Lately, I have been thinking of a quote from the Haruki Murakami novel Dance, Dance, Dance, where the protagonist, an entertainment journalist, describes his job as "shoveling cultural snow". I feel that is much of what I've done lately, methodically go through the process of learning and describing the culture around me. This is especially what I've been doing on this website for a few years.

It is a bit of a paradox: I look back at write-ups I wrote in the 2000s, when this site was thriving and I was passionate about certain things, and much of what I wrote was not very good. Even my spelling and grammar were often quite shaky, and my higher-level writing skills, such as providing organization for what I was saying, and describing things in an accessible fashion, were often ridiculous. Much of it was a step up from being a rant. I would reference pet theories without explaining them, and write things that were reactions to daily events that didn't matter beyond my horizon. In the past few years, on here, I've taken to finding a thing and writing about it. I find some event or artwork, describe it briefly, give my reaction to it, and try to link it together with other similar concepts. And I often do that whether I am that interested or not: I can't wait for emotional involvement to write. In a lot of ways, I am pleased that I've grown in discipline and technical precision while writing.

And yet.

It has been a while since I feel like what I am doing makes any sort of difference. I am not writing about things that matter to me, or to the world. There is still a lot going on in the world, but I don't channel much of my feelings about it into here. I feel that, as I've become a better writer, I am also becoming less relevant. Part of this is that the readership base on here is so small that I can't get the same exposure and spark the same debate that I could in 2004 or 2005. And part of it is that I've just become jaded to any act of the written word being able to change things: I am just going through the motions.

After completing this year's Iron Noder, (which I am doing with this very writeup!) I feel that I may take a break from writing for a while, until I can figure out what role writing should have to serve me, and to serve others.

Today's list is reasons that this Thanksgiving was one of the best that I can remember. Writing this as a reminder to myself for future reference.


1. I had a plan. Two weeks before I went shopping for what to wear. I ordered a gluten free cherry pie, confirmed the times, and decided that I would drive separately after talking to my therapist about how anxious I get every holiday.

2. I saw my therapist. This was important because she helped me find some ways to reduce my anxiety, and when that wasn't possible, get away from the situation by leaving early, arriving late, or a combination of those. My husband was sick so I ended up taking the girls by myself, and the day before I warned my inlaws that I had been having problems with my back so I was going to try to stick around, but may need to cut the time I spent with them short. That helped them understand that I wasn't necessarily avoiding them, but it gave me an out if I needed, and it was also very true that my back has been beastly uncomfortable lately so I did want to make sure I was taking good care of it.

3. I let my mood tell me when to leave instead of worrying about a set departure time. My inlaws serve snacks beforehand and I knew there would be leftovers regardless of when we arrived. I felt like we arrived at the perfect time, after snacks, not too long before the meal was served.

4. I ate before I left. Food at other people's homes always makes me nervous and I hate things like people telling me they accidentally put a tiny bit of flour in the gravy, but it's such a small amount that we shouldn't have any trouble. Eating before we left allowed me to show up at their place and pass by the snacks I would have eaten otherwise. This way I had two pieces of salami, a couple servings of I , and a glass of lemonade.

5. I drank plenty of water before I left. This goes with number four and made for a better experience. Eating strange foods that have more salt and sugar than we would normally be exposed to can lead to dehydration, especially with the heat blasting and us just sitting around in front of a coffee table full of food didn't help either. I brought water to my mom's and that was a smart move because I could keep my water bottle with me instead of having to drink the water at her house that tastes like chlorine to me. Yes, I am a water snob. No, I will not apologize for it.

6. I didn't apologize. Not for being late to my mom's, not for asking what things had been made with or how they had been made, or for any of the other things that I got strange looks and raised eyebrows for doing or saying. 

7. I booked an appointment with my chiropractor after the two day extravaganza just in case I needed it. My mom has a wood stove and I had a lot of trouble breathing at her house so I was so glad to walk into that office after it was all over. 

8. I made an extra effort to listen and be empathetic. That went a long way, and since I was already fed and fairly well rested, that helped each event go more smoothly.

9. I went for a walk before we left for my mom's. While it was a short walk it gave me some time out of the house and out in the fresh air. Next year I'm going to bring our snow boots and other warm weather gear and I'm going to go outside if no one else is because that will give me a break from the smoke and general air of closeness that comes from too much food and too many people.

10. I reminded myself that I had much to be thankful for and tried to let things go. There were moments when my temper flared, but for the most part those things blew over quickly. 


To recap, I'm happy that I didn't get sick, I didn't eat too much, I didn't drink too much, and I had a good time talking to people I hadn't seen in a while. I'm hoping that writing this down will help me get through other events that we need to attend and I can refine and revisit this list as it becomes necessary. There are things I would do differently next time around, but I'm happy to report that due to better planning and anticipating things that could happen, and have happened in the past, I was able to avert a full blown holiday meltdown and a trip to the emergency room which is always a reason to be grateful.

Until next time,


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