Cheap Shot (and likely the first of many)

Something about my afternoon swim – a watery shadow of my former self? – prompted a desire to stroll down my writer’s memory lane. I promptly hauled myself out of the pool and still dripping wet, headed not for my diary cabinet (every writer’s got one) but for the computer in my brother’s room, which I have now re-purposed to no one’s knowledge as my “office.”

As though under a spell, I typed in the address to my very first blog, where I wrote as dharris, a name I crafted in two milliseconds by taking the first letter of ‘Demian’ (a Hesse novel I had bought at the library’s used books section for 25 cents but never read) and the last name of Thomas Harris, author of The Silence of the Lambs, with which, at one point I was obsessed. What was it I was looking for? What every writer looks for when he/she rereads old stuff she won’t toss (or hasn’t bothered to delete off cyberspace): clues from a younger self that explain or at least illuminate the present self.

Going the way of…oh wait. Gone.

According to my “stats,” I started the blog nearly nine years ago on November 3, 2002. Nine years! I wonder what it might have been (surely not pink!) had I stayed there, nursed my slender but steady following and continued to comment, as I did back then, on other peoples’ writing…

It was, in essence, not only the beginning of this blogger, but also the inception of this writer – or more accurately, this blogger who writes. Xanga gave me very first audience which in turn, gave me the high of knowing that people out there actually read my stuff. In that strange (non-pornographic) way we do in cyberspace, I made friends too – people whose faces will forever be a mystery but whose hearts I felt I knew, simply because they were shared on the same blogging platform.

 I constantly lament a feeling of anachronism. A secret admirer of Underwoods and florid handwriting in a time when ink is now digital and cursive is no longer taught in school, I always saw myself struggling against an impossible, unbeatable wave of technology.

Screen shot from “Deep Impact.” Remember that scene?

My bosses joke about my nonexistent Excel skills and I watch in awe as my coworkers effortlessly create and alter things on Photoshop and make their own web pages and alter the layouts of their own blogs – all technologies that are above me. What happened to letters? What happened to paper? And pen? What happened to islands – what we all were, at least for part of the day, until email, AIM, Gchat, Facebook, twitter, and now goddamn Google+ (a cyberspace wasteland, in my opinion, until everyone moves there and I’m scratching my head in a facebook with no faces) lured and hooked us like drugs with twenty-four hour highs on the premise of being connected all the time because all connections were worth making – after all, behind every screen name is a real, three-dimensional face and behind it, a warm, beating heart. But is that true? Yes and no.

The truth is, I’m like this man – though under less vituperation because really, my decision to blog affects only me. I ought to practice what I preach, I ought to tune in completely – and by tune in, I mean, tune out the technologies I claim give me headaches and be monk-like in my affinity for writing on paper or writing for me and me alone – but that would just be damned ungrateful of me. I don’t philosophize that what’s in my diary cabinet is not writing (it’s not like that proverbial tree in the forest – what’s written is written, regardless of if it’s read widely) but I am also addicted – in a good way, as it keeps me writing – to the connectedness a blog offers. Blogging gave me an audience I otherwise would still be searching for via agents and publishers. Blogging convinced me that one need not write for money (though it would be nice) to earnestly and honestly consider oneself a writer. So to Xanga and Blogger for supporting my development as a writer and to all the other blogging platforms that support my favorite blogs, thank you.


This post turned out to be rather long, considering it began as a re-posting of something I’d written years ago, on my old blog, because I was suffering from writer’s block. Oh well. That’s another thing about blogging – you sit down, meaning to write about one thing and then voila, something else entirely. I’ll post it anyway, for those who really fancy reading right now. But in the future, re-posting really will just be a re-posting of old posts from old blogs – just to remind myself of how far (or not very) I’ve come.

I wrote this four years ago, when I was still in JC hell (that’s Junior College, not the guy who saves people from Hell). I’m re-posting it sans any editing whatsoever (in fact, I think the title links back to the original). Let me know if you think me greatly improved. Don’t let me know if you sense this writer’s reached her peak.

to the university i (might not) go
It’s that time of year again, and no, I speak not of the holidays. Mostly, I’m not ready to speak of them yet. For one thing, the weather’s playing games, not being cold enough and taunting us with weak drizzles when really it should have rained. So blech to the holidays, and blech to the giant white elephant sitting on my brain – UC application…. round two.

Several days ago my brother wandered into my room to find me staring blankly at a screen otherwise blank save for the UC prompts assaulting my tired eyes with its cloyingly upbeat inquistion: tell us about a talent, accomplishment, achievement…blah blah blah. I looked up and gave him a woeful look: my life sucks. It reeks of sisyphean irony i haven’t the heart to appreciate and the only thing I have to look forward to is the act of turning it in. Even that “accomplishment” will be laced with doubt and fury – why the hell am i doing this year after year after year? I was THE girl who HATED college applications. hated them so much I applied to an expensive school on the other side of my known world, EARLY DECISION just so i’d know by december and be done with it. While my classmates ran around like wet chickens (I can’t stand to decapitate them) asking for recommendations and interviewing, I sat back in my chair and waited for my sure thing. A positive reply. It came. I went. I came back.

now i’m in my fourth year of these antics, and i feel like prometheus on the rock. i send in my application, they tear out my liver, only to have it grow back in the form of another semester at SCC. God help me if after spring I must spend another semester at SCC. I try to hang on to whatever levity I have and direct it towards my situation. Yes, i know there are starving kids being circled by vultures in africa. yes there are those people too poor to even consider a college education… yeah, I know these people exist and I know, (as you do too,) that this knowledge doesn’t make me feel better.

Thank God for my ability to see into the future. One evening in some distant holiday season, when i have grown hoary and brittle and settled into a staid existence somewhere in Vermont, I will look back on these past four years which have been characterized by their brimming with falsely enthusiastic college essays peppered with feigned passion for whatever (books, literature, writing, travel!!! I want to be a citizen of the world!!!) and say to myself, “Well, that sucked. But it’s snowing now and I’ve got a tree to decorate.” I’ll usher my grandkids, who most likely will be going through the same thing (or perhaps universities and higher education will be done away with by then and everyone will be educated in the same way: by reading The New Yorker and watching BBC Drama productions) and twisting their hair over harvard or yale (as you can see i’ve got big eyes for my posterity), into the living room where a big warm fire (burning on eco friendly fuel, of course) awaits along with their grandfather who at this moment, is a rather murky-faced man of questionable ethnicity (but seeing as it’s vermont he’s most likely white and related to John Irving).

“Were you really rejected to college three years in a row, grandma?” they’ll ask as we hang the neiman marcus special edition angels on the most prominent branches, “That’s an awful lotta times to be rejected.”

 I’ll smile and nod, and before reaching for another ornament, smack the child in the back of his head, “It’s true. But what’s also true is life is full of things you like and things you don’t. If you don’t like coal in your stocking, I suggest you shut up and finish hanging up these ornaments.”

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One thought on “Cheap Shot (and likely the first of many)

  1. I understand how you feel.

    I myself am such a fan of the written word, and I like to read novels of writers from long ago. They treat the language with so much more respect and their story lines actually went somewhere. 🙂

    The Cat Hag

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