Dorothy Parker

Now They Pay Me

Guess what, blogosphere? Guess what I get to do as part of the new job I started in January? I get to write blog entries on work time! For legit! I mean, I’m not just sneaking in personal blog entries on my employers’ time out of boredom and resentment, the way I did at my old job. I am on our library’s readers’ advisory team, and as part of that, I get to blog about books I’ve read! Yes! I’m getting paid to blog!

Of course, my library blogging is done under my real name. I don’t think I could sell them on my pseudonymous blogger identity. Not that I’d want to, anyway.

Because there, you know, I’m representing the library, and I have to be more careful about what I say and how I say it. I have to try for humor without too much snark. Not like here, where I can simply write whatever I want because nobody knows it’s me. My safe, safe world of pseudonymous blogging.

I’d just like to add that my grammar, usage, and punctuation are flawless in both kinds of blogging. Unless you don’t like the Oxford comma, in which case you will have an issue with this particular choice of mine. I care about perfection in both contexts. It’s just in the real world that I feel I have to watch my tone.

I just finished reading a book about Dorothy Parker. I’m not sure if it’s the best book there is about Dorothy Parker; in fact, I imagine that she, like me, would take issue with some of the English language usage chosen by this author. In any case, this author makes the point, at the end of the book, that Dorothy Parker gave American women a voice during the first half of the twentieth century. She became famous for saying all kinds of outrageous things, and for writing immoderately clever prose, and for turning out formally perfect and witty poetry.

I think the author was also admiring her bravery for saying all the outrageous things that she said, for not falling into the trap of being nice all the time. Sometimes I wish I had a little more of that. But then I remind myself that Dorothy Parker was also a profoundly unhappy person. Maybe if you’re that unhappy, that’s when you care less about the consequences of what you say. I have noticed, myself, that it is very difficult to be witty and kind at the same time. Wit often comes at the expense of other people’s weaknesses.

So it’s a new challenge for me, at work, to be amusing and bright while imagining the library director looking over my shoulder and judging whether or not what I’m saying is appropriate. Because at work they know me. And it’s a little scarier to put my writing out there.

I’m also enjoying the irony of having prepared myself for blogging at my current job by sneaking around blogging at my previous job. I do have some familiarity with WordPress, and I do have a certain tone I like to adopt while blogging, even if I feel the need to adapt that tone for public consumption.

And blogging for work has reminded me just how much I like it. So I’m back. I’m thinking of trying for twice a week, the way I did at the beginning, when I was all ambitious and disciplined. Twice a week. Yep. Because I’m the only one who is going to make myself do this.

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy

The Disciplined Blogger

Even though I, at times, very much dislike That Certain Social Media Site, I’m finding that it’s much easier to toss off a one-liner on social media than it is to keep on blogging. I’m having a day when it is undoubtedly all about the process. This is my third attempt at a blog entry this morning. Yes, everything I’m thinking is dull and everything I’m writing is ponderous and I have mentally committed to the process of updating this blog a couple of times a week.

Here we are.

“Here We Are,” by the way, is the title of one of my favorite stories by Dorothy Parker. Parker conveys social awkwardness better than any other writer I can think of. And she describes the pathos and humor of social awkwardness during the time between the wedding ceremony and the wedding night in a way that makes me wince and smile at the same time. You should read “Here We Are.” Really, you should.

I do wonder, sometimes, would Dorothy Parker keep a blog if she were alive now? She was very much a woman of her time, mastering the art of the short story and the art of reviewing during a time when new magazines were the mass media and it was possible to make a living writing for them. Would she now be sharing her epigrams on That Certain Social Media Site? Or would she save them for her colleagues at the lunch table?

I am in every way confident that Dorothy Parker would have kept a blog going, even if she would have driven online editors crazy by not updating it often enough because she was trying to get every darn post so darn perfect. Of course, her blog would be linked to the website of a famous magazine, not some solo spin-off like this.

I wonder, though, whether she would have felt the appeal of an online blog with an online pseudonym where she could feel free to vent about the irksomeness of her society while hiding in plain sight.

Oh, look. Here I am, drifting into a comparison of myself with Dorothy Parker. Unspeakable arrogance. And undoubtedly a strong signal that I should stop now.

Here’s my blog entry for the day, everyone. Isn’t she a beauty?

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy

Vacation Pics: Yesterday and Today

Social Media + iPhone Camera = Many, many vacation photos.

Oh, so very many.

If you’d like to walk back in time with me into a fictional setting, let us visit together Dorothy Parker’s short story, “But the One on the Right.” It’s an interior monologue from poor Mrs. Parker, who is attending a dinner party. She has the misfortune to be sitting next to a gentleman who has no idea of putting himself out there to make pleasant social conversation with his neighbor. She is bored out of her mind and wracking her brains for possible openers:

“Really, I suppose out of obligation to my hostess, I ought to do something about saying a few words to this macaw on my left. What shall I try? Have you been reading anything good lately, do you go much to the play, have you ever been to the Riviera? I wonder if he would like to hear about my Summer on the Riviera; hell, no, that’s no good without lantern slides.” —Dorothy Parker, “But the One on the Right”

Just think. Back in Mrs. Parker’s day, a person had to put real planning and effort into getting people to sit still and look at vacation pictures. She would have to invite them over, set up the slide lantern and possibly some folding chairs in the living room, and probably offer her guests refreshment. She would have to Make An Effort in exchange for boring her friends silly with her slides from her Summer on the Riviera.

Here in 2014, sharing vacation photos (pics! Sorry, of course I meant pics) has become all too easy. I’ve never done it myself, because doing so is just a little too close to smug for me. “Oh, look! Here we are traveling and having fun! Wish you were here!” The only exception I will allow is a proud parent who got a picture of multiple offspring together, looking happy, in an attractive setting. Such an occasion is so rare that it ought to be shared with one’s friends.

Yet another shot of palm trees against the sunset? Not so much. Ho-hum, Ms. Vacationer, it may surprise you to learn that that one’s been done before. A few times, even. At every souvenir stand that sells postcards anywhere. Oh, right, sorry, of course these are your palm trees against a sunset you are experiencing and kindly sharing with the rest of us. That makes it so much more riveting. Really.

Unfortunately, Ms. Vacationer jumps quickly over the line from Tedious to Just Obnoxious when she shares her pretty beach pictures with those of us back home who are continuing to grit our teeth to get through a particularly severe winter with lots of snow and slippery roads and cold temperatures. If you’re lucky enough to escape this kind of weather by jaunting off to warmer climes for a week, would you be kind enough not to point that out repeatedly? I mean, yes, we all know you are far away enough that we can’t actually slip poison into that nice tropical drink you’re enjoying. When you do come back, though, beware the wine at my next party. No doubt I will have a few willing conspirators who are as mean-spirited as I am about other people’s jolly fun times.

People on social media who want you to enjoy their vacation right along with them because they are just so excited to be there?

Simply Too Precious for Words.

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy