It's all I have to bring today

Holy shit, it’s been 15 goddamn years. And it all started so auspiciously, too.

Is this blog important? Lord no. Is it necessary? Not at all. Does it matter? Oh, it does to me. It’s a record of who I am, or was, of what I think, or thought, of what I remember.

It’s the story of my whole time in New York, of friends and family, of trips and joys and tremendous losses, of great adventures and small defeats, of enduring obsessions and the most insignificant of thoughts. Of what my life has been.

Vive le dumb blog, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum.


15 years is a long time to talk about yourself. I’d like to know that I still have something to say and a reason to keep saying it, because I’ve been phoning it in for a while now. I’m going to take some time to think about where I want this blog to go next and what I want it to be when it learns how to drive. Heh topical humor, nobody drives anymore. Anyway, be cool & let’s hope I’ll see you soon but till then good night & good luck.


Your explanation of benefits

I hate to be that person who blogs when she’s crabby but I’m crabby most (94-9%) of the time so if not now when? My fingers still work so what’s the holdup? Sometimes I try to convince myself that I should only blog when I’m in X mood or have Y important things to report or Z thoughts on important world topics but let’s get real. I have zero thoughts on important world topics. I blog because I have a keyboard and some free time and otherwise I’d just be talking to myself. Which I also do, all day long.

Anyway, Tim Carmody has a long post at Kottke about social media and the state of blogs today and it’s smart and recommended by me, although he’s mostly writing about Important Blogs with many readers that helped to shape lives and careers and media ventures and this has never been and will never be that. Ho ho hooooooh no this will never be that. I started this blog to talk to (well, at) my friends and because I can say any stupid thing I want knowing most of them will get it or at the very least roll their eyes and shake their heads and forgive it and frankly that’s what kept it going the whole time I was in New York, although if I’m really being honest, I mostly kept it just for me. Just to say here, this is what’s happening, this is what I’m thinking about, this is my voice. This is what I’ve got.

At the end of that post, Tim Carmody asks: “Was it just a place to write and be read by somebody, anybody?” Yes. Yes it is.

It feels deeply personal

One unpopular opinion I hold is that everybody should have a blog, where they just check in a couple of times a week. They/you don’t need to have much of anything to say, just raise a hand and say hi. Here’s what time I woke up this morning, here’s what I had for breakfast, here’s what I thought about when I brushed my teeth. Is it raining where you are? I’d like to know.

I’m not going to lie to you—many people wouldn’t care, probably most, but I would. I’m interested in the routine habits of others, and their observations on their moods or surroundings. I was very fond of these daily weather reviews of New York City that used to run in the Awl, for example. Somebody could do that. Or take a photo of their/your coffee cup every morning, I would like that, too. It could be the exact same cup in the exact same location day after day, it wouldn’t matter. There would be glimpses of life happening around it, detritus caught in the frame or the quality or slant of the light shifting as the year went on, etc., little unspoken hints passing by. The mysteries inside of details. I would like that very much.

Another unpopular opinion I hold is that the end of daylight savings time makes me really, really happy. I don’t know anybody else in the world who enjoys it and I get anxious every year when there’s a concerted pitch in the news to dump it, so I will hold on to this joy while I can. The world is quieter. Less insistent, less grabby. More internal. It’s dark out there, so you need to go slowly and lightly. Take care. Is that such a bad thing? For a little while?

On uselessness

First in the era of America Online, and then in the era of LiveJournal and micro-blogging, the internet was at least partly an escape. It was a place where the boundaries of real life, in which everything was more or less a job interview, could be sloughed off and one could imagine the internet as a quiet, uninhabited space of whispered intimacies. In this era of hyper-usefulness, what seems rarest and most valuable online are spaces that offer, however illusorily, a return to this original uselessness. There are places where, against the constant obligation to be seen and remembered, we might get to be unseen, unrecorded, and forgotten.
— Helena Fitzgerald @ The Verge

“I have some updates”

I'll be honest: my favorite kind of blogging is dumb blogging. Not dumb as in "idiot" (although I enjoy that, too), or silent, but dumb as in...nonessential, I guess. I'm crafting my own definition to suit my needs, but it falls somewhere along the lines of this entry I just stumbled across in my trusty Merriam-Webster app:

5 : lacking some usual attribute or accompaniment ; especially : having no means of self-propulsion • a dumb barge

Interesting formatting and punctuation choices employed in that app, by the way.

"Dumb blogging" as I mean it is best demonstrated by these two tweets from Matt Jacobs (@capndesign), who I do not know but have followed for a very long time, probably because I enjoy tweets like these (and what are tweets but v, v short blog posts without titles?):

To me those are perfect tweets, and the best, most tolerable kind of social media interaction; i.e., "having no means of self-propulsion." They do nothing to advance any dialogue; he's having a conversation with himself. Again, I don't know this man personally but I do know X, Y, and Z about him, and it doesn't matter whether I share any of his interests or opinions (although I do, which is also why I follow him on Twitter). But that's not really what it's about, either: it's just about opening the channel, and keeping it open. I can mark it and draw from it what I will, and move on.

All of this harks back to the good olde days, when blogging was still A Thing and Twitter was young and unafraid, although to some people it has always been anathema. Navel gazing. Worse than death! (I am too tired to search for examples of those sad opinions so please self-google if you care to learn any more about this important topic.)

But it also reminds me of this old post on "phatic communication" by danah boyd, which I have handily bookmarked for my eternal reference:

I vote that we stop dismissing Twitter just because the majority of people who are joining its ranks are there to be social. We like the fact that humans are social. It's good for society. And what they're doing online is fundamentally a mix of social grooming and maintaining peripheral social awareness. They want to know what the people around them are thinking and doing and feeling, even when co-presence isn't viable. They want to share their state of mind and status so that others who care about them feel connected. It's a back-and-forth that makes sense if only we didn't look down at it from outer space. Of course it looks alien. Walk into any typical social encounter between people you don't know and it's bound to look a wee bit alien, especially if those people are demographically different than you.

I've heard from so many friends lately who are despairing at the state of the world (as am I, for the love of Christ!!!!!), but small, brief glimpses like these, from total strangers, are still something I look to for hope and encouragement. They're lightweight and frictionless and only as large as they need to be, and sometimes that's enough to help speed the way, bit by bit, just a little bit, on any given day.

One of my favorite things to do when I lived in New York was to take the M10 bus home in the evening and look up into the apartments lining Central Park West as we passed, and just...get a peek at what lives other people were leading. They were strangers, too, and separate from me in many unfathomable ways, but also not; we were sharing the same street and the same city with each other in our own private/public fashion. That is its own form of community. And opening up a window here is what I love, still, about this dumb blog.

3 things for today

1. I started DVR'ing Hart to Hart nightly on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel and now I skim through two episodes while I eat dinner (I seldom make it the whole way through one, because it's not very good).

I loved this show as a child but now I see it's also insane. I mean literally insane. How do married millionaires, one of whom is a purported titan of industry and the other of whom is a journalist, just accept this amount of regular mayhem in their lives? Why don't they ask more questions? Why aren't they more suspicious of their chosen circle of friends, since they are constantly being targeted for theft and/or violence by sketchy acquaintances whose glittering evening soirées or glamorous international weddings they inexplicably agree to attend?

One of them (usually Jennifer) is nearly murdered in every episode, not to mention A) fallen in love with by obsessive strangers or lawyers or B) employed as an unwitting drug mule in situations involving either Freeway the dog or Max the manservant. And they go on so many cruises! How do they have any time for jobs? What kind of crackpot enterprise is funding all these trips?

Also there's often an inappropriately lighthearted sexcapade going on relative to storyline content: for example, Jonathan had amnesia in one episode last week and couldn't remember who Jennifer even was, yet not only did the two of them continue to share a bed, I'm pretty sure there was hanky panky happening. Now I'm no psychoanalyst but that seemed both morally and mentally unwise, and it made zero sense to boot. Yet I adore it! It's probably the greatest thing ever to happen to me so far this month.

2. I get access to the NYT Cooking site along with my digital subscription to the paper and have found the reader comments to be peerless. I make a lot of recipes from their app and always check the comments first; some are legitimately helpful in avoiding catastrophes, but mostly they're either angry or overly prescriptive or both: "Mark Bittman is a moron! Why would you ever follow his directions and broil this chicken?? It should be baked at 50 degrees for 10,000 hours!" or "You're boiling water all wrong, dumbo." Some lady left a recipe for overnight oatmeal inside a comment on a recipe for cold-brewed iced coffee, and it was like following the hamster right around the wheel, or witnessing an audience Q&A session after a reading or theatrical performance; i.e., bananas as always. 

3. Something I meant to say earlier: I write here because it’s my space (lol <3, RIP), and anyone who visits does so with intent. It’s not me shoving this in your Facebook and expecting you to care, although obviously I do that, too. Om Malik calls blogs "thought spaces," and his post today touches on something similar:

What people don’t realize about blogs is that they are never a complete story. They are incomplete and by nature more mysterious, more episodic, and thus more interesting. Blogs are meant not to leave you with everything. The whole idea is to think, to deliberate, and to come back again and again, to finish what was started a long time ago. But there is no end, just a pause, for a voice to start, talking again.

To be or not to be

On one hand: some people might argue that posting only when I have something "important" or "thoughtful" to say would be the true path to righteousness, writing-wise.

On the other hand: write! every! day! say many other people. Writing begets writing and any way forward has to be marked with drafts and mistakes and general, plodding, quotidian dullness: the simple act of attending is all.

Aside: interesting semi-related theory:

My personal rule is that if you aren’t quite certain that a certain action will be good for you and the world, you shouldn’t do it. Do nothing, which is likely to be pleasant and unlikely to hurt anyone. Few atrocities have been committed by people lying in bed, whereas the urge to Do Something has led to serious catastrophe. Productivity is extremely dangerous.

On the other hand: here's Katrina Lenk performing "If I Were a Rich Man," which is your reward for showing up: