Sunday, October 20, 2013

the blog as you are project

When I was in fifth grade or thereabouts, my friend Bonnie threw a Come As You Are party. The idea was that she would call her friends at random times over the course of a week or so after sending out invitations. Whatever we were wearing when she called was what we had to wear to the party. I was wearing nothing special—or rather, I was wearing nothing special for 1988, meaning I was probably wearing turquoise culottes—but I had bare feet, so at least there was that.

As for Bonnie, her party outfit would be whatever she was wearing when the first guest RSVP’d. She claimed the call came (this was way pre-Evite) when she’d just stepped out of the shower. I had my doubts. I still think she just wanted to prance around her party in a bikini and a towel. 
Bonnie (right), me (second from right) and the Barry sisters, as we were in 1994.
Soon I’m going to launch what I’m calling The Blog As You Are Project. I asked a handful of friends/writers/artists to choose one day from the most recent week of their lives and write a sentence or two for each waking hour. I’ll post the results here.

The reasons for this project:
1. I’m always curious about other people’s everyday lives. Maybe I know they write great poems or always show up late when we get together, but do they drink coffee in the morning? Do they make plans to go to the gym and end up watching YouTube videos instead?
2. Recently my friend Kim gave me the biggest compliment possible about an essay I wrote, which was that it was a nice counter-narrative to the hyper-curated world of Facebook, where people package their lives to look glamorous or at least sitcom-sweet. I want to do more of this. I want your help.
3. As much as blogging about my intense cancer-related emotions for the past year has been really healthy and necessary, I’m ready to get outside myself a little. I’m trying to resist the internal pressure to have some sort of post-cancer epiphany or major life change; I like my life, and in general I think writing and spending time with people I love are good uses of my time. But I could use a little project that’s not too Cheryl-centric. I could use a turning point in my thinking.
4. I just noticed I’ve posted to my blog one thousand times. If that doesn’t say “time for a guest blogger or six,” I don’t know what does.

As evidenced by Bonnie’s alleged birthday-girl cheating, logging a day in your own life is still curated, still inherently prone to making things sound funnier or more exciting—or maybe more depressing—than they actually are. And trying to parse these posts will be part of the fun. But with all hours accounted for, there should be some Sitting In Traffic for every Apple-Picking With My Adorable Child, some Arguing With My Mom for every Collaborating On A Grant-Funded Experimental Video Project.
Quinoa only picks organic apples, naturally.
Last night my current and former coworkers—the West Coast ones—gathered at my house for a salon, or maybe a “salon.” The writers among us read stuff we’d been working on. Not for the first time, I was floored by what good poets Jamie, Andrew and Brandi are. A piece of me envies their talent—but it’s a positive, inspiring kind of envy—and at the same time, because their work is so good, it’s also incredibly humanizing, revealing their melancholy, vulnerability and curiosity.

Right now I’m reading Scott Nadelson’s memoir, The Next Scott Nadelson, which is one part the story of how he got really depressed after his fiancĂ©e left him for a drag king (and other personal struggles), one part lit crit. He writes about how culture influences his life, which is kind of what I aim to do on this blog, only he does it in a more educated way, with more Kafka and less My Strange Addiction. He knows when to look deeply into himself and when to get the self out of the way. I’ve done a lot of the former—and will continue to, don’t you worry—and now it’s time to try a bit of the latter.

(Oh, and if you want to participate, just write up your day and email it to me!)

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