Posts Tagged With: Stories

Daily Prompt: Pat on the Back

Woo! I did it! Successfully completed my Blog Every Day in July challenge. Sweet!

I’m pretty excited about that, and proud of myself for getting it done, but that’s not what this post is about. Because today, the Daily Prompt is to “tell someone you’re proud of just how proud you are.” So instead of spending this post selfishly congratulating myself for actually making consistent use of my blog (finally), I want to congratulate someone else who deserves it a lot more: Caroliena Cabada from Polyprotic Amory. Caroliena created her blog around the same time I created mine: November of 2012. However, unlike me, she started posting regularly right away. After my first couple of posts around the end of November/beginning of December, I didn’t post again for another two months. And after that random post in the middle of February, I didn’t post again until…well, until I started this blog-every-day challenge, one month ago.

And guess who inspired me to blog every day? Caroliena. In fact, she didn’t just “inspire” me in some kind of nebulous, wishy-washy tangential way: she straight-up challenged me to actually use my blog, to blog every day in July alongside her. When I would hesitate, she would prod me forward, and before I knew it I was writing a post every day. She provided the impetus for me to sit down and do it. She would often give me prompts and advice and suggestions, but even when she didn’t, just seeing how successful she has been at maintaining her blog for the better part of the past year galvanized me to work harder, smarter, and more on my own. Caroliena wasn’t just helpful, she was an exemplar. From the time we created our blogs until the end of June, I wrote a grand total of three measly posts. She wrote one hundred forty-one.

Because, see, that’s the kind of person Caroliena is. Not just with WordPress; with everything. I remember staying up late talking with her about why I’m vegetarian (which will probably be the subject of quite a few of my posts in the future), back when she herself was still a carnivore. Next thing I knew, she was going vegan. Caroliena is the kind of person who really listens, better than almost anyone I know. What makes her a good listener is that she doesn’t just listen; she listens, carefully and thoughtfully, and then acts on what she learns. She really takes things to heart. Back when we both still used Facebook, I would go on and on about how fucked up that corporation’s business model is. I would disparage it nonstop. But I still used it. She was the one to delete hers first; even though I was the one who had suggested the idea, I found myself following her example, not the other way around. That’s how she rolls. And it’s been the same with WordPress: when I was considering setting up a blog, almost a year ago now, I told her about it. She had never heard of it before, but no sooner had I told her about it than she made a WordPress account of her own. She beat me to it, because she took everything I knew in theory and put it into practice.

Caroliena never ceases to amaze me. She is continually outdoing herself, and outdoing even the people she looks up to. Where she looks at someone and thinks how much she can learn from them, she herself ends up teaching them just as much as they teach her. It’s not often that you find yourself looking up to someone who also looks up to you, but I look up to Caroliena more and more every day. Everything she learns, she takes to a whole new level, to the point that even when you’re the one who started her off on something, you find yourself following her example. I envy her professors: she is the best learner anyone could ask for. I’m proud of her. And I’m so grateful to her for helping me learn to actually embody the things that we both believe in.

Well done, Caroliena. You rock. For listening, for being you, for always being ready to take it to the next level. I’m proud of you.

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Getting Up Early. Really Early.

I should get up early more often. Maybe not as early as I did today, though.

See, for me, this morning was one of those mornings when you wake up long, long before you planned to, but can’t fall back asleep. To be precise, I woke up at 2:35 in the morning. To put that in context, as though it wasn’t absurd enough already, it is not a rare occurrence for me to stay up past 2:35 AM before going to sleep in the first place. (What can I say; I’m in college.) I had gone to sleep very early last night, but by “very early,” I mean 11:30 PM or so. Now, I don’t care how many folks tell me that the Ubermann sleep cycle is actually a thing; three hours of sleep is significantly less than you need to get in a night. So that wasn’t the best thing that could have happened.

But here’s the thing: despite the fact that I hadn’t planned to wake up that early, despite the fact that I didn’t get nearly enough sleep, I’m really grateful that it worked out that way. Because I’m the kind of person who stays up late, reading or writing or working or thinking, I forget how precious those silent early morning hours can be. Something about the stillness of the sleeping city creates this sense of freedom, as though time has somehow been paused, and you’ve been given this extra little bubble of space and time in which to work on whatever it is you need to do. It’s both a relaxing feeling and a motivating one. This time-out-of-time doesn’t feel as though it really “counts” against your day, so even if you get nothing done, you aren’t losing valuable “actual” time. You’re free to be unproductive. But by the same token, because it feels like you’ve been given this secret extra time that isn’t supposed to be there, you feel inspired to make the most of it.

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call myself a “morning person,” since it did take quite a lot of tea to propel me from “can’t sleep” to “actually awake,” but I feel as though I’ve rediscovered something special that was there all along. Back when I was in high school (I can’t believe I just said that), I would have to get up by 6:00 AM every morning from sophomore year on, because my school district thought it would be a genius idea to make sure that anyone who took Advanced Placement science courses either A) couldn’t participate in any kind of extracurricular activities after school or B) had to start class at 7:25 AM. These AP courses all required an additional lab period, which was only available in the hour before school started or the hour after it ended. Anyway, because I had to get up so early regardless, I found myself getting up earlier and earlier, using the time before school each morning to work on my schoolwork, or get some writing done, or just sit and read. Some of those predawn hours were among the most productive times in my life.

Since starting college, however, I’ve been spoiled by remarkably lucky class timetables, with next to nothing scheduled for any earlier than 9:00 AM. Between that and the natural temptation to stay up late, either alone or with friends, I’ve ended up going to bed later (and waking up a lot later) than I did a few years ago. I bet I probably get a healthier amount of sleep now, on the whole, but sometimes I think I might actually be more productive in the mornings than at night.

So, I’m going to test it out. For the next few weeks, I’m going to make myself go to sleep before 1:00 in the morning, and wake up before 7:00 AM. It will certainly be easier than usual to fall asleep (and stay asleep, hopefully) tonight; I’m exhausted. The waking up is the tricky part, or, at least, it will be tomorrow morning. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll even start blogging in the mornings, rather than at night. Who knows?

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Furniture Rearrangement Therapy

I really like rearranging my room. Not for any purpose, not because the old arrangement was flawed in some way, or even because the new arrangement is any better. Just because. I enjoy every aspect of it, from the actual act of rearranging the furniture to the end result, looking around my “new” room. I just love it. In fact, get this: I even enjoy rearranging everything, seeing how it looks in a different alignment, then putting everything back exactly the way it was before, or perhaps very slightly altered.

I imagine that sounds a little silly. Why go to the trouble of rearranging your room when there’s nothing wrong with the old arrangement? Especially if you’re just going to put everything back the way it was before at the end. Isn’t that a waste of effort? I mean, some of that furniture is heavy. And you know what, that very well might be the case for most people. But I find it calming, and at the same time incredibly psychologically and physically invigorating. When I’m feeling under the weather, either from bodily illness or from dwelling too much all the worst things, I find it both soothing and rejuvenating to rearrange my room. The more radical the rearrangement, the better, whether or not I return the room to its original configuration afterwards.

There are a whole variety of reasons why this works for me, I think, and it’s hard to pick out any one of them as more important than another. However, I’m certain that a significant contributing factor is the simple fact that it requires physical activity, which gets the good old endorphins flowing. and that’s always nice. Especially when I’m feeling less than my best because of what I’ve come to think of as “excessive Palantir-gazing,” or spending too much time reading about how totally screwed up the entire world is right now, just standing up and moving around can help overcome the hopeless, nihilistic lethargy that is an occupational hazard of knowing just how bad things are.

It’s not just the physical activity, however, or I’d feel just as great after doing a whole bunch of situps, which I certainly don’t. I think a big part of it is that I like seeing my actions actually have a tangible effect in the real world. It takes some intellectual effort to conceptualize the difference that, for example, signing a petition can make. Or voting. Or any number of other kinds of infinitesimal contributions to a greater good. And especially for someone with a skeptical frame of mind, constantly questioning everything you’re told even when you’re the one telling yourself something, there is always a persistent voice in the back of your head telling you that none of it means a damn thing. When you actually set yourself a physical, down-to-earth task, however, you reignite your sense of your own agency; even the most skeptical mind can’t deny that something has changed after you move your furniture around, even if it’s not something that makes any difference outside your own room. It symbolically reminds you that if you just get up and actually do something, you can change things.

There are other aspects to it, too. A major one is that I don’t like things to stay the same. If everything in my room has been in the same place for more than a couple weeks, I start to get antsy. I want to move everything around, or get rid of some things, or occasionally even add something new. I don’t like the feeling of being stuck in a rut, doing things the same way over and over again without ever changing it up. Even when I make a change and then decide I was better off with the original setup, I don’t regret making the change. If I weren’t constantly trying other arrangements, on what grounds could I honestly claim that this arrangement was actually the one I liked best? There’s a saying that you’re only as young as the last time you changed your mind, and even if I’m only changing my mind about something small, like where to put my recycling bin, I like to keep myself as young as possible.

Even when I end up with the same arrangement I started with, I find that it still has that feel of “newness” to it, as though I’ve just started out on some new adventure, going in a brand new direction, and anything is possible. It’s as though, even though everything is technically in the same place, there’s a whole new room where the old one used to be. It keeps me from taking everything for granted; it stops me from letting my living space just fade into a blurred backdrop in my mind. Even when the changes are subtle, I take immense pleasure in the fact that basically every time anyone comes into my room, they notice that something is different from how it was last time.

So that, folks, is furniture rearrangement therapy. It has never failed to make me feel at least somewhat better afterwards. I have no idea whether or not it works at all for anyone else, but hey, why not give it a shot?

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“Removing Invasives”

I spent most of the day today doing volunteer work with Million Trees NYC.

The primary purpose of this group, as you might have guessed, is to plant one million trees in New York City. However, despite that, most of the work we did today was, in a sense, the opposite. The site I was volunteering at was a park area where new sapling trees had been planted several years ago, right when the project was starting. Our primary task today was, as the fellow from the parks department put it, “removing invasives.” Those saplings still aren’t full-grown trees yet. As such, they are still vulnerable to being strangled by vines and shaded out by other opportunistic non-native plants like burdock. So, to ensure that the trees survive to reach full growth, we had to prune back these invasive species.

It was good, hard work, and I understand why it had to be done. I’ll admit, though, it felt a little weird to me to be volunteering with an organization whose specific mission is to plant things…then spending most of the time actively killing plants. Yes, invasive species are a threat to native ones. But part of me couldn’t help feeling like we had something backwards here. There we were, killing the plants we didn’t like because they were outcompeting the ones we did. That seemed eerily like the kind of attitude that got us into the current environmental crisis in the first place, including the problems of non-native species invading and disrupting the balance of the ecosystem.

And it would have made sense to me if not for the fact that we were working right at the edge of a highway. Why is that relevant? Because, seriously, how can we pretend to care about the disruption to the ecosystem caused by invasive species when we don’t prune back the one invasive species that started these problems in the first place: ourselves? Instead of spending our effort fighting with these invasive plants about what the species composition of the green areas will be, isn’t it more important to fight for larger green areas, and reductions in the concrete deserts? Are we planting these trees because we actually care about trees, or just because we think trees are pretty? It seems a little weird to care about oak trees, but think that burdock is nothing but a nuisance to be chopped down.

Here’s the important question, as I see it: are we just planting these trees to beautify already green areas, or are we planting trees to expand the green areas and push back against the grey? Now, to be fair, I don’t know what that area looked like before Million Trees NYC got there a few years ago. But what worries me is that environmentally-minded people might be spending their efforts on things that marginally improve human quality of life within the city, through increasing the aesthetic appeal of our surroundings, instead of focusing on driving back the concrete and replacing it with ecologically viable land.

Again, I’m not saying that invasive species shouldn’t be fought. What I’m saying is that the most dangerous and high-profile invasive species is ourselves. If we win the fight against every other invasive species, but continue to allow our own sprawl of life-crushing concrete to go unchecked, then none of those other victories means anything, not in the long run. If we want the ecosystems to stabilize, then we need to stop fragmenting them into little bits and pieces, stop paving them over just to make our economy more convenient (in other words, to make our system designed for destroying the world more efficient, so that a tiny number of humans can get even more money at the expense of the long-term survival of the entire species). I felt that I was doing good work today, making sure that the invasive species introduced by globalization, and colonial imperialism before it, don’t gain a foothold in disrupting the new ecosystem that Million Trees NYC was creating here. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but think that even a giant morass of nothing but weeds and mugwort would be infinitely preferable to a paved concrete road. Yes, I’d rather have a healthy ecosystem with thriving local plants, obviously. But the difference between a stable ecosystem and one rich in invasive species seems less important than the difference between having an ecosystem at all and being a concrete wasteland.

It’s the concrete wastelands we should be pruning back first, not the invasive plants. Suppose all the invasive species take over. Yes, the ecosystem will never be the same; but in time, in will achieve a new equilibrium, if we leave it be. Even an invasive plant is still a plant, still a living thing, and where there is life, there is hope.  Where there is concrete, there is nothing but despair.

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Daily Prompt: Flip Flop

Today’s daily prompt asks:
“Think of a topic or issue about which you’ve switched your opinion. Why the change?”

Possibly the most dramatic example of this is my belief in Polyamory. Today, I believe that emotional and sexual non-monogamy is not only ethical and moral, but actually more moral, more beneficial, and more natural than monogamy. However, this couldn’t be further from what I grew up believing. I was one of those kids who believed in “The One.” Not only did I think nonmonogamy was ethically wrong, I didn’t even think it was really possible. I believed that every person is only capable of falling in love once in their entire life, a view I have come to refer to half affectionately and half mockingly as “supermonogamy.” Each of us has precisely one potential match out there, one “love of your life” for each of us. Even as I hit my teenage years and went off to high school, I continued to believe this. Sure, I thought, there can be false positives, where you mistakenly believe someone to be “The One” even though they’re not, but you still do have a unique soul mate out there for you. In my case, I believed I had already found mine, and she felt the same about me. We were both aspiring writers. We inspired each other, and pushed each other to do better than we thought we could. We had known each other essentially all our lives; we were one another’s first boyfriend and girlfriend; we were young, and passionate, and very much in love. Given the evidence in front of me at the time, I can see why I believed what I did. If ever there was a storybook love, it was this one.

But, according to my strident belief in supermonogamy, what happened next shouldn’t have been possible: I fell in love again. I came to develop very strong feelings for another girl. I tried to deny it to myself for a long time, but it became increasingly futile. It wasn’t that my girlfriend and I had a falling-out, or that I stopped feeling as deeply for her, or any of that. If anything, while this was going on, my feelings for my girlfriend intensified. Nevertheless, I also began to have similarly intense feelings for someone else. Every moment I spent with her felt like an adventure, like I was being swept up in a whirlwind and carried off into the great unknown. We had spent our entire lives never meeting once, but we seemed to have everything in common: we saw the world the same way; we loved all the same books and films and shows; we knew all the words to all the same songs that were written long before we were born. We had even played all the same computer games! (Knights of the Old Republic all the way, baby!) Meeting her was like closing your eyes and falling backwards, only to have someone catch you unexpectedly.

I was convinced this couldn’t be possible. And so I came to the conclusion that I was wrong about my own feelings. I thought what I was feeling was wrong, not just morally wrong, but logically wrong. It wasn’t possible, so it must be illusory. In other words, I got myself believing that at least one of the loves “wasn’t real.” But try as I might, I couldn’t figure out which one. I would argue one side and the other, back and forth, always doubting my own feelings, hating myself for not being able to tell. I mean, if one of these girls was the love of my life, my one and only soul mate, and the other was just a false alarm, shouldn’t I have been able to tell which was which? There were days when I was convinced I had realized which love was real, but these “realizations” were mutually contradictory. Sometimes it was one, sometimes the other. All the while, in the back of my mind, there was one answer that I’d known was there from the start, but could never bring myself to face. It was eating away at me: the only logical solution. If either of them really was “The One,” I would be able to tell which one it was. They couldn’t both be The One. But for the life of me, I couldn’t tell which one I “loved more.” I couldn’t tell which love was real, and which one was just a lie.

Which meant that neither one was real. And everything I felt, for either of them, was all a lie.

Of course, I see now that this depressing conclusion, which gnawed at my mind and made me so doubtful and mistrusting that it ended up destroying both those relationships, was just the result of starting from the wrong premise: I was assuming, without justification, that it was impossible for me to love both of them, even though that’s exactly what it felt like. I had blinded myself to what I was actually experiencing by internalizing the dogma of “The One.” It took a long time for me to see past that dogma and actually look honestly at what was happening. A long time. Because even after that fiasco, this didn’t stop happening. Years later, after a long and tumultuous interlude, my first girlfriend and I were back together, and something similar happened again. And again. Each time, I didn’t want to believe it, but after breaking up once and reuniting with my first girlfriend, I was convinced, all the way down, that our feelings for each other were real. But when I would fall in love with someone else again, it didn’t feel any less real than my love for her. Different, surely—every connection is unique, because every person is different—but no less real.

Each time, I would actively recoil from these newfound loves, trying to avoid repeating my earlier catastrophe. But as time went on, I was forced to accept, based on the crushing weight of the evidence, that it possible to fall in love with multiple people at once. In fact, given that most of my close friends were girls and that they wouldn’t have been my close friends if we weren’t deeply in agreement about some pretty fundamental things, it was actually rather likely. I wish I had realized it sooner, because there were girls who loved me as much as I loved them, but I never told them, because I was convinced that what I was feeling was impossible. There were people I hurt—badly—because I simply tried to pretend, to myself and to them, that I didn’t love them the way they loved me, even when deep down I knew I did. I wish I had figured it out in time not to hurt them, in time to show them that they were loved, to give them that same feeling of warmth and relief that comes from knowing that your love is not unrequited.

I used to believe that Polyamory wasn’t even possible. I kept believing that even after I myself had been mutually in love with more than one person, but at that situation of multiple simultaneous love stories interwoven in my life continued to recur, time after time, I found that I couldn’t deny it any longer. I didn’t want to hurt people I loved, to lie to them, any more. Most importantly, I wanted to be honest with myself, to finally be able to admit what I was feeling, to say it openly and honestly, come what may.

I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to be right, no doubt about that. But when it came to the possibility of Polyamory, admitting that I’d been wrong all along, and that it was time to change my mind, to accept the position I’d spent essentially my entire life denouncing—it was the greatest relief of my life. That’s why I changed my mind, and that’s why I’m Polyamorous.

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Daily Prompt: Stranger in a Strange Land

Yes, I know I blog about Polyamory kind of a lot. And yes, I know that a lot of the modern polyamory movement in America can trace its roots back to Robert Heinlein‘s depictions in his books, and very specifically to his novel Stranger in a Strange Land. Tim Zell, now called Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, was an avid reader and fan of Heinlein’s, exchanging letters with him and even going so far as to found a real-lifeChurch of All Worlds,” a Neopagan organization openly espousing Polyamory. His wife and fellow Neopagan, Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, was the author of the Green Egg article “A Bouquet of Lovers,” which is commonly—and incorrectly—called the origin of the word “Polyamory.” While the word Polyamory is nowhere to be found in her article, the article is certainly about Polyamory, and it is one of the most well-known and influential discussions of Polyamorous relationships in modern times.

However, despite all this, and despite its title, this post has nothing to do with any of that. It is a response to today’s Daily Prompt, which asks bloggers to describe their “favorite part” of visiting a new place.

And here’s my answer: the sidewalks of Buenos Aires.

No, seriously. During my sophomore year, as I’ve mentioned before, I visited Buenos Aires during my spring break with a group of fellow students from my university. From the moment I arrived there, the thing that immediately caught my attention was the sidewalks. They looked as though they were made of bathroom tile! I thought that was the coolest, most random thing I’d ever seen. I thought it was so fascinating that, while everyone else on the trip was taking photos of the buildings, or the monuments, or (mostly) themselves in front of the buildings and the monuments, I was going around taking photos of the sidewalk. (Note: I have not included my own photos here, because they’re pretty crappy and there are much, much better ones available here.) Here’s where it got interesting: pretty much right away, I started noticing that the pattern changed as you walked down the block. The bathroom tile gave way to long, elegant slabs of marbled concrete, dotted with tiny little dark swirls.

As my fellow students and I walked around the city, all I would talk about was the sidewalks. They fascinated me. I couldn’t stop looking at them, noticing all the different variations, looking at where one ended and the other began. That was when it hit me: the different sidewalk patterns lined up with the property lines! Each building had a different pattern of sidewalk in front of it. I was ecstatic; I had figured it out! The sidewalk patterns were different because each property owner was responsible for maintaining the sidewalk in front of their own building! Having convinced myself of this, I insisted on explaining it to everyone else in the group, and feeling pretty chuffed about myself as a result. Sure enough, when we got back to our hotel and had access to the internet, I looked it up, and it turns out that I had it right: Buenos Aires does not have its sidewalks maintained by the government (except, of course, in front of government-owned buildings), but by individual citizens who own the properties adjacent to the sidewalk.

That, to me, is what travel is all about. You go somewhere you’ve never been, and you notice what they’re doing differently. Yes, you notice the large, obvious differences (“Durrr…they speak more Spanish!”), but what I find far more interesting are the little things. Like the sidewalk. You would never think twice about the sidewalk in your hometown. It’s such an everyday part of life, so familiar and unchanging, that you come to take it for granted. But then you go to somewhere like Buenos Aires, and suddenly you see that there is a different way of doing things. You see that the way sidewalks are in your hometown and the way in Buenos Aires are vastly different answers to a question you hadn’t even thought about before.

And it gets you thinking about that question. It gets you asking yourself, “Hang on, is my culture’s answer to this question the right one? Why do we do things this way? Are there downsides to the way we’re living that never occurred to us before?” I’m not saying Buenos Aires has it all figured out when it comes to sidewalks, and I know I would have had a hell of a time just getting from point A to point B if I were in a wheelchair, but the nonchalant beauty of the sidewalks, reminding us that diversity is just more satisfying than homogeneity, is something I’ve really come to miss ever since leaving that eclectic city. (And I was only there for a week!)

Traveling to new places, if you’re paying attention, gives you the chance to take something strange and make it familiar to you, but much more importantly, it gives you the chance to take something familiar and make it strange to you. And that’s why travel is so important, so exciting, for me: it gives me opportunities to think like an anthropologist. (Which is not just fun, but also kind of necessary, since Anthropology is one half of my double major. Fifty points to anyone who doesn’t know me personally and correctly guesses the other half.) It gives me a chance to see the culture I was raised in with new eyes, as though seeing it from the outside.

Which, strangely enough (everyone go ahead and groan in unison at the pun), brings me back to the title of today’s daily prompt. The title whose history I said had nothing to do with this post. Well, turns out I lied! It has everything to do with this post. Because if the best part of traveling to new places is thinking like an anthropologist…isn’t that just the same thing as being a Fair Witness?

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Blogging Every Day: Thoughts After Two Weeks

This month, I am participating in a self-imposed “blog every day” challenge. The idea was suggested to me by Caroliena at Polyprotic Amory, who is doing the same thing this month. Given that, up until the challenge began a couple weeks ago, I would not describe my blog-updating schedule as “frequent,” “regular,” or even “intermittent.” In fact, I wouldn’t even describe it as a “schedule.” The switch from “essentially never posting” to the whole “one day, one post” thing has been a big jump, very zero-to-sixty. Since I’m halfway through the month-long challenge, I thought that today would be an appropriate time to pause, take a step back, and collect my thoughts about the whole experience so far. Here we go:

So far, I’m enjoying it immensely. I think that artificially imposing this constraint on myself has already made me better at just sitting down and writing something, even on days when I don’t really feel like it, or even really don’t feel like it. Every time I finish a post, the sense of actually having got something done that day gives me something of a rush. And since I have typically been writing my posts in the late hours of the evening before heading to bed (sometimes only just barely making the midnight deadline to ensure I technically post “every day”), this means that I have always been ending my days on a high note. A note of accomplishment. Even if there were no other good aspects to this, that single fact alone would be worth it.

I am glad to see that other folks have been enjoying it too. I hadn’t expected to be regularly getting notifications of new “follows” on the blog and “likes” on various posts this early in the game. However, thanks to the awesome folks who’ve read and appreciated the stuff I’ve been posting, I wake up each morning to new notifications just like this. That has been an unanticipated extra benefit, and I’m really grateful to everyone who has been reading, liking, and commenting on my posts. I’m especially grateful to the folks who have decided to follow the blog, whether with a WordPress account or by email, and to those who were captivated enough by something I wrote to share it with others, either through a WordPress blog of their own or on other forms of social media. Thank you!

However, there have been some challenges. In particular, as I’ve talked about before, spending a significant amount of time each day writing a post for this blog has cut into the time I usually spend on other forms of writing, from thesis drafting to daily journal entries to working on my first novel. (Yeah, I write a lot.) Primarily, this time has been coming from my journal-writing, since I had previously been in the habit of writing in my journal last, at the end of the day. As I promised myself in that earlier post, I’ve been working on ironing this out, particularly by using my journal to bounce ideas around before sitting down to blog about it in full. This hasn’t been going as well as I planned, mainly because the verdict in the Zimmerman trial this past weekend left me with a lot I wanted to say. The journal writing has recommenced, but I haven’t really been using it the way I meant to: as a kind of proving ground for potential blog post ideas, to help me separate the wheat from the chaff, and give me a chance to work on my posts ahead of time, before the day I post them. Which brings me to my one big complaint about daily posting….

The hardest part about blogging every day is finding the time to do it well. As you can probably tell by looking at my earlier posts (or even, you know, this one), when I write about something, I like to cover it in depth. I like to do my research. I like to show my work. In particular, it hurts me to post any unsourced statements when I know that I have a source, I just don’t have the link open in front of me. I’m always skeptical of unsourced statements in other posts and articles online, and I subject myself to the same kind of scrutiny. However, given my other time commitments, it’s usually hard to find the time to do as much in-depth research as I really should when discussing hot-button, big-ticket issues like environmentalism, sexuality, and too-big-to-fail banks. The information is out there, and I have sources for the things I say, but taking the time to go through each 1000-word post and link each claim to its source takes a significant amount of time. I want to spend that time, because I like writing that kind of well-researched post, and I like writing about the kinds of issues that really require good documentation of sources, but when you post once a day, that extra time can be hard to find. And that’s why….

Posting every day pressures me to write about less important topics by making it harder to write well about the important ones. I’ve been actively trying to fight against this one, but it’s hard to escape the simple fact that if you have a set, specific amount of time each day to spend on blogging, quality and quantity will necessarily be traded off. You can either post very frequently, but not put as much time into each post, or you can post more time-intensive posts at the cost of posting less frequently. Different people are drawn to different points along the spectrum. Don’t get me wrong; I like where I am now (writing daily posts, but not as well-crafted as I’d like) much better than where I was before taking up the daily post challenge (writing only very occasional posts, but spending a lot of time on each post). But I don’t think this is quite the right place on the frequency-of-posts/time-investment spectrum I’d ideally like to be. And given that, come fall, I will have much less total time to spend on my blog, I will probably have to ration it out differently.  This wouldn’t necessarily mean giving up daily posts, and instead posting only once or twice a week. That’s one option, of course, but there are others, like writing shorter posts as a rule, and only posting a “full-length” post (over 1000 words) maybe once or twice a week. For example, I could answer the daily prompts (I actually really love today’s one, “design your dream home,” and will probably write about it soon even though the prompt date will have passed) in short posts under 300 words on weekdays, saving the longer posts that require more work for the weekends (and giving me time to write multiple drafts, do extensive research, etc before the day of posting). This would allow me to maintain a daily posting schedule while still giving the more intense issues the thorough treatment they deserve.

So there we go. There are my thoughts after a couple weeks of daily blogging. The bottom line: I really love it, especially the positive responses I’ve been getting from readers, but I know that when the school-year starts up again, I won’t have the time to write 1000-word (or 1275-word) posts every day, especially not the kind that require extensive research and source-linking to put together. So I need to strike some kind of balance. Hopefully, over the next couple weeks—the second half of the month-long challenge—I can begin to work out how I’m going to do that.

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