Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Great Blizzard of Twenty-Fifteen, Among Other Things

Long-time bloggy blogger and likely difficult person in general Andrew Sullivan retired from the act of blogging today.

I never regularly read Sullivan's blog after his interest in the intersection of race and IQ turned my stomach, but I did find myself sympathetic to a few things he said in his post today about the daily grind of blogging. This is all just writing, but blogging for many--I include myself in that 'many'--seems to include an inherent demand for timeliness and relevance, and that can lead to a constant feeling of being on deadline. Even if that deadline is entirely self-imposed, it does cause stress.

After I'd been blogging for the heck of it for 5 years--for fun--it took off for me in 2005 and became a job. At the time I was probably 60 lbs. overweight. By the time I backed away from blogging as I understood it for a bit (I never "retired," really) in 2009, I was a full 100 lbs overweight. My blood pressure was insanely high and my lifelong problem with insomnia was off the charts bad. I had acid reflux and my asthma, long dormant, had begun to flare again.

Not having a single-purpose blog of my own to obsess over, just a series of freelance gigs, I was able to focus on losing that weight and feeling better again. I understand Andrew Sullivan's feeling that he'll end up healthier if he steps away from this kind of every day thing. Chances are he's right.

After reading about Sullivan's quasi-retirement I tweeted a joke about my return to blogging, because this kind of endeavor is really missing the input of progressive, middle-aged white men with underlying anger issues.

Truth is, though, I really do feel more ready than I truly have in some time to do this every day. I think I'm going to try and have just one rule: not make any rules for what I put here. I mean, there are rules, sure, but I'm going to ease this space into something closer in many ways to what I was doing when I first began blogging in 2000.

Like, this post started out to be about this blizzard. We had a blizzard where I live, in Central Massachusetts, and it was a sonofabitch. Three feet of snow, full blizzard conditions for 7 hours straight. The Weather Channel dubbed it Juno, which is fine, but I like the old-fashioned Blizzard of 2015. Mostly because such a considerable storm deserves a timeless moniker like that.

The blizzard began in earnest late Monday and consumed all of Tuesday, non-stop sideways snow drifting to the tops of single-story homes. It was epic, and I enjoyed it.

I lived in the south till I was 45, and growing up in the south, snow is introduced as a treat. It's always unexpected, and because no southern city has the infrastructure to deal with it, it enforces a respite when it comes. Whether anyone wants it or not, people get a holiday. It doesn't take much, either--in 2011, five inches of snow shut down Atlanta for a solid week.

You'd think that growing up and eventually having to drive to work in snowstorms would have robbed me of my enjoyment--it did not. And I had one job in one of the few regions of the south that sees real snow on occasion that was atop a treacherous hill. Stressful as driving that hill was in the snow, I still was glad every time it began to fall.

Today I took a 2-mile walk among plowed-up mountains of snow and down alleys of snow neatly carved by hard-working snow blowers. I normally listen to music when I walk, but this was too dangerous; I needed to be able to hear oncoming vehicles, in case one lost traction and I had to dive in a drift.

Nothing much happened; I didn't even slip and fall. But I enjoyed it. The silence, the stillness. Everything cold, and calm.

This was the second historic storm to hit this city since we've lived here. I suspect there are more in store. I'm fine with that.


That was the blog post proper. If I do have one goal as I write more, it is to pare these down and focus them. So, let's see where this rabbit hole goes.