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May 13, 2011

The art project has ended. Officially.

The first online diary I started was in 1998. It was bright pink. Back then I wrote my daily essays using a pseudonym. It was a character I played, no one knew my real name. There were forums and tons of people posted messages but message boards are not quite as personal and direct as blog comments. Here there is no pseudonym, no buffer. The stuff I write on this site is personal. My name is on it. You know what I look like. The comments feel more like a conversation.

Most of the time I love that conversation. I love reading about your lives and kids and dogs and cats and shoes and what you're eating. I adore those comments because they make me feel like I have a social life! Through the blog comments I have learned about all kinds of great products and recipes and websites. I appreciate it and it makes me feel good about life and about writing. I like the way you see the world.

Then there are all the shoulds. You should do this, no you should do that, no you shouldn't clean your house so much, you have OCD and should be on medication, you're an alcoholic and should be at a meeting, you should find Christ, you should buy a new car, you should have a baby, you should leave L.A., you should you should blah blah blah.

It makes me insane. Some folks thrive on that kind of feedback. I do not. It makes me want to stab someone with a knitting needle. It makes me want to end this website and start a new website but with a fake name where I can be free to be myself and not have strangers pee on my cornflakes.

And that is absurd because I already have a great website. And most people who comment are fantastic and I love them. Why should I leave my own house because one or two or 200 people have no filter? This is nuts! So things are changing. Today. Now.

While the rational portion of my brain reminds me people are just trying to be helpful in their own way, and while I constantly remind myself not to be sensitive it isn't working. I am sensitive. The louder part of my brain says SHUT IT DOWN. It's changing the way I write and not in a good way. I self-edit in anticipation of what the naysayers and pickers and pedants will say, sometimes to the point that I give up altogether on a topic and just post a cat picture.

No more. I need to be still and quiet and real and I need to write. That's how I stay sane. In the past month and a half I lost a home, a friend, a lot of money, and now my car. That is a lot of fucking turmoil. It's perfectly normal and natural to be a little fragile when your whole life goes berserk. So listen, I have not handled the recent shoulds all that well. I'm sorry I snapped at people. I know I have been touchy. It's not your fault. This is my responsibility. I made the mistake of letting the comments stand, thinking I could will myself to be a different person that I am. And I didn't set any clear ground rules.

Most days I feel like running off to Mexico to join a cartel and wear billowly MC Hammer Pants and call myself Senorita Gatita. This is a sign that I need to settle down and clear my head. I need time spent in the pure pleasure of writing -- not worrying or defending myself or explaining myself or carefully wording things so that people don't peck at them.

I know other people are awesome at accepting all the advice of the internet. It's just not my strength. That's never going to be my movie. Let's accept it for what it is and move on.

I am no longer going to be the world's largest ongoing communal art project. It isn't working. What does work is this: you share your life, I'll share mine and let's make a pact not to tell each other what kind of car to drive or who to love or where to live or how to worship or where to volunteer. Also, let's all recognize that it's just rude to tell a woman she needs to be medicated because she likes a clean house. That is mad ridiculous, ya'll! Cleaning is great cardio!

The should chapter of this diary is officially over and done. Comments that should me will be deleted and IP addresses will be filtered. I don't need everyone to love me or agree with me or even like what I like. I do need to stop allowing crazyass finger-wagging from people I would not even ask for directions to the store. Like they say, good fences make good neighbors and this is my fence. I'm going to be in a whole new age bracket soon, this is as fine a time as any to start drawing big lines on how I allow people to talk to me.

Wow, I kind of sounded like a badass there. Go me.

And sometimes I may just want to write and not have chitchat, like now, and comments will be closed. That is not a bad thing. Not everything in life has to be a committee vote. Toni Morrison is right, she says each of us needs a place to breathe, a sacred space to cultivate and grow exactly as we wish. This is mine. I want to keep it and not have to run off and join a Mexican drug cartel and assume a new identity. Even though I do secretly think I would look awesome in some MC Hammer pants.

Posted by laurie at May 13, 2011 10:17 PM