Thursday, December 01, 2005

How Good We Had It

After some recent thinking, a dose of timely dreaming, and a re-invigorated spirit I mean to resume posting. Not just resume- for that implies merely continuing as things were- but to improve as well.

After such a lengthy hiatus, sliding back into the habit will not happen as smoothly as I might wish. Foremost among my hindrances: What type of post would suitably announce my return? An introspective 'why did I stop' piece? A prospective 'what inspires me to put finger to molded plastic' statement? The next idea in my head, pulled off with a certain nonchalance toward the publishing gap? None of those felt quite right.

As luck would have it, I stumbled upon my answer. Along with the published posts, I have a small collections of draft posts which are in various states of completeness and coherence (much the same could be said about the published posts, but I certainly hope none are moved to make such an observation). As luck would have it, the last post of any sort was one of those drafts- in a nearly complete form. I wrote it the same day as the last published post- January 17th. There's a pleasing symmetry there, wouldn't you say? (the title to this post, in fact, is the title of that draft)

For my reintroduction post, I've decided to quote that post and then expand upon it. Voila.

I had no idea how good we had it. For nearly a year now, I have highlighted some of the glaring deficiencies in the Dear Abby column. For fun, mostly. But also in hopes of making a point about what good advice is and is not.

The spirit of those critiques have been heard- only indirectly I'm sure. Well, partially. Beginning with the New Year, the Post dropped Dear Abby as a daily column (she is now a twice a week feature). This is almost certainly for the best. From seven days worth of Abby columns, two columns of worthwhile material can certainly be culled.

Unfortunately, Abby's daily slot has been given to Amy- as in Ask Amy (evidently, my parents destroyed my syndicated advice columnist career by the time the ink on my birth certificate dried). I do not like Amy. Less you begin to think I am some sort of advice column hater, I was a fan of the deceased Ann Landers and am a proponent of Tell Me About It's Carolyn Hax.

Abby is, as I believe I titled a posting, that judgmental bitch at the old ladies tea party. Always chipping in her two cents, only occasionally usefully. Amy is that recklessly reaffirming member of the tea circle. She's an ego fluffer.

What neither Amy or Abby grasp- unlike both Ann and Carolyn: the column and the advice is not about them or their biases. It's about the writer and counseling their decision-making processes- in both particular and general terms.

That post stops exactly when the story turns interesting. When I wrote it, I intended to involve a fun profile of Amy from that month's Atlantic Monthly. That profile endeared Amy to me- in particular her reaction to reader comments and a certain 'horseshit' stamp. I put the post on hold while I reconsidered my position. For a month or two, I had myself thinking she was pretty good with her advice. Somewhere around the onset of Spring, I came back around. Amy is an interesting cross of the Amy I described, the Abby I described, a terribly disinterested listener ('please, stop your whining. It's tiresome'), and the worst parodies of an aloof Martha Stewart. I figure now is as good a time as any to say so. I believe in the sentiment. I believe in the usefulness of saying so. I believe saying so matters, even if it doesn't. None of which I could say last January.

(Yes, there's a mildly allegorical quality to the parallel journeys which, ultimately, are the point of this post)


At 7:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, you're back. It's about time.



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