I started blogging at Hoarded Ordinaries on December 27, 2003, which means my ninth blog-birthday was last Thursday. Last Thursday was also the day I finally submitted the last of my fall semester grades, so I’m finally finding time to follow my tradition of looking back on the past year in blog-posts.
The long and short of it
I started 2012 by participating in last year’s “Mindful Writing Challenge,” posting a small stone and an accompanying (typically unrelated) photo almost every day in January. I’m participating again in this year’s Challenge, although I’m posting my daily observations on Twitter, not here.
One of the questions I continue to grapple with is how much and where I should share what I write. Last spring in a post titled “Twitterpated,” I explained how I was trying to use Twitter as a showcase for shorter, more focused observations…and then I got waylaid by other things. This year, I’m hoping to post to Twitter more frequently, saving this blog for longer, more detailed essays…but only time will tell whether I keep to that intention.
Coming and going
Just as I’ll always remember 2004 as being the year when I both finished my doctorate and divorced, I’ll always remember 2012 as being the year we put Reggie to sleep and I left my job at Keene State College. Just as finishing my doctorate didn’t cause my divorce, putting Reggie to sleep didn’t cause me to quit Keene State…but in both cases, the chance juxtaposition of two significant transitions means I’ll always associate them with one another.
“Two-faced” is the post where I first mentioned the ruthless budget cuts that led to my downsizing at Keene State, and “Letting go” is the post where I officially announced I’d quit my job there. I memorialized Reggie in a post titled “A good boy,” written a few days after we’d put him to sleep, and I wrote about the grieving process in “Go gentle.” I also wrote about impermanence and grief in “Sudden hummingbirds,” which made specific mention of Reggie, and “A stone that will endure,” which focused instead of Sylvia Fish, a goldfish I never met but whose grave marker now sits in our dining room: a monument to someone else’s beloved pet.
In keeping with the theme of impermanence, in “Anticlimax” I described the extermination of a bald-faced hornets nest I’d described in “Good neighbors,” “After the storm,” “Homecoming,” and “The last day of our acquaintance.” In “Fallen timbers,” I contemplate the changed landscape of Mount Auburn Cemetery in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which blew through but largely spared us here in New England.
Teaching and learning
Although I quit my job at Keene State last year, I haven’t quit teaching, and I still find that my job is an abundant source of blog-fodder. In “How to fall,” for instance, I look back on my final spring semester at Keene State, and in “What makes a poem?,” I share an activity I did with students in a summer school lit class.
In “(Almost) back to school,” I describe the newbie jitters I felt before starting the semester as a Visiting Lecturer at Framingham State University, a job which in turn inspired the post “How to read a true war story.” My college teaching was also the inspiration for the posts “Office in a bag” and “Theme for English B.” Starting a new job on a new campus gave me an excuse to explore new places, which I describe in “The way of water” and “Let your fingers do the walking.”
Adventures near and far
This past spring, J and I went visited the Margaret C. Ferguson Greenhouses at Wellesley College, enjoying the greenery and witnessing the once-in-a-decade blooming of an otherwise unremarkable shingle plant. In April, we watched the Boston Marathon, which once again brought me to tears, and we met up with old friends to watch Teju Cole accept a prestigious award at the JFK Library. I also visited (and duly blogged) labyrinths in Keene and Chestnut Hill, proving again that walking meditation is good for the soul.
This past summer, J and I admired, photographed, but did not bet on the racehorses at Suffolk Downs, and we attended Saint Joseph’s Feast in Boston’s North End, which brought to mind thoughts of James Joyce. We also went to a few Red Sox games, which I blogged here and here, and we traveled to visit family in Pennsylvania and Ohio, which resulted in a lot of photos from Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh and the Columbus Zoo in Columbus.
Closer to home, a friend and I went to the Josiah McElheny exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art, and we battled the crowds flocking to see the Ansel Adams exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum. In November, I took a solitary pilgrimage to Thoreau’s grave in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, MA, and I also checked out Houghton Gardens, which I’ve frequently seen from the T but had never before visited on foot.
Lastly, in September, I finally got around to blogging a pilgrimage to the 9/11 Memorial in New York City that J and I had taken in December, 2011: better late than never.
The practice of writing
Keeping a blog for nine years provides its own assortment of lessons, and the writing I post on Hoarded Ordinaries is only one kind of writing I regularly do. In addition to blogging, I also keep a handwritten journal, and in October I started devoting a more intentional amount of time (namely, an hour a day five days a week) to writing words that sometimes end up on-blog and sometimes get filed as “Other,” a process I described in “The hours.” In addition to all this daily (or at least “almost daily”) writing, in 2012 I also participated in two informal day-long writing retreats: one at MIT in August, and the other at Framingham State in November.
This practice of writing an hour a day five days a week led to many of the longer essays I posted in October and November, including “Showing up at the page” and “I no longer believe this.” In December, I had less time to write, but I did take a moment in “Sharing silence” to reflect on the Newtown shootings and to admit the word-weariness I sometimes feel as a writer and teacher of writing.
What do I expect from 2013, my tenth year of blogging? I have no idea, butO I hope to continue showing up and seeing what words decide to appear.
If you want to review previous blogiversary posts, you can find all of them (minus 2010, when I never got around to posting a retrospective) here (2011), here (2009), here (2008), here (2007), here (2006), here (2005), and here (2004). Enjoy!