Monday, March 14, 2005

“In my case, self-absorption is completely justified.”

The Movie: Laura, 1944 (Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein and Betty Reinhardt, screenwriters, from the novel by Vera Caspary; Otto Preminger, dir.)
Who says it: Clifton Webb as waspish columnist Waldo Lydecker
The context: Lydecker rudely rebuffs Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney), who interrupts his lunch to introduce herself.
How to use it: To defend your narcissism.

Blogging's a narcissistic exercise, but so much writing -- or painting, or singing, or performing of any kind -- is. "I have something to say" might as well be "I have something I want you to pay attention to," and it's forced me to recognize some seriously unpleasant aspects of my own character.

Last night, for example, I got a note from a friend I hadn't talked to in a while, asking what was new, and my first thought was, "Don't you read my blog??" Disgusting, even though (in my own defense) I'm on deadline, and feeling acute anxiety about not being able to do everything anyone asks me to do the very moment they ask me to do it. (This anxiety, which never really goes away, is probably why I live alone.)

The people who read blogs tend -- for the most part -- to be other bloggers. I have about half a dozen I check every day. We wind up referencing each other's blogs, in a process that I'd love to call conversation but feels more like being part of a circle of mirrors.

One of the blogs I used to check every day was Ayelet Waldman's. Ms. Waldman, whom I've never met, writes the very entertaining Mommy-Track mysteries, is married to the author Michael Chabon, practices law, and has four children aged 10 and under. She also reads at least as much as I do, and posts her reading list to her blog monthly. I used to read her blog and wonder where her energy came from -- how it was possible for her to do so much, when I could barely keep my own life in order.

Ms. Waldman quit blogging abruptly about a month ago, and explains why in today's issue of Salon. She'd mentioned it in the blog, but it wasn't until one of her last entries that I realized where all the energy came from: she has bipolar disorder, and it wasn't being very well controlled. She stopped blogging after a swing into near-suicidal depression.

I'm not sure what point I'm trying to make here, other than to remind myself (once again) that it's always a mistake to look at anyone's life and think they're better off than I am. I whine a lot on this blog, because that's what it's here for -- but things are pretty good.

And I'm still on deadline.


Madley said...

Thank you for some of that good ol' perspective you always seem to have! Sometimes I too can get down on myself for not being able to manage my very small, very single, very indulgent-seeming life w/ a very old blind dog...

I love your two lists, BTW -- and even love it more that your dad writes you on your blog! I don't seem to be able to get more than 3 dislikes or likes together at one time -- maybe next time. :)

AnswerGirl said...

Three's a good, moderate number... I always go to extremes. ("The paths of excess lead to the palace of wisdom. William Blake." -- Annie Savoy in "Bull Durham.")

Aldo said...

I love reading your blog Clair.

AnswerGirl said...

Thanks, Aldo! Your blog is one of the few things that can make me homesick for Los Angeles...

Ayelet Waldman said...

Hey Answer Girl...I liked the post. And all is under control, now. For the moment. Keep writing.