I started talking when I was nine months old; my mother will swear I didn't stop until I left her house. This is not to say that I said anything of consequence. In fact, the more important something is, the less likely I am to mention it. This means I managed to get through my mother's entire run of chemotherapy for lymphoma without breathing a word of her illness. I did, however, drone on endlessly about my bangs during that time which, considering I was fourteen, might have actually been as important in my mind as my mother's brush with death and this anecdote might just be confirming I was the most self-absorbed teenager ever and maybe I should stop telling this story now.
Let's start over.
In February, I will have been writing this blog for eight years. Barring this family I've created, I've never been attached to anything that long. I've also written two books during that time and the occasional story for a magazine which caused strangers to hate me
. I began it as someone who took great pleasure in telling stories, in relating her stupidity; that I could just sit down and blather for an hour or so and know that for all eternity someone might be able to share in the shame of my freezer.
I still take great pleasure in knowing that (and for those of you who are now curious, I finally junked those blintzes but another box magically appeared to take their place). But it's the darndest thing; I appear to have run out of words. Right now, my head is quiet. Don't get me wrong, I'm still doing masses of stupid things (this week, while in line at Trader Joe's, I possibly inadvertently taught a small child an obscenity), I'm just lacking the impulse to move it on to the page. Actually, I appear to be sorely lacking in auditory words as well, as nearly anyone around me will tell you I'm quieter than I have ever been. A friend will call and run me through the details of her life and then ask "So, what's going on with you?" and I think of about twenty things but none sound terribly interesting and certainly not worth the energy of structuring into a story. I say honestly that I'm happy and busy and then ask my friend another question about her life. I am very relieved it appears I'm the only one in my social sphere who is going through a dormant phase because two of us in a room would be awkward.
Is it fall? Am I shedding my summer salad of sociability in preparation for the winter stew of self-reflection? Maybe. Is it having spent more time than usual this summer talking about myself while doing interviews for the book, which caused me to start to loathe the sound of my own anecdotes? A stronger maybe. Is it that I find my creative muse in silence and solitude and it's finally occurred to me after four years of home-schooling that I never actually get that
? Well, let's not discount that
Or maybe part of it is that in this new world where anyone trying to make a living is encouraged to think of themselves as a brand, to set yourself apart from the herd of people scrambling for the smaller pool of money and jobs. And what does one do with a brand? One markets a brand. You could say one flogs
a brand. And there are so many flog-venues. There's Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, among scores of other platforms, plus the three new tools which sprung up since I sat down to start writing this, all of which are touted as the thing which will elevate the brand-flogger into the high-flyer. "Everyone is on there
," you're told, "and you've got to be on there
or you won't get anywhere
." So you get on there, and some of it's kind of fun, but it's relentless and you start feeling like Alice in Wonderland, running faster and faster to stay in place. Then there comes a time when you start thinking your job is to accrue followers on social media and that takes your energy, your words and then you realize you aren't doing nearly enough with Instagram and OMG ALEC BALDWIN RETWEETED YOU! And you're talking talking talking talking and you don't notice you're getting a little metaphorically hoarse until one day you can't speak at all.
[Although I'm still a little gleeful about being retweeted by Alec Baldwin.]
What does this mean to you, the reader? I have no idea. I do know that in the latest book I wrote about several of my more irrational travel phobias, one of which is that a maniac is hiding in the hotel-room closet, which forces me to have to open the hotel closet at least once a day for the duration of my trip. Since the book has been published, I have travelled three times; not once in those trips did I open the closet with one shaking hand, the other hand holding a disposable razor. You know, for protection. It would appear that writing about that lunatic belief might possibly have exorcised it from my head. So maybe writing about how I don't feel like I have anything to say has broken through the log-jam in my head, poured honey and lemon on my strained literary vocal chords, told my psyche to walk it off, your metaphor goes here. Then again, I also wrote about how much I hate the act of flying and the person who sat next to me on the last flight would be more than happy to tell you that hasn't improved. Sometimes writing about something changes nothing.
But I'll tell you one thing; I do everything else online so that I can do this. After nearly eight years, I still feel a flash of joy when I click "Publish" on a blog, see that someone has put up a comment or, even better, writes "Oh my God, I thought I was the only one who felt that!" Social media might be making me antisocial, but writing makes me a better person and I won't let it go easily. Be a little patient with me and I promise I'll find my way home.