Whitewashing your life, or why I blog

Blogging: An exercise in vanity. Source: Flickr user Ana Santos.

It seems that, to be a Cool Lady Blogger, one must be very skilled at presenting a thoroughly beautiful and flawless portrait of one’s life. Essentially, you must be a good storyteller. My biggest beef with the scads of Cool Lady Bloggers is the continuous presentation of this perfect, shiny life, as I’ve written about before. I get so weary with the immaculately dressed moms, the beribboned babies, the glowing white kitchens, and the Anthropologie-inspired explosion of twee crafts.

I self-righteously thought I was above this life-whitewashing trend of bloggers–until I had a recent conversation with Jonathan. It was a long and good conversation and I’m glad we had it. He carefully pointed out that my keeping a blog is keeping me from honesty and vulnerability. In many respects, this is true. I need to keep the blogger’s mentality of life whitewashing out of my real friendships and I deeply appreciated his reminder.

I understand that, for the most part, one does not keep a blog to be vulnerable and intimate. After all, the whole of the Interwebs can read anything you write. I am probably not going to tell you about what made me cry today, Internet. But there is a certain virtue to carefully cultivated honesty. If you’re a popular blogger, honesty about the grittiness of your real life unfortunately opens you up to the hoardes of Totally Insane and Mean Anonymous Commenters. But that’s the risk you run when you say anything about anything on the democratic forum that is the Internet. Honesty and willingness to suffer the slings and arrows of the crazies is why I think people keep coming back to Dooce. Heather Armstrong told the World Wide Web about suffering through postpartum depression. She didn’t have to do that, but she created a lot of credibility, trust, and sympathy with that decision. Today, she supports her family with her blog. Millions of people have watched her daughters grow up through her website. It is perhaps a false intimacy that is created–the feeling that I know this family–but isn’t that what the Internet is for? False intimacy?

Either way, my conversation with Jonathan made me think a lot about why I blog in the first place. I never have a good answer when someone asks me this question. I feel kind of defensive when I try to explain it, and I should, since a blog is nothing more than a concentrated exercise in pure vanity and narcissism.

Here’s my best shot at an answer: I like to write. I have been writing since I was a child. From the age of seven onward, I have been keeping scads of personal diaries, notebooks, and prayer journals. No one reads these life records except me. But I’ve realized that I write best when I think someone else might read it. Since I’m not a journalist anymore or anything remotely close to a novelist, a blog is my main creative outlet, as sad as that may be. Even if no one is actually reading it (like my dog blog, for instance. As I confessed to Jonathan, I’m writing to myself there and I am OK with that), the illusion of an audience makes me a better writer. So, that’s why I blog. It’s not noble. But at least it’s kind of honest.

Half-hearted snax

I’m still feeling a bit swamped, so here’s the digest version of snax!

Pup links. You can read the dog-related things that interested me this week. How adorable. (Doggerel)

James: A Computer Hacker. This interview should scare you. This is from the project 100 Interviews, in which young journalist Gaby Dunn interviews 100 interesting people. It’s a very enjoyable blog to follow, but this story in particular really caught my eye. I’m inspired to change all of my passwords right now. And I’m glad I don’t have a space phone. (100 Interviews)

Around Home, Random Shots. I’m a sucker for dreamy domestic photographs. (Jolly Goo)

You Know What Sucks? Ugh. What’s sad is that I know so many people who think this. (STFU, Parents)

This Photo Made My Day. Mine too! You go, girl. (And baby.) (Marvelous Kiddo)

Annoying Words. A list of banned words from NY Mag editor Kurt Andersen. I concur! (A Cup of Jo)

Hormone-Free Birth Control. If only it were that easy. Or maybe it’s not easy to swat a stork from your apartment window. (The Hairpin)

President Obama Has No Idea What Year It Is. I laughed so hard over this. It’s just… delightful. (Daily Intel)

Goat Busters. Apparently, Charlottesville has this wonderful service for people with lawn problems. Temporarily hire a flock of goats to take care of your weeds for you! I would totally do it if I had some land to clear. (Scout Charlottesville)

Get me a book before I starve to death

Personal quirk: I find it extremely difficult to eat unless I am reading something. This makes me a rather unfortunate dinner guest. In reality, I can manage without words if I’m in the company of others. But if I’m breakfasting alone? Get me a book before I starve to death.

Brideshead Revisited is my current lunch-time reading and it’s funny and light. So far. It’s also SO English that I can hardly stand it (cousins named Melchior and champagne in your dormitory quarters at noon). Despite my somewhat broad experience with British literature, I have a lot of gritty, American disdain for Anglophiles and can only take these super-British books in small doses. Spread them out, you see, sprinkle them in amongst the Russians, French, Japanese, and Americans and all will be well.

Unrelated: I started a dog blog called Doggerel. This should not largely concern you and I don’t expect any of you to read it. Rather, I’m telling you to give you some form of relief. I hope to direct my animal- and dog-oriented posts over here from now on. To save your sanity and mine.

Also, strawberries are unbelievably delicious right now. Get thee to the grocer’s.