Friday, July 27, 2007

In vain, out of vanity

I used to write all the time. Almost constantly.

On the bus, in the car, in class, in the 95 seconds my high school boyfriend left me alone to use the bathroom. Any second struck by adolescent melodrama, with a pen and the torn-off edge of an envelope, I'd meter out emotions and ideas, somehow writing more clearly than I could think.

When the Internet was discovered by my mother in 1998, I loved AOL for giving me blank white web page to turn pink and black and litter with high school poetry. It got my my first boyfriend. We'd pass back and forth sheets of disordered rhyme, glorifying each other with our metaphor es and our appreciation.

Eventually the poetry subsided, and in college my journals went live. Like the thrill of my first published newspaper article (on the Mariner High School Track team), my words in print online were a vivid validation -- an acknowledgement of my existence, a sort of publicity even if no one was reading. I mentally competed for comments with friends who also posted their lives online, and when a post earned multiple responses I aimed for more like it.

Online, I didn't write the way I had in high school, everything a convoluted allegory for my distressed existence as smallish and nervous and not particularly charming. I wrote more directly, more candidly. Instead of hiding behind poems about sunsets and Hamlet, I told my vast audience that I'd locked myself out while house-sitting (with the dogs),
had been cut in front of in line at Starbucks, had met with my therapist. I wrote 900 words on my severe boredom (the boredom post earned me 9 comments). I knew who was reading, and I knew it wasn't many. But to give up these stories as public artifacts of my actual life -- not some hyperbole of emotion I'd contrived, but the real happenings beyond my own head -- was liberating. I was naked, streaking across the Internet bearing it all, somewhere between wonderful and terrible.

Toward the end of college I wrote a fashion column for The Daily at the UW. I thought it would be a piece of delicious designer-handbag cake, but the self-indulgence of it overwhelmed me and the writing shut down completely upon graduation.

Now I'm gainfully employed and have too much time to read other peoples' blogs about beauty products and handbags and the Seattle social life. I was hesitant to rejoin the blogosphere, especially after perusing the egocentric, over-written articles I've left posted. At worse, my little texts will be just as vain and embarrassingly self-indulgent as they were before. At best, they'll be lovely and read by no one, all this creativity in vain. Likely, they'll fall somewhere in the middle, a digital record of adventures in baking, shopping, dog-owning,
art-viewing, haircuts and lipgloss and work life and long-term relationships, something to leave online for my future cringing entertainment.