on blogging

I’ve thought about starting a blog many, many times.

Truth is, I’ve done more than thought about it. I’ve started half a dozen blogs over the years, beginning with an ill-fated Xanga page back in high school, in which I chronicled my many teenage woes: gossipy girls, cruel boys, and an embarrassing predilection for posting mawkish quotations from young adult fiction.

I also filled out an exorbitant number of surveys. You know, the kind where you have to list your favorite movie, first crush, etc. First of all, it’s embarrassing enough to face-up to such a glaring display of adolescent self-involvement. Did I really think anyone wanted to read about–let alone care about– the minute details of the HoneyCombs I’d eaten for breakfast or my recurring nightmare about peeing my pants while going for a layup in a basketball game? Definitely NOT.

Secondly, back then my friends and I cultivated a brand of humor which at the the time, we thought ironic and hilarious, but in hindsight, was at best silly and at worst, borderline offensive. So a lot of these surveys I filled out tongue-in-cheek: when asked describe my style, I’d say something like “gothic with a heaping dose of clown-shoes and velvet scrunchies.” My ideal mate? “A 300-pound man in a singlet, with a red Kool-Aid mustache”.  We also made an alarming number of gross jokes about pica, “period donuts” (don’t ask), and Meatloaf (the singer, not the food).

All of this would have been fine if it’d been contained to the notes we’d pass during Calculus or our goofy bathroom rendevouz, where instead of smoking or hooking up or doing something actually rebellious, we’d wet wads of toilet paper and throw them on the ceiling, where they’d stick until dropping upon some unsuspecting soul mid-dump. (I realize I’m not painting the best picture of myself here).

But no, I documented it on Xanga. Until I went off to college, and promptly dropped Xanga in favor of newer, exotic forms of communication, like AIM or the brand-spanking-new Gmail. That is, until about a year ago, I decided to Google myself. What did I find but this old Xanga page, staring back at me with its uncouth combo of teenage angst and self-importance, documenting all my teenage foibles for the world to see?

Now again, who cares, right? Like I said–no one is interested in this stuff. Besides, by now most of us have had our fair share of Internet blunders–I’m lucky my trail of Internet shame doesn’t include sex tapes or other illicit acts.  But as a budding scientist, I’ve come to realize the importance of reputation–of creating a “brand”, for lack of a less corporate-y word. And that brand is in your name. Your name is what goes in press releases, on the top of publications, what people search for as soon as they want to determine your credentials. And when you search for my name, you find a Xanga. The worst part is, I tried to delete it–but found that not only did I no longer remember the password, but I’ve long forgotten the email account it was associated with.

So there it stays.

But the real truth is, that long-forgotten blog is less of a source of professional concern than it is a reminder of what I don’t like about blogging. Blogging–and by default, the bloggers who write them–can be so self-absorbed. So damn contrived. So overly-curated. And who needs more of that in this world, where everything from a morning latte to a childbirth is snapped, edited and filtered, and then blasted across the interwebs for all to see. That’s not to say there aren’t some fantastic blogs out there–there are, and I spend (probably way too much) time reading them on the daily. But I just worry that self-involvement that I’ve tried so hard to shed will rear its ugly head, and I’ll say something embarrassing, immortalized on the internet for all time. And of course, there’s always that lingering self-doubt: who cares??

Welp, the truth is, I’m still worried about all those things. But even more, I find that I have a lot to say. And I miss writing. Non-science writing, that is–the kind that actually allows for a little creativity, a self-effacing story, a funny anecdote here and there. So here I am. I’m not really sure what the purpose of this is yet. Entertaining, hopefully.  Goofy, at times. Helpful, maybe, to those women like me, who are trying to kickstart careers, navigate the social pressures of womanhood– marriage, kids, etc.– and still find time just to play.

The only thing I know for sure is that I will be honest. I’ll try not to take myself too seriously. I will probably–ok, certainly–embarrass myself.

So here goes.