Holy bejeebers this is terrifying. I began this blog journey almost two months ago (that after years of contemplation) and I’ve still not produced a single, genuine blog post. Hardly the makings of a successful blog, but then again I never thought I’d feel so overwhelmed exposing myself thusly on the world wide interwebby.
Granted, writing about me and letting the entire world (which currently consists of zero followers) read it is hardly the worst type of exposure imaginable; for me or you. Still, I find myself anxious and reluctant and frankly, very much like I imagine I’d feel standing on a stage, hand on a brass pole, and an embarrassingly small tube sock simultaneously hiding yet drawing full attention to the lone inhabitant of my nether regions.
So if I’m so nervous about doing this, why am I? Good question and, thankfully, a wonderful segue into my very first 100% original, organic, Canadian-made blog post. Here, for all my future fans and followers (and detractors and trolls and anyone who clicks a link that accidentally takes them here rather than the sauerkraut recipe they were targeting), are the five reasons why I started blogging. I’ve name my blog A Crock of Schmidt (a playful nod to both the author and the value of what’s to be found within). I suppose that is a sixth reason why I started blogging … to use the punny name.
1) “You should have been a writer.”
I’ve heard that phrase many times over the past fifteen years, usually in response to one of my letters I send to family and friends a few times each year. It’s a sentiment that is both flattering and daunting. On one hand, it’s nice to know that so many people in my life feel I have a talent for something. I’m by no means completely useless, but talent, in the sense that I excel at something, hasn’t exactly been dripping from my pores over the years. On the other hand, despite their good intentions, I don’t think those that praise my work fully appreciate how difficult legitimate writing is. It’s one thing to take snippets of my actual life and share them in a goofy and exaggerated manner. It’s quite another to create everything from scratch (characters, story, setting, and plot) in a believable, entertaining manner. The funny drunk at the bar isn’t necessarily destined to excel at stand-up comedy.
Then again perhaps I’m the drunkard that proves to be the exception to the rule? Who am I do second guess the dozens upon dozens three people that actually read my letters? Who knows, it might be fun and I won’t ever know for sure if I don’t try. A blog seems like a decent halfway point between writing goofy letters to family and friends and diving head first into the deep end that is novel creation. Baby steps. Besides, why spend an entire year pouring my heart into an epic novel only to be shattered by endless rejection when I can whip up a few posts on the internet and get that rejection immediately? This seems by far the more efficient way to explore a new endeavour.
2) I need a job or I’ll be forced to get a job.
A new endeavour is something I desperately need. I’ve now been a stay-at-home dad for six years. Not only is that far longer than I imagined I’d ever last in this ‘career’, it is now getting to a point where my geological skill set has become outdated and quite possibly irrelevant. As if creeping obsolescence weren’t enough, my erratic health issues and enthusiastic embrace of sloth have left me wondering if I even wish to go back to work. Being at home all day has some pretty cool benefits despite the many downfalls (I should elaborate on them in another blog post…my god…I’m really getting the hang of this). And now I’m only 1 ½ years away from both my kids being in school fulltime which would grant me 6 ½ hours a glorious freedom each and every weekday! I can’t be expected to look at porn that entire time. I’m not 18 anymore. Heck, I’m barely a man. So I need something that gives me both the appearance of being productive but also allows me to stay home all day. My sugar mama wife is understanding and forgiving and supportive and perhaps a wee bit naïve but even she has limits. Embarking on a writing career seems like just the ticket.
3) I don’t want to be one of those dads.
This is perhaps my most (only?) noble reason for attempting this blog and the broader technology that will go hand in hand with it. It’s no shock that the internet and social networks have become integral parts of many people’s lives, especially the young. I could do my best curmudgeon impersonation and rant about how books, board games, and basic OTA television were all we needed for entertainment and how we’d spend the hours from dawn to dusk outside with nothing but our imaginations and an assortment of refuse and roadside litter we’d collected from about town. It may be true, mostly-ish, but also hypocritical, frankly. Our modern world is full of ever-evolving tools and toys that my children will soon be using to interact with and explore their world. This stuff is really awesome. It’s also potentially dangerous. I can either stick my head in the toilet and keep flushing hoping that nothing bad happens to my kids or I can swallow my inner curmudgeon and embrace these technologies myself.
When I was a kid an uncle gave our family his used Atari 2600 video game system as a gift. My sister and I were thrilled beyond comprehension. The first night the family sat down to use this magical entertainment box my father got so frustrated at one point he threw the joystick across the room. At the time it was funny as hell though I seem to recall laughing out loud to be an unwise reaction. Now it seems frightfully prophetic as I now struggle to understand and make use of all this technology. I’ve not just fallen behind the learning curve I’ve completely dropped of the graph. And to add salt to this wound I should note that my father now owns a Q10 Blackberry smartphone and knows how to use the thing, whereas I only obtained my very first cell phone a few months ago. It’s a used, pink Blackberry Curve that a friends’ daughter no longer wanted, presumably due to its rapidly fading coolness.
I’ve become antiquated and outright ignorant of the modern world. There’s some romanticism in that I suppose, but mostly it’s just stupid and potentially dangerous with growing kids. This blog will hopefully prove to be but the opening doorway into my technological renaissance! Oh I’ll still rant at the craziness of it all (The Cult of Apple anyone?) but at least I’ll be ready to help and protect when needed. Maybe I’ll even have a little fun as well. I just don’t want to be that dad; stuck tossing joysticks around in a state of inadequacy and helplessness as I barrel toward the inevitable moment when my daughter “accidentally” sends a detrimental-to-future-career-prospects cell phone photo to the cute Aussie working the chairlift. If I do this well, I may even keep the photo from being taken in the first place.
4) I’m getting a wee bit lonely.
The world is not like it was when I was growing up. In the 70’s there were still a lot of moms at home. Lots were starting to work and have careers, but many still stayed home. Today, as I can personally attest, dads sometimes do the staying at home with the kids which is certainly a stunning change from the old days. But what is even more pertinent to my point is the fact that few parents of either gender stay home with the kids anymore, be it out of necessity or choice. This homemaker gig just isn’t very popular and for those of us living the Leave It To Beaver fantasy life that means things get pretty lonely. The neighbourhoods just aren’t brimming with young mothers pushing strollers, going to parks and playgrounds, doing chores around the yard in housecoats slipping open, sunbathing on the backyard deck or jogging down the street in tights and sports tops. Believe me, I’ve been looking. Hard.
I can’t imagine what it was like for my mom back in the day with only a handful of channels on the TV and a landline phone available for entertainment and communication. There’s certainly something to be said for a simpler time where technology didn’t seemingly control every aspect of our lives. But all this modern technology also allows us to shrink the world and make it a little less empty and that’s something I increasingly value as I spend more of my time alone in an empty house and empty yard in a nearly empty neighbourhood. Texting and emails help keep some semblance of inclusion in the world that’s happening out there. Hopefully this bog will help further connect me those I already know but also those I’ve yet to meet. There’s 7 billion people out there surely a few of them are warped enough to find my gibberish enjoyable and might even wish to engage in virtual companionship.
5) I hope to correct a personal fault.
This reason, more than any other by several orders of magnitude, is where my entire blogging adventure will fail. A couple years ago I was actually quite active online. I had a Facebook account, participated in an online health forum and a paid chat room and even commented on news articles on media websites. It was horrible! I inevitably ended up getting into verbal spats with complete strangers and sometimes with acquaintances or even friends. The internet, for all its usefulness, has also provided every quack and jerk an easy, anonymous platform to spew their nonsense and bile and I just wasn’t able to bite my tongue, turn the other cheek, take the higher road, or shut the hell up. I suppose in that sense I was one of them though I’d like to think I was in the right more often than not defending the logical or sensible position. Nonetheless these unpleasant exchanges bothered me. A lot. Eventually, I just quit it all. I’d had enough of spiteful ‘debates’ and pointless attempts at discussion with people that ran the gamut from simply stubborn to outright bigots. The frustration and angst and even sleepless nights were not worth the few benefits I gained from being involved socially online. So I quit. I quit it all and have been much happier ever since, hence my apprehension.
As time has passed since quitting all social internet interaction I’ve come to realize and (begrudgingly) accept two things. First, more and more people are using social media to communicate. Schools, libraries, governments and sports organizations all communicate, sometimes exclusively, online. Even some of my family keeps in touch only with Facebook. I have been missing out on a lot of stuff (as if being stuck at home wasn’t lonely enough). Secondly, while quitting may have ceased the unpleasant interactions I was having it certainly did nothing to solve my own personality issues that caused me to get into those squabbles in the first place. By avoiding online interaction I was not improving myself. It takes skill and control to remain pleasant, informative, and persuasive when dealing with even the worst types of online adversaries. Even just knowing when to ignore the trolls takes some savvy. So in hopes of growing as a person and improving my ability to communicate my ideas and opinions I am venturing back into the swamp with this blog. This will be quite difficult for me and I’m afraid I don’t have much confidence that I’ll succeed. Hopefully by exposing my true self to world I will find the wherewithal to resist my poorer habits and improve. A challenge worth taking.