Monthly Archives: February 2013

Pervasiveness of Performance for Lifestyle Bloggers

One of the main drivers behind the popularity of personal-style blogs (mommy, lifestyle, diy, etc, whatever, ad infinitum) is the glossy inspirational/aspirational pictures.  A few people have said that blogs have replaced magazines for them and it’s easy to see why.  Minus numerous typos,* the top personal blogs have the same if not higher quality.

This particularly struck me while I was perusing the most recent post in Rockstar Diaries/Love Taza.  A simple, casual after-lunch visit to the record score with family friends.  The first picture could almost be an old Life mag snap and the rest of it?  Well gorgeous.  Who wouldn’t want that to be their lives?

It may be their actual lives, something they would have done if they were just people “like us,” but it’s also a planned and produced photo shoot.  On of those friends, you know the lunch ones, is a professional photographer and it shows.  Note that this isn’t a one off.  Their lives, as documented in their blog, is all planned, polished, and promoted.

It’s also their actual lives.  It may be a performance but they don’t get to step out of the camera’s eye and go back to just being.  There’s constant, never-ending demand.  We, their readers, we want more.  We want a whole regular production schedule of the best, prettiest, nicest everyday.  The increased popularity of Instagram shows this insatiable hunger for more experiences, more pretties, more voyeurism until we end up saying ridiculous, stalkeresque things** or end up a puddle of self-doubt on the floor because we don’t and can’t ever live even a tiny bit like of that.  Or get angry or cynical, hence snark sites.

What’s it like to be that person with nearly your whole life opened up for scrutiny and consumption?  To either have to frame a day crashing on the couch or scrubbing the bathroom as more special/fun/beautiful/aspirational/cool/inspirational/touching/meaningful than any other scrub or crash or to be behind in production?  You’d probably wear perfect makeup while in labor too.***

*I notice them and wince every time.  Let’s blame it on all of my editing instead of me being a bitch.

** Recently noted using the case of ETST: mention of use of Instagram pictures to bribe potty training tots instead of the usual candy; that looking at pictures of the newest baby helped someone conceive; saying that she inspired wishes to start a family.

*** ETST again, sorry Kelly!  She does a truly amazingly styled labor and birth though

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Multitasking and other skills

I know that I’m good at multitasking because it says so, right at the top of my resume.  Kidding, I know that I’m good at multitasking because I am.  Stick me with a pile of urgent tasks, a notepad of to-dos, and a beautiful thin line pen, and I’m your girl.   I suck at watching TV when not doing something else and I am possibly the only person in the world who likes to read while listening to music.

As things have wound down for me a little bit – it’s summer in South America, my clients are on vacation; post-Christmas is a slow time for market research – that I’ve stopped being so multitasky.  Oh I’m still unable to watch TV or listen to music by themselves.  That ingrained of a habit can’t be changed by the weather or new ideas.  I just get wrapped up in things and leave others by the wayside.  See blogging for two days, making a whole pile of half drafts, and then ignoring it all for a week.  I just can’t focus on them, fix this line or that, come to any sort of point.  They bounce around with the dust bunnies in the corners, but that doesn’t do anyone any good.  I even pushed my new academicy friend to write a paper on one of them, despite having a few pages of half-notes myself.*

This is what I’ve been working on instead:

Image

My long lingering embroidery pattern that I hope to release out into the world for feedback and to begin a profitable pattern empire.  I’m already noting my next one, spring and Paris, with the goal of releasing it for sale before the appropriate season is over (this one is sadly autumny).  You wouldn’t believe how fulfilling typing in little letters in groups of a hundred while squinting at tiny stitches is – I can’t even really believe it myself.  My resume also says detail-oriented and I did spend three months in the basement of an art library shelf-reading Dewey decimals to ten places, but still.

 I spent a morning buying handfuls of floss and afternoons on downloading nearly as many wingding fonts trying to find the perfect one.  I can’t wait until I get the pattern back from my beta** but I’m trying to keep my emotions locked down.  My excitement is tempered with worry, of the let-down if there’s not any interest, and the new depression that would come after.  I hate that I crave approval and praise from others; that the existence of something I created isn’t enough, despite the fact that creating a pattern is only for other people anyhow.  Blah, emotions.  This instead:Image

*Not that I would write a paper for publication myself.  I miss academia something wicked, especially now, but the idea of writing a lit review makes me prickly all over.

** Which is, yes my mom.  In my defense, she once did seven pieces, Henry the 8th and all his wives, in maybe two months.  I expect her to get the pattern, do it, and send it all back before I finish it myself.  Also she’s retired and therefore needs things to do, lest she get herself in trouble.

Why I Will Never Be a Professional Blogger

  • I forget to update my blog for months on end, thus proving I don’t have an editorial calendar
  • I also forget to take bazillions of amazing pictures of my ‘perfect’ life;  the only documentation I have of the last week is a robot dispensing beer, awesome but with poor composition (there were people!  how do bloggers get rid of people?  pretty sure killing them is not an option)
  • I can’t afford and don’t really know how to use Photoshop beyond cropping and some other stuff.  I definitely don’t know how to make my pictures the same perfect pixel width as my blog text
  • By far my most popular post is about being crazy.  The bloggess already exists and is way, way more funny than I am
  • The amount of promotion/proper SEO in the last bullet point embarasses me
  • I think branding people is bullshit.  I already have a personality, backstory, and way to create genuine relationships; performing some idealized version seems exhausting.  I have way better things to do with my time like wash things in vodka, work, advocate for the Oxford comma, and take pictures of vending machines
  • My realization that Pinochet was horrible for people, pretty good for the export economy is completely useless and probably way less amusing to anyone who is not me
  • Pretty sure my frustration in being unable to make sub-bullets either indicates a lack of WordPress skills or that I’m not supposed to be using them in a ‘real’ blog post

Way more effective than Nicorette

Crumpled at the bottom of my closet is a pink silk-merino mix scarf.  Every couple of months I take it out and try yet another method to try to get the stink of cigarette smoke out of it.

A few years ago I took an emergency trip to the far suburbs of Boston to see my uncle before he died.  Every morning we’d go spend an hour or two at his house before he got too tired and would burn the rest of the day, traveling into the city just to get as far away as we could from semi-rural Massachusetts in the winter.  I always marvel at how big the sky is here in the mid-west, almost touching you at both the right and left foot since there’s just nothing else in its way.  New England isn’t like that and New England in January when there’s no snow?  The woods close in grey, the sky closes in grey, it gets dark at 3 in the afternoon, not just from how far north you are, but how all the trees and hills just eat the light.  It is even more grim than sitting around a tiny 1970s bungalow waiting for someone to die, realizing that you came too late for your answers.

It was the smoking that killed him; lung cancer in his brain, confusing any stories that he could have told me about my father, a dark unknown smudge in my childhood.  Another man that died from smoking, who wouldn’t stop smoking to the point where he died with a cigarette between pointer and middle fingers.

My uncle wouldn’t stop smoking either and I guess, since he was dying, it seemed cruel to make him stop.  The house was dusky, just as grey at noon inside as it would be at 3pm outside.  I think it was even worse than when I was a kid, living with a pack-a-day and 2-3 pack-a-day smoker; higher ceilings and more square footage I guess.  And so we reeked, truly smelled that whole trip like we were heavy smokers ourselves, other riders on the T sniffing and moving away.

I was lazy and hadn’t unpacked by the time he died a few days after we got home and then I was sad and didn’t unpack, not for a really long time.  It smelled just as god-aweful when I opened that suitcase, as if we were suddenly in that living room again.  Everything else sorted itself, even my coat which I couldn’t wash or even dry clean without freezing.  That one scarf though, that I wore everyday of that trip for stupid selfish petty reasons?  Nothings worked this far.

I just dowsed it in vodka, from a gallon bottle of Absolut that has it’s own sad, pathetic back story.  It’s still drying but I’m hopeful.  It smells more like a pre-smoking-ban bar than straight up as if I was a heavy smoker;  five or six go-rounds and I’ve never had that much success.