Sometimes when I sit down to write for this blog, there is a moment where I pivot from doing all the things that precede writing (setting up my desk at the library, sending a text, logging into my web editor, setting a timer) into the downward pass of writing. Some days I know somewhat the trajectory before I sit down to work, but many days it's all fog. But as I settle in, I get a back slap that propels me to start typing. It says, "Worry about what to say after you read what you have said." This push is so automatic to me these days, that it is only today that I remember that this diving into the fog on the regular is something I developed when I was still in high school.
My very first blog was called The Cake (I am happy to see the domain go to a more worthy cause). I started it when I was 16. I bought my own domain, learned the very basics of html and got to work. I scanned in pieces of paper to make up the design. Notebook paper for the background. I drew the header in sharpie. I made the entries out to look like yellow sticky notes. It was a great first foray into self-publishing. I did a band of the week feature where I would attempt to describe all my sweltering emotional reactions to the bands whose songs filled my head like mist. I wrote vague confessions of love to vague notions of girls I went to school with whom I knew as little as I knew myself. But for 3 years, I came to the computer once a week or so, to write. And while so much has changed in my life (my location, my heart, and my hairline) well, here I am.
High School was an exceptional time in the range of my perception. I had oodles of self-esteem, I had a strong sense, not exactly of who I was, but of who I was not. I was NOT interested in being traditional, and thus my passion for literature and poetry driven not always by my love of the work but because of what reading difficult things said about me. I was NOT interested in compromising my interests and thus, without shame, I watched anime, played video games, watched foreign films, wrote a blog. I was NOT interested in trying hard at anything I didn't love, and thus lots of art projects in my room, painting picture frames and building weird cardboard sculptures, thus dozens and dozens of poems written for no one in particular, and the occasional C paper in one of my English classes, if I didn't like the book, (despite English being my "thing").
This strong-yet-shallow sense of who I was made me rather fearless. I worked the system of high school so well, that I never dreaded homework so much as I attacked it until it was gone. I usually finished all assignments before school was out. Which left me free. This freedom eventually turned into a rich reading life, a job washing dishes at a local Italian restaurant, a three season track career, and the freedom of play. Which I funneled into writing, because publicly that's who I was, and secretly that's where I reckoned I would figure out who I was.
Sometimes when I didn't have much going on in the way of fanciful crushes or I felt uninspired to add another band to my list, I would sit at the precipice and just go. Mostly what came of it, was experimental prose. I was very into Burroughs and Ginsburg at the time and loved the idea of stream of consciousness. Words and phrases from songs would become chanted mantras in my head, and would spill out onto the sticky note posts.
Stream of consciousness felt true to me when I was young, because I had such a hard time accessing anything past my overflowing emotions. I was unable to contextualize, unclear about what my life was and would be. Blind to what my major insecurities and my minor grievances said about my personality. But the feelings? Oh mannnn did I feel those suckers. And having a place to put them is as important a form of therapy as any. And though I'm not sure if I'm sad to have eventually lost all of those Cake posts or glad not to have to read the deranged nonsense of my formidable confident youth, I am happy I had such a place, and started the habit when I did. Whatever my priorities writing is still important to me. And being read is still second to the work of writing itself.
It is easy to look back with raised shoulders at my high school self, but there is something to that fearlessness of feeling much and knowing little. I can't help but feel just a little wistful in the face of it. Perhaps I didn't know much, but I knew perfectly well, that fear is an option. A very strong, pervasive, and powerful one, but not one we have to give into if we choose.
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