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Pared Down To a Nub - De File — LiveJournal
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Pared Down To a Nub
Sometimes the burden of explaining what has been happening feels too big to shoulder. And sometimes I'm too tired to even worry about that burden. Frequently, in fact.

I have managed to maintain what they call a "social media presence" on Facebook, thanks, in large measure, to its phone-friendliness. But what one shares there is rarely what one really needs to share. Or, even if it is what one needs to share, one rarely shares enough of it.

Still, that sort of interaction has its uses. When my invalid mother suddenly declined in April, knowing that I could turn to Facebook for words of support, however superficial, lifted my spirits. Besides, what else can one do hour after hour in a hospital or hospice besides distract oneself with technology? Having that window on an outside world made the waiting a lot easier to bear.

That said, for all of the solace I took in this semi-illusory "community", getting a condolence card in the mail from people like quuf felt a lot more meaningful than electronic "hugs". It reminded me of what I liked best about Live Journal, the fact that the connections it facilitated were deeper and stranger than the streamlined sort that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram promote.

But I stayed away from here, at least publicly -- sometimes I would compose private entries to order my thoughts -- because I realized that I didn't have the emotional and physical resources to cope with another front in my technologically mediated social engagement. I didn't want to make the same mistake as Napoleon and Hitler, if you get my drift.

Also, it's hard to report on one's doings when so many of them involve unpleasant or difficult circumstances. Simply put, the past eighteen months have been brutal for me and my family. Those of you who are friends with Kim will know what I'm talking about. Come to think of it, very few of the people who still participate semi-regularly on Live Journal are not "dual-friended".

Anyway, the point is, I just haven't had much time to do anything other than patching holes in a ship that seems perpetually on the verge of sinking. Some things are better now. Our daughter is definitely more together than she was six months ago. At the same time, the number of traumatic experiences we've dealt with since the beginning of 2013 has me always wondering what can go wrong next.

Right now, I'm wondering where the summer I was supposed to use to recover has gone. High school here resumes, perversely, on August 7th, so I only have two more weeks before the madness commences full force. And I have literally accomplished none of the goals I had set for myself in May.

Much of the blame for that, however, has to do with the fact that the aforementioned daughter has been completing ninth grade online, a pursuit that has required a lot of attentiveness from Kim and I. I was "point parent" for the second semester of Honors English, which was extremely time-consuming and enormously frustrating and am now playing that role for Spanish, which is not inspiring a great deal of enthusiasm on the part of the student in question.

She actually just called me, advising me to stay at Starbucks a while longer so that she can continue jumping on her trampoline to favorite songs -- an activity for which her parents are no longer permitted to be within earshot -- and delightedly sharing the news that Benedict Cumberbatch is slated to play Brian Epstein in a biopic. Considering that her two biggest obsessions in 2014 have been the BBC Sherlock series and The Beatles, this qualifies as earth-shattering information.

What else? I have been trying to keep my dad company, knowing how difficult the transition into widower-hood can be. I either make or bring him dinner almost every night and usually eat with him as well. Luckily, he married late and had already developed interests -- baseball and opera, principally -- that were independent of anyone else and to which he has returned with increased vigor now that the emotionally grueling aspects of caring for and about my mom are no longer draining him.

The week before last, I made the long drive with him from Tucson to Mendocino to meet up with my sister and her family in order to scatter some of my mother's ashes at one of her favorite places on earth. He didn't want to fly, since he is largely confined to a wheelchair now and was anxious about airplane restrooms. So I volunteered to take him by car, a decision, as I wrote on Facebook, that I will one day be glad for having made but which I often regretted in the moment.

I will try to write about the trip at greater length. For now, it will suffice to say that the actual "ceremony" felt meaningful to me, but was strangely anti-climatic, given how little energy everyone else invested in making it seem ceremonial. The family time we had was really nice, though. And I was able to steal away for a couple hours to drive up my favorite stretch of Highway 1 and take photographs, an activity that did a lot to restore my sanity at the time and which is continuing to sustain me in retrospect as I contemplate the vastness of my to-do list.

Although I am sure that some of the exhaustion I've been dealing with constitutes a form of depression -- it's hard to imagine not being depressed, under the circumstances -- more of it derives from the fact that I haven't been getting enough sleep for quite a while. When your teenager takes advantage of her not having to go to regular school to indulge her night-owl tendencies and her other parent turns into something frightening past midnight, you may find yourself getting to bed at 3 or 4 in the morning.

Well, it's time to return to the most pressing task at hand. I do still stop in and read your journals now and then, though I haven't felt qualified to comment. It's nice to know that you are out there. I do sincerely hope that I can be more present in the months ahead than I've been able to be recently.

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16 comments or Leave a comment
bitterlawngnome From: bitterlawngnome Date: July 24th, 2014 02:57 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I have often wondered over the last few months how you're doing during all this. It's good to hear from you.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 26th, 2014 10:57 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Thanks. I think I'm doing OK. The challenges keep coming, but I suppose that's just how life is going to be for someone my age, in this situation.

Here's hoping I get to see you again sometime in the not-too-distant future. I was in Seattle in April, but consumed by my conference and the realization that I was going to return home having to say goodbye to my mother.
alsoname From: alsoname Date: July 24th, 2014 05:40 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'm so sorry, belatedly, to hear about your mother. I'm glad you've been able to spend time with your father, including that road trip -- I agree, you won't regret it, even if at the time it seemed like a bad idea.

You are, of course, qualified to comment on other people's journals -- they have you on their friends lists for a reason. Speaking for myself, I've always appreciated your insights, even those that came in the form of a brief one- or two-sentence comment.

I am interested in hearing about your impressions of online high school. I admit the curmudgeon in me has a very bad knee-jerk reaction to it. I wonder if it's just another right-wing strategy to destroy public education. Then again, I would have jumped at the opportunity if it had been available when I was that age!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 26th, 2014 11:01 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Great to hear from you. It would nice to meet up sometime.

I suppose not feeling qualified is rather silly, objectively, but it's something I contend with a lot. As I told my therapist, "I want to revive my Spanish, but that makes me think I need to revive my never-was-any-good Latin. But the prospect of revisiting Latin just reminds me that I really should learn Ancient Greek before I do anything else."


The online school where Skylar is enrolled definitely has standards. It's actually quite difficult in terms of time commitment. But the teachers are overextended and the lessons vary in quality. Basically, unless you are already gifted at a subject or have access to good tutoring, it would be very difficult to succeed. I also suspect that it's a profit-making venture of the sort we wring our hands about, but have no concrete evidence of that.

On the other hand, without this option for her to make progress while healing at home, her future would have looked very dark for a while. So I'm grateful that this opportunity existed and wouldn't want to see it eliminated on ideological grounds.
masoo From: masoo Date: July 24th, 2014 07:33 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Your comments, here, there, and everywhere, are always welcomed. You are eminently qualified.
croneitude From: croneitude Date: July 25th, 2014 04:59 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I am in complete agreement!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 26th, 2014 11:02 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 26th, 2014 11:02 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Thanks! As you can read in my comment above, it's an issue I struggle with mightily and often rather absurdly.
_luaineach From: _luaineach Date: July 24th, 2014 04:25 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
turns into something frightening past midnight,

this is me after about 10pm. Sometimes even after 9:30!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 26th, 2014 11:04 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I can't overstate how challenging it is having a morning person like Kim deal with an anything-but-morning person like Skylar whose tendencies are exacerbated by being a teenager desperate to have time to herself.
xxxpunkxgrrlxxx From: xxxpunkxgrrlxxx Date: July 25th, 2014 04:39 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
really glad to see you back here.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 26th, 2014 11:04 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Thank you! I've been missing you. I hope things are going a little better then they were when we last exchanged words.
xxxpunkxgrrlxxx From: xxxpunkxgrrlxxx Date: July 26th, 2014 11:06 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
i don't recall when we were last in touch, but it's safe to say they're not, as my journal can attest to. oh well... maybe someday.
croneitude From: croneitude Date: July 25th, 2014 04:59 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I am always pleased to see you here. :-)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 26th, 2014 11:05 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Awwww, thank you. The feeling is mutual.
sisterblister83 From: sisterblister83 Date: August 9th, 2014 12:24 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Kudos Charlie. Glad to see words scribed here make an impact on your well being. I find it to be an effective remedy as well.
16 comments or Leave a comment