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An email from Arlette and then my reply.
From: Arlette T.
Date: October 1, 2007 12:17:27 AM PDT
To: Justin Winokur

>> The only person that continues to chronicle my life and broadcast
>> it to the public is me. (Then again, I imagine my ex-girlfriends might
>> write about me on their blogs to chronicle my bad behavior or how
>> mad they are at me for any number of stupid things I did or said. But,
>> I know better than to ever read an ex's blog. And, this isn't the same
>> as having a real writer write about me, even if the ex-girlfriend is
>> actually a real writer.)

I'm unsubscribing from your blog, which is strange after so many years of reading it, but it feels necessary. In two years, the only mentions of me on your blog as a romantic partner were 1) an oblique reference to debauchery and 2) our post-breakup trip to San Diego. That's hardly a reflection of what your life with me was like. And now I feel like I've been lumped in with all the other girls you dated who, it seems, only ever yelled at you and got you in trouble. That doesn't feel right, and so I no longer want to keep reading.

As an ex who's blogged (privately) about us, here's an idea: Maybe your exes were never chronicling your fuckups. Maybe they were trying to understand and explain and handle the pain your "bad behavior" triggered. Maybe -- just maybe -- they were busy with their own feelings, not with trying to prove to the world what a bad boyfriend you were.

You know, you might actually get in less trouble with exes if you wrote more honestly about them, instead of reducing them to two-dimensional, cartoonish characters on your blog. You had no trouble getting across the best parts of your relationship and your feelings about the people you love when you started your blog. What about the rest of it? How come you only give the pretty feelings the star treatment? Aren't you the guy who likes to focus on awkward, goofy-looking girls because you know the stunners always steal the spotlight?

Anyway. Can you re-send me your new address? I sort of lost my cell phone with the text on it that had your new mailing address on it, and I wanted to send you the most boring souvenir in the world that I got for you when I was in Denver. Hope you're doing well.

-- Arlette

From: Justin Winokur
Subject: Re:
Date: October 2, 2007 11:45:23 AM PDT
To: Arlette

I acknowledge you're hurt by what I do and don't write.

I should remind you that I didn't write about lots of stuff during the last two years. In fact, I didn't write about almost any of the things that were on my mind—good or bad.

I didn't write about bringing Brainpool to come play at their rock opera and how wonderful a night it was or how Christoffer cried. I didn't write about the songs I wrote in the bow of the yacht while you read in the bedroom or how "End Of The Road" or "Song To Fall In Love To In The Summertime" were really about you. I didn't write about my panic attacks. I didn't write about the day that you told me that you didn't expect me to be perfect and that you loved all of me.

I didn't write about my victories. I didn't write about my losses.

For the most part I didn't write at all. Period.

The few times that I did write, all that came out were weak little peeps of steam—casting infrequent, faint shadows of my life.

If my blog is any indicator of my life over the last couple of years, then of course it's a very shallow picture. By writing I would've had to confront too many complicated truths head on. And, I was too scared, broken, and upset to deal with those things.

I started writing again recently, though. But, a lot of the stories are kept in my paper diary. So, only certain things make it to the online one. This is better for me for now. It might change. But, it's what I'm doing for now.

And, I have to admit, after seven years of blogging I've never found any way to write (or not write) about people in my life without some of them being irritated, grumpy, or even furious at me. If I paint only happy pictures then people start to grumble that there was more to them than what I'm portraying. If I paint dark pictures of a person or point out things they've done to hurt me they act like I'm slandering them. Some people don't want to be mentioned at all.

One friend called me screaming bloody murder and crying because I retold a story she told me one day when we were hanging out. I posted her first name, but not her last name or anything else about her. Yet, she still screamed and cried on the phone about how I shouldn't have done that.

What the heck am I allowed to write about?

[On a related note: Ever wonder how it must be to be friends with David Sedaris?]

I have a problem where I try to censor my life from myself. I think that maybe if I close my eyes to things or edit away some nasty details they'll go away and I won't have to be scared and upset. I know this is a problem I have. You know it, too. It ruined my relationship with you. So, I have enough problems with indirect and direct pressure to censor from within. I don't need any more pressure from anyone else.

I write to entertain myself and keep notes on my life. I don't write to give perfect, impartial, and complete descriptions of what happened. My words, like a photograph, are bound to reduce the depth of what happened to two simple dimensions.

I'm sorry you're hurt by what I did and didn't say about you, me, and us. I loved you very much. I was very confused, scared, hurt, and depressed. I'd give anything to change things so that we could have been together during a time when I was solid, stabile, and more available for the amazing relationship we should've had.

If you want to know how I feel or how I felt, please don't rely on my blog. Please just ask me. I'll tell you.