The Swing of Things

Howdy. It's been a while!

As I'm writing this -- no rough draft, no empty document, just the colorful text of coding -- I'm sitting in the main building of my new college. I'm tucked away in the corner of the lounge, my hair wet from cold rain and my hands warmed by sweet hot chocolate. I'm listening to jazz as I wait for an archaeology lab to start, where I'll spend my time poring over artifacts. My classes keep me busy but I'm holding on tight. It's hard to believe that when I made this blog, it felt like I'd never get here, and that I'd forever be lost in the summer swell of work and isolation.

But I'm here.

I'm glad to be out of my family's house; it's making me realize some of the traits I don't quite like about them had been affecting me negatively while I was there (which we don't need to get into, it's... a bit of a mess, you could say). I'm independent, in a way, as I commute and work and learn. I have a few friends in my classes, but I spend a majority of my time on my own, and I really like that. I don't feel scared of solitude; in fact, it can be a comforting thing. I like the sense of confidence it gives me; if I'm on my own, I might as well be my own person.

I've got a handful of classes this semester, and some real interesting ones at that. I'm a history major and soon-to-be anthropology minor, so my classes analyze the world through unique perspectives. I'm taking eastern european history, British India environmental history, an American architecture class, introduction to archaeology, and Arabic (mainly to fill a language requirement, but I'm really enjoying it). Even though they're exhaustive, I'm having a lot of fun working in them and learning to pick apart the minds and cultures of those from long ago. I especially love my archaeology class; I'm even participating in a lab that my professor runs in his free time! I hope I can get a better understanding of the field from it.

The people in my classes that I meet are kind, and as I spend more time with them, I get to learn a little more about myself. I'm not a good conversationalist; honestly, I try to avoid it most of the time. I've become more shy and reclusive in the recent years, and it's hard breaking out of that shell, but the people I've met are understanding. I even told a friend from archaeology today that I don't think I'm any good at conversation; she said she was the same, but I think a majority of our conversation was from her rather than me. I'm working on getting that equal footing. It's just hard. I'm realizing I have a lot of trouble with social cues, which would explain much about the way I interact with the world and all those who inhabit it. As long as they're patient, though, I think I'll be just fine.

I want to bring this blog back. I want to fix some things up and give it a nice, new makeover. Though I don't have much free time as of now, it's been on my "to-do" list for a little while. I think blogging helps me; I don't have many spaces to get my thoughts out and I don't like to dump it on others (though I sometimes unintentionally do....), so I think trying to blog again might be good for me. Plus, it would be fun. I could even put some of my original writing on here to have a place to keep it all.

I think it's still raining outside, which means when I finally have to get up to go to my lab, I'm going to have to brave the rain once more -- without an umbrella, might I add, because I forgot it this morning. Wish me luck! I'll leave you all today with a song that's been stuck in my head: Vilenjak i Vila by the RTB Orchestra from 1978.



Dog Days in the Valley

Great news -- I'm not sick anymore!

Even better news -- I'm done with summer classes! AND I'm graduating from this college and transferring to another next Spring! Exciting times for me, most certainly. I'm finally gathering back the energy I lost during July and putting it to good use. I only wish it could’ve happened quicker!

Summer is quickly coming to an end, folks -- the good part of it, anyway. My summer classes are all tied up and with that, the end of my first two years of college. I won’t be transferring until the spring, as I’m taking a gap semester to muster up some funds at work this fall. Wedding season is rearing its ugly head at work! You’d think we’ve surpassed the peak of it with summer, but the new trend these days is picturesque fall weddings, and that means headaches during the best time of year.

I’ve spent my last few summer weeks working and spending time with family. We went to a drive-in theater in town, a quiet gem of American culture and film history, and saw Jordan Peele’s Nope, which I will hopefully write a half-decent review of sometime soon. I spent a day in the panhandle of West Virginia as well, searching for good eats and better views, and it made me miss when my own home was just a “small town.” Given the chance, I and any other local from around here will complain and lament about the plague of DC’s westward expansion, so it was nice to see a place untouched by such rampant urbanization. I've always greatly preferred the quiet, simple rural life over the busyness of a city. I am just as I mentioned before -- an old soul. A crotchety old soul!

It was a beautiful town with historic architecture and friendly people. And -- surprisingly enough -- every house and shop was adorned with pride flags! My heart swelled at the thought. Despite the stereotypes, Appalachia has always been home to the fight for progression – labor laws, civil rights, everything. It is the gateway to the south and the barrier to the west, making it pivotal to so much of American history. I think I’ll write about Appalachia in-depth sooner or later – I’ve got a lot of thoughts, a lot of frustrations, and a lot of appreciation. No matter what, I can always find home in the outline of the mountains.

“Home” has been a bit of a frustrating subject lately, though; since I’m staying here for a season longer than previously anticipated, I’m getting a little tired of the monotony of it all. I don’t have a lot of friends in my area; the few I do have are either coworkers or one single friend from high school that still puts up with me, so I'm essentially left to my own devices. I’m trying to give myself a few moments of solitude; at least, as much as I can in a house of five people. I’ve been driving out to a tea place the next town over on my own, using only back-country roads, just for a moment of quiet. Maybe I should volunteer at a local historical site, too. Wouldn’t that be something real neat?

We’re heading into the dog days of summer now – ninety-degree weather and a swamp of humidity. The only good thing about it is that storms will always follow. There’s nothing I like more than a summer thunderstorm. There are a few festivals coming up too; a peach festival, the county fair, an Appalachian chamber music festival, and more! Here’s a personal favorite for this blog post’s song: Wild Rose of the Mountain, an Appalachian string piece. I’ve always adored the mountain dulcimer and how sweet it sounds with the mandolin – maybe I should learn how to play it!



Some Catching Up To Do!

It’s been a while since I’ve updated! I’ve already broken my promise of weekly blog posts, so clearly, we have nowhere else to go but down. Truth is, I haven’t had much energy for anything lately. I’ve been working on art commissions and toiling away at my job, but other than that, I’ve done nothing but laze about and slowly chip away at my summer reading list (which is taking a lot longer than I’d like). In layman’s terms: I’m slacking off, and it’s driving me insane.

For whatever reason, I’m trapped in the seemingly endless turmoil of a sudden onslaught of allergies that just won’t quit. I’ve rubbed my eyes raw and eaten up every tissue in the house, but the sneezes never quit and Benadryl is becoming my new best friend. It’s not COVID, I know this for a fact -- but if it’s gone on for this long, shouldn’t it be something bigger? I thought that, but an annoying, cumbersome visit to the doctor left me with a dead end. It’s just allergies. And I hate it!

I hate how much energy it’s taken from me, plain and simple. Even though I greatly appreciate the downtime, I’m a worker above all else. I like to do things, I like to create and work and be productive. All I can really do right now, though, is sit here, angry at my own shortcomings. I know it’s bad to do that, though; when I say I like to be productive, I mean about almost everything -- including trying to fix myself. This blog was an attempt at that; I originally made it to push myself to create more and learn something new, as well as have a space to share my thoughts in a way that isn’t just being obnoxious and annoying my friends.

So, the past few weeks – aside from being in and out of allergies, I’ve been working a lot in the garden and with plants as a whole. Dish gardens have quickly become my specialty at the shop, and I feel happiest at the workbench, digging through soil and tugging at my old gardening gloves as I pot peace lilies and English ivy. I finally went to the library after two unsuccessful attempts prior and have been slowly getting through some books. I’m a slow reader, something that frustrates me, but I’m still making the most of it. I’m taking some online summer classes – Appalachian literature and US history post-Reconstruction – and have been enjoying them so far; the former more than the latter. A friend cut my hair right before July and I was so ecstatic about it that I couldn’t stop running my hands through it, reeling at the sensation of short stubble tracing the back of my neck. A bear has been spotted by my house for the first time since my family moved out to a rural area! It was great to see – and terrifying!

And I’m sneezing again. I think that’s enough from me as of right now. I need my rest! This week I leave you with Masayoshi Takanaka’s Seychelles. Something simple, yet pleasant. Have a good week!



An Ode to My Dad's Garden (And all the Bees That Inhabit It)

For Father's Day, I spent all my time outside. My father and I gardened today when the sun was hanging just below the zenith of the sky. As he cut a handful of fresh spring roses, the last of their season, I carried buckets of water out to his sprawling garden and watered tulips, hyacinth, and mock oranges. Then, squatting below the shade of cherry trees, we plucked weeds that had been littering his garden from the earth. For every weed that I tugged at, he had already wrangled five or more in his hand, collecting them with just a few mere swipes that I could hardly keep up with.

My father and I have always been very close, and as a result, I have long since adopted the title of being a chip off the old block. He and I are the sole members of a middle-sibling club of his own founding; if I ever need to rant, I'll find him first, and vice versa. It's been that way for as long as I remember. We haven't always gotten along, though, especially not in the realms of religion and politics; but he has told me that in many ways, this is how he wanted to raise me: an independent thinker who, above all else, can put aside differences to remain in good spirits with my fellow man. I like to think I ended up that way -- and that I make him proud by doing so -- but sometimes, I think I've still got a little ways to go. I only hope he'll cheer me on my whole way there.

In retrospect, I think I turned out more like him because he took on the role of caregiver a bit more than my mother did -- no harm in that, of course. He was the one to pick me back up and send me off when I fell, who raised me on his childhood cartoons and favorite TV shows just for the sake of understanding his constant references. I know he did this because he was a bit overprotective of me; I was born too small -- something he now reminisces about -- and because of it, he was terrified of me getting hurt or picked on. As a result, my childhood was spent slung on his arm or propped up on his shoulders, where I was always in his careful watch. Because of it all, I've garnered many of his traits: shouting in echoey places, throwing rocks into creeks, recalling some old niche reference that no one else gets. Someone who works in their garden, if only to cultivate little blooms and cherry tomatoes -- to celebrate little successes.

We went to an Irish pub in town today after gardening. My dad's love of history and genealogy has made him, like many other Americans, an avid “Irishman” at heart. I don't have the guts to tell him I've done the same genealogy research and, to his most certain dismay, he is a little more German and Slavic than he is Irish, as his grandmother immigrated here from Czechia to escape the Nazi regime. Still, he sings “Molly Malone” and “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” with the same fervor as ever. He is just like my grandfather, who was equally enamored by Irish history and culture, and I think that having lunch at the little pub was his way of telling him happy father's day. I told him then that I'd bake him some soda bread soon when he asked, knowing how much he liked it last time. My family loved it when I made it last (which I think was during the summer of 2020.. unsurprisingly). He was practically giddy at that promise.

He told me as we gardened earlier today that he’ll help me once I make my own garden one day. I asked if his help would be swiping at bees' nests – always a fear of mine, to the point of a phobia that has plagued me ever since I was little. He hummed at the thought of it. “Maybe,” he said. “But you’re all grown up now. I think you can do it, too.”

This week’s song is a favorite of my dad’s; ever the fan of the classics, his favorite Benny Goodman tune has always been Sing, Sing, Sing. I've never quite liked it as much as Goodman's other work, but because of him, it's still something I like.



Chasing Brainstorms

Lately, I've found that my creative endeavors have come to be a bit... lacking.

I've had a good deal of free time lately, as my schoolwork has been light enough to lend me some stretching room in my daily schedule, and I haven't been saddled with errands, thank goodness. Now, with the sudden peace in the eye of my daily storm, I've been mulling over ideas and chasing after the whimsy of creative writing. I won't harp at myself for neglecting essays if I'm seeking out creative work; in a sense, creative writing and academic writing can be two sides of the same coin. As long as I'm writing something and stretching my mind, I'm happy!

Though I've never been quite good at it, creative writing is a hobby I've always entertained. Ever since I was little, I've loved to create characters and craft intricate worlds and all the dumb cheesiness that comes along with it. Even though I like to tote myself as some stoic, observative, logic-following man, I am on the opposite end of that spectrum; I'm almost always daydreaming about fantasy worlds and writing epics in my head that I'll never actually put to paper. I am a Romantic that pretends to be a Realist, to put it simply, and I'm not very convincing at it. Even at work, when not on the phone or helping customers, I'll be imagining some three-part drama as I pot peace lilies. I would never dare call my daydreaming a bad habit, either; everyone's got to have their fun in life.

However, even with all my scheming, I don't think I've ever had a project that enraptures me so wholly, mainly because I'll be distracted by other ideas that my brain will spit out at me. There's been some that I’ve really clung to -- a story about aliens, or a project with friends about a post-apocalyptic world -- but sometimes, they haven't been enough to push me forward into actually writing anything bigger than some one-off blurb. I'm cursed to forever wander between unfinished drafts and chase after trains of thoughts, only to give up and never hop aboard. At least I'll always have metaphors to keep me afloat...

In a way, I've become hesitant to start something new, not only because I don't know where to start, but because I know I'll be unhappy with it at some point. I've always been that way. I've never actually liked much of my own work, mainly because I'm the one creating it. I put hours of work and effort into some silly, dumb project, and when I look back at what I've made, I will almost always find something wrong with it; and if I don't, I stare at it until I do. Really, that's how I see anything that I make: I will always spot something that needs to be fixed, something that needs to be better -- not only for the sake of the story or a piece, but for the purpose of my own liking. I will be the first to admit that I'm a major perfectionist, and it has been a debilitating flaw for years now. The pursuit of perfection is a parasite that infects everything I make. Even with my blog, there are things that I loathe and desperately want to fix. They're glaringly obvious to me, to the point where I can't stand looking at it, but I'm sure that to you, readers, it's nothing at all. I'm almost envious of you! It could be admirable that I chase after improvement so fervently, but I think it's more maddening than anything else.

A friend once told me that I tend to think in black and white, and that might ring true. I love to write, but I don't like my writing. I love my characters and the worlds I make, but I see so many issues that I don't like them. Does that make much sense? Either way -- the prospect of creation has become more daunting than it is enthralling, where the opposite should be in effect. Lately, I've had to take it all back to square one: simply observing the media I enjoy and figuring out why I like them so much, and applying that to my own work. To put it simply: I need to be inspired.

I've been itching to write something new, and all I need is a little bit of inspiration. Inspiration comes to me mainly through other media, and a recent dive into steampunk aesthetics and classic literature has left me enamoured with horror and fantasy-science fiction. I recently read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and really enjoyed it; I've also been sputtering through Dracula thanks to that lovely newsletter program I signed up for. I've even perused some modern works inspired by classics as well, because I always enjoy a good spin on an old trick. I want to write my own history-tinged steampunk that lets me research! That's really all I want. Lately, after a lot of daydreaming at work and late night scribbling in my notes, I've accrued a few stray details here and there, like kindling for a fire.

I'll get somewhere with it. Somehow. Writing has never been easy, but it'll never get any easier if I don't start working at it. And that old sense of perfectionism can come in handy; if I always see something to fix, then in some way, I will improve. It isn't a perfect train of thought, but I can foster my craft until its fit for my liking. Maybe I'll even post more about it here once it's on its feet! Like I intended, this blog is my catch-all for projects and imaginings, and I must be true to my word.

I decided that this week's song should be a source of inspiration for me, so today I'm sharing Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity from Gustav Holst’s suite, The Planets. Jupiter feels like the phases of writing; back and forth, progressing until you've found perfection – and then, right after finding it, you're back to your own hurried work. Enjoy and have a good week, readers!



A Repose in the Rain

As I'm writing this, it's absolutely pouring outside. This week, we have shattered the springtime bliss of tolerably warm weather and finally entered summer. And where I live, the word "summer" is synonymous with the word "humidity." Here, humidity is not an option but simply a fact of life; I live in a valley where the mountains, though beautiful, keep all the warmth in their little mixing bowl, covering up the valley like the lid of a stove pot until all that condensation pours down and we get a very wonderful flood watch. Thus, we have entered the season of a phrase echoed throughout generations: "it's not the heat that'll get ya -- it’s the humidity." (And I've already heard that phrase a million times...)

This week has been humid, readers -- both literally and metaphorically. I've been up to my waist in work, work, work for weeks on end, and my only days off have been spent cleaning, entertaining my father's cookout guests, or running errands. I've traded my sweet, sweet relaxation time for the stress that I was trying to escape, and it's starting to take a toll. The line between work and rest has long since become a blur; it's hardly even a suggestion by this point, and more of a sad, wimpy wobble I've tried to draw in the sand.

Here’s what the past few weeks have looked like:

A toilet flooded at home -- wet socks. My home A/C broke. The WiFi is constantly down, and when it's working, it's terrible. My laptop has been crashing randomly. The A/C got fixed, then broke again. I had to totally gut my room in order to clean it and it's still not finished. I'm having trouble sleeping and have been running on infrequent snacking in place of meals. I've been getting sick more frequently. I've been put in charge of every family errand on top of my own. I had to figure out finances by myself for the first time. Customers have been unbearable and are only getting worse. There have been flower shortages for almost every flower shop in the US. Wedding season started and some of us at the shop are pulling plenty of overtime hours to work on them. And now, the A/C at the shop is broken, too!

So to say I'm just a little stressed is an understatement.

I'm not good at handling stress, I'll admit that. Even worse, I hate all the namby-pamby "self-care tricks and tips" that so many people suggest. I took a stress management class for a health credit a while back, and the whole experience was so miserable for me. Meditation and all the gentle things are about as thrilling as watching paint dry, and no matter how much I try, I can't sit there and listen to eight hours of ASMR and pretend it's doing my brain any good.

Instead, I'm the type of person to trudge right on through and get things done. I like to finish all my work first (with a few complaints along the way, but I'm working on that), and then -- and only then -- can I focus on myself. However, I tend to put my own needs to the side when it comes to my workload. But there are little moments where I try to keep my own well-being in mind, and the little moments this week were simple and short-lived, but appreciated nonetheless.

My dog jumps up on my bed to wake me up and curl up next to me every morning, so I try to sleep in just enough to greet her on her daily rounds. I got myself a different drink from Starbucks after a stressful trip to the bank. I ordered a sandwich for lunch when I forgot my own during work. I relished in the sight of my room after cleaning it all afternoon. I engaged in a little bit of retail therapy to celebrate my hard work -- hey, it works! In all those moments, I'm just a little less stressed than I was before, and it's enough to keep me moving.

It's a guarantee that after so much humidity, there will be rain. I've lived here long enough to spot the signs: the still mugginess of the air clusters up as if it's about to explode and the birds go silent as if hushed in wait -- and then, all of a sudden: the first droplets of rainfall pour over the mountain and it feels like you can breathe again. I think it's a simple human experience to appreciate the rain after a long dry spell, but it's just like that – like you can finally breathe. It happened today at work; our three portable air conditioners buzzing, us flitting about the shop with flowers and vases all wrapped up in our arms, the phones ringing back and forth. There was a sudden, loud clap of thunder and we all went quiet, with smiles on our faces and relief that went unsaid. We all breathed in the scent of rain on hot pavement and work felt a little easier, just at that moment. It was a temporary repose and I knew it would only be passing through, but at that moment my world was just a little rainstorm and nothing else.

So now, while I'm listening to the rain outside with all my work finished for the day, it feels a little easier to plan for the next day. Even with all my stress and worries, it's a guarantee that after humidity comes rain. After my stress, anxieties, and fears clog my mind, I can at least look forward to a moment where the clouds gather and release, when I can listen to nothing but quiet, simple noise and relax.

Here's a nice song this week, something simple to relax to: Skating in Central Park by the Modern Jazz Quartet, 1959. I think every week I'll share a new song. Wouldn't that be nice?



Paradise in the Radio Garden

Here we are, a week into my blogging escapade. I am immensely proud of myself for actually remembering to update. If only I could say the same for my actual diary…

Lately, I've found that my usual taste in music has left a sour note on my tongue. There are days when my favorites simply don't cut it, and it's times like these that I jump at the opportunity to discover the obscure – and almost always, this great leap of faith almost lands on some odd old jazz tune fated to become an earworm for weeks. My latest musical expedition has taken place within the jungle of Radio Garden, which I have linked here.

Radio Garden connects you to any radio station in the world, from the foothills of the Himalayas to the flatlands of Africa, and even to your own hometown station. My personal searches have led to quite the fruitful discovery, and now I have an eccentric collection of stations to listen from, all of them right up my alley and equally as weird and silly as I like to think I am. Many of these stations seek to preserve and share old music, which is something I very much adore. One station I like is “ATOS Theater Organ Radio,” which only plays music from the era of silent films and the Wurlitzer organ, something I’ve always been very interested in. I found a renaissance radio up in Canada, called “Ancient FM,” and it’s wonderful to hear the instrumentation of such a pivotal era in music and artistic history. I've also enjoyed the radio “Nonstop Casiopea” from Nigata, Japan, which plays the music of the jazz-fusion band Casiopea. It's really great!

My absolute favorite discoveries, though, all consist of the same gimmick: tunes from the 1920s to the 1940s, the golden years of the big band and the birth of jazz as we know it. Some notable oldies stations are “Cladrite Radio” of New York City, New York, “Radio Dismuke” of Forth Worth, Texas, and “British Home Front Radio” of Doncaster, United Kingdom. These channels play old jazz uninterrupted by the commercial modern world we live in today. I’ll admit, writing this blog post to the sounds of the jazz greats made me feel like its the 1940s; sitting by the radio, flicking through magazines with thoughts of politics and the ever-changing world lingering in the back of my mind, with nothing for solace but the dulcet tones of a clarinet and the golden pandemonium of a brass quartet. Jazz exists in my own little home -- and yet, the places broadcasting these songs are hundreds of miles away! Jazz, all over the globe! I love how music is such a universal language.

Jazz is something that astounds me, both from the eyes of a musician and the ears of an audience. I never quite had a knack for it, as I learned music through the works of more classical composers in a larger-scale symphonic band (though you could hardly call what a high school band plays "classical"). I learned music from Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams, whose work I still love, but I always watched from a distance as my school's jazz band practiced every morning at seven o'clock, on the dot. And, to make it even more distant, my high school band director didn't like the sound of a jazz clarinet! As if a clarinet isn't integral to the classic big band jazz sound! At times, I would envy the lives of jazz clarinetists like Benny Goodman, who still remains to this day my all-time favorite musician. There would be times that my parents would listen to the 40s station and point out his name whenever he played, commenting "can you play that? Can you play just like him?"

I obviously never could, hah -- but every time they ask that, I shrug my shoulders and say, "maybe one day, but I’d never be as good as Goodman." They'd never laugh at the pun. I don't know if it even counts as one. Still, the music connected us both at that moment and still does. Ever since he realized the station exists, my dad has been stuck to that SiriusXM 40s station like glue. Imagine him -- the no-nonsense crease on his forehead, the huge diesel-guzzling truck he drives, bopping his head to the beat of Bing Crosby!

My family is stuck to music. As a kid, my grandma would sing to me Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash as we laid pie crust on her Pyrex plate, and I'd crease the edges to the beat and pretend every fork poke into the thick crust was the strike of Patsy's glitzy cowgirl boots, or that every time I helped toss logs into her old wood stove, I was fueling the trains Johnny Cash heard at Folsom. My grandfather on my father's side would croon out Irish lullabies and Andrew Sisters songs with a rosy-cheeked smile -- never a harmony like the sisters intended, so he'd skip from part to part whenever he pleased. My mom sings the Beatles and my dad sings Bon Jovi. My sister played flute and made me listen to her whistle out her favorite 2000s hits, and when I finally began to play clarinet, I ended up doing the same thing to her. My brother was in the jazz band all throughout high school, and it almost makes me jealous to think about it. He plays trombone and looks the part with his long curling hair and ugly Hawaiian button-ups. He auditioned for my school's jazz band his freshman year (my junior year) and got in immediately, and would come home and practice. His untrained, squawky brass hubbub was a cacophony of noise, a disgrace to the jazz greats, and I'd listen keenly every time just to hear my 40s favorites exist in my own home for the first time.

Now that he's graduating and the last of my family is leaving school, I think I'll miss his jazz band blues most of all. Even though that part is gone, though, my music-making family still persists in our noisiness; Patsy Cline and Irish jigs and rock and metal and blues. We share music with each other, swapping songs like trading cards. I think I'll show my dad Radio Garden, too. I'll point out the stations from his hometown up in Wisconsin, then the 40s stations, just like I showed him before.

I love that Radio Garden showcases the wonder of music. Playing from those specks that dot its globe are songs adored by people just like me and you. We listen to the same tunes, sing those same songs, and now I can listen right along your side! Your backyard is my backyard, and mine is yours. I'll share my tunes with you, too! Nat King Cole sang something about the simple life in his cover of the song On The Street Where You Live, -- "Are there lilac trees / In the heart of town? / Can you hear a lark in any other part of town? / Does enchantment pour out of every door? / No, it's just on the street where you live"

Have a good week, readers. I hope this week brings you a new song, or maybe even just the same old ones you know and love.



Jack of All Trades, Coder of None

My first blog post! Hooray!

I've spent the past few days crafting this dear blog with nothing but my bare hands, a few trusty resources, and occasionally (re: frequently) pestering a friend who actually knows how to code. Maybe this is merely me pantomiming the skills required for coding, or somehow actually having a knack for it -- but in some way, I'm just a little proud of myself. I have a blog to call my own, a megaphone to shout through, a place where I could garner an audience -- or maybe even friends!

I like to consider myself a jack of all trades. My past hobbies have lent me a knack for craftiness and creativity, while at the same time absolutely demolishing the dexterity and mobility of my hands. It's almost sad at times, knowing my hands aren’t as quick as they used to be in high school just because I knocked them around too much horsing around. Heck, I'm only twenty, shouldn't I be in my prime?

Anyways. Jack of all trades -- website-creating could be another hobby to juggle. It’s immensely frustrating at times, I've learned; there were times when creating this where I told myself that this blog would be abandoned quicker than it was created, and all my efforts would go to waste. Sure, part of this could be true; I've got a terrible track record of ditching projects once they no longer please me. I start something up, excited at the prospect of how my future could wrap around the metaphorical pinkie finger of a few stray ideas gone too far; and then, as soon as I hit a roadblock, I drop it and move on to whatever else catches my fancy. This blog, I suppose, serves as the safety net for the things I drop. If I work on something, I can rest assured knowing that it’ll have a home here.

In the past, my juggling show of hobbies has consisted of playing clarinet, drawing, writing, journaling, and anything else I could think of as a means of using my creative energy in some sort of productive manner. I have never excelled in any one hobby -- and now that I think of it, I don’t think I would want to. I had a brief excursion with coding in my eighth grade and freshmen years of school, mainly for a single project that spurred a short-lived interest in me that died as soon as I realized I had to understand math in order to do it. Even worse, the version I learned was ultimately useless anywhere aside from the children’s website I tore to shreds. So useless to my learning, in fact, that I don't even remember what it was. JavaScript? CSS? HTML? Those weird puzzle blocks? Who knows.

Maybe this is me rekindling that little flame. There's a lot less math than I remember, at least from what I've done so far -- maybe the mere presence of numbers scared me, which... one, isn't too far out of the realm of possibility, and two, goes to show how dumb I can be at times. In my recent coding adventures, I've found that the problem-solving aspect is extremely gratifying. There's nothing quite like finding the issue in your code and fixing it, then checking back to see a picture-perfect page and feeling that little glimmer of pride in your chest at a job well done. Maybe it makes me a little egotistical to feel like that, but either way; I think I get the allure of coding, at least to some extent. And in today’s day and age, it's good to be tech-savvy – even if I've got a long, long way to go. I'm a history major, not a computer science major. Cut me some slack!

Either way, I think it's safe to say that this blog serves as proof of my hard work and learning. Hopefully in the future, it'll be an even stronger testimonial of my research efforts, writing, and creative outlet. I've got a lot on my to-do list, and a lot to look forward to. Here's to breaking in this little blog and finding my best self through writing and research!