Not blogging for an extended period of time is like trying to catch a good friend up over e-mail. We need to do this over a coffee and a scone, or a cheese board and a cab sav, or a week-long holiday in Ibiza. Whatever. I’m flexible. I really should just set up a web cam, get increasingly drunk, and really tell it like it is. I’ll bring in some special guests to help me hammer out the issues. It’ll be all lipstick, cackling, cigarettes and black mascara running down faces. It’ll be longer than “Gone with the Wind” and will be just as epic. Settle in for a good, long tale, bitches. I’ve done some growing. Developments have been made. Shit has gone down.
Meanwhile, on the road to creative fulfillment there are many deviations and distractions. Once an active blogger, I was a steaming, persistent train engine, and now I’m more like the girl tied to the track.
Sheesh, have you ever Googled “damsel in distress tied to track”? It’s a bit of a kinky thing on the interweb. (The other day I Googled “boozy Judy Garland” and it was almost entirely pictures from my blog). Sexual undertone aside, that’s a pretty apt description. Not writing is always the default mode, but it doesn’t make it the best mode. As I write I feel…better. Lighter. Like it’s the most me I can be. Typing away, making my own funny fantasy world; where George Clooney once loved me, and I’m somewhere in between Hepburn, Monroe, Streisand, a classic pinup girl…with just a dash of boozy Judy.
Sadly, the closest I get is Liza in a wig.
My blog used to be my number one time investment; now it is the literary version of an elliptical trainer in the basement than has laundry drying on it. The fact that I used to write one thoughtful entry a day is as my husband likes to say ‘mind-bobbling”. I used to check in with the daily stats religiously. And then I stopped even doing that. For whatever reason, I checked in with the website one night and noticed that one blog had been read at a rather high rate. I reread it and (is this tacky?) and was totally chuckling at this essay about my robust rear end, and the feminist aspects of Sir Mix-a-Lot.
The blog used to be a bit of a life raft–in a time when steeped in uncertainty, I leaned on the ritual, relying on this made up routine to give purpose to my life. I was rather desperate for something to “happen” to me. I mean, I’ve had plenty “happen” to me, I could easily fill a country album with twelve or so tracks about heart ache, but I required some kind of positive advancement. I wanted writing to be the trampoline catapulting into some fame stratosphere. Or even to step into the meekest puddle of success, to see my name in print.To earn a spot of cash for my written word. To make people laugh. It is my earthly mission to crack wise, to heal with humor, to say completely inappropriate things if it means to break the tension. That scene in Steel Magnolias when Sally Field is lamenting the death of her beloved daughter, and is bringing the house down with her raw, guttural “Why God, Why” kind of grief–and I’m Olympia Dukakis trying to break the ice with a little Shirley MacLaine beat down. Go on, take a whack at Ouiser. What else are you going to do? Just cry forever until you die, and have someone take over and start crying for you?
At the height of blog productivity I entered a number of writing contests, and was never considered, shortlisted…nada. At this time last year, I hung my hopes pretty high on those stars, and it was so wounding to go unnoticed. Did this take a toll on my writing? Yes and no. I definitely stopped believing that the blog was a portal to anything other an elaborate hobby and a creative outlet. Even then, I still wrote occasionally, cracking out pieces over long weekends or the occasional long night. Something did “happen” to me. I got busy, I got involved in committees, theatre projects, and marketing efforts. I have had some extracurricular activity going on since last winter. The time just wasn’t there to commit to the whole process. Which is great because the writing was more like a treadmill that didn’t seem to take me anywhere. Recently I got a letter in the mail from a publication company, whom I sent a rather charming story to for a long ago contest.
That’s not how you start a letter to the winner. That’s a template for a polite rejection notice.
“Dear Loser…Don’t give up your day job“.
This isn’t a pity party, more like a melancholic discotheque. It’s just not my time I guess. The writing just became a luxury I could no longer afford…because I was out there living my life. Not that I didn’t have things to write about. Which brings up another host of issues. How much do I want people to know about me? In Kamloops, in this medium sized city where social circles course into each other like Venn diagrams, eventually people would connect me to my material, and know some pretty intimate details about my private life. I once gave my card to a former professor, and then was stricken with horror because the last blog I had written was about my vagina. I mean, it was humorous and laden with pop culture references, but let’s be honest here–it’s me, three days, an apocalyptic yeast infection and a Sex and the City marathon. I thought I was being rather ribald, but close friends felt I was too restrained. Having never written about my lady bits, I thought my first crack at it was plenty racy. I don’t want to go and make a big axe wound out of things, I like a good punchline but I’m still a lady. After all, I don’t know if I want to be recognized in the grocery store, while absentmindedly pushing a trolley, and people knowing me without knowing me.
-“Apparently her writing is unpublishable”
-“I hear her vagina is super temperamental“.
There have been a handful of moments, connections and life lessons that have occurred in the last while that could become blog-worthy…there is one time is particular when I was feeling incredibly challenged. Now, haters are going to hate, it to happens to everyone from Bieber to Beyonce–but there was a time when a hater had their sights set on me. I got a proper taste of what it would be like to be a bullied high-school girl in this age of technology. Back in my day a bully would call you on your rotary phone or write a nasty note, now even the most vaguely intelligent person can attack you through a variety of mediums. It was like grown-up Mean Girls. That experience hit me pretty hard. What was worse about it was that on legal terms, I couldn’t talk about it. That was the true beauty of the blog– the catharsis, that incredible release. Something stopped me. I became self-conscious. I was feeling vulnerable. I feared the over-share. So I stopped sharing.
That’s not the answer either. I want to tell these stories…but I don’t want any backlash. While there’s freedom in a blog–it’s a self-governed practice, with access to a host of images., there’s also nothing to protect your written world in the big bad world. Frankly, that’s why I need a book deal. There’s something safe about sharing your most personal details in the credible confines of a published formation. With a title and a picture on the back cover and comments on the back from people that are mildly encouraging. There is also something about the non-credibility of being just some Jane Blogger, spilling my guts onto the internet, something that even Beyonce can’t control.
For the record, let it be known that during that recent era of the ugly hateration, the whole Beyonce/Jay-Z /Solange Knowles elevator incident happened, and I had a great metaphor about being like B & J at the same time, feeling that this bully was just like Solange Knowles. I was going to call the blog “The 99 Problems Stress Test”. The time sensitive topic got away from me, and after a while it just didn’t matter. It was something I didn’t want to relive just then. Though really, it’s how I process grief, by banging it out on the keyboard. I truly believe that everything is connected, making partners out of seemingly unmatchable things is a real comfort to me. This is the epicenter of my sense of humor: the biggest hurts require the biggest laughs. Like Truvy that hairdresser says in Steel Magnolias “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion”. For me, in times when I have been touched by hardships and the legacy of depression, humor has been the crutch, the oxygen, the mask. My sense of humor is my soul; if I were to stop laughing, I’d be in pretty big trouble.
You know where I’m going don’t you?
Ugh, Robin Williams. This is a shotgun blast to the heart. Robin Williams committed suicide. Now there’s a sentence I’d never thought I’d utter. It’s such a poetic, operatic ending that it is too much to bear. The loudest person in the room, the funniest figure, the biggest ham and cheese on rye snuffs out his own candle at a moderately young age. It brings up lots of ‘tears of a clown’ references, and endless speculations about his demise. Of course, I am right in the mix, reading, speculating and processing. This has really hit people hard, I suppose for the same reason we fall in love with fictional characters, for what we see in ourselves. How does it come to be? A beloved man steeped in success; a beautiful wife, children, fame, accolades and the accessibility to the most incredible people and opportunities closes the door in his California mansion and loops a belt around his neck. Hard to fathom. That’s how deep his own misery was. “Why would you deprive people of your talent?” the masses question the dead. Clearly at that crucial moment he wasn’t thinking about Mrs Doubtfire or the Genie from Aladdin. He wasn’t defining himself as comic genius or pop culture icon, not even as a husband and father, he must have been a desperate man in a dark place in need for his pain to end. Then again, who am I to say what he thought? All I know is that those hurts belonged only to him. And it shocked the hell out of absolutely everyone. When I started this blog, he had only died the day before. By the time I actually publish there will be thousands of articles about his life, his death,his demons, his legacy, his generosity, his many characters.
There’s a lot of comparisons to humor and depression. You know me, I do love to mix up unrelated things, but these are closer than you’d think. I’ve been in some pretty dark places in my life, and my saving grace has always been the sanctifying power of laughter and good humor. Of course, all aliments can’t be cured with a good belly laugh, but for the most part…it certainly doesn’t hurt. The thought of the funniest person having the heaviest heart really shook me up. What got me most was the comments from other comedians (Jimmy Fallon getting choked up, Conan O’Brien breaking the news with Will Arnett and Andy Richter, Norm MacDonald’s heart breaking tweets). What these individuals focused on was his wealth of material, what he gave, what he taught, what he left behind. It makes you reflect on what you’d want to be remembered for, what you want to leave behind.
In the days that followed the death of a comedian, I inched closer to the keyboard, looked closer at myself. I wrote my first blog in ages. It was vaguely like climbing the Himalayas, but it was worth the late nights to make like a masturbating teenager and bang one out for old times sake. In short, to borrow and reinvent a famous Shawshank Redemption quote: get busy laughing or get busy crying. Whenever possible. Otherwise everything else doesn’t mean a god damn thing.
Courtesy of Google Images