Tuesday, June 21, 2011

No Comment

One of my favorite writers, Bill Simmons, said at the launch of his new website, “Writing is a fundamentally lonely thing. It's just you and a blank Microsoft Word document. The process can drive people crazy.”

I write first and foremost with the hope of being entertaining. When an idea strikes me I open up that blank Word document and start thundering away on the keyboard with the intention of throwing my thoughts out into the wide world.

Now, mind you, I put a good deal of thought into what I want to say before I even start typing. However, my thoughts are never fully formed until I’ve begun to put them on paper, so to speak. Once I begin writing I don’t stop until I reach the conclusion or exit point of what I initially wanted to say and it is rarely a predetermined destination. Here’s where the real fun ensues. I read and re-read what I just wrote. I add things as I feel inspired and remove sentences that don’t flow well or words that are redundant. I proofread over and over again until I can go through my draft without making corrections (even after all that my wife usually catches a typo or grammatical error that makes me want to throw myself through the nearest window).

Once the piece is deemed acceptable I post it online. And thus begins my slow descent into madness (okay, further into madness).

I advertise my latest work through popular modern technological methods such as facebook, twitter and email. While writing certainly is a lonely process, sharing said writing can feel even lonelier. I wait for a response, a comment, a retweet, anything. I check back to count page views like the Mervyn’s lady desperately waiting for those doors to open.

Immediately I begin second guessing myself. Was it clear and concise enough? Does it read well? Will they get it? Why hasn’t anybody commented? Why am I being such a freak? I’m a fraud. Stop talking to yourself, you sound crazy.

Publishing your writing is a bewildering mix of emotions somewhere between parental angst and walking down a public beach wearing only a thong. [scrub all you want that mental picture isn’t going anywhere] You feel all the pride and joy as well as the fear and trepidation that come with putting your child out into the world. At the same time you’ve exposed a part of yourself that is normally private and while you hope people will appreciate it, there is a very real possibility of a backlash.

You’ve prepared yourself for either eventuality but a ‘no comment’ feels like crickets chirping in your soul.

You don’t have to write 850 words describing your neuroses to understand what I’m saying. With the advent of social media we’ve all throw out a line or an anecdote to the deafening sound of silence.

Personally I do not comment on everything I read. The fact is your comments holds value. The less of them out there the greater the value. I do not purposely withhold comments to keep their value high but if I don’t feel I’ve got something to say I’ll say nothing. When occasion warrants I will without hesitation let somebody know that they’ve amused, entertained or informed me or that I appreciate their efforts to do so. Commenting on every blessed thing you read devalues your comment to the point it becomes a textual version of white noise. It is folly to dole out your comments like a coupon for 10% off your next purchase of hand lotion. Sure people will take it but it only gets discarded moments later when they pass the nearest trash receptacle.

Not to belabor the point but you’ve got to treat your comments like Oprah’s favorite things show; it’s only cool because she doesn’t do it all the time and you never know when it’s coming. If she did it every show it would eventually become mundane. [Oprah voice] “You get a comment and you get a comment. EV-ERYBODY GETS A COMMENT!” It wouldn’t be long before she looked like a crazy person getting so excited over something everyone knew was coming. You don’t want to trivialize your comments. I get it, I really do.

However, that knowledge does not quell the overarching desire to be validated but you, my reader. Is too much of my self esteem tied to whether or not you take moment of your time to write a note of gratitude or a thoughtful reply to something I’ve written? Yes. Does this piece I’m writing right now make me sound needy and insecure? Yes. Do I have a point to this line of self questioning? No.

Everyone wants to be validated, to feel valued. For a writer they send their word filled children out into the world while strolling down the beach half naked; their only validation comes either from their own self worth (which is fragile at best) or feedback they receive on their work.

I guess what I’m saying is, tell me what you think of my thong.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Declare...

I’d like to officially announce my candidacy for President of the United States.

After a diligent study of the constitution (meaning I searched presidential qualifications on my iPhone Constitution app) I’ve found that I meet the requirements in Article II Section I. I am a natural born citizen. I will have attained thirty-five years of age, two days prior to the 2012 election, and I’ve been a resident of the United States for fourteen years (really all my life save two years in Jamaica). Check, check and check.

I’ve conducted an extensive feasibility study on my popularity and it was unanimous that I would make a great president. That is no small feat as getting my three children to agree on anything, from meals to movies, is nearly impossible.

Now federal law requires that within 15 days of announcing my candidacy I file a boat load of paper work to the FEC. Actually the minimum is less than five documents but that still seems like a lot of work. Anyway that is only if I receive contributions or make expenditures in excess of $5,000. Since I really don’t like paperwork I’ve decided that I won’t be accepting campaign contribution, I’m going to run on a zero dollar budget. In this day and age why do presidential campaigns cost tens of millions of dollars anyway? This blog is free, twitter and facebook are free. If I want to do a commercial YouTube is free. If I need free exposure from the media I just have to do something heroic or criminal. People just need to get creative. Speaking of creative, here’s my campaign poster that I made myself…for free.

Even though I didn’t have to officially file this form being that I’m not accepting campaign contributions I thought it’d be fun to fill out the Statement of Candidacy FEC form 2 anyway. Yes, that makes my early statement on paperwork look hypocritical, so sue me. [Please don’t sue me I’ve got no misappropriated campaign funds to cover legal expenses]

Outside of meeting the basic requirements for the presidency I feel there are many reasons I’d make a good president. I look good in a suit. Who doesn’t, am I right? I actually know my American history [cough] Palin [cough]. And I just naturally end most sentences with God Bless America!

As a bonus I am scandal free, God Bless America. I won’t have any campaign funds to abuse (which was really the only reason I considered taking money, I’ve never been to Hawaii). I haven’t fathered any illegitimate children. I don’t have any friends in high places to give improper benefits to…yet, wink wink. And I use public airport restrooms for their intended purpose.

Finally there are almost no unsavory pictures of my ought-to-be-covered parts that may surface in the future. [True story: Once, while hooked to a polygraph inside a police station, I was asked “Are there any pictures of you out there that could potentially be embarrassing to you or the department?” I had to answer yes. Let’s just say it was me, my friend, a camera, a bus load of senior citizens, Monument Valley and two full moons. I’ll let you piece that puzzle together.]

While I don’t have the customary good head of presidential hair and may not have the presidential “look”, I do not think that someone with an opposing view point is my enemy or the devil (although Pelosi you are pushing it). They are just people with a different perspective and different priorities. While I don’t plan on kissing any babies (mostly for germaphobic reasons), I am perfectly willing to talk with people about what is important to them. I’ll listen to you if you’ll listen to me. While I may not look young and energetic I would technically be the youngest president in our nation’s history by nearly a decade, so that’s something. Oh and I won’t have to “approve this message” because anything you hear will be directly from me.

In the stirring words of the Declaration of Independence we read, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

I may be na├»ve but that sounds pretty simple. Government with powers derived from the consent of the governed are to secure the rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That’s my presidential focus; secure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That pursuit will be left to the individual as the government is only responsible to secure your right to it and not whether you take up that pursuit.

The constitution begins “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Secure the blessings of liberty; that echoes the Declaration of Independence. Establish justice and provide for the common defense sound pretty straight forward. Promote, not provide, the general welfare. Insure domestic tranquility, that’s the tricky one. To insure is to guarantee against loss or harm. Tranquility is a state of peace, calm, quiet or serenity. In matters of political discourse I don’t know a lot of calm, peaceful, quiet people. But that is their right. It’s nobody’s responsibility to provide tranquility; it’s only the government’s job to insure that it’s there if you want it.

As president I will seek to protect your right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. I’ll try not to embarrass myself or the country [Again my apologies to those little old ladies sightseeing in southern Utah, I know now those weren’t the monuments you came to see]. I will solemnly swear to faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

I’m Aaron Blaylock and I wrote this message.

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