Life, uncurated.

The best thing in my inbox every day is Vanessa Herald’s TinyLetter, A Fierce Practice, in which she shares beautiful photos of thought-provoking quotes, writes with grace and deep thoughtfulness about the world and beings around her, asks big questions, shares encouragement, and occasionally tears into what seems an increasing tendency for people to “curate” their lives in ways that make their lives look less like lives than museum exhibits. Vanessa is a self-described imperfectionist, which I think is fantastic and real and the perfect antidote to all of this curating.

“Curate” is one of those words that’s starting to annoy me via overuse. If you’re not a member of the British clergy or a museum director, I’m not sure how much curating you should really be doing. To curate, in its newest, non-clerical sense, is “to pull together, sift through, and select for presentation,” according to Dictionary.com. I’ve heard the argument that we all curate our lives for presentation via social media, and I suppose to some extent this is true–at some point we have to select what to share and what not to. But we have been doing this in basic interaction for thousands of years–we don’t tell everybody everything. We’ve only just started referring to this as “curating” with the advent of social media. 

“Curating,” to me, implies a level of intent that feels like something new, something inextricably linked to our use (and overuse) of the interwebs. Maybe what we were doing before was more like editing–we were leaving out what didn’t fit, what wasn’t relevant, what a particular audience didn’t need to know. Now, we take selfies with chins tucked, bodies turned sideways, duck lips. If I see another woman post something about how her man is The. Best. Husband. EVER!!! because he did the dishes or remembered that she has a birthday or that they share parenting responsibility for the children they mutually created, I May. Lose. It. COMPLETELY!!! And don’t get me started on soft, romantic lighting that makes your mixed drink look svelte and sexy, or professional family portraits at the beach where everyone is wearing matching formal wear, or all the other myriad kinds of posts that really seem calculated not to let people know what you’re up to but to make them wish they were up to it, too.

All this curation makes me grouchy.

Don’t get me wrong. I am in favor of fun and joy and really good food and the beach and kittens. It’s the intent that seeps through so much of this curation that bugs me. Intent, and simultaneous obliviousness. Every time I see a “Best. Husband. EVER!!!” post, I think of all my friends who’ll see that and think of relationships that didn’t work out. Every time I see a 5,000-photo album of baby pictures, I think of all my friends who’ve struggled with infertility, or who never found the right coparent, or who’ve struggled to adopt because they’re gay, or who simply don’t like babies all that much, because let’s be honest here, babies are not for everyone and insisting that everyone should want them and that a person’s life is incomplete if they never have one is just stupid-headed. Food porn makes me think of friends with eating disorders. Marathon-porn makes me think of friends with serious health struggles. Travel-porn makes me think of friends who would love to travel but can’t for a thousand reasons.

Ugh. Okay, I’m just a curmudgeon. But I think that it’s often possible to tell when something is posted to honestly share, and when it’s shared to inspire envy. Tone matters. Words matter.

I’m sure that part of my reaction stems from my ambivalence to social media. It can be a wonderful thing when it brings people together. It’s great that people can share those adorable baby and puppy pics with family members too far away to visit. It’s fantastic that we can help each other celebrate our achievements. But so often, we use this interaction as a substitute for interacting with people who aren’t far away. We use it as a panacea to make ourselves feel better about what’s off-camera. Those Best. Husband. EVER!!! posts always make me wonder what’s really going on behind the scenes. If a dude doing the laundry or cooking dinner is something to be celebrated, what is the day-to-day like? Give me the pictures of the screaming babies and the skunked dogs and the mountains of laundry, because then I know what your world is really like. Then I know how I can help you, how we’re alike, what you need, what’s in your heart and on your mind.

In the spirit of anti-curation, I snapped some pictures of my home this morning. There are some lovely spots that keep me sane. There are some certified disaster areas. And there’s a lot of in-between. You could argue that this is curated, I guess. I didn’t take a picture of every single thing. But I didn’t arrange things. This is what it looks like here, right now. And what makes this un-curated, in my mind, is the intent. I’m tired of perfection. I’m tired of people trying to present and curate their lives and homes. I want an antidote to the panacea. I just want us to be real.

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Based on this picture, you would think that I have my act together. However, just to the lower left of this window lurks…..
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…..the ceiling fan that I’m pretty sure we’ve had for at least a year and never installed but it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten and now I just dust it (when I dust) as if it were a piece of furniture because basically now it is.

 

 

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This is what Thing 1’s laundry basket looks like when he thinks there’s hardly anything in it and he definitely doesn’t need to do laundry for at least another week or so.
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Thing 2 also definitely does NOT need to do laundry for at least a week. Or hang up his wet bath towel. Or shut drawers. EVER. And yes, that is a toilet plunger on top of the dresser. And an empty fishbowl. I don’t know why.

 

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I am proud of these tomato plants. I am not proud that they are surrounded by last year’s moldy gourds. Fortunately, I no longer see the gourds. They are visual white noise. Every once in a while, one of them goes bad and then I notice. Circle of life, baby. Also there is one lone broccoli plant, because reasons.
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I found this in the living room. Apparently Thing 1 was up late composing Shakespearean insults.
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After I expressed a desire to eat healthier, Thing 1 helpfully labelled the leftover Easter jellybeans.
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“Where did you put the swords?” “Behind the bags of clothes for donation, just like the knights of yore.”
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If we never repaint the trim, one of two things will happen: either it will all peel off to a uniform old-paint color, or interior design will become so weird that this will actually be a desirable look. Let’s wait and see what happens!
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Things we don’t believe in: Pipelines. Doorknobs made after 1979. Painting doors.
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This spot looks pretty good, crooked candles notwithstanding, and the mirror affords a lovely view of the humidifiers I cleaned last weekend and which I may one day put away.

 

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My TBR shelf. I checked these out almost two weeks ago and have read approximately almost one entire book. If I am true to form, I will renew them the maximum number of times allowed and return at least two unread. And I will learn nothing from this process.

Yikes!! I’ve spent so long un-curating my life that I forgot to switch out the laundry and now I have no idea what I’m going to wear to work.

 

 

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