LOULOU'S ALIBI

Made a decision to delete as much of my past work from the internet as possible. This wasn’t a hundred percent successful. Search engines still manage to unearth a few pieces on lingering defunct online publications that I have no access too, or, who ignored me when I asked if they would delete my stuff. But, for the most part, the vast majority of my online writing is kaput.

The stuff that appeared in print. Well, one can peruse the periodical archives at the library. Same goes for the internet archive. Enter my name, do a little click-digging, et voila. But that requires effort where my intent is to avoid accidentally bumping into my old work. Sort of like asking a party host if your ex is invited before committing to attend their soirée.

As to the why behind this, I can only say I’m trying to close a chapter. It was a good chapter, brilliant in a lot of ways, but it’s done now.

As humans, I’m not sure we were meant to have our previous lives so accessible as they are online. It’s one thing to pour a whiskey and pull out a photo album to traipse down amnesia lane. It’s quite another to constantly bump into your history while living in the present which is a journey to your future which is purposely different from your past. While it’s true our previous experiences make us who we are, it’s also true that a huge part of that process relies on the perception of our memories which is affected by our previous experiences.

A while back I wrote a mini memoir about my first photojournalism assignment in the Soviet Union in 1989. It came out “fine.” Michael, the agent who launched my photography career, an effusive man with an angry disposition toward mediocrity, used to say “fine” is a four letter word. He insisted my work be flawless or nonexistent. It was harsh and demanding but pushed me to produce beyond what I thought my capabilities were.

Occasionally I’ll go back and read parts of the Russia piece. Each time I do I think, it’s not bad...it’s fine.

Ugh.

This morning I read a letter from music producer Steve Albini to Nirvana entitled “I would like to be paid like a plumber.” In it the following caught my attention:

If the record takes a long time, and everyone gets bummed and scrutinizes every step, then the recordings bear little resemblance to the live band, and the end result is seldom flattering.

There is the truth I’ve been seeking.

The memoir took way longer than it should’ve. I started and stopped it at least a dozen times owing to the chaos of my life that year. The result was a lot of second guessing and indecision. I got it done in the end, but it could of been better than “fine.”

The Thursday before the Sunday change to daylight savings time 1982 I sat in my high school English class on the sixth floor of the building that is currently the Ritz Carlton hotel in San Francisco. The classroom windows were open to a warm spring wind swirling under clear blue skies. The atmosphere of the moment inspired a kind of euphoria and a decision that writing would become part of my professional creative life.

It didn’t quite go as planned. After graduating from college with a writing/literature degree I didn’t scribe anything more complicated than a check for twelve years. Fashion photography had become my profession.

Around 2001 blind luck dropped an opportunity into my lap and my first national magazine article was published. It got a enough attention to launch an ancillary career as a writer that lasted about eighteen years and included a stint at National Geographic.

Today I was struck by the same euphoria that hit me all those years ago in the high school classroom. The perfect combination of wind and temperature and blue skies. Funnily enough it’s just before the daylight savings time change. Maybe it’s a sign to do some writing again.