Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Blogging past the dumpster

"If you’ve got to if after trying to
give it up (like smoking or Nembutal)
if after swearing to shut it up it keeps on
yakking (that voice in your head)
that insomniac who lives across the wall,
that amateur Hammondist
who plays those broken scales next door
o then consider yourself doomed to.”

-Erica Jong, “Bitter Pills for the Dark Ladies”, Rising Tides: 20th Century American Women Poets

My personal journal, the one I drag around in my purse, has not exactly survived the advent of blogging. Or at least, it hasn’t survived with grace. January 2006 to the present, there are pages I would never want anyone to see – and when I read them, I wonder who in hell that annoying whiner is, and moreover, why someone hasn’t put her out of her misery yet. But there she is, along with a cheerier entity who has scribbled notes and drawings for artwork.

I’ve retained the habit of “free writing,” learned from Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones – and I reread to trace my moods and changes over time, from the safe distance of right now. I look for phrases or sentences that evoke a clear memory or provide material to recycle and insert in a piece that isn’t a wail of incoherent misery or complaint.

The pickings were mighty lean, but here’s what I found.

Jan. 5th – “The energy crackles between us. We are 200 watt happy in a 40 watt situation.”

Jan. 20th – “It’s the first time I’ve let my guard down in two weeks. I’ve worked like a mule, skipped lunches, felt like the pressure was going to blow my eyeballs out.”

Feb. 16th – “And don’t think this shit-parade of holidays isn’t reminding me that no one is sending me flowers.”

Feb. 17th – “(Overheard in a restaurant) We recognize our strengths and weaknesses, as men. Table of young men in suits, one lone woman with them, who says nothing, scrunches down in her seat. The guy talking looks like a pampered dipstick.”

May 8th – “It makes me feel like sulking. Actually, when I have a minute, I am sulking. And I’m enjoying sulking a lot more than I enjoy the feeling that ____is looking at me like he has suddenly stepped in dog poop.”

May 16th – “(Restaurant) I’m sure there is no version of French in which you can assume the annoying current habit young girls have of ending every sentence with a question mark. The words of the women at the next booth sound like Chickadees landing and taking off. English is more of a Penguin language, flightless.”

A few sentences. But then I’ve been talking to you. And believe it or not, I’ve spared you the worst of my trips on the bi-polar express. I discovered that, for me, personal journals often turn into private dumpsters – places where I do not improve my writing skills, do not make breakthroughs in understanding or experience great insight and do not (oh, so do not) even give a passing nod to style, grammar or spelling. I do not spin much gold out of straw. Actually, I tend to spin straw into manure.

Blogging, because there is actually a possibility that someone may read the drivel pouring out of my head and may actually relate to it in their own way, improves my attitude (not to mention my spelling). It forces me to find the funny bits. It changes my attitude, for instance, when strange men appear on my balcony on a bright Friday morning. Whoa! This is a little story! I think, instead of the more safety-conscious, I am phoning the landlord right now who-do-they-think-they-are!” And instead of fretting about my tenuous hold on sanity when I chase fruit flies with a dust buster, part of me hovers around the ceiling watching and taking notes. It’s absurd. And it’s another story.

Day to day life, the routine of it, becomes fodder when you think of it as “story.”

You learn to look for the odd moments and embrace them – the more surreal, the better. I stink at meditation. At plunking my ass on a cushion and attempting to be here, now. I find that I’m immediately somewhere and somewhen else. And my knees hurt or my nose itches. I attend because I write. And I write because “it keeps on yakking,” that voice in my head…

And because you read. Because you’ve become community. I lean over the virtual fence and tell you how today went.

Thank you for that.


herhimnbryn said...

Nice to see you leaning over the fence.I'll put the kettle on. Tea and cake?

Seriously, I agree about the journal in the bag thing. Have now made a promise to myself to stop whinging in it ( quite so much!) and use it to inspire and or laugh.

LJ said...

H? Cake? There's cake. O joy! Tell me it has icing and I'm yours forever. Tell me it's chocolate and I'll hand over my bank account number.

I promised not to whine. I didn't whine for at least a week. And then? Well, sigh. Yeah. Self-pity is SO repulsive, isn't it? I have volumes of it for some poor soul to find when I die. (Actually, Weedy has instructions to wipe the computer and burn everything if I go first.)

Thank the powers that be for blogging - where I have to curtail it - at least a little!

Anonymous said...

Ah, let's see, umm, oh!

June 18th;

"Listen to these Shambhala blowhards... buffing samsara like it's a prom queens tiara. Didn't hear a damn word Sid Buddy (that's what I call the little idol on your windowsill,) said. The endless cylce of life and rebirth is an IDIOT LOOP goddammits! Hey Mr. Weekend Retreat: If the human population continues to explode, where are all the new souls coming from? That'll keep 'em busy."

June 19th;

"Sigh. Bitchy again. I should note here for posterity that I usually don't pick on beginners, but this one was wearing a saffron robe, and holding court over a table of Anthony Robbins refugees. Snap 'em up before the Scientologists get a whiff.

Be thankfull for the sacrifices. They're the chillis in your chilli boyo.

Damned Dharmatologists.

p.s. I still think Ikky was joking when he barfed up the tea ceremony. Prove me wrong = $20."

Whiny like that dear old bird?


chuck said...


If we are not here for each other,
for whom are we here?

It's all about keeping communication in motion...yes?

...and I, for one, am glad "the voice in my head"- and yours- keeps yakking.

zhoen said...

Tea and chocolate biscuits.

This is why I started writing on a blog, an audience to live up to.

Koru's Daughter said...

"Actually, I tend to spin straw into manure."

Ummm, I think the universe beat you to that one... it is called a horse.

Marko, having some issues with your Buddha buddhies?

I agree with your insights here, LJ.

LJ said...

Oh very funny, KD. A horse. But I suppose you have a point. And I'll admit it made me laugh.

Marko. You always make me laugh. And your pathetic journal notes are funnier than mine. But then you know what I think about your writing compared to mine, toots. Maybe, like our good friend Kurt V., you need a large family to support so that you can become a "hack."

Zhoen, that was my reason too. At first I wrote carefully. I edited more. I held my breath and got woozey when I hit "publish." And then, I realized that I was talking to no one and blogged about that - and Lucas commented. My very first comment! I find I still try to stay a little in check when I blog...but I've eased up.
Now, I feel like I'm talking to people I know a little - and it's loosened me up. I swear by a blog for writing practice...and it's taught me to write whether I'm in the mood or not. To dig around until I find some little topic or other and not let perfectionism hobble me. And of course, there's cake and chocolate biscuits.

Katie said...

LJ, great post. You have taught me so many things here and one that I really have drawn from you is how to turn the moments that are seemingly ordinary, perhaps on occasion even annoying, monotonous, or rude into things that are actually signifigant in some manner. To look beyond the obvious to the small things that gleam in the light. That make life a little more interesting. To take something and make it not a "story" but something special, something extra-ordinary. To see something in a situation or thing that someone else does not. These are the things that make life worth living. Keep us going. give is a better outlook. Thanks for helping me get that.

phlegmfatale said...

My absolute favorite sentence in the past week was the one about Chickadees taking flight. Hilarious, adorable and spot-on, my dear!

phlegmfatale said...

Oh, and me too, about the finding of humor in what would otherwise be disappointing days or situations. The community aspect is so helpful, so heartening. Thanks to you, too, neighbor.

LJ said...

Jamie - I think you already notice an awful lot. But thank you.
Phlegmy..Tah! I liked the chickadees sentence too. If a Texas accent was a bird - what kind of bird would it be??

phlegmfatale said...

*L* something slightly ponderous and definitely silly, would be the Texas bird accent. Maybe a Pelican?

Sorry I've not been around in recent weeks - my new mac (which was a restored Mac) turned out to have problems of its own, and it takes forever for pages to load. However, that's a vast improvement over the last computer which simply locked up and wagged it's finger at me, admonishing me to stuff it. I've changed your site address on me blog link, hon. I'll try to be a better blog friend in future!