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.