Getting back into the swing of blogging is hard. It’s very different from the books we’ve been working on, and also from my allegedly “academic” writing for school. After a significant time off, your “blogging muscles” atrophy and it takes a lot of effort to get back up to speed. You can find almost any reason not to work, if you try; once, when we were working on a book, Meg turned to me and asked me if I thought there was an afterlife. I don’t know if she thought she wasn’t long for this world or if it was just the first thing that came into her mind, but the ultimate point is that it’s more fun to confront eternal, nagging, disquieting questions that have haunted mankind since its inception than to dive into a writing project that intimidates you.
Another reason it’s been hard to get up and go on the blog again is that nothing really happens to me anymore. All I do is work on the books, work on schoolwork, watch Maude, and occasionally get falling-down drunk with my Marine friend. It’s not a bad life, but it’s not terribly eventful. I went on a trip to Texas to visit my grandmother, which I enjoyed enormously but isn’t really comedy fodder. Even when we went to a roadhouse called the Hog Pit and saw a transvestite who looked exactly, exactly like Divine, it was still too matter-of-fact to make a blog post out of. I tried very hard to make a post out of my pseudo-graduation trip to Baltimore, but the only good observation was about the Holocaust memorial*, so that was out.
The upshot of all this is, I keep getting one-liners and one-paragraph ideas, but post topics are hard to come by. For example, the other day I was going to the bank, and passed a kid about eighteen – shirtless but wearing black slacks, with a wedge cut, carrying a skateboard. It was like a wet dream I might have had in 1999. I think that’s hilarious because it says a little about me and a lot about how the late nineties warped us all, but I didn’t see a way to expand that into a post without getting into an extreme discussion of Jncos, and I’m saving that for the patriotic slideshow I’m planning for the Fourth of July.
Other issues are hard to expand into full posts because they’re difficult to expand on without becoming offensive, even by our standards. One is my new game, following “From a Block Away, Can You Tell If That Person is a Lesbian or a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy?” and “Are You White Trash or Is Something Wrong with You?” It’s called “Are You Crazy, or Is That Just Your Culture?” I’m sure I’ve already offended someone, but let me explain. My old apartment looked out over the rear area of a Chinese restaurant. One day, two of the women who worked there had lit a bonfire in a metal bin, and were idly conversing while crumpling up stack after stack after stack of shiny gold and silver paper and throwing the papers into the fire. This fascinated me. Both Giant Camel and Ex-Co-Blogger Eddie said, “Oh, it must be some Asian holiday.” Well, probably, yes, but it was still interesting. Likewise, later that week, I saw three people curled up in an unusual posture on the sidewalk. When I got closer, I could see that they were probably Muslims at prayer. I guess more than anything, this is an endorsement of the American melting pot: while we may not be particularly interested in the details, most of us are perfectly willing to accept other cultures, at least passively, and not interfere with their rites, provided they’re not uncomfortably loud or leave a mess on the sidewalk. That said, don’t you think occasionally a batshit immigrant comes over, and their batshittitude gets overlooked because everyone assumes it’s their culture? I think it has to happen from time to time. It also must happen in reverse: imagine a poor immigrant coming to these shores, and the first person they meet owns a traveling reptile show or is an amateur UFC fighter with rickets or a juggalo. Imagine the resulting letters back to Asmara about “what Americans are really like.”
And then, of course, there are the posts I can’t write because they just make me sound like a blithering lunatic, like how talking about watermelon makes me uncomfortable because I think people will think I’m making a racist joke. I don’t at all understand how liking watermelon got to be a racist joke, because a) doesn’t everyone like watermelon? And b) aren’t there significantly more offensive stereotypes about black people?, and the fact that I don’t understand it is what makes me nervous. Several people in my family farmed watermelon and I have a lot of happy memories of getting the melons as a child, but I’m afraid to tell people that because I think they’ll think it’s an elaborate metaphor for segregation. Also in this file is the fallout from the Larry Craig scandal, when a Republican senator from Idaho was arrested for accosting men for sex in a public restroom with hand signals. No news outlet that I saw ever described the signals, so for a time I live in fear that I would turn the water knob in a certain coy way and receive some surprising attention.
The moral of this story, if there is one, is that blogging is hard and I may not be as sane as we’re all polite enough to pretend. In the coming days, look for a terrible recipe, my bucket list, and a leisurely discussion of why it’s fun to go to gay bars with straight people. Also, Meg and I might go to a brewery!
*The Holocaust memorial in Baltimore is a bronze cast of emaciated bodies being consumed by flames. It is, by an enormous margin, the most upsetting public art I have ever seen.