Blogging About My Blog
I’ve been writing Excellent Notion since January of 2009, which means that I’ve changed a lot since the founding of this fine site. My relationship with blogging has also evolved. At first, I wrote only for my friends, which is dangerous. Much of what now makes me squirm comes from the assumption that my reader will know that I mean well, that they’re already on my side.
Below is an attempt to correct this, and it feels necessary because something about a blog makes its revelations always seem current. Even if there’s a date on the post, it reads like I stand by everything I’ve written here. And that is not the case. This exercise feels a bit like putting myself on trial, indulging my worst critic, who is of course me. This is usually something people do when they realize that their audience is changing, that strangers suddenly will be sifting through their past. This is not that exciting and invasive moment for me. No, I am the person most interested in clicking down memory lane. If you wish to join me, here’s what I’ve observed (there were good things too, but they’re not as fun to talk about).
I Got Los Angeles Wrong
In my very first post, I describe arriving in Los Angeles, and Ryan Seacrest almost immediately nearly hit me with his car. I conclude with a valuable realization about LA driving culture:
“I now know that the LA honk is not a violent act of anger but more an energetic squeal, greeting the green light.”
The LA honk is a violent act of anger. This must have been some sort of self-delusion necessary to help me adjust to city life. I probably wanted to seem like an insider, someone who sees through the aggressive driving to the real LA.
I detail the horrors of auditioning to be a re-enactor on I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant. The piece is pretty tongue and cheek, but it ends with the saddest bit of bright-eyed optimism.
“The audition went well, and I’m building a relationship with this casting director.”
Did I really think that pretending to discover I was pregnant and then immediately giving birth was the beginning of my acting career? I seemed to think that even with the lowliest of roles the charisma oozing out of my pours would woo all industry insiders around me. Or at least I very much hoped it would. I might still hope this.
Since I started this blog as a record of my acting career, there is a lot about the perils of acting. This changes as I stopped trying to professionally act, and in hindsight, my observations are so immediately dire and insecure that the blog seems to prove it was never a good fit for me. What’s worse is I seem to sense that, but it takes years for me to admit it.
My wariness of the profession seeped into every aspect of my life. In Centralized, I write:
One of the few perks of unemployment is that Planned Parenthood gives you the pill for free, probably because they’re like “these are the people we really don’t want to reproduce.” When you call Planned Parenthood you get this recording that says, “Press one for directions. Press two for hours and locations. Press three if you’ve had unprotected sex.” What’s next? Press five if there’s a smell down there. Press six if you’re totally fucked—I mean you think you’re an actor.
It’s cute that I thought that the worst thing that could happen to you in adult life would be trying to be an actor. Also, I don’t remember needing birth control that frequently, but I definitely wanted people to think I did.
Social Media and Technology Outpaced Me
In the course of the blog, technology has changed so quickly that any of my commentary about social media or cellphones seems dated. My piece about online dating was written before Tinder, and I act like online dating is a new fangled motor machine and horses will always be the best way to get around.
“Besides the mundane, officiousness of online dating, I also argue that the very concept, of finding someone via their virtual profile, is ridiculous. Actually meeting your potential mate in person is the most important part of the equation.”
Duh, big fat duh. Obviously the idea is to meet them in person.
A pithy little piece (it’s almost a listicle and in about a year, post Buzzfeed, would have been) about how to negotiate a break up online ends with this astounding revelation:
“In conclusion, Facebook presents a new frontier for human relationships, and there’s very little etiquette. It’s time we started acting like adults…even though we use Facebook.”
Now all adults use Facebook – it’s only for adults. And again my commentary on social media seems so very obvious.
I Feared Becoming Carrie Bradshaw
In Heathcliff, my piece about online dating, I reveal an apparently frequent worry – that my posts sound like a Carrie Bradshaw column.
“I can hear my friends who’ve found great people online disagreeing with me, and maybe I’m deluding myself, clinging to a fantasy and a vision of Tom Hardy on the moors. But doesn’t all love involve a little delusion? God that question makes this read like a Carrie Bradshaw column.”
What the hell do I mean by “doesn’t all love involve a little delusion?” Do I mean that you have to delude yourself about who your partner is or delude yourself into thinking love is possible? Frankly I think that when I wrote this, having never been in a serious relationship, I was in no position to wax philosophical on love. Maybe I sensed that, which is why I copped out, calling attention to my self-consciousness by comparing myself to Carrie Bradshaw.
Carrie Bradshaw comes up again in one of my most vapid posts and unfortunately one of my most read, based on random Google clicks, about trying to dress alternatively at the gym:
“I’m not Workout Barbie and I’m not Kate Moss. But who says it’s either or? (That rhetorical question makes me afraid Carrie Bradshaw has influenced my writing).”
What a good question (although based on clicks, it seems like it’s one many people are grappling with). Again, Carrie Bradshaw seems to be shorthand for “I’m not really this kind of writer even though I just wrote something very earnest and very shallow.”
A very confessional piece about my deeply dysfunctional relationship with an alcoholic boyfriend lays it all out there but then tries to tie everything up with a bow – even though I just revealed I once spent the night in a bed soaked in his urine. I think when you’re writing short pieces about your life and posting them on the internet the desire to reassure everyone that you’re okay is very strong. You’re writing this almost live after all. So I too quickly pronounced that I was cured.
“Trite as it may sound, this year I know I’m enough. I can juggle the occasional asshole at work, and the boy in my life can’t really be described without turning this into a Hallmark card, and he will never piss on me.”
I don’t get this personal anymore on a blog. It’s not something I want to live on the internet, particularly because it no longer feels like I’m writing just for people who know me. Plus, it’s worth mentioning that I’m not sure that “the boy in my life” at that time would never have pissed on me. He eventually did in a slightly less horrifying, far less literal way. A 2012 Camille read this same post and added in the comments,
“Reading this years later, I’d just like to say that I doubt very much that I knew “I was enough.” Happy thought though.”
I stand by some of my other top oversharing posts:
Tribal Behavior – Details the several times my family has defecated together.
Top Five Moments at the Gyno – Where to put your panties after you’ve changed into the gown and how to wipe your urine sample cup after you’ve filled her up!
I Did Not Check My White Privilege
In this post, I tell the story of my elementary school production of the MLK Jr. story in which Martin Luther King was played by a little white boy. I treat this like a hilarious anecdote, a ridiculous childhood story. Now it strikes me as a depressing instance of whitewashing.
“When it came time to cast MLK Jr., though, I thought the choice was obvious. There was one black kid in the class. I remember us all staring at him, waiting for his name to be called. I guess Mrs. Gardner didn’t want to be accused of typecasting because she cast Steve, a wee blonde kid with glasses.”
Today I would describe “Mrs. Gardner,” which is not her real name, much more nefariously.
I also made a joke that makes me uncomfortable to call attention to. I quipped that there are some similarities between racial prejudice and the prejudice against red heads.
“I tried to tell my black friend that I knew what being a minority was like because of my hair. I am only 4% of the world population. She, very understandably, wasn’t having it, but there are some similarities. People try to set me up with their other redheaded friends. The idea is we’ll see a red glow coming from each other’s heads and fall instantly in love. At one point in history people lynched red heads because we are all witches. Oh, and stupid people think all redheads look the same. I’ve been told I look like Molly Ringwald, Peter Pan, Conan O’brien, Leprechauns, Lindsay Lohan, the Wendy’s Logo, and Meryl Streep.”
I confessed that it was a ridiculous comparison, but I still insisted on making it. Any humor is overshadowed by the obvious insensitivity. As the videos of black men executed by the police play on repeat, it’s hard to find this funny.
I Hated on My Hometown
I leaned into the hippie dippy Santa Cruz backstory. Surrounded by the newness of Los Angeles or maybe just hungry for a good story, I loved to talk trash on my family and Santa Cruz and our “otherness.” I still do. However, some of my descriptions are definitely exaggerated for full dramatic effect. In this piece about my very delicate body, I say:
“Let’s just say that my body is delicate, and perhaps because growing up I had an acupuncturist before a doctor, I go to the doctor willingly and frequently.”
Time to clear this up – I had a doctor before an acupuncturist. I was born in a hospital via c-section. But while I was growing up, we tended to visit the acupuncturist more frequently than the doctor. She was a really good acupuncturist with an amazing “River Sounds” office soundtrack.
“Having been raised by people who grow vegetables, consuming fast food fills me with pleasure and then extreme guilt. I’m sure this isn’t an uncommon feeling, but I understand that children of hippies often experience extreme food rebellion/regression. Denied as a child, I still hunger for Lunchables and Gushers.”
I do still crave Gushers, but I’m going to go ahead and say that The Proud Moments in Adulthood: Fastfood is my worst post. It’s filled with an undercurrent of classicism – the discomfort with eating forbidden low class, filth food! I go as far as comparing working at a fast food restaurant as being in jail. Then I plagiarize myself throughout the piece. This must have been a low point for me: writing about eating at Panda Express and copying from my old blog post about eating at In N Out.
It feels good to have moved on from writing about fast food, at least for now. I doubt this is the end of revisiting my past writing. As Excellent Notion evolves, this very post will one day come under scrutiny. Can’t wait.
And now for some of the worst/best pictures I ever posted: