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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dude, I got a blog...

So I often ask myself, what is the point of having a stupid blog? Everyone and their grandmother has a blog. Literally! At a Passover Seder a couple of years ago, one of my former students and his grandmother talked about their blogging experiences. Not that I'm against older members of our society having blogs, but it seems pointless if it's a multi-generational experience. If senior citizens are filling cyberspace with blogs, then mine really does seem pointless. How can I compete with 'Cats n' Old Bats' or 'Sadie's Sex Tips' or 'How to Organically Clean Your Dentures'. I can't!

I mean, it used to be that if you wanted to write, you went into Journalism or you tried to get published or both. There was an avenue you took, and it was only for serious, SERIOUS writers. Nowadays, everyone thinks he/she is a WRITER! You can just become a 'writer' purely by doing a zine, blog, or other Internet centered activity. Everyone who updates their Facebook or Twitter status every half hour is a 'writer'. It was never this easy, but at the same time because there are so many voices out there, it's harder to shout and become heard. The only voices I can shout louder than are the ones in my own head.

What do I have to do in order to be interesting and unique? First, I have to ask myself the following: Doesn't everyone have a story to tell? Isn't what I have to say clever and distinct? But, what makes mine so different and unique? What defines unique? I start going in thought circles.

I have to think about all the outlandish episodes of my life. I mean, I could talk about all the drugs I did in college (ask me about the time I took toad venom and saw faeries dancing in the woods..go ahead, ask me). Then there's all the traveling I've done (and wish to do). Or, I could talk about my dysfunctional family and the Augusten Burroughs-like drama that ensued in my household growing up. No, my father didn't try to kill my mother. Nor did I have some love affair with a man (or woman) twice my age! Compared to the dysfunctional memoirs out there, my life is pretty normal actually. It's unconventionally conventional!

I haven't killed anyone (yet). I haven't smoked crack (yet). I have never snorted coke off of a prostitute's inner thigh ( for though). I haven't performed in the circus nor do I aspire to be a Donna Summer drag queen impersonator (not now anyway). I grew up in suburbia, went to a prep school, and majored in English. I have been an English teacher most of my life. YAWWN! Who the hell would want to read about that crap? It's not really a story. What makes a good story? What makes one person's story more fascinating than the next?

I have been told that I always have interesting stories and that crazy shit always happens to me. But I don't want to only write about crazy shit happening. My whole life is just one episode after another of crazy shit. I attract crazy shit like shit does flies. Shit. Flies. That could be a topic worth elaborating on, but I digress.

Back to me. What makes my voice so distinct? I like music. So do millions of other dopes out there. Well, I like a diverse variety of music from jazz to funk to punk to jam bands to indie. I've been to dozens..hundreds of different concerts that vary as much as Jelly Belly flavors. I have been to Ozzfest, Warp Tour, Bonnaroo, and other various festivals. I haven't, however, ever been to Burning Man or a Rainbow Family Gathering (a hippie festival in the woods where people always end up in the hospital for eating bad mushrooms). I've been invited to both, though. That counts for something. Right?

I don't really have a unique fashion sense. My wife tells me I have NO fashion sense. My musical taste isn't that indie, as at least someone has heard of the bands I listen to. I didn't grow up during the 1960's (but I wish I did) and participate in the Civil Rights Movement and Anti-Vietnam Movement. I consider myself an ACTIVIST but I haven't been to a real rally since graduate school. I just find myself too tired to attend those things anymore. I mean, since I've been unemployed since June, I could have done what other English and humanities majors did and go join/camp out at the Occupy Wall Street Movement. I just find camping out and protesting capitalism too cliche. Plus, why go to Occupy Wall Street when I'd miss too many episodes of Antiques Roadshow and History Detectives. See, my life really isn't that interesting!

I guess the real reason I write a blog, or write at all, is to use it as therapy. Writing is therapy. I don't have a therapist, despite my wife telling me that I've needed to go for one for over a year. I have a medical diagnosis of depression and anxiety, and I take meds for it. That nice little oblong blue pill. Mmm..wash it down with some seltzer..ahh! I also have ADD (I don't take anything for that; can't you tell?. But, these are also common problems. Many people have both depression and ADD. I DO need a therapist to help me through my issues. But, for now I use reading and writing to get me through the tough times.

On those days when I don't feel like getting out of bed, having a blog makes me get up and find something worth writing and ranting about. I get to silence the rapidly running newsreel in my head. For once, I get to just let words pour out in front of me and see where it leads. For once, I have to relinquish my control to a higher authority, my subconscious mind. Yes, I am in control of my thoughts, but at the same time I don't control where my own mind and thoughts take me.

So back to the original question: why write a blog when there are thousands of others just like this one out there? I guess like everyone else, I like to think that my perspective is unique and important. My voice is supposed to be heard by the masses. People want to hear what I have to say. I've always been told that my views are unabashedly candid and blunt. I don't hide what I'm really thinking and I'm usually honest and upfront. I have strong convictions and opinions on just about everything. If I disagree with something, you'll know. If something pisses me off, you'll know. If some hack has no talent and pretends to be the next great artiste, then I'll say 'what a fucking no-talent hack!'

I just want to be heard and noticed. My wife says it is because I come from a family where my father was always aloof and emotionally unavailable. My mother is narcissistic and emotionally unbalanced (aka CRAZY). My sister was always doted on more than me; she is blonde and cute after all. I'm not. So, my wife says, I'm like any other person wanting to be noticed. I come from a family where nothing is good enough and my point of view doesn't matter at all. Swear words were like saying hello in my household. I was called 'stupid', 'retarded', and 'psycho' on a regular basis. So, why not try to be heard when I'm used to being ignored and pushed to the side.

I'm not trying to throw a pity party, though I think it's too late for that. Now you see what I mean by needing therapy. Yea, unresolved issues here. I'm not ashamed of that though. There is nothing in my life that I'm embarrassed or ashamed by. I can admit that I was never picked for East Side West Side boy and girl skating hand in hand to C+C Music Factory. I can admit that I was unpopular and weird; I even tried to convince my classmates that I was a vampire and used to pierce myself during study hall. I have dyed my hair every color under the sun and have had my hair in dreadlocks and crust punk spikes. I used to have an eyebrow ring and even considered getting a tattoo (though I have none).

My story is unique because it's mine, damnit. And if that doesn't make it special than fuck it all! At the very least, I use this as a platform to work through my issues and relate to other human beings in the world. If someone reads one of my posts and learns something new or makes a connection, then mission accomplished.

This is my blog, and I'm sticking to it!

Signing off,



Anjelica said...

Well, I read your blog, for what it's worth, I'm I'm glad you write it because I like reading it.

Some thoughts:
Yes, it's true that in today's day and age *anyone* can call themselves a writer because of how easy it is to blog. And yes, 99% of it is of questionable quality. However, I also think that despite how little of it is worth reading, it's important to encourage people to continue writing because some writers are worthy of being called Writers (note the capital W) and need the venue to be found. More importantly, writing is a form of communication, and communicating has become a dysfunctional skill for a lot of people in industrialized societies. Text speak and purposely misspelling words are far too ubiquitous (not to mention the "dumbification" of other forms of writing, such as song writing- How did we get to a point where something like "Baby, baby, baby OHHHH" is considered to be good music by so many?). By blogging, and especially by allowing the blog author to blog about whatever it is they're blogging about with open ended expectations, people are practicing the art of writing. That is important, especially for young people. They write, they get feedback, the read over what they wrote, they make changes, their writer's voice evolves, they are more apt to read other blogs, etc. And especially if they don't have to worry about spelling, punctuation, and the mechanics of writing at first and instead can just focus on the idea(s) they're trying to get across, that is huge.

Remember also that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," "one man's trash is another man's treasure;" in other words, what may seem completely awful and uninteresting to you might be incredibly thought-provoking to someone else (and vice versa).

I do recognize that there is a difference between a writer and a Writer, just as there exist musicians and Musicians, artists and Artists, etc. etc. etc. Building people up to think they are AH-MAZING is not right, but on the other hand I take issue with telling people they are NOT something they wish to be, especially children. This all stems from my extreme disdain for people who tell other people they "can't sing," which drives me up the wall. You can read someone's writing and be thinking, "This is awful!," but that to me means you should suggest some ways to improve, not encourage them to believe they are not a writer. Our culture needs to support and encourage more *Great Thinking* through writing, art, music, philosophy, etc. etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

Bobby, write away! Write, write, write!

I absolutely believe with every fiber of my being that everyone has a unique voice (yes, like snowflakes) and it's just a matter of harnessing it in a way that is appealing to other people. Some people are poets, some spin a good yarn, some are compelling reporters, some work through problems through essays . . .

It's funny you bring this up, because I think I've been subconsciously making a point to read more books lately to counter all (ALL - there is SO much) of the information that I try and consume on the internet every day. Facebook and blogging, I think, can be very reactive and we're all starting to sound alike.

I think BECAUSE everyone these days has easier access to a public stage for their writing, we need, now more than ever, new voices that switch up the norm. Shake up the expectations. Start different conversations, create different angles to wake their readers up.

Maybe that's why writers need to be original and distinguish themselves. Not for the money or fame. They need to stand out so readers will really listen to the important things they have to say.

I absolutely think writers have a CRUCIAL responsibility to society to reveal what they know as the truth. Because with all the advertising and political battles and overall social oppression (to maintain control, a la Syria) the truth is sometimes impossible to find. Writers might not have to answer to anyone the way corporations or politicians (I'm running out of examples) do. Or even journalists, come to think of it. Depending on where you're living. I read an article recently about the very dangerous existence of an Egyptian novelist. And of course, his calling as a writer is then even more important.

SO. Find your purpose and hone your craft as a writer. And then (in the words of Amy Ray) go, go, go. :)

Thanks for sharing, Bobby