Zele Community Table
August 22, 2006
Women Bloggers In Aspen
Featuring Beth Brandon, Sara Guttman, Jennifer Slaughter, Dava Parr, Sheridan Smith, and Lisa Zimet. With Michael Conniff and Keith Hemstreet.
Q: Do any of you keep a journal?
Beth Brandon: I haven’t journaled in a while. It used to be just about my day. “Monday, I went to see this person, and this person, and I was so hung over.” Now I just every once in a while write about how I feel.
Dava Parr: I’ve done a lot of journaling over the years. Writing about emotions, feelings, working through problems. I also wrote free-form in London about what I experienced when I rode my bike. The whole physical feeling when you pick up speed
Michael Conniff: What that drug-induced?
DP: No, but it was 5 o’clock in the morning. The whole city was asleep and it was my time. That was my [dose of] nature, that ride when I moved from Aspen to London. Two hours later it was hopping. I was cycling at 5 AM, with two flat tires.
MC: What did you notice?
DP: I saw a guy down and out on the curb, I thought the church must be a disco with five people still at work outside. And I was always late! “My quads are on fire! Why do I always wait for the last minute!” I love that adrenaline.
JS: I started because of that book “The Artist’s Way.” I made it through the first six chapters. It was hard. I bought a French press [coffee-maker] specifically for that and that didn’t work. There were “just when I’m angry” pages. I wrote about what I learned about life.
SS: I am a journaler to this day.
Q: What was the last thing you wrote?
SS: In my last journal, Thomas [Hayles] got me going on writing down all my exercise. How many minutes I worked out. My average heart rate up Hunter Creek. I tend to write when I can’t process anything.
BB: It’s this other form for. I have this great idea. Disposable going out shirts. Then I thought about the shirt swap. I write it down. Then there’s the feelings journal. What day is it? All sorts of fun things. I use it to work through problems. I write if I’m anxious—or how do I get to the other end of it.
JS: I think it provides clarity, then you can move away from it.
BB: It’s like writing an angry letter you’re never going to send.
Q: Do women journal more than men?
DP: I’m guessing it’s more of a girl thing.
LZ: In a long-term. How many of you are in relationships. I wonder if that affects it. I don’t journal. I talk to my husband.
JS: I started journaling while I was in this relationship. A friend was doing writing groups, and I wanted to make a collection. Now it’s a tool I go to.
LZ: I did once journal when I was going through a divorce. I’d get up at 4 in the morning and knock something out on my computer. There were thoughts I couldn’t connect to anyone else. It was a tremendous thing.
SS: I’ve barely journaled since I was single. I used to write about things that were bugging me in exercise. [Laughs] Now I write an exercise log for Tom.
JS: My fiancée has been journaling for years. He’s done it for years. He does poetry.
LZ: We’re starting poetry slam at Zele’s.
Q: Keith, do you keep a journal?
KH: I did but I put it aside. It started when I was traveling, keeping a record of our travels. I called it “A Life Sometimes Enchanted” and it was 70,000 words over the course of four months.
DP: Guys write lists. He writes lists. Make love to Dava. Take out the trash. It’s not always about feelings. I wrote about my recovery. It was an inventory of resentments, fears, angers, things you’ve done to people as well. Journaling was about rejection or angst. “That was just the fourth step and there were seven more, so get on with it.” How to get unstuck. It starts as a journal, a dream, short story. It’s an exercise to get started again
BB: When I first moved here, I was sexually assaulted. I started seeing a therapist, a grief counselor. I did this this this this but I wrote about this experience. A year or two later, I looked back on it. It was GROWTH. I’ve grown so far. The journal has also changed.
Q: Do you go back and read what you’ve wrote?
JS: You read it and you say: “Who wrote that?” I look at it for laughs. I remember stupid, awful things. I’d write a lot when I was traveling. Being on planes, I don’t sleep on planes. There was this baby who was crying, breastfeeding next to me. I was trapped with this crying, nursing baby and I’m writing, writing, writing.
DP: I did one just like this, this man 350 pounds and the plane would not take off, I was writing the whole time. He stunk and there was no air conditioning. He was a big man.
SS: I look back and I wrote: “I love Ed Dent. I love Dylan Balderson.” They both know that I loved them. Sometimes I’ll look on my adult ones. They’re still all about boys.
JS: My family found my letters from 6th grade. “I love Jesse Bloom. Doesn’t ‘Jennifer Bloom’ sound good?”
MC: There’s been a boom in that kind of thing, unrequited love, with people finding each other on the Web.
LZ: The Lost Love Project is about people who connected later in life. They’re finding those relationships fell apart for the same reason twenty years later.
DP: It wouldn’t happen to me that way.
SS: I never like the people the same. I see Dylan all the time. I love him still but not that way. I wouldn’t want to be married to him. Now his wife’s one of my best friends. I told her she should go out with Dylan.
DP: I had a hundred reasons why I want to divorce my husband. “He was short. He can’t make froth for cappuccino right. His feet stink and he never does his dishes.” He was the sweetest guy but there were good reasons. “I just don’t like you any more,” he said. I said: “I don’t like you any more.” He said: “You’re like my sisters.” I said: “You’re like my brother.” We were fighting like brother and sister. There was nothing left but camaraderie and lots of fighting.
Q: Let’s shift gears from journaling to blogging. Beth, when do you blog?
BB: I have a self-imposed deadline on Thursday night. I treat it like it’s an article, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. “The introduction needs to be stronger” But it’s still my dumb little stories.
Q: Are you able to put everything in, the way you would in a journal?
BB: I don’t know if I’ve left much out. There was the naked in the shower story. Nothing was left out there. I told my mother to brace for PG 13, sex drugs and rock and roll, so be ready. As you said, it’s an adult audience. It’s not like you shouldn’t talk about smoking pot. Like I wrote in another blog: “If I had a trust fund, I’d sit at Zele all day.”
MC: You’d probably like that, Lisa, if they stayed at Zele all day.
LZ: I do want them to feel at home.
BB: The thing with comedy, being honest is funny, if it’s something that makes me feel completely raw. I feel like that part of the humor is saying it out loud.
Q: Sara, do you keep a journal?
Sara Guttman: I did at one time and I wish I was doing it again. When I do I write about my life. Personal stuff.
Q: How is blogging different from journaling?
SG: Blogging is not private. It’s on the World Wide Web.
Q: What do you do different when you blog?
SG: I spell check. In my journal I write “SP” next to a word if I’m not sure just in case someone reads it when I’m dead. I am very conscious of the public side.
Q: What’s your experience with blogs?
DP: My friend Kimberly sent me a blog about this woman who writes about her kid’s poop. This lady quit her job, or got fired because she was blogging. I find it interesting. She’s not doing anything special, she’s just saying it out loud. She’s got her hair down.
KH: The woman’s name is “Dooce.”
JS: I don’t need to hear the day-to-day details. I prefer the ponderings, the thoughts. I like Sara’s and Beth’s blogs. I like their humor.
SS: I didn’t even know what blogging was, that’s why I came tonight. I heard the word before and I knew it was on the Internet, that’s about it.
JS: It’s becoming a tool that publicists use. Indie Wire has blogs about the movie industry. Blogs are becoming a trusted source of information.
DP: It’s also a political platform.
BB: I didn’t think it’s a different venue. It’s a similar thing, it’s going to a Web site instead of picking up a paper.
Q: What do you read in general?
JS: Political non-fiction. I’m addicted to Al Franken. I’m also reading “The End of Faith.”
BB: I just read headlines. I look for pictures. Oh, look. Zele’s having a special today on fajitas!
Lisa: Is blogging a substitute for talking to each other?
BB: An email is different from a text. Quick messages are fun. But don’t invite me to something with a text message. Call me.
SG: I’ll use text messaging to send a quick answer instead of making a call.
LZ: Do you think blogs will mean that people spend less and less time relating to each other in person.
JS: I do agree that there is a shift away from people relating to others face to face. We’re losing the connection with fellow humans.
Q: Have you received any comments on your blogs?
BB: Yeah, I’ve gotten comments.
SG: Yeah. I have as well.
MC: I knew when I started Aspen Post everyone would have a chance to give their opinion, but I didn’t realize that I would get most of the criticism in the comments. A guy was using my name so there were two “Michael Conniff’s” on Aspen Post. His email was MichaelCconniff666. It was really funny because he got me pretty good. He had me down. I’m assuming it’s a he. I changed his username to MichaelConniff666, and he kept changing it back. I told him it was too confusing and if he didn’t leave it I would kick him off. He kept changing it back to my name so I had to take him down.
LZ: Do you think the Internet and technology can be harmful?
SG: I see what you all are saying, but with email I can check in with my mom, my sister, my grandmother all in one night.
LZ: I’m talking more about people who use chat rooms, and spend all of their time online.
JS: I’m not even sure how to get into a chat room and I don’t know anybody who does.
Q: Do you find it’s hard to put yourself out there in a personal way?
SG: No, but I need to be inspired. It feels a little like work at this point. This is one of many things that I am doing. There are plenty of little things that happen around town that I want to share, but if I don’t have the time it doesn’t get done.
DP: When I write it’s a business. I’m writing about food. There’s a part of me that wants to wander off on a page. I’m only interested in writing a blog where I can freak out.
BB: For me, it’s been a place where I do all these little things, trying to figure out what’s inside my head and what I can do with it.
SG: What is nice is that you are your own editor. A friend who writes for a magazine gets edited and is horrified when it is published. She’ll say: “I didn’t write this!”
Q: Do you think your blogs could be published in newspapers or magazines?
BB: Barry Smith is my writing coach. At writing class, we had ten minutes. He set the timer and said: “Start writing,” which really helped. I always run it by him and I’ve been pretty proud of what I’ve submitted for my blog.
Q: What would you blog about if you had a blog?
SS: I’d write about more physical stuff. Sitting here I realize there are all these people in Aspen I don’t know. These intellectual-type people, but most of my conversations are about the physical, the outdoor stuff.
SG: This might be a good bookend to this conversation. There is an article in USA Today today about the difference in men’s and women’s brains. Women are more in tune with what’s going on around them. Women might be more in touch with their emotions. They ask each other: “Are you okay. Are you okay?” Men are more like: “I’m good.”
MC: if you write about really small things, it can be good on many levels. Let me think of an example—like this table that’s uneven. I could go on for hours about tables everywhere that aren’t balanced and how you can’t work on them, and there seems to be no solution. The only way you can fix it is to stick a crappy rolled-up napkin or newspaper underneath and that still doesn’t work.
JS: I have a good example of that. Riding my bike home from work this little bee was flying right next to me. Right here. It followed me forever. I could tell you how many stripes he had. He was my buddy! And I’m really afraid of bees because of allergies. You could talk about how it relates to the pace of life, the rekindling of humans and nature. It was a magical moment.