Switching Gears & Changing Lanes

I recently came across saved copies of some blog posts I’d written in 2009, when I was mired in a deep quagmire of personal disasters. Life, as they say, had handed me lemons. Shit… a whole damn grove of lemon trees.

In March of that year, I had been downsized during the worst point of the recession, and despite my best efforts, remained unemployed with no job prospects; I’d also recently ended a romantic relationship, and was living out of my car while sleeping on a friend’s couch.

I drank. A lot.

As I floated through the boundless expanse of my quarter-life crisis, I didn’t really have much else to do except turn up a bottle of Jack Daniels and spew my half-coherent opinions into the aether.

This was a time in my life when I was seriously contemplating uprooting from midtown Atlanta, moving to rural Alabama or somewhere similar, living in the trashiest trailer park I could find, making friends with all the residents, and writing a book about it. I imagined it being part investigative report, part dark comedy, part feel-good narrative about the rural South.

Hell, some of my friends told me to go for it.

I’m not gonna claim I was the next Hunter S. Thompson or anything. The stuff I wrote I certainly wouldn’t win any awards, nor earn me a publishing deal, and the word “fuck” was occasionally used in place of punctuation — but it was actually pretty funny.

Look, I don’t fancy myself a comedian or nuthin.’ In fact, usually when I find something I wrote a million years ago, I always end up reading it with a little bit of cringe. (For a real “dafuq was I thinking?!” moment, or fifty of ’em, try reading the journal you kept in college.) I don’t know how published authors do what they do… get to the point where they feel their work is ready to be permanently stamped onto sheets of dead tree. I’m always seeing how I could have worded something better or turned a phrase more eloquently, or… just… not been so much of a dipshit, I guess.

So when I say I thought my writing was funny, I’m not tooting my own horn — I think I’m my own worst critic. As I revisited my old memories, I was sitting there in total bewilderment, like, “Well damn, where did THAT person go? What happened?”

What happened? Well, I finally got a job and had to quit drinking so fucking much.

(But I’d moved to New Orleans by that point, so in reality I didn’t have to quit drinking that much. Now I live in Jacksonville, where “because it’s Tuesday” isn’t an excuse to close the office and day drink on the neutral ground. My brain misses that, but my liver, wallet, and waistline are like, “Nah. Stay the hell in Florida, asshole.”)

Eventually I really wanted to start writing again, and thought I would try to do so in a relatively sober fashion. If you’ve been keeping up with my blog (which probably means we’re related somehow or have been friends for a long time), you can probably tell I’ve clearly been trying to “find my voice” again.  When I rebooted my blog, I told myself: no more late night booze-fueled rants! I’m gonna write about age-appropriate topics, and people will take me seriously.

Yeah, well… as it turns out, that shit is boring AF. That’s clearly evident as I read over what I’ve posted in the last 2 years.

I’ve always wanted to make people laugh. I like when I do make them laugh, and frankly it surprises me every time they’re not laughing at me. But sometimes that’s okay too. I try not to take myself too seriously either.

Attempting to take myself seriously meant that instead of writing the way I actually talk, with all of the slang, redneck-isms, and “fucks” interspersed ever so delicately (’cause I’m fuckin’ classy) — which are the things people seem to find amusing — I’ve been writing the way I think a “serious” blog would sound. Sure, it winds up mostly free of grammar errors / made up Southern idioms, and scrubbed clean of all the words that would make your granny try to wash your mouth out with soap… but it’s about as interesting as a kitchen appliance manual.

I don’t want my blog to read like I’m narrating a PBS documentary instead of talking about my own life. I don’t want to come off as pretentious or ingenuine ungenuine disingenuous (thanks for nothing, spell check). Keeping up an internet ‘persona’ is high maintenance and frankly too damn exhausting, and ain’t nobody got time for that. Sure, maybe this internet-me is good at “adulting,” never forgets dirty dishes in the sink overnight, always puts the preposition before the end of a sentence, never hides in the bathroom and looks at Instagram during awkward social situations… But that person just ain’t me.

I’m going to start trying to write more naturally, and even let myself have a beer or whatever if that’s what I need to put myself in a writing kinda mood. Maybe I get this blog off the ground for real this time.

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