Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why I Blog


This evening Bill and I had dinner at our home with our good friend Bob C. While many subjects were covered, the subject of my blogging came up. Bob C. stated that he wouldn’t blog. He didn’t see the need for it. I understand that. Bill also doesn’t see the need for him to blog. I also understand why Bill doesn’t feel compelled to blog. I tried to explain to them why I like to blog. It’s very simple, I love to write. Both Bob and Bill said they don’t want the world to know about their lives. I’m different. I do want the world to know about my life. Some may see that as arrogant or selfish. I see it as a compelling need within me that I am required to fulfill.

While I’ve never had formal training in writing (and it shows), I have always had that need to write from the time I was a teenager. At one time I had 57 pen pals around the world. One of my special joys was to check my Post Office box (212) and see envelopes with the different postage stamps from my friends across the country and even some from foreign lands (Japan and Germany.) Looking back on it, I don’t remember anything special that I wrote about except my daily activities, much as I do now. But I did get a great deal of satisfaction from writing my letters and receiving them from my many friends from far away places.

When I joined the Army at 18 years old I had to give up most of my pen pals. I kept one, Nancy Jo Stoker of Waterloo, Iowa. I continued to write to her most of the three years I was in the Army, but at sometime I even let that correspondence lapse. While in the Army I received letters from my Mother, and my three best friends, Bill B., Larry M. and Bob Mc. I still have those letters. After I left the Army those correspondences ended.

In July of 1964 I met my life partner, Bill K. He lived in Pennsauken, New Jersey and I lived in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. We would meet on the weekends. During the week I would write him a letter….every day. I did that from July 1964 to March 1, 1965, when I moved in with him. He still has those letters. On occasion I have read those letters. The content was the same, an accounting my daily activities. It is interesting now to read what was my concerns back then in the 60’s. Also interesting is how my handwriting has changed over the years.

During a ten year period from 1972 to 1981 I kept a personal diary in one of those dated year books I purchased at the Woolworth store on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. I recorded the years I lived in center city Philadelphia. I faithfully recorded my daily activities in that diary. I would feel incomplete when I didn’t make a daily entry. It was rare that I missed a day. I stopped keeping a diary when an acquaintance, who I let stay in my apartment in Philadelphia, discovered them. This was someone who was homeless and I let stay in my apartment (which I had leased for a year while my house in Pennsylvania was being built) until he found another home. Unfortunately, I had to ask this person to leave my apartment when found out he was stealing from me. A few weeks later he attempted to blackmail me by divulging the contents of my diary. He was unsuccessful in his blackmail attempts but I did stop keeping my diary.

Last year, in July, I decided to start a daily diary (or journal as the cover of the book says) again. I’ve been making daily entries in it since that date. I can’t explain exactly why I feel this need to write. Maybe it’s because I’m at the end of my life now. I do know it gives me a feeling of completeness and that I matter. We all matter. All of us lead interesting lives. There are no dull lives. I often think that maybe someday in the future someone will read my journals and get a feel of what life was like here in the beginning of the 21st century. I read my journals that I kept back in the 70’s and I get the full flavor of what life was like in the 70’s. It was a wonderful time for me as a gay man in the full prime of my youth. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the 70’s were a time of liberation for gay men and women. With the onset of the 80’s and the AIDS epidemic my world changed forever. It was only by coincidence I had already decided to move from center city Philadelphia to a suburban home in Chester County, Pennsylvania. That period ended a chapter of my life.

The whole time I lived in Pennsylvania, twenty five years (from 1981 to 2006), I didn’t keep any journals of my life. That period of my life exists now only in my memory. No written record exists of it unless I decide to write about it before I pass from this earth.

Retiring and moving to Delaware is probably the last chapter of my life. This blog of mine, Retired in Delaware will give someone in the future of what life was like for this one person in Delaware. Some paint a beautiful picture and leave that as their legacy to the future. Some of those artists are not formally trained but their art is just as appreciated by many as well as full filling a personal need within themselves. While I may lack formal training, I forge ahead. Writing full fills a deep need within me. My writing is proof that I existed, that I mattered. Writing is my legacy to the future.

9 comments:

  1. Ron,

    I was never much of a letter writer. I wrote to you regularly when you were in the Army. I wrote some letters to Lois when we were dating. I wrote Noelle regularly when she was in Iraq and Africa. The most correspondence i had was with Jeannette, the girl I met on the beach at Wildwood when i was 16.

    I have all the letters anyone ever wrote me, but very few copies of what i wrote others.

    I never kept a journal or diary. Yet from the time i was 12 until now, I wrote almost every day. I wrote stories, poems, plays, novels, essays and so forth. Since I used a lot of what happened in my life in these, i can look back and see some of my life.

    I still kind of do that on the Blog, mostly essays about God, not me. I am getting a growing list of people who read my Blog regularly now and we make comments on each others sites and sometimes email.

    My only regret in all my published writing, which includes more than a Blog, as you know, is I didn't use a pen name. It's too late now. Even on my Blog one can find my real name if they try. I would have preferred to have remained anonymous in everything. If i could have been born without the need of a birth certificate and could die without a death certificate, i'd be happier. If I could blot my name out of every record on earth, I'd do it.

    Not my work or the things I have published or things i've accomplished, just not have my name known. Let what I've done stand on its own. Why should anyone need to know anything else.

    Lar

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jim Rossignal10:48 AM

    Ron,

    Love the new paragraph format! :) You break up the prose in good spots.

    As for comments about the music, I like it personally and it doesn't interfere with my reading it. The only problem I have is when I click on one of the links you sometimes provide within your text. When I come back from the link the music starts right back at the beginning. This happens even when you pause at the control box.

    If this becomes a problem for me I just mute the music from my main volume control. I can see how doing this or pausing from the blog control box might be a bit of a problem for others. At the same time there are those who like the music, and further it is a very tangible extension of you the blogger.

    I don't know how sophisticated this blog service is (seems rather so) but I know there are sites where you can click on a choice that says "Music Off."

    Since I'm on a roll with the sound of my own voice here, I suggest bumping up everything from "slideshow" down to "the music in me"--getting rid of the "My Fans" section (not sure this adds anything, or at least not near the top.) Between the last number in the song playlist and "Create your free playlist have the "Music Off" link, assuming of course that it can be done, and that it will remain in effect when coming back from clicking on a link.

    On the other hand the blog is great just the way it is. I guess maybe it's so good that you've raised the bar and expectations along with it. Also you seems very open to suggestions or else people like me would probably just keep a lid on it. :)

    Keep up the good work and good luck with that new Dell.

    Jim

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jim,

    Thank you for your suggestions. There is always room for improvement and I'm always open for suggestions. Of course that doesn't mean I'll take all the suggestions but most of what you have suggested so far is good. I will move the "My Fans" section from the top. You're right, that doesn't serve much of a purpose. One of the goals I have strived for in my blog is to keep the format fairly simple and not to "busy." I've seen that type of blog and all it does is confuse me. I don't think I have the ability to turn off the music (it's free so I don't question it) but it can be paused. I know the music starts over again when you go to a link then come back. I haven't figured that out yet. Thanks again for your suggestions. They are all appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jim Rossignal6:00 PM

    Thanks Ron! Yes, my suggestions are just that. I certainly take no offense if you don't use them. It's your blog and you were doing a heck of a job before there was any hot air blowing in from me. :) I think you deserve a lot of respect for being so open to suggestions. It's not something you see that often.

    I think I should say I read several "personal, slice-of-life" blogs on a regular basis and yours is definitely one of the best if not THE best. You and bloggers like you are writers in the best post-modernist tradition: laying bare your life--more or less--for others to share in and take what they will. It is much appreciated.

    And the writing is good. Often very good. Don't underestimate yourself. You know when it's working and when it's getting away from you. So write with confidence. You've earned it. Indeed think it's fair to say your record to date proves you will hit much more often than you will miss. (Perhaps like me (if I'm lucky) and my comments and suggestions) :)

    Anyway, looking forward to future posts.

    Jim

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jim,

    Thank you very much. My goal was to write a slice of life. I know what I find interesting and that is the way I try to write. From the heart. I'm glad that someone noticed. You are very kind and I appreciate it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ron,

    See, I've told you your writing is good in the past. Don't know why you always kind of put it down (but then i guess I do that with myself, too, don't I?)

    No, you are a fine writer and you have been getting better since you started your Blog. Now you have confirmation from another.

    Still, all those boxes for one little computer, my oh my.

    Lar

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you Larry. Oh yes, I do have a lot of boxes for one modest computer. And I can't even get the sound working or connect to the Internet. It's embarrassing. I'm embarrassed.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ron,

    The thing you had, "My Fans", shows the people who follow your Blog regularly, your subscribers. It all so allows anyone reading your Blog to click on the icon in that block and go read those who follow you. Kind of gives your followers a bit of a boost.

    I wouldn't remove it as you did, I would have just moved it down, perhaps just above 'My Favorite Blogs".

    Lar

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lar,

    I didn't remove it. I did move it down. As a matter of fact, it was right below your comment. Check it again.

    ReplyDelete