During my first cup of coffee this morning, I got to thinking about the kind acknowledgement from my friends at TSS and that led me to thinking about the role of blogging in my life. I am at fault for idiotically archiving and then erasing the evidence, but it is a fact that I have been blogging since the winter of 2003. (If you look through the archives on the right, some of the earliest posts are digests of the old page, which was hosted on Vandy’s server, until I thought better of it and cut-n-pasted the text, here.) While the blog, then named What’s the Rumpus?, originally served to avoid blasting my friends’ email boxes with sarcastic messages and video links, it has evolved into something different.
There’s been no master plan. I don’t have a schedule for posting. There are no editorial guidelines, except that I typically don’t talk too much about myself. Not directly, anyway. It scratches some itch deep inside of me, perhaps the part that wanted to be an artist, and then a writer, and then a record label executive. Unlike other areas of my life, this lack of direction and focus has been freeing, exciting, and productive. I know an extraordinary group of people because they read my posts, and link to them, and appreciate them. It is always the case that a signal of acknowledgement of this page sends me into fits of Sally Fields-esque eyelash fluttering and nervous tearing up.
When Tina links to me, or Kieran comments, or Peter suggests another vlog, or when Brayden asked me to be guesty over at OT, or when TSS claims me as their first love, I want to say “thankyouthankyouthankyou” as if it was all undeserved. Which I suppose it is, if ‘deserving it’ is a function of courting affection. I have no sense of myself as doing so, although I surmise others will disagree. I think the true source of my gratification comes from the pleasure one feels at being welcomed into a community of peers, and here, a community of very great scholars, each one of them seeking to perfect their craft and bring information and amusement to others. (Maybe I’m the one trying hardest for the second, but I always admired Shakespeare’s jokers the most.)
My strongest commitment to my craft derives from the sense of interdependence one gets while working. It is a thin membrane of sociability that connects us in socbloggerdom, but I think we do an extraordinary job of sustaining it. Of course, it survives because some of us are willing to ham it up (I’m looking at you, Fabio!), and some are stewards of rigor (Dr. Ezra Zuckerman), some play gracious elder statesman (the Australian), and some are Truman Copote noting the emperor is naked (TSS). And then we shift roles.
It is hard to shake the feeling that this year is one better forgotten: my friend Pierre Colas, and his sister Marie, were killed in Nashville this fall, so that the robber-murderers could buy some socks. Quick on the heels of that, my high school friend Jay Paul committed suicide by self-immolation. My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in November. Friend Tammy, with whom I lived last year, had a series of awful health problems, which continue today (but are now managed reasonably well). My uncle’s divorce and cousin’s beautiful child (born out-of-wedlock) have estranged parts of the family, which tinged the recent holidays with a note of sadness. I had the first of what will likely be a series of little cancers removed from my regrettably pale Irish skin. And my cat’s sick.
But some of the very best aspects of my experience this year have come from, and been documented here. And, despite my extreme displeasure at the fact of my sentimentality, I am moved to thank you.