backlinks. These are non-negotiable features.

    Rather than build out this post further, you can see existing discussions on the Kirby forums: one about untitled posts (scroll down for how I handle this in WordPress), and one about internal backlinks, where one solution might be just to use webmention.

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Bix Dot Blog

06 Dec 2023 at 00:46

The Great Empathy Engine

 Elisa had some things to say about cheese while Radim had some things to say about watches, and together they’ve put me in mind of a story about a trip I took to France.


It quickly became apparent that it is not so easy to talk about cheese making if you are using vastly different frames of reference. While our guest was talking about their cheese making process, and how the cheese was an integral part of their childhood, our farmers applied totally different vocabulary to talk about almost the same things.


I’ve always been curious about the intricate little machines known as watches. It began with the cool Casio digital watches of the ’80s, symbols of another world.

Thousands of years ago in the early 1980s, the theater company where my father was Deputy Producing Director went on a cultural exchange trip to France—first a week or two in Lyon and then three days in Paris. I’d previously gotten to go on a similar trip to Toronto, and these remain the only two times I’ve had opportunities to visit abroad.

(Two sidebars, if I can indulge. In Toronto I had the terrifying experience of my father pulling me toward the edge of the CN Tower observation deck contrary to my immediate vertigo, because I was blocking people in the doorway. In Paris I had my first-ever experience of being so ill that I had things coming out of both ends, sometimes simultaneously, and such was my only use of the conveniently-located bidet.)

One day while wandering the Lyon street of our hotel, a kid about my age approached and started gesturing between himself and me. What he was pointing to, it turned out, was the fact that we both were wearing digital watches.

Parenthetically, if anyone knew Lyon in 1980 or 1981, this street, a couple or a few blocks up, also had a toy store with an amazing Lego window display, and maybe you can tell me what street this was.

Neither he nor I spoke the other’s language, and the “conversation”, such as it was, hilariously consisted almost entirely of each playing for the other the songs our watches used as alarms. Mine? “Eine Kleine Nacht Musik”. His? “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”

I can’t imagine what else we managed to say to one another beyond establishing that he was French and I was American. Days later, though, I spotted him at a neighborhood restaurant clearly helping his parents who obviously owned the place. The giant pot of beef bourguignon was very good.

Let’s get the credit where credit is due part out of the way before I go any further. I’ve front-loaded this post with a title lifted from the conclusion to Kevin Lawver’s wrap-up post for National Blog Post Month, because why bother burying the lede.

Because that’s what blogging should be – the great empathy engine of the web. It’s our thoughts, our selves, out there for anyone to stumble across and get a glimpse of our lived experience.

I began, then, with Elisa and Radim and that French kid for reasons I hope are obvious. Through Elisa and Radim’s blogs I got to spend time in their heads and get a glimpse of cheesemaking and watch enthusiasm, while through that French kid I falteringly and somewhat mysteriously got to bridge a gulf of language and geography. Not to mention that Elisa’s post literally is about the fact that even commonalities can come with different ways of expressing them that need to be navigated.

In turn, through reading this post, you’ve gotten a small glimpse into a formative moment in my learning how to learn about other people, even if ever so briefly and ephemerally, in addition to at least one other anecdote you wish you’d never encountered.

Once again, then, let’s talk about blogs.

Last last month, Annie wondered for whom you blog, yourself or other people. Through recent experience she discovered an answer.

Blogging is for other people just as much as for yourself! Perhaps I missed that part. I got into this because of my burnout and I was using it as a means of therapy and I must have missed the point where it became just as useful and helpful to other people as it is to me. I should be grateful, I should mark it. This is important. Blogging is important.

Let’s add just a quick shot of Ruben, who isn’t responding to Annie but this is important.

Fear of a schedule is one of the top reasons smart people I know say they “can’t write”. But you own your space. You can post whatever, whenever. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, unless you want to provide one.

There’s an argument to be made, I’d think, that posting “whatever, whenever”—posting on one’s own terms, in other words—actually is part of how one’s blogging becomes important to others. People aren’t filling their feed readers with content marketers and brands. They’re filling them with real humans.

Alan offered up a quote from Essayism by Brian Dillon, in a post titled to set up a comparison between essays and the personal blog.

Here’s part of the quoted Dillon:

And for what it’s worth my attachment to it seems of the same conflicted order: I want essays to have some integrity (formally, not morally, speaking), their strands of thought and style and feeling so tightly woven they present a smooth and gleaming surface. And I want all this to unravel in the same moment, in the same work; I want the raggedness, the patchwork, a labyrinth’s-worth of stray threads.

What this suggests to me is that the essay—and per Alan’s “exactly”, so, too, the blog—should present and reflect as the artifacts they are, of someone’s lived experience. Smooth, gleaming, ragged, and patchwork, we are, so how can our blogs be anything else?

Or, at least, this is what they ought to be.

Tracy took a deep dive into the whyfores of maintaining a public blogroll as she updated and expanded hers “to include everyone in my RSS feed reader”.

I like hearing about the trials and triumphs of other normal people’s lives, seeing what goals they pursue and what they care about enough to write about. I gather book recommendations from others’ reviews, sample others’ taste in music, and delight in the daily wonders of others’ worlds: the cat luxuriating in a strip of sunshine, the stream in the dappled light of an open forest, the neat-looking conjunction of lines on the wall they passed on their morning walk. While social media emphasizes the show-off stuff — the vacation in Puerto Vallarta, the full kitchen remodel, the night out on the town — on blogs it still seems that people are sharing more than signalling. These small pleasures seem to be offered in a spirit of generosity — this is too beautiful not to share.

This is blogging as both a writing and reader endeavor in a way expressly meant to exercise it as Kevin’s empathy engine. This is the deliberate seeking out of the lived experiences of others in order to enlarge rather than diminish oneself.

(That post is about the diagnostic language gap, but it’s the only place I managed to blog about this idea of seeking not happiness but things that enlarge you rather than diminish you. I think that this is at the heart of the empathy engine.)

I’m not entirely sure how I got there because it doesn’t appear to have been through Tracy’s post, but somehow I ended up on a post earlier this year by Neville Hobson exploring the rise and demise of the blogroll.

In short, the rise of social networking platforms and changes in people’s online behaviours have contributed to the decline of civil discourse. Blogrolls, with their curated links implying recommendations, encouraged reflection and respectful dialogue, as bloggers took the time to read, comment, and engage with one another’s work.

As I mentioned last month there’s a cognitive load to managing a blog roll that’s become beyond me, but the idea of blogrolls is too important to abandon in this current blogging renaissance. My solution: I list the blog posts of other people that I’ve actually read, whether I follow the blogger or not.

On that idea of there being something of a blogging renaissance in action, Venkatesh Rao seems circumspect if not outright skeptical. His focus mainly seems to be on the question of maintaining tech stacks in perpetuity, but not entirely.

The phrase future of the blogosphere cannot point to blogospherism or anything in the contemporary kinship group of commonsism. Any attempt to revitalize the blogosphere, or spark a renaissance, that starts with the values that emerged on the underlying aging technology stack, is doomed. Values and manifestos come last, not first. If you try to start with values, you’ll be done before you can start at all.

I can’t speak to the relationship between emerging values and technology stacks, but the values I see pretty clearly percolating in the modern blogosphere both tend and trend highly toward Kevin’s empathy engine.

It’s why I seem to keep adding Bear Blog sites to my feed reader: so many people being real humans in public together. The empathy engine seems to me fairly agnostic on the matter of technology stacks. Whether or not this or that service, say, directly interoperates with any other, or uses these or those tools under the hood, there’s nothing stopping bloggers themselves from building out the empathy engine solely and purely on the basis of their words and their lists of other bloggers alone. That’s an exercise in values.

Let me say it more plainly: the empathy engine is technology agnostic because the empathy engine runs on people.

Just in the past few days of the start of December, I’ve learned about Meadow’s writing goals, Dan’s feelings about Shane MacGowan, Brandon’s thoughts on growing older, Moqueca’s failed coffee date, Pablo’s musical tastes, Robin’s views on figuring things out, Ben’s take on doing it all, Winnie’s trip to Japan, Pete’s caution on politics, Nick’s thoughts on copyright, Sara’s guidelines for a “blog carnival”, An Open Letter’s pet health troubles, mgx’s enjoyment of aisle seats, Pratik’s dislike of Henry Kissinger, Amit’s struggles with writing, Rachel’s midlife crisis, Tina’s conflict over love, aco’s feelings about going out, and Sim’s look at hating your life. That’s not even a complete list.

Just a few final words to get in here, I think.

In my post about the diagnostic language gap, I made metaphorical use of Deb Chachra’s How Infrastructure Works, and I’m going to do so again here, although, really, in this case it’s not so much metaphorical.

Sociality—to care for, learn from, create alongside, and share our days with each other—is just as much a human need as food and water. We consider mobility to be a human right because it’s what enables us to be together, and the explosive rise of telecommunications and the Internet over the past decades is in large part because they facilitate social relationships. Not for nothing did humans start creating new ways to interact once our basic needs were reliably met. Culture, learning, shared jokes and shared sorrow, raising our children, caring for our elderly, and together dreaming of and planning for our futures—these activities are the essence of what it means to be human, both individually and collectively.

Finally, here’s Manu, who isn’t in direct reaction here to the earlier Venkatesh Rao post that’s so concerned with technology stacks, but might as well be.

We don’t need more technology. Technology won’t fix human behaviour. We need kindness, we need compassion, we need a willingness to interact honestly with strangers online. That’s not something you can solve with a better protocol. We simply have to fight the good fight, day after day, trying our best to make the web a better place.

At its core the current wave of resurgent blogging is about seeking to enlarge ourselves and each other rather than continue to distract ourselves with endless diminishment.

All you people writing, and all you people reading, and all you people responding—be you smooth, gleaming, ragged, patchwork, or like whole-persons all of the above: you are the great empathy engine driving the modern blogosphere.

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Bix Dot Blog

05 Dec 2023 at 01:07

Books Are Books, But…

 There are some subjects you should leave alone if you’ve already addressed them. There are some wells to which you should not return, leaving well enough alone. Alas, these are where one’s pet peeves are to be found, and so I must confront Ruben’s suggestion that you can read an audiobook.

To refresh your mind: I’ve previously said that there is no moral value distinction between reading a book versus hearing one. It all “counts”, whatever that might mean. Audiobooks are valid, and people who listen to them are making valid choices. They don’t even need my validation.


Look up any dictionary for read, and you’ll see definitions describing “discovering” information, “interrogating” a record, “understanding” something, or “studying”. Computers even read from databases, networks, and disks, and they don’t use eyes for it.

The dictionary says such things, but not all different usages of the same letters in sequence are therefore synonyms or describing the same activity. That there’s a usage of read that means “understand” doesn’t mean that all uses of read are synonyms for understand, for example. So whether you’ve spent time with a paper book or with a recording of it you can understand it, but only in one case have you actually read it.

Me, previously:

In the case of an audiobook read by multiple parties, you’re essentially experiencing a radio play. No one’s ever argued that if you’ve listened to a radio play you’ve “read” the play. Hell, if you go see a production of Hamlet, you haven’t “read” Hamlet.

While you couldn’t exit a production of Hamlet and proclaim, “I’ve finally read Hamlet!”, it’s entirely possible to so exit and proclaim, “Now that I’ve seen Hamlet, I think that a close reading of the text shows us that…” because that’s an example of “read” taking on a usage to mean “examine” or “understand”.


Really, it’s much simpler: we read books to children all the time before they can do so for themselves (and sometimes even after), and we don’t say that child has “read” those books. They’ve listened to them, but we don’t somehow think any less of them for doing so.

That last is important because it gets to the heart of what I find distinct about reading, specifically: it’s disintermediated. Ruben wonders if “our visually impaired friends merely feel a book instead of reading it” and of course they don’t. When reading a book it’s up to our own minds to generate intonation, pacing, tone. This is true whether we access the author’s words through our eyes or our fingers.

When we listen to someone else read a book, however, those sorts of qualities are determined and delivered by someone not ourselves. Even in the case of an audiobook read by the author themselves, we’re subject to their intonation, pacing, and tone rather than that summoned by our own mind. Reading and hearing simply are two different things.

So, my peevish pedantry stands: words mean things, and we should use them to mean what they say. What’s important is to destigmatize audiobooks and validate them as books. If we find books important, though, so should we find it important that the words they teach us not be needlessly malleable.

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03 Dec 2023 at 18:57

My Mediocre Midlife

 Rachel examines her midlife crisis in contrast to the straight, white, and male version that’s become the sort of normative American default idea of what a midlife crisis looks like and so gets more than the lion’s share of our cultural attention.

I don’t see myself in that picture… but I do relate to the underlying feelings of inadequacy and a dull sense of slow impending doom about not having accomplished enough by XYZ milestone in life, and feeling like my body is changing without my approval.

My own stereotypical views of the midlife crisis include not only the above default but are tied to the idea of the person experiencing the crisis being in some fashion a professional, and the crisis linked not just to a general milestone of years but an at least subtextual unease with one’s career.

I’ve never really thought about what a midlife crisis would look like through other lenses, and while I’d be interested to learn about such crises in other demographics beyond the normative, I also wonder about such crises in terms of class. Do people who are working two or three, low-paying, dead-end jobs to make ends meet, nonetheless also receiving various types of support from public programs, experience a midlife crisis, per se, or would such a thing if it even existed just be subsumed beneath the more general, ongoing crisis of daily living?

As someone who never had a career and whose job history is spotty and sporadic and who didn’t discover until his mid-forties that the reasons for this were to be found in having gone for decades as an undiagnosed autistic, my midlife has been defined by that retcon.

My midlife almost entirely has been about that pivot, from not knowing why I was a failure and a fuckup to discovering that in fact I wasn’t and that what failed and fucked up were the systems and structures around me that left me to languish. What’s more, this midlife has been about discovering that while these explanations are helpful, they don’t actually solve the underlying mismatch between me and normative society that is my inability to work and be financially self-sufficient.

Mostly, if I have a midlife crisis it’s informed entirely by establishing that the second half of my life (or, you know, potentially less) almost certainly will be so much worse than the first.

What’s interesting here, though, is that the first prong of Rachel’s two-prong crisis is “feelings of inadequacy and a dull sense of slow impending doom”, and while in the seven years since my diagnosis I’ve mostly dispensed with the internalized ableism that had me feeling inadequate, the reality still is that my capacities are insufficient for society’s demands. There’s a reason for my sense of impending doom and that sense is not a dull one.

None of this is meant to diminish the midlife crisis of Rachel or anyone else, although I recognize that as I blather on about myself here it’s going to seem that way. I just find it interesting, both the differences and the parallels.

I mean, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve also been “feeling like my body is changing without my approval”, and in fact not too long ago during the end of summer when the weather got too hot for me to get in my daily walk for almost two weeks, I noticed the changes in my body even just from that amount of time without exericse.

My therapist and I spent maybe a third of a session getting into the idea that there’s a mental conception of what my body feels like, looks like, and is that’s described and defined almost entirely by what my body actually felt like, looked like, and was back in my twenties and thirties—and there’s certainly no question that my body then and my body now do not agree with each other.

For years now, since my diagnosis, my tagline has referred to a “mediocre midlife”—the current, full version as seen as my homepage describing me as “the unsupported use case of a disordered, surplus, mediocre midlife”. While I do believe in reclaiming mediocrity writ large as a weapon against normativity, I’ve described myself as a mediocre autistic for a reason, and it’s because I can’t help but feel like I’m slowly falling through the cracks.

The funny thing about to some extent reclaiming that mediocrity is that, as I’ve also discussed in therapy, whenever I’ve done any mood tracking, I’ve tended and trended toward weaving back and forth around a basic midline. In my original tracking app, I had this labelled “Meh”. Now that I’m tracking at the end of each day on my Apple Watch, I select “Neutral” more than anything else, and only fill out the succeeding screens with emotions or causes if the deviation is strong enough in one direction of another.

What I mean by funny here is that, as I said in therapy yesterday, I feel like if an outside, third party looked at my mood tracking they’d assume that we needed to do something get me above that midline. Whereas I think that maintaining that midline is my goal. Whenever I have an extended period (by which I mean, say, a week straight) of making “Slightly Pleasant” or even “Pleasant” on my watch, I know that one or another of the weeks that follow are going to dip the other way.

That, of course, averages out to put me squarely back at the midline overall, and I admit to some skepticism of anyone who claims that they are happy or would mark their days as “Pleasant” most of the time. I don’t look at my habitual midline as a drawback. I think I see it as part of what resilience I do have. (That’s an entire other blog post, the idea of resilience, and it’s coming at some point next week, I think.) It’s okay to remain lower decks.

Anyway, as I cross one midline halfway (or more) through my life, I guess what I’m saying in the end here is that I’d be perfectly “happy” if my second half were allowed to remain mediocre in the sense that midline of my daily moods.

I don’t need to win the lottery or stumble into a surprise inheritance—although I’d welcome either one—but I also don’t need to end up so surplused that I’m left to the streets or worse.

I’m strongly aware of the irony here: while Rachel contrasts her crisis to that of the straight, white, and male American, of course I am a straight, white, male American. I’m aware, too, that these facts about me are the very reasons why I’ve been able to go all the decades of my life without yet being so surplused. As strong as that insulating privilege has been, however, it’s going to run out.

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Bix Dot Blog

03 Dec 2023 at 02:06

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