Last night I was laying in bed, cold as shit because it’s been cold in D.C. and my heater wasn’t working. I don’t sleep that well by default, and when I’m cold it’s especially hard. I started thinking about my friend whose daughter tried to commit suicide by hanging. This led me to imagine accidentally hanging myself. Then I noticed my heart was racing.
This is a thing I’ve always done, imagining terrible things happening to me as I was trying to fall asleep. I told my co-worker about this last one, and she replied, “That’s called anxiety.” I’m thinking about using it as the title of my second book of essays.
Right before telling my co-worker about my night, I was reading about Hillary Clinton’s parental leave plan. Spoiler alert, at least she doesn’t want to create a new Social Security and Medicare style entitlement for it.
Now, sitting down to go to bed, I want to write about it.
I’ve always worked out. In high school I’d jog around my cul-de-sac. In college I’d jog around the hilly campus. Getting my heart racing during the day is the only thing that somewhat works to calm my racing heart at night.
I’ve been thinking about feedback I’ve gotten lately on my public image. People are telling me it’s my fault people associate me with drugs and sex, not political commentary, even though I write about both. And of course my first impulse is to say that’s bullshit. A woman should be able to have sex and do drugs and write about Hillary Clinton’s parental leave plan and be known for all of it. Which is true.
But upon further reflection, there is what is and there is what should be.
I recently got this comment on this here blog:
“I’ve read your work from time to time, and some of it is quite good, especially the stuff with a scope beyond sex, which you say you want to be recognized for. But you have quite clearly put a conscious branding out there, as the person above explains. When you humble brag about your boyfriends and being scary high, expect people to remember that. It doesn’t mean your commentary on other issues isn’t good, or that there’s even anything wrong with your behavior. But branding and image matter. It’s not misogynist for people to point out that your brand is what it is.”
Yep. People are going to notice when I write about my multiple boyfriends or getting high, because people notice and remember the weird shit. I’ve been doing my own weird thing so long I don’t really notice how weird it is.
I have to admit that part of my desire to write about Hillary Clinton’s parental leave plan is me wanting to remind everyone that I can do political commentary. To prove that I’m a complete person, not a walking vagina.
Which then leads me to wonder why I stopped writing so much political commentary. And then I remember. Because writing political commentary for me meant getting paid very little to fight with people I didn’t like. So I stopped writing so much political commentary and starting writing more personal essays.
The commenter is right, except for this part: “But you have quite clearly put a conscious branding out there.”
This person gives me WAY too much credit.
I just want to write about stuff I think is interesting in a way that is entertaining and helps people feel less alone. I don’t know what that is supposed to look like.
I’m not just personally offended that someone would seek to dismiss my intellectual contributions because I write about sex sometimes. I also think it’s bullshit in a larger sense. It’s bullshit women have to put up with when they put their thoughts out there and I’m not going to victim blame them, or stand idly by while other women try to shame them for failing to figure out how to walk that tightrope to a million different prudes’ satisfaction. If you’re a woman and you want to be taken seriously, you must be pretty, but not sexual. The line between pretty and sexy isn’t clear, of course, but if you cross it you’re a slut who doesn’t deserve to be listened to. Fuck that noise. This kinda shit is exactly why the world needs more sex-positive feminist market anarchism.
At the same time, it’s exactly this kind of shit that makes me want to write funny essays about my dating fuck ups. The world is a dark place. Injustices abound. I’m not good at cool indifference. I’m tired of fighting with people I don’t like. And I’m not getting paid anything to do it now.
I don’t know how to finance writing what I want to write about. Looking around, it seems that to be a successful writer it helps to have to have a successful personal brand but even though marketing is my full-time job I have no idea how to brand myself. I have no idea how people see me.
This evening I went to the gym. I lifted weights, comparing myself to the hottest women. When I got on the treadmill I remembered that I’m not there to look like them. I’m there so I can sleep.
At some point last year I realized I could just lift weights and stay skinny. So I quit running. Then my anxiety came back and I remembered why I always ran. It wasn’t to stay skinny. It was to stay sane-ish.
I just want to write. I just want to sleep. I have no idea what I’m doing. There is no master plan, except to keep running and keep writing and try to get 10,000 subscribers because I think that will mean money and keep running because that usually means sleep.
Beyond that though, I have no idea.