“Why are we lining up out here?” I’m introducing my father to Trader Joe’s and I realize there’s just too much to explain to a 93-year old man regarding the cult of shopping at Trader Joe’s supermarkets, and how we need to Share The Road with bikes, and the way a woman who weighs more than a hundred twenty pounds is allowed to announce the news and weather on TV. It’s enough to get him to put on a mask every time we leave his independent living facility, and to bear with me while I check email and social media on my phone every hour – okay, half hour. My dad hasn’t lived on his own since he was in his late twenties and that was back in…the 1950’s? He hasn’t had to deal with the world without the buffer of a wife since he retired back in…the nineties? He needs patience and understanding.
I need patience and understanding. I only just realized nobody writes a blog anymore. It’s all newsletters, and subscriptions and – I’m already nodding off explaining it here. More and more, the world spins an extra time when you’re not paying attention, and catching up requires too much focus and desire. Not only that, but another leap of faith – “oh, we’re doing this now, makes sense (I’ll come to grips with why and how later but for now count me in!)” Like my dad’s insistence on going into a service station to kindly pay for my gas (“But…” I sputter through my mask, “You have to…communicate, with a person! And there might be other people in there—do you really want to y’know, be in a random space with random people, when we can just pop a card in here at the pump?”), my unwillingness to engage with Substack and Patreon (see, I can’t even say the word!) might erode any day now probably right around the point when neither of those platforms will be available to the likes of me any longer (whoops, there went Substack already – see, wait long enough and Blogger starts looking cool again).
Are we not allowed to use the formats that have served us for any length of time without painting ourselves as cranks, or curmudgeons? I never liked the word blog, but I’ve loved putting my writing online since before that word had even been coined. When I think about the subscription idea – my small coterie of readers sign up to hear from me directly and there will be no illusion of posting for public consumption because who’s going to find anything anymore – I feel sad, and hopeless at the futility of it all. I put thoughts out there and if someone stumbles on them and relates, that reader feels less alone and so do I. But if I write for my pre-ordained subscribers, it becomes a performance for a set crowd and I’m right where I always find myself as a musical artist – scrambling to sell tickets. As awful as this pandemic has been, not having to constantly sell myself has been a huge relief and made my life way less stressful than it has been for years. I sleep better, I work on stuff I love: I create, I muse, I write, I record. Now we’re all getting vaccinated and the gigs will start up again and I’ll have to fire up the “Like me!” machine and just thinking about that makes me queasy.
So when it comes to writing my online diary, I’m gonna just keep chugging along like an old man’s dinghy in a stream of sleek, shiny yachts (I have never found a boating metaphor so readily at my fingertips, but now that we have a little boat, I have to bat them away). Those yachts and even a few kayaks will pass and probably look at me pityingly if they notice me at all, but we’re all just trying to get somewhere we don’t need to go but feel compelled to aim for. Like my dad staring down the snack aisle at Trader Joe’s (“I just need some bananas and orange juice”), or pulling out his wallet at the Sunoco,raising his mask and licking his finger to extract a few bills (“No dad – nooooo!”) I’ll be a person out of time, for now anyway.
Pssst – remember I said about the like me machine? I have an online show (maybe the last one before the in-person shows start up slowly?) This Thur Apr 15, 7 pm pst/10 pm est – I’m not going to worry, just enjoy playing and maybe reading some stuff. I may even bust out the new banjo!
And don’t forget, Diary Of Amy Rigby is now available as a podcast HERE.