Sporadic Stimulating Blogging
June 7, 2023
I have tried to maintain a blog on at least three occasions.
In the late 2000s, shortly after completing my Ph.D., I was teaching an array of different English classes at Northern Virginia Community College-Alexandria and at The George Washington University. These were pre-Snapchat, pre-TikTok—heck, nearly pre-Twitter—days. At the time, The Kids were still blogging, so I thought that I would try working a regular blog assignment into some of my courses.
In retrospect, I was not the best teacher of blogging, but I did (I think) foster some pretty cool and innovative online discussions among my students. My grand idea was that every time that I taught a class, all of those students in that course would receive logins to the class blog, just like their previous peers and their subsequent peers. Students who were actively taking my class had to write on the blog, and they had to respond to each other. However, at any point, any of my previous students could also log into the blog either to write new posts or to comment on the work of their peers.
I thought that I could keep the exercise going long enough that eventually, some students would just keep writing on the blog and that the whole enterprise would stay alive through an inspired form of DiY composition anarchy.
Things never really took off in the way that I had hoped, and eventually, I let the blogspace slide into stasis. My students can still log in, though.
In the early 2010s, I was still working numerous academic jobs at two different universities. By that time, I was teaching as an adjunct (in two separate places) and working as a university administrator. As a result, my scholarly productivity was declining quite drastically. It is incredibly difficult to spend each work day expending three different kinds of focused energy on three distinct professional endeavors in two separate locations and then also to find focused and committed time to write.
At least it was for me.
In an attempt to keep some kind of regular writing routine going, I started blogging for PopMatters, where I wrote for maybe 2-3 years.
The position was unpaid, so I approached it with the old first thought, best thought mindset, writing quickly and spontaneously, with little regard for editing and polish. I wanted to ensure that I kept myself writing, and I wanted to see what I could come up with, as fast as possible, between student meetings or batches of essay exams or archiving of student academic records and so forth.
Some of my stuff came out alright. Some of my other stuff is a little better than I remember but is definitely not my best work. (I wrote that second piece while drinking a glass of chocolate milk after a blistering early morning track workout. I hadn’t yet gone to work, nor had I showered.)
I also had the privilege of writing several articles Catherine Wheel, a band for whom my college self would have lied down in traffic thousands of times over. I was able to help circulate some footage of one of the last concerts that they ever played (here’s the current YouTube link), and I wrote an uncommissioned review of the 2010 Cherry Red reissue of their record Ferment, the latter of which has been enshrined as a Wikipedia citation.
My college and my adult selves remain exhilarated by this.
You already know the end to this chapter, though.
I couldn’t keep up the endeavor, and sometime shortly after that Slowdive post, I just stopped writing. Work really did take over. Somewhere along the way, PopMatters changed web platforms, and some of my old posts were permanently deleted, or they never quite got fed back into my author profile, the URL of which has changed multiple times.
Ah! The Internet, Ah! humanity.
When I started building this website in early 2018, my goal was simple and straightforward: build a concise professional profile that would be easy to maintain and would help me learn web development in a fairly deep way.
One of the more confounding quirks of WordPress is that it still fashions itself primarily as a blogging platform. In fact, one of the more irritating parts of building a website on WordPress, particularly for new developers, is the initial theme installation, which almost always will default to a blog-style setup, complete with a sidebar, an archive of current posts, and blog comments. I think they have made some strides beyond this in recent years, but seriously, trying to figure out how to set the site front page to a static page—this is the trick, nascent developers—was nearly enough for me to want to chuck the whole enterprise.
Once I got past that point, I did everything that I could to deep six the blog component of the website, because 1) I cannot stand the way that blogs tend to look; and 2) the last thing that I wanted to do was to have a blog on my site that I never updated. I knew my past failures, and my ongoing limitations, very well.
Then, in late 2018, I was diagnosed with a severe osteochondral defect in the talus of my right ankle. The pain had existed for over six years, but it took that long for it to become debilitating and for me to receive a definitive diagnosis.
The surgery for this injury required significant bed rest, which left me with time to blog.
So I started, again.
However, shortly thereafter, I started a new job at Georgetown University as the Executive Director of the Academic Resource Center. The job was (and is) big time. Lots of responsibility and very long hours. Those strains combined with the COVID-19 pandemic quickly ended my quickly begun third attempt at blogging, which is exactly where we are right now.
So, I currently have some time to write—my first hip surgery occurred on May 31, 2023—and I have material to cover. My plan is to try to provide rehab updates as well as ongoing insight into my long distance running career.
Presently, I have lost eight years of marathon training due to these various cartilage injuries. Moreover, the marathon training that I was able to complete in the early 2010s was mostly done in pain and discomfort and with frequent interruptions.
The success rates of osteochondral defect repair are poorly researched as of the present time. Moreover, these injuries in particular tend to be misdiagnosed or even totally overlooked in the diagnostic process, leading to substantial gaps in the literature about return to sport—particularly for those of us who are over 40.
There is a lot of room for me to cover, and there is a lot of material that I hope to generate. By now, though, we should all recognize that I am really bad at this!
Also, whenever the opportunity presents itself, I will always prioritize running over all else, including hiking. It is hard to run and write at the same time.
I also plan to take drum lessons again at some point, so it is very possible that these sentences right here will lay bare my third and very definitive blogging failure.
If that is the case, then this post might not have been the worst final post to write.