Here Again

It is completely shocking – and a little embarrassing – that fully 9 months have passed since my last post (in which, I’ve not forgotten, I promised that the November book review was “coming shortly”).

I do have a slightly valid excuse – as far as it goes – in that the dead computer referenced in that post wasn’t replaced until mid-August. My husband and I thought it might be an interesting experiment in anti-materialism, in breaking the nearly universal addiction to the online world, to see how long we could go without replacing it.

Well, it was interesting, all right. I spent just as much time as ever on Facebook, thanks to the advent of my iPhone, but was hindered from many more worthwhile pursuits. It took at least four months for me to get so fed up about not writing that I resorted to pen and paper.

And for that flakiness, I apologize. After all, the first hallmark of a respectable blog is the constant and regular addition of “content,” to use marketing-speak. Not to mention that my one loyal reader was disappointed.

All the same, I wouldn’t say the time was wasted. It occurs to me that the writing of the blog is somewhat incidental to the stated purpose of the blog: “the quest for a life of love, laughter, reason & usefulness.” Love and laughter are arguably best pursued off-line; and a usefulness that is built only on the written word is not more than half-baked. And in the post-less interval I did keep to my goal of reading a non-fiction book most months. I did make some gestures that were, for me, quite generous and thoughtful. I had new experiences, changed some opinions, and embarked on new ventures – all of which will be reflected in the posts of the months to come.

I won’t promise to be here every week, this time. After all, the time specified by the 52/365 Project is long over. And though a blog is a commitment, I’ve never prioritized it above other commitments – chiefly my marriage, my health, and bringing my A-game for the people who pay me – rightly, I think. Still, I will try, and this time I’ve done what I always wanted to do and never quite managed: I have prepared some posts ahead of time for those difficult weeks.

It’s good to be back. And thanks for your patience.

Trying Not to be Selfish

Let’s face it: marriage is disastrous for blogging. When I resumed in September I didn’t say it was a 52-week project or that I would post every week, but such was, of course, my intention. Then miss two weeks, post one (at the absolute deadline), miss – what? Two weeks? Three weeks?

But when you have a husband who is at school two days a week and often studying until 7 on the other nights, dinners must be cooked and dishes must be washed and at some point the laundry must not be allowed to remain in its state of filth. And afterwards, in spite of our best intentions and repeated resolutions, we often find ourselves too tired or too headachy to do anything but sit down to a nice episode on Hulu.

And I find myself resenting it all.

Yes, of course I had chores when I was single, but aside from keeping some semblance of friendly roommate relations, there was no reason to do them if I had something more “important” to do. Now, no matter how much I want to accomplish something for myself, I always seem to end up doing the chores instead because it will relieve that much pressure from my husband.

To be clear, it’s not that he doesn’t do his share. I feel bad plenty of times that he didn’t get as much homework done as he wanted to because he was running errands for the household: taking the recycling, doing the grocery shopping, dropping off my shoes at the repairman because he’s going to be on that side of town anyway.

And it’s not that I feel particularly “guilty” about not blogging. If I’m going to feel guilty about anything it’s about not exercising and being more targeted about my diet – the idea being that those things would create more energy (and therefore more usable time) where none currently exists.

No, it’s just that I miss the reading and writing that go into blogging. There’s a book I’m desperate to read that I’ve checked out from the library twice. Twice, because I maxed out the renewals the first time before making meaningful progress through it. Tomorrow I’ll max out the renewals again. And I’m maybe 10 pages further along than I was when I returned it the first time.

15 weeks to read 60 pages. It’s no wonder I feel like my brain is slowly shriveling up and dying of starvation.

For now, I’m not sure what else I can do than continue what I’m doing. Only one thing is clear: if this low level of selflessness is beyond me, I am so, SO not ready for children.

Oops.

Yesterday is the second time in three weeks that I’ve had a post nearly ready and completely forgotten to post it. I’m not sure what that says. But I will try to get back on track and not drop off halfway through this project.

Make as Few Rules as Possible

Benefit? Because I never said what or how much I had to post, only that it had to be weekly, this counts.

I know, it’s a cheap trick that only works once…

Of course, even writing this much on the subject prompts some consideraton of when there is a benefit to maximizing the number of rules (i.e., arguably, when regulating Wall Street) and when to cut back (generally, when trying to produce intelligent employees and effective Customer Service). And, that said, I would suggest that thinking about the objective one wants to accomplish by implementing one or more rules will tend to simplify them, and make them broader in scope and fewer in number.

Then again, there’s an exception to every rule.

Oh.

I just noticed for the first time that I have eight people following this blog. Oh. You mean people actually read it? Terrifying. Must now try not to freak out.

But, seriously, guys, thanks for the support.

Reasons & Rhymes

Why this? Why now?

  1. Because there are only so many times it’s funny to walk into a social media panel discussion, or a blogger meetup, or …, and not have a blog. (Or a Twitter account.) Now when people ask me, “Do you have a blog?” I can say, “Why yes, I do, and it is…”
  2. It bridges that awkward networking gap when you talk to someone for 15 minutes and like them well enough to keep in touch, but not enough to be instant friends or justify hanging out. What are you supposed to do to forward the connection? A blog is a nice low barrier to entry: “Here, find out some more about me at your leisure and without my necessarily knowing anything about it. And if you’re comfortable, or if something I say resonates, we have a nice conversation starter already at hand.”
  3. To create. There’s a full post brewing about the emotional reasons, so I’ll save that for later.
  4. Related to #3, not to let life fly by unnoticed and, as the philosopher says, unexamined. For me, writing is fundamentally about curiosity, so a program of regular writing means I have to pay a little more attention to each day’s events and give a little more thought to their possible importance.

Why not before?

  1. Privacy. For me, the ideal blogging experience would be full or semi-anonymity. I don’t mind if a million people read my work as long as they don’t know who I am. That way you don’t have to worry quite so much about what you say – or who you say it about. If you say something personal, and nobody knows you’ve said it, are you really exposed?
  2. Commitment. The first rule of blogging (like so many things) is consistency at a reasonably high frequency. Which is just scary. What is the right frequency? I can definitely rule out a The Simple Dollar’s 2 posts a day; if I’m overwhelmed as a reader there’s no need to inflict that on anybody else. The short-and-sweet daily posts of Seth Godin or Jessica Gottlieb are almost perfect, but honestly, I’m probably not going to write in that style. What I’d really like to do is Rands In Repose-esque thoughtfulness. But he only posts every 3 weeks or so – not nearly enough, in my opinion, now that I’ve read the entire archive twice – and while I can see why that is absolutely reasonable and necessary, it wouldn’t give me the build-up of momentum I’ll probably need.
  3. Commitment. There’s nothing more pathetic than a blog that’s abandoned and left for years in stagnant loneliness. But the thought of adding this huge, demanding thing to my life for the next three to five or more years (or until the next big thing comes along) was more than a little daunting.

Since objections 2 and 3 were handily defeated by Scott Hulme’s suggestion that I do this as a 52 project – 1 post a week for 1 year – here we are. (Note that I will be doing my 52 project in 54 weeks, which gives me a couple of weeks of “vacation” to be used as needed.)