INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Monday, May 26, 2003

Don’t Mess With Crones!

I’ve been looking for something to pull me out of my stupor. My wife is royally pissed at me for not blogging. My readership has probably given up on me. But these negatives haven’t been enough to slap me back into blogging consciousness.

I have no idea what happened. All I know is that I woke up one morning about two weeks ago and something snapped. An impenetrable wall came down between me and my desire or ability to blog.

The convenient excuse is that there are too many pressing matters in my personal life of greater urgency. Well, I’ve been through that before--but I’ve still managed to squeeze in some blogging here and there. This excuse may be handy, but it won’t fly.

No, it’s been some vague sort of conclusion that I seem to have made—a judgment that says I can no longer afford the drain on my consciousness that blogging seems to require. But guess what? The quiet dissatisfaction of not blogging is a drain of equal force.

So as I oscillate between should blog/shouldn’t blog along comes the Crone in fire-breathing mode. “I’m warning you,” her email begins—the subject line of which is “Get writing!!” Subtlety is clearly not a Crone-ish trait.

I’m speaking of course of Elaine of Kalilily, Self-Proclaimed Resident Crone of Blogdom. The lady doesn’t mince words—and, boy, is she what I needed. You don’t mess with Crones! Seems that she’s been interviewed by a Chicago Tribune reporter who’s doing an article on women and blogging, and Elaine mentioned my blog as one of her favorites.

The implication is clear. Elaine is not going to stand for plugging a blogger who’s not blogging. How could I live with embarrassing her with the good readers of the venerable Chicago Tribune? Whatever personal shit I’m swimming in at the moment, I’m just going to have to find a way through it. When the Crone says “I’m warning you!” it’s as scary as my old first sergeant bellowing, “I’m warning you, you’ve got one foot in the stockade and the other on a banana peel!”

Fortunately, Elaine’s warning came through just one day before I’m leaving on a cross-country outing with my son. Unfortunately, I’ll be away from computers for eight or nine days. If any Tribune readers check in during that period they’ll just have to wait for my return. Or they can check my archives.

In either case, Elaine, I promise you, they’ll have something to read when I get back. You’ve brought me to my senses. After going through the not insignificant effort of attempting to develop a “voice” on these pages, why would I want to abandon that—and piss you and my wife off in the process?

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Reconnection / Sister Envy / Gratitude

You know that someone is the genuine article when, the moment you see her after an absence of eighteen years, the connection is instantaneous, unchanged, and it feels like eighteen days, not years, have transpired.

Our dear friend, Barbara, is just such a person. Greeting us in her feng-shui-influenced, airy home with sweeping views of the Carson River Valley in Northern Nevada, the years magically evaporated as we reveled in our reconnection.

A wonderful weekend of non-stop, engaging conversation—the kind of mutual, personal depth-exploring that happens all too rarely with so few others.

Twenty-five years ago, I seemed to have several of these types of relationships. What the hell happened? Is it just the times? (Personal exploration was all the rage, of course, back in the 70’s).

Is it my having let such relationships slide? (Reconnection with Barbara is an encouraging correction of that grievous error).

Is it being a male? That’s not an excuse, but I have no doubt that it makes it more difficult.

Elaine has written of her envy of the companionship that I enjoy with my wife as I move toward the “golden years.” Believe me, I’m more than thankful for my good fortune on that score.

But, I must say, I have some reverse envy of Elaine, who seems to have a number of these deeply satisfying and spiritually renewing kinds of relationships with others (mostly, if not all, women, I assume).

So does my wife. Jill regularly enjoys a lunch or cocktail get-together with soul-sisters with whom she can exchange intimate feelings.

I know some wonderful guys and it’s great fun to see them and shoot the shit about politics, sports, old Army stories, and what our kids are doing. But that’s about as far as it goes. It’s a pleasant diversion, not renewal and self-revelation like I was able to enjoy with Barbara this weekend.

Blogging is far from a complete solution, but it sure helps. Thank you Ev, Dave, Doc, Dr. W, Chris, Eric, and all the other early adopters, promoters, and enablers of the blogosphere for opening up this universe for the rest of us—particularly we aging, isolated males.

Thanks too to tireless aggregators like Hylton Jolliffe, among others, who help to keep us abreast of what’s out there. The universe that all of these gifted folks have facilitated also made it possible for an old friend like Barbara to find a disappeared guy like me and to reach out.

Barbara paid me what I regard as the best compliment that I’ve ever received as a blogger. “When I discovered your blog and started reading it,” Barbara remarked, “I said to myself, ‘this is precisely the Tom that I knew and remember.’“

Huddling together around a chimney lamp-lit table in a genuine Old West saloon, we discussed blogging, among other things. Barbara asked, “What are the rules of blogging?”

I replied that there aren’t any except those that one adopts as one’s own: “My number one self-imposed rule is that, if I want to enjoy the fruits of the blogosphere, then I need to give something back. By this standard, I’m obliged to overcome my resistance and to write about myself as authentically as I can.”

On my better days, self-expression may be the by-product of the motivation, but it’s not the real motivator. For me, gratitude to the blogging community is the true spark.

Friday, May 02, 2003

Hiatus--the Long and Short Of It

Taking a short hiatus for a few days. We're driving up to Northern Nevada to visit with a long lost friend--after an inexcusably long hiatus of eighteen years.

When I say "inexcusable," I'm referring to myself. I have a miserable track record of dropping the ball when it comes to maintaining old friendships. If I could go back in my earlier life and change just one thing, that might well be it.

This should be exciting. When we last saw each other, our kids were just tykes in elementary school. Now they're all fully grown adults with significant others and lives of their own. Without doubt, there will be much picture exchanging.

We put off this trip until early May so that we wouldn't have to contend with snowstorms in the High Sierra. Guess what? It's snowing in the mountains! We had our spring in February and our winter now.

Well, I've got my tire chains, my stack of CD's (with the Dixie Chicks on top), and my own significant other. Let it snow.

See you next week.