Saturday, 5 September 2015

Cri de cyber, or Confessions of a Lapsed Blogger.

Found art, East Boston Greenway, Sept. 5, 2015

I feel like I've been been decrying and lamenting my lack of genuine blogging (as opposed to endless playlists) here for some years now. But frankly, I've been an especially miserable blogger this past year or so. I've rarely even managed the bare-minimum gesture of posting links to my professional writing.

I'm not altogether certain why I continue to think that this matters, but to me, at least, it does.

Naturally, there have been reasons. Five I can think of, easily.

One is professional: It's hard enough to be an editor overseeing three separate cultural categories (pop music, classical music, and visual art) at a major metropolitan daily paper – and trying one's best to participate as a writer, too – in just those hours of the week that are explicitly devoted to doing so.

One is partnership: I've got a brilliant wife who deserves my complete attention and full engagement when I am not at the office, or at one of the increasingly infrequent performances I attend.

One is paternal: I've got a fabulous kid, whose care and maintenance are higher priorities than any extraneous workload could be.

One is preventative: Overwork has always been a condition to which I fall prey easily and naturally. The results are not pretty, or comfortable, or satisfying.

And one is personal, verging on private: My transition from New York City writer-editor to Boston editor-writer has been protracted, complicated, and at times uncomfortable – more so than I'd anticipated.

There have been mundane reasons, including a challenging job to learn, a whole field of new professional connections to be navigated, and an unimaginably awful real-estate market to endure. (To my New York City friends, with fondness and respect: most of you only think that you know residential horror. Sorry, it's true.) There was also the matter of the harshest winter in Boston's history; I try to act as if such things don't affect me, but if I'm honest, they can and probably do.

Those mundane reasons contributed to deeper frictions, intimate things more difficult to boil down into something meaningful to and appropriate for a general readership. But revelation and exhibition are a blogger's common currency, so I do feel compelled to say something, and that is this: In some pretty fundamental ways, I've not allowed myself to live in the here and now, to access and engage the present moment, in quite some time now. I think that I've been mired in past circumstances, distracted by past situations, even bound to some extent by past attachments and allegiances.

Equally, it's been a challenge to come to grips with the reality that I am not principally a writer now; my chief job is editing and the tasks that come with that role (gate-keeping, traffic-managing, and so forth). Those are important, worthy occupations, for sure. But when you've been a writer and then stop writing every day, you easily can become convinced that you are no longer a writer, period – and, by extension, that you are no longer part of a robust cultural conversation that dominated your days and nights for more than a decade. Or so it has appeared to me.

Recently, I spent a week in New York with my family. We crashed in a lovely Brooklyn apartment owned by good friends, and reconnected with friendly faces and places: the pleasure inevitably tinged with melancholy. After 20 years in or close to New York City, I left 16 months ago; this visit was the first time that I genuinely felt a sensation of otherness. It hit particularly hard when we ended our visit in our old neighborhood, where we still own an apartment.

At the end of the trip, I had a sudden and very personal epiphany: I was sick and tired of listening to myself complain about anything at all when my life is so obviously rich and filled with opportunity. And I made the decision, then and there, to engage the present moment completely, to take advantage of every liberty and possibility, and to appreciate to the utmost everything life has provided.

I've termed my new philosophical outlook Namaste, and all that shit.™

(If you're among my intimates or coworkers, you're sick of hearing that line. I apologize.)

What does most of this ramble have to do with blogging? Not a lot, not directly. But the truth is that despite the challenges, ambiguities, and periodic aches of the last 16 months, I've experienced (and occasionally written for publication about) the kinds of things that Night After Night was conceived to share and ponder. Boston is a town generously blessed with cultural opportunities, worthy artists, and happenings worth sharing.

That being the case, it's once again a real priority that I find time to honor, at the very least, the commitment that I made to myself nearly 10 years ago.

For Lara and Annina, and for Alex and Marion.

Original Content: Cri de cyber, or Confessions of a Lapsed Blogger.

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