So yesterday’s mystery is solved: the reason Day 44 has received so much attention in the last 48 hours is that it has, apparently, been Freshly Pressed. I haven’t checked the FP board myself – seeing my post there would make me feel too exposed – but I have reliable reports from others. Thank you to readers who let me know; the information made a positive difference. Either WordPress didn’t inform me or I missed their email, but the implications have been significant.
I recalled today that the first time one of my posts was Freshly Pressed, in December 2013, I received an email explaining why the piece had been selected and forewarning me of the impact that publication can have. I should prepare myself for a lot of extra traffic, the editor advised, and enjoy the experience. I was told what day, and within which time bracket, my post would go live; a subsequent email confirmed that this had been successful and I should start to see my blog stats rise. I was fairly new to blogging and not really aware of the significance of being Freshly Pressed (I had started Living With Autism the previous August). The emails informing me about the process, however, created a great sense of anticipation. This, I realised later, was more than half the pleasure; the actual experience would be quickly over and soon forgotten.
The second time it happened, in April the following year, I had a better idea of what to expect. Once again I received an email (from a different editor) explaining why my post had been selected and advising me to prepare myself for the impact of being Freshly Pressed. Although I understood the process this time, I was puzzled by the post selection. I would never have predicted that this particular piece of writing would be picked out: the post was very long, contained several poems and had a fairly esoteric focus. Intrigued by the Editor’s choice, I experienced a thrill of anticipation on the run-up to publication.
Tonight, after work, I went to see Dylan. I look forward to these mid-week visits; several times today I had thought about it with a sense of anticipation. I have finally learned the route and no longer worry about which exit to take; I can fill the drive with music or musing instead. Tonight I found myself thinking about the news that my post had been Freshly Pressed; how different, I thought to myself, this third time had been.
Without information or preparation, I reflected, I had been unable to make sense of events. Something had happened – something out of the ordinary – which I hadn’t been expecting. The experience had been destabilising; my usual routines were disrupted. My blog didn’t even look the way it usually did; there were too many icons at the bottom of my posts and the stats graph had lost its comforting, familiar pattern.
Worse than this was my inability to make sense of the communication; I didn’t understand who these people were or why they were here. When they didn’t behave as I expected, I started to distrust them. Some comments didn’t make sense. Others, I misunderstood. I suspected the worst in some people. I ignored others. I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening. This helped, initially, but after a while it stopped working. I couldn’t get the messy questions out of my head; this thing which I couldn’t understand was niggling away at me. Without an explanation for events, rather than a state of sweet anticipation, I was in a place of anxiety.
This, I thought to myself as I slipped off the motorway, is what life must feel like for Dyaln quite a bit of the time.
Dylan wasn’t anxious tonight, happily, but he was a bit unsettled by my suggestion that we go to a pub near to his care home rather than to Pizza Hut. He enjoyed his scampi and chips, but I think he prefers pizza. I’ll remember that for next time. The photograph shows Dylan keeping two things of great importance to him – his favourite copy of Pinocchio and his visual schedule – very close by.