Surfacing: Some reflections on the general messiness of life

I have been quiet these last few days. Not entirely absent, but definitely lying low. I’ve needed to claim a little cleansing time, hold social media at arms length for a while and, you know what? It feels really good. My life has taken on a fine shade of hell lately–at the least serious end a recalcitrant major household appliance, and at the most serious, an alcoholic adult child who confessed to making active suicidal plans. And since this is real life, there have been a few more critical pressure points in between, familial and financial.


With the worst of the most critical crises calmed, but of course not “over,” I thought I would emerge a little and take a deep breath.

Today I submitted my latest outside review and I am looking forward to spending a little time reading simply for the sake of reading. I may write about what I read, I may even write reviews, but I am keen to lose myself in words and ideas for a while without the pressure of dragging a notebook along. Fortunately I have no reservations against marginalia, love a book with a few blank pages at the end for notes, and never read without a pencil handy.

I have recently acquired a number of collections of short stories and essays that I am anxious to explore, I realize that I am almost a year from my trip to South Africa and I have barely touched the stacks of books I dragged home, and I am presently making my way through some works that I hope will contribute to my own writing. So I will not be at a loss for reading material, which is a good thing because my book budget has just been ruthlessly slashed by unexpected expenses.

CounternarrativesBut first and foremost I am caught in the absolute brilliance that is John Keene’s Counternarratives. This collection of short stories and novellas has me captivated. After noting it in my peripheral vision for months I finally bought a hardcover copy just before the paperback was released. Now that I am into it, I take it everywhere on the chance that I might have even a few minutes to slip back into it. I can’t remember the last time a book had me in it’s thrall like this one.

And when I am finished I might even write about it. But for now I just want to read.


PS. Warm thanks to DC, MM and JT for supportive words over the past few days. Who says you can’t meet some fine folks on Twitter?

Author: roughghosts

Literary blog of Joseph Schreiber. Writer. Reader. Editor. Photographer.

43 thoughts on “Surfacing: Some reflections on the general messiness of life”

  1. I’m sorry you’ve been having a tough time, rg. Good on you for working out what you need to do to keep your life on as even a keen as possible.

    I loved you comment “Fortunately I have no reservations against marginalia, love a book with a few blank pages at the end for notes, and never read without a pencil handy.” Absolutely! My last couple of books have had TINY margins and no blank pages. Wah!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks WG. With every day I can feel some of the control returning. It just seems that it all tends to hit at once. And, for the record my current read has 6 full blank pages at the end. (Though I’ve been known to at least jot page numbers and quick notes inside the covers if need be.)


      1. No, I think you’re right about the goodwill. In my experience, people who love books as we do, tend to be empathetic, and caring of one another. And because for many of us there is no one in real life who shares our love of books and reading, we have formed an international network which can be remarkably supportive even though most of us have never met each other. I would rather have one internet friend who really understands how I feel than 100 f2f friends who don’t.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Agreed it is. And thank you.

        I hope one day you’ll read my book (when I decided to finish) for the sake of reading it. Not to take notes. Just to read. It would be such an honour.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I find that when I am really stressed out, especially this week because of work, that reading is the most soothing thing I can do for myself. I hope that things get better for you. It sounds like you are definitely on the right track as far as keeping calm and moving in the right direction!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Theresa. And I’m sure you know, even when our children are grown they are still our “kids”. The tough part is facing the worst of it without the support of the other parent but that’s always been the case.


    1. Well the immediate crisis points are down to a slow ongoing simmer which is the best we can manage at the moment but the bright light in it all (relatively speaking) is that I had a service call today for my gas dryer which seemed to have stopped working at the height of the intersecting family crises and it was not a complicated repair – only a blocked vent which never occurred to me. Still cost me for the visit but nothing like hours of service and parts I could have faced! One less worry!


  3. So sorry to hear about the difficult times. I wish you all the best. Backing off from social media for a while does feel good. I find that I have been doing a bit of that myself lately. Things somehow feel less rushed. Take care and may all be well soon.


  4. Hmm, it seems like many people are doing a midyear reflection. I am going through one myself. mostly checking out the things that happened in the first half of the year and looking at what I can accomplish for this second half. I hope to hear soon that things have gone better for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks Angus. I am feeling a little more positive already. there are things that I will have to get through, like my parents’ rapid decline, but it is all part of life. I sense you’ve had a tough start to the year too. Sometimes I think we set standards too high and forget that it is okay to step away for a while to gather resources. Hope things pick up for you as well.


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