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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Blogging the American Dream

I've been going through all my email, trying to clean and purge and organize. Email is a little easier to keep clean than the five bathrooms in this house, so I feel a real sense of accoplishment when I flush away the unwanted messsage crap, and it doesn't leave a nasty stain I have to scrub away with a pumice stone.

I try to delete as much old email as I can, but I put the stuff I really like into folders marked "personal." Some prolific friends even have their own little folder.

Last year, before I started blogging, I wrote a lot of email to friends chronicling my hopes and dreams for the day, the week, the month, the year. I saved some of them, as a kind of diary, since I had a lot going on last year. It's a little weird reading all those emails now.

Emails to friends are different than blog posts. Blogging is much more public, and controlled. Perhaps email should be, but it just seems like talking on the phone to me. I know it's technically public, but it seems private.

Who really cares about the little mundane, everyday things you write to your friends privately, in email day in and day out? Is anyone really going to hack into my personal email to read about my friend's new puppy, or look at my kid's teacher's "What's happening in 3rd grade this week" note?

I have a friend who built a new house last year, and we wrote a lot of emails to each other about picking out the colors of tile and paint and floors. We were giddy about her new kitchen cupboards. We love how they close themselves eloquently with a mere, soft, one-fingered touch.

Here's my big, deep, profound quote about kitchen cupboards:

"It's a short life, and it's really, really cool to have cupboards that close with a touch. I mean, really, it is cool."

My friend wondered if she was being silly to spend so much of her day thinking about this stuff and worrying about little things like the best shade of green for her bathroom.

Of course I told her it wasn't silly, it was her life. And further more, for some odd reason, I was interested in hearing about the little things in her life, because I think she's interesting, and she likes to hear about my life, and that's why I hang out with her.

So why do we blog for strangers and read stranger's blogs? Blogs are little peices of personal real estate; little houses we build, and live in, and show off to anyone who wants to look. Blog worlds are like the pictures of clean houses in magazines: a stylized version of real life. We like to look in the windows of other people's houses, to see how they live.

We like to live in our blog world when we can, it's our chosen home with nifty push-button cupboards. It's a story, in words and pictures, of our hopes and dreams. A controlled story. A public story.

But the best blogs are filled with authentic stories. The cool bloggers are transparent. They let you see their real lives, their real houses, even their junk drawer and cluttered garage, if they have one.

Because a new puppy and third grade are interesting, in their own way, if a writer can capture the reasons and present a clean, clear picture of why. We like to read about the American dream, so we know what it looks like when we see it.

4 comments:

Lost in Montana said...

the american dream, eh? i don't know much about that - but i know a little bit about my own dream. and i'll get around to that sooner or later...
the American Dream sounds to me way too political. Like, everyone in America has the same dream and we all know that this is so untrue.
Southern American Dreamers may dream about grits and george w and oil and sweet tea and driving around in pickuptrucks. the Eastern American Dreamers may be all about n.y. or boston or Jersey - or perhaps the perfect crab from maine. SouthWesterm dreamers want a nice rain, a weekend in Taos and not as many snow birds taking up the good land. NorthWestern dreamers perhaps want a good pair of shoes, some blue sky and less californicating.
Here in Bigfork the dream is much more simple. i long for Spring to arrive so my girls can play outside and shake out the cabin fever. i hope the bears sleep in this season so i don't have to worry about what goes in my garbage can and i hope they won't be too hungry for 5 or 9 year old little snacks. i dream that my husband will be more romantic this year, that maybe we'll actually have more than one semiannual "date." i dream that i'll find a job that i like, that i'm good at, and that makes me feel cool enough to be Julie's friend.
Fawn may be cool enough to follow in her footsteps - even though you may think that Lane Bryant girls might not do those kind of things... i'm with you on that notion. the question is, do you want to impress her for some particular reason? Is running the dirty half worth the thousands it would cost for knee replacement? Is the running away from something? That's why i dont run...for me it's completely symbolic. I have run away from stuff my entire life - i've decided that not running is action enough for me. i'm taking a stance. i'm being still. i'm listening for that still quiet voice. so far, i haven't heard a word.

Vhiel Romion-Vance said...

I love your postings here..

would you like to trade links with me?

Thanks
Vhiel

Can of Thoughts
Anything and Everything in Between

Deby said...

Beautiful and well said! That must be why I enjoy blogging so much.

And for the record, I long for new kitchen cupboards myself that can close with a finger. (sigh) Someday.

Miss Julie - Chubby Mommy said...

Dear Lost: you are cool enough.