Location: Shanghai, China and Omaha, NE
Oddly Appropriate Music: Janglin by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
I couldn’t sleep tonight, which usually means I’m very excited about something, or feeling an abnormal amount of self-generated pressure. What I’m excited, or pressured, about has nothing to do with this blog. And that’s exactly why I’m writing a post.
As some of you know, I spend most of my time developing Omaha.net, a community website for the city of Omaha. Yesterday, someone asked me if we were funded by the city. Ha. Funded.
Actually, I am funded, up to and including $5,000 by the good people at Capitol One credit. After being pick-pocketed on the bus last December when I was out getting groceries…in Mongolia…I was funded in the amount of $1,000 by my dear friend Jon, which I have paid back, and when that ran out, for another $1,000 by my dear friend Shaun, which I have not.
I haven’t worked a single day for pay since August 30, 2008.
And on Sunday, my partner in Omaha.net and I are going to take our one, highly nonprofitable website, and attempt to double it, into two highly nonprofitable, debt laden websites by purchasing ?????.?? (redacted).
We will do this by begging friends, family members, banks, and potentially one very rich loan shark (imminent/eminent domainer, Rick Latona) into giving us money.
When it’s all through, I’m literally going to owe cash all over town. And above you is a picture I took in Shanghai of a men’s shirt.
How are these all related?
Good question. If you start to do anything enough, it begins to bleed into the other realms of your life. Our new intern at Omaha.net, Jess, tends to see things in the context of her non-profit pet group, Pug Partners. It’s not that she thinks Pugs are interwoven into the fabric of modern society. It’s just that she’s worked with pugs and pug people a lot. When she deals with large sums of money, it’s because of pugs. Big public gatherings are often pet related. In short, much of her normal, human interaction can be seen through the convex of some pug-related issue.
Since early September, I have worked most of the day, 6-7 days a week, on a website that has currently earned somewhere in the low triple digits. Well, that’s not entirely true. I spent the last 3 days writing about video projects for portablevideoprojectors.com. If we’re lucky, that’ll earn $5 a day in 6 months time.
As such, I’m broke, and my convex is narrow. I view the world completely as it relates to improving one of three distinct areas in my life:
2. my personal blog
3. The climbing wall at the University of Nebraska at Omaha
And unfortunately, all of these areas have become the same thing.
I write on Omaha.net, but I dabble in sales, art direction, strategic vision, customer experience, marketing, and most importantly office (read: living room) music selection. But that is not why I got into it. Morgan used to pay me a bit to write some words for exciting properties like footcarecream.com and inductionovens.com. I thought it was good to be paid for what I planned to do (write), so I did it.
And I was terrible at it, still am. I take 10 times as long as I should on those sites, obsessing over comma placement, proper MLA quoting, tone, style. I’m either terribly overqualified, or terribly underqualified, and as such, I’m constantly thinking that I should be getting far, far better at this–you know, either using the superior skills I have, or gaining the skills I’m sorely lacking–and actually earning something.
I started climbing for fun, but before long, I had my Flip cam out, seeing if I could grab some “content” for my blog. Or maybe for Omaha.net. Or some other climbing site worth developing. Always, there are other goals in mind because my world lens is confined to growing traffic, exposure, and growth, and somehow doing it in a way that releases me from ever having to play by the rules.
This is my blog. My baby. The place where all the things that do bleed together in my life, my passions, come together. It is my platform to share my version of perfection — and don’t get it twisted, that’s what all artists are always trying to do — and here I am, writing for 20 minutes, and I haven’t once gone back to check a sentence. I haven’t looked up anything on Wikipedia, or obsessed over narrative and grammar. It’s like I can feel my control slipping away.
But really, it’s already gone.
Since I started writing this blog, 4 of my friends have started blogs, 2 people I know fairly well have started blogs, and various other friends have mused about the idea of having a blog.
Everyone has a blog. Everyone.
Not everyone has Omaha.net. And no one without some serious scratch has ?????.?? (redacted). Yet.
So, what’s my point?
I think it’s this: if I am going to blog, I’d like it to reflect the things I care about: travel culture + music. Perfect slices of media in an ever more crowded landscape. But I don’t have the time to craft a perfect blog because I’m slow, obsessive, insecure, and needy. So, I can just not care and let it go, or hide it, and add to the draft pile of posts I have written, but not published, on Hangzhou, China; my cooking hobby and the kitchen I plan to eventually build; climbing at the gym and the sense of comradery I do not feel for my fellow climbers because they are better climbers than I am and I know this and they know this; a road trip to Winterset, Iowa, and probably some others. These could be blog posts, or I could spin them out onto Omaha.net by some clever subterfuge, or they could wither on the vine. The world, as they say, will not care.
But I like that picture of the men’s shirt. I always have. I don’t like how the other exposures, the ones I screwed up, have a lively dog, and a nice man on motorcycle. How people know how to bend the light to their whim, and I only know how to press a shutter button. How the years I’ve spent learning Photoshop, writing — these are now stock. Everyone photographs, everyone writes. Some are great, some are good. The noise is loud, and the signal weak.
Where’s my CN Tower, we’re all asking? 50k Hz of me.
But I also like how being on the phone with Jon reminds me that this doesn’t matter. Writing is not a business, it is a personal hobby, and the senselessness of releasing your imperfection out into the world is not stupider than releasing it onto a page, and having its ugly mug stare back at you. They are both the same. One generates traffic and ultimately ad revenue, and one does not. Take the traffic if it’s there, right? Just don’t forget why you do it, why you have to.
The desire to reread this, at least once, is there. It is calling me. In checking, and rechecking, in the blunt force of time, I will correct myself to greatness, I think. But that isn’t true. In the exigency of the creative moment, that’s where all the good stuff happens. The planning, the branding, the selling: that’s where the money is made. But the good stuff, it’s mercury.
I think Franz Kafka once said something to the effect of, “writing is what keeps you awake at night.” I got that quote from a sticker attached to a Moleskine notebook my brother gave me as a gift when I left for Europe. Often, though, it’s not writing that keeps me awake. But not tonight.