Blogging in the Post Carrie Bradshaw Era

“Your friends must be really boring if you’re contacting me after all this time,” I typed into a gchat box that emerged without warning from a user I had long ago hidden from my chat list.

“Not the case here. All of a sudden I remembered your blog and wondered how you were doing.”

A little over 2 years ago, I had parked my car in an upper west side garage, a stone’s throw from the American Museum of Natural History (read: a neighborhood with premium parking rates) and met a 30-something lawyer for lunch. It was my second date of the day, having already breakfasted with an artist/industrial designer turned tech-recycler (is that a thing? Maybe his official title was Project Manager…). I had been seeing the Designer for about a month by this time, but it was going nowhere about as fast as a black hole. The Lawyer had potential, and he had been appropriately (maybe inappropriately, depending on your degree of conservatism) aggressive in his pursuit. I’d met them both online. I knew to temper my expectations.

After our date, which was a challenge, I went home and ranted on my blog. It was the first time I had ever railed against a guy, and I grouped him in with a string of unsuccessful online dates, belittling him and some guys who were, at the core, decent guys but just a bit oblivious. The Lawyer called me out, and I retracted the post and replaced it with an apology and philosophical definition of what this blog is all about. We didn’t speak again, until this week when he felt the need to apologize (!?!?! Wasn’t I the one who behaved badly?)

It happens with surprising frequency that I go out on a date and for some reason, mostly because he’s done his due diligence and researched me prior to our rendez-vous, my blog comes up. Most never read past the title or the “About Me” section, and so they proceed under particular assumptions.

The Professor, who is 20 years my senior and was a lunch companion earlier this summer: “Now, I don’t want to see our conversation end up in a blog post!”

A guy I think I briefly dated in 2011: “Feel free to write about me all you want. Just make sure you let everyone know how awesome I am.”

My Ex, who is the only ex to get a capital E (I think he actually read the blog, and might still): “I want to make sure you won’t have anything to write about any more.”

What they all assume is that this blog is “tell-all” dating blog. But here’s the thing: if I write about how terrible a date was, or how stupid a guy might be, then to do it fairly, to make it a post that says anything, then I need to turn the lens back on myself. Most single-girl blogs read like this: I went on this bad blind date, I had this one-night stand, this is my hook-up buddy, Why can’t my best guy friend figure out that he should be in love with me.

Writing a typical single-girl dating blog is relatively easy. But I’ve never been a fan of what’s easy.

I want you to read something of substance. Not everything that happens on a date or in the bedroom has substance. And, the simple truth is, some things need to stay inside a relationship.

If single-girl/dating blogs are a by-product of the Sex and the City era, most of us do Carrie Bradshaw a great injustice. When Carrie wrote about the men that breezed through her life, she tried to reason through a moral – didn’t every episode start with a “philosophical” question? What we saw play out in each episode where not only Big’s flaws, but Carrie’s… and in turn, the flaws in romantic relationships and even friendships.

Writing to ridicule men is boring, or at least it’s one tone. And if part of your impetus for blogging is a general frustration with men, perhaps getting hung up on all the ways men fail you is part of why we’re single. The way I see it is: it’s more interesting when you look at why YOU were hurt or disappointed, and what that says about you, your expectations, and your relationship goals. He’s only ½ the problem.

My Lawyer is case in point – he was a decent guy who felt bad sparks didn’t fly. I never gave him a chance, I just attacked him on the internet. “You are entertaining,” he wrote last week, 2.5 years after our infamous lunch. “We should have stayed friendly.”

Advertisements

Only Good Girls Keep Diaries…

When did I have time to write all that?!?!!

If only good girls keep diaries, then I must be a very good girl.

“When did I ever have time to write this much?” I said to myself when, in another rainy-day induced fit of house cleaning, I uncovered over a decade’s worth of journals and diaries. Most are thick enough to be worthy of the label “tome.” Few contain content worthy of any label besides “meaningless nonsense.”

I can’t remember ever not having a book to write stuff down in. In my tween and early teen years I keep “diaries.” While most kids would sneak a flashlight under their covers to read Treasure Island (or US Weekly?) I’d make a tent and take an erasable pen to a notebook. Each entry began with the ceremonious “Dear Diary.” (I know. Right? Gag me with a spoon.)

At 16, with a driver’s license pending, college nearing,  and hormones raging, I decided daily happenings in my life might become significant enough to start treating my “personal” notebooks more seriously.

Good-bye, diary. Hello journal.

Good-bye faux letters that droned on and on about the boy who threw crayons at me in art class. Hello mini faux essays with an imposed sense of the profound… about the boy who studied with me before each calculus exam.

As a scholar, journals accounted for a third of my resources on any research project. At times it was a tedious process — reading the day-to-day accounts and musings of someone with whom I had no direct personal relationship, hoping to find gem of a detail that would prove a revelation in the history of art… Mostly, I learned what my subject liked to eat for breakfast…

In my own life, I make it a habit to sit down and read the pages of my most current journal. In doing so, I mostly discovered that meaningless nonsense is surprisingly revealing — there are life lessons to be gleaned from your unpublished, unedited, unmediated autobiography. Mistakes I made in dealing with challenging situations, mistakes I made in love, right life decisions, questionable life decisions — it was all there, laid out in my own words. My journal was my own handwritten guide to” what not to do.”

There are many reasons to keep a journal — for the sake of having memories, as a place to vent — but perhaps the best reason to have a journal is to have reminder that you’re constantly moving forward.

A journal helps you avoid repeating history...
A journal helps you avoid repeating history…

Writing the Closing Chapter: Why this Blog Was Not Be Ready to Become a Book

Coming off two back-to-back Freshly Pressed posts, I thought I was ready to write a book.

About two years ago, I started exploring the possibility of turning this little blog into a book. I was coming off 2 freshly-pressed posts and a slew of new subscribers. It was both fashionable and marketable to be a single, 20-something, broke female and I was a single, unemployed, 20-something female. The timing seemed right and the iron seemed hot, so I thought, now’s the time to strike.

And thus began the self-pimping.

I tried everything, even stuffing my calling card into Sloane Crosley’s hand at a cocktail party for athletes (she was dating an Olympic speed skater who was friend of a friend at the time, and I was the only person in the room who knew her at sight). I didn’t really expect that to get me anywhere, so I met with a writing coach. I must have sold him, because in an uncharacteristic move, he put me in touch with his editor after our first meeting.

Bam! Was this really happening? Was I officially on my way to being the next blog-to-book phenom?

I quickly beefed up a few of my better posts and started to throw together a pitch. But as I sat there working out the plot-line that would drive my collection of essays, I hit a road block: what was my ending? I had  a premise, but what was going to be the punchline of “They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband?”

Should I end with a relationship? With a rich man? With a poor, struggling academic? With the next Damien Hirst? But, I wasn’t dating anyone… like, I couldn’t even use artistic license.

I was ready to write a manuscript, but did my collection of essays have a point?

Since I so often talked about the difficulty of finding a job in the contemporary art market, does it have to end with my finding a job? Maybe starting my own gallery? And that perfect piece of real estate? And free health insurance? I was still several months away from getting hired.

Or could it end with me as I was — still in limbo?

If that was my ending, what was going to be the moral of my story?

This is the challenge a lot of  bloggers who want to become professional writers forget — a book, even a collection of essays, moves in some direction towards some kind of conclusion. Blogs are amorphous, moving in any direction we want them to go. Thematic, yes, but endless. Now, a book’s conclusion can be relatively inconclusive, but still, there still should be some kind of moral.

This is what I thought of my original “ending” for TTM2FaRH

At the time I decided my moral would be: it’s okay if you don’t meet the world’s expectations for you, because times are rough, your 20s are uncertain, and eventually, you’ll hit your stride.

And then I decided that was lame.

So I shelved the manuscript and decided I needed to gather more material.

Luckily, a lot of life happens in a short period of time. Last week, as I toasted and thanked my staff, my friends, my family, and my boyfriend at my gallery’s opening, I felt it might just be time to revive They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband, the book. Somewhere in all the hullabaloo of the last two years, I had found the topic for my concluding essay.

But don’t worry. I’m no Disney princess. I’ll keep it real.

I Coulda Been a Contenda: My Blog, the TLC, Randy in Cincinnati, and How I Almost Became A Reality Star

It’s every blogger’s dream: getting “discovered.” And no, I don’t mean by your long-lost third cousin Shirley whom you haven’t seen since she was the toddler who pooped in your wadding pool.

I mean by someone like a literary agent. Or better yet, someone in Hollywood. I mean, by someone with the pop-culture clout to turn you into an overnight sensation who gets to appear on “Late, Late Night with Craig Ferguson.”

In the blogosphere, we're all waiting for Columbus to discover us and put us on the map.

Back in January, “They Told me to Find a Rich Husband” was discovered.

A casting director  in LA was on the hunt for a handful of women willing to be followed by the TLC as they embarked on a  quest to find the perfect mate in 2012. Somehow, she read my blog and thought I’d be perfect.

The next thing you know, I was on weekly conference calls to the West Coast, in part being investigated in part, investigating.

It was all very exciting. As I sat down to my video interview, my heart pounded with all the thoughts of the possible — the problematic along with the positive.

Was this going to be my fast track to literary stardom? Or would I become the butt of late-night jokes as America watched me fumble through Meet-ups and “How to Grout your Bathroom Tiles” classes at the Home Depot?

Would I be a success in the world of reality TV? Or would I fall flat... again.

Was my “50 First Date Project” going to launch me into dating infamy? Or endear me to the hearts of single, educated women across the country?

Would people find me funny, or would I fall flat?

How big is my butt going to look in HD?

Eventually, the project quieted and I took it as a sign that it might be best to leave the story of my dating life to the written word rather than the world of reality TV. The premise of the show read like a feeder for “Say Yes to the Dress,” and I’m not the 26-year-old who’s ready to commit to a wedding in the next 9 months… even with a pending apocalypse.

Randy's semi, with its 200 wedding dresses, was parked outside my hotel in Cincinnati. One of those could have been mine?

And then I arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio and the Netherland Plaza Hotel. As is the case with me, my timing was impeccable. The TLC was in town, at my hotel, filming “Randy to the Rescue.” Randy, as in Randy Fenoli, as in the wedding dress guru who always saves the day in “Say Yes to the Dress” — my guilty, single-gal Friday night at home pleasure.

Standing next to Randy while waiting for the elevator, I sized him up.

“I coulda been a contender!” I cried, shaking my fist, just as his assistant had begun to say something, I’m sure, relatively unimportant.

When Ranting On Your Blog Doesn’t Turn You Into the Next Mark Zuckerberg

Blogging is dangerous business. Originally, They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband was supposed to be anonymous. For a long time, even after I had given the “About” section a named authoress and a face, googling me wouldn’t get you to my blog. Somewhere along the way, probably thanks to Facebook, that changed. Now, anyone doing background on me will find TTM2FaRH front and center on the first page of search results.

Is this a problem?

Up until today, the answer would have been “no.” There’s nothing I’ve written that I would be ashamed to have a boss or family member read. A few boys doing their pre-date due-diligence have stumbled on this page — what they uncovered had never amounted to a strike against. Quite the contrary.

And that’s largely because I had adhered to a few simple rules: never be mean, never complain.

Boys behave badly, boys break your heart, but never make your blog about them. Keep it about you. Because sometimes, you behave badly. That’s more or less been my motto.

But I broke my rules. In a moment of frustration, I riddled off and published a post I shouldn’t have. For the first time, I made it solely about them. And it was mean-spirited. Thanks to google, it was found. I was rightly put in my place.

“One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling upon something witty” — so wrote Jane Austen in Pride & Prejudice. Stumbling upon something witty is what TTM2FaRH hopes to do. Yet in the same book, her best loved hero, Mr. Darcy confesses: “I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offenses against myself…My good opinion once lost is lost forever.”

The keyboard is mightier than the sword, and used recklessly, offers the Mr. Darcy’s of the world reasons enough to loose their good opinions.

There are enough blogs out there that ridicule men — Fail Males, for example.They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband will not be one of them.

 

An Essayist Fails to Find a Moral: or The Boy Broke My Heart and Taught me Nothing about Life. What a Jerk.

An essayist breaks a cup. She writes an essay. She learns and shares a life lessonl. No pressure.

A personal essayist carries the weight of the world on her little writer’s shoulders.

She breaks a teacup.

She writes an essay about breaking the tea cup.

She turns introspective.

She employs wits.

She jerks at the heart’s strings.

She considers the social impact of breaking the teacup.

She turns a seemingly insignificant moment into a neatly resolved story with a moral and rounds it out with insightful commentary on the way we live now.

No pressure.

I like to think of myself an essayist, or perhaps an essayist in training. I’ve always believed that there is a story behind everything – and every story is interesting if you tell it right. There should never be a lack of inspiration, as long as you’re in the mood to be creative.

And there is certainly never a lack of inspiration when your favorite subject is the way we love now.

This is how I look when i'm trying to write an essay...

After several years in the trenches of Love’s War, I’ve decided every first date can provide preliminary material for a minimum of 3 essays. For each date thereafter, the number of possible papers increases exponentially.

As you stop counting singular dates and start measuring your relationship in real time frames (i.e., weeks, years), you can generate an endless number of moralizing assemblages of prose.

I’ve never had a problem finding a greater life lesson or an aha! moment of self-reflection in a first date… until Gary.

Gary came pre-approved with the Grimm’s Fairytale Stamp of Prince Charming Approval. He was everything I had ever designed for myself in the Simms World of dream mates. I was ready to fall in love with him. Fate dangled him in front of me just long enough for me to get my hopes up and then, it whoosed him away.

Sitting pen and paper in hand a few days later, I was at a loss. I find myself asking:

What was the fucking point of that one?

If I could have walked away having learned something worth sharing I would feel better about Gary’s intrusive foray into my dating life. Be a jerk, I say, but at least lead me to an “aha!” moment in the process!

Thus, instead of rising above the fray of emotion to bring this to a resolved closing remark, I end insight-less. Essayist major fail.

woof woof