I have nothing to write… I’ve been trying to come up with something witty, timely, observational, whatever… but nothing. Thus, Failure. Will be back tomorrow…
Archive for February, 2010
The 29-Day Blogging Challenge: E is for Expatriate
The allure of living and working in a foreign land had long been a deeply-rooted desire by the time I finally made the leap. I didn’t just want to travel to exotic shores and visit the world’s hidden corners – I wanted to live amongst different cultures, languages, customs, religions, political systems, degrees of industrialization, skin colour, modes of transportation, culinary staples, etc. I often watched foreign movies and tried to imagine what life would be like in ‘that place’ – be it a hillside village in China, a desert band in Africa, serpentine alleyways and cobblestone laneways of Italy, frozen plains in Iceland… I’m fascinated by the unknown, and although I’ll never fully ‘know’ life in those places, even those in which I am lucky enough to live, I wanted that experience, if even for a time. My first real chance came in the form of a job offer in Dubai, and with the unimaginable support and encouragement from my wife – who would be staying behind in Canada to finish school – I packed my bags and pointed my compass Eastward.
I was facing a whole new adventure, an opportunity to see and experience a life only casually illustrated on travel shows and the random news article. Admittedly a major draw was the opportunity to live in a predominantly Muslim country – albeit a heavily ‘Westernized’ one – and see the reality of the region outside of Fox News’ skewed perspectives. I looked forward to learning a bit of the language, sampling the food, picking up customs and quirks and those subtle modes of conduct that identifies one as a ‘Dubaian’, as opposed to a tourist. I wasn’t running from, but rather to, something.
When the day finally came to leave, however, the reality sunk in: I was leaving Jill behind, leaving my friends and family, leaving my homeland, and stepping into absolute darkness. I knew nothing of life ‘over there’ and felt thoroughly unprepared. Had I made a disastrous mistake? Was this even a remotely good idea? I had what can only be described as a mental breakdown, a cognitive anomaly, a completely situation-induced-what-the-fuck-upedness that shook the very foundation upon which I had built my reality…
I was leaving everything I knew, held sacred, cherished, believed in. I was off to a new adventure, true, but with no small amount of trepidation. I was scared, confused, questioning the decisions I – we – had made. So as always, I took to writing, to expressing, that which was coursing through my mind at the time. The following is that result disconnected and combubulated at best, but an indication of where I was when I was there…
Watching traffic, taxi & take-off, thousands flying away – flying home, flying blind. Flying free, loose, escaping to somewhere, excited, scared, some aren’t good fliers. Drugged, drunk, meditating to pass the time, crosswords and magazines, in-flight safety brochures, settling in, accepting a cardboard sandwich with a napkin and a nervous smile.
Sitting in this lounge, unfocused stares, behind the glass wall, waiting, waiting for what?, paralyzing realizations… It’s real – for the first time, my god, it’s real. We said good-bye at the gate, still holding on, barely holding on. Stumbled through the checkpoints, patted down for contraband, some baggage I just can’t declare. I can’t do this, I want to scream. I want to stop. It can’t be real, this thing; this new adventure, as many said; this new experience, as I was promised. This new opportunity, a new chance, a fresh start, pulling me away from her, from the what-I-know into the what-the-fuck? Holding on, clenched around only memories, shedding everything real, telling myself that this is good. This is good. This is goddamned real, finally, pungent and searing finality. Thank god I’m sitting down.
Even the third tumbler of Jack is tasteless, meaningless, doing nothing, but free, like them, like those people, they know; they’re secure, they’re determined, they’re together, or will be, and they know. Envious, lost, getting more lost, waiting for the call, surrounded by the din of muzak and an arguing British couple; is this my last remembrance of home, of this life I’ve known, of those I’ll rarely see? Of her, of us, for a time, too long at any rate; of the True North, Strong and Free, bitterly cold and damp and grey, the warmest place I know? An hour to go, listless, restless, confined to this chair, this lounge, this self-directed purgatory, flying blind. Run, I think. Escape – time, the deals, employment contracts, immigration and residency laws, the expectations, mine, theirs, the guilt, the worry – escape to the what-I-know again. Don’t go. You can’t stay. Too late. Too much at stake, too many promises, too long you’ve waited. Take-off and landing are just formalities; another swig, nearly an hour, but it’s already real.
Well this engine screams out loud; centipede gonna crawl westbound; so I don’t even make a sound ’cause it’s gonna sting me when I leave this town. And all the people in the street that I’ll never get to meet if these tracks don’t bend somehow. And I got no time that I got to get to where I don’t need to be, so I… I need this here old train to break down. Oh please just let me please break down.
Testify, Jack! Scream it, directly, scream it to me, someone is listening, hearing, feeling it, wanting it all to fucking stop, break down, like this, like this right now, begging for this track to bend, to break, let me off, let me run.
But you can’t stop nothing if you got no control of the thoughts in your mind that you kept and you know that you don’t know nothing but you don’t need to know; the wisdom’s in the trees not the glass windows. You can’t stop wishing if you don’t let go of the things that you find and you lose and you know; you keep on rolling, put the moment on hold because the frame’s too bright so put the blinds down low.
They still argue, local news flashes dimly on screen, more take-offs, more good-byes, I still sit, not listening, not hearing, not sure, not yet close enough to drunk, not yet time to go and be gone; no control, knowing nothing, no expectations. No expectations.
No certainties beyond the certainty of uncertainties; save ‘us’, for certain…
No more Jack; the ambient voices have changed their tune. Another tasteless glass, a last good-bye, some last words home, blurry-eyed reminders, still spinning in place, shut off, shut out, interrupted by the call to board; finally moving, walking cautiously, no fear to fly – but to fly away.
I want to break on down; but I can’t stop now…
The 29-Day Blogging Challenge: D is for Dogs
Having a wee bout of writer’s block about today’s post, I went for a wander and found myself in my wife’s office. “What am I going to write about today?” Dilapidated old buildings? Detritus? Determination (or the lack thereof)? Deoxyribonucleic acid? I was at a loss. “Dogs,” she suggested. A simple, straight-forward, monosyllabic solution. Fine. Dogs it is.
Sweden is teeming with dogs. It is not at all uncommon to see dogs on the subway, busses, in malls, or waiting patiently for their humans outside a store. They scamper around in the parks, trot merrily on the sidewalk, and just about anywhere there’s a swath of open space and a bush on which to pee. In the winter they might be dolled up in kitschy jackets and boots. I even saw one a few weeks ago wearing a knitted red sweater, red woolen booties, and a red polar-fleece scarf. Pimp, doggie style. Swedes evidently love their dogs – perhaps a throwback to the old herding days when dogs were not merely companions but essential members of the family or community, used to lead sleds, round up reindeer, and keep away intruders. This is definitely a dog-friendly culture, as evidenced by their seamless inclusion in society and the acceptance of their presence damn near everywhere.
The diversity of breeds goes beyond the traditional Scandinavian Elk Hounds, Lapphunds, Vallhunds, and (surprisingly) Beagles. Swedes have opened their hearts and homes to every manner of dog – some big, some small, some purebred, some mutt-mixed concoctions that defy categorization. In our apartment building alone we have Jack Russles, Pugs, Labs, some sort of Collie-looking thing, and a few others I can’t accurately describe. Around town you see people with Dachshunds, Chihuahuas (Chihuhuae?), Poodles, German Shepherds, Boxers, Shar Peis, any number and variety of beast prancing happily along ignoring the street noise, squealing children, and other dogs’ butts. And these all have human companions – I’ve yet to see any stray dogs (or cats for that matter) but I’m sure they’re out there, politely inquiring to passers-by if they might have a spare morsel to share.
What struck me most when I first moved here is that these dogs all seem to be incredibly well socialized, quiet, personable (if one can say that about a dog), and behaved. I’ve often commented that my bus commute would be much more tolerable if only children were as well adjusted and inconspicuous (and if not, at least leashed and muzzled) as the four-legged passengers. It’s as if these dogs have been specifically bred to pop out fully trained, people-friendly, and quietly integrate into the two- and four-legged population. Either that or it’s Swedish law to have all puppies enter a rigorous training regimen when they’re strong enough to stand on their own four paws.
Jill and I both grew up with dogs and absolutely love them. We love cats, too, but if we have to classify ourselves as one or the other, we’re definitely dog people. I read an interesting article about a research study into people’s affinity for dogs or cats and the correlation to certain personality types. It states, “About 4,500 participants answered questions that measured their personality inclinations in five areas: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. These five dimensions have been shown in previous research to encompass most personality traits. They also indicated whether they considered themselves cat people, dog people, both or neither. It turns out that the “dog people” — based on how people identified themselves, not on what animals they actually own — tend to be more social and outgoing, whereas “cat people” tend to be more neurotic but “open,” which means creative, philosophical, or nontraditional in this context.” As with most spectral measurements, I’m on the cusp of both categorizations, as is Jill to a similar degree. But were we to have the appropriate lifestyle and living arrangement to choose, we’d definitely get a dog – not a wee little yappy thing, and not a big slobbering beast (although I do love Saint Bernards) – something in the middle, like an Elk Hound, Shiba Inu, Lab, or even – and this might take some convincing on my part – a sheep dog. Until then, the most we have time, energy, and space for is a hedgehog – who is awesome like a dog but self-sufficient and low maintenance like a cat, come to think of it. (More on that in a few days when we get to the letter H.)
There are a number of interesting and witty quote about dogs out there (yay Google!) and I’ll end off with but a few:
“Man is a dog’s idea of what God should be.” - Holbrook Jackson
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” - Will Rogers
“I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.” - Rita Rudner
“Dogs need to sniff the ground; it’s how they keep abreast of current events. The ground is a giant dog newspaper, containing all kinds of late-breaking dog news items, which, if they are especially urgent, are often continued in the next yard.” - Dave Barry
And my personal favourite: “Outside of a dog, a book is probably man’s best friend; inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” - Groucho Marx
The 29-Day Blogging Challenge: C is for Canada
Canada. C! Eh! N! Eh! D! Eh! It is pure coincidence that this post follows mere hours after our Olympic hockey team spanked the Ruskie rumps a deeper shade of red. I don’t really follow sports – it was my wife who stayed up until 4am cheering on our team whilst I slept snuggly and spaciously in the next room – but am proudly wearing the red & white today and showing off my maple leaf tattoo to anyone willing to tolerate some moderate at-work nekkedness. Patriotism comes in many forms, and outside of international competition – like the Olympics – Canadians in general are fairly subtle about it.
That last point is rather poignant – our subtle displays of patriotism – because I’m finding it hard to write anything meaningful here. I know what Canada means to me, who our famous sons and daughters are, our participation in peacekeeping and military campaigns, our contributions to arts and literature and music (sincere apologies for Celine Dion – our bad). I could talk about the difference between Canadians and Americans, and their views on national identity as a ‘cultural mosaic’ versus a ‘cultural melting pot’ respectively. I could give examples of why Europeans generally dislike American tourists but love having a Canuck in their midst. I could relay some of my experiences in travelling and living around the world as a Canadian and the overwhelmingly warm and inclusionary reception I’ve been given. I could outline our history, our political influences, our standing in contemporary TV, movies, and music as the butt of jokes – and our self-deprecating chuckles and good-natured acceptance of such barbs. I could do all of these things and more, but in a way, that wouldn’t be very Canadian.
There’s an old adage that says “If you have to tell people why you’re cool, you’re not cool.” In a way, that describes a lot of Canadians. We’re generally quiet, quick with an apology (even if you’ve stepped on our feet), don’t make a ruckus, don’t stir up a lot of trouble, and generally just want to get along – maybe over a beer, feet up on the Chesterfield, watching the hockey game. We know who we are, we’re staunchly but quietly proud of our country, and are happy to let others storm into the spotlight while we applaud from the sidelines.
I’ll end off with one of my favourite commercials, a brief but succinct nod to our great nation, our peculiarities and subtleties, our distinctions, our symbols, our pride. I Am Canadian, and damn proud of it.
The 29-Day Blogging Challenge: B is for Busses (and the privilege that is public transit)
One of the first things one must learn in a new city is how to navigate the city itself; the general layout of its sectors and suburbs, the distinct neighbourhoods, which roads lead to where, etc. If one drives, obviously traffic laws and behavior fall under this obliged education. For me, being an avid user of and having a sincere fondness for public transit, I needed to learn the system in Stockholm. Over time I’ve become relatively self-sufficient in this form of transportation, relatively proficient in certain aspects, and have learned a few key – and surprisingly unique – points that one must assimilate into his or her general scope of knowledge in order to deftly transit through this city on… well, public transit.
Stockholm’s public transit provider, SL (Storstockholms Lokaltrafik) has its roots dating back some 95 years, and oversees the German-like efficiency of its local trains, busses, and subways. In that time it has earned itself a much-beloved and almost holy place in the hearts of Stockholmers. The magnificent and benevolent folks at SL, arguably the go-to authority for Saint Christopher himself, maintain and provide a networked system of transportation options that we, the huddled and mobility-desiring masses, should feel privileged to have at our relatively inexpensive disposal. Veneration should be afforded these kind souls, for without them we would surely be stumbling around in circles with no clear direction amidst a landscape of crinkled Metro newspapers.
In order to better understand, navigate, and maintain solemn respect for this, our great transit provider, I herein offer a few key points, guidelines, elements of attention that one should pay, so that we may enjoy SL’s bounty to its fullest and show thanks, in all our words and deeds, for their continued benevolence and care.
1. Whether you’ve bought a single prepaid ticket for 15 Kronor or a year-long pass for 7,280 Kronor, you must understand that this is all you bought: a paper ticket or a plastic card for your wallet. No other rights, privileges, or allowances are implied, promised, or guaranteed. Be thankful, mere citizen – there are children in 3rd world countries with no access to SL passes.
2. When riding the subway, overhead signage will generally tell you the arrival time of the next couple of trains. You can trust these messages from above, as they are more than often correct; however, were one to erroneously misinform you of an impending arrival, grovel not, for lo, you are not perfect, either.
3. Once your desired carriage arrives, there is absolutely no reason to queue patiently; in fact, doing so is considered a sign of insolence and you will be glowered at angrily. Congregate around the closest available door in a tight-packed semi-circle (a micron or two’s distance is permitted between prospective riders) and try, if at all possible, to keep existing passengers on the carriage for another couple of stops. Ever play Red Rover in grade school? Think of it like that. No one really wants to leave the comforting confines of SL’s embrace, do they? You’re doing them a favour.
4. If you are one of the passengers on the train when it arrives at a station, similarly there is neither reason nor expectation that you should permit anyone to leave, or to enter, without some element of physical contact. Stand fast in the aisle, or at the door, and ignore their elbowing jostles. If they really want on or off, they’ll push their way though. This shows their commitment and purpose, and it is pleasing.
5. Once on the train, do not expect or feel entitled to a seat, regardless of whether you are pregnant, on crutches, carrying five newborns and a 12-pack of Lambi, or were collecting a pension when the Titanic sank. There is an abundance of poles, straps, and perfect strangers to which you can cling. Similarly, if you have found a seat, feel no obligation to give it up under any circumstance, save for the Hail Mary hope that you can make a mad dash for the door and exit the train within a kilometer or two of your desired, but not guaranteed, stop. If you are of high school age and are carrying a backpack, or an impossibly small clutch, you are entitled to use an adjoining seat for its comfort as well. This right also holds true for those with feet, as the seat next to you provides a welcomed and relaxing footrest.
6. SL has, in its staggeringly awesome wisdom, provided mobile phone reception in all subway tunnels and stations. You are expected to utilize this service, for it is provided to you, and are to be thankful whilst prattling endlessly into your handset, or earpiece, or package of butter if you do not have the required technology but still wish to appear to feast upon the cellular manna set forth from your provider. Those around you reading quietly, or playing Brick Breaker, or staring at the bum 1.3cm from their noses, will welcome the cacophony of one-sided conversations, as if hearing a choir of angels cantillate in lilted tones about dinner plans or weekend shenanigans or the latest sale at H&M.
7. When entering or exiting a subway station, take note of the perils and dangers that exist around you, for they will test your commitment to and adoration of SL. In winter months, the stairs may become caked in snow, slush, ice, and discarded Pressbyrån receipts, so much so that at times spiked mountain climbing shoes would be an advised accessory for going up the stairs, whereas a sled or nearby child would provide a quick and oh-so-enjoyable slide down to your desired station.
While most of these rules apply equally to subways and busses, there are a few unique aspects to the latter that should be mentioned, internalized, respected, and obeyed.
8. Some bus stops will have electronic boards that display impending arrival times for most routes. Lift your eyes towards these signs, for they are indeed signs of SL’s love for you, mere citizen. Most stops, however, will have a printed copy of each route’s schedule, to which you may refer in times of boredom. They are not, however, to be taken verbatim, seriously, accurately, or even pretty-damned-closely. Truth be told, SL had extra advertising space it couldn’t get rid of, and some intern decided it would be great fun to post these ’schedules’ and watch the masses curiously glance at the timetable, their watch, the road, their mobile, back to the timetable, back to the road, at the nearest passenger-hopeful, back to their watch, then at the ground forlornly once the futility of it all sunk in. The ’schedule’ may indicate busses run at 10 minute intervals, but these 10 minutes may be spread out over any number of hours, shared with other routes, or disregarded all together. After 45 minutes a bus may arrive, followed directly by one or two more, which averages out to a decent frequency. Give thanks, jostle for a seat, and bask in the wisdom of your provider.
9. When a bus arrives, you must be standing at the stop, no more than 3.5 feet away from the door, with pass or ticket in hand, readily visible to the driver. At times the little old lady will have to rifle through her purse, pockets, or pantaloons to find her proof of fare, but no matter – you are expected to push past, sliding someone provocatively between the door and her rump, and scramble for the nearest available seat. She can stand for the remainder of her trip, clutching perilously at the grimy pole, in penance for her unpreparedness.
10. Once the driver has admitted his or her desired number of passengers and closed the door, abandon all hope of entering the bus. Even if it is stopped in traffic and has not budged an inch, there is no point in standing at the door and pleading your case, waving your pass, genuflecting subserviently or even crying. Your window – nay, door – of opportunity has closed, and you have been abandoned on the sidewalk of shame. Be not angered or dismayed, for it is the right and responsibility of all drivers to educate the citizenry, to mock the tardy, to ignore the beggings of parents with young children who stand in the cold wanting only for a warm bus ride home.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but fairly covers the expectations SL holds of its passengers-to-be in respecting and worshiping its authority. In no way are SL and its actions to be challenged, questioned, doubted, denied, or ignored. Public transit is a privilege, a bountiful gift, and should be treated as such.
Saint Christopher, in his precognitive 3rd century writings, leaves us with these words: “Only when one sheds unreasonable expectations and presumed courtesies, submitting to the all-powerful will of his faceless but benevolent provider, shall he truly find happiness and satisfaction, despite delays, inconveniences, questionable customer service levels, and fellow riders merely looking for a quiet place to put their feet up, press their butts into a stranger’s face, and/or hold mundane conversations with no concept of ‘inside voices’ or personal space.” Amen.
UPDATE: Although this post was not a reaction to the recent spate of delays, cancellations, altered routes and so forth, SL should be acknowledged for ‘doing the right thing’ in the face of its performance of late. Truth be told, most of the problems can be attributed to the less-than accommodating weather, but SL has still chosen – wisely, I might add – to compensate its riders with discounted passes and fares for the next month. Congrats, SL – my comments above still hold true, but I applaud your proactive response to the less-than-stellar service given to your riders due to the inclimate weather.
The 29-Day Blogging Challenge: A is for Anonymity
Let’s begin this epic and seriously inconsequential 29-day, 29 blog-post challenge with something closely related, or possibly unrelated, to blogging: Anonymity. Blogs, like the rest of the interwebs, allow for varying degrees of anonymity, the ability to propound any manner of opinion, criticism, observation, or in the case of Stockholm Syndrome, meandering drivel, without the prospect of discovery or accountability. I can say whatever I want, about whatever I want, with no direct reprisal or consequence. One can spew vitriolic filth, confess inner desires, admit self-deprecations, offer random musings, target political or societal commentaries, or paint themselves a Chuck Norris-esque badass with no checks, balances, or anyone calling ‘bullshit’. On the net, you can be anyone you want to be, regardless of who you are.
Blogs are somewhat unique in this aspect. Facebook is less anonymous, as your comments and tags and posts are connected to your account. True, one can set up a fake account, and make ‘anonymous’ comments thereafter, but people generally only ‘friend’ folks they know, so that limits one’s audience to groups and fan pages. Same with Twitter and numerous other social networking sites. But blogs – especially those hosted by the likes of Blogger, WordPress, etc. – require no proof of your true identity and therefore offer as little or as much anonymity as desired.
But is anonymity really a desired aspect among bloggers? I was asked some time ago whether most bloggers were inherently shy introverts and thus appreciate the ability to communicate anonymously without revealing their true identity. I’m sure that some are – similar to those of us back in the “olden days” (pre-internet era) who would scurry home from school and write in their journals all night. But at the same time I believe some are the opposite – inherent extroverts who simply see blogs as another medium through which to communicate with the world. This latter group, I would argue, are increasingly common – perhaps even the majority – in today’s blogosphere. Take, for instance, the blogs here on The Local. Of the 30 Readers’ Blogs with accompanying icons (at the time of writing), 25 used pictures of the blog authors. True, most don’t post their full names, addresses, personnummers, and mobiles, but still – the possibility of visual recognition whilst rumbling along the subway line dampens the potential anonymity of having a blog. A few others used logos (e.g. Stockholm Syndrome, that bastard) but not necessarily for increased anonymity; perhaps, as in my case, simply because the blog name lent itself to a kitschy logo. (I must say I really like the logo for Dmitry in Sweden – great way of using a profile pic to capture the essence of both author and subject matter.)
Anonymity for me is a crap-shoot. It’s hard to be ‘anonymous’ (or perhaps inconspicuous is a better term in this instance) in the real world when you’re a 2-meter tall, long-haired, Ashton Kutcher look-alike (or so I’ve been told). I lived in Dubai for a few years and honestly thought I was the tallest person in the whole emirate. I routinely had – and have – people come up to me and comment on my height, or at least stare in amazement when I walk by. Sometimes it’s nice to just blend in and be the observer, rather than the observed. But I ran a website for a few years there, and didn’t reveal too much personally identifying information (mainly due to political reasons, a story for later…) One time at Mall of the Emirates I overheard a couple of lads talking about an article one had read on a blog. It was about the war between Israel and Lebanon in ’06, and they were discussing some of the writer’s commentary on the Middle East’s response. I quickly realized that they were, in fact, talking about my blog, my words, my opinions. There was something quite funny about that, being ‘party to’ a conversation about something I wrote, without them knowing it. It was also validation of sorts, a nod to the idea that someone was actually taking the time to read what I had posted. I left without revealing my identity, emboldened to go on, to blog another day, in true internet superhero fashion. I felt like I should have been wearing my cape.
The ability to be anonymous on the internet has a huge benefit in some cases. Think of the recent political and civil turmoil in Iran, and how sites like Twitter allegedly helped the general population communicate, disseminate, organize, and push for change. Did anything material come out of it? Not really; but if the goal was to make people aware, especially outside the borders, then the anonymous online presence of the people did achieve a great deal. Look at China, with its increasingly stringent censorship guidelines, blockages to certain social networking sites, monitoring of online activity… in such a regime, is it any wonder people seek out any opportunity at anonymity, even if it is for wholly benign purposes? I know I feel awkward at times when people stare at my height – not necessarily a common occurrence in Scandinavia, mind you – but to know that my internet activities were monitored, controlled, directed, logged, and subject to judicial scrutiny?
Like I said, these days and in most cases, anonymity is not necessarily the selling point for bloggers. Some have achieved worldwide fame by doing this very activity – they simply see this as a globally accessible soap-box upon which to stand and holler to the world. Others, true, prefer to remain in the digital shadows and be a faceless voice of social commentary, much like Christian Slater’s pirate-radio-broadcasting character in Pump Up the Volume (great movie, by the way). I’m somewhere in the middle… It would be oddly validating to hear someone on the subway talking about one of my recent posts, but at the same time, I wouldn’t rush up and introduce myself. If there were a gathering of The Local’s bloggers, though, I’d be there with pint in hand. Otherwise I’m happy to don this virtual mask and stomp around in the shadows for a while, unrecognized, inconspicuous, and free to write crap without seeing the collective of raised eyebrows.
Every day I get asked by countless people (and by ‘countless people’ I mean, of course, my wife) “When are you going to update your blog?!” So far this year, I’ve posted a little less than 2 new entries. Pathetic. Is it because I have nothing to say? Those who know me would argue otherwise; I’ve been known to prattle on for hours about the most mundane, disconnected string of minutiae with barely a breath or pause for response. Or have I simply become disenchanted by this assumed role of ‘blogger’ and abandoned my early hopes of internet stardom and a teeming fan base? Of course not. In all honestly, I blame Newton.
Newton’s first law of motion (which he totally retweeted from Galileo, by the way) applies to physical forces, and basically says that a body in motion will stay in motion, whereas a body at rest will stay at rest (ignoring those pesky little external variables of course) – often called the Law of Inertia. This, my loyal reader(s?), is the root cause of my inactivity these couple of months. Restating ol’ Newt in the blogging context: “A blogger ‘in the groove’ will type his little fingers off ad nauseum, whereas a lapsed-but-good-intentioned blogger will stay on the couch watching CSI and blame some 17th century scientist for his lyrical lethargy.” That’s draft wording, but you get the point. Many times I’ve thought “Oh! I should write about this, or that, or something-or-other to at least get Stockholm Syndrome back to the top of the list!” but inevitably fall victim to my own inertia. Hmm, I need to think about this more. I’ll do it tomorrow. Or on the weekend. Wait, who reads this stuff on the weekend? Nah, I’ll do it Monday. It’s a viscous cycle, that, and one that if left unchecked, just makes it increasingly unlikely that come Monday there will be a new post. Eventually, the blog will gather dust and cobwebs, the loyal fan (singular) base will click over to more active sites, and what once had potential to influence, inspire, entertain, and – dare I say? – change the world, will have withered and died like a certain 17th century scientist but without an immortalizing Wikipedia entry.
So where does that leave me, this blog, and all my earlier good intentions? Am I to admit defeat (self-imposed, but still humbling) and slink off into the ether? Or can this pitiful display of blogging abandonment somehow be a lesson, a catalyst for change, a turning point in my otherwise shallow attention span? Newton’s law is true, yes, but with a major caveat – a body (blogger) at rest (lethargically eating Cheetos) will remain as such in the absence of external forces. Ah ha! So if something, somehow, were to push or inspire or compel me to write, maybe I would! Instead of re-reading those countless time-wasting news sites (excepting The Local, of course. Rock on, guys! Please don’t delete me), maybe I could spend a few minutes a day actually writing something heart-felt, or reactionary, or thought-provoking, or humourous, or damn-they’re-going-to-declare-me-insane-for-this… Maybe, with the right active force, this blog could come back to life, a weak pulse at first, then stronger, more fiercely, pounding away at the keyboard and readers’ sensibilities alike, rising to a thumping crescendo of textual intercourse that leaves me craving a smoke and a nap. Maybe…
So, here is my assumed challenge… For the next 29 days I will write one blog entry on anything and everything I think of. Why 29? Why not 30, or 25, or even 37 (in recognition of my recent attainment of that age)? Simple. This is an exercise in self discipline, in imposed order, and thus I will follow the 26 letters of the English alphabet, plus the 3 additional Swedish letters in honour of my new stomping ground. Beyond this sequential guide, that’s where the ‘order’ ends. Posts will be random, disconnected, wholly unrelated save for their relative position in the expanded alphabet. Some may be long, some no more than a couple of paragraphs; some will be about Sweden, others about abstract ruminations, still others about thoughts and observations and funny shit I see on my way to and from work. (Suggestions welcome. Seriously, what the hell am I going to do for ‘x’?! I don’t even know a xylopolist!) The goal here is not to present a cohesive glimpse at any one part of my psyche, or about any one particular topic; nor is it to gain back the throngs (i.e. almost 3!) of loyal readers this blog once enjoyed. It is simply to get back into the habit of writing, and thus thinking, about life and all its curiosities in a more regimented manner.
29 days, 29 blog posts, 1 big challenge, and zero hope of any of this making sense.
I’ll start tomorrow, inertia be damned.