Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Compare and Contrast

Some of the joys of having an 86 year old mother? Astute commentary like, "I think the internet is a silly, dangerous place and I hope it never catches on..." and "What the hell is a plog? Do you get paid for it?" (Um, no.) Mom grew up during the Depression and WWII and even then, because of the lack of information, the world didn't seem to be such a scary place. It was though, for sure. Any time that birthed Hitler was indeed a freakish era. But who knew? You could indulge in the blissful ignorance of wooly eyed pragmatism.

Cut to today, and there are obviously a trillion ways to get bombarded with news and bullshit from all angles. I try to stay away from "news" outlets but living where I live (boonies) and doing what I do (freelance farmy and writey things) you are very reliant on the internet. Hell, most of us are, who am I kidding. But how do I escape and fall into something if not for the Sunday NYTimes? Facebook is about as boring as it gets. I'd rather watch Golf. So for me? Blog Hopping. And Mom was right. The internet is a silly dangerous place.

The Lifestyle Blogs. The Life Hackers. The Four Hour Work Weekers who are really just Tony Robbins with merch endorsements. The Homesteaders. The Thrifty Designers. The Localvores. The Mead Crafters and the Garden Nerds.

First we have the frugal hemp homesteaders with their fermented radish pickle pantry and cumin spiked deer jerky drying in hand knitted wool baggies from their own fleece spinning, and here we have the vintage furniture builders who kiln dry their wood with eco friendly hand harvested responsible firewood who then make their own linseed oil that is good for both furniture and as an eco friendly personal lubricant.

And of course, Etsy. Where artisans repurpose and outgreen each other with jewelry and carpentry that will make you wish you had paid more attention in Shop Class. They sell lots of these things and make a respectable living just sitting at home in their bamboo blend socks drinking green tea taking macro pics of their latest creation and then zipping it off to the post office. J. Peterman for people who hate reading. Ebay for hipsters.

And the food blogs? Don't get me started. But thankfully I've exhausted that need after ten years as a chef and resto owner. So, I don't get sucked into the dude in Brooklyn who is curing his pork belly with squid ink to hang in his prosciutto closet that he made out of a vintage record cabinet he found on the street in Park Slope. But still.

So here's what I've learned. I'll need a better lens if I'm going to sell on Etsy. And more apps. And a tiller to get the cucumbers started for the juniper lacto pickles. And yes. Finish the book. But first learn the Kindle formatting software. Juice cleanse. Pilates. And finally clone myself like Marc Maron apparently has so you I can even think about being as productive. If you haven't heard his WTF podcast you're missing out. Last week he interviewed Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks back to back. And that's just last week. Then there's Aimee Mann and Lucinda Williams...and he's a walking encyclopedia on many many things.  But I digress.

Why do I torture myself? I'm 45, and have worked in industries like advertising and travel writing and restaurants and I know that this can't all be real. Etsy is probably crafted by hundreds of staff stylists from Anthropologie or at least a 23 year old with Instagram genius. And who knows what's behind the Covet Parade of Pinterest, but I'm going in for inspiration and coming out drained and defeated. I know better. I say I don't care about the Joneses but the fictional Joneses? Maybe.

Did I learn nothing from Martha? It was fraud! The recipes didn't work, you could spend days making a craft from "junking" and she had thousands of art directors and fuzzy lens photographers like Gentl & Hyers making you weep over the dewey baby carrots at sunrise. It wasn't until she went to the clink that we all could exhale, put down the Sherwin Williams paints and make brownies from a box again.

But damnit, while we were all patting ourselves on the back for not shopping at Walmart, some other big nut squeeze corporation found out how to tap the lizard brain of the ambitious and artsy. Don't do it.! Don't fall into the rabbit hole of you aren't doing it right. Keep pushing your creative endeavor up the hill Sisyphus. I will too.