Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mental Vacation

Well, I'm sure you were all convinced that I've won the Mega-Millions and run away from it all – living scandalously, surrounded by fun-house thin-mirrors, sipping on domestic sparkling wine (come on – you know you like it better than real champagne, too), eating Alaskan crab and Maine lobster and mocking the corporate servant I used to be. Sadly, no. I'm still here. I've just been on a mental vacation, trying to figure out some of the larger questions in life, not the least of which are as follows: why is it that I don't know (or care about) the words to the top 20 songs on the radio like I did when I was 15? Why are all my friends feeling the same way? Relatedly (is that a word? spell check says no), why does Madonna sound like Olivia Newton John (pre-"Physical") compared to some of the lyrics I DO understand? Didn't she used to be scandalous? I mean, the 80's weren't THAT long ago – were they? Also, what's up with the frosting in Twinkies?? Didn't the frosting used to be less sticky, more fluffy? It's keeping me up at night.

And purpose. Do we need purpose? Not in a genuine cause and effect kind of way…just in a "why" kind of way. Because the idea of purpose, or reason, if you will, for our (my) actions was laid at my feet too long ago – about a month ago – about the time of my last post, actually. Here's the tale:

I was asked recently, "Why blog? What purpose do you have in doing this? Do you want to be famous? Get a movie deal?" (For the record, I'm not hoping to get a movie deal by doing this. I couldn't script a scene if I tried. And paparazzi annoy the fuck out of me.) "What is it about blogging that has given you this bug? Do you all of a sudden have this need to tell secrets to strangers?" After stammering around a bit (because not surprisingly, my oral skills suck) I thought of all kinds of things to reply, but this is what I came up with: that this was more or less just an exercise to get me writing everyday – practice, if you will. It was akin to an on-line diary. "Practice to what end? And, if it IS just practice, why blog it? Why put it out there on the internet? Why not just write & save it on your computer?"

Scratch the needle off the record. GOOD QUESTION. And one, honestly, I had no answer to. I was a bit embarrassed – OK, a lot embarrassed. I got caught. Or caught up. Or seduced by the (real or imaginary) Potential of The Blog. And then it got me thinking: why DO I want to do this? Besides the "all my friends are doing it" thing. What did I truly hope to get out of this? I really ruminated. Thus my mental vacation.

Secrets are definitely not it. Again…the window to my life is pretty curtain-free. If it was about secrets, you'd be getting charged a very hefty per-minute fee. I had to stop and think about it for a good long time: What is it that makes me believe that blurting out one's every thought (or at least the ones that we think are clever) to an unseen audience is not only OK, but also desirable? Is it arrogant of me to think I am so damn interesting that these others actually care what I have to say?

I lost my mojo. I couldn't write a thing. I had gone from being pertinent to silly in one short hour. I had no direction, no "plot", no purpose to any of this. Even the name of this blog is non-definitive…on one hand, I am the wind, shapeless & free formed; I have unbridled potential to talk about anything, and on the other hand, I am the wind, shapeless & free formed; really all about nothing and very quickly gone. Therefore, to what end, this?

So, like my old friend Winnie the Pooh, I sat. And I thought. Think, Think, Think.

I'm not sure if I came up with a solid answer, but here is what I have come up with:

I am certainly not speaking for the hundreds of thousands of other people out there that blog, I can only speak for me, but I think that there is a little piece inside all of us that secretly wants its 15 minutes of fame.

Another reason might be shyness. I am incredibly, ridiculously, cripplingly shy. People are shocked when I tell them. The expressions on their faces are akin to what I imagine they'd look like if I told them I had been born with both male & female body parts (see hefty per-minute fee, above). They don't believe me. But my mask has been honed & shaped lo these many years, so now no one would guess that being in front of people is so terrifying that I try to avoid it if at all possible. This is why I could never be a movie or tv star. Writers are rarely chased for their autographs. Hardly anyone knows what they look like. Now, I know that you get your Stephen Kings & J.K. Rowling, but mostly, writers can blend into the world unobtrusively. And blogging can be even more anonymous: perfect for a shy gal like me. I get to write, people can know what I have to say, but not in a way that scares the Halloween out of me.

And perhaps the most important factor is the dream factor: location, location, location. Not only do I live in the United States where a peanut farmer can become President, but also in Los Angeles, where there are no waiters, only directors and actors in training. Where one conceivably can be seated next to Mr. & Mrs. Spielberg at dinner, or Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore really could be sitting next to you at parents' night. As a result, I think that somewhere floating near the surface is the belief that if our light shines brightly enough, that someone very influential will notice, and the fame and fortune will closely follow. In Los Angeles, this belief feels almost tangible.

I've been told that I write well…but that is within the safety of the Hundred Acres Woods in which I live. Maybe outside in the real world I'm not such a hot ticket. Has anyone read Orangette's blog?? www.orangette.blogspot.com Her blog is about life and food: two things I know about and love a lot. The blog is lovely and well written and I think, "I can do this too!" So I try. And it's OK. But she? She makes her food articles sound like Harlequin Romances for the Hungry. Frankly, I'm jealous. She's good. Really good. And The Universe has rewarded her talent and hard work with a cookbook and a monthly article in Bon App├ętit. Well done, her. And I think "I want one, too!!!" But do I really aspire to these lofty heights?" If we're being honest, sorta, yeah. As I said, I think it's pretty normal for one to dream about being famous in some capacity. But it's the level of commitment to that fame that sets us apart. And if we're being honest, I'm not trying that hard.

So round and round and round I went, trying to existentialize then internalize then rationalize my blogging. After all that – a month of pondering - did I answer my question? "What is my purpose in doing this?"

I think the bigger and more accurate question is, "Do I need a purpose to do this?" The answer is no. I don't. I do it because it's fun and I like it and if you, Kind Reader, keep reading, I'm thrilled.