2015: The Blog in Review

All in all, I think the word "eventful" describes the past 12 months pretty well.

It's a year that altered my day-to-day living profoundly, as it saw me changing jobs, homes, and towns. My youngest child graduated from college and went off to seek his fortune, while my last grandparent passed away at the age of 99 and was laid beside her husband. My wife at last obtained the full-time librarian position she'd long been training for, and six weeks after she was hired, we dashed down to North Carolina to be at her mother's side during a quadruple bypass operation. Our beloved 2004 Subaru Forester, Kirby, gave up the ghost in late February with not quite 200,000 miles on him, and in early March we replaced him with a 2003 Subaru Forest, Figwit, who had just over 100,000 miles. And, as you may have noticed, I haven't been posting entries in this journal nearly as often as I once did.

This last can probably be explained by the change in my job. At WFS, I had numerous breaks in my daily routine; not only was there over an hour for lunch, I could count on planning periods several times a day, and when no students were signed up for conferences, I had ample time to sit quietly in my classroom and record my thoughts here for posterity.* At 7HS, however, I have almost no built-in downtime. There are five periods in a day, two long ones in the morning and three short ones after lunch. I am scheduled to teach or serve as the "oversight" teacher (basically, the one on call to deal with disciplinary or other issues) for all but two short periods on Monday, one long period Tuesday, and one short period on Thursday. Moreover, during our 30-minute break and lunch periods, I'm required to supervise and/or observe the students outside; I don't get to do class prep during those times. And even then, my class prep is done in the teacher workroom, which I share with three other teachers, so there's not much opportunity for contemplation.

(There is the not-inconsiderable fact that I don't go to campus at all on Wednesdays, which helps A LOT, but that day tends to fill up with errands, grading, and desperate attempt to catch up on sleep.)

All of this drives down the amount I get posted here, but as I try to begin the New Year, I'm going to make a concerted effort to post more regularly. Among other things, it's a very helpful release valve for me, one that allows me to blast away on topics that distract me, making it much easier to work on larger writing projects.

At the same time, it's probably worth considering how online writing has changed over the years. Blogging has always been something like writing messages, stuffing them in bottles, and hurling them into the Sea of Internet. Even when this site had a functional reply feature, it was never really a place for the exchange of dialogue; it was basically a place to look and see what weird thing had driven PC to the bottle most recently.**

My intellectual exchanges, for many years, took place largely at Readerville.com, and there's no question that when Rville closed up shop, it took me a while to figure out how to replace it. I tried posting at the Zigga Zoomba Lounge, the off-topic forum for UNC fans at Inside Carolina, but the lack of moderation led to some fairly frustrating exchanges there, and after several years of having the same arguments with the same people, I bailed. BookBalloon.org drew me in through the promise of continuing many of the literary discussions that first attracted me to Readerville, but I've never quite been able to claim it as a homeplace the way I did with Readerville. My fascination with the work of Ta-Nehisi Coates led me to become a regular contributor at his blog at The Atlantic, eventually becoming an enthusiastic member of the so-called Golden Horde, but as TNC's notoriety attracted more and more trolls, and he had less and less time and energy for moderating the comments there, that venue withered away. What was left?

Well, as most people probably know, what was left was Facebook, and that's largely where I've been since late 2009. I've also been a Twitter user for the last two years, knocking out roughly 5000 Tweets per year under the imaginative handle @petercashwell. That averages out to about 2000 characters a day, so I can't really claim that Twitter is doing that much damage to my tendons. But there's no question that the give-and-take of Facebook and Twitter has drawn my attention away from the more-giving-less-taking style of blogging.

But as I dive into the just-about-all-giving-and-hardly-taking-at-all style of manuscript writing, I think it might prove helpful to drop some knowledge here more often in 2016. At the very least, it will offer me a chance to get away from watching other people's takes on the upcoming presidential race. That's enough to drive anyone to the bottle.

*For a given value of posterity, anyway.
**So to speak.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on December 30, 2015 3:55 PM.

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