Tuesday, May 22, 2012

can an old blog learn new tricks?

Dear Gallivanting Monkey,

It's nearly seven years that you and I have been together. I don't think this is a breakup letter - it's more a State of the Union address, or couples therapy (except only I can talk - sorry!) - but you and I both know that things haven't been the same. So here we are. You're important to me, and I want to see if we can be saved. But I think it's important that all options are on the table, including destruction. We have to at least face down the possibility.

I want to offer you a glass of wine or something to ease your nerves, but that's the kind of thing you'd do, by which I mean that's in line with your persona. You've taken on a persona, even though I think it's dangerous for me to try and describe it. A little too bright in places, wide open and trusting, emotional. Very conscious of the impression you were making. Funny enough sometimes that you became self-conscious about saying anything again, because you didn't want to let people down by reverting back to something unfunny or dull or sentimental or sad. Always conscious of what might let people down, or turn them off. Too tethered to whatever you imagined your audience's expectations were. You've always been truthful, but in a carefully proscribed way that left room for lies of omission. There were topics that became appropriate for you, and topics that remained forbidden, and that hardened into this too-narrow persona, which is something like a lie.

The one thing that is good about you/us is that we've always been a little all-over-the-place. That's going to help us now, I think. Though we've edited parts of ourselves out, we haven't always demanded one tone. We never decided that we were a humor blog, or a mommy blog, or any kind of topical blog. We gave ourselves some room to move with "personal blog". Blogs like this don't tend to take over the world, especially when their authors can't be bothered to try and take over the world, particularly since they feel like encyclopedia salesmen the minute they think about crafting their content to take over the world.

I did almost destroy you, though. (I almost destroyed my memoir, too, but then I decided it was okay if everything I've written so far is nothing more than a bunch of styrofoam packing peanuts for a different book.) The idea seemed so liberating. We've had fun at The Gallivanting Monkey, but what does it matter? Nobody needs it -- let's kill it! Delete blog. I have to tell you, it gives me a pleasant kind of vertigo to contemplate it. I know there are a few people who still read this thing whenever I climb out of my coffin to scrawl something, but they're not legion. And then if I start a new blog, I can do whatever I want with it. Nobody would know and love it, which would be sad, but nobody would know and love it and want it to stay the same, which would be freeing.

This is all because I'm changing, blog. For the last few years, and especially in the last couple of years, I've been changing at an accelerated pace. The work I'm doing in the world is different, and getting different-er by the minute. My old ways of relating to people, a lot of them fear-based, are dropping away. I don't want to feel obligated to wear an old face just so I'll look familiar to the people around me. My old face kind of makes me sad. A people-pleasing, non-boat-rocking, self-effacing face. 

But then I think about what my writing mentors Jack and Bob say to their compatriots. Don't throw yourself away. The thing you wrote took you more than the time it took to write it. It took your whole life, the living of it, that which provided you with the words in the first place.

I still don't know how to post now. But at least I've explained why I'm so quiet. And maybe I'll have the nerve to come on here and open up some of the forbidden topics. I think that maybe ought to be the only way I come on here. But let's not create pressure like that. Now that I've got my subtext up top, maybe we can try some new things, and maybe I can still do some of the old things, and maybe it'll feel okay.



Suzanne Morrison said...

I love your writing and I will love it in any new form you find for it! Or old form, for that matter. These things take time and you're doing the work and part of that work is changing and rethinking and failing and starting over. It's a ghastly business but one you're truly gifted at. I hope to read whatever you have to offer in whatever form you offer it in, whenever you're ready. xoxo

Cara said...

I am one of those folks who periodically check just to see if I've missed a post. Love what you have to say and how you say it, but I understand how good it might feel to DELETE. Whatever you decide I support you and the blog in your respective journeys. xo

Tina Rowley said...

Bless you, Suzanne and Cara. Your support means a lot. I think I'm not going to pack it away just yet, even if only because I like the new paint job around here. But I think it's good to keep the option wide open in order to invite alertness. There's something weirdly excellent in imagining this whole thing like a sand mandala that just gets swept away at some point. But not today. And I really am thankful that you're there, reading.


Amy L. said...

I'm still here and I ditto what they said. What a courageous new adventure! I understand your misgivings, though. Sometimes I hestitate to even COMMENT on a blog post, for fear I won't be pithy enough. Or the comment won't be pithy, rather. Or both, I guess. :)

Tina Rowley said...

Amy, I'm delighted when you comment, and I'm glad you're still here. I think you're perfectly pithy. Thank you for that.

Eden Kennedy Onassis said...

I've been having a similar conversation with my blog but my vocabulary isn't as good as yours. It's hard to wipe away your part in this weird group experiment of putting parts of your life on the Internet, but blogging isn't what it used to be. It doesn't feel special anymore, we all have too many outlets now. Blah blah blaaaarrrg. On a side note, if you want to switch to doing award show fashion recaps, I'd be fine with that.

Unknown said...

Hi Tina,
I feel like I've read your blog for...a...long...time. I got into "mommyblogs" when Mercury was born. That was 5 years ago tomorrow. And now I feel so different. I think I found you through defective yet (Matthew Baldwin) or something- lineage unclear. But I understand and salute your need to move on.
However, ma'am: Destruction is not all it's cracked up to be! It is purifying, I'll give you that. It would be starting anew. I like that. But I also think it is short sided to destroy time and history...besides, I like your words!
Ok, so it is waning. Blogging in general is waning. Maybe I need a fresh crop of blog allies. Or maybe we have moved through the need to communicate immediately and seek immediate solace? I have. Babyhood left me desperate and now, I'm feeling much more balanced. I can actually think ahead and make stuff and share in a different way. Anyhow, cheers and thanks.

Tina Rowley said...

Eden and Lola: You two have done a good thing for me here. Eden, your point about the unspecialness of blogging -- this hit me as a selling point for some reason. It seems nice to persist in something so unfashionable as blogging. None of this matters, so why stop? I've always flown under the radar. There's freedom under here. And Lola, you're right that destruction isn't all it's cracked up to be. I think the right attitude is a willingness to destroy if necessary, a lack of clinging. But there isn't an actual need to destroy anything here. (I've found with my book that reaching a point of utter willingness to let go of the whole idea and all previous associated words has cleared the earth for the actual material to begin sprouting up.) This blog isn't important enough to take such a drastic stand about it. And some people like it. Plus, like I said, I like the paint job. If I take the blog away, I won't be able to see it.

And so this post basically amounts to:


That seems about right.

Thank you, folks.

Judy Miller said...

Tina,my Tina,please don't stop blogging,I really enjoy sitting down and catching up with life on your side! Judy Miller