Much has been neglected of late. My friends, my children, my health and wellbeing—my appearance, definitely. But of all the areas neglected, my blog continues to suffer the greatest offence. Fortunately, it is indifferent to its suffering. Rather it just sits there, ambivalent and unremarkable.
It’s not for want of trying. Perversely, it feels as if there’s been much to write about. I’ve certainly started a number of posts, but then their conclusions have trailed off into the ether. Or worse, they’ve ballooned into gargantuan, self-indulgent tirades, that no unsuspecting person should be assaulted with. I’ve also thought about a number of potential posts, usually while ambling around the bathroom late at night, conversing with myself, only to emerge forty-five minutes later not having brushed my teeth, the original impetus for me being in the bathroom in the first place. Underlying both these attempts and non-attempts at writing is a general lack of concentration. Life feels arrested at the moment, and I with it. My mind is fragmented and stressed, which I suppose unsurprisingly, causes a sort of terminal vacancy.
Anger too has taken hold of me in a way that I am not familiar with. (Most people who have known me for any decent amount time will probably snigger at that statement.) But I’m not talking about mardiness in the workplace, or a bit of hands on hips, neck-stretched-forward proselytising. This is something all-consuming and feels, for want of a better term, like a structural crisis.
If I trace back the events, it emerged at the beginning of the year with the Doc’s quest for a job and the associated financial strain of that. Then the arrival of the job, yet with the financial strain continuing. We will be okay, we told ourselves, as long as nothing in our circumstances change. Then, like a bomb exploding in our flat one evening whilst flipping chicken on the griddle, our landlady gave us notice in the form of a sudden, unexpected and rather clipped email. Thus began a torturous summer of flat hunting—far more arduous than I could ever have expected. Not only were we priced out of the market, but no landlords would accept our offers on two bedroom flats as we were now a family of four. We found ourselves in an impossible bind of being forced to look for bigger properties whilst technically not even being able to afford the flat we were due to leave. After viewing one too many overpriced hovels, leaving London seemed an increasingly desirable option. But that too presented an issue, as the cost of commuting to London for our jobs undermined any savings in moving away. Then, the problem of retaining our daughter’s school place also erupted. With crucial support from friends and family, we finally managed to find somewhere, but the move has cost us considerably and our new home remains largely beyond our current means. At this stage, life feels more like brief respite in a muddy ditch in no man’s land than frolicking across green pastures; there are many more mine-infested miles to trudge.
When I say structural, I am referring to both a crisis in my own internal structure as well the broader socio-political context. Internally, there was certainly a breakdown of sorts. Anger began to crack through every layer of my being. I could feel it in my chest as I walked the streets. A grendel was growing inside of me, threatening to burst out of my mouth at any point and start devouring children, the integrity of my skin compromised and no longer able to contain me. It was a visceral, physical response to a sustained period of stress. I also began to feel disassociated from my own life, other people and to some extent, even my own children, seeing our situation as symptomatic of the general rift occurring between haves and have-nots, rather than simply a product of bad luck and our choices.
The strain is beginning to abate, sort of. But as soon as I cast my eye beyond the walls of our house, I am reminded of the level of shit so many seemed to be mired in; clambering in a swamp of high prices and small prospects. With junior doctors due to strike and legal practitioners placed under increasing financial strain, even the traditionally “good” jobs no longer seem particularly good options. The world of Battle Angel Alita comes to mind, a post-apocalyptic future where the privileged few live in a city in the sky, while the rest are left in the scrap heaps below, eeking out their survival by harvesting organs and selling them on in the vain hope of securing a passport. Perhaps I needn’t deter my children from studying medicine, given that if that is the future, those surgical skills will serve them well on the black market.