safe as houses, quiet as kept

Pretty mortifying – amid mild feelings of accomplishment after having finally updated my website – to click back and realize I wrote the exact same post 6 months ago. Doing great.

Whatever. Suddenly I’ve been nesting with my websites, rearranging and cozying things up.

I uploaded a bunch of old posts from the early wgw days, going back to the 2000s, that I had grown fearful of over the past decade. Just randomly realized I’m not afraid of them any more, or that I’m not afraid of having some of them online anymore, or that there were a few I actually missed having around.

Weird, as least as far the voice of this website is concerned, to see how little has changed in 20 years. A younger me might be terrified of it; the current version of me is mostly relieved. The fear that I had become disconnected with age from some other, more artistically adventurous version of myself, quickly dispelled by the cold realization that I just am how I am, and likely couldn’t change no matter how desperately I wanted to.

Also changed some stuff on Mild WordPress fiddling that is boring to talk about but has afforded me no shortage of pridefulness, from editing a text file and SFTP’ing it to a cloud and refreshing a page and seeing that it just worked. You used to have to understand how the internet works in order to build something on it. Now you just have to know how to back up your files and watch a few youtube videos and cross your fingers. Or maybe it’s just about wanting less.

What else. Moved my newsletter over to buttondown, that was easy. And I’m not talking about social media any more, god.

So yay slightly more organized, in the sense of having moved things around and feeling accomplished about it even though you have the exact amount of shit in the exact number of places as when you started.

How should I feel about this, about anything, about the things I accomplished, the things that pass for accomplishment these days, the things I regret ever posting online, the regret about not posting enough online, the things I wrote and promptly forgot about, the things I wanted to write but didn’t and never stopped thinking about.

I have a lot of stuff on the internet, more than I can keep track of, more than I will ever remember. I keep finding it. I’m looking for something on the internet or on my computer and find a story I wrote 12 years ago for a magazine that died before anyone could remember its name. Someone sends an email saying You had this story about x, where can I find it? And I have zero idea what they’re talking about until 2 days later it hits me and I remember, vaguely. I was reading a book recently and the designer’s name was listed in the credits and it sounded familiar and I searched through emails from over a decade ago and found a piece of art he’d created based on one of my stories, a project organized by some website. I don’t remember the story I wrote and I don’t remember the website. Clearly the designer’s done OK for himself in the interim.

Should I keep better track of things? Does it matter? I find it doesn’t. I don’t feel strongly about being surrounded by things from a long time ago. I carried around my old notebooks from high school for years, they traveled with me through I don’t know how many apartments in how many states, until one day I decided, come on, and threw them all out without even looking inside to remind myself what they contained.

Should I feel bad? Should I regret throwing away or misplacing or willfully neglecting things I’ve done, things that were important to me, at some point?

My therapist would remind me that shoulds are my big cognitive distortion, and pretty much a Top 5 Fucked Up Things in my Brain that I Can’t Seem to Change. There are no universal shoulds. Why insist on believing things needs to be a certain way, if they resist being that way? Should statements lead to constant guilt, constant feelings of failure.

Problem: my entire life is a precariously-balanced Jenga pile of should statements.

Anyways it’s springtime on the internet, and this is a perfect example of the type of post that will get deleted forever, eventually.

we accumulated the most data during the times when we were happiest

One day I deactivate my social media accounts, for no one specific reason other than a growing accumulation of grief. This will just be until the end of the year, I think, but who can tell the years anymore. The calendar changes, maybe, but that’s it.

And every day since then I think: why don’t you just delete them entirely?

And I think:

  • but what if I regret it later
  • but you know it’s bad for you
  • but that’s where my friends are and without social idk what’s happening in their lives
  • but you still don’t really and it mainly just makes you want to buy things or feel bad about things
  • but everything makes me feel bad about things so shouldn’t I at least
  • but you know this is just an addiction
  • OK but what if my friends view my refusal to participate in social media as a referendum on their lives and life choices?
  • well I mean is it?
  • yeah but still
  • then they’re not really your friends?
  • they are as real friends as I am ever going to get locked up in this house?

Anyways. Other apps appear on my phone to take their place and some days it’s like I wake from a dream, slashing at tentacles, wildly deleting things off my phone. You haven’t really quit the thing if the thing you’re using to replace it is just as bad. And also why do I need four separate parking apps just to find parking in this city? But I do and that’s not my fault although I still internalize it as a failure.

Meanwhile, the wind and the rain pick up outside. It’s unclear if it’s safe to be out there or not. People get sick and sometimes they get better and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes people are just gone. Are they gone gone or just offline?

I watch minimum 5-6 hours of TV every day and absolutely delight in very second of it. There is nowhere else I would rather be.

Some days I think: when was the last time you updated your website, this is ridiculous. And then sometimes I think: my refusal to participate in a regular blogging schedule and content calendaring is a success of a kind. It is a thing to be proud of. Instead I just do what I normally do, which is worry a lot about everything while feeling nothing about anything.

The wind is so loud outside. I wish you could hear it.

Vaguely self-cancelled on every platform

OK so I’m trying to like, figure out my life online. It’s going not amazing. I deactivated my Facebook years ago and then finally a few months ago? for some reason? was finally like….wyd, and deleted it entirely. Or at least I went through the steps listed to deactivate it entirely. I immediately got an email alert that someone was trying to change my password. So is it actually deactivated? I have this nightmare sense that if I try to log back in in an attempt to validate the deactivation, FB will interpret that as a change of heart, and all the data they collected about me over the years will jump out and yell 🎉YOU THOUGHT🎉. idk. Real Schrödinger’s Cat hours.

So then Instagram, which is a whole thing. I like it! But the world we live in is the world we live in so I logged out and deleted it from my phone over the summer just to try to live without it. Like everything you learn to live without, it got easier over time. Definitely do not have the heart to deactivate it entirely yet. People still message me there! There’s no easy way to say “Hey I’m not really here anymore/right now.” IG provided a lot of inspiration for my writing, and I haven’t been doing that much writing since I deleted it, but whether or not these things are related is a completely separate post.

Twitter, no hand-wringing there really, I deleted all my tweets and logged out way over a year ago. Again haven’t deleted my account yet but doesn’t feel like it’s long for this world. Although what if something changes, what if I DO need it at some point, what if what if.

There’s other sites as well, smaller social media spots that are historically great b/c a lot of people don’t know about them, so I won’t list them here, but I’ve also deleted those from my phone, at least temporarily. Just to sit with it and see how it feels. Mostly I feel: it sucks, b/c those are my friends, and there’s a level on which me being off social media = me saying I don’t want to be friends with you, or I’m not interested in the details of your life, or something like that. Which isn’t true, and so I can make a concerted effort to not let it be true, by texting, checking in with people. Which I’m admittedly not GREAT at. And but by not being on social am I just making more work for my friends? If I ask what they’re up to this weekend or what’s going on in their lives this week will their first inclination be: How about read the thing I just posted instead of making me retype it.

OK and then: Google. No major delusions about cutting them out of my life entirely, but I learned the phrase “large attack surface” recently and it hit me different. So I’m slowly switching over to a new email address, away from Google. As anyone who clicked that link can tell I switched to DuckDuckGo years ago.

Over the summer I took all my fiction collections off the Amazon Kindle store and put them on Gumroad. Sales are down, self-satisfaction way up.

So delete all my social media and that would just leave my website, this thing here, except I’m not really good at updating, and am year over year increasingly the type of person who is not posting anything personal online. So good, welcome to a website where you can follow along for personal updates that may never arrive.

Anyways how are you??? Should I post a screenshot of this to IG so that people know I’m alive.

I recently realized

I don’t like pepper as much as I thought I did. There was salad leftover from the night before. I took it out of the fridge and left it on the counter for a bit to come a little closer to room temperature. I thought about putting pepper on it but then I thought: No, I will like this better without the pepper. And maybe I did! Who knows. I ate the salad out of the plastic container I had stored it in, which I have a vague sense causes cancer? But transferring it to a bowl would have created another dish to wash, meaning more (toxic?) soap being released into the environment, swept away by my increased water usage, etc. Probably better in the long run for me to just get cancer and take one for the team. (Earth.) The window over the kitchen sink looks out on our neighbor’s back yard. There’s often a very large dog bounding around there. He digs incredibly deep holes in the ground and then sits in them, his eyes barely poking out over the top, staring at me. 

What & Who to Unfollow

Book cover of Cutie Cutie Ghost Show Season 3

Anyways, finished my book a few days ago. A few months behind schedule, but given everything, who cares, whatever. “Finished” is the wrong word anyway, it’s a draft; but it’s out in the world and my readers can read it (or not!) and I can move on to the next book, which I think will be the third in this series. I’m still figuring it out (1974-present).

Lot of hand-wringing online lately about creativity and productivity in the year 2020. Memes encouraging people to not feel bad if they haven’t worked on or finished any creative projects this year, since just surviving this year is a huge accomplishment (which I agree with). Authors pondering the meaning/lessness of their work in a year when so much is so at stake. Like Hey sorry about the apocalypse, here’s this book I wrote, please review it on Amazon, which incidentally is a terrible company, and also Goodreads, which is owned by Amazon. The sudden seeming insignificance of a single book in a world on fire.

But life isn’t black and white, even though our experience on the internet often makes it feel so. You can be an author who moves deep within themself to build interesting worlds, while also remaining caring and engaged in the world around you. And you can be a very creative person who sometimes doesn’t create things.

Anyways the work of being an author is different from the work of being a writer, or even just a creative person generally, and it involves skills that I straight up do not have, and do not have the capacity to cultivate. For my entire adult life as a writer I have second-guessed and self-doubted my choices, wrestling with this idea that success as a writer means publishing & physical books & book tours, things I have never had very much interest in. But a lot of people (who I know! and like! and are great writers!) think: I have to be a published author in order to be a successful writer. And in the past year I’ve seen this manifest in different ways – authors whose social media was so exclusively focused on their identity/branding/self-promotion as a writer that they failed to ever publicly or meaningfully acknowledge the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, the terrifying media/political shift towards totalitarian capitalist dictatorship. I unfollowed a lot of those people this year! I wish them well as writers and social media isn’t real life but that’s not where I’m at. And I’ve seen published authors (who I know! and like! and are great writers!) deeply interrogating their life choices, like: What is the point of my career in a landscape like this? Which I think is a great question!

For me it goes back to the essential difference between “writing”/”creating” and “being an author”. Writing is important, full stop. Everyone can do it and everyone should do it. It is crucial to the health and wellness of the human race that people put their stories out into the universe and share them with each other. But when I think about my dream anarchist/socialist society, where there are no billionaires and everyone has to contribute in meaningful ways to the success and betterment of their communities, are there full-time authors? Probably not! There are just people who make things, and their creativity is just one of the myriad ways they define themselves.

There are a lot of ways to be in the world. I hope the writers I love will continue to share their stories (unless they don’t feel like it! Which is also fine and not something they should feel one second of shame about!) and continue to be engaged in the world – not just via hashtags and social media, but in a genuine, meaningful, deeply interrogative way. You can definitely do both.