April 11, 2008

A Year in Blog-land

Category: News — Ira @ 6:50 pm

photo-2-small.JPG

“…..I have been a stranger in a strange land.”

—Exodus 2:22
_____________________________________

Well, we’ve reached a milestone. Fifty-four posts. With fifty-three essays. Almost exactly one year ago, on April 14, on a Saturday morning, I posted my first commentary. And every Friday evening since. The weeks and months have passed, and the full cycle of the seasons.

Big whoop, in the big scheme of things. But it’s a substantial achievement for me. Never before have I produced such a voluminous steady flow of words on a weekly deadline for a full year. Not even during four years of college and three years of law school.

I feel good about it. Not like I’ve earned a medal or anything. Just a sense of accomplishment, and all that. It’s been fun, mostly. Except for a few frantic moments of mild panic from writer’s block and some frustrations when the right phrase or description evaded me. I’ve experimented with different styles of writing. Various methods of ex- pression. Written in third person (“He” instead of “I”) for the first time ever. It works, if the muse strikes just right.

I recognize and cheerfully credit the influence of other writers. Fred the Curmudgeon has impacted me greatly with his writing style and rather cynical expressions and short choppy sentences. I also read the “New Yorker” regularly. Most of its essayists affect a bored, tired sardonic attitude. World-weary, knowing, skeptical and of course, with no serious acknowledgment of anything like a higher power. Faith is for hicks, except for the complex nuanced contortions of the “social justice” liberals. But they can write, I’ll give them that. I try to learn from them.

Writing for me is an organic thing. I never quite know how the finished product will turn out. Other than it’s loosely based on a certain theme. Usually on Sunday night, I develop a rough outline of the subject matter. And perhaps write a few paragraphs. By midweek, the essay is about 85% complete. Extensive rewriting and tinkering follow right up to post time.

Some essays are set on the back burner for another time. October is my favorite time of year, and last October I was determined to write a stirring essay regaling the season. After a few evenings of frustrating labor, I gave it up. It seemed contrived. I could not find an authentic voice. So perhaps this fall the issue might be revisited. I saved my notes. We’ll see.

I am deeply melancholy and moody by nature. My writing tends to reflect that (a HUGE understatement). Some of what I consider my best stuff recounts the tremendous toll in human costs. Of tragedy, pain and loss. Which harks to the classic theme of the morose, downhearted artist, producing reams of passionate brooding prose because he has lived it and felt it. And must express it to the world (although the world has no obligation to listen, or pay the slightest attention).

I’m especially grateful to you, the readers. There’s tons of blogs out there. Your choices are almost unlimited. I appreciate the time you take, whether weekly or sporadically, to check my site and read what I’ve written. Whether on the site or from hard copies. And the feedback some few of you have felt led to share. I write and post what interests me. I figure if it’s read, that’s just an added bonus. I’m always honored and humbled. Really.

I also appreciate the private emails from those of you who experienced situations similar to mine and wrote to tell me of them.

All the posts remain available on the site. In retrospect, reviewed with a critical eye, some are mediocre, or worse. (I am very dissatisfied with last week’s post. It felt clichéd and disjointed. Too “Hallmark.” But it was all I had, so I went with it.) Some are OK. And a few I would submit with pride to the crankiest (and best) writing teachers that have ever terrorized me.

(A housekeeping note: The “Florida Nightmare” page has been completely gutted and remodeled. The last vestiges of the original content deleted. After a year, it was time. The page is now an Index of Posts. All the titles are listed in chronological order from most recent all the way back to the first one. I plan to keep it updated.)

The year was what it was. I look back and feel thankful. For a lot of things. God has been good. And faithful as He promised.

What is the future? Who can say? For now, I plan to keep posting weekly. For the discipline of forcing myself to write regularly, which is a good thing. And because the more I dig into memory, the more emerges from the depths.

That said, this being the second year and all, there well may come a Friday or two when there is nothing to post. When the discipline fails, or other things intrude. Or I may wake up one morning and decide to take a break for a month or two. I could see it happening. If it does, it does.

It’s been a decent ride, having my own blog. I’ve learned a few things in the past twelve months. About being who and what I am without apologies, regardless of the hostile and vocal criticism buzzing incessantly like great clouds of angry bees. About taking control of the little speck on the digital universe that consists of my site.

It’s impossible to please everyone. Seems like a lot of people have all kinds of brilliant ideas of what a blog should be. Some aren’t shy about letting me know where mine falls short. And that’s OK. But if I tune them out, that’s OK too.

In a private correspondence last year, a critic took me to task for a seemingly endless list of grievances. A stern “measured” missive from on high, it was. My blog should be this and I’m not being honest about that and my writing sucks. Blah, blah, blah. My eyes glazed from reading the pages and pages of patronizing blather.

He wrote condescendingly that for him, it’s all about philosophies and ideas. Always been. I was unimpressed.

“What a pompous arrogant elitist (bleep),” I thought to myself. I wondered if he had any “ordinary” friends. I doubted that he could tolerate them or they him. Probably, like me, not for long.

I’ve met such people before, who claim that life is all about philosophies and ideas. Insufferable boring people, full of themselves. A bloated self-importance permeates their words and overwhelms anything constructive they might have to say. Combative, humorless and tiresome, they take themselves far too seriously. Their fretful petty crankiness always reminds me of two lines from T.S. Eliot’s “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” a poem I studied in college:

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

Before I ever branch off into consciously discussing “philosophies and ideas” as such (other than the occasional political diatribe or social commentary), I will write the things I have lived, the places seen and felt and breathed, the experiences that have made me what I am. Simple things from a simple culture. Emerging from that culture. And all that’s happened from that time to the present. It’s been a wild ride. I will write those things without apology or embarrassment, because what I have lived is what I have to say. I think there will be plenty to say for a long, long time.

Some have sneered disdainfully at my enjoyment of Nascar, pickup trucks, grilling and discussion of ordinary things, when valuable time and space could be used so much more wisely discussing intellectual subjects. Not that there’s anything wrong with intel-lectual subjects.

But to me, life is not all about philosophies and ideas.

It’s about living.

Which includes philosophies and ideas, in proportional balance with ordinary things. Like football and pickup trucks and Nascar and grilling.

Without the ordinary things, the larger things would not be possible. I can say with absolute certainty that I will never devalue or scorn those ordinary things. I would rather write to the regular guy than to all the intellectuals in all the universities in the world.

I would rather sit down and have a beer or a Scotch in an ordinary blue collar dive or a redneck bar than attend the ritziest highbrowed black tie champagne-soaked affair swarming with intellectual snobs (and yes, I have been in both settings). Listen to what Joe Sixpack has to say without interrupting. He is who he is with few pretensions. And there’s a lot to be said for (and about) people like him.

If that doesn’t make sense to you or the idea seems strange, then this site is probably not for you.

One last comment about my writing and this blog. Ellen and I were not blessed with children, although we deeply desired a family. It was not to be and just as well, the way things turned out. Now, I will never be a father. I will never have a son or daughter to enjoy in my old age when I’m tired and cranky. No child to carry on my legacy or my name.

I will likely grow old alone.

And that is a heavy thing to process and absorb. And accept.

I have processed and absorbed. Still working on the “accepting” part.

I find solace from another source.

My legacy, whatever it is, will be in the words I write.
________________________________________________________________________

America’s pastime was unleashed upon the land a week ago last Sunday evening, with the Braves taking on the Washington Nationals at the Nationals’ brand new ballpark. The season opened with great fanfare, some opera lady belting out the National Anthem in an unbelievably deep voice.

Flags were waving and jets thundered overhead and President Bush threw out the first pitch, to cheers and jeers. The pitch was high and tight. Unfortunately, the Braves lost in the bottom of the ninth.

Wild optimism reigns. A host of local Phillies fans are convinced this is their year. Some guru picked them to win the division. To all the hype, I say, wait, and play the games. It’s a long, long season. Bring it on. Slurp, slurp.

A mass exodus unfolded this weekend as a horde of Waglers and Yutzys migrated to Kokomo, IN for the April 12th wedding of Glen Wagler and Leann Chupp. Congrats to the happy couple.

j-glen-and-girlfriend2-small.JPG
Glen and Leann

A big hug and thanks to Dorothy Miller (my niece) for the box of delicious organic-baked goodies that arrived this week. It’s been awhile since I got one of those.

Share

(12 Comments) »

  1. Thanks for writing those words in the past year. I was made aware of your blog a couple of months ago and it has been an encouragement, an amusement, a message from God. Writing words of honesty shows a window into the heart of a person. A real person in an unfair world.

    Comment by John — April 11, 2008 @ 7:02 pm

  2. I have a very high respect for real people.

    Comment by Katie Troyer — April 11, 2008 @ 7:48 pm

  3. Keep up the great writing. Every week I look forward to your new topic!

    Comment by Dawn — April 11, 2008 @ 9:10 pm

  4. Your blog gives me one more reason to look forward to Fridays. Always good stuff.

    Comment by John Schmid — April 12, 2008 @ 12:13 am

  5. I read your posts with my first cup of Saturday morning coffee. It’s become a ritual – I hope you keep writing.

    Comment by R. Miller — April 12, 2008 @ 7:35 pm

  6. Your legacy through your words will be valuable through the living you did. Grateful for your writing.

    Comment by sms — April 14, 2008 @ 9:20 am

  7. Ah, the deep-running waters of that solace! Your writing is a bubbling brook where I take time to sit, allow myself to feel the melancholy of life, and listen for wisdom that seems to come through the breeze (so like my childhood). The theater masks of tragedy and comedy that even God wears. And the hope of promise – “more are the children of the barren” and Isaiah 54.

    Thanks for your honesty. You model a goal.

    Comment by LeRoy Whitman — April 14, 2008 @ 8:35 pm

  8. Thanks for a year of insightful and entertaining writings. I enjoy every post, even if I don’t always agree. (“unfortunately the Braves lost in the ninth inning”)

    I’m at Glen’s house in Kokomo, taking on his work while he and the lovely bride enjoy a week in sunny Hawaii.

    Comment by Reuben Wagler — April 16, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

  9. I have enjoyed your writings very much. I for one am going to miss it if you discontinue it. Keep it up!

    Comment by jason yutzy — April 16, 2008 @ 5:01 pm

  10. I’ve been reading your blog sporadically for a while now…I’m doing it chronologically…because I like order like that:) I never comment but this particular blog made me almost HAVE to. I love your writing. Deeply. If it were all philosophies and ideas I would have left long ago. I’m thankful to you for making it about living…about your experiences. You’ve made me burst out laughing, smile softly to myself, and made the tears pool in my eyes. I’m very grateful that you write. So…thank you:)

    Comment by Beth — September 13, 2010 @ 11:23 pm

  11. Well, Ira, you’re unbelievable. What can I say? You’ve been poked, pinched, verbally abused, spat upon, lied about, and snubbed by people that have partaken of your literary fruits yet you continue on with this blog as a man who is truly dedicated. The ghastly ingrates. Keep on keepin’ on! Man!

    So, this October essay you attempted…did you ever go through with it? October is awesome, no denying it. It’s kind of like a winding down time-the intensity of summer heat and vacations, long days of sunlight…all spinning down into an immaculate array of leafy reds, yellows, browns, oranges. The cool, crisp weather gently coaxing Earth’s inhabitants to seek warmth from a cozy blanket or a loved one. Juicy red, green, and yellow apples, clusters of burnt orange pumpkins on a bare field, jovial scarecrows decorating front lawns. Hay bales plopped on wagon beds for splendid hay rides. Oh yes! The greatest season of all is fall.

    I think I’ll read “Halloweeners” again.

    Comment by Francine — October 2, 2014 @ 2:05 am

  12. Hi There Ira,
    wE WENT TO SCHOOL TOGETHER IN THE FIRST GRADE .DO YOU REMEMBER ME?I ACCIDENTLY FOUND YOUR BLOG ABOUT THE BELIZE COMMUNITY AND ALBERT STOLL OF WHICH I WAS A PART ,AND FOUND IT VERY INTERESTING ,I WROTE YOU BUT NEVER SEEN AN ANSWER SO I PRESUME YOU DIDNT GET , CAN YOU TELL ME HOW I CAN GET INTO THAT BLOG WHAT MONTH IT WAS AND SO FORTH . I WANTED TO TAKE IT HOME FOR MY HUSBAND JOE BEILER TO READ, YES HE REMEMBERS YOU AND YOUR BROTHERS TOO, ONE OF YOU TOOK HIM TO THE SINGING ONE TIME IN ALYMER ,
    MY SON NELSON 16 WOULD GREATLY ENJOY YOUR LITIETURE ON SURVIVAL, HOW CAN I EVER GET SOME OF THOSE BOOKS , WE DONT USE CREDIT CARDS ,
    I TOLD MY MOM ABOUT YOU AND SHED LOVE TO RECIEVE A CALL FROM YOU , MARY ELLEN MILLER 931 -593-3320.
    YOU HAVE A VERY INTERESTING WAY OF WRITING AND MANY ADMIRERS, GOD GAVE YOU A GIFT,
    MY GREAT GOAL IS TO WRITE A BOOK ABOUT THE 20 YEARS WE HAVE LIVED IN BOLIVIA,
    I BET YOU WOULD BE A WONDERFUL HELP TO GET MY BOOK PUBLISHED ,
    I REMEMBER YOU IN THE FIRST GRADE LIKE IT WERE YESTERDAY.
    PLEASE TELL ME IF YOU GOT MY LETTER ,
    SARAH BEILER

    MY HUSBAND IS A SISTER TO ALVIN FISHERS WIFE SEVILLA.DO YOU REMEMBER JOE’?

    Comment by Sarah Beiler — January 2, 2015 @ 7:36 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

XHTML ( You can use these tags):
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> .

*