Category Archives: metablogging

This blog goes up to 11

Eleven years ago today, I put up my first post on this blog. Here we are over a thousand posts later, and I am still more-or-less here.

analog-clock-1111 It appears that I am quite partial to the number 11. Not the least because I regularly post at the eleventh hour. (It might not surprise you that it is now after 11 as I write this post.)

elevenThe number 11 has featured prominently in quite a few posts over the years, in particular on 11/11. In anticipation of the exciting (at least to me) date of 11/11/11, I encouraged others to post things that go up to 11. I’ve posted about the word for the number 11 in Spanish.  I’ve posted lists of elevens. I’ve posted photos of elevens (or at least photos of patterns that look to me like 11s). And I posted a ThThTh list of 11 things, which, given that I posted it in 2007, did not include one now very well known Eleven.

digital-clock-1111

This is all really just a very roundabout way to say happy birthday to my blog. Thanks to any and all of you who have dropped in over the years.

eleven-candles

 

planning the day

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
― E.B. White

I stumbled across this quote a few years ago during a visit to my mother. It was posted somewhere in her community art room, and I read it in passing. But the words followed me out, and prompted me to both look them up again, and revisit them regularly in my thoughts. E.B. White’s words nicely encapsulate so much of my inner conflict. For example, my struggles with figuring out what to post here, and on a larger scale, what to do with my life.

I find great joy in the little details in the world around me. I can get lost in the sparkle of ice on a branch or a fence, or the unexpected grace of shadows on a stairway. I often attempt to capture the beauty in photos, with varying degrees of success. I am a collector of images, and it pleases me to sort and categorize them, and share them here. A group of leaves here, an assortment of doors there, a selection of silhouettes yonder. Hell, I’ve even posted photos of storm drains and the peeling paint on dumpsters. I find beauty and comfort in seeing patterns, and putting them together.

Beyond that, the world offers a multitude of sources of enjoyment for me. I love food, I love to make things with my hands. I love art. I love music. I love reading and watching movies. I love humor and playing with words. I love the structure and richness of the world’s languages. I love doing scientific research, and finding the beauty in patterns. And I really, really love to travel. I love to spend time with my family and friends, and I love to spend time by myself doing things that I love, or thinking about doing things that I love. There is enough passion in me for so much beauty, so much wonder for the world’s amazing variety and order, that I could fill a hundred blogs (and I mean blogs, not just posts) if only I had the time to do so.

On the other hand, there is so much ugliness in the world that I can’t ignore. News reports of police shootings. Stories of the plight of refugees. Data reflecting the threats to our planet’s equilibrium through climate change. Systemic racism and misogyny and homophobia and xenophobia and so many other biases. Horrific acts perpetrated by governments and individual acting on their behalf, in blindness to the systemic biases in the system and the damage they inflict. Horrific acts being perpetrated by individuals, often growing out of the collective illness of our society. There is so much societal injustice that needs to be addressed, and I regularly feel the call to address it. How can I sit back and write silly posts about pants when there are people literally dying in the street? What good are my sets of colorful leaf photos to a world in which hundreds of thousands of displaced people want nothing more right now than food, shelter and safety for their families? If I’m going to be writing or posting, shouldn’t I be putting my energy into addressing the injustices of the world?

Further, frankly, writing about difficult topics is…difficult. While I have ventured into social justice topics in my writing, such forays take a lot out of me. I want to be able back my claims with data and sources. Moreover, I want to choose my words with care, lest I inadvertently do harm to the very cause which I am hoping to contribute to. I worry about provoking backlash, both from those who disagree with me, and from those who largely agree with me but find fault with my words or understanding. I am flawed and learning and growing, and I am prone to mistakes.

It has been this tension within me, the pull to share posts reflecting my enjoyment of the world against the pull to lend my voice to improving the world, that largely kept me from posting or doing anything creative at all for many months. I wanted to post light things, felt like I should post heavy things, and in the end generally posted nothing.

I have come around the realization that I really want to do both things, and that I can do both. They may not be equal in measure, but I am giving myself permission to express myself creatively and also, at least occasionally, write about topics that I consider deeply important. I can feed both of the desires, and both can help me to grow, and grow stronger.
This essay is my first entry in #52essays2017, a project to write and post an essay each week this year. To read more about the project, visit Vanessa Martir’s Blog.

writing goals for 2017

I’ve never been a big one for resolutions¹, but this year I find myself full of resolve. I have a number of goals: personal, professional and political. Among my personal goals are  revamping this space, and getting back to posting regularly every month. I don’t think I can swing daily posting, but I should be able to manage once or twice a week. I would also like to get back to writing, for fun and personal growth. To that end, I have signed on to a rather daunting project: I will be writing and sharing a new essay every week for the year. I’ve nearly run out of week this week, but I plan to post my first essay tomorrow.
2017ice

The damaged “2017” of an ice sculpture in Boston, from New Year’s Day. A number of artists produce and display ice sculptures around Boston on New Year’s Eve. This year, the next day was quite warm, and the ice sculptures were a little worse for wear. But still cool. (No pun intended.) In any case, I thought it fitting to post this damaged, day-late view of the new year, since I am so often running late and a little bit rough around the edges. 

¹ At least not one for posting resolutions before I have achieved them. But I am still rather amused by my retrospective resolutions of 2006, posted in my 2nd month of blogging.

partial derailment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was a tough month. I started off with high hopes and lofty goals, but my motivation and my optimism have suffered a major hit. I did manage to post to my blog every day this month, as planned, but my idea to share a daily bit of gratitude was less successful.

Even though I posted *something* every day this month, I mostly haven’t written the posts I’ve wanted to. The unexpected election results and their aftermath have continued to have a big impact on my thoughts and to some extent on my actions. I would still like to write more about this. I hope to keep posting here regularly. I think in order to keep the momentum, I will continue to post assorted photos and lightweight things as I work to unpack my weightier thoughts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese two photos were among some I took back in 2010, when I was doing the daily photography project. I remembered the one of the “hope” train derailed, and went hunting for it. Funny as it was, it wasn’t actually a great photo, so I mucked with it a bit in a clumsy way.

For the record, I considered calling this post “hope derailed,” but my decision not to perhaps reflects that my hope has not entirely derailed. I am planning to get it back on track (as it were) in the coming months.

10 birthday candles

Remarkably, I started this blog 10 years ago today. 10 years of blogging. Over a thousand posts (this one is 1333), over a million views (1,156,038 at the time I’m writing this), over 3000 photos shared. It has been a wonderful creative outlet for me. Additionally, through this blog and by connecting with others on their own blogs, I have made strong friendships (haven’t really counted how many). In the process, I have grown in my worldview (which I also can’t quantify).

Tonight, I am grateful for blogging. Both for this blog, and for connecting with others. I am so grateful to the friendships I have made through blogging. I am very glad that I have returned to blogging after largely neglecting it the last few years. I appreciate having the creative outlet once more, and the place to share my thoughts. As current affairs have been stirring me to take action, I hope to use this blog as a sounding board, and a way to hold myself accountable.

In case you are wondering, I didn’t light candles for the blog. Conveniently, I have a daughter who is just a few months older than this blog, and so had easy access to photos of 10 birthday candles. In case you were wondering what happens when you put 10 birthday candles into a mini cupcake and light them, you get a tower of flame that threatens to light your daughter’s hair on fire, and melts the candles down to stubs in seconds. Happily, this blog is mostly flame retardant.

Out of order. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Like the elevator in this photo, it would appear that this blog has been out of order. Obviously, the trouble here is that I have gotten baggage carts stuck in my door. Once the obstruction is cleared, I expect to be back in order soon. Meanwhile, please take the stairs.

another ball dropped


A festive holiday ball that someone dropped in an icy parking lot a couple of years ago. (I’m happy to say that this year, we haven’t yet had more than a few stray flakes of snow. I know it’s coming, but I’m not ready for it yet. I’m still recovering from last winter.)

So much for trying to blog daily for the month of November like I’d done the past 7 years. Not only did I drop the ball early in the month, but I dropped it again at the end. I got caught up with a deadline, and totally forgot to post one day. And then once I’d broken the pattern again, I didn’t find it in me to rush back. (Or, if you will, I couldn’t be bothered to pick up he ball again. I figured that the ball had rolled off somewhere, maybe into the bushes, or under the couch, and I didn’t want to have to hunt for it.) I did, happily, meet the deadline, and submitted a paper to a conference. In all, 25 posts does not make a bad tally for the month, especially after 5 solid months without a single post.

However, it’s starting to feel like roughly 60% of the content of this blog is about how I’m not blogging as much as I’d like. Another 30% seems to be about balls. Nah, that can’t be right. I also had the significant and weighty topics of: leaves, poultry, potatoes, pants. In any case, I am more-or-less back to blogging. And I plan to continue to blog more-or-less regularly.