“Stand upright like a monument
Walk upright like a solider
And be upright like a man.”
— a made-up quote
I was in the parking lot of an LA Starbucks, having just pulled in, but unwilling to leave the car until the song that was playing on the radio had finished, which is a personal ritual of sorts.
It was Kelly Clarkson singing.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone
What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn’t mean I’m over cause you’re gone
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stronger
Just me, myself and I”
In the side mirror, I saw a businessman leaving the coffee shop and wiping his hand with a crinkled Starbucks paper napkin. Â When he reached his grey sedan directly behind mine, he tossed the napkin on the pavement, and twisted his foot on top of the innocent paper napkin, grinding it as if it were the remains of a tossed cigarette butt, or the grave of a hated nemesis.
This action struck me as violent. Â Ultra-violent. Â Especially since the only expression on his face was coldness. Â This was not just littering. Â This was not carelessness. Â This was a statement. Â This was a hate crime.
I’m not a hero. I run from trouble. Â But as Kelly Clarkson sang “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” I stepped out of my car, not thinking through the consequences. Â I walked towards the predator. Â Â Kelly continued to sing. Â I heard the refrain in the background; I left my door ajar, the keys inside, the engine running.
As I write this down, moments after the incident, I am aware that I want your approval. Why else would I tell you this uninteresting tale? I want you to say, “Good job, Neil.” Â But this was not the case at the moment I approached the businessman’s gray sedan. Â I was acting illogically, quixotic, as if this napkin, this foot movement, all Kelly’s song were pushing me to the wall and asking, “Let’s see what you do, motherfucker?”
The businessman gave me a “I don’t take shit” look groomed from years in the steely boardroom. Â He had just turned on his ignition, and the idling of both of cars made the parking lot pavement float up as hot dust. Â I stopped in my tracks, and we faced each other in silence, like gunmen at the OK Corral.
My arm rose slowly, and my index finger extended into a point leading to the dirty Starbacks napkin lying lifelessly on the black gravel. Â I had spoken. Â And he understood.
His stare grew intense. Â If the eyes are the windows of a person’s soul, this businessman lived within a ring of fire. Â His soul was an old one, one that had been reincarnating time and time again for his numerous sins. Â He had seen it all — death, plague, the raping and pillaging of entire towns. Â Â I was a mere child in comparison, but one with a simple message, “You left your Starbucks napkin on the floor.”
He hated me, despised me like a thousand flaming suns. Â But he would never win against simplicity. Â He opened the door, picked up his Starbucks napkin, and drove off into the California sunset.
There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a friend and talented writing colleague achieve her dreams, and being there at her side when it happens. Â Such was the case on Thursday when Jenny “The Bloggess” Lawson came to Beverly Hills for an exclusive reading of her new book “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened.”
I was thrilled to receive a VIP invitation to the event. Â Sure, it cost me twenty dollars in cash, I had to wait in a long line, and they lost my reservation when I reached the booth, but boy was it worth it. Â Jenny was glowing on stage. And she is funny as hell, whether talking about her unusual upbringing in Texas or her time hiding in the bathroom at BlogHer during an anxiety attack.
As I watched Jenny trade barbs with the hostess, Soleil Moon Frey of Punky Brewster fame, I mused on the fact that despite her new friendships with Hollywood lumanaries and best-selling authors, from Wil Wheaton to Neil Gaiman, Jenny was still ol “Jenny from the block,” that is if they call sections of the street blocks in Texas like they do in New York. Jenny was dressed comfortable, reflecting her modest background, in her black Louis Vuitton dress and “F**k me” eight inch heels that she bought hours earlier on nearby Rodeo Drive. Â She hadn’t changed a bit!
The venue was packed with fans and for some, seeing Jenny in the flesh was akin to a meeting with the Pope himself (if the Pope spoke about vaginas a lot, which surprisingly he does).
Everyone in the audience was grasping a copy of Jenny’s newly released memoir, a best-seller, a project ten years in the making, a life dream! Â I was the only one without a book. Â I told the others sitting in the front row with me that the book was on my Kindle Fire, which was a lie, since I don’t even own a Kindle, but I was afraid of the consequences if I told the truth — that I had no intention of ever reading her book. Â After all, I just spent twenty bucks to get into this theater.
Besides, my main motivation for going to the event was to hopefully get laid by some of Jenny’s anxious fans, and saying I wasn’t going to read the book would have been like saying I’m a premature ejaculator — never good to say up front.
But I had a plan. Â I would tell some of the women that Jenny recently said in an interview Â that “Neil’s blog is 100x better than mine,” which of course, she never said, but then again I doubt every line in HER book is completely accurate. Â James Frey, Jenny? Â Is it a coincidence that Soleil Moon FREY, possibly a close relative of James himself, Â was the moderator? Â The shadow of Frey is hanging over you.
But, seriously folks, my friendship with Jenny goes back a long time. Â I’ll never forget the special moment we had last year at BlogHer.
From My BlogHer 11 Recap
“I pass by â€œThe Bloggess,â€ one of the funniest women online. She is sitting on a bench, her suitcase standing in front of her. I seem a whole lot more excited to see her, than vice versa.
â€œHey, itâ€™s Jenny, the famous Bloggess!â€
â€œUh, hello, Neil.â€
I point at the suitcase.
â€œWhere you going?â€
â€œIâ€™m going home early. Iâ€™m exhausted after the Peopleâ€™s Party.â€
â€œI can imagine. Hey, when is the book coming out? Iâ€™m so excited.â€
â€œIâ€™m not sure yet.â€
â€œWhy donâ€™t you sent me an advanced copy? Iâ€™d love to read it.â€
Jenny pauses for a moment.
â€œMy publisher decided not to send out advanced copies,â€ she says.
â€œYou mean when the book comes out, you want me to BUY the book? Itâ€™s going to be like $25 dollars in stores!â€
â€œThatâ€™s how much books cost, Neil.â€
â€œCâ€™mon, Jenny. Surely your old blogging friends will get a readerâ€™s copy in the mail.â€
â€œNot even Laura?â€
â€œWell, Laura read it already. But sheâ€™s more of a real friend than a blogging friend.â€
â€œWhat is this shit? Iâ€™m not going to pay $25 bucks on your book when I can read your blog for free.â€
â€œThe book is going to be very different than the blog. It is about my real life.â€
â€œI see. So the plan was to put your shitty superficial material online, and then force us to buy your f*cking book?â€
â€œWell, I do have a family to feed.â€
â€œYouâ€™ve changed, Jenny. You come off as a sweet cutesy Texan mom, but you are a fucking shark. I bet William Shatner was part of your marketing plan all along.â€
You know, f*ck you , little man. I could destroy you in a second with my Twitter followers.
â€œSuck my c*ck, Jenny.â€
â€œYeah, I already saw your tiny c*ck in that photo you sent me last year. Donâ€™t make me laugh. Be happy I didnâ€™t put it on Flickr.â€
â€œGo to hell.â€
Ha Ha. Â Now you know why I go to blog conferences. Â It is one of the rare times that you can sit down with your online friends and get to know them on an intimate level.
Jenny is famed both for her sense of humor AND her heart. One of her most profound and beautiful posts started a entire movement called “The Travelling Red Dress.”
I want,Â just once, to wear a bright red, strapless ball gown with no apologies. Â I want to be shocking, and vivid and wear a dress as intensely amazing as the person I so want to be. Â And the more I thought about it the more I realized how often we deny ourselves that red dress and all the other capricious, ridiculous, overindulgent and silly things that we desperately want but never let ourselves have because they are simply â€œnot sensibleâ€. Â Things like flying lessons, and ballet shoes, and breaking into spontaneous song, and building a train set, and crawling onto the roof just to see the stars better. Â Things like cartwheels and learning how to box and painting encouraging words on your body to remind yourself that youâ€™re worth it.
After reading the post, I thought it would be funny to mock this inspirational movement that was helping so many women achieve self-acceptance.
Jenny blocked me on Twitter that day. So, the joke was on me!
But that’s how old friends behave — each trying to outdo the other with practical jokes! Â I love you, Jenny. It’s time to unblock me!
The line for the book signing after the reading snaked through the lobby and back into the theater. Most of her fans were glad to wait for a moment with their heroine, but I figured that Jenny would want to see me first. Â I arrived at the signing table just as Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series, was getting HER book signed. Â It was so cool to learn that this super-successful author asking for Jenny’s signature. Â But as they say in Texas, blood is thicker than cow piss, so I cut in front of the line AND Stephanie Meyer, my Iphone raised.
“Jenny, hey there sexy, let me take a photo of you for Instagram and put it on Twitter, too, so I can show everyone that we are friends!”
“We’re not really, friends, Neil,” she said, and two burly Filipino men, both former wrestlers, escorted me out of the building. Â I later discovered that these men were hired to be Jenny’s personal bodyguards during her book tour.
She’s such a joker!
Several of my blogging friends were at the event, but since so few of them talked to me, I figured it was because they didn’t recognize me. Â I decided to grow a beard this week!
Taking a page from Jenny’s book, I used my beard-growing to create a viral internet phenom, much like Jenny did with Beyonce the metal chicken. I took an instagram photo of my white scraggly beard and shared it on Facebook and Twitter.
“Yay or Nay,” I asked.
It was unanimous. I should keep the beard. Â (Believe me, it doesn’t look as good as it does when I hide it under three Instagram filters)
“You are sexy as hell.” said one mommyblogger.
I was instantly the blogosphere’s George Clooney.
I had created a social media trend — my Yasir Arafat-looking beard Â — that made everyone forget Jenny and her best-selling book.
Later that night, I presented a new question for all my good friends on Twitter and Facebook.
“Jump off the Brooklyn Bridge to see if I can survive the fall — Yay or Nay?”
The mob overwhemingly voted yay.
Social media sucks.
Congrats, Jenny “The Bloggess” Lawson! Â You are an inspiration. Â Sometimes.
There are quite a few articles today about a controversy revolving around the new Lena Dunham- created HBO show,Â Girls, and the lack of diversity in the cast, particular with African-American characters. Â One of the reasons for the outcry over this show rather than the countless other all-white shows is that critics have been wetting their pants over the show, calling it the VOICE of the twenty-something generation of women.
Whenever something is crowned “the voice of a generation,” those who don’t fit into the demographic always feel left out. Â We should retire that expression.
From Kendra James atÂ Racialicious:
“If Lena Dunham and I come from similar educational backgrounds, honed our writing and narrative skills at the same school (and likely with some of the same professors), and grew up spending time in the same city (sheâ€™s from Tribeca, and I was a bridge-and-tunnel kid from a nice New Jersey suburb about 30 minutes away), then how could we conceive such radically different images of New York City? Why would I feel so ill-at-ease with her critics essentially declaring her as my voice?”
Ta-Nehisi Coates from the Atlantic, focuses less on the individual artist than those who run the media.
“There has been a lot of talk, this week about Lena Dunham’s responsibility, but significantly less about the the people who sign her checks. My question is not “Why are there no black women on Girls,” but “How many black show-runners are employed by HBO?” This is about systemic change, not individual attacks.
It is not so wrong to craft an exclusively white world–certainly a significant portion of America lives in one. What is wrong is for power-brokers to pretend that no other worlds exists. Across the country there are black writers and black directors toiling to bring those worlds to the screen. If HBO does not see fit to have a relationship with those writers, then those of us concerned should assess our relationship with HBO.”
I don’t write much about my own experiences in “Hollywood,” but I have pitched shows to executives at NBC, and worked at HBO at one time. I’m also originally from Queens, New York, which for my money has the largest percentage of citizens of different races, languages, and eccentric human beings in the country, and many of my idea stem from my childhood there.
It wasn’t until I visited my uncle in New Jersey when I was ten years old that realized that the majority of the world — and the power structure — was filled with white people. Remember the book, “The Preppy Handbook?” It was like reading a book about Chinese pottery; the concepts were totally foreign to me. Â My move to Manhattan from Queens was more of a culture shock than when I moved from New York to Los Angeles. Â On Easter weekend during my Freshman year, I went home with my roommate Tom to his family estate in Massachusetts, where he OWNED HORSES!
“What do you do with them?” I asked.
“We ride them!”
You can take the boy out of Queens, but you can’t… Â I never got half of the jokes in “Stuff White People Like.”
Years later, I found myself pitching a sitcom idea to a Disney executive, an arrogant young guy who got the job because his father was a producer. He was playing mini-golf on his carpet as I nervously told him my brilliant story that I wrote in the shower that morning.
One of the plot points revolved around a son’s relationship with his father. The son’s mother had died and his father quickly remarried — one of his mother’s friends! The son was mad at the father for doing this, and didn’t get along with the step-mother until the final act.
At the end of pitch, the executive hit one more putt.
“The biggest problem with the story… is the new wife,” he said.
I was surprised to hear this. I had expected him to criticize the son or the father.
“The new wife is a black woman, right?” he asked.
It was a detail I hardly noticed when I pitched it. I was basing the story on a real-life situation of someone I knew from Queens. The father remarried a nurse who lived in the same apartment building. Â She was a black woman.
“What’s the problem with her being black?” I asked.
“The audience will think that the son hates the new wife because she is black, and no one will like the main character.”
“Oh, no no no. He doesn’t hate her because she is black. Â It is because his father is getting remarried so soon after his mother’s death! Â The new wife’s color is irrelevant to the story.”
“Yes, but the audience will read it that way. So, let’s just make her white.”
“I see. Â OK, let’s make her white.”
Was I acting racist by changing my black character to a white character? Â Probably not. Just wimpy. Nothing ever happened with the script anyway.
Was the executive racist for asking me to change the race of the character?
I don’t think he was racist either. Â In fact, there was a big plaque on the wall announcing that he was a big shot in the “Young Hollwyood Democratic Club for Change.”
The big issue was FEAR. Â No one wants to touch issues of race because no one wants to be called a racist.
I’m not suggesting that it is good to be politically incorrect, but fear is never a healthy motivation. Â And fear runs Hollywood, especiallyÂ this unwritten law that blacks should only write about black people and whites about white people. It’s as if the media images are more segregated than America in 2012! Â Sure, we need diversity in the boardrooms and our writing staffs, but we also need more diversity in our brains.
As a blogger, I sometimes feel that the political correctness of my friends is punishing me for growing up in Queens. Â My world is diverse. Â If I ever write a memoir, my childhood will all be about blacks and whites and Latinos and Asians learning to live together, not always perfectly. Â About public school. Â If I don’t write about this diversity, I would not be authentic. But I have also been criticized in the past, as if my white male “privilege” prohibits me from writing about anything other than white maleness.
One of my best — and funniest blog posts — was one that I only showed to a few of you, and was told not to publish it.
The tale found me taking the wrong bus home in Queens, the only white guy en route to Jamaica, Queens, a heavily African-American section of the borough. Â During the ride, a bunch of rowdy kids in the back of the bus started an obnoxious game called “Tag the N****r,” where one kid tagged another by touching his shoulder, and he was forced to box the other until he cried uncle. There was real punching in these fights, and bloody noses. As the combatants scufffled violently, “Tag the N****r!” was shouted by the other kids.
The older passengers were disgusted, particularly at the use of language. Â There was chaos, and the bus driver eventually kicked all the kids off the bus. Â But according to some obscure MTA rule, the bus driver had to wait for a dispatcher to sign a document before the bus could continue on. Â As we waited in the hot bus with no air-condition, another bus showed up, a fancy new one. Â All of the teenagers climbed aboard the new bus, flashing their school passes, and took off to cause trouble elsewhere. Â We were stuck there — all of the law-abiding citizens — for another forty minutes.
“You can’t post this,” said one blogger via email. “It’s not YOUR story to tell. It is one about the African-American experience.”
“But I was there!”
“Yes, but you were only a visitor.”
“Huh? Â But I was there! Â Why is this about the African-American experience? Â And why am I visitor? Â I live here too.”
“You don’t see your own privilege,” she said.
Good people could not see beyond the black-white schism, when in my view, the opposing forces in the story were old vs. young. Â I had more in common with the older African-Americans sitting in the bus, minding their own business, remembering the civil rights movement than the teenagers. Â I did not feel as if anyone singled me out as “the white guy.” Â Most of the passengers were angry at the obnoxious teens.
“I have an idea,” said another friend. “Don’t mention ANYONE’S color in the story at all, so then there isn’t an issue of you seeming racist.”
I found her color-blind story suggestion interesting, but bizarre. Â Race was not essential to the sitcom story about the father marrying his mother’s black friend, but in this case, the racial content MADE the story a story. Â This would be a very different scenario if it were white teenagers playing “Tag the N****r.”
I’m fascinated by the current discussion over this HBO show. Â I’m all for diversity — including in the blogosphere! Â But I think the biggest obstacle is not the media, but our own discomfort talking about our similarities and differences in non-controversial, but real ways.
If this is your first time reading this post, start at the bottom and go up. It is in reverse chronological order just to make you work harder.
Sunday 4/12/12 – night:
The end of project. Â It was too emotionally demanding, and not much said. Â Â But I liked experimenting. Â Good to fail.
Saturday 4/11/12 – morning:
I can’t wait for this experiment to end, although I will miss it on monday. Final question to myself about online life – is this all for writing or friendship?
Thursday 4/11/12 – morning:
My online experience has helped me become a better person. More human. Less superficial. I have become more in touch with my emotions. I feel love and affection more strongly. I allow myself to express sadness and yearning. I even have a nostalgic for my frequent conversations with my penis in 2005-2007. What is more authentic than a man’s relationship with his own cock?! I realize we live in a very politically correct media world, but I have enjoyed looking within without my reason controlling the ship. That said, I’m not sure all this focus on emotion and feeling and sexual yearning has done much for my writing. Writing requires logic and the artistry of specific word choice. Letting it all hang out, this post for instance, is not writing. It is verbal blah. It might be good for me to express myself this way, it only makes me lazier and farther from my goals. Maybe that is why people are abandoning their personal blogs. There are no goals. The smarter ones are focusing more on writing, using their personal as art. The goal is art. The goal is not expression of emotion. No one cares about you. They care about a well constructed sentence or clever metaphor. When people say they “love you” online, they mean they love your vocabulary and adjectives, or way you present ideas in an informational or humorous manner. How you feel is irrelevant. I was a more focused and competent writer before I started blogging, and started to focus too much on myself.
Wednesday 4/11/12 – afternoon:
There is a thread forming in this post, at least in my own mind, which makes this ongoing blogpost a worthwhile experiment. Even though I haven’t consciously been trying to connect each entry, and writing them stream of consciousness, without editing, at theme has developed, one about me discovering the “me” in relation to others.
My divorce with Sophia has been super-slow because I am having a difficult time transforming into a “me” after so many years as a “we.” Even now, I worry as much about how she is dealing with all of this, doing this that only add to my discomfort, as if I need to always put her first.
My mass unfollowing on Twitter is about the same theme — me vs. you. I like following people online and caring about your lives, but at what point is the whole project one of distraction and procrastination. How many real friends have I gotten out of all this? I certainly haven’t chosen people based on networking or career. Where is the “me” in all this? What is my plan?
Some of the most beloved people online interact with zero “non-superstars” and are still loved, mostly because their work speaks for itself. Why do I feel that if I quit social media, and didn’t say hello to you every day, you would forget my name by Friday? I think I know the answer. I don’t think my work would stand up on its own. That once I just go back to writing, no one would care. But does it matter? What do I even need you for? Shouldn’t this be about “me?”
Even the Instagram sale to Facebook was transformed into a me vs. you theme. The big sale made me feel like a cog in the wheel. I know it is silly, but I was beginning to think of myself as a cool iphonographer. But now I see the truth. I am a widget in a box. The box sells for a billion dollars. The widgets are interchangeable. We are just data. The more widgets in the box, the more money for the makers of the box. We willingly enter these boxes so we can connect, almost as if we too afraid to connect with each other outside of the box. Instagram is not about “me,” or photography, but the box.
I used to be such an advocate for community online. But maybe this was all a facade. Sure, community is important. But it dangerous to lose “me.”
Are these posts getting to be too much of a downer? Maybe I should stop and go back to regular posts. Or maybe I should just write my romantic comedy script and forget about this space for a while. What’s the point? I am so envious of those who make good money on the blogs, not because I want that type of blog, but because the money gives them a reason to continue. I find myself going to BlogHer just to hug people, not to network. I need to start to network more than socialize.
I need to put up advertising. And only use social media sparingly. Write more on this blog. But good stuff. So, it will enhance my brand.
My blogging friend Bon suggested I write more about screenwriting and “Hollywood” because it would be interesting to her, and it would also help me create a niche. Perhaps it would also make me focus on career stuff in my writing, rather than being so navel-gazing. I saw Sweetney writing about something similar today.
I actually have some skills in writing, editing, story development, filmmaking, theater — stuff I never write about because I was under the illusion that a personal blog was supposed to be about the emotional life. But maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. Mocha Momma writes opinion pieces on race all the time. PhD in Parenting is all about issues related to mothers. But they are still considered “personal blogs.” My favorite blogs are about the personal — the home, the heart, the soul — but too much of thinking about yourself can also drown you in a deep ocean of your own making.
Jeez, I am going to read this back later and be utterly embarrassed. But it will probably give you a glimpse of what is on my mind when I sit down for twenty minutes and just write. Nothing about the news. Or earthquakes. Or the election. But about… I don’t know. Nothing.
You know what. I think I am going to continue to just spit all this stuff out, and use this week to expurge it all, and then next week start fresh. Like Citizen of the Month 2.0. And try to limit some of this lame, angsty stuff. And try to write with confidence. Like I believe in myself and my words. That’s not going to be easy. But I think I can do it.
I think I also miss New York. I felt more rooted there.
Wednesday 4/11/12 – morning:
Why does everyone respond more positively towards me the more I seem confident about matters? Readers like my posts better. Well-established writers follow me on Twitter. Women have orgasms. It leads me to believe that my natural disposition is ineffective, even wrong. What is everyone so confident about? The sky could fall at any moment!
Tuesday 4/10/12 – night:
Why is it so easy for me to write dozens of quips and updates on Facebook and Twitter every day, but painful for me to do the same here on this space? It’s as if I treat social media as a playground and my blog post as a sacred church with commandments from God that need to be followed:
1) Thou shall be interesting.
2) Thou shall be honest.
3) Thou shall dig deep to uncover some spiritual truth.
Why am I choosing to torment myself? The tortured artist shtick is so old. I’m not talented enough as a writer to express what is inside. I don’t have the language.
I envy the writers who live in nature, who can look at the sky and the trees and find insights into their own lives. Or discover metaphors in God’s creation.
You can’t see the stars in Los Angeles. There is the ocean here, of course, the vast Pacific Ocean. It just doesn’t speak to me. I am a Pisces who doesn’t like to swim.
Why don’t I just write something funny? I’m good at that. I Just don’t feel funny.
Tuesday 4/10/12 – morning:
I’m never quite show how I am perceived by others, which is probably not the best method of branding myself. I consider myself a positive person, but I suppose I don’t always show that side. Perhaps I am misinterpreting the idea behind personal blogging. I never kept a diary, but I assume it is all about writing down your deep, dark secrets. You don’t promote yourself to yourself.
When I write on this space, I focus on something that went wrong, and then convey it in a serious or humorous way, just like I would a short story or screenplay. Who is the main character and what kind of rocks can I throw at him? It doesn’t interest me to focus only on what goes right, because what is the point?
I sometimes wonder what is in the minds of those who only write about the joys in their lives. What is their motivation for writing? People also say they want to “help” others, wouldn’t it be better to go feed the homeless if you really wanted to help humanity? I’ve always felt that sharing your humanity, good and bad, helps others more than presenting a glossy version.
I would hate to think that people actually enjoy producing envy in others. When I first started blogging, I thought it was cool that I could make others envious, especially when I went to a conference. Look at me, I am FRIENDS with those you admire! But then it just seemed rather silly. No one writes a blog post just because they shared some fish tacos with their cousin Billy from Bakersfield. Our mentions of each other (and the photos from conferences) were moving away from reality and into PR, like those photos from the red carpet at the Oscars. For all I know, only six people go to BlogHer, Blissdom, and SWSX, because I only see the same faces on my Twitter stream several times a year? Doesn’t anyone every take a photo with someone else?
That said, we all make friends online, and we like to show off our friends. And how can you NOT be a little jealous that I had dinner with Jenn Mattern from Breed Em’ And Weep last week (even if she was with her new beau, Ed. Sigh.)
Talking about beautiful, smart women — here is a photo of Suzanne from Twenty Four at Heart, with her camera, of course.
Always with a camera. She got picked to go on an exclusive behind the scenes photography shoot at Knotts Berry Farm, along with a few other big names in Orange County/Los Angeles. It was an impressive gig. I begged her to take me along as her “assistant.” I carried her bag, poured her coffee, and said “Yes, Ma’am” a lot, like I was working for Annie Lebovitz. My secret plan was to take my own photos for Instagram with my iphone. I don’t want to sound cocky, but I think one or two of my shots came out better than got with her fancy camera.
On the other hand, Suzanne actually knows what she is doing. Oh, and yeah, Suzanne, I apologize for forgetting to re-follow you on Twitter until this morning! Whoops.
To top off my week of socializing, I met Danielle and her friends in a hip bar in Culver City, where we drank mojitos and kvetched about relationships and marriage. I do have photos but it was so dark in this bar that you can barely make anything out other than our drunk zombie eyes.
Monday 4/9/12 – night:
It is 1AM. Keeping what I am thinking about to myself.
Monday 4/9/12 – afternoon:
Started following back everyone on Twitter. And I am realizing something. Part of the reason for unfollowing everyone on Twitter in the first place was that I wanted to start cutting myself off from the mommyblogging community. But as I start following again, I see that most everyone I know online IS a mommyblogger, so my new list is looking almost identical to my last list. If we are friends and I haven’t followed you back, please just tell me.
In other social media news, there was an announcement today that Facebook bought Instagram, the photo-sharing community that I have loved so much over the last year, more than my own blog. The price tag — one billion dollars. While I should be happy for their success, the news made me feel like a bit of a loser. I wonder if social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are digital Ponzi schemes where we convince each other to join in order that the few make all the money. Sure, we willingly enter and enjoy these outlets, but we are using our creative energies to fill a box, where all of the money goes to the owners of the box? Perhaps this realization could help revitalize our hapless blogs. Why don’t we put our photos up right on our own blogs? Why don’t we write our status updates right here, so we can build our own audiences? Look at this post, for instance. I am using my blog like Facebook, updating it three times a day. At first, I was wary of doing this, feeling like I was using my blog in the “wrong way,” but maybe this will inspire me to spend more time on my own space than giving away my content to others just to be “social.”
As you can tell, I spent my morning thinking about silly internet stuff, rather than dealing with real emotions, which can be good.
Monday 4/9/12 – morning:
I submitted the divorce papers on Passover and the Red Sea opened. I unfollowed everyone on Twitter on Easter and I felt resurrected. I woke up on Monday and felt the urge to write poorly-conceived metaphors for my mental state. But it is 5AM , and I am awake, and feeling a little randy, and that’s good. I feel like writing.
I feel as if I’m in a constant state of yearning for more. Or connection. But it is a passive waiting. And I am patient enough to wait until I’m dead. So the buzz word for the day is action. Which is not easy for someone like me.
Sunday 4/8/12 – night:
Unfollowed everyone on Twitter today. It’s not as dramatic as it sounds. Tomorrow I will start following people again. Why did I do it? Perhaps it’s just a symbolic gesture to reclaim my own space. Social media isn’t doing it for me in the same way anymore, and I wanted to make some changes, or at least re-think what I use it for on a daily basis.
Sunday 4/8/12- morning:
I wasn’t in the mood to celebrate Passover, my favorite holiday. So, I didn’t attend any seders. I ate toast for dinner. Why the “pity me” fest? On Friday, I handed in the final paperwork into the court for the divorce, which is a story in itself. Many of you thought I had did that already, say — a year ago — when I wrote a post about it, but like I said, there is a story there. Sophia and I are involved in the slowest moving divorce in human history. I want to use the word “depressed,” but I don’t want to steal it from those who are truly depressed as a medical condition. I’m basically OK, but I can certainly see what it feels like to want to stay in bed all day. Luckily, I have to go pee, so I am forced to get up.
Sunday 4/8/12 – afternoon:
I’m already feeling embarrassed by this lazy blog post. But since I started it, I’m going to continue, although I feel the need to come up with an intellectual reason for it’s existence, something that will make you go, “Oh, I get it now. How clever!” rather than “That dude is going crazy.” The following is complete bullshit, but since I wrote it out a few minutes ago, I might as well publish it.
“One of the reasons personal blogging is a dying art is because we now expect our writing to have the traditional beginning, middle, and end of a good story. To have a point. An opinion. A punch line if it is a humor piece. None of these literary techniques reflect real life, which is constant flux, funny one moment and sad the next. Most of our lives are the second act. The beginnings and ends of life are mere blips. We are born and we die. Everything else is the middle. We impose beginning and ends to our stories to capture the minds of our readers, but the more we are honest with ourselves, we see that our real lives have one very long middle, which makes it difficult to write about without embellishment. Or just dropping the personal completely to write tales of vampires.”
Some people drink. Others have sex with strangers. My way of dealing with emotional turmoil is to do experiments on my blog. It’s is cheaper and I don’t have to shave.
No one is going to like this post because there will be no beginning and no end. It will just be an ongoing story about the middle that will take a week to finish, a diary of sorts.
I don’t have a clue on how you should read this. Probably you should just wait until next Sunday when I will move on. This is a weird experiment destined for failure, which only makes me love it more.