Blogging While Unhappy

by doodaddy on September 14, 2009

People who read blogs — me included — tend to have so many on their lists that no one really misses one that goes dark for a week or four.

I still get e-mails that start out something like "I read your blog every day…" although it’s been weeks since I wrote that often. (Of course, usually these messages continue with something along the lines of "And here’s a product that might interest your readers…" so it’s just possible that they’re not actual fans.)

Anyway, the reason I’m not writing much is simple: I’m not very happy right now.

And bloggers have to be happy, shiny, and funny, right? 

The "things that stress me out" list is large. We’ve moved to a rented house while our too-expensive renovation is underway. And we may be homeless in a month. Fern has discovered the joy of opposition. And I’m finding that my vast elementary teaching experience is not helping even a little as I embark on working with preschoolers. Even the weather is crazy-making — 90-degree Indian summer to thunderstorms to fog in the space of three days.

So the crap level is high, but back in the old days (two years ago, when I started blogging), I would just write through it and feel better. Hell, no one I knew actually read this thing, anyway, so I could go for broke. But I’ve grown up, and now my wife reads the blog (sometimes), and my family too (hi, mom!), and lots more people whom I can actually touch in the real world.

Naturally, several of these people are likely to offer advice.

Ah, advice. I love advice and I hate advice. It’s well meaning, so I have to accept it graciously, and, even worse, it’s sometimes actually helpful. That infuriates me. 

* * *

I have this one friend whose role is to call me out on my shit.

Every time I complain about something, or post a Facebook status about how lonely and persecuted I feel, this friend says something along the lines of "Shut up and stop complaining. Your life is leaps and bounds better than most people’s." Which is true, of course. Not a day goes by without one fantastically beautiful moment like this one:

20090908-121

Or this:

20090904-019

Just last week, I took Fern and a new friend on a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, and their 30-minute nonstop giggle-laden conversation in their adjoining car seats will forever warm the memory stick in my head.

So things are good. And my friend is right, maybe I should look at all my problems and — to quote — "Get. Over. It. Already."

Still, it doesn’t quite ring true to say "Be done with suffering." Challenges are challenges, and pretending they don’t exist just because someone else has it worse is infantile.

So instead I do some projection. This is going to sound insane, but my coping mechanism is to imagine that I am my favorite superhero: Iron Chef Morimoto. I’m chopping and sautéing and broiling, somehow assembling a brilliant meal from gummi bears and goldfish crackers. And the Food Network of my mind surpasses the real show: it includes competitive events like “Clean Up the Bathroom Again” and “Stay Up All Night With a Coughing Child” and, hardest of all, “Don’t Get Snippy With Your Spouse.”

But I need more than my imagination to keep cheerful: I need to write about it. It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness, right? And for me, part of lighting candles has always been to write about things that are hard.

So here goes: I’m back to blogging, even though some of the subject matter isn’t going to be so pleasant. This, despite the paired risks of a) losing all (i.e., both of) my readers to the curse of “this blog is no fun anymore” and b) a shower of well-meaning advice, because for me one of the hardest parts about hard times is not being able to share them out.

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in Blog,Challenges,whining ·

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin September 15, 2009 at 5:43 am

There are a few of us out here that like reading the crappy stuff, it makes us feel better about our own problems! My husband (also a SAHD) stumbled on your blog almost a year ago, after googling “my baby won’t sleep. Ever.” or something like that. We’ve been hooked ever since.

Reply

doodaddy September 15, 2009 at 5:46 am

@Erin – Guess it’s time to update that entry to “My preschooler won’t sleep”…

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Milla September 15, 2009 at 7:25 am

I promise that I’ll read it, how unhappy it may be. Don’t think that your readers are happy everyday, either. So I look foward to it because I was really worrying about what was going on…

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doodaddy September 15, 2009 at 7:28 am

@Milla – Yeah, it’s just that there’s a “happy” bias in these things. Heck, I prefer to read the funny ones, too.

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Xbox4NappyRash September 15, 2009 at 10:36 am

I missed your bits & pieces, I just assumed you were busy.

I must say, I think I blog best when unhappy.

Boo (can’t bring myself to call her anything else yet) doesn’t look babyish anymore!

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doodaddy September 15, 2009 at 10:39 am

@Xbox4NappyRash – And isn’t it weird that we care when we blog “well” or “best” — it’s amazing how quickly we become beholden to an audience that’s 95% in our heads.

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Backpacking Dad September 15, 2009 at 11:06 am

Blogs are dumb, kids are whiny, and people suck.

I may not be in the best blogging place right now myself.

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doodaddy September 15, 2009 at 11:09 am

@Backpacking Dad – Aw, but you keep it moving. Do your kin read your blog?

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Bugfrog September 15, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Look at the popularity of reality TV! Even your worst would be a huge improvement.

Bring it. I dare ya.

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doodaddy September 15, 2009 at 2:45 pm

@Bugfrog – You paint with such a wide brush! We can’t stop watching Wipeout. Something about seeing other people buy themselves a lifelong chiropractic need is immensely compelling.

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Rachael Hunter September 15, 2009 at 7:53 pm

You have brought me so much joy over the past year and a half, I am more than happy to continue reading about your journey, whether it be happy or grumpy! I check every day for an update! Thanks for sharing it all!

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mom, again September 15, 2009 at 9:21 pm

See, this is why I can’t bring myself to blog, sooner or later, people who are mentioned will read it. or worse, people in different parts of my lives will learn more, possibly too much more, about the bits they aren’t part of.

I began one, on LiveJournal, a couple years ago. I put about 3 posts up, but then my daughter found it and critiqued one. I was done. Though she wants me to read hers and make comments so why should I be bothered? I don’t know. But I was.

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Kyddryn September 16, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Late to the party, as usual.

Bring it on, babe. I spend the majority of my days wallowing through a quagmire of fucking misery and am happy to have company. Yeah some people have it worse. I don’t care. I’m too busy living in my own suckage to worry about theirs.

That’s not true. But it’s really kind of pathetic to admit that I regularly cry over other people’s troubles, too.

Some of my family reads my blog. I told them they could, if they wanted, but of they don’t like what they see I don’t want to hear about it. It’s mine, and I’m not writing it for them. Then I started another blog where I write the really crappy stuff, just so I don’t have to worry about it. So…yeah.

Hey, I’m having a less than fantastic night, so I think I’ll just shut up after wishing you good luck…and I hope you find your way through your troubles and onto happier shores. And then throw the rest of us a damn line.

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

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twinbabiesdad September 21, 2009 at 2:08 pm

No advice, just love.
Been a long time since I commented, but I wanted to say, hi, and that I appreciate you and your blog.

Still funny to read everyone’s actual names, though. 😉

-Bri

Reply

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