The Particular Finest

Presented by aurynn shaw

Finding Words

You’ve probably noticed I don’t post much here anymore, with the last two entries being announcements of radio appearances, and the entry before that being almost two years old.

The last few years have been the longest few decades of my life.

The still-ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been a level of constant background stress that I never knew I could experience. Watching New Zealand go from one of the best pandemic responses in the world to the utter disaster that we’re currently living through has been heartbreaking on a scale I never knew could be. It’s been crushing to experience symptoms that match Long COVID over the last year, leaving me so exhausted as to be next to nonfunctional for months on end.

I haven’t been able to find the words.

When things are going well I can write, because there’s a font I can sit beside, listen as the ideas pour forth and bounce through my mind. The words shape, refine and hone themselves into these Particulars Finest that you so enjoy.

I haven’t been able to find the words.

Lately, that font is a dry and dust-filled reservoir that issues only echoes. The ideas of sociology and technology and feminism that once felt too big and intense to express have evaporated, leaving me with only the memories of when I was once more than this.

I wrote once on how far I have to fall that I was scared of the tightrope of capability and how much I had to lose if I slipped, and these last few years have been the slippage and the fall. I was so scared of slipping, I didn’t realise how scary it would be to fall without even being able to cry out.

I haven’t been able to find the words.

When I’m too depressed or exhausted to reach out to my friends, I cannot share my ideas and shape them together. If they reach out to me, the ideas themselves are absent, lost to the black tide or the all-consuming fog that leaves only the interminable now.

I lay in bed and stare into the void of online videos, barely able to focus on the content, barely able to focus on barely being able to focus on the content.

How do I talk to anyone about that state, even once it’s faded? How do I talk about being in that state, where the days have blurred together and when I’m asked what’s new all I can do is stare blankly and wish that I had anything at all to say? How do I do more than wish I were more than what I am?

I haven’t been able to find the words.

Things are changing a bit, though.

The exhaustion has faded a lot, and I’m not spending most days in bed now. I’ve been regularly writing infrastructure code for Cloud Island, building beautifully idempotent system specifications with a rather cursed tool that I adopted and really, really enjoy using.

I’m starting to find the place where that passion for sociology and feminism and technology exists inside me, scraping the residue of the black tide from its walls and floors and remembering the beauty of those thoughts. The ideas are there sparkling under the muck, and I can feel who I was again.

These are the first words I’ve found in so long, and held on for long enough to pour onto a page, to sit and experience the delicate dance of prose upon my fingertips. It’s been so long.

It’s been so long.

I really hope it stays.