Sunday, September 26, 2004

Hedwig the Owl: Unintentional Blogger

Today, I was browsing through my blog stats collected by a new counter and for the first time, it dawned on me that lots of people are actually reading what I have to say. And more surprising (to me), some of you are returning to read more. I know this sounds silly because at least a few of you leave comments behind, but I thought you were floating around the web like dandelion puffs, that you tumbled onto my little blog, felt compelled to comment by something I wrote, then vanished, never to return. Isn't this the way life happens?

But, according to this new counter, it appears that some of you, my little dandelion puffs, are taking root in my lawn and greeting me with your bright sunny faces: I am developing a regular readership consisting of more than one (me)! I am complimented. Pleased. Suddenly shy. My words are not disappearing down an electronic drainpipe, as I suspected. But having a readership means that I feel obligated to be especially intelligent and funny and insightful so your time with me is well-spent. I certainly don't want to disappoint you. Must. Be. Funny. I don't want to waste your time. Must. Be. Interesting. Predictably, I have no idea what to say, so I will warm up my writing neurons by telling you about the string of events that gave birth to my blog.

Long ago and far away, when dinosaurs still roamed the planet, when the internet was very young and most people did not regularly use email nor look at the web, I went to university with several of the very first "bloggers" -- literary types who also happened to be my good friends. These people were true essayists and their musings were my first real exposure to the fine art of the personal essay in all of its alluring disguises. Unfortunately, after a few years, one of my blogging friends suffered a dramatic emotional breakdown that not only displaced her from the blogging world but from the world of reality as most of us know it to be. At that point, I stopped reading all blogs. In fact, I had deliberately not read a blog for nearly a decade when I started mine on 4 August 2004.

My blog started innocently enough. I have kept a journal throughout my entire life, but most was lost as the result of numerous relocations and other unpleasant life events. After I relocated to NYC from Seattle, I started emailing "little vignettes" to my beloved friends each week as a way to keep in touch with them. Because my employment (and email account) end soon, I was seeking an electronic archive to store two years' accumulation of "little vignettes" along with my many published articles. Since I have experienced enough computer and zip disc failures to give even the healthiest person a stroke, I was seeking electronic storage -- preferably free -- somewhere outside my sphere of bad karma. Coincidentally, at this same time and possibly inspired by my frequent windy messages on the Craigslist Forums, a member of Craigslist suggested I start a public blog. At that moment, I was not interested in a public blog, but a private blog seemed to be the perfect solution for archiving my writings.

After moving my essays and articles to my private blog, temptation occurred. A public blog could be a lot of fun for a semi-closeted writer such as myself, I thought. It would provide a forum for me to get feedback from the public and to gain confidence in my writing abilities and productivity because I do have a few good books in me, yearning after publication. I also realized that I could use a blog to reach out to a curious public by allowing you to peek into the life and mind of one (struggling) scientist/writer. The semi-anonymity was also appealing. It seemed to be an interesting experiment, so I took the plunge and a blogger was born.

When I started this blog, I certainly had no intention that it would chronicle my repeated failures to find a job. I had instead hoped to share with you all the amazing things I do and experience daily as a research scientist. But apparently, employment issues are also part of being a scientist in academics (for me, anyway), despite my intense embarassment, humiliation and frustration about them. Worrying about unemployment consumes a large amount of my time and energy, particularly between the hours of 11pm or midnight, when I fall asleep in the pages of whatever book I am reading, and 500am, when I finally crawl out of bed, utterly exhausted, my hair standing at attention at the horrifying possibilities stalking my dream world. Nonetheless, I try to keep my rantings about job rejections and unemployment to a minimum and I cling to the hope that things will improve (hopefully soon!).

In the interim, I hope that blogging will prevent me from slipping into that well of depression that hungrily awaits me and that writing will keep me connected to the world. I hope that writing helps me find the correct way to deal with this sometimes overwhelming fear that I will lose everything. And I look forward to that happy happy day, my little dandelion puffs, when we all dance together on gentle breezes under a brilliant sky while I share with you the story of my successful slaying of this fire-breathing dragon. It will be the end of this story, and the beginning of my next adventure. It will be glorious.



© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist

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