We’re in Boston for my sister-in-law’s graduation from grad school.
Telling people I have a blog is getting easier, but like anything I have to deal with what I get. This ranges from a polite nod (Matt’s friend from the old neighborhood), to “Awesome! I am so in support of blogs! Everyone should have a blog!” (see below). Most people, though, don’t even ask what it’s about. Seems like either a conversation starter or stopper, like bringing up your diet plan or your personal exercise routine. (I find those subjects boring in the extreme, as I would someone discussing their waxing schedule, and tend to respond to them with a polite nod.)
At L.'s grad party, I struck up a conversation with the photographer. I liked her because she took massive photos of my children and because she seemed like a generally groovy chick. This was confirmed when she gushed about having lived in Seattle. Her love of Seattle's "laid-back attitude" is the only reason I could tell her what my blog was about without feeling like a complete freaking idiot.
“It’s pretty specific,” I told her, scribbling the address on a post-it at my father-in-law’s wet bar. “Depression, drugs, spiritual practice and yoga,” I said, wincing slightly.
“Rawkin!” she growled, smiling big, then pointed at herself. “Recovering anorexic.”
“OK, you might relate,” I said.
The other person I told was a long-haired, tattooed guy, after he told me about his vision quest in Puerto Rico. I told him my blog was about depression as an opportunity for spiritual practice.
He rubbed his chin and looked to one side. “Depression,” he mumbled. “Spiritual practice.” That was all. He had first uttered the “s” word when he told me about his path to finding Native American spirituality. You can’t throw those words around in Boston so easily. People look at you like you must be stupid. Still, just because a person has done a vision quest doesn't mean he wants to discuss depression.
I haven't mentioned the blog to any of my New England in-laws, even to L., who just got a master's degree in social work. On a superficial level, it seems like it wouldn't be so radical to them: T is bipolar (unmedicated), R is chronically depressed and on Prozac, G has suffered so many syndromes and isms I can't list them all. Still, none of this means we should all be reading about my depression. I don't want to open myself up to criticism. It's hard enough being an in-law.
I have to be careful not to use my blog as a means to explain my behavior to people like my relatives. Before I got really sick, explaining my behavior had become a sort of a compulsion, along with the guilt and paranoia. They were all a sick little family of emotions nourishing the great weed of depression. Anyway, it could be tempting to use this writing as one big self-explanation to anyone who has ever disapproved of my behavior. But that would miss the point.
I'll admit, I do not always behave impeccably. Nor do I want to. Nor should anyone. One of the greatest stories I heard on this trip was from B (the above-mentioned polite nodder), who told of a grandmother who freaked out at his kid's birthday party. Frazzled by the chaos, she simply taped her cell phone number to the back of her grandchild's shirt and went for a walk.
This is the kind of thing I'm learning to do.
"Ha!" I yelped. "What a genius idea!"
B glared. "We were swamped. We didn't appreciate it."
It pisses people off, you know, the ones who say, "Well, someone has to take care of business." I know, because I used to be one of those people. Believe me, I take care of a lot of business. It's just that I don't always have to take care of all the business.
Read my blog. It explains why.