Sunday, February 20, 2011

When we used to talk about feelings ...

Last night I was half-assedly watching an episode of "House" featuring that monotone ginger from "That 70s Show" as one of those old school personal bloggers -- a concept that was all the rage at the early part of this century.

It seems that in the early onset of the internet there was this compulsion to claim some iReal Estate and let your freak flag fly. With this came a sense of obligation to tell your life story in its entirety, leaving no emotion un-dissected, no acquaintance un-acknowledged, no conversation not shared verbatim, no meal un-documented. It was like being in a crowded karaoke bar and finally getting the microphone. Clearing one's throat and beginning: "Now that I have your attention ... here's 'Bohemian Rhapsody.'"

There are still personal bloggers, of course. Maybe I'm one of them. But not to starry-eyed extreme that I was in 2004 when I realized that I could put words about my life on the internet and that strangers from all over the world would read 900 different descriptions of a hangover. And so I did it every day, obsessing over sitemeter stats and demanding that my friends tell me their favorite parts of each post.

I think this all changed -- at least it changed for me -- when people realized they weren't as anonymous as they thought. That vanity would force them to reveal enough bits and pieces that they would eventually become identifiable, if they didn't just come out and say "MY NAME IS CHRISTA PISTA! I LIVE IN DULUTH MINNESOTA!" And I think even some of those people who weren't hiding behind aliases and blurred geographical information probably felt somewhat masked screaming words into a crowd. Or maybe not.

All I know is that there are no longer blogs in my Google Reader that include things like "That 70s Show" wrote on her website during the episode: "[Whatever the hell her boyfriend's name was] and I got into an argument today ..." Later when it came time for her to decide if she wanted a plastic heart valve or a pig valve, her initial choice was the plastic and her boyfriend accused her of choosing that for the entertainment of her readers. Gah. How many times did I do some version of that in 2004?

I miss that kind of blogging.

I am maybe too curious about the inane ways in which people spend their days. Last week I was standing in an alley with JCrew and I asked her about her morning routine, somewhat surprised that I'd never thought to ask her this before this very moment. It's not a thrilling litany of to-dos any more than my own morning routine is a thrilling list of to-dos. But still, it was interesting to me because it is different from me. YOU GO DIRECTLY FROM BED INTO THE SHOWER?! HOW IS THAT HUMANLY POSSIBLE?! YOU'RE A GODDAMN HERO! YOU NEED A BRONZE STATUE IN YOUR LIKENESS IN A PARK THAT IS NAMED AFTER YOU! Me? Every single day I wake up and think: "I can't do it. Not again. Another day. I was just getting used to yesterday. When is the first possible moment I can sleep again?" Then, about four sips into my coffee, I find the courage to go on.

Possibly related: I will never dive directly into a swimming pool.

So. I'm going to do that. Blog like it's 2004. Right here, right now. "My Saturday: An Exercise in Minutia":

I hate Saturdays. I find the lack of structure mixed with the week-long anticipation that this day be great is an awful burden. My usual plan of attack is to sleep until the bed sores get bed sores. If not for my bladder, I could go on for days. On this particular Saturday, I wake once late in the morning and to find Chuck next to me, fresh home from work, propped up on his elbows, reading the internet on his iPhone and beaming like a crazed lunatic.

"Oh, hi," I say. "How are you?"

Then I roll over and give sleep another whack, feeling successful when I wake up at 2 p.m.

I put on my glasses, a robe, slippers. Grab a pile of books I might want to read throughout the day, and go downstairs. Make coffee. Drink coffee. Smoke a cigarette or two. I had thought I might go to a movie. "The Roommate" seems perfect for a supersecret date with no one else, but it's only playing in Superior. This is a strange aesthetic turn off that I can't really explain.

I head down to the basement and crank up the old school desktop that has become my favorite computer in the house. I turn on a single lamp. Crank up Bon Iver's record. Write a review of the graphic novel "Asterios Polyp." Switch out Bon Iver for "OK Computer." I refill my coffee. Read the entire internet. Become restless.

I shelve a pile of books I've read in the past few months. Somewhere around P in the fiction section there is a weird smell. I don't even want to know that combination of elements this entails. Rotted mouse carcass and ketchup, probably. "I should dust these book cases," I think, but change my mind when I realize this is stupid busy work in a house where there is certainly something more pressing that requires cleaning. Then I get distracted by the fact that we are closing in on filling our eighth bookcase, and there really isn't room to expand in the basement. Someday I'm going to have to trim this collection.

How many copies of "Hard Times" do we need, anyway?

I form a plan in my mind: I will go to Electric Fetus and look at records, to a friendly acquaintance's vintage clothing store to browse, to the YMCA where I will work out as long as it takes me to watch a single hour-long episode of something starring characters with nice hair. Sauna. Shower. I need to go to the grocery store. I want to go to Barnes & Noble.

Even though it feels counter-clockwise, I start with Barnes & Noble. I know I am altering my fate. The Y is only open until 7 p.m. And if I get sucked into a comfy chair and a good book, there is no way I'll end up on an elliptical machine.

There is a woman in the early-alphabet of the fiction section SCREAMING into her cell phone. She's not mad. This is just, apparently, her voice. She's trying to decide on a gift for someone. Her toddler is playing on the floor at her feet as she leans against the shelf. Basically, if I want to see a Didion, I'm fucked. Such is the curse of the passive.

More and more I'm annoyed by the way people act in public. We all take up more or less the same amount of square inches with just our bodies. But some people seem to require more. Room to gesture. Room to talk very loudly. Room to aimlessly push a gigantic cart. Room to surround themselves with a rind of bags and co-shoppers, kids, friends, spouses. And the more people do this, the more I find myself trying to become small. Concise. Slide through cracks and speak in a whisper.

I buy "American Psycho," Joyce Carol Oates' new book and an oldie from Martin Amis and it's too late for me to get to the YMCA. Grocery store. Home. I sink into the sweet spot of the couch and bust through 100 pages of Patrick Bateman's bad behavior, pausing once in awhile to read the criticisms about this book.

By the time Chuck wakes up, I have built up a Christmas level of anticipation. Everything that has happened for the past 8 hours has happened in my head. That always makes the readjustment to human interaction a little clumsy and he tends to mistake my quietness for a mood.

I make a dinner heavy on chickpeas while Chuck sits on the stairs entertaining me and he's cued up some bossa nova on Pandora. We watch an episode and a half of season one of "The Sopranos" while I clutch "American Psycho" in my hands, occasionally busting through a paragraph.

Chuck goes to work. I watch "House" and sketch a picture of a woman with slicked hair, over-sized sunglasses and a perfectly balanced face taken from an ad in Elle. Meh. It looks like the sort of thing that would suggest promise if it was hanging on the wall in an elementary school. Read more. More criticism. Text Chuck. Clean kitchen. Read. Snack.

Finally around 4:30 a.m., I go upstairs to bed. I read until the words swim, then pass out.


feisty said...

Morning routine: wake up when H throws open the bedroom to let me know he needs help. Help get wiggly kid in shoes, jacket, hat, mittens. Say bye to H and kid. Walk to bedroom...half of the days lay back down until almost super late for work. The other half, jump in shower then lay down with wet hair until I'm super late. Walk quickly by judgmental administrate assistant, resisting the urge to tell her I was up late emailing for work (or at a student group meeting or whatever other activity I did on my unpaid work time that week)

Christa said...

This is excellent. Thanks, Feisty. I hope 100 people follow your lead.

Abby - Bright Yellow World said...

I absolutely loved this post. I miss people sharing the details of their brains. I still try to do this, but I fail more often than not. And then, when I do write a "personal blogger" type of post, I always spend the next several hours wondering if I shared too much.

I miss that part of the bygone era. The oversharing felt ok then.

Oh, and my morning routine: Coffee. Turn on the shower and let it run while the water gets warm. Pick at my skin. Brush teeth. Take shower. Contemplate drying hair, then give up and pull it back. Dressed, makeup. Realize that I'm running late for the bus, throw on shoes, leave coffee on entry table, and run four blocks to the bus stop.

Jodie said...

This is hilarious and genius. Long live 2004!

Futbol said...

man. the thing about obnoxious people making you want to be as unobtrusive as possible, and the thing about readjusting to life after an extended reading session -- i don't think i've ever identified more with this here blog. nicely phrased, too.

Kate Bee said...

I like reading other people's pig heart stories, but when I read my own archives, I cringe over and over and over again. Then I click the delete button.

I'll follow Feisty's lead: Wake up when D wakes up, roll over, go back to bed. Wake up again when he gets in the shower for work. Get out of bed, caffeinate, work out and shower, or maybe just skip right to some quality time with my computer. Do some research or maybe turn my brain to jelly on social media. Hopefully motivate and get my hausfrau on. This happens M/W/F. The other two days I roll out of bed and live the life of a 21 year old college student (minus the boozing and plus 3+ hours of commuting) trapped in a 32 year old's body. All I need is a pair of Uggs and some jeggings and I'll be set.