Have you seen ever “200 Cigarettes”? Few people have, but it has enough of a pre-fame collection of actors (Paul Rudd, Ben & Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Janeane Garofalo, Dave Chappelle, and Courtney Love) to establish a mild cult status nearly fifteen years after its theatrical release. Anyhoo, I’ll set the scene for you: it’s New Year’s Eve in New York City in 1981. And there are all these romantic and comedic storylines that are meant to intersect at a party in the East Village, but it’s the woman hosting that party who interests me most. Monica (Martha Plimpton) is so unnerved at the pressure of throwing this party, that it drives her to hysteria and intoxication. Well, to be more specific— it’s not the stress of hosting that bothers her; her loft is well decorated, the bar is stocked, she’s made crab dip and all that…but it is the fear of being left alone with said crab dip that causes her to unravel.
Listen, I’m going to spoil the ending for you. Everyone is out on the city streets: finding and/or losing love, smoking cigarettes, drinking to excess, and discussing the finer qualities about life and love in the back of Dave Chappelle’s taxi cab, they are also inching towards this party at a glacial pace.
It is in the empty, unattended room, that the hostess begins her descend into social anxiety. Feeling humiliated in her party frock, with her “Happy New Year” tiara nestled in her up do; she cannot reason that people are not there because they are not there yet. Instead, she panics and jumps to the worst possible conclusion: “I have no friends and everybody hates me!” she declares before eventually drinking herself to the point of blacking out.
She awakes the following morning amid the aftermath of a most successful party. She is left to piece together just how fabulous they evening was, and is devastated that she missed her own event. In fact, it turned out that Elvis Costello was at the party as well, desperate for the crab dip recipe, and for her, it begins a whole new shame spiral. Every time I see this movie, the irony of this woman’s situation makes me so sad. If only she could have just relaxed, had confidence in herself, she would have been vindicated in the glow of celebratory merriment, surrounded in the crush of happy party-goers
Okay…the scene I have just laid out for you is me on my worst day…a mirror in which I see my reflection. This is sometimes how I feel about blogging. Not the writing process, I find each day it gets easier or more enjoyable. It’s that in blogging…in establishing some kind of following through social networks, I fear it is a party that no one will attend. And what I need to consider is that a month ago, I wasn’t doing this blog…I wasn’t even writing daily. And I like where my head is at, I like filling a notebook with random thoughts and ideas, and knowing that I can give dimension and life to a few handwritten words on a page; before they would just lay in the darkness of a closed book, words that aren’t being read. But—sometimes there is a part of me (the ego I reckon), that can’t help but wonder where all the effing people are.
I felt this way occasionally while living overseas. I purchased lovely stationary, wrote several letters and envisioned all the envelopes I would receive and the mailbox was always empty. The blank, unused paper made a mockery of me, “So…are we going to do this thing or what?” And I felt suddenly embarrassed, like I do sometimes with the blog—all these clever thoughts and phrases strung up like streamers, humorous anecdotes blown up like balloons, and me sitting alone in my literary party dress amongst the frippery, afraid that nobody will come, that nobody cares, that nobody will read, that…I have no friends and everybody hates me. Though it must be said, I have readers and I am grateful for the support and comments. I don’t mean to appear ungrateful or greedy, but this is me being honest about my insecurities… and this is how I feel today… (actually this is more how I felt yesterday, but the words flow just as easily today).
In my research of successful writers and bloggers, I realize that everyone has growing pains…things take time. David Sedaris had a series of odd unsatisfying jobs before being discovered by Ira Glass, and did not publish until his late thirties. Julie Powell from “Julie and Julia” was awfully concerned that nobody read her besides her friends, husband and mother, which obviously, was not the case. She reached enormous success with the blog going to book to film… but then her follow-up book is now on clearance tables next to books written by Snooki from “The Jersey Shore”. It’s a crap shoot, what appeals to the masses…so I suppose its best—that time before failure or success, when anything is possible. I am currently reading Jenny Lawson’s “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened”, and this gal is one successful blogger. But from what I’ve read, she started “The Bloggess” six years before the book is published. These things take time.
One website writes that there millions…no wait scratch that…HUNDREDS of millions of blogs out there (which means my meager blog is a tiny grain of sand on this vast and eternal beach known as the internet—yikes). Also, that it takes anywhere from six months to a year to…oh, I don’t know, a solid decade to achieve a faithful following. A DECADE? I don’t have that kind of time, I’m 31, and it’s all crumbling down around me!! So, just cool it, you don’t want to freak out and miss your own party…if you build it, they will come…now did I just make that up myself? Or was that “Field of Dreams”? With Kevin Costner and Darth Vader, and the dead baseball players?
It’s one of those movies you catch in pieces on channels like TBS, and just never see the whole thing…but according to Wikipedia, it’s about a novice farmer, who, with the support of the world’s most supportive spouse ever, mows down their corn field for the sake of building a baseball diamond. This leads to financial ruin, but based simply on hearing ghostly whisperings: “if you build it…” and later, “Go the distance”…which then leads to a happy ending of baseball playing and success growing and father and son playing catch. Again, I can work with this analogy—sometimes blind faith and biding time are qualities of strength. So…where to go from here? Keep on keeping on, keep writing and day dreaming and throw a daily party with a devil-may-care panache, whether anyone arrives or not. It can just be me and a few friends, my mother and of course my husband, who encourages me on the daily to plow through our corn field for the sake of my own baseball diamond, so that maybe someday, the people might actually come.