I have always avoided reading blogs, for two reasons. One reason seems rooted in a mistrust of the form, and the other in disdain for it, but really, both reasons are about my own fear.
First, the Mistrust: I’m trained as an academic, where anything must be vetted by a committee or it’s invalid, illegitimate: articles, classes, your personal worth as you apply for jobs or apply for keeping those jobs. How could something, anything, of worth simply “go up online” of one’s own accord? To do what—communicate? Bring pleasure? Express something vulnerably and openly? Obscene. This leads to the Disdain, which is, in fact, simply an outcome of the mistrust and a reiteration of Groucho Marx’s famous dictum that “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.” I’m from the Midwest, in which, daily, talent is defined by a paradox: you are simultaneously told you are a shining star and made aware of the limits of the sky. You shine brightly because the competition is weak, Little Dippers to your North Star. And even though I have a healthy sense of self-worth, this is where the fear began: how could my star possibly guide me to greatness, with such humble origins? The academic path, then, at first, seemed like the antidote to the poison of self-doubt, the validation of the competing belief that I really was special. I would have to prove myself, in wider and wider circles.
And then, suddenly, I didn’t want to do that anymore. Finding myself back in the Midwest, after years on the west coast, I quit my tenure-track job. My star had led me back to where I’d started? No. Even if my brightness were lost in the light pollution of the city, I would rather burn in Seattle than shine like the Star of Bethlehem in Missouri.
But how to make my light visible? Everywhere I looked, someone was writing a blog: my cooking friends, my writing friends, my funny friends, my fashion friends, my friends who weren’t “writing” any one project but wanted to keep their hand in and, thus, wisely created a project in the blog. No matter how I felt about them, there was one major difference between the creative work I was producing on my own and theirs: someone was reading them.
So, for one month, the month of May, I dedicated each status update to one theme: Music Introduced to Me by Other People that Makes Up for the Loss of My Closeness to Them. I was going to do May, Men, and Music, but I just realized that would reinforce the all-too-dominant privileging of men as being more “in the know” about music than women. If there’s one thing that drives me crazy, it is that assumption. And so, I began to write. I’m hoping I remember what writing is really about, in doing so, which is simply this: listening better to myself and sharing that “better” with others.