When almost anyone asks me what something means, I will answer with gusto. Meaning and how we create meaning is one of the major interests of my life. Semiotics is how things mean. Semantics is what things mean. The question, no matter what the “something” is, gives me a chance to ply my trade. I don’t get to do that as often as I would like.
My career and indeed my life has had many “interruptions.” Several minor surgeries in the late 90s brought back somatic memories and emotions that completely destroyed the tenuous self esteem and certitude of purpose I had managed to create for myself; In spite of surrounding myself with people who were similar to my family of origin in that they were not supportive to the extreme. I collapsed emotionally. I had to quit my job due to stress and depression so that I could use the energy I could still gather to raise my daughter. This hurt my family financially, my husband did not understand or deal well, at all, with my inability to cope with my despair.
As I once wrote in a poem, “the page will listen when my throat runs dry of scream.” So, I managed to begin writing on several topics dear to me, and this outlet allowed me enough reprieve from teetering on the abyss to do some things, the most important things for me, very well. I was a Girl Scout Leader, made amazing Halloween cakes, and was, I like to think, a fairly significant influencer in the early days of online communities. Eventually I became a peace activist between debilitating bouts of depression, When I was not in a severe depressive episode, migraines stole much of the little remaining time. I developed many physical problems. I knew I had to dig deeper and act as my own, and only, advocate.
I addressed the final piece of unresolved and unhealed emotional damage during this time and began writing about Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy child abuse that I finally understood as the underlying condition that hurt, festered, and scarred over without ever healing. Working for peace allowed me to develop strength and determination and use my writing and field skills in support of good, valuable work which others valued and expressed the value they placed on it to me. That gave me enough strength to persist with my healthcare providers until they figured out what physical problem was exacerbating the emotional struggles in which I was engaged. When I had corrective nose surgery so that I could breathe and sleep again, for the first time in decades, it allowed me to create a baseline that allowed me to buttress my own foundations and begin to build a real life of rewarding work for myself. This included finding a network of women bloggers within which I could practice the skills I had never learned or had not had the opportunity to practice.
Within the last couple of years I have noticed a trend of women close to my age, or in the same stage of life as me, regardless of age, beginning to build sub-networks within the larger blogging community. This year at the annual conference of this network of women bloggers, a critical mass of the subgroup began to, as I see it, build upon each others energies, and something amazing is coming from that collaboration.
There is something afoot. As a guerrilla anthropologist with a semiotic toolkit who read too much Alvin Toffler as a child, it seems I have been trend spotting for most of my life. Discerning patterns is what I do best and there hasn’t been a big demand for my rather esoteric skill set in the backwaters where I have lived much of my life. I have also lived in University towns where there is a glut of esoteric when I wasn’t located in the boondocks.
So while I have found my tribe in bloggy world of women of a certain age I have neither the professional work history or money behind me that most of them seem to have. I am so tired of trying to do everything by myself without a safety net or emotional support network, but I lack so much of the social skill it takes to take advantage of the opportunities that are developing as I write that I have a sick feeling I will miss out again.
I have to fight the desire to collapse, to just melt into a puddle of despair and have a little private pity party. I worked ever so diligently to create an awareness of the segmentation of the Baby Boom into several quite distinct cohorts. I was a social media influencer in this area over a decade ago. I was early in to the BlogHer sphere of political and techy bloggers. On my “it ain’t fair” days I feel as though I have helped others and not been acknowledged or reaped any rewards from these efforts. On my better days, I just say, “life isn’t fair and thank my lucky stars that I have a brilliant husband whose research will ultimately save untold people pain, suffering, and premature deaths, that we have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and kids and grandkids who are happy and healthy.
So when Chloe of The Chloe Chronicles asked a question about meaning on a closed blogging group on Facebook, it really made me think. I am absolutely certain that there is a nexus within the global information network that will exert a profound influence on and shape women’s information and history for generations to come. Women have always been keepers of family and community meaning. Local and family history and lore were oral traditions and documented in the letters of women that were saved for a few decades at best while institutionalized knowledge was most often limited to that from male spheres of influence.
No matter how troubled, unappreciated, stressed, overworked, or underpaid we women writers of a certain age may be, we are creating the structure of future with the paths we walk, the words we write, and the myths we disintegrate with our raging ray-guns powered by the energy released during hormonal fluctuations. I am still convinced that all the other women bloggers of a certain age are thinner, richer, better looking, more inspired, more talented, and better connected than I will every be, that is my problem. I am glad I am in their midst, because they help me understand that the meaning that is everywhere in their worlds is the same meaning that I find in mine. We are all so much more similar than different. That is meaningful.