Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts

boring explainer is boring

Hallo.

The only thing more annoying than a nobody blogger announcing an impending hiatus is a nobody blogger feeling she needs to explain a return from one. And I had no intention of doing so, because I'm not so arrogant to assume anyone notices or cares--but a few people have knocked gently on the door to make sure I'm okay here in my room.

I'm okay here in my room.

Few things going on, as to why I've hardly blogged the past month. Just gonna come right out with them, as straightforwardly as possible.

1) I was so, so, so hurt and disappointed by the lackluster response to the fundraiser I posted about. Other than, randomly, one Instagrammer I had just started following, the only readers who contributed are also actual, real-life friends of mine. That's it. No one else. And...I've been doing this a long time. Some of you have been reading me for years. I've always put my very best into this blog. Thoughtful, considered writing. Heartfelt, deeply personal sentiments. Totally free. I never once asked for anything in return, until the dance marathon came up. I guess I expected people would chip in $10, as thanks. Expectation is a killer.

Whether or not my disappointment and sadness was justified--well, that's subjective. Whether or not I had a right to expect financial reciprocation--that's a complicated question with lots of variables. But it doesn't even matter. It's what happened. And that was it for me. I was like, Fuck this. Why am I putting so much effort and honesty and feeling out there for these people. Yep, you guys became a "these people" to me. I was really, really bummed. After a clumsy attempt to get my feelings out, I decided to take a break from blogging and think about how--if at all--I wanted to come back to it. One thing I knew for sure is that I would return to withholding all information about my work life. I decided not to share what I'd been working on since last fall--the business I'd been working on. That to me is the most personal and vulnerable information, and always has been. Writing about love, depression, my relationships? No problem. That comes easy. But opening myself up to judgment about matters career and financial? Terrifying. So, as a way to get a boundary back up that would make me feel better about things, I took it off the table.

I'm not "mad" anymore. I've let it go. And I get it. You don't really know me. And you certainly don't owe me thanks, or a penny in thanks. But that's part of why I've been absent.

2) The situation with Terence has been difficult, and I just never know where to draw the line in talking about it. We get along...until we don't anymore. And while writing has always been such an important source of therapy for me, I still want to respect the rights and privacy of those in my stories. Terence and I made the decision years ago to be public with our relationship. We linked up social media accounts, tagged and tweeted at one another. And though fairly quickly down that road I realized that probably wasn't the best idea, it was important (read: really fun) to him so I kept going with it. But now the cat can't be put back in the bag. His friends and family and work associates and potential employers can get here, if they so desire, in a matter of a few clicks. And Terence asked me when we broke up to be considerate of that. So I've tried to. Even when I was in a state of bewildering anger and hurt, I refrained from writing posts about him and what's going on. Now we're down to final weeks, and I've moved on so much in my heart that there really isn't much left to say. But that's part of why I've been quiet, too.

3) I just don't know how public I want to be with my personal life anymore. Not just for my sake, but for the sake of others. For one thing, if I was dating a guy and found out he had a tell-all blog? Oh hell no. I'd run. Unless he was amazing, and then maybe I'd say, Hey, I like you...but keep me off your damn blog. 

And the fact is that in the past few months, I have met some guys. I've had some nice experiences. Not exactly dates, but interactions that have made me feel like, Okay. I can do this again. Heart bruised, but not destroyed. I know how to meet and mingle and flirt and feel those things again. There's someone right now, too, sort of. I don't know what it is, but it is a thing. And it's nice.

And these are all things I once would have told you about in a heartbeat--but the circumstances with Terence are so bizarre, and I'm trying to tread lightly with that. And Elliequent's boundaries are, if not necessarily evolving, at least undergoing deep consideration right now.

I'll probably keep sharing about my romantic life, but with absolutely no real names. No specifics. No social media references. Anonymous Person of Significance type thing. Because while I can decide for myself to be open to derision, scorn, or stalking--that's not my decision to make for anyone else.

So, again, figuring all of this out--that's part of why I haven't blogged.

4) There's also my work life. And yes, now I have an actual work life. I got a job. Quite recently. It's part time, and I'm looking for a second job. But my boss? Extremely private. The very nature of his work demands it, actually. So that's a non-starter. I can't share anything about it, other than I work in Beverly Hills and am thrilled to have something to think about all day other than my damn self and problems.

Which of course raises the question Wait wut? I thought you were starting a business?

Well, I was. And I got right to the point of pushing through the door and announcing it...when I realized I don't want to do it. It's a great idea--that I stand by. But the work itself? Mind-numbingly tedious and isolating. I'd be alone, all day, every day, doing the most mindless, un-stimulating actions ever. It would be toxic for my mental heath. It has been toxic. I've desperately needed to get out of the house and just go somewhere every day, be around others, be part of something, be focused on something outside of myself--for YEARS. The business I'd planned on dedicating myself to would do exactly what Rainy Day Templates did: make me a shut-in workaholic. It's just not the right path.

That's what's going on. Lots of change, lots of indecision about my blog's purpose and direction. I expect I'll keep at it, because it does make me happy to write. I just need some of the dust to settle, I need a little more time to get some distance from my last relationship, I need to feel established enough in my job(s) to feel that I can spare the time for blogging again. In the meantime, you can always find me chatting it up on Instagram.

I'm sorry if anything I said up there made you feel bad. I'm nothing if not honest, though. It's why you love me, maybe? If you still do? Hope so. I still love you.

pop!

If it's important to me, and I'm important to them, shouldn't it be important to them, too? + Should? What's should? What has should ever gotten anyone? + I'm so disappointed. I'm angry. I want to lock the door. I want to take my ball and go home. + Well, you could do that. Would that make you happy? + No. I don't know. Maybe a little. Ultimately no. + You let expectation get the best of you again. + Yes. + Expectation is a balloon waiting to be popped by reality. You can have a hundred of them, tie them together and float away on the levity of what they promise. But eventually they'll give out. They'll burst, or fizzle and deflate, and you'll hit the ground with a thud. + So what do I do? What do I do with these feelings? + Tell them. Ask them to ask themselves how they'd feel. Then let it go. It's just a balloon.

in cervisiam veritas

Look, she shrugged. I don't do it because I think my life is more exceptional than anyone else's. Or because I think I'm better.

They ordered her another cold one and nodded, gathering around to listen. Then tell us, they said. Why do you do it?

Ah, she replied, a serene smile spreading across her face. For the joy of it. The simple joy of writing. She raised her beer in anticipation of a toast.

But you could write anything, they said, their eyes narrowing. Articles. Fiction. Grocery circulars. Grants. It must be more than that.

Her smile tightened slightly, her brow warm in the sudden spotlight. She set her mug down, considering its foamy brim. It's the challenge of constructing an honest narration of my life. Telling stories that will convey who I am - and what my values are.

Your values? The tone had changed; they'd grown questioning and suspicious. And why do you want people to know those? 

She looked up sharply, realizing the trap. They stared at her and waited. Licking her lips, she tasted the sourness of her answer before she gave it. Because I think they're the right ones. The best ones. 

Dead silence for a beat before, to her shock, they erupted in uproarious laughter. Beer sloshed. Thighs slapped. They shook their heads in thorough enjoyment of her joke. Brilliant, one giggled. Can you imagine? crowed another. And in the clamor no one noticed her quietly push aside the drink at her elbow.

happy vs. happiness

Happy has got to be the most prostituted word in modern society, and certainly in the blogosphere.

Happy is not the same as happiness, and there's all the difference in the world between the two. Happiness is an occasional, organic byproduct of living in sync with your values. It flows into and through you. You can't control its production or delivery. You just wake up and it's there, or turn a street corner and feel it grab you. It pulses in huge bursts or slow, steady waves, until it fades away again.

People search for happy all the time, sometimes desperately. They seek it out like a drug, a quick fix to get them through the day. Sources of happy are short-lived and almost always involve some form of external validation.

Happy is a thing people hunt, but happiness is a thing that finds them.

Some of us bloggers forget this difference - or we live in denial of it. For some of us, happy is the whole point. We treat it like a trophy, polishing it and placing it prominently in front of us. Then we can hide behind it, and use it as a shield to block criticism or uncomfortable truths. Look at my happy! Just try and get past it! We worry that if we don't prove our happy, we'll be laughed at, scorned, judged - or worst of all, pitied. So we parade our happy even at the risk of ridicule. Even at the cost of exhausting and alienating those around us. Because not everyone wants to march in our Happy Parade.

Not everyone comes right out and declares their happy. They're smart enough to know this is mawkish and unappetizing. More savvy and sophisticated bloggers underplay their happy hand. They play their happy cool, with a casually-worded caption and cute emoji on an Instagrammed photo of a beautiful day - or a beautiful child. Here the happy lies quietly in subtext, but don't be fooled. It screams just as loudly: I AM HAPPY.

But I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. We're not telling you. We're telling ourselves. Which is not to say that manufactured happy and genuine happiness never overlap; sometimes they do. But sometimes the happy is a placeholder for happiness, which never needs likes and rarely poses for photographs anyway.

It's all so bizarre, our fixation with finding and flaunting the happy. And to complicate matters, happy is a squirrelly, highly subjective concept. To one person it might mean extreme elation; to another, balance and inner peace. We all aim for different spots on that continuum. Some are satisfied by a sense of general well-being, and some lose their minds in pursuit of elusive ideals of financial wealth and personal power.

The fact is, the less you need to make you happy, the more powerful you are. If all it takes to get your happy is walking with a loved one on a sunny day, you're going to be able to fill your tank much more easily and frequently than someone who needs luxury vacations, or the envy of others.

And because the stakes are so high, we use happy against each other. We lord it over one another, secretly feeling glee when our enemies seem to lack it. The ultimate cut down is to declare someone unhappy (i.e., sad). It's such a hurtful thing to say because there is no more pitiable condition, particularly when it's on public display. We cluck our tongues and say Oh, she's clearly unhappy, and we feel smug and safe and uninfected when we do so, because emotional well-being is a form of wealth. True happiness is a currency of mental health but the temporary nature of happy adds up to pittance.

But we open our wallets and show off our happy hundreds, because they are so very easy to count, so attractive when spread wide in our hands.

taking a lonely: the uncensored inner monologue of a blogger in pursuit of cute vacation selfies

Oh my, who totally nailed her outfit today? WHO! Lightweight, linen blend sweater and cutoffs? LAKE LOOK ON FLEEK. Def gotta get a shot of this ensemble. Ooh, I know. I'll sit at the end of that dock down the road, the one with the picturesque faded planks. With the water in the background, it'll be perfect! Let me just grab my lipgloss. Oh and maybe a hair tie. Shit I should probably put on mascara too. Okay here we go!

(7-8 minutes of walking in 90 degree heat and 60% humidity later)

Phew, really is warm out today! I don't actually need this sweater. Like, at all. Just a quick shot then I'll take it off... Ah, here's the dock. Hm. I wonder whose it is. I doubt they'd care if I used it for a minute. Nah, I'm sure it's cool...



Oh wow, okay, so we're a little bit sleepy and dehydrated looking today huh? No worries, that's cool! Just gotta....angle it...a little bit....hmm. Well. Those crows feet really stand out in this sunshine, haha. Maybe...maybe just tilt it down...like...yes. Perfect. Now let's get the hell out of the heat.

---

So help me god I'm not leaving here until I get a pic of me jumping into the water. They will literally revoke my blogger's license if I don't get this shot. Literally. Okay, just gotta set up my Joby on Bill's dock... Oh, heh, look at that. The guys that were cutting the neighbor's tree down this morning are back from lunch. I wonder if they can see m--yep. Okay. Hm. Really pretty day though. Shame to waste it. Might rain again and I'm running out of time. Fuck it. Not like they've never seen a woman repeatedly setting a self-timer and running to jump in the lake before...







What. The fuck. Why can I not get the timing right?? I'm jumping the gun on every shot, damn it. Okay okay, I got this. Just have to wait until I hear the beeeeep....aaaaandd....

*SPLASH*

....SON OF A....

---

Okay well if I can't get a good shot of me jumping in the water, what if I just do a selfie of me descending into it?? That could be cute! Like, Oh, there she goes, getting in the lake for a swim! What a pretty scene! The mountain behind, all peaceful and--well after this boat passes by, I mean. And this one...





Alrighty let's see what we got. Yikes it's bright out here. Hard to see the screen. Carrying my phone around the corner into the shade after every take is really getting old though. And those guys up there are really taking their sweet time hauling the tree away. YES HELLO I SEE YOU TOO GENTLEMEN. I KNOW I LOOK RIDICULOUS, STOP SNICKERING. Gah, the one where my hips look best there's a stupid hole in my hair and the one where my hair looks cute is too dark. Whatever, I'll post both!

---

ZOMG pretty wooden stairs!



Cute! Wait, my feet are too straight...

---

ZOMG pretty weathered dock!



Cute! Wait, my feet are too crooked...

---

Oh god I almost forgot the feet-dangling-over-the-edge shot. Come on, Ellie! These are essential shots! Let's just sit right here, this is nice, okay, put our legs out and...



...Oh. Shit. The dock's too close to the water. My feet will be IN the water. NO WORRIES JUST STICK THEM OUT LIKE THEY'RE SWINGIN', ALL CAREFREE AND SHIT.

---

Don't do it, Ellie. Do not take a contemplative selfie. They are fucking stupid and you will look like a tool. What are you--no--put the Joby back in your bag--PUT THE JOBY BACK IN THE--oh for fuck's sake.



BWAHAHAHA

---

I really have to get a selfie with my actual face in it. Otherwise I look like that weirdo who only posts headless shots because she hates her face.



I hate my face.

---

Okay, just gotta get one of my signature butt-portraits, so everyone knows I still like my ass even though I'm forty!



I hate my back.

---

SERIOUS POST-SCRIPT

I'm poking fun at myself today, because I know how ridiculous selfies are. But the fact is, mini photo shoots like these take time and effort. And mine only contain me. Mine was the only time I wasted.

I cannot imagine putting small children through this sort of thing, multiple times a day, multiple days in a row. Dressing children not in what's most comfortable for them, but in what will garner the most likes on Instagram. Or sell the most sidebar ads. Posing them, positioning them, directing them like little models day after day after day.

Mommybloggers who do this - and you know who you are - you need to take a good, hard look at yourselves. Your kids are not props. Stop exhausting them with your need for validation, stop parading them around for strangers on the internet.

Seriously.

Just. Fucking. Stop.

Captain Awkward

I'm probably one of the last persons on the Internet to have discovered the advice blog Captain Awkward, but I'm happy to disclose my embarrassingly late arrival just in case you're even later than me. Because it's fantastic. I've said before how much I like Baggage Reclaim for relationship advice, but Captain Awkward goes further, delving into career, family, friendship, mental health, Feminism, sex, and more.

CA moderates comments (referencing by way of explanation a rather thought-provoking post from another blog, titled If Your Website's Full of Assholes, It's Your Fault), has a glossary (also off-site) of thoughtful, funny Awkwardisms, and boasts a community of long-time readers who've established a discussion forum and regularly schedule meet-ups around the US and UK. In short, from what I've seen, it seems like a really cool, really friendly place to kick it online.

As a recovering people pleaser, I particularly enjoy what she has to say about boundaries (I don't know that I'll ever get used to the empowerment that comes from a simple "no"). But my favorite thing about Captain Awkward is the "scripts" offered to letter-writers: helpful, concise responses which advice seekers can utilize, immediately, in the difficult situations they're facing in real life. (Example scripts for saying "It was nice to meet you! But not THAT nice.")

I could definitely have used this post about pushy in-laws back when I was married. This one, about auditioning for the approval of people who dislike you, would have been handy a few years ago when I was detaching, with much heartbreak, from a toxic social circle. And this one, about a lopsided, all-on-one-person's-terms friendship, is kinda exactly what I've been needing lately. From that post:

Listen, you can totally still be friends with this person as long as you accept that the friendship will take place 100% completely on his terms. When you hang out, you will do so at his place, listening to him noodle around on his guitar and agreeing with everything he says unless you’d like a tiresome fight. 
So only see him on those rare occasions that you’re looking for a night of listening to him play guitar and agreeing with whatever he says. On all other nights of the year, spend whatever energy and love you would normally pour into maintaining and deepening a friendship with him into making some new friends who actually, I don’t know, are interested in things about you and can maintain a basic level of reciprocity? 
And when you say “Let’s hang out!” and he says “Sure, come over and I’ll play guitar,” say “Eh, can’t we go out and grab some dinner?” and if he says “No, but come over!” say “Sorry, maybe next time.” Like any time you enforce a boundary for the first time, it will feel super-weird for a short time and then it will feel normal and you’ll start feeling much better. 
You don’t have to drop him from your life – I believe you that you’ve shared some good times – but you do have to teach yourself to need very little from him and to accept that he’s limited in what he can give you. I would pour your limited time and energy into making some new friends. I realize that’s easier said than done, especially with a demanding job, but I think that effort spent will pay off much better than beating your head against the wall of “We will do things my way at my convenience.” Hang out with him once in a blue moon when his self-centered ways amuse and comfort you with their utter predictability and don’t grate you down like fine cheese.

I mentioned a few posts back that I was going through something tough with a friend, something that I wasn't sure whether I wanted to talk about. Well, Captain Awkward has saved me that, uh, awkwardness because the bits I've bolded break it down perfectly. The exact situation, the exact dilemma. So, yeah. That's that particularly corner of my life, summed up. Bleh.

Anyway, if you've got some time and could use a laugh and a dose of good sense, coast on over. Great, useful stuff.

pixieset

Things I've not missed about Instagram:
  • the enormous time suck and exhausting effort of trying to keep up with it
  • agonizing over posts (is this too many of Chaucer? of Terence? is everyone bored of my lookups?)
  • racking my brain to come up with clever captions
  • submitting cherished personal moments for approval/dismissal in the form of "likes" (I fucking hate "likes" and believe they are a symbol of everything that's wrong with the world today)
  • playing shitty, zero sum self- and life-comparison games 
  • possibly being a cause for others to play shitty, zero sum self- and life-comparison games
  • the inanity of comments (my own included!)
  • an un-shutoff-able comment system that by its very nature obligates people to participate in an endless circle jerk of compliments*
  • hostile lurkers (people who interacted with other accounts but just silently crept on mine)
  • dramazzz
Things I've missed about Instagram:
  • joking around with some very fun and funny people
  • seeing good times and loved ones reflected back at me in happy little squares
  • having all those happy little squares in one place for easy sharing (GFY Google+)
Luckily I remain in (loose) email contact with most of my old IG buds. And those with whom I don't have been exceptionally sweet about letting me know they understand why I left, and don't hate me for being a fickle spaz where social media is concerned. So that solves the first point. And a possible solution for the others: a "Notstagram" account on Pixieset. It's got a simple, clean web layout comparable to Instagram's:



It's also optimized for mobile (easily swipe through pics), and it's free up to 3GB! You can only upload from your desktop, but once you do, rearranging photos and managing multiple collections (including private, password-protected ones) is a snap. Seems pretty cool so far in case you, too, are looking for an alternative.

---

* To be verrry clear, I'm not talking about any of my old IG buds. I'm talking about the super shallow interactions you unavoidably get sucked into on Instagram. The bullshit reciprocity contract of "like-backs" and empty, meaningless comments. It's inescapable if you've got a public account and don't want to be a complete asshole.

Incidentally, that's also one of the reasons I keep blog comments disabled. I would hate for anyone to ever feel obligated to comment on my posts. And I can imagine that in some cases, were I to post something extremely personal, some of you lovely, loving people would feel like you should chime in with a word of support. Or if I posted a piece that was obviously more carefully written than others, some of you would rightly suspect I'd be keen to get compliments on it. Even selfies - I'd never want anyone to feel like they had to say OMG ELLIE YOU'RE PURRRTTTY or whatever. I know some of you cats pretty well by now, from emails and whatnot. So much so that at this point, it would almost be weird if you didn't comment on my posts, were commenting an option. It'd be like being ignored by a friend or something. And that's way too much pressure for both of us.

I like the idea of my blog being a place where readers and friends and readerfriends can come and go freely - and totally anonymously. You can take me or leave me, and hopefully you never feel pressured to participate further than just peeking in as little or as much as you'd like. I also imagine that at some point, you'll move on. I'm just not that interesting - I know that. And in the same way that I'm being spared the sadness of wondering where some longtime commenter went, you're being spared the guilt of having disappeared without explanation. Symbiotic mystery FTW. 

t-minus 144

For Autumn, who (lol) says there aren't enough (lolol) pictures of me around here (LOLOLOL):



The smug bitch on the left just booked Bonnaroo, so she's probably not going to shut about that for the next five months. Her friend on the right, however, will try to keep her in check and diversify topics for the 99.9% of you to whom Bonnaroo is Boringroo. They're thinking a post about lineup discoveries, one about festival gear recommendations, and maybe finally that MDMA PSA.

My cold was nearly gone but then we stayed out drinking all night with Kross, so I'm back to sounding like an emphysemic pug. Chaucer's into it.

That's it. That's all I've got at the moment. Shitty selfies and some humblebragging. I hope everyone is able to do some of this today (the relaxing part, not the drooling on the bed part):




hearts!

drive thru

WELCOME TO BLOGGER KING MAY I TAKE YOUR ORDER

- Yeah hi I'd like the fame and fortune combo, but can you hold the accountability and public scrutiny and give me unconditional love instead?

SORRY LADY NO SUBSTITUTIONS

okay I guess I'm going there after all

Quickly want to share an excerpt from the best thing I've read yet about the attack in Paris: The Blame For the Charlie Hebdo Murders. Now, I try to be more or less apolitical with my blog ever since I realized, with the help of some constructive criticism, that I have a problem with tone where religion is concerned. But twelve people are dead and it's difficult for me to sit on my hands when more influential, further-reaching internet pundits are victim blaming and spouting off ignorant shit about tolerance and moderation and the "sacredness" of "rich traditions".

So in the interest of doing what little I can to counter-disseminate:

The murders today in Paris are not a result of France’s failure to assimilate two generations of Muslim immigrants from its former colonies. They’re not about French military action against the Islamic State in the Middle East, or the American invasion of Iraq before that. They’re not part of some general wave of nihilistic violence in the economically depressed, socially atomized, morally hollow West—the Paris version of Newtown or Oslo. Least of all should they be “understood” as reactions to disrespect for religion on the part of irresponsible cartoonists. 
They are only the latest blows delivered by an ideology that has sought to achieve power through terror for decades. It’s the same ideology that sent Salman Rushdie into hiding for a decade under a death sentence for writing a novel, then killed his Japanese translator and tried to kill his Italian translator and Norwegian publisher. The ideology that murdered three thousand people in the U.S. on September 11, 2001. The one that butchered Theo van Gogh in the streets of Amsterdam, in 2004, for making a film. The one that has brought mass rape and slaughter to the cities and deserts of Syria and Iraq. That massacred a hundred and thirty-two children and thirteen adults in a school in Peshawar last month. That regularly kills so many Nigerians, especially young ones, that hardly anyone pays attention. 
Because the ideology is the product of a major world religion, a lot of painstaking pretzel logic goes into trying to explain what the violence does, or doesn’t, have to do with Islam. Some well-meaning people tiptoe around the Islamic connection, claiming that the carnage has nothing to do with faith, or that Islam is a religion of peace, or that, at most, the violence represents a “distortion” of a great religion. (After suicide bombings in Baghdad, I grew used to hearing Iraqis say, “No Muslim would do this.”) Others want to lay the blame entirely on the theological content of Islam, as if other religions are more inherently peaceful—a notion belied by history as well as scripture. 
A religion is not just a set of texts but the living beliefs and practices of its adherents.

(emphasis mine) 

Thank you for reading. And thinking.

---

confidential to Kelle: Yeah you bet your phony ass this is in response to that ignoramus of a co-exploiter you call Dad. I know you read here, because you're too frantic of a whitewasher to not keep track of your detractors. I know your ex-fans read here, too, because my blog pops up as the number one search result for "Kelle Hampton criticism" - a distinction of which I'm proud and one backed up by the emails that trickle in, slowly but steadily, from those ex-fans.

While I have you: fuck you, for the disgustingness that is publicly monetizing your children's baths. You accepted money to post on the internet, for the uncontrolled consumption of thousands of strangers, intimate photos of your children. In the bath. LOOK AT YOUR LIFE. LOOK AT YOUR CHOICES. 

upcoming

I'm fascinated by dark emotion. By the heavy feelings we are taught to suppress - to contain and manage. Anger, fear, envy, shame, hatred. We police these impulses strictly, whipping them like lion tamers, convincing ourselves that we're in control. But they remain wild and, to some degree, intractable. And I think there's a kind of honesty that comes along with their release. That honesty is what interests me.

If some of my posts seem a little weird, that's probably where I'm at: in the folded-over space between propriety and positivity. It's pure and it's intriguing, and sometimes I get sick of pretending it doesn't exist.

the Jenna thing

NOTE: I know that for most of you guys, this is a big pile of no1curr, dealing with stupid Internet drama going back years. It is incredibly dumb, I am aware of that. But I need to get it out of my system, so thanks for your patience. 
---

A few days ago, a blogger I follow but dislike immensely ("hate read") posted a photo to Instagram of her young children that was, by all accounts, ridiculous. Ridiculously inappropriate, ridiculously lacking in boundaries and common sense, ridiculously attention-seeking. The blogger's name is Jenna.

Jenna's photo received several dozen critical comments, some of which were crass and themselves inappropriate. Many comments, however, were politely worded, thoughtful and reasonable objections. These comments respectfully explained the ways in which the Instagram post showed questionable judgment and violated her children's privacy, and urged Jenna to reconsider her decision to keep it up. Some of these responses were written by long-time readers and Internet friends.

Jenna deleted nearly all of them, and blocked the commenters who'd written them.  

She then edited the original caption she'd written for the photo, backpedaling on what had obviously been a deliberate attempt to incite scandal (for one thing, the photo depicts her toddler little girl and young son playing with a sex toy; for another, this blogger is notorious for trying to stir up controversy-for-clicks). New criticisms poured in, pointing out how absurd and classless and hurtful these mass deletions and story-changing were.

Jenna deleted those, too.

One of the last comments she made on the post, after her deleting frenzy, was an invitation to discuss the matter further on Twitter. I took her up on the invitation, tweeting directly to her, but she didn't respond. 

For the past few days, I've been trying to decide whether I wanted to write a post about all this, and about her. Not because this particular incident bothered me so much, but because I am so desperate to be done with her, once and for all.

I've followed Jenna for the better part of five years. It's hard to explain why, though I guess if I only had two words to do it, "morbid fascination" would get the job done. (Well, to actually back up a bit - she and I had some Internet overlap for a couple of years, having both contributed to the same website. That's how she initially ended up on my radar. Had it not been for that overlap, I doubt I would have heard of her, much less taken an interest in her life.)

Virtually everything about Jenna's lifestyle, values, character, and choices repels me. Occasionally I've responded to things she's said and done, either here on my blog or on Twitter. Unlike Kelle Hampton (who already has established a massive following), I've never (until now) used Jenna's name or linked to her blog. Her following is relatively tiny, and while mine is even tinier, I wouldn't want to send her a single click. What's even more frustrating is that at times, I have been a fan of hers. She's written some posts that contain, in my opinion, some impressive self-reflection, particularly considering her sheltered background. But those are the exception, not the rule; for the most part, I find her simply odious. Her treatment of her children in particular upsets me greatly, though her smugness, entitlement, and narcissism all irritate me as well. 

The obvious question: why on earth would I read her blog, then? Why on earth would I willingly subject myself to such annoyance? 

I'll try to explain in a moment, but first, a pair of anecdotes:

1. This past weekend Terence and I were walking through the very busy shoe department at Nordstrom on our way to the men's section. As we passed a cluster of seats where several women were trying on shoes, we heard, very loudly, one of them say in an extremely snotty tone: "If you're too busy to help me, I can find someone else." We glanced back to see a red-faced, harried-looking shoe salesman, boxes stacked three deep in his arms, assuring a sour-faced, well-dressed forty-something brunette that he could help her, that he was so sorry, that he'd be with her in just a moment. 

"Wow," Terence said under his breath, as we continued walking. "What a bitch." And if it had been up to my sweet, non confrontational boyfriend, that would have been it. If he'd been alone, he wouldn't have even said that, though he might have thought it.

He wasn't alone, however. He was with me. 

Long story short: I made a bit of a scene. I turned around and said some things. Loudly. And I kept saying them until the woman looked right at me and I made good and sure she heard what I was saying. I don't remember exactly what that was, but I know it included the phrases "chill the fuck out", "little bit busy", "Christmas season", "entitled brat", and "first world problems."

Someone I cared very much for once worked in women's shoes. It is not a dream job. Low hourly, pittance commission, demanding and overprivileged customers. It is not cush job on which to easily support a family, and the salesman we saw? I'm willing to bet he has a family. 

Anyway, even though the moment had nothing whatsoever to do with me, I jumped right into it. And if given the chance, I'd do the exact same thing again. This isn't bragging. I know it's a little bit crazy to be confrontational like that. This is just me saying I yam who I yam. 

2. Last year - or, Christ, maybe it was this year? now I can't remember - a travel blogger I'd been net-friendly with wanted to meet up. I'm coming to LA! she said. I'd never met her, but I agreed to hang out. So how had I gotten net-friendly with this travel blogger? Well, she'd been a reader of mine for a while, and we'd exchanged a few emails. And at some point in that correspondence, being aware of my animosity towards Jenna, she started writing about her dislike of Jenna. Knowing my feelings, I guess she felt free enough to say some extremely unkind things of her own. We also discussed internet-ish stuff in general, plus travel and a few other common interests, but the point is, in multiple emails, she trashed Jenna, big time. 

Well, a few days before this travel blogger was to be in LA, a picture popped up on Jenna's Instagram: a selfie of the two of them, together and smiling. Apparently she had stopped in SF and spent an afternoon with Jenna - the very person she had gleefully dumped on, in emails to me. 

My head about exploded from surprise. It was so unexpected, so incongruous with what she'd expressed feeling towards Jenna, that I half anticipated some kind of explanation from her, like Oh, I just figured it would be a good networking move, or She cornered me when she found out I was in her city. But no explanation came. (Which is not to say I deserved one, just that I couldn't believe she'd carry on as if nothing unusual had happened, considering her behavior.)

I wasn't going to say anything, at first. I was going to leave it alone. Just walk away. Not my problem. I knew for certain I wanted nothing to do with this travel blogger, not because she'd hung out with Jenna, but because of her brash, carefree two-facedness, which disgusted me. When she texted to confirm our plans, I lied and said something had come up, that I wouldn't be able to make it. And I sat on my hands.

But then. But then Jenna made some comments about her Internet friends being so great, so loyal and trustworthy that I couldn't stop myself. I - you guessed it - made a scene, this time on Instagram. On my own account, commenting on one of my own photos (an older one, where the chances of anyone else seeing the conversation would be slim), I called out this travel blogger. I told her I was totally grossed out by her behavior, and that's why I didn't want to meet up. 

And I cc'd Jenna on the exchange. 

Yo, I said (or something like it), this? This is your Internet community. Make friends offline, Jenna. These people you think are your friends? They are not your friends. And I'm happy to show you the proof. (The travel blogger panicked and scrambled, writing then deleting comments in which she begged me to delete my comments, to take it to email, etc. Basically she refused to own her shit-tastic behavior and told me I was being unfair. Jenna herself didn't comment back or say a word to me about any of it.) 

So, why did I use the plural, in my comments to Jenna? Because, sadly, this wasn't the first instance of two-facedness I'd been privy to, where she was concerned. 

Why did I bother telling Jenna, if I dislike her so much? For the same reason I made a scene in Nordstrom: I can't keep my mouth shut when I see someone being unfairly shit on...even if it's someone I can't stand. Jenna probably thought (thinks) I was gloating. Haha, your supposed friends hate you. I wasn't. I was genuinely devastated for her in that moment. I considered how much stock she puts into her Internet friendships, saw what that emotional investment was netting her, and my heart broke a little bit for her. I was rough in my wording, I let the drama escalate a bit much, but my sentiment and intent were sincere: I really, really hoped that would be the moment Jenna realized how important real-life friendships are. I really, really hoped she'd scale back on social media and go cultivate private, offline relationships. 

---

There's something that happens to me when I see vulnerabilities being exploited. When I see the weaker, helpless party being bullied or taken advantage of by the more powerful. I get worked up. I can't help it. I mean, I don't even know if I want to help it. I'm not convinced it's an entirely bad way to be.  

But that's why I get so angry about Jenna: I see her children as the helpless parties. Yes, her personal, Jenna-centric stuff bugs me (i.e., her choices regarding school, the Mormon Church, the condescending tone of her posts - her whole personality, really). But I don't get really riled up until her kids come into it. And those of you who know what I'm talking about - well, you know what I'm talking about. 

But I'm done. I'm fucking done. At long last, I realize how utterly pointless my anger is. Nothing I write, whether I'm direct or passive aggressive, whether I'm sincere or satirical, will make one bit of difference in those kids' lives. I see that now. Jenna made that crystal clear this week. She is absolutely immovable in her self-assurance, in her refusal to be challenged or truly self-reflect. And my choices are a) continue to bang my head against the wall; b) accept the wall; c) avoid the wall. I wish I was a Zen and mature enough person to accept the wall, but I'm not. So I'm going to do my best to just, once and for all, avoid the wall. 

I've "quit" Jenna a couple times before (stopped reading her blog, social media, and snark thread) and it's astounding how much happier I am when I do. Like, disturbingly so, because it says loads about what is clearly a really unhealthy addiction. So I'm going to try again, for my own sanity, and for the tons of better things I could do with that time/mental energy. There's a quote that says when you hate something, you chain yourself to it. It's true. And I want out of this chain. 

Part of me feels like I'm abandoning her kids, walking away once and for all - crazy town, right? I mean, for a long time now I've felt really proud of the posts I've written that call out child-exploitive blogging. And I might continue to write those sorts of posts, because Kelle Hampton, my other favorite source of WTFery, is still going strong. But I cannot with Jenna anymore. I just cannot. It's too aggravating, and she absolutely thrives on the attention. 

I see there's now even an article about her Instagram brouhaha. It's a joke. Poorly written and a complete misrepresentation of what actually went down. Either the author didn't bother to read the full extent of "the Internet's" reaction or she just doesn't care, and is happy to publish a lazy pile of clickbait shit.

But whatever. I'm getting off this crazy train. I have about 3,492,692,018,081,583 better things to do than waste one more minute on someone who, at the end of the day, is her own punishment.

Jenna, if you're reading, you "win." Best of luck with life, online and off.

in which some fucks, admittedly, were given

POP QUIZ! 

Why does your blogmistress insist on showcasing the contents of her nostrils in photographs? 

a) The nostrils are the windows to the soul, everyone NOSE that haw haw noses are funnnnnny! Ewwww boogers and snot is it almost time for recess?? I want my juice box!

b) She figured out she looks at least six months younger from that angle. Seven when flash is used.

c) Ellie is actually a soothsayer named Nostrildamus. Her predictions for the future are tattooed on the inside of her septum. (Control+ to zoom.)

d) She's trying to put the coke rumors to rest. 

e) Honestly I'm just glad she's wearing some fucking clothes, okay?? 

f) She found some great quotes on a Pinterest board and really took them to nose heart:






And then a couple that seem pretty good as they are...



Sorry for the massive triple by-post in your inbox, subscribers. I guess I'm uncorked.

---

(quotes all pulled from here and here)

hate read cafe

"Welcome back to Hate Read Cafe, may I take your order?"

"Yes, give me a plate of something that makes me sick." 

"Are you sure? You seemed particularly unwell after you had it last time."

"Yes, please. I know I shouldn't, but I just can't help myself!"

"Okay, you got it. One shit sandwich, coming right up."

I'm the first person to agree that there are important discussions to be had about bad blogging behavior - which, in the cases that most interest me, usually boils down to bad parenting behavior.

But Jesus. Reading this crap you reach a point where it's like, Okay, this person is never going to change. In fact, she's dug in her heels and fortified herself with the validation of a bunch of idiot strangers, and now she's even worse than before.

I used to think that the more people who publicly stood up and said, Yo, pull the camera out of your kids' faces and let them live their damn lives in peace, or Get off the damn internet and devote some more time to your children; I promise you no one will be upset if you skip a few blog posts so they can have a hot meal sitting at a table, the more shame these over-the-top mommy bloggers would feel. I did my part to chime in directly or with satire, anything to add to the chorus of observers saying THIS IS NOT COOL.

But I don't know. Sometimes I think it's a big waste of time. They're not stopping. And I have to wonder, at one point am I the stupid looking one, for continuing to eat shit sandwiches?

Part of me wants to keep chipping away, talking about it, pointing it out in hopes that these women will wise up and treat their kids better from here on out. But part of me is like, Fuck it. They can deal with the fallout years down the line as these children realize what's up and want nothing to do with their selfish, narcissistic, oblivious mothers.

little blue circle

I avoid Elliequent readership stats like the plague. I installed StatCounter a long time ago, but the last time I logged in was pre-Terence, when I was trying to figure out whether a guy I was seeing was reading my blog. (It was wonderfully pathetic: I'd pore over any info coming from the area of town where he worked, as if it would decrypt the mixed messages he was sending in real life. Ah yes. He visited your About page for seven seconds before clicking out through Instagram. Never mind those ignored texts, girl. Romeo here is clearly ready to take a knee. The moral of this sad little aside being that dating emotionally unavailable, uncommunicative dudes is bewildering, dignity draining, may reduce you to reverse internet stalking and JUST DON'T DO IT*.)

Blogger's interface loads a generalized view of my statistics when I open a blank post, but I try not to look at it. Dropping numbers would depress me. Rocketing numbers would alarm me. Even steadily rising numbers would make me nervous. At some point, having too many people follow my life would make me uncomfortable. The Elliequent army is small and smart and I like it that way.

All this being said, every so often curiosity does get the better of me and I peek to see how many FeedBurner subscribers I have. And while poking around last year I discovered that I can actually bring up a list of the email addresses of those who've signed up for inbox delivery, over there on the right. This flabbergasted me. It seems like such a violation of privacy. Maybe it's crazy to say that since it's my blog, but I don't think it's any of my business what you do or don't read - and that includes my blog.

But yeah, I did read the list when I stumbled across it; I couldn't help myself. Some of the addresses were familiar, a few were surprises, but most were unknown to me. Overall it was like getting passed a stack of notes saying things like You're occasionally entertaining! or I find you tolerable! or I guess if I had to choose between watching your train wreck and scouring my shower grout, I'd pick your train! But then I closed the page and tried to forget it, because I write much better with a semi-solid fourth wall.

I've wanted to post about all this, but there's a Venn diagram in my head of Whats and Whys, and I'm unsure if they should be separate topics or mashed into some meta manifesto the navel-gazingness of which might explode the blogosphere outright. Witness:



And yeah I know that's not graphically accurate but pie charts almost NEVER taste like pie, so whatever.

I don't know why it's taking me so long to get to what I want to say, but that little blue circle is where I'm headed. Simply put: despite my money-back guarantee that at some point I will annoy or disappoint you (lol as if I haven't already), I do work hard at this gig, because I believe the surest way to show my gratitude is to put out the best possible product I can.

So for one thing, I edit obsessively. The two most useful things I learned in college were how to jimmy a dorm room lock with my dad's Chevron card and that writing is revision. If you could see how many times in a row I will jump out of bed in the middle of the night, run to my computer to change something in a post, dive back under the covers, hit refresh on my phone, find another edit to make, get back up again...it's a good thing Terence could sleep through an earthquake.

I take great care with my word choices, and I really do keep in mind all the rules of powerful writing. Descriptive verbs! Active voice! Varied sentence length! I try to come up with interesting ways to approach the subjects I discuss often, and I at least aim for entertaining on those days when inspiring is out of reach. I take risks and talk openly about things I know may invite criticism. Bottom line: I love writing enough to honor it with my best efforts, and I respect my readers enough to acknowledge that they can and should ditch me if I stop doing so.

I'm not asking for a head pat or a cookie, and the cookie comment jar is closed, anyway. (No cookies means I stay hungry for your love, which arrives occasionally through email or Twitter or even, exotically, by snail. And when it does arrive, I feast like a snake who doesn't know when the next mouse will come along.) And I realize this is one of my more pointless posts. My writing should speak for itself - and I like to think it does. But it was important to me to tell you anyway. It's important to me that you feel valued. So that's what I wanted to say today: thanks for thinking enough of me to be here.

I'm thinking of you, too.

---

* I've meant to post about Baggage Reclaim for ages, and I will at some point, but I'm just dropping the link for now in case anyone reading happens to be in dire relationship straits and need a life jacket, stat. Along with helping me make other huge changes related to my self-esteem and emotional life, I credit Natalie with teaching me to bring my dating standards up, and to hold out for the something better incredible that turned out to be Terence.

lost and found

for Kayla

She knew it was missing the moment she woke up. Goddamnit, she thought. Not again. Splashes of morning collected in the twisted sheets, spilling and pooling but refusing to disappear when she pulled all four hundred threads-per-inch over her head. It warmed her in patches, soaking through the cotton, waiting cheerfully for her reemergence. I'll be here when you're ready! I'm California sunshine, and I'm utterly fucking relentless!

As always, she started with the bathroom mirror, padding barefoot across a floor that felt especially cold and hard. But it wasn't there as she held herself briefly in a series of practiced poses, angles and arcs that flattered her body's better features. Not in her stomach, forgivingly flat before breakfast, and not in her biceps, pale sinew that betrayed or belied its age depending on the light.

She looked for it in the shower, turning over thoughts like foreign coins, the flip sides of which are interesting, but rarely surprising. Nope. Not there. Not today.

Drinking coffee a little while later, she gazed around a room at furnishings chosen at no small cost of consideration or price. At books and photo albums and nearly four decades of mementos - the things that would represented her sum and substance, when she ceased to present her corporeal substance to the world anymore. But it wasn't to be found in any of that, either. (And she'd known better than to look anyway.)

It wasn't in the faces that filled her day. Not the one that supervised her on how to spend it or in those of whom she supervised herself. Not in friendly smiles, not in nods of respect, not in the appraising, approaching eyes of men on the sidewalk - glances which seemed to grow shorter all the time. She rarely returned them at all these days, for fear of experiencing just how short.

It was hiding particularly well, she realized, when not even a bit of it was to be found in her lover's eyes at the end of the day. Always the last place you look, she thought wryly, noticing how late it had gotten. A few more hours and she'd have to call off the search until tomorrow.

Then the letter came. It rang itself into her inbox with an optimistic chime, and she reached for her phone. Launched her mail app. Recognized the name. Opened the email. Read the words. Understood the import. She felt the compliment bloom in her brain, then float down to her heart where it took root and bifurcated in a single, delicious burst. To the tips of her fingers it raced, this relief in remembering that Yes, okay, sometimes it's impossible to see myself, but it is there.

It is there.

She boxed it up in steel-reinforced gratitude and copy-pasted it to the clipboard of her mind, where it would be easily accessible for at least another twelve hours before slinking off in the dead of night, luring her into the next round of hide-and-go-seek.

missing the important things

I made the mistake of swinging by Kelle Hampton's blog tonight and saw the saddest thing ever.

She published a post containing photos of her two young daughters playing at a swimming pool; the younger one watching her big sister carefully as she cannonballs into the water. Kelle's commentary on the photos: "I didn't notice what was happening here until I pulled these next pics up on my computer and--Nella's carefully studying and copying Lainey's every move."

There aren't enough frown emoticons in the fucking world.  :( :( :( :( :(

No, Kelle, it's difficult to notice things like the wonder in your child's expression when you're seeing it miniaturized on an LCD screen instead of writ large and beautiful on her actual face.

Fifty-five thousand strangers looking at her children, day in and day out. Fifty-five thousand. And she is completely okay with this.

I don't doubt Kelle loves her kids. But doing right by the people we love is rarely as easy as just loving them.