The vanishing point
Posted on October 24th, 2015
No, this isn’t one of those annoying posts about quitting blogging. It’s one of those annoying posts about where I’ve been.
When I first had an internet presence–to the point of a website–it was a long time ago and it was full of personal information. I had a vanity domain before the term was coined, because duh, that was our last name. (Someone once asked me why we didn’t have a .com; I said, well, we weren’t for-profit so .com didn’t work, and we weren’t a non-profit so .org didn’t work, so we were limited to .net–oh, halcyon Internet days, when we only had three choices.)
Someone using the Wayback Machine and a little research could embarrass the hell out of me, or try. Fortunately I’ve lost most of my sense of shame, and I was pretty cute in my twenties.
But over time, the amount I share has decreased. There are accounts with my real name out there, mainly to keep people from looking elsewhere. Why would someone look for a separate Twitter account, say, for me when I have one or two under my real name? I always believed in hiding in plain sight. As a child, when there was a great need for a thing among the children to be concealed, it would fall on me to defend the others, and I would deadpan, in detail, what household sins had been committed to my parents, who wouldn’t believe me because of course I must be joking and who would put in all that detail? I would smile and shrug. Hiding in plain sight.
I abhor a liar–and have always been uneasy with pseudonyms, even this one, which has been a running joke of a nickname for me for ages.
It’s easier just to stay silent, which is why I’ve been silent lately.
So much has happened that was very specific, though, and even delivered deadpan without detail it gives too much away. A series of wrongs were done to kH at his workplace when he was doing what he does best, following the letter of the law, being honorable, trying to protect people, and suffering the consequences of being a good person who does the right thing in a federal agency. Eventually someone was stupid enough to retaliate against him in a way that rose to the level of a civil rights violation (amazingly not auditing his program, which was usually the retaliation vehicle of choice; there is something to be said about following the letter of the law and being honorable when it comes to being audited all the damned time). When I read the violation as written, I came downstairs, laptop in hand and asked, “Does this really say what I think it says? This is prima fa–”
Me: “It’s entirely contained in this–”
That was last year, the year we celebrated Hanukkah instead of Christmas because I couldn’t stand the stress of one. more. thing. (Earlier this year pH suggested we could do that again. I said that I’d thought she’d wanted to alternate, but she said she thought I had enough stress. I had to try very hard not to cry.)
If the work situation hadn’t caused us so much pain and suffering for so long, if I didn’t want to physically harm the person responsible if I saw them, if I didn’t hate this person with every fiber of my being, I’d have to thank them, because ultimately, that incredibly stupid prima facie violation gave kH a hall pass from crazy town.
The amazing massage therapist who I’ve been seeing since around 2008 or 9 worked on my back yesterday. She said, “I’ve never seen you like this. It’s not even like it’s your back. It’s relaxed. It actually moves when I push against it.” She knows the entire sordid story of the past few years and said, “It shows just how bad things really were, doesn’t it?”
It really does.
kH is having a vacation from working, which was much-needed. His skin doesn’t look gray anymore. He is going to pH’s classes and activities with me (I don’t think he really knew how much was involved). I can tell him, “Please go help pH with that math problem.” He does dishes and cooking and laundry. If this sounds like welcome to the late 20th century, well, it does to me, too–after what had been more balanced household duties, I’ve been shouldering everything but the paycheck for a long time, and if I could have done that, I would have. If you track the saga of kH’s work insanity backward, it started around the time pH was born, and got really bad about four or five years ago.
If it were up to me, he’d take more time, but he is starting to feel like he should be working and I understand. (I explained yes, this is what the last five years have felt like for me.) Fortunately, kH has a certification that puts him in demand (to anyone who has looked for gainful employment as a lawyer, nothing says I made a catastrophic professional choice after listening to the messages left by recruiters for kH; it is good to be an expert in a narrow, necessary field).
So that’s where we’ve been. There was a negotiation and I didn’t want to post anything while that was going on, just in case. There has been a little bit of contract work on my end (my record for never losing the defense of a motion for summary judgment stands, thank you very much). The day after things were settled–quite literally the day after–I could write creatively again. Just like that.
I’d love to leave it there, but we are not all better, just like that. He’s not all better, just like that. It takes time and effort. But it’s so much better that I could never have thought it, a year ago, two years ago, five years ago. There have been people who have kept me sane, both in town, online, and by phone calls–randomly, but always when I needed it desperately–and you know who you are and I hope you know how much I cherish your friendship.
Now I am making myself cry. So then. We’re back. Who knows? Maybe we’ll even celebrate Christmas. I have no idea where that will be: here, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington. Wherever we are, we’ll have something to celebrate.