Cause David Sedaris Told Me It Was Okay

When there was a lull in the questioning at the Smith Center tonight, I simply decided to raise my hand and go for it. Lo and behold, David Sedaris called on me. So I asked him a question I often wondered about his writing:

“Do you ever have your family ask not to write about the things you write about?”

It wasn’t completely out of the blue as it sounds. First of all, if you aren’t familiar with the author David Sedaris, you likely don’t know his entire oeuvre is personal narratives, often very intimate but funny stories from his childhood, love life, and family. Just the stories about his brother, affectionately called The Rooster, are enough to make you blush. It also made me wonder though…is the Rooster okay with this?

Unsurprisingly, the Rooster is just fine with the often scathingly hilarious descriptions of his antics. I was surprised to hear though that Sedaris offers his family the power of veto by providing them drafts of his work before it is published. At one point, his dad exercised that power, asking him to withhold the rather crass phrase the Rooster called his father from time to time. At one point in a Q & A, Sedaris ended up divulging the turn of phrase to an audience, who was apparently horrified. And, interestingly enough, he said his dad was right both from a privacy perspective and it made the story better.

I asked the question mostly because I wanted to know how Sedaris’ family felt about his stories, but I also had selfish motivations. I know I am no David Sedaris, but the more I write in this blog, the more I question what should go in here. I frequently wonder where the line is. I knew Sedaris wasn’t going to give me the magic answer, but to at least see someone I admire with the intensity I do this author, seems to struggle with the same question was a bit of a relief.

I don’t mean to be coy when I say I am at a point in my life where a lot of things are going on. Things that wear on me…things that make me cry…things that I don’t know how to wrap my brain around without writing about them.

And I guess where I really struggle is, as someone who doesn’t really see the value in a diary, I find I write in order to share things and find common spaces and strike up conversations that might just help me understand things a little better.

I long to write a post on my “blinker boys” theory, as many of my friends insist I should, but I hold back knowing it could hurt some of the guys in my past or threaten some of my male relationships in the future. I want to write about half a million things about my mother, for I find her incredible, but with every Tweet I send about her, I feel a little bit worse knowing how much my mom gets bashful when I do it, even if it is filled with love.

And then there is me. I’m struggling right now in a lot of ways and the last thing I want is for people to think I am seeking attention and the only thought in my head is “woe is me.” I am White. I was born in America. I’m ahead of the curve and I know that. But I also know I am a pessimist at heart because optimism is just something that has never made much sense to me. Bracing for the worst is so much easier than expecting the best, and the same kind of goes with how I write. I tend to point out the things that frustrate me or make no sense more than the things I admire, because admiration is a pretty easy emotion to figure out. I know why I admire Mohamed Sanu. What I don’t know is how to deal when life throws me 35 curve balls. And I like to believe that writing through those curveballs will help, even if that writing isn’t always cheerful.

So I go back and forth about how much of these goings ons in my life need to be on here. Like Sedaris, I wonder if my mom telling me no isn’t just about self-preservation, but is also a smart decision from a content perspective. I want that blinker boy post to exist so badly, but respect of others and a desire to maintain relationships with trust win out, even though I have it saved as a draft on my computer.

In the end though, I can’t seem to kick this urge to write about some of these things my mom and dad always told me weren’t for other people to be burdened with. They taught me to deal with my own problems, not foist them on others, so I stay silent, thinking that writing about it is an imposition, making people read about my drama out of a sense of obligation. But, here I am, almost two months in to what I will say are categorically the worst two months of my life, and I think I just have to get some of it out to stay sane. I doubt I will Tweet and FB new posts, so if you are curious, check back in.  If you are not, that is okay too, because I realize this whole exercise is fundamentally a selfish one. But more than one person has told me I need to be a little selfish right now, so here goes. I may not be forthcoming if you have questions and I may omit details, but it is only out of respect for those who don’t want their stories shared. So there are no blinker boys just yet. And the Dolores stories will be sparse. Instead, you’ll just be stuck with me as I try to work through some of these bizarre happenstances, knowing in the back of my head that it is okay to wonder what should and shouldn’t be said, because it is something even someone as immensely talented as David Sedaris worries about too.


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