Breath of Life

I’ve been trying to write this post for some time now. I started this blog just over seven months ago, and in that time have written over 90 entries, the shortest of which is a little over 800 words. Add all of that up, and it’s a book. It would take most people at least a day of focused reading to work their way through the archives.

What inspired me to start blogging? I used to write Facebook notes. I’d publish one every few weeks or so, sometimes more, sometimes less. Late in my junior year of college, the well dried up. I’d had the feeling that I’d been moving towards something for a long time, but had never anticipated that that would mean abandoning the thing that so many people knew me for. The feedback on those notes was almost always positive, and people whom I didn’t frequently see in person told me that it was their way of keeping up with my life when we were apart. For months, I insisted that I would start writing regularly again as soon as I had something worth talking about. That was over two and a half years ago.

Many of the people who knew me from that period have drifted out of my life. That’s fine. This blog has racked up a readership consisting of at least a dozen or so people who aren’t just following the links from my Facebook page. That’s really something. I don’t have any way of knowing for sure how many people read this thing (even hit counts are not an absolute measure), but it seems to be a fairly substantial number, at least by the standards of an anonymous kid with a WordPress account who just likes shooting his mouth off.

The last Facebook note I wrote that in any way resembled the kinds of things I talk about here was called “The Gay One”, and I published it all the way back in the summer of 2010. I’m really not sure if it was one of my best, but it got a very positive response, with at least one old friend contacting me directly to let me know how deeply he connected with it. Labels are tricky, but necessary, to a certain degree. After all, we wouldn’t get very far without names, would we? Sexuality, more so than any other trait including race, gender, religion, or whatever distinction the bigots use to divide us up and make us forget our common humanity, has a tendency to swallow up everything else in the conversation. It can take years, decades even, to learn to say the words “I’m gay” casually. I know Jews who almost never bring up their religious and/or cultural background. I know one or two people of color who, when something bad happens to them, will jokingly say, “It’s because I’m black/Hispanic/Asian/whatever.” But I don’t know any gay people who do this. It’s still too serious of a topic to be treated that lightly. And it’s not like racism or anti-Semitism aren’t potent forces in our society, because the more I read the news, the more convinced I become that we’re as obsessed with skin color and religion as we ever were. There is a middle ground between allowing one’s sexuality to define oneself and trying too hard to sweep it under the rug, but it’s hard to find it because there is no road map leading there. Even in the ultra-progressive town where I went to college, there didn’t seem to be much space for those of us who had already come out, but didn’t feel at home in the campus queer community. There’s nothing particularly wrong with waving a rainbow flag around; it just gets boring pretty quickly. So let’s move on, shall we?

I’m getting better and better at weaning myself off of Facebook. By my standards, that just means checking it less than twenty times a day, but mark my words, someday I will get rid of it entirely. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of checking it every time something bad happens that I can only see it as an addiction, albeit a relatively benign one. Maybe this is how fat people feel about doughnuts. I’m blessed with a decent physique, and since I don’t have the biggest appetite, there’s a good chance I might hold onto it as I get older.

Not too long after I stopped regularly writing Facebook notes, my school paper offered me a chance to write an article for them as part of a readers’ choice contest. I had been trying to get a spot on the paper for years despite hating the publication. It was the only daily paper on campus (in the whole city, actually) and I wanted the exposure. When I wrote my article, I made the mistake of dumbing myself down to appeal to a wider readership. The other two candidates in the contest, in my humble opinion, sucked, but the readers preferred one of them, meaning that I did not get the grand prize of being offered a regular column with the paper. That was a rough semester. I spent much of it Facebook stalking people I didn’t know just because I wanted to live their lives instead of mine. I don’t do that as much as I used to. But I still have crazy dreams.

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