Saturday, January 29, 2005

Saturday ramblings

One of my New Year's resolutions is to learn how to knit this year, and thinking about that made me realize--GOD, what a boring person I am. Not only do I dabble in several hobbies without excelling at a single one of them, they aren't even exciting. Look:

playing the recorder
writing (Oh, shall we include this one? We shall. We are pretentious that way. You can tell by the way we throw the royal "we" about.)
hiking (Yes, if you can count doing something two or three times a year as a hobby...well, that does count as a "dabbling," I suppose.)
photography (now that I have the digital camera)

But this is the point at which I got defensive. Why should I be embarrassed because my favorite thing to do is read a book? I am letting the quarter century of self-conscious nerdery and its corollary, shame, dictate my feelings about what I do with my own life?


I started this blog so I could have a place where I didn't let those inhibitions and learned behaviors control me. This is supposed to be the place where Ican let my hair down and fling it about wildly. Hell, this is supposed to be the place I can even let my virtual hair collect in the virtual drain without lifting a finger to remove it. (Ew...what a disgusting metaphor.)

Look how this entry has already helped me recognize my automatic tendency to question and disparage the very things I enjoy, based on the way my enjoyment of such things has always marked my place in the social order as....low. THAT is what this hobby is supposed to be for: HELPING ME. I don't need to climb El Capitan, go skydiving, or learn to pilot a plane in order to justify the less thrilling aspects of my existence.

There is an article in the New York Times today (username & password: gorevidal) about parenting blogs, and the author, David Hochman, sounds incredulous throughout the article. He expresses surprise that people have so much to say about parenting--and is even more astonished that so many people are interested in reading such things. "Exposing the dark underbelly of parenthood is not exactly new," he declares. "What is remarkable is that being a parent has inspired so much text and that so many people seem eager to read it."

He goes on to marvel at the uncritical loquacity of bloggers: "For the generation that begat reality television it seems that there is not a tale from the crib (no matter how mundane or scatological) that is unworthy of narration."

Granted, the author eventually admits that "perhaps all the online venting and hand-wringing is actually helping the bloggers become better parents and better human beings"(though the tone still has a whiff of disdain for the "hand-wringing"). He doesn't seem convinced that it's a real possibility, though. Maybe he's one of the lucky folks who never struggled with his own identity. Perhaps he has always been secure in his choices.

But many people haven't been so impervious to the slings and arrows of those who would dictate which personalities, preferences, and lifestyles are worthwhile and which are just "hand-wringing." Look--I still cringe a little to admit that my favorite activities include reading and crocheting, because that is SO NOT COOL. Interesting girls don't sit around reading and fiddling with yarn, I think. Interesting girls go sailing, or salsa dancing, or play drums, or at least write for the New York Times.

Being bold and forthright about who I am, whether I feel bold or not, is the best way I've found to dispel my own cloud of insecurity. I can't begin to speak for the writers mentioned in that NYT article, but this is my outlet--this is my flagged mountaintop, my declaration that I may not be one of the cool kids, I may not like any of the right music or hobbies, but that I also no longer feel obliged to feel inferior. Only by examining myself, by being one of the jabbering masses which astonish David Hochman so much, have I become more willing to just BE who I am, and stop trying to gain approval by posing as a cooler person. It really has made me a better person, if by "better" I can substitute "more confident" and "more honest."

And that makes me happier than I was before I started polluting the internets with my self-absorbed hand-wringing. So as the mighty mighty dooce might say, the sneering, smug cool kids who never felt defensive and insecure can GO SUCK IT.