Saturday, January 31, 2009

NYC Summer of 78

Originally uploaded by alice_bag
This is a photo of me and my Canterbury roommate Shannon Wilhelm hanging out in NYC with our pals from the west coast, The Nuns. It's the summer of 1978. We're on the roof of The Chelsea hotel. That's me in the lavender t-shirt on the tower and Shannon is under my butt. I'm writing about this trip in my online autobiography, and I have more photos from this trip than I can possibly fit into the story but I've always liked this one and wanted to post it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why Do I Do This To Myself?

Ever try to make yourself do something you're not good at and then struggle through the process until you wonder what the hell made you want to do it in the first place? I took a Pilates class recently that sent me fleeing for the comfort of my old Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons video tapes.

I guess I do the hard new stuff to push myself, which leads to me the next question: is it worth it? Would I be a better human being if I mastered Pilates instead of The Jane Fonda Workout? I don't know.

For the past six months I've been working on a blog project that started off as a comic book idea, turned into a therapeutic exorcism and has recently left me feeling like a passenger in a vehicle driven by the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every weekday I sit down at the computer for at least two hours and force myself to write something, anything. Did I forget to mention that I'm not a writer? I'm not even much of a journalist. If it wasn't for my husband's incessant nagging, telling me "Write something for your blog!" and guilting: "You should be writing instead of wasting your time on Facebook, or MySpace." (Funny how he hadn't listed his marital status on Facebook until I joined.)

I struggle to pull out my story from its age old hiding place where it's been covered with piles and piles of newer and fresher memories, innocuous memories that cover the old ones. But they are like the undead, those old memories and if you poke around they come to life, jump into the driver's seat and beckon, "Hop in!" When an old memory takes me for a ride it always takes unexpected turns; sometimes it's a fun ride, other times the ride is sad and painful.

But I'm getting ahead of myself because there are plenty of times when I feel like a pedestrian trying to hail a cab on a busy city street and I can't find a driver. It's then that the two hours in front of the computer turn into anxious tea and coffee guzzling. I start to type, then delete; start to type, then delete. I have to imagine myself as an old prospector, patiently filling my little tin pan with sandy water, swishing and swishing, hoping for a little gold dust. It's time consuming and not always fruitful but I do it anyway.

I write something every weekday when my kid leaves for school. I've learned that by allowing my memories to drive me instead of trying to remember specific events, what is meaningful and memorable to me eventually comes to the surface but it's not always fun, more often it's work, much like exercising when I'd rather be painting, or sewing, or playing music. I just don’t enjoy the process of writing in the same way I enjoy making music or painting, which are a joy by comparison. It's at those times that a little outside motivation really helps. Seeing that I have blog followers makes me feel like I owe it to them not to cop out. Getting comments from readers is huge. A reader recently wrote that they'd spent four hours reading my Violence Girl blog from the beginning (not an easy task since the blog format forces you to read from the last entry to the first) and the idea that someone who doesn't know me would take that much time out of their busy day to read about my life just floored me.

So I write, grudgingly, with clumsy fingers and awkward phrases and no idea where I'm going with my story, but I write.