Saturday, June 18, 2011

Two Hundred And Five Oh!

This being my 250th post, I thought I might do something special: throw a coat of paint over here, frame the posters that have been rolled up in the corner since 2009, or at least change the sheets. But nope. I'm just not that technically adept, so instead of packing up and moving over to Wordpress, or at least changing that blasted dotty background, I'll just ruminate on the last 250 essays.

I don't often do things 250 times. I think I've done 250 sit-ups in my life - a cumulative figure, of course, starting when I hit puberty and started to expand like a star going nova. I've definitely read 250 books, but a lot of those were Sweet Valley High novels where Jessica steals Elizabeth's identity in order to impress a cute college TA who turns out to be a date-rape-y jerk; in other words, it's unlikely I've read 250 good books. I haven't kissed 250 people (I can hear you sigh from here, mom), I haven't washed my sheets 250 times...or my hair, for that matter. I am kind of gross, kind of lazy, and kind of ill-read.

But I have written 250 blog posts. They're a smorgasbord: Chuck Klosterman, aging gracefully, breaking up, horrible office politics, an ill-conceived series on women I like that turned out to be kind of boring, horror movies, the now-defunct Cookie magazine, and zombies. My brain is a dense bramble of things: empty Coke Zero cans, anxieties about my body and my career (whoops, I'm sorry - "career"), useless tidbits of celebrity gossip, half-remembered jokes somebody else once made, and a mild yet long-lasting obsession with the best brownies in Toronto. The blog posts, all 250 of them, are my way of working out my little frustrations, celebrating the victories, and asking "What's up with that?" hopefully in a way that's funny, or readable, or at least passingly interesting.

When I was in high school, I enrolled in Writer's Craft, a course that tried to teach 17-year-olds how to write well, or at least better. We read Alice Munro stories and wrote long final projects, which we then read aloud to each other in the semester's final weeks. I remember some of them: Mike Gilson wrote a character who gets beaten with a bag full of oranges, and my classmate Cynthia (who was pretty, skinny, and sort of mean) wrote a great story about climbing a cliff and bad influences, and it was really gratifying to find out the whole thing had sort of been an allegory for her born-again faith, because, for some reason, that made it less incandescent to me. I wrote about hip-hop.

My future kids are going to be embarrassed to find out their mother once listened to hip-hop. Living in a small Ontario town meant I didn't have access to a lot of emerging artists, but I willed myself into finding out more. This was right before the internet was A Thing, so a lot of it was Swedish message boards about train arts and haphazardly posted videos of breakdancers. I read oral histories of the early days of MCs in New York City, and of DJs in Manchester. Because bored, alienated teenagers have more in common with each other than they do with any other person alive, I felt I could project myself into their world. This is, of course, hubris of the grandest scale.

When it came time to read my final project aloud, I was nervous. I hadn't followed a strictly linear narrative like most of my classmates; I had instead opted for little vignettes, linked thematically. One was about a breakdancer with a mentally ill brother, I remember that much, and a dialogue that had a lot of swearing in it. What I do remember is the hush that gradually fell over the class as I read. I am not particularly beautiful, or smart, or nice, or gracious. I slunk through most of high school with several close friends, a couple crushes, and the burning desire to both stand out and become totally invisible. But when I read those stories out loud, my voice ringing off the blackboards and into the thick late-June air, my classmates turned and listened. When I finished reading, there a pause, and then loud, enthusiastic applause.

It was amazing. I think that people who crave that kind of attention who are pretty enough become actresses, while us civilian shlubs learn how to write, or be good at cocktail parties. It was one of the first times I had done something to elicit a response. It wasn't based on how I looked, how old I was, or who my friends were: it was a feeling, heavy in the room, of people being impressed with writing. With words! Amazing!

Since then, I've been an addict. Writing is my way of interacting with the world, of processing and giving back. I write when I'm sad, or lonely, or bored, or upset. I write with elation and joy and grace and forgiveness. I write to celebrate my own minor victories, or the accomplishments of those I hold dear. I write to pick fights, to call bullshit on those who are unfairly lauded for mediocrity. I write because if I did not write, I would die.

As I spend more time not-writing, I spend more time being deeply unhappy with not-writing. Trying to stay away, to quell the need to write, is like trying to live without vitamin C. At first, you don't even notice anything's missing, but by the end, you're a shipwreck of a human with your teeth falling out. I mean, who needs that? Instead, let me just try to write more, as often as I can, with hilarity and clarity and, um, parity? Whatever. Bring on the next two years, the next 250 posts.

And if you'll excuse me, I'm going to wash my hair and change the sheets.

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait.

    (not for the sheets, whatevs on that front)