Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Here's a dime, call someone who cares

People used to say that to each other.
Back when there were pay phones.
Back when you could use them for a dime.

If you are a certain age, I wonder if reading those sentences had the same effect on you that writing it had on me.  All of a sudden I was overcome with the desire to be on the sidewalk in Manhattan with an urgent need to make a phone call.  No, not an urgent need, just an ordinary need.

Here I am at 71st and Broadway and there you are in Soho and I won't be home in time, but break a leg, ok?
I just left the hospital.  I think I'm going to walk home.
I miss you.  I love you.  Look out the window.  I had to see you one more time.

I would spend a dime to say those things.

These days I can tweet or blog, text or call 24 hours a day.  I know what kind of underwear people are wearing and if they are eating local for dinner and when they are drunk or why they are depressed.

New to the blogosphere, I jumped on the bandwagon because I needed to start writing again and I believed this was the lowest pressure medium I could choose, apart from Dear Diary.

I could not have been more wrong.  There are blogs of note and blogs that advertise, and a "follow" button that makes me feel like I'm running for senior class president.  I can monetize my blog or tweet my blog and if I want to see how I stack up against the kajillion other runners in this race, I can attend a blog conference so that I can truly feel bad about how far behind I am.

My only problem is that I am trying to figure out if what I want to say is worth a dime.  I admit that I am often given to too much introspection, fretful about subjecting readers to navel gazing--Here's the color I'm thinking about painting my bathroom--or snappy patter--These days I live in a world of raised toilet seats.  I don't spray Vive la Juicy to smell good, I spray it to mark my territory.  But, where does it end?  At what point am I writing simply to fill a page, meet a quota, pursue an academic exercise?  At what point, are there so many words in the world that mine are merely another example of Mary Glen's current tutorial paper topic, "Sound and fury, signifying nothing"?

And in this spirit, I imagine us all, born with an allotment of expression.  How much did I spend when I believed it to be limitless and cheap, my audience leaning forward and my tongue at its witty best.  It is a gift now, to see the levels dropping, to be quiet, to listen.

I think of Nicholas Kristof in the Congo and others like him, in brothels and shattered villages; with the dying and those who wish they were dead, reaching into the hearts of the silenced, casting their sparse and stuttered words into a sea of chatter and willing them to have weight, matter, resonance.

What would I say if I had to spend a dime to say it?  That's about it for today.


  1. Kate,

    I would accept a collect call if you didn't have a dime on you...

    I keep meaning to call and say hello; we loved your card.

    All is well in Ann Arbor! Also, all those kids- and no Wolverines? We'll keep our fingers crossed that at least one Fredrick will "Go Blue".

    Mary and the Roderiques (Blaine, Francis, Claudia, and Miss Colby-dog)

  2. I think this is my favorite post thus far. That's saying something.

  3. I can really relate to this post. As a blogger, I often wonder... who gives a hoot about what I have to say. But then there are friends like you who actually read and comment. I finally have a night to catch up on reading your blog and I am grateful for your words. I figured out how to be a follower, so I should get your posts sent to me and be able to read more regularly. There are so many words out there in this world, but ours are important to those who care to listen and I for one, care to listen to you.