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.