Posts Tagged 'Blogging'

The Alphabet Game: The Deadman’s A-Z Guide to Living

When Mrs. Deadman and I want to amuse ourselves while whittling away some time, we often play the alphabet game. It’s quite a simple affair. Most of you are probably familiar with it, but for the rest of you, this is how it works:

Someone picks a random category or topic (say, ‘Clothing Store Chains’ or ‘Diseases’). Then, the other person (you can play with more than two, but surely you can find better ways to pass the time if you’re in a group) thinks of an answer belonging in that category and starting with the letter ‘A’ (say ‘Abercrombie and Fitch’ or ‘Alzheimer’s’). Then you continue down the alphabet, alternating answers as you go (Typically, you skip ‘Q’ and ‘X’ because those are virtually impossible unless your topic is medical TV dramas or lame musical instruments). If one of you can’t think of an answer that fits, the other one gives it a shot. You don’t really keep score or anything, you just know when you’re not pulling your weight and then get mad at the other person for being so smug and clever.

The Mrs. and I have played The Alphabet Game riding trains, walking the dog, lying in bed, and most impressively, while dancing our first dance at our wedding (neither one of us was at all comfortable with all those sets of eyes upon us, and playing the game ended up being a great way to speed up those awkward few minutes. And as a bonus, on our wedding video it just looks like we were having a fun, thoughtful conversation. BTW, the topic was ‘Our Wedding Guests, by First Name’).

In any case, I’ve had trouble for some time staying dedicated to this blogging thing. Ok, that’s putting it mildly, and having a 5-month-old daughter has only made it worse (Plenty more to write about, of course, just not the time). So in a desperate, Hail-Mary attempt to get back into the writing habit, I figured why not play my own little version of the alphabet game. Maybe it will give this blog some structure and keep me motivated.

Every week or so, I plan on writing a post on a subject that begins with a different letter, methodically going down the alphabet (and probably skipping Q and X).  Sometimes the blog will be about a nebulous concept, sometimes a specific issue or person. Sometimes it will be a short piece, other times long. Sometimes serious, other times not so much. Sometimes when I’m feeling lazy and there’s a timeless topic that fits, I may just reprint one of my earlier blog posts (not like anyone’s read them … or, sadly, will be reading this). That’s the plan, anyway.

Now when I finish (not ‘if’ dammit, but ‘when’), I’m not sure what I’ll have, aside from hopefully 24-26 blog posts that are somewhat interesting, at least to members of my immediate family. I’ve always assumed my life would be a short one and I’m oddly obsessed with issues of death and mortality, so especially now that I have a daughter, I guess mostly I hope as a finished whole, the series will stand as some sort of silly personal legacy, helping to define who I am, what I care about, and why I rock (and if never finished, it will stand as an even more appropriate legacy of why I don’t rock).

Whatever this ends up being, it sure as hell won’t amount to a Guide to Living, since that is like Tony Robbins-pompous and can’t really exist … and if it could, I certainly wouldn’t be the one to compose such a thing. I can’t imagine anyone more clueless on the topic of proper living as me. Deadman’s A-Z Guide to Living just sounded good to me.

So let’s get it started … sometime soon, of course.

Dag? Nab it! …

Just wanted to write a quick post to tout another pet project I’ve been working on with a couple of friends called, which just celebrated it’s one-month anniversary and is doing pretty well for such a new site. Right now, the blog is heavy into politics and business, not a surprise given current events,  but over time, we hope the scope of the content expands into entertainment, business, sports, satire and other areas of interest.

Most of what I write there is cross-posted here, but you really should read some of the other stuff on dagblog if you get a chance. If I may say so myself, I’ve been really impressed by the content so far.

And if you’re in the NYC area, dagblog plans on having a little election-night party, so stop by if you can – details to come.

Crying over a stranger …

It’s amazing the ways a life can touch another.

Leroy Sievers was a respected and accomplished journalist, covering wars and conflicts all over the globe for CBS News and Nightline, winning a bunch of Emmys and a couple of Peabodys in the process, and yet I think it’s fair to say that none of his work likely had as much of an impact as did his very public battle with cancer.

I found his My Cancer Blog on NPR about the time I started this blog, doing research for a book idea I was considering. His site was a refreshing, funny, candid, brave, detailed look at the day-to-day reality of living with cancer and it kept me coming back regularly.

I wouldn’t be able to recognize Sievers on the street, and less than two months ago had never even heard of his name, yet I totally broke down when I logged on today and read that Sievers finally lost his 2 1/2 year fight.

It’s eerie now to go back and read some of his last posts, watching his messages became shorter and shorter, filled with cryptic references like ‘one last secret wave’ and ‘long and sleepless nights’, and then reading about his decision to bring in a hospital bed and, finally, a hospice team.

His last post was about ‘a boy and his dog,’ a heartbreaking reference to the stuffed animal keeping him comfort as his condition worsened.

It reminded me of watching my grandmother during her final days, sleeping fitfully and dreaming about who knows what – pleasant and pain-free days hopefully – as she snuggled a small throw pillow tightly to her chest, just as an infant holds a blanket. I guess if we live long enough, we leave this world not much differently than as we enter it.

I wasn’t the only one moved by Sievers’ blog. It clearly resonated with his thousands of loyal readers, all of whom seemingly have felt cancer’s sting in one way or another and many of whom revealed their own emotional stories in the comments sections.

These people were all strangers, and yet they came to the site each day, to send prayers to Leroy, to commiserate with him over his struggles and to discuss their own battles, to celebrate the victories, small and big ones alike, and to mourn the losses, hardly any of them small ones.

Mostly, they came to the site to provide a much-needed source of support and advice for each other. In other words, Leroy’s blog became this massive community, and it is quite easy to tell from comments left after the news hit that his readers took on his fight as their own, and that none of them will soon forget him or the lessons his life – and death – provided.

And that is truly an accomplishment worth celebrating.

What now??

OK, so now what? Why did I reserve this domain name? Why am I starting the blog? And what will this blog end up being?

Good questions all. First, a little background. I work in the financial services industry but I’ve always had an interest in writing (I’m a former journalist) and over the years have tried my hand at various projects, most of which withered on my hard drives unfinished, and none of which I’ve showed anyone but the closest of friends and family.  But at least I was writing; for the past several years, even that rather sad, lackluster Muse of mine seems to have taken an indefinite leave of absence.

But within the past couple of months, an idea has been percolating in my head to write a novel about a slacker who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and decides to finally make his mark on the world by starting a blog called Dead Man Blogging, which he basically uses to track his journey toward Death. In the process, he gets into a rivalry with another cancer blogger, who is actually faking his illness.

Like most of my ideas, I only have a very general outline of the plot and little idea how the story will end (which may be why most of my projects don’t get completed), but I envision it potentially addressing a whole bunch of larger themes: The ways in which virtual communities and relationships lack as adequate substitute for real ones; the protean nature of identity on the Internet; the sanity of insanity; the end of detached, ironic postmodernism and the beginning of something both more involved and yet more bathetic; and yes, the importance of living every day like its your last. In short, it’ll likely be a bunch of crap that could probably be somewhat decent in the hands of a more skilled writer.

As usual, I found myself procrastinating when it came to actually writing the damn thing, so I decided in the meantime to at least reserve this URL, which I thought was a pretty decent one anyway, and pretend I was moving ahead with the book.

At first, I planned on turning the site into some sort of meta-project where I’d make like it was actually being written by the main character in the book (and thus in some way I’d end up being like his not-sick rival blogger/poseur), but thought better of it after spending some time reading a blog from a real cancer patient – one of the saddest, bravest, and most compelling tales i’ve read in some time. it seems a bit cruel to pretend you have a terminal disease when there are so many people out there really fighting the fight and so many others who then get invested in those fights as if they were their own.

So instead, I’m going to use this blog in a similar way that most people do – as a quasi-diary, quasi-OpEd page. And in the process, it’ll hopefully give me more inspiration and food for thought for my story (at the very least, it will get me back in the habit of writing, which I have totally lost) . These first two postings have been very long, but I envision the rest of the blog will consist of very short posts where I sound off about any number of topics on my mind – religion, politics, love, work, friendship, my past, my family, my life (and yes, my death too). From the broad to the narrow, the personal to the universal, the deep to the trivial, basically anything and everything will be fair game, and I’m hoping to write something at least five days a week. It won’t always be insightful, or even interesting, but it will be honest. That much I promise.

July 2016
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