Monday, April 27, 2015

Mid-2000's Blog Nostalgia

     Hello again, after yet another long hiatus.
     I have spent the last couple of weeks reading all of the archives of this blog. This was one of my procrastination projects (the thing you do when you just don't feel mentally ready to study for finals, when your brain shuts down the second you look at words like "hearsay" or "market definition.") The reason I read every single post on this blog from 2005 to 2014 was to make sure there was nothing objectionable or overly embarrassing on here, things I wouldn't want legal employers to read. For example, when I dreamt only of being a botanist and imagined that therefore, no one would care what I had to say on the Internet (unless it was climate change denying or that I spray glyphosate on windy days), I became very angry at one of my state representatives for his stance on marriage equality, and I wrote something rude about it on this here blog. (It's depublished now.) It was not well-reasoned or well-written, no legal argument, just rude words. A law school friend told me that the presence of this post on the Internet would not hurt me, that employers might admire my early passion for the law, but I think that would only be the case if I had made an argument and also not used rude words. So, that was hastily de-published.
     Another sort of thing I edited (so much for authenticity) and de-published were the multitude of mentions of my dating and drinking life. I kept thinking, "Why did Sarah of the mid-to-late-2000's write this?" First of all, it was no one's business. Second, it was worse than the truth! It was hyperbolic--I wasn't some lush stumbling around day drinking and tripping and laughing about it. Why was I writing these exaggerated accounts that made me look ridiculous and imprudent?
Because I was going through my chick lit phase! The blog originally started as practice for writing a semi-autobiographical semi-fictional account of early 20's life, sort of like the chick lit I read at the time, but with also a literary bent and penetrating satire like maybe I could also be a modern-day George Eliot or Jane Austen (if Maggie Tulliver had access to jello shots???? Jane Eyre on OKCupid?????) and as a result, this was the life material from which I was drawing, and it also made sense to exaggerate it for comedic effect. I was making fun of myself, and I had different concerns then.
     I left up quite a few silly posts, such as the The Dollar Word Chronicles and the time I accidentally flirted with a homeless man that I thought was my now-husband. (In my defense, he was in front of my at-the-time boyfriend's house and they had the same jacket! In my non-defense, he was going through the recycling. Well, there, now you know the whole story.)  And as much as they embarrass me now, I didn't de-publish some of the unfunny, non-narrative stuff I wrote over the years about feelings.  Whenever I was changing jobs or moving, these sorts of things would come up.  Even though they give me a bit of a shame hangover, I left them up.  Ditto for things I wrote where I can see I was trying to be funny, but now I read them and think, "What a lame person."  Other things like that, things that show my faults, but not any particular imprudence or poor decision-making.  These things I left in place, because at some point it occurred to me that I'm probably among my harsher critics.  These things that I see and think, "What a loser," might be the things that my friends see and think, these are the flaws and quirks that make this person relatable and likeable.
      This whole process felt, at times, like too much navel-gazing.  It was weirdly self-absorbed.  On the bright side, I think it helped me write some cover letters!  Remembering things like, that's right, I was always interested in ______My concern for (____ social issue) goes back a long way!  Another benefit was getting reminded of recipes I meant to try and never did as well as recipes I made years ago, loved, and forgot about (why don't I make mujadara anymore?); interesting articles that were still interesting upon rereading; and blogs I used to follow and love and stopped following with both the death of Google Reader and my law school-era switch from blogs to podcasts.
     A side note on that: at some point, probably in 2013, I stopped reading so many blogs, just completely fell behind on the blogs I'd been following some of them since college, and began listening to podcasts the way I used to read blogs.  It started because I could listen to them when I went running or walking, and then I liked them so much, the same way I liked blogs, that I began finding ways to listen to them whenever I could, like while doing chores.  At some point I realized that podcasts had completely replaced blogs in my life, and at least in the first year of law school (when even the best time managers are faced with an overwhelming time management challenge) this was just because I had less time to read blogs, or so I thought--any sitting time where I could read would be for textbooks--leaving only the time where I was doing things I must do (such as walk to class) and could not possibly read a textbook, that was the time I had for podcasts.
     One of the results of this project is that I have resolved to once again make time for blogs, my favorite kind--the literary, narrative kind, the ones with stories--and to do what I always intended to do which is go way back to the very beginning of their archives and read from start to finish!  Instead of mindlessly scrolling through Facebook in the mornings, this is what I will do!  I started today!  Would you like to know what I am reading?  Vespa Vagabond, Remember (a blog that was something else, like Domestic PDX, when I first started reading), and Orangette (a food blog, but one that tells stories.  I listen to the Spilled Milk podcast every week, and now it's time to start reading her blog again.)
     Why was I doing this?  Why did I embark on this long introspective project?  Because with two other law students, I've started a constitutional law blog.  Well, "started" is open to interpretation.  We have had a name picked out for over a year.   It came to me one day, a flash of inspiration in the first row of Classroom 1E while my Constitutional Law professor was lecturing.  I think it may have been one of the two days I said anything in class, the day I for some reason asked a statement-question as to why we have intermediate scrutiny (when in my opinion, it's subject to stereotypes being dressed up as "scientific facts of biological differences") or strict scrutiny or any scrutiny, why not equality all around, blah blah blah blah blah rant rant rant with an insincere question mark at the end?  The gender and law blog I'd had in mind for quite some time, something that would address the same issues as the feminist blogs I used to love and stopped loving, but in a different (and let's face it, possibly boring) way.  In my dream, this blog would present the facts, just the facts, or any facts that were unclear but with a statement that they were unclear, and then the law behind whatever was happening (instead of leaving it at, "this law sucks, these legislators want to control my uterus," some background in constitutional law and whatever else was applicable, explaining why and how this law was being proposed, and if it's unconstitutional, why it is, not just that it sucks because men don't have uteruses and there are too many white males in charge of us, their misogyny a rebuttable presumption but a presumption nonetheless, and also, religious people, their intolerance a rebuttable presumption but a presumption nonetheless.)  (That parenthetical is possibly more opinionated than I expect the blog to be.  But we'll see; I think my opinions will come out despite my best efforts.  I just hope to present them in a tolerant and open-minded way.)   The idea is to provide readers with information, not just opinion, and enough information to make up their own mind, not just fill them with righteous indignation.  This will give them the tools to, if they wish, do something about the issue.  I hoped to get behind the issues, to scrutinize them.  Since I intended to focus on gender issues, the name for this blog would be the standard of scrutiny applied to gender discrimination in constitutional law.  The name for this blog is Intermediate Scrutiny.
     (Another side note:  As this blog materializes, we may not be entirely limited to the application of constitutional law to gender issues.  There are three writers, and all three of us are interested in a multitude of constitutional and legal issues.  Sometimes, a narrow focus is better than being all over the place, but at this point, I don't see a reason to limit ourselves.)
     Shortly after, I excitedly announced my plans to a classmate with whom I often discussed constitutional law.  At some point, it was agreed upon that we would do this project together.  We talked about it on and off for an entire year.  It never materialized.  We were too busy!  Then one day this spring, in a different constitutional law class, I decided NOW IS THE TIME.  WE ARE MAKING THAT BLOG.  It will stop being just an idea.  It needs to be real RIGHT NOW.
     At this point, there were only two writers.  We resolved that we would tell our favorite professors, but that we would also wait until after we had some actual content on the blog.  We both broke that resolution, I believe the same afternoon that we made it.  Now that we had told our professors, we were locked in.  We had to follow through.  I set up a Blogger account.  I set up a Gmail account.  We drafted some posts.  Finally, this weekend, my husband designed our masthead and layout, and I threw up a temporary "Coming soon, we have finals" post.  The third writer joined us this weekend, too.
     Since Google no longer shows me posting as "botanylicious," but as Sarah Kelsey, and since we told our professors and others about Intermediate Scrutiny, it occurred to me that my personal blog would be linked to this account, all the dumb stuff I wrote in college and beyond linked for all my law school world to see.  That is why I went through the entries on this blog.  It seemed more likely now that someone might actually find this blog and the more imprudent posts, and not only did I not want that affecting my reputation, but I also didn't want that affecting the reputation or credibility of our new blog project!
     (It really wasn't that scandalous.  It can mostly be summed up as, "Omg, I'm 21, my friends and I went to a bar!  Someone said something silly and someone else tripped! HAHAHAHAHAHA!  Everything is funny and fun!  Someone spilled a drink!  HAHAHAHA!  There was a dog at the bar!  What was he doing there? HAHAHAHAHA!" and that little diversion where I got angry at a state representative.  Since these posts weren't even that funny, I took a "better safe than sorry" approach to de-publishing.)
     Another realization that came out of this project, in addition to how much I like reading narrative blogs, was how much I sometimes liked writing one.  There are a few golden periods in the archives, in 2010 and 2011 and a little of 2012, and many of my best posts were written while I was also overwhelmed with graduate school (not law school, an unfinished MPA program) and balancing graduate school with work and adult life.  The point is, I was busy then, too, but I made time to write, and at some point I observed that it was making me a better writer of things I had to write.  Writing "for myself," as some people call it, made writing for others easier.  I spent less time staring at blank screens while writing for school or work.  It was easier to get started, easier to find the words I needed, and easier to convey complicated ideas clearly.  What may have seemed like a self-indulgent hobby had some productive value.  So maybe I should try it again.
     I jotted down a few ideas, before starting this post (okay, okay, it was an outline), but this post has gotten long enough.  Plus, I have to study for my Evidence final.  They were "people might want to know what podcasts, so list them," "law school thoughts--the inevitable 'should I really be here?' crisis and its resolution (answer: yes)", and "green mango and green papaya."  The latter is about, along with this mid-2000's blog nostalgia, rediscovering my mid-2000's cookbook collection.  I've started making things out of an out-of-print cookbook series I discovered in college, Delightful Cookbooks by Eng Tie Ang.  If you can find cheap copies of these on Amazon, I highly recommend it, but that's a post for another time.  I won't promise "more on that later," because as I learned from reading ten years' worth of my own blogging, most of the time when I make that promise, the "more later" never materializes.  I will tell you about my first foray into cooking with green papaya and green mango later...I hope.
     And please check out our new blog, Intermediate Scrutiny!  You don't have to like con law to like it!  If you have a suggested topic for us, please send us an e-mail, or if there is a topic that you'd like us to illuminate (why is ___ constitutional issue the way it is?), e-mail us about that too!  Although we do have some ideas for post topics, I'd love to get ideas from readers as to what they really want to hear about.

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