I've been pretty resistant to doing this. It's such a silly word, so easily imagined as an onomatopoeia of the sound one makes when vomiting: BLOG. This may be an especially appropriate analogy, depending on the blogger. However, its origin had a classier, more English major than techie sound: "online journal" or "online diary," so I'm going to follow the current retro modern trend and call mine an eDiary, which makes me feel much less ridiculous.
A long time ago, by which I mean the way-back 1990s, a few early diarists acknowledged by a wry moniker that to overshare on the worldwide web was a lot like standing on a busy street corner wearing nothing but a trench coat and flashing total strangers for kicks; they called themselves "escribitionists." Indeed, diaries, at least the little blue one I got in fifth grade in the way-WAY-back 1960s, used to come with a brass lock and tiny key. Certain things were just meant to be private; and others were meant to drive traffic to your website, increase your SEO, and boost your click through rate, or so I read on some techie marketing blog.
So what to write about? The answer may lie in a shocking observation my mother made about me in the last months of her life. I guess it shocked me because it was about me and not my miscreant brother who had gotten the lion's share of attention- the negative variety- for the last five decades of my life in which I had been her therapist. (This tragic triadic dynamic is what fills hundreds of pages of floral cloth covered paper journals from my earlier adulthood, unfortunately.) We were sitting on the sidewalk of the circular driveway at the third of four nursing homes she would grace in 2013. (She was, in essence, kicked out of the first one for being a little difficult.) It was a gorgeous late afternoon in May in Virginia with all of the rose bushes and lilacs in bloom. I locked the brakes on her wheelchair and then sat next to her on a bench. A light breeze, strong enough to actually move her hair-sprayed white curls, met us there. Always the charming conversationalist, she asked me how the business was going. Then she stunned me by summing up my life at the end of hers. "You know, your grammar things represent everything you've done." Counting on her fingers, she continued, "They are your art, with ceramics and using the kiln. But then they have to do with your writing. And, they are related to teaching school."
This was an epiphany. Besides showing her awareness of who I was besides her daughter, her observation gave some kind of gestalt to what otherwise had seemed completely separate and random money making schemes. Her maternal vantage point reminded me that my entrepreneurial and literary and teaching careers do have a connection. In all three, I am driven by ideas that seem to originate in a moment of private joy and flourish in untempered absurdity. They are little private jokes with myself that end up, after appropriate censorship, being voiced out loud as a product, a story, or part of an increasingly daffy persona in class. In fact, every year, one ninth-grader or another points out a sad by-product of this habit. "Miznap, you always laugh at your own jokes." To which I reply, "Well, somebody has to." I guess I'll launch into the blogosphere, examining art, writing, and teaching, in that same spirit.
Best entry in this old diary that spans, very sporadically, 1968 to 1973:
January 20, 1969 - We were so caught up in the inauguration of RIchard Nixon we forgot to go to music.