Friday, 27 April 2012

Non-Fiction Sidebar: Hot-knifing, Blogging

   Hot-knifed hash was everyone's first choice at the filthy, rank-smelling staff house I slept in (my bedroom a cliché: a single mattress on the floor, clothes strewn everywhere) during my summers of restaurant work in Jasper, Alberta—where I grilled countless New York strips before making the move to serving countless New York strips, in case you're curious.
   The tips of all the house's butter knives were permanently scorched black from heavy usage; as a result, eating dinner always included a visible reminder of parties past and yet to come. When no one had hash to share, beer and mixer with Canadian Club—empty bottles of which sat on window frames—were the standard back-up plans.
   Jasper was unusual (and probably still is) because its population ballooned in summer. Streams of students came for three or so months to serve bus-, train-, and carloads of tourists. The ethos of the summer population was simple: work hard, party hard, maybe save some money. In working double shifts and then heading to a house party and then returning (with a hangover) for a shift early the next morning, I was far from unusual. For decades the town has been a trial-by-fire for student livers.
   At the staff house people would congregate in the early evening. And if there wasn't a party rumour in circulation, we'd hang out, swapping stories and talking shop while drinking and smoking. In that staff house basement (the main floor was reserved for the highers ups of the pecking order) air took on an increasingly blue tinge as the night progressed.
   Later, a guitar would appear. Straight couples would make out (if there were gays in that village, I never met any). And like clockwork, someone—usual a guy—would sit next to me on one of the sunken plaid sofas with hopes of reciting a poem or three. The poetry was invariably rhyming and earnest but awful, and I'd always lie and highlight the "complex imagery" and "musicality." I made efforts to suppress that fact that I was studying English literature at university.

   Until two months ago I'd never read a blog, nor created one of my own. I'm still getting used to the experience.
   At times, the blogging process makes me think of journal-writing, a habit I never developed. The insularity is similar, I imagine, though with a diary there is no Publish button (and, save for inquisitive family members or lovers, the author writes for an audience of one).
   There's a poet-at-a-party aspect to blogging too: let me share my words and perspectives with you, please. True, I do not sit next to anyone and corral them into listening to me and then eagerly ask, "So...what do you think?" Still, the public element is undeniable. A while back, Kevin Chong wrote, "I consider Twitter to be a form of loud talking, 'meaningless conversation' meant to be overheard," and it's simple enough to swap "Twitter" with "blogging."
   When someone says "I'm just thinking aloud" they seem to infer that while they've said something that's not private, the utterance is also necessarily half-baked, tentative, and/or still being worked out; it's a public declaration with a build-in apology: "Sorry, I'm testing out an idea." For the moment, I'm going to think of blogging as serving that purpose for me, at least in part. Somewhere between baked and half-baked, then, and accordingly provisional.

No comments:

Post a Comment