Recently, I’ve been more vocal about my blog.
I dare now, to tell people I’m a writer. In today’s world, it’s perfectly acceptable to have just a blog to show for it… right?
“I write,” I say.
“Oh?” They say, “Novels?”
“No no, essays and stuff.”
“On my blog.”
“What do you write about?”
When I was young, I’d cringe every time I turned the television on to find that “Seinfeld” was playing rather than “Friends” or “Will and Grace.” I hated that show. I hated fat George, hated ugly Kramer, and the whole ugly, outdated set. The reruns were particularly jarring.
“People don’t even dress like that anymore!” I’d scream, hurling the remote control into sofa cushions. Refusing to look past its aesthetic shortcomings, I couldn’t enjoy Seinfeld because I didn’t see the beauty back then, in the everyday. Or maybe I did – but only narrowly, in my own everyday. As a result, I didn’t understand Seinfeld’s very distinct kind of humor – the humor that can only be generated and sustained by a group of oddballs that don’t belong together at all, except that they do in their struggles to live.
I never bothered to understand their dynamic because I could not yet grasp the dynamics I operated within. Until one day I was older, home from college, and decided on an uncharacteristic whim to give the show a try. It was quite funny. And really, like some critic said a while ago in some magazine, it was really about nothing. Jerry wears an ugly shirt. George tries to sleep with various women who find him repulsive. Elaine dates weirdos. Kramer keeps busting in, uninvited, always always looking as though he’d been electrocuted just seconds before.
I was laughing, though not to the point of tears or anything. At the end of that particular episode, I had a bemused look on my face, feeling like I had graduated from sitcom academy. I had studied my way up from the slapstick (“Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Family Matters,” “Saved by the Bell”), supplementing along the way with real life situations and comedies, to the more sarcastic, biting, brain-enhancing ones (“Will and Grace,” “Seinfeld.”) Yeah, it’s a lot to ask from a sit-com to enhance your brain, but the people in those shows were my earliest role models regarding wit and humor. Different characters showed me different ways to act, to bite back, to take an insult. I like to think so, anyway. Chandler taught me how to convey a multitude of sarcastic retorts using only my eyeballs. Elaine taught me how to be both blithe and sharp-witted. Kramer – sometimes I move like him, but that’s more unintentional than anything else.
So anyway that was a long tangent about television, but I realize now that I don’t quite know how to categorize my blog – not in terms of genre. Anne Fadiman, a favorite author, has a collection of familiar essays titled At Large and At Small. She writes beautifully about crushes, moving across the country, chasing butterflies… I supposed that’s what I ought to say I write: familiar essays about both unfamiliar and familiar things. Many of the subjects begin as strangers – but by writing them, I study them both as they stand or breathe in front of me as well as in my mind’s eye. You, probably, have been subject to this. I turn you over and over and, more often than you think, inside out.
But don’t be alarmed. It’s just my blog.