Painting Flowers

“That thing you just did–yeah, that! Do that again!”

Recently, the comment section of this blog has been peppered with quite a bit of anger and criticism. This is nothing new, to be fair. Anyone who’s ever posted anything on the internet is familiar with the equation: Person + Internet = Rage. However, lately there’s been a lot of, “This blog has changed!” and “What happened to the old Karley?” I have to agree; this blog has changed. When I started writing it, over six years ago now, I was 21 years old, living in a squat in London, taking a large quantity of drugs almost daily, and–based on my own Google diagnosis–I’m pretty sure I was a sex addict. Back then I wrote about my daily life more often than I do now. That was for two reasons: 1) because I only worked about six hours a week (I was a flyer girl for nightclubs and lived on basically nothing), so I had a lot more free time to shout unsolicited rants about my feelings at the internet, and 2) because in certain ways my daily life back then was a lot more blog-worthy than it is now. For instance, back then I could honestly say things like, “Today a homeless Romanian family moved into our living room, after which I went to a party in an abandoned toilet factory and everyone took DMT and had an orgy.” Now, however, my daily life is much more like, “Today I woke up and made myself a protein shake, after which I swallowed a bunch of Ritalin and worked on my laptop for seven hours, and then I ate a taco with my friend, and then I was moved to tears while watching the Joan Rivers documentary on Netflix.” See what I mean? The latter just lacks a certain punchiness.

When my daily life became less punchy, I began to interview people with punchier lives than my own–porn stars, prostitutes, fetishists, quadriplegic dwarfs, etc.–and posted those on my blog instead, so that I could live vicariously through their punchiness. This was fun for me because I love interviewing people who have a lot to say–the sort of people who can just talk and talk, and every sentence that comes out of their mouth is more entertaining and extreme than the last. The people who have a lot to say are usually the people who do things, rather than the people who make things. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s true. When I first started working as a journalist for magazines, I interviewed a lot of people who make things–artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers, etc.. They never had very much to say. I’d ask a band, “Why did you start your band? Why do you make music?” and they’d answer, “We don’t know. Because we like it, I guess.” I used to find this annoying. I was disappointed that the people whose art I loved, who I imagined to be some of the most interesting people in the world, actually didn’t have much to say about their work. Years later, though, I feel differently. It took me awhile to realize that just because a person creates an amazing thing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the process or reason behind its creation is also amazing. I learned that actually, the creative process can be very long, solitary, mundane, and ultimately not worth talking about. I also learned that often, art is a form of communication. And if that’s true, doesn’t that make asking an artist to talk about his artwork sort of redundant and counterproductive? I’m not sure. But maybe we should all learn to just appreciate amazing things for what they are, and be satisfied that they exist, in order to save everybody a lot of stress and disappointment.

More recently I’m sometimes in the opposite position, and interviewers ask me questions. The other day someone literally asked me, “Who are you, really?” That question creeped me out. I challenge anyone to answer that without coming across like a total douche. And anyway, who even cares who anyone really is? More often than not the reality of person is either boring or depressing, and I’d rather have the fake version. But when put on the spot, the best answer to the question I could come up with was, “A busty blonde blogger. Wait, no… actually, just write whatever you think sounds good.”

I was talking to an artist friend of mine recently about the concept of change. He was saying that as an artist, once you gain recognition for creating a certain thing, people begin to expect that thing from you. For example, if you become famous for painting flowers, afterward people expect you to paint more flowers. When people like something, they want more of it. The people want more flowers, so you make more flowers. However, after a few years of making flowers, you get bored. Flowers don’t inspire you anymore and you want to try out something new, so you start experimenting with painting trees. This makes people angry. The people don’t like trees–they think the flowers were prettier–so they start to complain. They say, “You’ve gone downhill. We preferred your early stuff.” Then you start to panic, and all the pressure makes you think, “Maybe I should just give the people what they want.” So you start to paint flowers again. But this doesn’t make the people happy either. Now they’re saying, “You’re a one trick pony. We’re bored or flowers. We want something new.” And so you kill yourself. And then, forty years after your death, they hang your tree paintings at the MET and everyone agrees they were your real masterpieces.

You can’t give people what they want, because people don’t know what they want.

The worst sentence in the world, after “What kind of music do you like?” and “What’s your star sign?” is “I liked their early stuff.”

Maybe I should start re-blogging old posts. Maybe that would make everyone happy, because then I could stop stressing about needing to post more often, and everyone else could have the old, better, more ME version of me back again.

I’m currently trying to write a book and a movie. It’s awful, I want to shoot myself. But that’s another reason for my recent lack of lengthy personal posts. It’s unfortunate, actually, because I think blogging relieves a lot of my stress. (LOL) I don’t have the money to go to therapy, because I don’t have health insurance, so I sort of see the internet as my therapist–my neutral confidant. I talk to it about my trials, traumas and concerns, and afterward I feel relieved, less anxious. Although sometimes my therapist can actually be quite harsh, like when it sends me random emails saying things like, “You are a fat whore with no talent.” Tough love ;)



59 Replies to “Painting Flowers”

    1. euh, winning and whining are two very different things Rodri. Be clear or don’t bother, you’re just embarrassing yourself otherwise. But yes Karley is *winning* – always love your posts Karley x

  1. This is one of your best posts to date. Intellectual, thought out, patient, thorough, honest. Ignore everyone. Ambition and growth are never bad.

    1. I do think so as well. This one is self-reflected, critical, without trying to be anything but a short explanation. Great form, looking forward to the future on here.

  2. Karley! I have followed your blog from the beginning and I love where you’re going with your blog! You’re doing amazing! Love ya!!

  3. YEA GO GIRL GO!!!!

    So much truth and wisdom in this!!

    I really appreciate this piece, it resonates with me!!!

    You have depth and insight. Thanks for being unabashedly YOU. Authenticity is the best, most attractive thing we can offer.

    Blessings & LUV ,

  4. Beware using Ritalin for recreational (non-ADHD or other prescribed and carefully monitored purposes). It’s a bandage solution for the go-go-go 21st century lifestyle and can be quite psychologically addicting and physiologically detrimental. Try green tea with some invigorating orange aromatherapy instead. Or the root cause for needing such a substance to do some writing. ;)

    1. “Beware using Ritalin for recreational (non-ADHD or other prescribed and carefully monitored purposes). It’s a bandage solution for the go-go-go 21st century lifestyle and can be quite psychologically addicting and physiologically detrimental.”


  5. I have been reading your blog since the South London squat days and I love the direction it has gone – do people just want to read the same things over and over? Because they can go through your blog archive if they want.

  6. I only got into this blog on the late stuff and I think it’s great and that it means I go to the early stuff and think it’s also great and I’m sorry I wasn’t here from the beginning but I can’t change that but I think you’re doing really well.

  7. Lots of people are idiots. I feel I’ve been on some sort of parallel path while reading your blog, and it really has just been getting older, and probably getting better at life in general. That’s not to say the old days were wrong or bad, they were fun. But where a 21 year old drug addled sex addict is cute/interesting, a 37 year old drug addled sex addict errs more on the batshit side of the spectrum. Keep growing up and adventuring in new ways. You’re doing a top job.

  8. you’re just amazing. i think too many people are too afraid to start living life with the thought that they’re getting older and that now they should start planning their future. Theyre too afraid of new things. Youre doing exactly the right thing. xxxx

  9. If you don’t mind me saying, the direction you’re heading in now is far healthier and potentially more rewarding than the self-destructive course you originally took, as entertaining as it may have been to some. Likewise, the calibre of followers will improve commensurate with your skills as a writer and observer.
    If you write about the highs of life while experiencing those highs, you can expect some of the comments from visitors to your site to reflect not only similar thrills but lows, too, like tripping the light fantastic and face-planting into dog shit that someone has callously and irresponsibly left on the pavement. What I find fascinating about you is the art you create by “painting flowers” with life’s excrement.
    You have to commiserate to a degree with the trolls of the net. They have a turd under their noses like a malignant moustache, the stench of which constantly lingers about their nostrils reminding them on a daily basis of the bum deal they’ve been given. Their only solace is the schadenfreude they get from rubbing other people’s noses in it when they’re down.
    The fewer derogatory remarks the better it is for us ultimately because, judging by this post, you care what people think. The more positive people are, the better it is for the development of your creative juices and accordingly the lubrication of your words that we enjoy reading so much.
    You’re getting better and all the more fascinating, Karley. Even if you now choose to “paint trees” with more progressive means rather than menstrual discharge and you’re no longer like Charlotte Roche on Red Bull, I look forward to your posts on here and your book when it comes out because your life is far less ordinary than my own.

  10. You, are an excellent human. I have been reading your blog for a few years, and find your honesty and guts really inspiring, and your writing really entertaining. Being so publicly open about your personal life, and writing about very taboo subjects is very bold, and guarantees a certain backlash. The fact that you write regardless of negative reactions, and that your blog inspires and entertains people is a great achievement, of which you should feel proud. ; ) <3

  11. Karley, your blog has been consistently enjoyable, interesting and funny for the years I’ve been reading it. Whenever I’d commented saying I hope you write more about your life I never meant it as a criticism of what you were posting at the time, I was just curious about what you were up to.
    I love all variety of your posts and I’m so excited that you’re writing a book and movie, I hope you eventually do a book tour so I can hear you talk in person and give you gifts (if that’s not creepy?)

  12. I’m gonna try to put this down the way I as a long term reader of this blog see it. I have no idea if this is in any way connected to why other readers criticize your recent writing, but i’ll give it a shot.
    Of course saying “I liked your old stuff better” is just as bad as saying “the first album is always the best one” – and of course one can never satisfy those people.
    Also, of course you can never be as interesting to read about as you are when you’re writing intimate, revealing stories about yourself – which is why this blog got so big in the first place?
    And surely one can not hold up with this kind of writing because after the hundredth time, even an orgy report can be boring.

    The changing I personally recognized is that I recently have a feeling this blog has turned into a feature blog. Most of the new stuff is about other people’s projects, music, art or life – which is fine because I guess it’s your job to catch interesting stories around you and present them to your audience.
    But what really miss about reading your stuff is the personal voice, attitude and point of view that used to come along with your writing. Maybe you became more humble as to if your point of view is necessary or read-worthy, but for me personally, it has always made reading your posts a fun thing, because I could relate to it. The way you reported, the way you presented stuff through your own eyes made it seem like I was there, like I saw it too. Or like a really funny friend is telling me about it.

    To sum it up: For me, it’s not about reading really private and dirty stuff and fantasizing about it or whatever – You could just write about the weather, or a discussion that took place and that touched you, or a fight you had with someone or a political movement you like or dislike – as long as I have the feeling that you are sharing your real thoughts, your personal criticism as well as your personal satisfaction about something. Not just saying: “Look. This is great, I love this”. Because that is why I like to read it instead of any other article. Because of the personal note and mark.
    This did not disappear, you still do post stuff like this – the paris “review” (ha ha) is the best example – but it’s gotten way less and I think that’s just a shame because even if I didn’t agree with something, the way you wrote about it always made me laugh and entertained me.

    1. ‘content v style’ is such a good point!

      i also really agree that karley’s personal voice did not disappear but I also want to stress that it still appears in posts that have nothing to do with her personal life. In interviews sometimes they read like “standard journalist”, which is good enough but other times they read like something that only Karley could have conducted, she’ll give a lengthy opinion in the build up to a question or she’ll use humour or get a response that most other interviewers couldn’t have gotten.

    2. I agree. My favourite posts are the personal ones – the most recent posts probably being the Paris post, the catch-up post after your break-up, and this post right here. Though I still like the other posts – especially the Slutever Vice vids and interviews with people with crazy fetishes and sex lives – my main reason to visit this blog to read about you, whether it you are living in a squat or eating tacos. Anyway, no matter what people say, they’re still reading, so keep doing what you’re doing :)

  13. Fair enough, I guess most peoples lives get less wild as they get older other wise your left with pretty bad mental problems. Your still a good writer and funny anyway.

  14. Pssht, whatevs to those idiots. It would be stupid not to realise that people are entirely different at 21 and 27. Or that people’s lives don’t change much in 6 years. I’ve been following the blog since about 2010 and I’ve loved it’s evolution. You can tell that you’ve tried really hard to keep the content interesting without being repetitive and the thing that links it all together is your unique brand of wit. Keep doing what you do, the people that are truly interested will keep coming back and those who don’t like it can go find something else to read :)

  15. Just do what you love. Thats the only Way to go. Never Listen to what people say, unless they are you Friends. People just Love to complain and critique more then Giving props. Fuck the haters- they are loosers. Progression- yay!

  16. I used to really enjoy your blog because of the blurry frontier between your private stories and your visually teasing pictures.
    It was so sexual, I was coming here almost like I would go to a porn site. And I was living for the moment where you would finally post the most astonishing porn video of all time, at some point I thought it might happen.

    Now that we know it won’t, it’s not that you’re not good enough without being teasing and slutty, but that’s just not what I was looking here. It may seem kind of shallow, but knowing I’ll never see a simple, great and full porn of you is easily (and weirdly) one of the most sad thing in my life

  17. I followed your blog throughout high school and am soon to graduate college. I feel like I’ve “seen” you grow so much through this blog’s content and style, which I’ve always been a fan of. Your voice-that makes your writing enjoyable and good and endears you to me-comes out loud and clear whether you’re doing an interview or writing about your personal life. Good on you for staying honest to yourself and your readers. Xx

  18. Karley,

    You and I are the same age, and I’ve been following your blog for quite a long time now. I’ve loved following the progression of your posts and life, seeing it mirror much of the maturation process that I’ve gone through myself. It seems foolish to me that people expect a 27 year-old to have the same priorities and party-girl lifestyle as a 21 year-old. I’m sure that I’d be nearly unrecognizable to my younger self.

    Following a blog for years allows a person to have such an exciting glimpse of a life lived. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your stories for all these years! <3

  19. I love your blog in all it’s forms.

    On a side note, I do kinda wish you re-post that piece you wrote about Cosmo Mag’s “being sexy” advice. That was the first post I ever read on your blog and I thought it was hilarious. Now I think it’s gone? Did Cosmo Mag make you take it down?

    Anyways, keep up the good work, and I look forward to consuming your future creative endeavors!

  20. great post. ‘be an artist’ they said…. bah! lookin forward to yr book though, you can write for sure… keep goin, and don’t buy a gun. boom.

  21. Karley, I too have gone through a change of perspective, its shocking to realize ‘holy shit I’m becoming productive without booze, drugs or the usual youthful distractions’. Its okay, the main thing is that you’ve continued to progress your blog and your abilities as an artist. You could’ve easy continued the squatter life, partying and writing articles for VICE…tralala. I enjoy reading this blog because it inspires me to keep going and creating. Love ya kiddo <3

  22. here’s the best advance you never asked for: DITCH this blog and focus solely on trying to get paid to write to earn a living. i know, i know, it’s easier said than done, BUT, you’ve written for Vanity Fair so you’re already past the point 95% of others writers male/female wish they were, so, don’t back track, move forward.

    blogging is dead
    you stop blogging and people will go somewhere else to read about tits/ass & weird porn the internet proves that every day.

  23. I probably post some harsh post in the past (and probably will in the future), but it’s just because I see the potential in your writing and in your voice and I don’t see it expressed because you obviously fear that you have grown boring, or lame, or uninteresting, and you’d rather post stories about people that do things (thus considering yourself a person who make things therefore justifing your supposed boriness). Stop giving a fuck so much and write what you think and don’t care if your readers will juge you. I know you probably think the most important thing you’re making is your book or your screenplay (and I hope you’re right), but please be aware that, if you really put yourself in it, this blog can be a relevant work, with your skills this can be an amazing chronicle of a twentysomething in the 2000’s. But in order to do so you have to loose the filters, like you did when you though that your life was worth blogging about.

  24. Have you watched the Diana Vreeland documentary? She said something similar in it about not giving people what they think they want. And she’s amazing, so.

  25. Oh my god fuck reading all those comments.

    I love your blog, sometimes I don’t like a certain post because I find it boring or whatever but I always come back. My favorite thing is the way you make everything seem cool and edgy but normal at the same time, sort of “don’t judge other people because they’re not like you, appreciate them for that exact reason”. Whatever, I can’t be bothered to think of a way to make that sound less lame. I used to wish my life was as cool as your 21 year old days but also agree that growing up is basically essential unless you want to end up 35 years old with no money and nothing to show for yourself except a few cool party stories that everybody’s already heard and secretly think are pathetic. I know that’s not exactly along the lines of “don’t judge” but that life sounds like shit.

    People often feel the need to speak out in anger than in appreciation, so maybe you’ve been getting a lot of hate mail but I think that’s only because the people and readers who love your work don’t feel or see the need to say it all the god damn time. Plz dnt go cuz othrwse i will hav nowere gewd to wayst mii tym on da internets.

  26. I think your blog is awesome and just keeps getting better. My friend and I discuss it a lot actually- you really have a great angle on things, and we love your boldness and honesty :)

  27. Hey Karley. I loved your blog posts before and I love them now. They never fail to grab my attention, and your frank manner of interviewing and your very unique, open minded take on different topics always makes for an interesting read.

  28. The squat days made me fantasize and experience crazy shit without actually doing it, it was exiting. I admired you for being someone with no boundaries, boundaries that I didn’t want or dared to cross. Also you were super detailed about you relationship with Blaine and your sex experiences, it was like reading you secret diary, specially because I met you IRL when you lived in Kingston, so I felt specially curious.

    The return to the US was cool too, loved when you started to do healthy things, and pay rent and shit, I felt you were someone closer to what I was, instead of this I’m soooo crazyyy self destructive person I thought you were. I wanted more details about your relationship with Hamilton, but I understand it can be annoying for you partner and it always seemed like all that privacy breach affected Blaine. But somehow the feeling that my best friend was telling me really personal stories vanished.

    The whole purple diary/vice stage felt like you finally made it to the cool people gang, but at least some good videos came out of it.

    The only thing I hate is when you do a interview and you force a subject like porn into being super cool and woman liberating when I think it is a little more complex than that. I hate the word sex positive and when you try to be all politically correct about feminism. I think you covered avery possible shocking angle about sex, next subject!!!

    I know you are a smart and beautiful girl, i wish i could meet the real you, I’m sure you are really fun to be with IRL, and in this blog we only got to see some different curated versions of you. Will read your blog until you decide not to do it anymore, i feel I’m in a long term relationship with it. What’s next baby?!

  29. I know these will all feel completely solicited, but I have been reading your blog for a good few years and I’ve always loved whatever you put out. Your endeavours into interviewing and working in creating your own art projects and videos are so interesting and, legit, inspirational to me. I’m really interested in making more performance/interactive art, and so many of my friends put me down because they think if it doesn’t take technical skill ie drawing or ~watevs~ to do then it doesn’t have value, but you’ve helped me find a certainty in myself that that’s bullshit and i should pursue what I’m interested in.

    Keep doing whatever the heck and I hope you’ve gotten some good free therapy out of this :)

  30. karley, i think some people who say your blog got boring now, should probably make their own life exciting and not force you to do it for them through entertaining them. you’re not responsible for that.
    your blog was and is good. end of.

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