Awkward Two-Year-Later Check-in

I have not been here since February 2019 and I don’t have a good reason for that. But I have some theories:

For the past decade or so, I’ve had a blog somewhere on the internet. I go through “seasons” of writing in these blogs, and the end of these seasons have been determined by any number of things. As far as I can tell, though, I usually stop writing because 1) I start to hate what I write or 2) I run out of time to truly “run my blog like a business” (lol), or 3) I assume no one cares about a weird interaction I had at a gas station one time, so I close up shop and quietly recluse myself until further notice. Seeing all of the options listed out like this, I now realize that they’re all actually sort of the same option. But no matter the reason, the reality is that my blogging season of late-2017 to early-2019 has ended. Goodnight, sweet princess. 

There have been loose themes to most of these blogging ventures, and when I lose the already-split thread, I lose the blog. For example, I had one blog that was for “humor writing.” (It was also my only attempt at Tumblr, which is truly the wrong platform for me because I don’t “do” pictures or images, and I HATE GROUP WORK so the sharing and interacting element was a tiny nightmare.) I spit out a few humor pieces that were sort-of-kind-of funny, and I even solicited funny friends to contribute every once in a while. While that was fun, it was also juuuust enough work for it to sometimes feel not-fun. Perhaps more importantly, I didn’t want to be funny all the time. This issue repeated itself over and over in all the other blogs, because I got tired of making myself always talk about the same thing (adulthood! finding the meaning in the seemingly insignificant! LA is weird!) in the same way for an audience that was, uh, small. 

That much time/energy/thought/etc. has a way of feeling “not worth it,” which is not a very romantic admission about writing, but it’s the truth. Because here’s the thing: I care a lot about what I write and what I post. When I write, I slice off a small piece of my heart and leave it on the page. I’ve always been this way. I guess this is what happens when you’ve kept a diary for 25 years. Now, this isn’t a brag or even an endorsement for telling the whole truth every time you create something. I should also mention that I’ve written plenty of things that are 10000% imagined and made-up. But the core of most of my writing is usually a hyper-specific emotion that I experienced once, and the feelings that came after, and then I compress it all into a teeny-tiny, about-to-burst kernel and hide it inside of the fiction (and also inside of myself!). And then when it’s time to write, I sit and think about that one time when I was 18 and I told a guy I had a crush on that I was “really getting into Broken Social Scene” but I was so nervous to talk to him that I fucked up the band name and I said “Social Broken Scene.” And now 13 years later, I still think about that and I can feel my face flush and my lower back start to sweat. But instead of writing the story as it happened, I will convert it into 5000 words of fiction that tiptoe up to the edge of Embarrassment and just peer over. And even though I’ve chosen not to tell the actual story, climbing up to the ledge just to peer over takes a lot of energy, too. No matter how you slice it, writing can be exhausting. 

In terms of my personal blog protocol, though, my point is this: I don’t want to present anything that is untrue. I’ve tried on a couple of different writing voices over the years, and none of them fit, and I would always rather show up as myself (which is…such an embarrassing thing to say! Don’t worry, I’ll think about it for the rest of my life). But I don’t want to share too much, either. This is a public-facing platform, I have a job that does not require me to have a social media presence, and I have older family members on the internet. HARD PASS on exposing too much of myself! I also don’t get paid to do this. Did you know that? I’m sure you did. (Though I secretly hope that at least one of you is like…but I thought that’s why you moved to LA. To blog…professionally!) There are few rewards here–or anywhere, really–for slicing up your whole heart for the internet to passively consume. There are absolutely circumstances where it’s worth it to do so, and I work really hard to identify those opportunities. But I can honestly say that a blog (at this time in my life anyway) is probably not the best place to lay it all out there every single time I post. 

Which is how I stop posting. 

I realize now, 10 years and thousands of words later, that I back off from the blog when it starts to feel like I’m not saying enough real things. Or like I’m one big wind gust away from being knocked into the canyon and just spilling my guts. (Also, if you have any suggestions on how to further this cliff/canyon metaphor, let me know, I’m not “outdoorsy,” per se.) The stopping is protective, as most stoppings usually are. 

But I’d like to find something a little more in-between. 

It’s been a difficult, surreal, confusing year for many of us, myself included. I don’t know what to say about it, because there is no neat and easy way to say you miss the world. As is my blog nature, I’m choosing not to be pithy because that feels weird, but I absolutely am not going to spill aforementioned guts anywhere, because that feels weird, too. I wrote A LOT between March of last year and now (brag!) but only a few people have read any of it, including the fine editors and contest readers at myriad publications and festivals who straight-up rejected me. Which is fine! The point, though, is that I have written. It’s just the blog that needs figured out.

I recently re-read* The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. This passage hit me: 

Gregor spent his nights and days with hardly any sleep. Sometimes he thought that the next time the door opened he would take over the family arrangements just as he had earlier. In his imagination appeared again, after a long time, his employer and supervisor and the apprentices, the excessively gormless custodian, two or three friends from other businesses, a chambermaid from a hotel in the provinces, a loving fleeting memory, a female cashier from a hat shop, whom he had seriously, but too slowly courted—they all appeared mixed in with strangers or people he had already forgotten…(Kafka, 57)

I think about people a lot, too. So I’ve decided to come back and talk every once in a while. (It’s also worth noting that I cut that Kafka quote before Gregor expresses that he actually doesn’t miss any of those people, but Gregor is going through it, so he’s entitled to feeling any bug feeling he wants. Also, this one has a bummer ending, so tread lightly, my fellow bug people!) 

Anyway, I’m sort of back, sort of not. Working on something in the middle, at least. Stay tuned.


*I also re-read Bunnicula in 2020. It holds up!

Into the Ocean of Almost

Whenever I return to my diary after having not written for about a month, (a now typical increment of time, mind you, age can make personal gossip a little boring) I begin the entry by apologizing profusely. This act is inherently counter-productive, not to mention downright silly, as I’m basically just apologizing to myself. No one else reads my diary! Imagine that. (Though I do have a hazy memory of handing a diary over to a boyfriend so he could read how much I liked him, and yes, I did cook the pages ahead of time so that he could read something beautiful and profound, which is not at all how I write when I write for myself. Was it you I let read my diary? Well I’m sorry, that seems really awkward for you, but take solace in knowing that I’m none too comfortable with it either.) I suppose in years from now, when my diaries all live in special collections at my alma mater, a young reader will quietly forgive me as they read a new entry, one that begins “I’m so sorry, it’s just been a really crazy month!” And then that future student will continue writing their thesis paper about Katie Markovich, the great apologizer, who really only takes to her diary to voice anxiety about not getting enough photo likes on Facebook.

Oh, right, the point: I’m so sorry, it’s just been a really crazy two weeks! Did you notice I didn’t write a post last week? Judging by the single-digit number of daily clicks I see in my analytics, I’ll take that as a maybe!

I’ve recently had a strange run of Almosts. Almost getting pieces published, almost getting noticed by readers at festivals, almost getting hired at impossible-to-get jobs. And I don’t feel bad about not completing the full rotation, for not sticking the landing. I’ve been quietly submitting and working and writing for lots of years, at times putting in entire full-time shifts at home after a full-time shift at a day job. This doesn’t make me unique, by the way. Lots of people do this. Lots of people want to leave a piece of themselves behind, to show that they did more than simply Got Through It. I guess this is both an admission and an acknowledgement to you that I am no stranger to rejection, and to also remind you that this is what I signed up for. I will also admit that it’s hard to know how much time I put into my work when I am met daily by social media posts boasting #riseandgrind, talking about the hustle, how one must set goals if they intend to get anywhere in life, how it’s easy to succeed if you just put the work in. You don’t need to tell me this, I think. This is just the best I can do right now. Sometimes I rise and I grind and I hustle and I goal and I action verb and I #hashtag. Other days I just get through it. There should be no shame in that. Though I understand the empowerment and visibility in touting your own successes (something you must do; self-advocacy is important), I also long for the day where we will all quietly do our work–hell, maybe some of us will even half-ass that work–and that will be totally ok. Millennials will change the world, this is true. Millennials are also going to burn out super fast. What is my point? My point is that I’ve chosen a nontraditional professional path, one that cannot be conquered by merely checking off boxes and taking the right classes and completing the right amount of hours and experiences. It is one that is solely dependent on literally some person liking something you’ve created from inside your heart and your brain. No checkboxes, no right or wrong, no correct path. So as insane as it sounds, as frustrating or sugar-coated as it might be to some, a week of Almosts for a writer is a big. fucking. deal.

I was blindly fearless when I was 22. Maybe we all were, but I was really, especially, naively fearless. I suspect it was equal parts precious and terrifying from an outsider’s point of view. But there I was, fresh out of college and fully convinced I could do anything. I even gave a speech to incoming college first years at an orientation event in which I basically said, “It’s easy! Just be brave.” I was accepted to the first publication I ever submitted to. Imagine: For a brief moment, I was batting 1000. I was like, “It’s easy, just be a really great writer,” and then I tossed my hair over my shoulder and went back to being unemployed and living with my parents. But then it got harder. I got better, but the time and place and luck elements wore thin. Which is normal! At first I didn’t think it was, but now I deeply understand and know that it is. When my first piece was published, I got an amazingly kind email from a kind of famous MSNBC news commentator and journalist (and not to mention super cute pro-Obama pundit, heeeyyy) who just wanted to reach out and let me know he had read my piece and loved it. But then he said something to the effect of (and I am not quoting verbatim), “Lots of people wait years and years to get anything published anywhere. You’re really lucky to have done this on the first try.” And again, because I was 22 and flipping my hair, I probably thought, “Well, sure I’m lucky, but I’m also good.” But he was totally right: Luck. I see that now. Thank you handsome political correspondent, where ever you are. (I Googled it; he’s in New York.)

The other night at dinner, Tony and I talked at length about what each of us seeks and aims to create in our own writing. I said truth, Tony said beauty. After some more dissection, we realized we were probably talking about the same thing but calling it by different names. At one point we landed on ecstasy, on release, on truth and beauty being a part of both of those concepts. The most thrilling part [for me] about living in California is the beauty, the release one experiences when driving towards ocean or mountains. I cry every time we drive north out of LA. It’s too beautiful to understand, so I cry. And I think about how I want to let go of everything that’s inside me, put it all out there, because there’s so much sky and water and rock into which it can go. It can handle all of me, every truth I have to tell. This is why people come here, I think. This is it. The bigness of this world makes the Almosts manageable, sought after, treasured. It’s hard not to feel endless possibilities when you see an endless horizon. But know that my day-to-day is often spent looking into my living room, out on the courtyard bike racks if the blinds are open, wringing inspiration out of what is sometimes a dry bone of a day, not grinding at all but just getting through it, thinking about what else I can do to make myself better at what I do, to convince others that I am the best at what I do. And I chose this. I almost didn’t, but then I did, and I’m not sorry.

 

Note: These same basic sentiments will also be handwritten into my diary, but there will be more shouting and curse words and sentences that don’t make sense and weird tangents about a person I haven’t seen in 10 years but I’m really into everything they post on Instagram and I just wanted to record that truth somewhere.