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October 25, 2006

the post where i wonder if i've gone too full-disclosure

Posted by dogpossum on October 25, 2006 6:01 PM in the category clicky

I've been reading this blog by someone I knew at Unimelb, and this here by someone I don't know.

I'm kind of caught thinking 'how wonderful' in response to their grasp of the written word, and also 'how terrible' when I really pay attention to the things they're writing about.

I've also had my attention caught by Galaxy's post on Sarsaparilla about Alan McKee's book, where the most interesting thing about this books seems not to be McKee (or anyone else's) actual content inside the book, but the ideas that it's prompted in Galaxy's brain. When she writes about her delight in the cook and the chef, and declares it is beautiful, I know what she means. I like the thought of finding a cooking program beautiful, or more importantly, of making that declarative statement usually reserved for sunsets and grand gestures for the happy working relationship between a middle aged country woman-cum-marketing queen and a slight, big city type chef queer young man. I know what she means. I think it's the same way I feel when I'm sitting on the bus listening to Willie Bryant rollicking through Chimes at the Meeting. I know it's a manufactured dot of pop culture, something mass produced for masses of people - masses of years ago, no less. I know it's not perfect, and that I should be wary of the class stuff and the gender stuff and the race stuff and so on. But just for that moment, it is beautiful, because it matches the way I feel just then, and the way I like music to make me feel. And I stop thinking about it for a minute, and just enjoy the things I can do with this nice bit of music. Just as Galaxy points out, it's not technically great, but it suits my needs, as a creative person, and as a fan and as a consumer and as a producer. It is beautiful.

When I read those first two blogs I mentioned above, I think of my friend B and her partner P, who I only knew a little bit before they moved back to the states. Not only are B's blog and those other blogs alike in topic and the loveliness-to-read-ness, they're also alike in the way they make extraordinary events ordinary. Life threatening illness becomes a part of the everyday experiences of someone I 'know'. Maybe that's simply a function of blogging - bringing you closer to people through the ordinary details of people's lives.
Or maybe, as Pavlov's cat suggests, it's not only

a brush with mortality and a few days of submergence in the weird underworld of hospitals, doctors and industrial-strength drugs that brings out the very best in bloggers
but that
blogging is a particularly good mode for such experience; bloggers can write it and readers can read it almost in real time, recording and following the trajectory of the experience as it happens, and very likely even in an interactive way -- so that the act of blogging itself is therapeutic, and the responses from concerned and attentive readers maybe even more so.

But to return to my story about B and P. We met through dance, at the very first lindy exchange, and then only saw each other once a year (if we were lucky). And most of our time was spent rushing out words between dances, or over late night food. But you know, you come to know people through dancing as well - I remember how B feels in your arms when you're leading her through a swingout. I remember the temperature of her hand and how she was taller than me, and how that was just the right height for me to lead (and still is).
And I remember the texture of P's lovely velvet suit jacket under my left hand on his shoulder. The suit that boiled him alive, but which he refused to take off, for vanity's sake (and vanity well spent, I say: it was such a lovely suit). I remember the expressions on P's face and dancing to the theme song from Austen Powers with him and thinking 'this is the very perfectest song to dance to with this partner, right now'. And when I read B's posts on her blog, I remember the nice note she left us after they stayed in our house once, and the way she would talk sensibly about being ill and having to travel in to Melbourne from the northern territory for treatment. And I have so many of those little bits of memory about people that have nothing to do with what they say or think, and everything to do with the way we communicated for a few minutes with our bodies. Dancers talk about it in terms of 'connection', and that's really the best word for it. It sounds a little hippy if you haven't felt it, but how else can you explain suddenly moving with a complete stranger who doesn't even speak your language in complete harmony? Or the way you'll look up at your partner and laugh, not because you've said or done anything particularly funny, but because you've both suddenly started to really be together.

And when I read those blog entries about being ill, or dealing with surgery - living with illness, I should say, where you are most definitely more than just 'ill', you are someone who's life is still going on, who's still doing interesting things and having intersting thoughts and stopping to say 'it is beautiful' - I have that same echo-of-senses that I remember from dancing. When Stephanie writes about untangling herself from the demands of her everyday life or of illness as text, I think 'yes, I know that feeling. I can smell it, right now. It's like the feel of P's coat, or knowing how tall B is with my eyes closed, even though I was only holding her hand, and she's thousands of miles away'.

All the things that I can remember about my mother being ill are bad. There are no nice memories and nothing happy to remember. So when I read Stephanie's stories about being ill, I also think about the way Galaxy writingit is beautiful reminded me that there is beauty in the minutiae of everyday things, and that these things - the smell of ya pears or knowing exactly how tall someone is, and how much they weigh, just from holding their hand - are the sorts of details that go into making up our memories of people or of days or of things that are beautiful. So while Stephanie's stories make my nose run and my eyes fill up, I can also say, despite the difficult thoughts that go with them, it is beautiful.

Posted by dogpossum on October 25, 2006 6:01 PM in the category clicky