I took some time off social media last week, and it did me nothing but good. Of course, I was also burnt out to the point that actual work was impossible, so I couldn’t do anything useful through the weekend. For every silver lining, a cloud.
I did finish Volume Three of Anais Nin’s diaries; it covers the years 1939-1944. Nin has been transplanted to New York, and mourns the loss of Paris as she’s trying to deal with the war as well–it’s a repeat, as a matter of fact, since her mother moved to the States with young Anais and her brothers after the father of the family’s bullshit reached a certain point. (It’s clear the bullshit had been going on for years and didn’t stop afterward.) So, while Nin isn’t entirely at sea, it’s still a shock. What with world war and the same people who were gaslighting and taking advantage of her before being moved to New York too, Nin’s in an unenviable position.
Watching her struggle with her feelings, with her grief, and with several people who seem to view her as an ATM instead of a human being (since she gets a small allowance from her banker husband and is generous to the point of going hungry herself) is difficult reading sometimes. I found myself wincing along in sympathy, especially during her breakdown proper. Not to mention some of the semi-familiar names aren’t covering themselves with glory–it was no surprise, for example, to find out Kenneth Patchen was a misogynist piece of shit, but the story of Max Ernst painting over Eleonora Carrington’s canvases, then gaslighting her, was new and both stories filled me with the same irritation at men I normally get from reading a Reddit “r/relationships” post.
Nin also writes a lot about witnessing the violence without adding to it.
I feel I must remain an instrument of perception which must not allow itself to be destroyed by great violence, deafened by machine guns, callused by harshness, though it is quite possible that I may not survive life in America.–Anais Nin, Diaries, Volume 3, p.194
I underlined that bit. (Hard same, girlfriend.) It’s comforting–useless to deny it–to read her struggling with the same feelings I am, peering across decades to share a moment of similarity. It helps, sometimes, to know one’ s not alone. She’s much more focused on small, personal, day-to-day work holding back hunger and illness for the small circle of limpets clinging to her than the overarching news of the day, while still being affected by the news of the day to the point of trauma. It’s completely familiar. She knows she can’t save the world, and is struggling with the difficult lesson that one can’t even save those one wants to, if they are averse to the rescue.
Anyway, I’m back online but that could change at any moment, for along with the hideous news cycle and firehose of terrible things social media is justly famous for, there’s also a smaller, more personal drama here, too.
Miss B is not doing well, though she’s rallied from a recent frightening nadir. She’s an elderly dog, after all, and I’ve known for the last two years that she’s in something of a holding pattern. The time when I’ll have to make the most difficult decision and arrangements of all is not quite yet, but I can see it from here. It’s extremely unlikely she’ll last the summer, and given what’s going on…well, hug your own fur-friends for me, my beloveds, and pet them gently.
It will absolutely gut me to do what needs to be done, but the alternative would be to selfishly hold on while she’s in pain and I cannot, will not do that. So I watch, and wait, and she gets the lion’s dab of bacon grease in her bowl–as always, you know, she’s always been mad for the stuff and I see no reason to skimp or scrimp now. And I make very sure to tell her what a good girl she is every time I happen to think it, which again is no change.
She’ll tell me when she’s ready, and that will be that. But oh, it hurts.
So…things are terrible right now and I’m taking what solace I can, wherever I can find it. Both dogs are performing their usual morning, “Mum, get moving, we need toast and then you need walkies,” and though Miss B has decided that walkies are no longer for her–even short jaunts around the block–the forms must still be observed. No doubt the habit is a great comfort to her, and as long as that’s the case it will remain.
Monday’s started out with a bit of a bang. I suppose I should go get some toast wrangled. All I want to do is crawl back into bed, but even if I’m aching the work has to be done.
Nin knew about that, too. Plus ça change…