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  • Writer's pictureTam Chronin

Tam! Where Have You Been???

Right now I sit here, covered in flour, wearing an apron, and waiting for my naan dough to rise. It's been a fairly productive two days, and I have reached a sort of peace with myself and with life. I don't expect that to last for long, but I want to explain a bit about what's been going on and why I keep disappearing from this blog.

Most of it I can blame on Facebook. Blogging is SO last decade, and while I kept up with blogging on LiveJournal, those days are gone and a blog feels a lot like a throwback to a distant yesteryear. A lot of people can say the same, use the same excuse, but there's actually more to it than that.

When I published Elemental, I was working in a very toxic environment at an outsourcing company, with a very large social media company as my sole client. I started as a content moderator and was promoted to the QA department very quickly. They made many promises about potential advancement and I was excited. As a survivor of childhood abuse, I was thrilled by the emphasis they put on protecting the public, especially children, from further abuses being perpetuated online. This was a dream job in a lot of ways, and it became a complete nightmare.

I became withdrawn because we weren't allowed to talk about what we'd seen at work. We didn't WANT to talk about what we'd seen at work anyway, because our friends and family shouldn't have to suffer the same knowledge that we did. It was traumatic, isolating, and neither our management nor our client were prepared for how quickly their moderation staff either burned out or suffered mental health issues from the vicarious trauma inflicted. (It's been in the news. The client was sued and has settled with us out of court. The company that hired me dropped the client entirely. To call it a clusterfuck would be an understatement.)

That was 2017, and I left that job in 2018. I've been recovering since then, and it's been a long road.

That's just some background.

Last year I mentioned I'd been battling demons, and that was the biggest of those demons. I still have to use the website that was my client, because who would even know I'd written anything if not for that social media site? A constant reminder that wore on me, like picking at a scab. A news article about that specific job, in the specific location I'd worked at, was on the news and I fell apart a little bit. Talked to a lawyer. Went to a doctor. Went to a psychiatrist.

October of 2018 my uncle (mother's big brother) was hit by a car and killed. I wrote Everyone Dies Alone as a way to sort through my feelings. Bought a few chickens to give me something to take care of while I grieved.

June of 2019, on Father's Day, an escaped dog jumped our fence and attacked and killed our bunny and all but one of our chickens. I found the bunny when I went outside to go feed our pets. I had flashbacks and was generally useless while my husband took care of cleaning it all up.

August of 2019 our 18-year-old cat, A Cold Day in Hell, died of kidney failure. One of our other cats was also in declining health.

My uncle Mike, my dad's big brother, had a heart attack and was in the hospital for months, then went to a care center because he was unable to take care of himself. My grandma, his mom, was also in and out of the hospital at this time.

December of 2019 we had a nice winter vacation just north of Sedona to celebrate the holidays with my husband's family. It was magical, beautiful, and haunted by the thought that our other cat was getting worse while we were away.

January 2nd of 2020 our black cat, Aire, had a final seizure and passed away.

2020 has been relentless ever since. By March, all of our shows had been closed and canceled. My mother-in-law's best friend died of COVID-19 in April. In July, just a couple of weeks before his birthday, Uncle Mike died of COVID-19 because someone brought it into the care center he was still in. In August my last remaining grandparent, Grandma Alice, passed away at home. We've been dealing with cleaning out her house and relocating all of her stuff, my grandpa's stuff, and my uncle's stuff ever since.

It's been grueling. Relentless. Painful.

I don't know if there's a light at the end of the tunnel, but I'm lighting candles along the way. I've kept writing (except when my mind just shut down and I literally couldn't for a bit). I'm working on my mental health. So's a lot of people in the world right now.

I'm doing my best, and I'm wishing everyone else the best. The world is a dark place right now, but the world has been this dark before. We will come through and shine brighter than ever.

May peace and love follow you through your days.


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