Sunday, October 15, 2006

Turning Two: Maggie Reflects

The task was pretty simple: reflect on what m-pyre has meant for me over the last year, and how life transitions were reflected in my posts. But nothing’s simple for me these days. I gave the best politician answer I could to two girls who hate politics: “I’ll see what I can do, but can’t really promise that I’ll really touch on that stuff.” Hmmm.

The problem with trying to step back and write personally is that I feel like that’s what I do every day, even when it doesn't read personally at all. I’ve always had the problem of not being able to remove myself from what I’m writing about. My high school papers expounded on Raskolnikov's repressed arrogance, but only because our dissimilarities fascinated me. In college I was obsessed with Margaret Sanger and Margaret Fuller because, in addition to sharing their name, I felt like I had some of them in me. Not being able to remove myself from the issue at hand was why my life plan of being a journalist ended, too. “You can’t be part of the story! Don’t worry about how you feel, just find others who’ll give you a quote!” But I felt like stories deserved more, or snobbishly like my sources weren’t quite articulate enough for my liking. Sensing a plagiarism scandal in the works years down the road, I moved into politics and stopped carrying around a reporter’s notebook. But then politics started feeling too empty, too mechanical, too ivory-tower… not enough inarticulate sources. Graduate school, then: planning. Politics and people all meshing together in the forum where everything truly meets: place. Perfect. Yet nothing’s a vacuum. Can you plan for everyone when you really only care about some of them, when you’re a “commie pinko” (as so lovingly described by a commenter a while back) at heart, when too often you hear “property values” and think “selfishness,” when you know every place would be better if we all thought smaller, more communally, and tried to like each other more?

I’m in a place where everything is up in the air for questioning now, and I'll find myself emotionally spent after writing about something because I'm really writing about something else. For example, blogging about newspapers is really about missing writing; blogging about the suburbs and parking is really about family; blogging about local politics is really about eventually having to say goodbye to Albuquerque; blogging about national politics is really about feeling it all slip past me; blogging about teaching is about trying to tie it all together. And there is home, always home.

For me, m-pyre is about community and self-indulgence, which might seem incompatible. It’s not a selfless thing to write about random thoughts in your head; it’s a completely self-serving act. Feeling that there’s a role or a bigger meaning at play would be much too self-important for my liking. But it matters to me because these women matter to me, and because it reconnects me with a past I feel more disconnected from than ever: writing and policy. But I do like to think that the active community-building that happens online could matter to someone who doesn’t see nearly enough community in their lives. There’s not enough of it anymore, anywhere.

So for me, community is the thread that ties this all together. More than ever before, I’m actively trying to shape a life where community ties together writing, policy, place, and meaning. The presence of m-pyre hasn’t ever been something that’s taken away from what I care about day-to-day. It has always added value for me: in writing about something that matters to me (or just makes me laugh), in expressing myself in a way that daily life doesn’t always account for, in reading what my two dear friends have to say about something, in seeing how others respond. The minute it stops adding value for me, I won’t do it anymore.

Each of us Ms are consciously trying to shape the life that could matter most. All of us are doing that in our own ways, at our own pace. But if the one commonality is that we all reach out to others for connection and shared experience, then maybe this little online whim has done a little bit of something. And doing a little bit of something isn’t something little at all.