Friday, January 19, 2007

Of Personal Moral Failings, The Unspeakable Blogged, and Bowling (Yes, Bowling)

Everything in Its Right Place/Radiohead - DJ Technics Remix [MP3]
Hey, I'm a lifelong Orioles fan and one of the city's biggest fans ...gotta represent the Baltimore Boom.

OXFORD, Ohio (ZP) -- Late Tuesday night, I accomplished something wonderful.

Through numerous adjustments in posture and under the direction of those more experienced, good coaches all, I learned that I completely suck at bowling.

When I say I suck, I mean that I stink worse than a dead rat in an oven, worse than a port-a-potty on Fat Tuesday in New Orleans. I'm as directionally challenged as a Duke lacrosse player in a Women's Studies course. My poor ball spent more time cruising the gutter than most politicians.

I rolled an 102. Over two games. Finished dead last, out of six people.

There's no use in making excuses. Sure, I haven't bowled a single frame in seven years. I'm still babying my shoulder a bit, I'd been up since five that morning, etc. Any which way one looks at my score, a laughable 51 average, I still, at the end of it all, sucked rather large monkey balls.

So, ah, Jason, I think you'd better put that up on your blog there, one friend said, sending the rest of the group into snickering and general good-natured mockery.

Why wouldn't I blog about it? Hell, the whole scene was pretty damned funny.

Me, struggling to maintain even a tiny bit of dignity in a tiny, run-down bowling alley, way out in the middle of fucking nowhere, in Oxford Fucking Ohio. Even the "team" mascot, one of those creepy-ass Burger King bobbleheads, seemed to be laughing at how much I sucked.

There is so much from that evening I could write about, so many experiences I could document, so much fun and merriment.

But, well, I'm not. It's not because of bad behavior, any need for discretion, any request that I specifically not write about certain personal discussions or events.

There are some things I just don't put on the ol' blog. As much as I'd love to share, well, I just don't think it would be appropriate. Some things are private - yes, there are indeed things I don't discuss on the blog.

Earlier this week, I accomplished something, something wonderful.

I made it through another day alive, and I had a good time with some good people along the way.

Go me.

* * * *

I knew I was in for trouble the moment I decided to post about my less-than-innocent California fling. I knew that there'd be repercussions for both this ZenFo Pro character and in my offline life.

I knew I'd get scolding IMs late into the night, knew I'd get the "How dare you write such smut!" criticisms, even knew I'd probably lose a few friends, in Cyberspace and in the real world, if I wrote about this one particular experience.

One of the things that generally pisses off every critic, every amateur blog analyst, every cyber-preacher and other morality dictator, is the fact that even in the midst of an embarrassing faux pas, I still try to find the humor in almost every situation.

Well, I can make fun of myself or my situation, at least.

One example:

XXXXXX(1/18/2007 12:17:53 PM): just wanted to let u know i dont read your blog anymore
XXXXXX(1/18/2007 12:17:57 PM): ur so not who i thought you were. i thought u were different from other guys here in oxford.
XXXXXX(1/18/2007 12:18:04 PM): just another overgrown boy with a hardon
ZENFO PRO(1/18/2007 12:18:19 PM): sorry to disappoint you. thanks for reading anyway :)
ZENFO PRO(1/18/2007 12:18:37 PM): my hardon thanks you too. right now though both my hardon and i have to get back to work.
ZENFO PRO(1/18/2007 12:19:06 PM): Doing five things at once. and that's just my hardon. think it just applied for a teaching position. its the part with the brain. think it earned a doctorate last year.
XXXXXX(1/18/2007 12:19:11 PM): fuck u. you think ur so funny dont u everythings a joke. this is stupid.
ZENFO PRO(1/18/2007 12:19:15PM): completely agree. feel free to delete my no. already blocked yours ;) later :)
One of the most important skills I've learned is to never take anything too seriously.

Life. Death. Criticism. Praise. Sex. Love. Hate. Everything is fleeting when weighed against the whole of eternity.

* * * *

Since I've had a lot of folks decide that, well, it's okay to forget that behind every blog is a real, honest-to-God human being, that every single one of us human beings will never achieve any sort of perfection, will all continue to be hypocrites about something, will live certain moments of our lives as if the world were as serious as clown shoes and fart machines, I thought I'd clarify a few things.

"Tonya" and I were, well, both consenting adults. She took responsibility for her actions, told her spouse. Ya know, given the amount of bruises, cuts and scrapes we each left with, well, there's no hiding it. I decided to take responsibility for mine by confessing my sins on a very public online journal.

I'd hate to be blunt here, but, well, I blog for myself. This ain't American Idol. There's no voting on how I live my life, no panel of judges to tell me what's appropriate to write or not write.

The Zenformation Professional ain't a blogocracy. It's a blogtatorship.

The only person, at the end of the day, who takes responsibility for what goes into this damned thing is me. And I'm very careful with how I edit, the aliases I use, the identities and privacy I protect. I weigh each and every post carefully before I hit that "Publish" button - if I find out that I weighed wrong, that I somehow overlooked something or offended someone I care about offending, I pay whatever the price is.

Simply blog, my rules. If you don't like 'em, well, nobody's holding a gun to your head. Close the browser window. Navigate away from the page. Find something that fits into your perception of the world.

* * * *

It was a cold Friday afternoon in Oxford Fucking Ohio. The ZenFo Pro, in the midst of a workday meltdown over unfinished compact shelving, missing furniture, and strange smells emanating from a company vehicle, hurried across the newly-renovated ground floor of the ZenFo Pro Library towards the elevator.

He really should've taken the stairs. He could've taken two or three risers at a time, could've avoided a potentially awkward situation, could've dodged a potentially humiliating conversation with a blog reader.

Instead, the ZenFo Pro played it cool. He was, after all, an information professional, on the job. At an ancient 28, in a community where the median age always hovers around the legal drinking age, he was also an old man who could always pull the more mature "I don't discuss the blog at work" rabbit out of his hat.

Instead, a busy librarian stood there, staring at the elevator doors, praying to all that was Holy, that some 21-year-old patron who'd once flashed him on a rather depressing Halloween night hadn't seen him hurrying down the gray tile.

He knew she was standing there beside him. He recognized the perfume. He didn't have to look to know that she was grinning from ear to ear.

The elevator door opened about 30 seconds too late. The Librarian and one of the Boob Girls boarded the car. He avoided eye contact when he asked her, in his most authoritative, librarian-esque voice, which floor she needed.

"Hey. Were you at P______ Tuesday night? I thought I saw you."

"Um, yeah. Floor?"

The ZenFo Pro continued to avoid eye contact. He could feel himself doing that eye-rolling, squinty thing, that thing "Tonya" had reminded him that he did often, that slow turn of the head and stupid grin, the first sign that he was about to begin rambling if he wasn't careful.

Head like a slingshot, he remembered. The adult performer ex had said once that one line was indeed the best way to describe him. She'd stolen it from one of his high school poetry notebooks, stolen it while reading his poems aloud one afternoon in a coffee shop. He started to remember how she'd gone commando that day wearing a skirt; she also had this nasty tendency to open and close her legs while seated and in the midst of a discussion.

Four male faculty that he knew personally had walked by them, had caught a view of his girlfriend's vagina that day. He'd caught one of them staring. Awkward. For some reason, standing in that elevator, squinting and eyes a-rolling, he thought about that.

And Britney Spears. He felt sorry for Britney Spears for some reason.

Head like a slingshot, indeed.

"Do you remember me? We met Halloween."

She stretched out her hand for a formal, less drunken introduction.

"I read your blog a lot."

Oh for fuck's sake, the ZenFo Pro thought. The elevator didn't seem to be moving as quickly as usual. Time froze as his heart raced. The librarian braced himself. He thought he was about to experience his first on-the-job patron bitchslap for his outside-of-work activities, for his online self.

"I really like your writing. Helps me think. Wish I could write about what you write about. But my roommates would kill me if people knew what goes on in our house."

The librarian, the old man in a young person's town, began to relax his tense frame as the woman continued. The elevator doors opened onto his floor, but he didn't exit.

"I just thought you'd like to know that. Must be a bitch sometimes."

The ZenFo Pro shook his head, certain he looked like a complete fucking idiot. The woman told him she hoped he'd continue writing, how she'd like to see more things about the "good" sororities, the ones not full of "skanks," and maybe something about how there are very few things for college students to do in Oxford after dark - besides drink, fuck, and gossip.

"Hey, I've got to get to class. See you around, okay?"

And the woman got off the car, on the same floor they'd just left. As the doors shut, the ZenFo Pro pushed the button for his floor, leaned against the back of the car, and finally allowed himself to breathe.

When he entered his office, his office mate smiled and said hi. He started to say something, something coherent and professional. But he felt his face starting to scrunch up, his eyes starting to roll.

He exclaimed to his office mate that his week had just gotten a whole hell of a lot better. He didn't know why, but it had. The ZenFo Pro sat down at his cluttered desk in the ZenFo Pro Library and read an afternoon's worth of email. He stared down at his arm and noticed a continuously shrinking scab staring up at him through his shirt sleeve.

Teeth marks, he thought to himself.

A few weeks earlier, a woman had accidentally, playfully chewed on his arm. He'd been too close to the edge of the bed and had slipped off while she'd been biting. The woman laughed her ass off as the old man from the young person's town fell to the floor, wedged between a cheap boxspring and a cheaper nightstand.

He composed email after quick, terse email. He remembered grabbing Tonya's ankles while she laughed, pulling her down to the floor on top of him. And he remembered how he did some biting of his own, how he'd enjoyed every damned minute of a fleeting moment.

And then, when he was finished reading and responding, he got up and headed back out of the office. He had to run across town to run errands. He was back into the hustle of a Friday, back in Oxford Fucking Ohio.

But he no longer felt like an old man at 28, stuck in a young person's town. As he drove around Oxford, around the Local U., he started composing a blog post in his head, NPR blaring over the company vehicle's speakers.

And then he remembered a friend, nights before, making fun of his horrible bowling skills...

* * * *

So I suck at bowling. But if I'm invited to roll a game or two in the future, I'll gladly expose the world to my suck-itude once more.

Maybe I'll bowl an 103. In a single game. Wouldn't that be something?

Sometimes, it's good to suck at something. Reminds you that you're still breathing, that there's always room for learning to un-suck, always room for change and personal growth and...

And, well, moving on through life.

And I might blog about it. Or I might not. Either way, it's my blog.

In fact, it's my life.

Wouldn't that be something?

- ### -


Joanna said...

Hey, thanks for sharing the 'suckitude' with us! And you're right, your blog, your rules. I like it myself.

Anonymous said...

so this is all librarians in Ohio have to write about? Sex and bowling?

While you're pining over your love life, you have numerous colleagues of yours here in Seattle, working to better the profession. Your weblog is just another example of why we're unable to advocate for our users or be taken seriously by other professions.

What are you doing, sir, to contribute to our "profession?"

The ZenFo Pro said...

Hey, chica, thanks! I appreciate that.

Well, actually, at my library, we're all usually too busy to write about anything, during the day. You know, the whole "clients come first" thing.

As for trying to get users and other professions to take us seriously, well, do you realize how paranoid that sounds? Not to be too harsh, but, well, it's unfair to blame me - or any other LIS blog, related blog, or librarian/staff personal web site for lack of respect.

HuneeB said...

perfectly written: :)

I'd hate to be blunt here, but, well, I blog for myself. This ain't American Idol. There's no voting on how I live my life, no panel of judges to tell me what's appropriate to write or not write.

The Zenformation Professional ain't a blogocracy. It's a blogtatorship.

johana said...

" so this is all librarians in Ohio have to write about? Sex and bowling? "

Ahahaha! Yes. You should do what all those 'hardworking' librarians in Seattle do and give up sex for your work. Shame on you for having a personal life and writing about said personal life in personal time. ; )

I thought that whole monastry/keeper of knowledge vibe went out when the printing press came in.
Clearly I could learn a lot from several well respected Seattle librarians.

Steph said...

You know what? fuck em! I decided a while ago that i wouldn't censor myself, and believe me i have a tonne of friends and family, even sometimes my MOM read my blog. But i don't care.
Like you i blog for myself. There are some things i don't blog about and that's my choice too, but if i stopped and worried about every person i might offend, well I'd never write again.

I love how your turn of phrase, i like your storytelling style, and if vacuous bitches like the one you were IMing with, want to take you task over things you write, then you should cut them loose.
Who needs it?

WDL said...

Dear Anon,

YOU are the reason people hate libraries. Seriously. Librarians are people - and we have lives that don't require us to prop ourselves up with E-Resources & encyclopedias.

Blogs have voices & styles, much like magazines. Nobody is screaming that House Beautiful isn't covering the war in Iraq - and no one seems to care that Time magazine doesn't offer decorating tips.

I like that in our profession we have people that aren't "typical" and write about life - because it is our life that defines the service we provide the public. Ever wonder why you might not have had a "good reference interaction?" Gee. Maybe the librarian had his heart broken earlier that day. Its good to know the back story.

I am terribly sorry if I took too much of your time away from being a good, contributing librarian. Go now, contribute away.

WDL - who regularly contributes to the library community by being a self designated Miss Manners of the biblioworld.

library guy said...

First, I'd just like to say to the previous Anon poster...ZenFo Pro is hardly the reason people don't take librarianship seriously as a profession. I could write volumes about that, but I won't because that's not why I'm here.

Second, I think the blog is fantastic. You have a very compelling writing style and, quite frankly, I think you should give it a go as a professional author. I'd sure as hell buy your books.

Lastly, I would just like to congratulate you on your recent sexual escapades. I mean, it's good to know that SOMEBODY in this profession is getting laid.

sassinak said...

wow, a worse bowler than me... that's impressive cause i'm terrible and forever pulling muscles in my ass...

as for your blog i know that when i start thinking about the readers the posts get really lame and noone reads them :)

(and huneeb? come tell us how you are darlin')

zydeco fish said...

This anonymous person is dead wrong. Even if s/he didn't like the content, surely s/he, as a librarian, could have appreaciated the writing skill. Besides, librarians are people with lives outside the bookshelves. I just don't understand the comment.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Hey, thanks, chica! Means a lot. I was so damned confused trying to get this thing out, trying to share shit from my personal life (i.e. - the point of a blog at the end of the day), I wasn't sure if any of that made sense or not. When I used to work off the AP Style Manual, much different.

Whoohoo! A new commenter...with the courage to post from a URL! I'm humbled, seriously.

Yes, shame on me for being human. There's a lot of history between this particular woman and myself (lord, that could be a whole blog in and of itself), tension, etc. I, um, shortened the experience to, well, practice what I preach - responsibility in online content production.

I have a feeling (read IP tracking) that this person wasn't a Seattle-based librarian, just one of the several folks who attended the American Library Association Midwinter meetings, got a bit upset when surfing the AltLib blogs, and decided to choose me as a scapegoat for some reason. Don't know why.

And its not like I'm the first librarian to ever be party to something like this, either. People might be surprised at what librarians are really like ;)

Oh, thank you so much, chica! Yeah, I have EXES who read this damned thing occassionally (some are polite in their critiques, but I always get the feeling, lol, that its also used to justify perceptions as to why things don't work out.) And there are two people who, dammit, figured out EXACTLY who I was talking about, based on a post I wrote last year. (Thanks to all, btw, for understanding, if I sounded pissy via IM, but the "Motherfucker" jokes get old...seriosuly.)

Yeah, I decided to quit playing Mr. PC a while ago. One of the big criticisms I've received from blog readers I've met personally is that, well, I tell better stories offline, that I'm not completely honest with every aspect of my life (well, duh. I really don't want to hurt anybody - I'm a bastard, not a total fucking bastard), and that I paint myself, at times, as this serious guy who thinks he's smarter than the average cat. I'm not.

Hey, thanks for the response. Nice to know that, well, not every woman in the world hates me :)

Lol, hey thanks, dude. And thanks for the email (responding soon, promise).

Blogs have voices & styles, much like magazines. Nobody is screaming that House Beautiful isn't covering the war in Iraq - and no one seems to care that Time magazine doesn't offer decorating tips.

I will be adding that to the next Quotations post, btw :)

Library Guy:
Dude, thanks for that affirmation. I saw that comment and wondered, honestly, WTF?

Lol, well, not to sound too much like stereotypical guy, but, well...pretty sure I could go the rest of the year without sex. Seriously. Or at least meet another woman who can push my buttons like "Tonya." I've only met, like, maybe five in my life.

Lol, yeah, I suck.

Amen, brother. Amen.

And to one of the "academicians" I noticed gossiping about me at lunch today, at a certain establishment where scholars oft congregate...not much gets by me. People often ask me why I prefer to eat lunch alone. Has to do with the fact that its easier to observe one's surroundings)

While I appreciate your interest in my personal life, it's probably only fair to say that, yes, I've read one of your publications, know that I'm a very small fish in a big pond, and that you probably also have much more clout than I do.

But I also remember a certain gentleman ogling my ex's privates, staring like a "retarded gorilla" - her words. She took it in stride - she's comfortable with her body, her sexuality, and uses it to exploit men for more money than either you or I will ever make.

However, some of the conversations I've had with other young women who've experienced the same thing...

Amazing who reads this thing, isn't it?

Let's just say that it's a damned good thing for some folks that I've never really chosen to turn a critical eye on the supposedly "responsible" adults old enough to know better, much older than myself.

See...aren't ya glad ya gave your lunch companions a referral to this blog? And aren't ya glad I discuss my own flaws rather than discussing those of others???? ;)

HuneeB said...

(Jason sorry ahead of time for using your comment section like this, it's rude but I am still gonna do it, please forgive me) :)

Sass I am good, super busy and will get back to my blog at some point soon. I have done a TON of things from then till now! Oh and I gotta remember to send you that special book you wanted, my time is almost up!!

(Thanks Jason for the space)

Take life in stride; we all have secrets, speed bumps and the like you can't let a handful of judgemental people keep you from traveling you're own path. :) As always I enjoy reading you.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Lol, no worries, chica :) Tangent away :)

HuneeB said...

It's just that I sort of stopped blogging for a good two months now and while I read I rarely comment that much so some fantastic people like Sass wonder where I am. :) Thanks again :)

You know it really is too bad that you locked yourself away while in SLO, It would have been nice to meet you for a kite flying, coffee or something...would love to pick your brain one day; the things you type are very interesting.

* :-D Chuckles :-D * said...

Um hey. haven't read in a while b/c of classes and shit. sorry if i made you uncomfortable or anything last night. thanks for the help!!

second, i gues i now know why a certain ahem mutual friend of ours is pissed at you. i can see why shes mad really and i know you know why she gets upset seeing that you still do shit like this. i'm not going to judge you though. just wante you to know that my deciding not to stop by your apt last night had more to do with MY boyfriend's boundaries than anything about this. hope that doesn't make you hate me dude. its so hard to find a guy who's not a total chatch and i don't want to risk it.
seriously though, you are an awesome librarian!

okay and what's with the text this morning? why did you forward me a message you sent to some chick? wtf?

okay turning into an email. sorry. anyway, hope you don't hate me and will still be nice to me. i guess i forget you're paid to help me and i shouldn't worry about shit. but i do, especially this kind of thing. see ya when i see ya, k? and hope you didn't go home with any of the chatchbait from techno night. no clue why you go to that dude.

pia said...

Thanks Jason for blogging as you see it. That's the way it should be. I do leave out many people, make two poor friends speak for them all

A lot of times when people think that I'm being earnest or sad, I'm not. I just have a very strange sense of humor and see irony in everything

And after the comment above mine, I just don't know what to say. Real life intrudes in a blog

Your posts continually become more layered and different. Keep it up

The first two letters in my word verification are fk. How fitting :)

The ZenFo Pro said...

Yeah, I DID sorta lock myself away while in SLO County...just, well, didn't feel like going out much. And, lol, there are still people pissed as hell about it...I was supposed to be in SF for New Years and I kinda sorta forgot to tell the people I was supposed to be hanging out with that, yeah, I didn't feel like making the 3.5 hour drive up to drink the evening away, esp. after the, er, thing.

Lol, the text was a bit of a mix-up. Sorry about that. As for the rest, no worries. Just doing my job. Please remember, however, that who I am on one side of Campus Ave. is not the same as who I am on the other. And please don't ever feel that you can't stop by my office, just because things aren't exactly cool between our "mutual friend" and myself. She and I are both adults, as are you. Don't sweat it. Understand completely.I hope that doesn't come across as offensive or demeaning to you in any way, either, chica :)

Hey, thanks for the words of encouragement, chica!

Yep, real life does tend to intrude in the strangest places.

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