Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Churchill's black dog meets Buddha

Depression with a capital D is a bitch. It's a bitch on wheels with a sidecar of black, dark, deep, abiding, ceaseless, grimy, angry fear when you're depressed, fat, seemingly friendless, gaining on middle age, unemployed with few prospects, single with few prospects, and without health insurance when your closest companion is four-legged and incapable of speech.

And Katherine at Beyond My Slab should know, because she's all of these.

You'd think her blog would be an unmitigated downer, an endless stream of woe is me. And it is. Sort of. But by dint of Katherine's voice, this slow crawl toward despair is -- or at least it was for me -- impossible to stop reading.

The bright design is nice, and it flies in the face of the palpable doldrums rolling of the site (an effort, perhaps, to put on a brave face), but I could do without the highlighter yellow. Katherine, consider tabs for an About page, and move the favorite books, movies, etc., there. Think about limiting the number of posts per page, too, to cut down on scrolling. Figure out how to make your archives into a drop-down list. And I suggest a larger font size -- the one you've got makes my head hurt.

She's prolific, having blogged for two years and participated in Blog365 at some point, and I read the entire thing. This says something. It could be the dogs. I'm not going to lie, this blog is chock full of them. Dogs, dogs, dogs, and more dogs. Which is fine by me 'cause I have four of them, but cat lovers may despair.

But it's not just her fuzzy, noble companion, Buddha. She's got this quiet sense of humor. And she's kind of zen when she's not letting misery pull her down. And she's interesting. Quirky in the best ways. She likes old movies and Pratchett. She's a little pickled, and I like her version of denial. And she has these really weird dreams that I'm so glad she documents. I mean, who has sex dreams about Jacques Cousteau? I ask you. It reminds me of my sex dreams about Father Mulcahy.

The blog is really well-written, but it wasn't until this post that I figured out how old Katharine is. There's a really slow reveal going on here, with bits and pieces taunting me. But there's also a willingness to let it all out there, to show her warts, that I can't help but like.

Sure, there's some boring stuff and memes, but there's a nice mix of short and long, meaningful and fluffy posts. And with this litany of daily accomplishments, one gets the feeling that it's holding her together, keeping her focused, and so it's kind of fascinating. It gets a little Eeyore-ish, sure, but she writes it so well I don't much mind. There's a whole lot of sadness going on, but it's nicely written, so cleanly expressed. There ends up being a really scary time around the fall/winter of 2007, and it's continued recently. Honestly, it worries me. I want to hug her.

Katherine. You wrote recently of wanting to chuck it all in and delete your blog Don't. Please. Ok, so maybe you're not popular and swimming in comments. Neither am I, frankly, on my personal blog. But keep at it. What you're doing here is valuable, to yourself and to your readers. And I think you should have more. I don't know why you don't, except maybe people turn away from the drag, don't know how to respond to what's going on in your life. All I'm saying is I like you. I like your blog. I wish things were going better for you right now. I wish you'd get a great job, find a big burly man to love, nurture some rewarding friendships, and start writing the kind of stuff that isn't such a downer. Because I know you've got it in you, and I want to hear all about it.

If you weren't doing all the things you're supposed to do when you're depressed and jobless -- getting out of the house, getting exercise, volunteering, going on interviews, joining book clubs, putting on a brave face -- I'd want to hit you upside your head for being so blue. But you are doing those things, and so I want to support you in your efforts to make a better life.

So here. Three stars eagerly, unreservedly given, and not because I hurt for you, because I want to hope for you. It's because I like what you have to say and the way you say it.


  1. I like her writing and I even like the Eeyorish post where she details all of her worst fears about herself.

    Sometimes writing the things you are most afraid of can be cathartic and rob them of their hold on you.

  2. so many dogs over there. dogs. everywhere. well, the silver lining ... at least they're the big sexy kind and not the little irriating kind. i hope.

    just so many dogs over there.

  3. Eh, I was kind of turned off by her rant about people with tattoos not being able to get better jobs than filling jars with jelly.

    I'm a hooker. I would say that's a step up from makin' jelly!

  4. Yeah, Whore,but even you did your fair share of jellyjar filling.

  5. I like her.

    Give yourself a hefty pat on the back. You had the balls to submit here. I've been reading this place forever and won't do it!

    You go, girl. Don't silence yourself. One of my favorite blogs is written by someone suffering from mental illness, and I never want to see her disappear.

    Talk about it, talk about it, talk about it. Be "in your face" with it so that it stops being something people are ashamed of and starts being something we acknowledge and fight.

  6. Maybe in suburban Minnesota they have rules about the tattooed masses.

  7. Thank you for your review, Calamity. I appreciate your kindness.

    Regarding the tattooed folks. I did not intend to speak ill of the average person with tattoos. These particular people in this factory had shaven heads and every visible area of skin on their bodies was solidly covered with tattoos, including their eyelids. For example, one had a resurrection theme going--across the left side of his face and nose was the head of a very battered and bloody Christ on the cross. The rest of the figure and the cross continued down his neck and, presumably, down his chest. The other side of his face and neck featured bible verses, including My God My God Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me? in large red letters. I just can't see this man having many doors of employment opportunity open to him.

  8. I've been reading her blog for approximately a year and you hit the nail on the head. I can't quit going there.


Grow a pair.