I never yet told you that we had a daughter 6 months ago. My silence was not intentional, it just sort of… happened. There were multiple reasons at play. First, of course, was the utter chaos having a baby brings. Particularly one with colic and reflux. Particularly when you find out once again that you are not good at being a stay-at-home mom (though also not a good full-time working mom). I admire those who can face those first three months and talk only of the joy. I will always talk about mixed blessings (note: this certainly does not mean I do not love my children unconditionally).
But there were more reasons. And this is where my blog truly comes into play.
Returning to blogging about books has felt a little.. strange and strained. More happened in the past few months other than the fact that home life was a central point of reference: the world came crashing in. It happened in multiple ways that have collided and escalated in recent months, but that have been building for some time now: Brexit, Paris climate talks, US election rhetoric, Dutch politics & political debates, and the overall discomfort with my acquired academic ability to deconstruct which has to some extent resulted in an inability to be socially involved.
And so for months now, I have been pondering and going back and forth on how I want to reshape my blog into a place where I can write about these things, ponder them, figure out a way to (probably inadequately) work with some of these issues. And I am not sure if I can do so through books only. If I were as smart and engaged as Ana is, for example, I might. But instead, I have found that I often use writing about books as a fall-back option which allows me to signal things, but not act per se. Or to simply ignore these issues altogether. (I am not saying that this is wrong: it just does not work for me at the moment).
Had you asked me one month ago I would have told you something along these lines: I was going to reshape this blog into something beyond books. I’d try to turn it into something that acknowledged the manifold Iris-es that the internet apparently makes you separate from each other in order to be a better “branded” blog. It would be about the small joys of my life, about something related to the work I do, about children, about books, about politics and it would trace the small steps through which I was trying to become more involved in social, political and environmental issues.
And then, of course, Trump happened. And suddenly the world tilted yet a little bit further. Right now I am not sure if I can comfortably talk about my “small world” in face of the bigger picture. I am also not sure if documenting imperfect engagement is worthwhile, and whether I should not leave words to those who have thought all of this through so much better.
But here’s the thing: In my years of blogging (and I have done so in many forms, beginning with my livejournal account during teenage years) I have always sought to find meaning and shape my life through writing about it, in one form or another.. Yes, I could simply use a private diary, but a blog’s semi-public setting helps me to keep myself accountable and to find comfort in like-minded souls. Or so I hope. I never set out to have a perfectly branded blog, and I do not need to do so now. And I only ever waste a small amount of space on the internet, if my words are a waste at all. For all the ways in which I wish I could simply reinvent my blog to reflect what I really want it to be, perhaps the first step is to hit [publish] once more and see if there are still people willing to read along.
This is why I am not moving domains. This is also why, for now, I have put my previous posts on private: I need the feeling of a blank slate, but in the context of my familiar circle, to explore how I want to give shape to blogging and my life in general. How I want to relate to a world that seems to call for more immediate engagement and activism lately, or, very probably, it has always done so and I have only begun to realise it in these past 6 months. A blank slate, also, because it allows for space to figure out how I want to address the balance between political awareness and social engagement on the one hand and my daily work and small joys on the other hand.
My blog will always ever be imperfect (and this is me counselling myself), but I know that my safest bet to feel I am meaningfully adressing my life and the world is through keeping some form of account. I know how often I wish I could read more on how people can be multiple things at once: friends, parents, readers, labourers, thinkers, contributors, activists. How people imperfectly try to work towards a better world, for so often I feel that I can’t do it right so perhaps I shouldn’t even try. If this is what I’d like to read, perhaps this should also be my aim? It need not be perfect (another reminder to myself), and it is alright to focus on one of these themes in certain periods if that feels more comfortable. But I would like to proclaim my blog wide open for all of these things. And hopefully I will be able to actively reshape it in that direction in the upcoming months.