Once upon a time, when I had slightly more time on my hands and just a smidge more angst, this was a blog that chronicled some of the going-ons in my life. Actually, it was a continuation of a blog I had in college that was vague and situational and drowning in the “depth” that the younger version of me was always so hard up to have. Sort of like when I was in high school and went through that reading all the Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk and Chuck Klosterman books I could get my hands on. Because when you’re sixteen and living in a suburb, the end goal in life is to do everything and anything you can to avoid being sixteen and living in a suburb. I’m not saying this was a bad phase for me at that time to go through. But like all of my phases, I’m just glad it happened relatively early on with an end point included.
Along with that once upon a time scenario about this blog was the other version of me who was actively writing on different sites online. Going to various events and parties in LA after work, talking to everyone there, getting pictures, going home, cranking out articles, getting more pictures from PR contacts and then going to sleep sometime around 1 AM only to wake up the next day at 5 AM and begin the process all over again. Flash forward to the present-day me circa 2014. I get tired more often now especially after the end of a long workday. I’m lucky if I can get an article out once a month at this point. I’m not thrilled about that. I don’t like that. But my priorities are also different now than they were then. I’m just not even sure what to blog about anymore. Ironic considering that in every workplace I’ve ever been in I always have a list of what I could write about or brainstorm on at the ready.
Here’s the thing though. I may not know what to blog about anymore, but I also know there’s a ton of stuff I really don’t want to share with the world either.
Two years ago, I went to a social media conference in San Francisco called Glimpse. They’ve held one every year since then and I love these conferences. They last about for an entire day and are chock full of smart minds from all four corners of the internets speaking out. During one of the afternoon panels, one of the speakers said something that made me feel like everything was pausing all around me. Actually, he said two things that paused the world. The first was the phrase “serendipitous discovery” which I have been sticking into a lot of things I’ve written ever since I first heard it. That was a description of how people like to find things online, with the “wow” factor and that element of surprise included. The second was his vision for the future and how social media would eventually separate us into two groups of people. The first group would still be into it and the second group would eventually pull away entirely. A slow pull, but they would leave and do their own thing, not exactly attracted to all the attention anymore. Aware that the attention was there, sure, but just not feeling it. The moment I heard that, it was like the room stopped all around me. “Aww, shit.” my brain quietly mumbled, “That second group’s gonna include you, isn’t it?”
Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. Ever since that panel though, I’ve noticed a quiet shift in what I write and where it goes. I don’t want to detail all of my problems for the internet to see or blog two part posts on a mental breakdown I’m having or go on a rant against, well, anything really. I see people do that a lot. Some are older than me, some are younger than me. Some do this on sites that jointly tie in with their professional presence which I find to be questionable to some degree. Nothing’s all that secretive anymore or kept personal. We’re a share everything society, for the most part.
What could I share with you about the last week in my life? Ah, but that is also something I tend to guard closely. I know which parts of my life are the best parts to share. All that glossy party and event going swag bag lyfe. The kind where people say the worst sentence ever to you on any social platform: “I wish I had your life!”
No you don’t. No you don’t! You like this version of my life when I present it to you as something pretty and enviable. We all envy someone who is going out there and doing things that look (and probably are) super cool and fun on the surface. But would you envy my life if you had to be me and I mean really be me? Would you have wanted to deal with all the health issues I had earlier this year, when I was basically bouncing around from doctor’s office to doctor’s office every week like a ping pong ball to get this test taken and that test taken and blood drawn here and an ultrasound there? I’m not exactly glamorous when I have goo all over my chest and I’m sitting in a paper gown waiting for test results. It’s not a moment in someone’s life you want. See also: the 9 million dentist appointments coming up in my future because I literally cannot eat a single sweet thing without getting a cavity five minutes later.
Back to what I could share about the last week in my life tho. I could talk about work, but no. I could talk about spending time with my girlfriends, but nah. I could discuss my personal dating life, but maybe not. It doesn’t mean I’m not invested in any of those things because I don’t update the internet on it on a regular basis. All of this is fun and I adore all of the people in my life to bits. What it means is that a lot of my life I like to keep quiet. My heart is like a safe to me. I throw in all the most important stuff, lock it up, put a stronger lock on it, add more locks, and keep on barricading the joint until its exterior is like a piece of iron so nothing inside of it gets hurt. A palm reader once me that my downfall in any relationship will always be that I love too much and that kind of love can scare off some people. She was right. It has, but it also hasn’t and those who it hasn’t frightened are the ones closest to me. If there’s something going down, I’m more likely to text them about it than I am to write a blog post. That is more cathartic to me than generally flailing myself online screaming “OMG FML UGHHHHH WHAT A SHITTY DAY LEMME TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT AND DROP NAMES SO YOU KNOW I HATE CERTAIN PEOPLE! AND ALSO CAN FIND OUT WHERE I WORK!!!” and checking in twenty minutes later to see if anyone has acknowledged my feels.
I much prefer talking one on one to the people who get me and get my life. I don’t like the idea that I should be inclined to “perform” to some audience. Blogging can make you feel like that to some degree. Writing more of what resonates with your reader and less that maybe you’re more passionate about, but know doesn’t get everyone to like it or comment. We’ve reached a strange era where seemingly our goal should be to people please and not self please. I think there’s a fair balance of both that can be reached. This fair balance also needs to include privacy to some degree though. I treasure my privacy and being alone.
I just have to know where to find it.
Until then, rut meet Heather, Heather meet rut. I don’t think I’ll be in it for too long. Just writing all of this out was enough to make the wheels start turning faster in my head once more. I’m a big believer in dumping out every word you have inside of you until you have no more to let out and then trying to figure out what to do with them once they’re out. This whole post felt like a dump to me, but that’s okay because it’s been awhile since I’ve really been able to let things go and not even worry about how to make sense of it once it’s out of me.
"The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times." Oh Paulo Coelho, surely you were secretly alluding to blogging when you wrote this! I’ve definitely fallen a few times this year. Got back up again though because none of those falls killed me. There is strength and goodness to be found in falling, I’ve learned. But I’m also in my twenties and have a shitload more of life ahead of me too. I’m no expert in falling. Some of the worst falls of my life have yet to come. Who can imagine what they will be like when they happen? Maybe I’ll write about them and maybe I won’t. Maybe the blogging bubble will have popped by then.
Life is pretty wild, so we’ll just wait and see what happens.
There are very few blogs I read on a regular basis and it kills me when people ask me what I read and I’m like, uh, does A Taste of General Mills count because that’s literally the only blog I read on the daily.
What I like about that blog is that its steeped in history, both past and present. You have your Pinterest worthy pictures included, but there is substance behind the post and no filler work. No repetitious list of “link love” and nothing that feels like a PR person was obviously behind the post, pushing to promote a product. And the tone! The tone is so grounded and doesn’t brag about itself despite having more than enough clout to do so. Truly my Midwestern roots are talking here, but I genuinely look forward to all of the emails I get from them letting me know there’s a new post live. Few sites provoke that kind of feeling within me and I know that for this one, it’s also partially because I’ve spent so much of my life engaging with the brand. But it’s nice to know that as times change, a brand’s voice will stay consistent and won’t lose its footing in the race to get some plum partnership ads or act flimsy in the face of looking relevant for all of five minutes. (cough, cough, Doritos and Lady Gaga at SXSW with that idiot hashtag, cough, cough)
The only time I was ever given a critique on my writing that truly stuck with me was right before I was about to graduate from high school.
My senior year high school English teacher cracked down on a story I had written and gave me a B-, saying that it was too long, involved and wordy. I wasn’t upset to hear it either. I was taken aback, but only because nobody had ever flat out criticized something I had written before like this. And that’s not a good thing either. It creates the special snowflake syndrome, the mentality that you are truly the best at everything even if you’re actually kind of mediocre - blue ribbons for showing up and mom saying that one day you could be the President from how smart you are, that sort of thing. This was what I needed to hear though.
My favorite thing about writing is that your style always evolves given time, topics, circumstance, and the environment that surrounds you. Your growth as a person is never more evident than when you look back on what you wrote during each decade of your life. However, despite all these changes, you still create a voice and a mighty one at that. One that stands out from the crowd and sets the tone for the piece. And if you’re anything like me, you probably like to write about all kinds of topics just to see where else that voice can go and what it’s capable of saying.
I edit articles every day at my job and lately, I’ve been finding myself serving up some of that constructive criticism I received in high school along to guest writers on being wordy. The thing is now more than ever, being wordy is a major detriment to writing articles that appear online. You need to get to the point. Flowery language is good for fiction and poetry but doesn’t equate to keywords or tags. Nobody should be writing a blog post today that includes the phrase “cellular phones” in it as a means of beating around the bush to say smartphone. Just call it a smartphone. Or iPhone. Android. The brand is a part of our vocabulary and at everyday household status because that’s what it is. And wordiness doesn’t help to get your post read either. Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter so you need to be able to craft a strong search-friendly title, reel in the reader through the opening paragraph as quickly as possible while also cramming in your who, what, when, where, why, and how, and wrap that sucker up on a call to action note. It’s gotta translate well across the platforms and fit into the site that the article is going up on. Length and involvement also play into that spectrum too. Can’t be too long and you can’t discuss how awesome you are or try to sell us something in 800+ words either.
Sometimes I imagine that in the future, a blog style writing guide in the vein of AP or MLA guidelines will be available for bloggers. Alternately I don’t because at the rate that social is evolving and progressing, it will seemingly outdate itself sooner instead of later.
What does help in the meantime?
1) Working alongside an editor, or anyone with a strong writing background, who can give you some feedback on what you’re doing both right and wrong. Preferably working with this person over time because a strong writer never got that way in just a few hours.
2) Understanding your topic and audience. I really don’t believe there is anything “too boring” to write about. If you do your research and a facet pops out at you that sticks or makes you go "hmm" grab it, however small it may be, and explore! When given a topic, writers online will go for any conceivable way to tweak that topic into a piece that stands out from the crowd and that’s exactly what you need to be doing, all the while relating back to your audience as much as possible.
3) Writing outside of your comfort zone. My writing roots were in fiction stories and pop culture for a long, LONG, time. Now I’m at business. At first, I was terrified to write about business because I felt completely out of my element. I could tell you way too much about Saturday Night Live and what celebrity was out and about getting white girl wasted last weekend, but as far as discussing starting up a business goes… cricket silence. So what I did for a time was link it into pop culture and intertwine what I knew with what I didn’t which equaled a lot of 30 Rock themed articles. Then I started doing some research and realized business isn’t as complicated as it looks. It just gets a bad rap for looking like it does. What I like about business writing is that it’s to the point and subsequently, my writing started to changed to reflect that. It also helped my voice to grow up and not stagnate too. I like to credit that to the fact that it wasn’t something I thought I would be good at doing either. Now I don’t want to write anything that is gentle or muted in nature. I write to offer advice and about my own mistakes made, usually in a self-deprecating manner. I write for a good debate to stoke the fire in the blood. I write to show another side to the story. Sometimes I write for the cute too or fashion which also matters. These are all important areas to me.
And I also write to complain here and there on Tumblr but whateva whateva, this blog isn’t super serious times either. By now, you’re probably noticing that this post got long, wordy, and involved too…
Reading through my former blog is so strange.
I cringe a little bit doing it, because of age and writing evolution and all, but overall what I like seeing about it the most is just how passionate younger Heather was about every conceivable thing. (Still am, but college me was next level.) That blog was from some of my college years merged with the first (terrible, horrible) job I had post-college and one I wound up closing in 2011 to transition over to Tumblr. There are so many pop culture references and stories scattered all over the place in it which ages it a little, but it’s a good age if not still super recent.
Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write something that doesn’t have an expiration date stamped on it somewhere. There will always be a reference to an Apple product or some top 40 song or a website like Facebook. But that’s okay because you can still mingle in real thoughts and snark and sew in happiness with a fair amount of sadness and still make a reference to Flavor Flav and make it work.
Life doesn’t have to be all F. Scott Fitzgerald “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” Passionate writing can still convey a very real feeling today while giving props to Taco Bell burritos, internet memes, and oldie but goodie Lil’ Kim song lyrics.
Y’all can’t tell me that isn’t a shred of poetry to saying, “I got the magic stick. I know if I can hit once, I can hit twice.”
In the pilot episode of Six Feet Under, there is a moment where Michael C. Hall is smiling politely at guests at his father’s wake and then suddenly he starts screaming at the top of his lungs. This scene cuts to just the part of him smiling at the guests with the realization that the screaming bit was all imagined in his head and he didn’t actually do it. For a few weeks now, I’ve kind of been in that place. It’s been extremely hot out in SoCal, to the point where it turns you lethargic and listless. I’ve been working hard too, with not a whole lot of play included in all of that work. There were far too many days where I also just wanted to make like Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen and reconfigure all of my particles and atoms on Mars and just be. But y’know, in a more urbane environment where you can find a Coffee Bean nearby.
I went back to San Francisco for a few days where the point of this trip was going just because. Just for me. Just because I said I could. Just.
And also because I wanted to wear a coat and Oxfords and tights again. Facebook, you can have your Palm Springs/Vegas/Disneyland visits - I will take that 60 degree weather that allows me to get nice and pale and walk to all of the places!
My hotel was right across the street from the Ferry Building by the Bay Bridge. Typically I like to stay deeper within Union Square, but I also like to mix up the hotels too. This allows me to try out new eateries and embrace the environment surrounding where I’m at.
A roaring fire in the lobby! Oh, autumn and seasonal weather how I have missed you so!
Going out early in the morning in my red trench and pants! PANTS. I felt right. I felt right.
Overcast in the morning by the Bay Bridge. My kind of morning.
I don’t know who this girl was but I liked her flowers. There were a lot of people running around this weekend with bouquets of flowers on them which was beautiful because I knew quite a few people would be happy when they received them and also sad because I rarely see this happen in my LA neck of the woods.
The ever-lovely and inspiring Cafe Zoetrope as I made my way down to the Wharf.
But not before I stumbled upon another eatery, fashioned out of an old cable car. (!!!)
From far off in the distance, you can see sailboats and the Golden Gate Bridge. Note the bright blue sky, as it swiftly changes once you turn your back…
… to face the rest of the city again.
Stopped at La Boulange after leaving the Wharf behind for a mid-morning meal of fruit, granola, and yogurt.
I also ate said meal outside, where tbh if you weren’t eating outside in the sunny and lightly breezy 64 degree weather, I had some serious judgment for you. Outdoors, I was surrounded by lots of chic SF ladies at their respective tables with topknots in their hair and light blouses, discussing their jobs with yoga mats as their tableside buddies. I had that moment as I always do sitting there, idly staring at the trees and the people walking by where I wondered if people looked at me and thought I was a local there, just getting her Saturday morning breakfast and enjoying the calm of the day. Not a visitor, but a resident. I wonder how many people we look at like that and envy the life we imagine they may have that way sometimes.
Then I went to City Lights bookstore after and promptly read for a good half an hour as the light shone in through the windows and the breeze floated in from the doors constantly opening and closing. This particular moment, for as happy as it made me, also added in a twinge of sadness as it reminded me so much of how growing up my dad and I would go to the bookstore every Saturday morning together and read for hours and hours and go to the art galleries and get lunch together after for our father-daughter time. He is the only person I’ve ever been able to go out to bookstores with and it has been years since we’ve had a proper bookstore visit together.
There is a spot in my heart where an ache is beginning to form to share that kind of moment with a pile of books with a new, different, but still quite special person again. And there is a spot next to that ache that fears that moment never happening due to circumstances and time and distance being out of my control. That fear is a lot like running down a corridor and never making it to the end because there isn’t one. The corridor keeps getting longer and longer.
But I only have one thing to say to that kind of fear: nobody fights harder and refuses to give up like Heather Anne Taylor does. Time will tell, and it will be right when it does.
Leaving the gates of Chinatown and heading into the k-hole of shopping at Union Square.
I didn’t buy this dress at Zara, but it’s quite nice don’t you think? Reminds me of something a modern-day Joan Holloway would wear.
Dinner at Perry’s, grilled artichokes with lemon aioli sauce. Perfection!
Sunday, the day I was leaving, was spent out and about bright and early getting my Blue Bottle roasted coffee on. I will be firmly in this coffee’s camp till the day I die.
And a farewell to my dearest, most darling, cable cars!
As you can tell, I have a lot of feelings about this city, but none that change regardless of how many times I revisit it. It has carved out a strong place in my heart and never fails to leave me wandering out and about with the biggest, most silliest of smiles plastered all over my face.
Ever thine, ever mine, ever ours,