Thursday, July 26, 2007

Not a break-up, just a break

Dear Internet, I kind of need to break up with you. Or, maybe not a break-up, just a break. For a couple of weeks, to clear my head so I can figure out what's important to me. It's not your fault, Internet, it's nothing you've done, it's me. You make me kind of insane. Love, Dorothy

So, as you may have noticed, I haven't written very much on this thing recently. For a while, I was blaming the lunacy that is school, but it's almost August, so I feel like that explanation probably can't be leaned on right now. I think, actually
, it was a bunch of stuff -- sudden concern about the privacy thing, energy expended on writings elsewhere, and generally getting out of the habit. But, now, I'm going to use this final (-ish, for a while, oh hell, I'll probably be back in a month) post to talk about why I need to break up with the Internet.

It occurred to me today as I was sorting through worm poop -- a hazard of the whole 'compost your own vegetable waste' thing -- that I spend a quite substantial portion of my awake hours consuming media that has no direct bearing on my life. I know this isn't a particularly new revelation -- not everyone who buys Vogue is a skinny billionairess, not everyone who reads Pitchfork has an annoying complete music collection, they're about fantasy, they're (made-up word alert) aspirational -- but the particulars of my own reading habits hit me upside the head this afternoon. Perhaps it was the poignant contrast with the poop. Every day, barring electrical catastrophe or errant delivery person, I read The New York Times, New York Magazine, the New York Observer, and I frequently read Time Out New York. What city do I live in? You guessed it. Not New York. A quite reasonable 2 hour MetroNorth commute away, but still. Why do I know how much an apartment in Boerum Hill costs? Why do I care?

I also read Gawker, which is about publishing -- a field I am not in, and Defamer, which is about Hollywood -- again, not so much. The only Gawker media blog I can legitimately claim as my own, is Jezebel, but then again so can 51% of the population. There was a whole thing today about single women's refrigerators, which I followed (don't ask me why) through several websites, culminating in my realization that: I have a very full refrigerator. And I'm married. And I've never been a single, living-alone adult, so I have no idea what I'd eat under those circumstances. My default guess is Popeye's fried chicken and lemon ginger tea, but, who knows? Also, related to above, who cares?

Also, while I'm double-decker navel-gazing -- see, I'm looking into my own navel as an individual, but I'm also looking into the navels of blogs while I blog, ooooh -- there's the whole consumption thing. Which is I think where Jezebel gets me down. I really don't go shopping very much. I would like to. I like clothes. Every time I go into a New York city clothing store, I touch lots of things and imagine a life in which I could wear them and then leave, in my flipflops, empty-handed. Stuff's expensive, and I feel like even if I could afford one shirt or dress or whatever, it would just sit in my closet, because the life I live takes place quite efficiently in jeans and t-shirts. But I read magazines, because they're wicked fun and I read blogs and all of a sudden, much like New York real estate and nanny trends, I know all about Kiehl's and Phillip Lim and things which, really, am I ever going to purchase? Unlikely. But I know. Daily Candy's in my brain, telling me when the Catherine Malandrino sample sales are, despite the fact that the last clothing purchase I made was at the Salvation Army. This is why I freaked out at the end of Friends with Money, when Jennifer Aniston's in bed with the dude and he says that he wants to buy nice furniture, but he doesn't know where to go, and she says "I know where." Even though she's a school teacher (and then a maid), she's been sitting on the knowledge of where to buy nice furniture for years. Which is why she goes to the makeup counters and steals all the little free samples and -- okay, look, if you haven't seen this movie, go do it, because it's fantastic, and it's also a more eloquent and funnier exploration of what I'm trying to get at here. Whew. Anyway . . . .

As I sifted through the poop, thinking about what was on my agenda for the day -- take down laundry, drive BH to the train station, yoga, make the no-knead bread dough, so there will be bread tomorrow -- and what was in my brain's repository of knowledge, I felt totally weird. I have somehow acquired information and opinions for an alternate life, a life that, if I were slightly different I would be leading. Same age, same demographic, same college degree -- but instead of making the many bizarre decisions I've made, I would have instead moved to New York and gotten a job in publishing. And I'd live in Brooklyn. And I'd eat out a ton. And I'd buy clothes at little boutiques with handmade sparrow appliques on them. And have bangs. And I'd know the people who were snarked about. Maybe I'd even be a professional snarker, who knows? But I chose differently. I didn't want to do that or be that. I chose the not-money, not-glamor path, I chose the cook-a-big-pot-of-chicken-and-rice path, I chose the dog and the garden and the sneakers, so why am I spending several hours online imagining I did otherwise?

Who knows? Maybe simple escapism, the same reason people put on pleather jumpsuits and play Second Life. Maybe just to keep tabs. And maybe, since it's ultimately all funded by advertising, it's all aspirational: I (in some, until recently unconscious part of my brain) want to be the chick in publishing, she wants to be her boss, her boss wants to the people they profile and nobody likes her shoes or her haircut or her handbag, so we all just keep wanting up and the late capitalism schooner stays afloat.

I guess the other answer is that I could read things more accurately geared at myself, but I don't really know what that is. Bust gets on my nerves, for reasons previously discussed, and I feel like any sort of neo-hippie homemaking blog, where they talk about things like composting and making bread is likely to be so self-righteous as to make me vomit. I mean, essentially, all I'm looking for is a magazine/ website that's Catholic, feminist, celebrity-obsessed, anti-capitalism, pro-shopping, completely irreverent, wickedly funny, featuring 10 new recipes, and amazing clothes under $100. And it has to update frequently. And have dog-training tips. And will tell me what my next haircut should be. That's all.

So, if you have any suggestions, please send them my way. Otherwise, I'm going to try and take a break from the web for a while. See if my self-esteem and perspective cells grow back. . . besides, you know who I haven't seen in a while? TV. I bet TV will totally help with all this . . .