I’ve been woefully lax when it comes to observing my own four year blogiversary, which happened on December 27. In previous years, I’ve marked the day by writing a retrospective entry that included links to my top five or ten favorite posts from the previous year. This year, I was preoccupied instead with compiling links for the New Year’s Festival of the Trees post, so the day came and went without me as much as mentioning it.
In past years, I’ve tried to summarize what I’ve learned from X many years of blogging. This year, I’m not sure I’ve learned much of anything. When I first started blogging, I had idealistic notions of how my blog could and would reach lots of readers, change lots of minds, and ultimately Change The World. Four full years later, I’m less idealistic. Four years of more-or-less faithful blogging later, I’ve given up on reaching lots of readers, changing lots of minds, and ultimately Changing The World. These days, I realize the world is the world whether I like (and blog about) it or not. Rather than trying to change myself, my readers, or the world at large, these days I mostly try to content myself with what is.
So this year, instead of trying to decide upon a handful of favorite posts from 2007, I’m taking a “Festival of the Trees” approach. Here is a whole forest of links, clustered into loose categories: a retrospective that is more than a day late and much more than a dollar short.
Posts about blogging:
Futuristic contains within it a post titled Ad infinitum, which discusses the challenge a long-time blogger faces trying to re-see the same world in different ways, day after day. Sustained attention features my thoughts on place-blogging as inspired by the ASLE conference in Spartanburg, NC this past summer. Plain Jane mundane is as close to a Hoarded Ordinaries Blogging Manifesto as I’ve ever written, which is why it has a prominent spot on my “About” page.
One of the things I love about living in New England is the sheer number of cool places there are to explore here…and one of the things I love about blogging is the excuse it gives me to wander with a camera and a double-dollop of curiosity.
In Spring fling, I take a trip to the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA; in Hannah, get your axe, I explore the Hannah Dustan monument in Penacook, NH; and in Unwind, I visit the original scroll-typescript of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road during its exhibition in Lowell, MA. Madonna with musket focuses on the statue of Molly Stark in Wilmington, VT; The sphinx’s riddle describes a walk in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA; and The sky’s the limit chronicles a trip to the JFK Library in Boston, MA. With destinations like these so close to home, this past year I hardly needed to venture to places as far-flung and diverse as New York and Spartanburg…but I did anyway.
“Open your mouth, already a mistake.” This Zen saying points to the utter ineffability of the present moment that Zen practice seeks to capture: as soon as you’ve described This Present Moment, it’s already past. This, of course, poses a problem for a blogger who practices Zen, and in 2007, I made many “open-mouthed mistakes.”
Birthday Boy describes an April visit to the Providence Zen Center to celebrate Buddha’s birthday. Open meadow mind focuses on the formal meditation practice I do when my schedule allows, and Black Friday describes the walking meditation I do whether or not I have time for formal practice. Strength describes my favorite fruit of meditation practice, and Instead of apple picking talks about the Zen of literal fruit.
Life as Lorianne:
One of the coolest things about blogging is the way it provides you with your own personal time-capsule. For many years, my Mom has kept a diary in which she writes a one- or two-sentence summary of each day’s events; whenever she wants to know when a certain thing happened, her diary is the first place she goes. For me, my blog serves as an electronic diary: one way I as a writer keep a finger on my own psychological pulse.
Probably the biggest change in my personal life in 2007 was the baby-step I took toward leaving Keene, NH, which I described in Bipolar. In The end of an era, I talked about another rite of passage in my personal life: the long-overdue demolition of my favorite abandoned factory. No escape describes the panic attacks I sometimes feel in crowded places. Soft in the middle features me letting it all (or at least my belly) hang out as I talk about my shifting attitudes toward my body.
Love, marriage, and not-always-happily-ever-after:
One of the things I’ve chronicled over the years I’ve been blogging is my 2004 divorce after nearly 13 years of marriage. When I first separated from my ex-husband, someone told me it takes three years to get over a marriage…which means 2007 was the year of my “getting over it.” Although I can’t say with certainty whether a person ever fully “gets over” nearly 13 years of water under the bridge, I did in several posts re-visit what I learned from a dozen years in an ultimately unsuccessful marriage.
Three years looks back on my post-divorce experience, Until death describes my unsettled reaction to a friend’s engagement, and Don’t do the math offers some learned-the-hard-way advice to the soon-to-be-married. Wholesome offers my thoughts on older, long-married love versus the younger, newlywed kind.
The sporting life:
With the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series, the New England Patriots remaining undefeated during the regular season, and the Boston Celtics finally back on top in the NBA rankings, 2007 has been an amazing year to be a New England sports fan. In June, J and I traveled to Atlanta to see the Red Sox; in December, we saw both the Celtics and the Patriots. In between, we’ve been to a handful of hockey games, with Hat tricks describing fan behavior at a Boston Bruins game and More than a few good men describing a collegiate match-up between Boston College and Northeastern University. And in Field of dreams, I explore the love affair many of us have with America’s pastime, this time played by a summertime collegiate league.
Ways of seeing:
This last category is the catch-all for posts I couldn’t classify elsewhere. When you come down to it, all of my posts are about “ways of seeing” in one way or another. There’s the literal seeing I do through my camera’s view-screen, then there are the ways that regular writing can sometimes lead to insight. After you’ve kept a blog for four full years, you learn to appreciate the everyday world as it transpires over time.
Four years later, I’m still exploring the backsides of buildings, as I described in Like a weed, and I’m still fascinated with the fall of light on my living room floor, as I explored in A certain slat of light. Four years later, I’m still walking the dog in woodsy places, as I described in Stalking; four years later, I’m still fascinated by mannequins and shop-window reflections, as illustrated in Holiday reflections. I’m still traveling to new places and trying to find my perceptual feet, as I describe in Out of proportion, and I’m still snooping in other people’s yards, as I explained in The leaves of others. Four years later, in other words, I’m still doing the same thing I did when I began blogging, regardless of whether I’ve learned anything or remain consistently idealistic about the experience. At the end of the day, even if you’re a handful of days late and a bucketful of dollars short, I guess that itself matters for something.
If you’re in a retrospective mood, you can read my inaugural blog entry, where the experiment began. I’m not sure what exactly I’ve learned from four years of experimenting, but you can read previous retrospectives here (2004), here (2005), and here (2006). If you follow any of today’s links, you might notice that I’ve recycled photos for this entry: a Lazy Blogger’s approach to an illustrated post.