It’s 10:46 pm on December 27 and I decided to start a blog. It’s unclear how much of this decision has to do with my desire to put off grading the final 30-odd blue books sitting in the left pile on my dining room table with essays that attempt to explain how the Nazi regime made policy decisions. (The right pile contains the already-graded exams.) But I think my decision comes from wanting to have a writing outlet—or rather alternate writing outlet. At the moment I let out most of my creative writing energy in my research papers. (I’m in my second year of a history PhD program) Or in introductions to historiography papers. At least that’s the prose that other people (or at least one person—my professor—reads). Then of course I have my journal—where I free write and post—no, record—more personal things than I would ever include in a blog. But I think a blog will offer more accountability—for creativity of both words and thought. Maybe it will force me to get back to reading the paper and commenting on the news and what I see in the world around me. Journalism (I worked on the daily newspaper in college) trained me to me acutely aware of the sights, sounds, smells and textures around me. When I was in college I often felt like life was magnified or amplified—the way one does when you go to a foreign country. Except I was in New Jersey. I’d like to get that back. Especially this past semester, since I started teaching—it’s been easy to just focus on the tasks at hand, since there are so many of them. Wake up. Pour the Kitchen Kapers, snickerdoodle coffee into the coffee maker before even putting in contact lenses. Check email. Go for run or to the gym for some elliptical and weights. Go to class. Teach. Talk on the phone. Do work. Procrastinate. Make plans. Of course there’s fun in there, including among the things I’ve mentioned. I love what I do and the people around me. But I felt a bit like I stopped noticing what I was passing as I walked to school and making the time to go those lectures not directly related to my field, or making a trip to see that photography exhibit I was dying to see at the PMA.
Being a writer is a huge part of what I am, and being a writer means being a journalist. Being a journalist does not necessitate writing articles but rather, being an observer, being an investigator, being curious, being aware—and then recording what you’ve noticed in a beautiful and compelling way. So that’s what this blog will be—my journalism—or rather a cross between a journal and journalism since I hardly think what I’ll say would necessarily make the morning paper. Also, while journalism undeniably in some way reflects the perspective or background of the reporter, it’s not necessarily supposed to be clear that it does. And I have no intention of hiding my identity here. I’m a 25-year old, only child, native New Yorker obsessed with cities, people and exploring new places who has moved to Philadelphia to pursue a PhD in history. I hope to be a professor—but more importantly a lifelong teacher, writer and learner. And as pompous as it sounds, I’d like to be a public intellectual—a talking head, but a smart one—write editorials, maybe an article one day for the New Yorker. . . I could say more, but perhaps I’ll let it come out as I go.
And until I start that literary salon or café I’ve talked about with friends—hopefully I’ll get some good discussion going.