Register Monday | June 24 | 2019

A Hug With Two Fingers on Each Hand Up

I’m not supposed to stoop to this level. This stuff isn’t supposed to bother me, right? I should be the bigger man; should be above being bothered, being worried. This is my space, and if possession is 90% of the law then I’m 100% sure I own this little living room on the web. Clearly I have something of an open door policy; I don’t really stop you from digging though the closets, lifting the rugs, peeping the desk and turning over the couch cushions. It’s almost all access all the time in almost all ways.

Let me take something off the tip of my tongue. I hate the word blog. I fucking hate it. It’s not what the term represents—Web log, a log of things written and put on the web, the internet, a log of things thought and done, a log on the web, a web long, a blog—it’s the way it sounds. Blog. Blag. Blah. Bleh. I hate the way it sounds. Like a gag, like something you tasted and decided to spit out; the way a shark bites the leg and then realizes it doesn’t like human. Bleh. And then add to that the fact that the landscape of blogs just doesn’t seem to resemble what I do here and you have my own ego tripping over the word. The witty little idiosyncratic delvings into whatever world they happen to cover; there’s very few I like or even read. Wonkette is good. Gawker used to be hilarious. Bookninja. Madame Maud. TMFTML was brilliant. Maybe the best of the group. There are other damn good ones, but the arena is crowded and most are just shit. Quality control is in the numbers who read, not the access, because the access is infinite.

I don’t pick a world to analyze here. I write my mind. I spill my life. It’s blurred at times and off the map every now and then, but what you get here is me, all in all.

Do you want to know what I think of what I’ve done here? I’m proud of it. I like it. I look back at the posts and I think, all in all, give or take, I’ve done well by Maisy, and by myself, too.

This will be my 139th post. I have been doing this for 199 days, give or take. With 56 weekend days off that drops the number to 143, again, give or take, and that is with a few cheating days that I posted 2 or 3 small things, but all in all the average is pretty fucking good. 139 in 199 or 139 in 143. You do the math. Pick the ratio. Either way, I’ll sit back with my hands behind my head. One of those moments you just go, “Damn, I did that?”

I started writing when I was 11-years-old. Just “Dear diary, my teen angst has a body count” type ponderings. Nothing deep. Nothing substantial. In high school my English teacher pulled me aside. “I want you to stop taking notes. I know you get it. Instead I want you to start keeping a journal. When you think something, instead of bringing it up every time in class, I want you to write it down. Doodle. Draw. Put down whatever you think. Put down everything you think. Start drawing connections. Participate when you want, but I need to teach to the rest of the class. I don’t need to teach to you. Every now and then we’ll go over what you’ve written. But I think this is what you were meant to do. I think you might be a writer.” That was my English teacher. That was Mrs. Wolf at Menlo School in California. Perhaps the best teacher I’ve ever had. My first mentor, the one who put the pill in my hand, the blessing and the curse. Every teacher should put such lofty thoughts in their students head. Every day since then I’ve lived with one thought: I want to be a writer. I’m going to be a writer. Fuck that, I am a writer.

Here’s how these things work. My day job is at a pop culture magazine. I write pieces, I edit pieces. 8:45 to 7:30 on a good day, but usually it’s more like 8:45 to 9:00 or 9:30. It can go to 10 or 11. Every now and then the clock reaches around to the following day. If I get home early I detox. Sit back. Maybe watch TV or read. Either way, somewhere around 10 or 11 I turn the computer on, then go back to reading or television viewing, the soft blue light eeking out into my apartment. After enough time has passed I sit down at the computer and stare at the screen. I never know what I’m going to write about. Not usually.

There’s a piece of paper that sits to the right of screen with ideas. Just scribblings, things that have caught my attention. That’s there in case nothing comes. Most of the time I sit down clean. I didn’t know I was going end up here tonight.

Usually it takes a little procrastination. A diddle. A dawdle. Then the sentence hits and I roll from there. It’s always the first sentence that gets me moving downhill; always has been that way. After that I’m just writing and it’s done when it’s down. It’s usually past midnight at that time; it’s usually past 1 at that time. I do a quick reread. Fill in the errors. And post it.

Here’s a theory on writing for you, just mine, just a tiny one. Anyone who sits down to write with the intent of saying something that might change a reader’s mind, let alone effect their life is make a huge mistake. You don’t want to be a writer; your hero should be Martin Luther King, Jr. (one hell of a writer, by the way) not Raymond Carver. You don’t want to write. You want to preach. This is just my theory about writing and writers. This is what I tell interns or kids in high school who ask me how I got into this. You have to love words. You have to love playing on the page. You have to love shaping them into something. That’s really it. Do that enough times, have something inside you that enables the process, and you might one day be a writer. Capital W or lowercase doesn’t really matter, because it’s the word your after, not the distinction.

Still, it’s hard not to get sucked in. What amazes me the most about the last 6 months is that people actually read this shit. I’ve written about my ex-girlfriend’s abortion, the fracturing of my last relationship with the Australian painter, Jennifer and “Mom” M, my family and friends, Eminem, music, politics, sports, Fiona Apple, Kobe Bryant, Damien Rice, my day, and whatever else happens to pop into my head. And people read it. It’s rather humbling. It’s bizarre.

The last two weeks I’ve struggled with this space. I haven’t liked a single fucking thing I’ve written. It happens now and then. You put enough of these things down and you find you’ve stolen your own words, and plagiarizing yourself is just stale. So you try other routes, pull out different words, reorganize and rephrase and hope it works. But I haven’t been happy with the final product.

It’s a trade off I’ve had to live with. There is no way I can shape each of these as I want. It’s just not possible. I would say, in the law of averages, that I’m happy with 4 out of every 10 I put up. Kicking Barry Bonds ass all over the diamond, but it’s a hard number to swallow. I’d prefer to be closer to 8 out of 10, but fuck it. As my editor, George, often reminds me when I steer a bit off the confidence freeway, “Chill. It’s a blog. You’re not writing the Great American Novel. It’s a blog that you do daily, and you’re doing pretty damn great anyway.” He’s good like that.

I read all the comments. Most of them at least. Sometimes one will set me off. The hard thing about this is that I’m not writing about some abject thought or subject that I have an opinion on. I write about myself and I take that personally, and I know I should be bigger than being effected by some comment someone on the internet wrote about something I put down, and most of the time I am, but every now and then it hits. There’s a huge comment below a recent post, almost as long as the post itself. I read it over and over again. I finally sat back and thought, “What the fuck is wrong with this guy? Is he fucking serious?”

Sometimes perspective is in order. I want to sit down and explain to someone who responded negatively. These can’t be looked at singularly. Of course they can, but if you’re going to attack the quality of what I put down here then go back and read the whole thing, page by page. If you scroll through, if you take your time and at the end still don’t get it, I’ll give you your money back. Full refunds. Most of the time I can pretend that I don’t give a fuck what the person thinks. I pull it off too. It’s true if I believe it. But it builds and then it hits me. If I wasn’t 100% happy with it to begin with I can sit there staring at the comment, questioning the whole damn thing. Why write? Why do it? Am I even any good? How can these little comments get into my head like this? Fuck. Then I flip off the screen and walk away.

Every now and then I’ll put down a post that I love. It just worked, from my head to the page it came out sounding the way it did when I thought it out. And every now and then when that happens I’ll think back to a negative comment and think, “Try. Just try and not like this one. I got it right here, you know I did. Nothing you can say about this one.”

I write this for myself in the end. But the idea that people are reading, the mini multitude who come back daily and weekly, puts some form of responsibility in my head that I’m not used to. The readers I’ve built over the months, well, I’d like to keep you coming back. The ones who don’t like it, I’d like to tell you to go fuck yourselves, and mean it when I do, but I also want to keep you coming back to. Maybe I can piss you off and aggravate you so much you can’t stay away. And then one day I’ll put something down here that will floor you. I swear to God I will, and it will make the whole thing worth while.

Anyway, it’s nearing 1AM and I’m going to bed.