Flotsam: The Barbara Walters Special*

by Alexa on July 19, 2005

*Please do not call ABC for a tape of this program. ABC does not record made-up interviews.

As I freshen my makeup prior to the interview, Barbara (Ms. Walters to you) approaches me, wearing a suit the color of an orange push-up. We chat for a few moments about our Alma Mater, and when Barbara confesses that she probably won’t actually read my blog, I kindly assure her that neither will anyone else. She purses her lips in an attractive, quizzical pout, and asks why, then, she is doing this interview. I remind her that she isn’t, really, that this is merely a gimmick, something to provide me with an inaugural blog entry that introduces Flotsam without all of those toilsome expository paragraphs. We take our seats, a bouquet of hydrangeas between us.

Barbara: Good evening. I am here with Alexa, hostess of Flotsam: an electronic journal of sorts; a soapbox; a forum—in short, a blog. The craze for blogs has received much coverage by the more established media, and many are asking the question: are blogs a laudably egalitarian journalistic venue, or merely a way in which to foist one’s inchoate navel-gazing upon the public? (turning to guest) Alexa, tell us a little about your “blog.” Why “Flotsam”? What does it mean?

Alexa: Well, according to dictionary.com, Flotsam means three things:
1. Wreckage or cargo that remains afloat after a ship has sunk, i.e. floating refuse or debris.
2. Discarded odds and ends.
3. Vagrant, usually destitute people
The second meaning will probably describe the contents of my blog quite accurately. At times, however, I fear the other definitions may be just as apt.

Barbara: (clasps hands) Let’s go back to the beginning. What prompted you to begin “blogging”?

Alexa: Until 6 months ago, I had never visited a single blog, having rashly assumed—as is my wont—that they weren’t worth reading unless you were particularly zealous about some political issue or interested in the mental diarrhea of disaffected teens. But after my last miscarriage, feeling entirely alone and awash in a miasma of despair, I happened across “a little pregnant,” which was smart and funny, and managed to be sincere-but-not-maudlin about things that reduce even excellent writers to incoherent sentimentality. It made an impression on me, and also, I needed a hobby.

Barbara:
And when you’re not “blogging…”

Alexa: Oh, I do other things— I watch television, I read other blogs, I read books or essays by writers who obviously were not as skilled at procrastination as I am. I never tire of visiting doctors so that they might misdiagnose me and suggest that I should “have less stress.” I like to brood. Sometimes I eat something. Sometimes I think about exercising. Sometimes I think about writing or have a panic attack. I like to have a martini—two at the very most.

Barbara: Do you live by yourself?

Alexa: No, I live with The Nearly-Fiance. The Nearly-Fiance is very lovable, though sometimes moody. He is very, very smart, and always saying things like “non-linear history” and “architecture.” He is a poet. He is busy not-finishing his MFA thesis, after which he is considering going on to pursue an even more lucrative degree, such as a PhD in art history. We have 2 girl cats—Irma (shy, crazy) and Willie (in heat)—and 1 boy cat—Lennie (loud, sleepy). When I have cramps, The Nearly-Fiance puts a dishtowel in the microwave and brings it to me to use as a heating pad. I love him very much.

Barbara: “Non-linear history” doesn’t pay the rent, my dear. What do you do for money?

Alexa: I am an editor. I work for a vast legal publishing corporation. I spend most days with 6500 of my closest colleagues at a compound that has two cafeterias; a patio café; a famous-coffee-chain; a dry cleaner; a store that sells flowers, candy, cards, dishes, and assorted tasteless tchotchkes; a large manufacturing/printing plant; and a “university” where one may take classes about law, business, or optimizing one’s leadership potential. For my job, I write on pages with green pen and put little flags on them and give them to someone else. Then they write on them again and give them back to me. Sometimes we do the same thing, only with computers.

Barbara: I see. (leans forward) So, Alexa, tell me, what is the point of you, a would-be writer with three cats and an overeducated Nearly-Fiance, posting post after post about your trivial publishing job and pedestrian neuroses? Who will find inspiration, or solace, as a result?

Alexa: Oh…Inspiration or solace? Well, hopefully I will.

Barbara: (impatiently) Yes, yes. But what issues of import will be discussed? Why should we, The Outside World, read Flotsam?

Alexa: I suppose you mean The Outside World has better things to do.

Barbara: Surely.

Alexa: Oh…well I do hope that someone will read this, sometime…but there won’t be issues of import discussed either, I’m afraid. Maybe I could post some useful recipes? (looks around helplessly)

Barbara: So. Flotsam—“A Woman, Some Free Time, a Blog.” Not exactly A Man, a Plan, a Canal, is it?
(turning to camera)
This is Barbara Walters, saying ‘Good Night.’

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{ 13 comments }

Mary August 17, 2005 at 8:31 am

HI there: I’m from the outside world,and I read it, and I love your blog! somehow reading about your own trivialities makes my own trivialities sound somehow less, trivial. And I love the part about your mother’s backhand.

M August 7, 2007 at 3:08 pm

I came from a post on my blog….but I love your writing…mine is so elementary, but you are great….I will definately be coming by more often.

MS January 2, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Great post! It was very entertaining! Your’re a great writer.

Lori February 25, 2008 at 11:28 am

Looking into the past…and so it began.

Melissa February 29, 2008 at 2:00 am

Hi. I’m from the outside world too. I stumbled upon you via a link from Julie too, surely the birthplace of all good blogs?

I pray that your daughter is ok. I’m just beginning at the beginning of yours tory, but I know enough to know that my heart is in my throat as I await news of your beautiful Simone.

Freyja March 11, 2008 at 8:29 am

I found you via Mel.. and then BabyStep. I figured if both of them like you then maybe there’s somefin worth reading here… seems like I might be on to something?

Jean March 20, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Alexa, I found you via my friend Tanya, interestingly, you’re mentioned on another blog I read “Doctor Mama.” My husband and I have a daughter with the middle name Simone and we also live in the Twin Cities. You’re Simone will do well. Pump, Pump, Pump!

Kathleen March 22, 2008 at 12:11 pm

This is such a creative blog entry. I can’t wait to read more of your blog. In the meantime, your beautiful daughter, Simone, will be in my constant thoughts and prayers.

Mimi July 3, 2008 at 7:36 am

I’ve been following your blog for a couple of months now and it’s great that things are going so well with Simone! Yayyy!

I never looked up Flotsam until now. I just had to finally figure it out because I found the book “Flotsam” by David Wiesner in the children’s section of the library and brought it home to read to my YDD. No words… but a totally cool story! Check it out if you haven’t already!

Susanna November 7, 2008 at 1:06 am

what a great first entry!

Beth April 20, 2009 at 12:03 am

I stumbled on your blog while doing a search (seriously!) on flotsam. You have an amazing ability to find the humor in even the most tragic situations. I couldn’t stop reading and chuckling over your posts. Someday I hope to hear that you have a bestseller.

Helen July 24, 2009 at 12:11 am

Ha! I wondered where it all started and never got far enough back to look (I have years of reading to catch up on, oh what will I do). What a brilliant beginning!

Karen December 20, 2010 at 9:05 pm

What a strong start, Alexa. I am currently in the final chapter of Half Baked, and I have recently started my own blog. I don’t know what I am doing, its all very weird. Like the line I straddle between Gen X and Gen Y, I feel I straddle the same line between blogs of old, and blogs of now. I want to write, and I would like an audience to connect with, but I don’t know if blogging is for me in this current climate of social media. I am waiting to read part 2 of ‘Its mostly lint …’ but I understand you have some *stuff* going on at the moment. I will eagerly but quietly wait for part 2, when you’re ready. Awesome stuff, lady!!

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