The View From Here

March 17, 1998
  Self-evaluation time. I look at my posting track record over the last few months and come to the conclusion that, yes, I must be boring. I mean, in February I managed all of one entry, fer Chrissakes. How pathetic is that? Answer: very.

I look at other journal-ers (Not "-ists." Never "-ists." I used to be one of those, and it's an entirely different animal.) out there and I feel lacking somehow.

  • There's Firedrake, with her scintillating tales of how short her hair is today, daily bike rides to Bethesda Avenue for bagels, the beer du jour, and her curious road-kill count.

  • And her sister-in-counting, Elly of the "What the fuck is that all about?" Fly Count, with her daily soap opera of her relationship with the fiancee she's never met, the goofy award du jour, the exploits with her son her parents are raising, and, of course, the near-daily drama of the slings and arrows of outrageous criticism of her outrageous site.

  • And then there is (or was) Uncle Buck, who thrilled us all with his evolution from a typical frat guy to a typical frat guy trying to be sensitive and damned determined to go down in history doing it.

  • And assorted others who all manage to post about 49 times per month.
I compare myself to these fine, regular folks and I feel lacking. And then I realize that it's not that I'm lacking, it's that I'm overburdened. I'm too discriminating in what I share here. All this time I've been trying to write each entry as a self-contained unit, an essay of sorts with a beginning, middle and end. I haven't wanted to ramble on with a blow-by-blow description of each day, replete with diaper changing reports and what I had for lunch and what socks I put on this morning. Damn me, I've tried to be interesting.

Well, no more. Starting today... No, check that. Nothing starts today; we continue on with business as usual. I'll keep trying to post interesting, well-crafted, perhaps amusing entries on an extremely irregular basis. I'll keep feeling my usual self-imposed pressure to post something, but true to form, I'll probably avoid it and promise myself "Tomorrow." (Egads, he's quoting show tunes! Can the Rapture be far behind?) But I do admire these folks' regularity -- and I say that as a member of the audience, not as a proctologist.

You think, perhaps, that I'm mean spirited in citing these sites thusly. Well, maybe. I don't intend to be, but sometimes I just can't help it. It's in my nature. I read them semi-regularly with much the same motivation that you rubberneck at a freeway accident. You don't want to look, you don't particularly enjoy it, but you look anyway. And what I come away with from each of these is not a sense of superiority as you might expect, but rather one of puzzlement that these scribblings (peckings?) are proffered on a near-daily basis as though they were deep, meaningful essays on the human condition.

Wait. Hold on a second. Hmmm... I just read over that last paragraph. Yes, I'm being mean spirited. Oops, sorry about that, kids. I'm not going all Rush Limbaugh on you, I'm just saying that I don't get it, and I especially don't get why these sites earn their kudos. But as the guy in the porn shop always tells me (with an entirely different subtext), "Different strokes for different folks."

But let's switch gears now. Enough negativity. If I'm going to throw brickbats from on high, it's only fair that I counter that by citing a few sites that I like. (There's that "-ist" training in action; always trying to strike a balance, if not craft a finely honed sentence.) I don't want you people thinking I'm a total asshole, after all. Just a partial one. (FYI, I just spared you from a truly heinous proctologist joke. You're welcome.)

So. What journals do I like? These:

  • Dear Jackie Robinson. This is probably my favorite of the ones I read. Not because she shares my wife's name, but because I like the way she thinks and writes. I like what she writes about, and while it's usually a blow-by-blow detail of her day, it's written well, it's entertaining. And she doesn't take this whole online journaling thing too seriously.

  • Words. This guy kills me. Almost without fail, there's something in every single entry that I either read to Beth if she's nearby or tell her about later. I love his sarcastic sense of humor. He's so good, I don't even mind that he lives in Canada. And he doesn't take this whole online journaling thing too seriously.

  • Heinovision. I guess there's no way to honestly comment on Alan's site without admitting that I find him (or, rather, his journal) disturbing. I'd like to phrase that more delicately, but the truth of the matter is that I find a kind of twisted elegance in what he writes and that's due in large part, I think, to the fact that his reality is so different from mine. Usually. I also happen to think he's one hell of a writer, even if he doesn't. Alan seems to generate a lot of heat from other journal-ers; I can only surmise that it's from people who (all together now!) take this whole online journaling thing too seriously. I say fuck 'em. They can stop reading him. I won't.

  • The Paperwork. Diane's is one of the first journals I read. In fact, hers inspired me to start this one. I can't quite put my finger on why I like it, but that fact that she's a fellow writer is part of it. Reading it, I get the sense that I know her, almost as though we're old friends who just haven't crossed paths for awhile. I know that sounds borderline nutso, but there it is. I feel a kinship with her, even though we've never met. (No, I'm not stalking her. At least not this week.)
So there you have it, my grand pronouncements of what's good and what ain't. IMO, YMMV, etc... I have no idea why I wrote this; I was planning something completely different and this is what came out. But there it is. Fans line up to the right, please, detractors to the left. Me, I'll be lounging over here wondering what all the ruckus is about. After all, I don't take this whole online journaling thing too seriously...

On tap for tomorrow -- or perhaps sometime in 1999, depending on when the guilt grows too crushing and I get around to it -- is (or might be) what was supposed to be on tap for today: Brushes With Greatness. Teaser: Beth refers to Cliff Robertson as an "aging queen."

Copyright © 1998
Chuck Atkins