Blogging vs. Journaling

Brother: What’s up Red? I just read Country Guy, City Life; I think that was favorite post so far.

Me: Really? That one didn’t seem to go over well.

Brother: Well I can kinda see why though. I think I liked it because I know Atlanta, Alabama, and you. It was really personal. More than likely if someone reads that one, they’ll be thinking, “Why would I leave Atlanta to go to Alabama.”

Me: Ahhh… Gotcha. Didn’t see it like that.

When I first started this blog, I quickly realized that blogging could easily turn into journaling. That is not what intended to do. In fact, that’s my biggest issue with a bulk of social media activity — “Who cares?!” is what I ask when I scroll past a check-in, relationship update or a picture of your dinner. Of course you will post random pics of you and yours friends and spouses at different locations and festivities, but I should not be able to account for nearly every waking moment of your day. Some parts of your life should remain exclusive, and not just the emotional death that over-posting is sometimes used to mask.

However, after I started blogging, I felt as though I had found a social media that works for me; one that would be a bit more difficult for me to critique. There had been many occasions where I had scrapped an essay because it did not meet the criteria that I had set for the purpose of the blog. If it doesn’t share a constructive outlook on life, or concerning something of literary relevance, or even the occasional comedic relief, I deny it. So when I received this criticism from my brother who is currently attending college in New York, it forced me to reevaluate the post. As he explained it to me, “The students up here know very little about Alabama, but Atlanta is way more popular than you might expect… And besides, they don’t know that 99% percent of our family resides in Alabama. It’s a really personal post, bro.”

When I went back and read the post, I could tell that most of it came from the frustrations of my own monotony combined with the pageantries that are city life. It was something the was written predominately personal emotion that pertained only to me and the way that I was feeling at the time. I had, metaphorically speaking, posted my dinner to Facebook. That should be a testament to the subtleness of blogging though. It’s a very relaxing (and productive to a career writer) way to keep the wheels of creativity going, while networking and learning through others. But if sight is ever lost of your purpose, you can begin to treat your blog like the ever trusted pages of a diary and forgetting the presence of an audience. And you know what happens next? You’re a weirdo with a webpage, that’s what happens.

Kidding…

If your blog is not meant to be personal, it takes a bit of diligence to ensure that it doesn’t happen. It’s another curve that I had to learn and I think that it would be unfair for me recognize something and not share to others who may fall for the same thing. I read a few blogs from beginners like myself to see where, I could improve and I found that it is not to uncommon to see the patterns of posting something that lacks relevancy. Then on the other hand, the blogs that are in fact more personal to the author are usually exceptionally good. That is just too much exposure for me. Like I described in Writing and Schizophrenia, sometimes the person in real life, is not ready to be shared with the online world of strangers. It’s a fear that most writers share — but if you ever want to get over it, start blogging.

Week 14 Recap

It’s four days until Christmas and about ten days until the New Year — which I am very excited about. For now though, I will just focus on what I wrote this week.

On Monday, December 15, I actually wrote a piece of poetry. I didn’t intend to though. I was in a bit of a creative mood while writing something else. So when my pen ran out of ink, it gave me an excuse to stop what I was originally writing and do something a bit more… useless. I enjoyed it though. “Words” was just an expansion on what could have happened if I had tried forced my pen to write. Even though it is kind of farfetched that a splotch of ink could spell out anything, you can’t judge my imagination (maybe my style; but not my imagination). It also released a bit of pressure off the poetry valve. Since I have been blogging, I have complained about my discontentment with my poetic skills, even though I write a great deal of it. Maybe next year I will exhibit more personal writing in that area.

I also found out that the editing functions in WordPress did not allow me to double-space between stanzas. That was kind of a bummer, because I wanted it to be clear that there were five three-line stanzas in front of you instead of whatever else it could have been interpreted as. I am still unsure if it is the theme that I am using or not, but I am soon to find out.

On Wednesday, December 17, I wrote about the pros and cons of city life versus the lifestyle offered by my hometown in Alabama. Having grown up in Atlanta, I never thought that I would see the day when I would even fathom of wanting to permanently reside somewhere else. Maybe that is a change that comes with age, familiarity, or simply wanting to explore more. Nonetheless, the rural quiet ways and family accessibility is drawing a distinct line between what I thought I wanted and what I may really want — even if it is just for a temporary change of speeds.

No matter what city you live in, I wish you all the merriest of Christmases this week. Remember that this is a season for giving just as well as receiving. No matter what happens, keep and open perspective and show compassion during this holiday season, and I guarantee it will brighten the spirits.

Country Guy, City Life

The fact that I cannot occupy two places at once is a disappointing reality that I accept simply because it’s impossible. The next best alternative to my problem is relocating to face extensive travel times and gas prices.

So what problem would one be facing for these to be possible solutions? The problem is not knowing whether you prefer the peacefulness of rural living or the constant and ever-changing days of city life.

I grew up in inner city Atlanta. I went to school in downtown Atlanta. I attended Georgia State in downtown Atlanta. I am currently employed in downtown Atlanta. Atlanta is all I know; and I have loved every moment of it. I can honestly say that there is always something happening, there is always something going on, and there is never a dull moment. Is it a New York City? No, but the city is always buzzing. There is always something to be seen and someone to be heard. Something is always changing, so there is always something new to do. As the city grows, I never feel a need for more. No one I know, not even the most inquisitive and adventurous people have discovered all of Atlanta. No one has done all there is to do. No one has eaten at all the hot spots or relaxed at all the cool spots. Everywhere is within thirty minutes (max) of the next destination and each destination leads to another. The city is small in size, but is condensed with activities, changes and life. It never gets boring.

However, even though is does not get boring, it think it does get tired. There are instances when you need a break from it. For me, that is when I get thrown into a decision of which is better. I am originally from Phenix City, Alabama, where my mothers whole family (for the most part) still reside. My father is from the next town over — Seale, Alabama — where his parents still live. It is quiet and homely. Out-of-towners stick out like sore thumbs and when I have gone to the local grocer, I have been asked, “You must be a Richardson?” There are no strangers except the ones passing through vacationing in Florida. I love it. It’s quiet and quaint. To me, the quality of life now seems to have a direct correlation with the busyness around you and the amount of visible vegetation. The days are brighter and the nights are darker. The clouds are whiter and the stars are brighter. It is a relief every time I go, and every time I go, it gets harder and harder to come back to the city that I have loved my entire life.

After thinking about it for a while, I think I came up with the reason that the city life may be losing its grip on me. I think it is because of the slow but steady loss of culture that is spreading across Atlanta. I’m not saying that there is not a culture here, but it is a new culture that is replacing what the heritage and history of Atlanta. I came to this when I thought about this when I was  considering my favorite part of Atlanta; Historic West End, Cabbagetown, and Little Five Points/Grant Park areas. Even though these are popular areas, they all have historic and symbolic places to offer. These were hubs for Civil Rights movements, places of historic interest and when you are in either, there is a sense of history the rests there. There are stories behind certain buildings and sites that may not mean much to anywhere else, but to Atlanta, it means a great deal.

For example, a few months ago, Friendship Baptist Church and Mt. Vernon Baptist church were both bought by the city so that the land could be used for the building of the new Atlanta Stadium and future home of the Atlanta Falcons. Friendship Baptist Church is the oldest African-American church in Atlanta being organized in 1866. Morehouse and Spelman colleges were both started with some of their first classes being held in the basement of that church. That is the type of culture that I am talking about. Whether the city forced them to sell or they did on their own, the deal is done now. Cities attract money; money is capital; and in capitalism, everything has a price tag — even history. As different historical sites are lost amidst the city growing in entertainment and cosmopolitan attractions, more of the original feel of what Atlanta used to be is being lost.

The parts of me that enjoy naps on the porch surrounded by quiet greeneries grow more and more every time I think about where I intend to live out the rest of my life. The commutes do not seems as long. The loss of urban adventures do not seem that great. The beckonings of my family to move “closer to home” does not help either. Lord knows I love the country life and everything about it, but I never thought it could compete with living in Atlanta.

Bridges

I like bridges.

That’s it.

No long drawn out explanation of the metaphorical meaning of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” or anything like that (even though soul can’t be sang better). I simply like bridges. Perspective complete.

However…

Since we’re on the topic, I will in fact, tell you about how I realized this new found architectural admiration.

Every Monday through Friday morning, I drive to work via Martin Luther King Drive in Atlanta. I’m one of those people that you do not want to get stuck behind on your morning commute. That morning stretch is sometimes the only peace and quiet I will get all day, so I enjoy it; neglecting the expressways if possible, and always looking for something to grasp my attention and curve my perspective.

Since I take pleasure in pretty much every morning’s travels, I have not established markers for “distance-to-go”. You know the checkpoints that you have to signify you’re halfway there? Yeah, I don’t have those for my Monday through Friday mornings. I do have though, two views that I wait to see every day. Last week, I noticed that both of those views were centered around old bridges that to me, seems to fit in multiple decades, locations and serve multiple purposes. They give an awakening definition to the little area that they are set in, that would have otherwise simply been more pavement and open air.

The first bridge crossing MLK nearing downtown Atlanta.
The first bridge crossing MLK nearing downtown Atlanta.

 

Second bridge crossing over MLK connecting the separation of the Atlanta University Center
Second bridge crossing over MLK connecting the separation of the Atlanta University Center

It was not until last week upon this realization, that I gathered as many mental references as I could to see if I liked bridges or just those two views in particular. As I wrote out my bridge list, I started to see that I had actually developed a subliminal obsession with the structures.

Inception

The earliest reference to bridges that I can remember could be one of the two; The Great Mouse Detective or Three Billy Goats Gruff. The Great Mouse Detective was a children’s mystery movie that was rereleased in 1992. I watched had on VHS, so it was probably 1993 when I saw it. I was six or seven years old. The movie took place in London where the climax was set in the Big Ben clock tower overlooking the Westminster Bridge. Now imagine watching this movie at least once a week with the most exciting part including The London Bridge in the background… The imagery is bound to stick with you.

The second and more seasonable explanation, Three Billy Goats Gruff, was my favorite book for a long time. I remember it being especially my favorite once my mother gave birth to her third son, also known as the First Billy Goat. That made me the Third and biggest Billy Goat to defeat the Troll that lived under the bridge. After reading this book over and over again, my brother, the Second Billy Goat and I, would always look for the Troll while traveling under a bridge. Thank God we never saw anything that resembled a troll back then. I’d probably be terrified of bridges… and interstate 85.

In grade school, I remember doing a project to prove the strength of a triangle. With popsicle sticks (the staple of any grade-school project) I constructed a very elementary style bridge that supported the weight of toys that should have been too heavy for popsicle sticks. Maybe this is when it started. From the bridge list, this was the only instance where I had hands-on experience with building one, but I have not thought about that bridge since I crossed it. 🙂

Romantic

There is something about a bridge that provides a level of romance that no other setting can. Not just any bridge though. It has to be the old-fashioned cobblestone bridge set over a quiet brook in the middle of Autumn; just cool enough out for a sweater. Is it cliché? Yes. However, I remember a painting that I saw in a textbook, of a woman with a parasol crossing a cobblestone bridge. Since I have a soft spot for scenic art and poetry, the image stuck. Despite nearly an hour of searching Google for it, I am starting to believe that I might have blended multiple art pieces to compose one image. Nonetheless, I still hold that image as the crest of visual romanticism. I am annoyed that I cannot find that image, but I implore you to do a Google Image Search of: Cobblestone Bridge Painting. They may not be what I was looking for, but they still project the feeling of love that I have attached to the image in my head.

Detached from the idea of this image of romanticism, the most memorable date I have been on, was spent not on a bridge, but a small pier. I consider a pier to be half of a bridge, or a dead-end bridge. As I think about the surroundings of that outing, I have to question whether or not it is the presence of water that I adore instead of the bridge itself. I hate water though. I can’t swim and hate being wet. Therefore, back to the original statement; I love bridges.

Metaphorically

I would have just ended with that, but oh well… I’ll make it short.

The literal definition of a bridge is a structure carrying a pathway or roadway over a depression or obstacle.

Metaphorically, it’s the means you have to take to get from one point in life to another. How long it takes you to get to the bridge, to cross it, and forget it is all up to you. Often we find comfort where we are and stay there until circumstances start to push us to a point where we can no longer be comfortable. It should not be that way though. Complacency is a killer, and when life pushes just a little harder than you can stand, you could easily find yourself stumbling across “bridges” hoping that each step finds a sturdy landing. If prepared, with the proper support cast (God is enough; everyone else helps though), you can come to places of hardship in life and walk across the scariest bridges successfully. Whatever you may be running from or trying to escape or break free from, will force you off an edge or to cross the bridge ill-prepared. So you may as well pay no mind to what’s behind you and focus on each step towards a future of greener pastures; Trolls will be taken care of by your support cast. No need to worry.

IMG_6390

In the meantime, I’ll continue enjoying my rides to work while I continue to grasp this new-found interest. I may build one as a project. Who knows?

Welcome to Social Media!

My time of living outside of the virtual world has come to an end. It was a slow transition, but I was still astounded when the realization completely set in. It was the means by which it happened though. I knew it was coming; I just had not anticipated how it was coming. I am having to learn to use and incorporate social media in my day-to-day living.

Background

I am a reader/writer. I like my books with paper, not on screens. I prefer to buy them from stores, not online. My DVDs are on a shelf, not in a cloud. I will admit to purchasing most of my music from iTunes, but that is because I am not much of a music person. I usually text, but that’s because I like to speak on the phone alone and not in grocery stores or riding with friends or among any other people all together. I feel that the person in my physical presence takes precedence over a line of communication happening via a tech device (this is generally; there are exceptions). I usually hold on to conversational topics if I know I’m going to see a person, rather than call or text them at that moment. I am highly inquisitive and have to get to the bottom of any questions that gives the slightest tug at my curiosity. I drive to random places to witness random things. If an interesting story breaks the local news, I’m going to see. I’ll make a purchase on one solid word-of-mouth over five consumer reviews. I will take GPS getting somewhere, but I usually get lost on the way back. I enjoy legwork.

So when I started blogging a month ago, I felt as though I had finally found a social media platform for me. I discovered WordPress was offering writers a place to meet, greet and share all types of writings; some who are very well known; like my favorite, Writemeg! and a lot of beginners, like myself. I should have started years ago, but because of my old-school way of thinking, I just kept putting it off to the side.

The writing has definitely put me on tiny quests throughout my beautiful city of Atlanta, finding and meeting people that I never would have otherwise; and I’m loving it! However, this is when I realized that the means of sharing and spreading your writing has to expand outside of WordPress. You have to have some means of getting readers to your blog. So I reluctantly created a Twitter account. After a coupe days, it started to pay off, a few visitors here and a couple views there. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So I stuck with it.

One Saturday morning, I was walking through Cabbagetown, a quaint liberal neighborhood network hidden within East Atlanta, and covered in graffiti. There I met @laurenpallotta, @joekingatl, and @stephenstumberg88. I was surprised and excited to actually meet the artists in the beginning stages of their work. They welcomed questions, suggested ideas, and were very very cool laid back people. (I guess that’s to be expected from graffiti artists, but I hadn’t ever met any. As far as I was concerned, you go to sleep and wake up to a painted city while the everyone tries to figure out when the did the Paint Fairies come.) Anyway, things got real when we started to trade contact information. “What’s the name of your blog?” Stephen asked. I told him and asked if I could follow any of them on Twitter and keep up with the progression of their work having seen it in its infancy.

“TWITTER?!? Welcome to 2014! INSTAGRAM, SUCKA!!!”

It actually happened nothing like that, but that’s how I heard it. They all gave me their Instagram names. I had only just created one the night before, not knowing I would be confronted with it in a little less that eight hours.

I have come to the place where I see that in networking, social media has become just as important as legwork and face-to-face interaction. I mean, this may sound ridiculous coming from a city dweller in his mid-twenties who has spent the last nine years working in IT, but I didn’t know it applied all over. I thought Skype has replaced a small percentage of business meetings… But that’s about it.

The fact of the matter is that I just had not found a good enough reason to connect through the social media world. Now that I have, I look forward to using my computer for things besides working and gaming. I can tweet and follow and share now. I know how to do it from my previous Facebook usage; which is basically the other internet. Everyone uses Facebook. I just have to learn what is post worthy, make sure it’s relevant to my topics and all of that good stuff. I’ll iron out those details as I continue learning how to cope with integrating with the modern world.