I remember the first time I heard of a “blog.” I was having lunch with a co-worker, another teacher, Michael O’Donnell, who’d gone to work at a private school — where he was teaching writing and ended up head of the English department.
“There are so many ways to write these days. And here we are, harping on the goddamned five paragraph essay. Have you heard of this thing called a ‘webblog’?” He proceeded to explain that it was an online journal, and I thought, “I can’t see why I would want to keep a journal online.” But you know, as soon as you say you’ll never do something you do it.
I don’t think at that time the blog notion had been exploited yet for news. I don’t know anything, really, about how anyone was writing a blog at that time. “Blog” was not a verb yet. That should tell you something.
I had kept a journal for years and years and years — it’s definitely a pile of books one could call “the examined life.” I love the way those old guys threw around those beautiful phrases for the benefit of students taking freshman comp today and searching for an intriguing quote (it was a quotation back then before “blog” was a verb) with which to start an essay. But anyway, one of Thoreau’s most pithy sentences is, “The examined life is not worth living.”
All those books illustrate how examined my life has been. Sadly, when I was cleaning out stuff a few years ago, and opened those books and re-examined the examined life, they yielded only that I love nature, got some Christmas cards, and never fell in love with the right guy or even met him. Those books stopped in the early 2000s. I ripped out a lot of pages in the re-examination of the examined life. Too embarrassing for posterity and I wasn’t ready to throw out the books, so…
I began keeping a webblog in 2008 when I ejected the Evil X. That was a long time after the webblog was invented. I kept it on Blogger and it was a place where I could vent and think and ponder at 100 wpm. Once I started, I found it easy, a lot easier than writing on pages. That blog was titled “The Trick is Not Minding” because I was really hurting. I’d been hornswoggled by a shyster who’d left me financially fucked. My favorite aunt had died. I was working too much. I’d already had one hip surgery and was facing the reality that I wasn’t a young sprout any more and that wasn’t going to improve in time. (ha ha).
I looked through some of them this morning and found some good stuff — and a lot less embarrassing than the content in the tomes.
The following is an essay I wrote for my friend Denis Joseph Francis Callahan’s birthday to cheer him up when he didn’t get tenure at a local community college. I said, “You’re lucky. Now you don’t have to read 5 paragraph essays for the rest of your life,” and I handed him this. He loved it and framed it. It’s a perfect example of a five paragraph essay… It’s green because it was green when I printed it and sent it to him. Denis, being more than a wee bit Irish, sent everything in green… So..
I Like Goats
by Martha Ann Ol’ Gus Kennedy
English 51, San Diego City College
Topic: Based on personal experience, defend your position on goats.
I like goats for many reasons, for example, I have many things in common with goats, goats are useful to have around the house and yard, and goats are entertaining.
I have many things in common with goats. Goats like to climb mountains. So do I. Goats are good climbers. So am I. Like me, goats like to stand on old cars and watch the people drive down the Interstate. Some of the happiest times of my life have been spent standing on old cars counting how many different states’ license plats I see in an hour. Goats like to butt old tires. So do I. Goats are friendly. If I feel like it, I am friendly, too.
Goats are very useful around the house and yard. Goats mow the lawn. I don’t. Goat hair makes nice sweaters, but you have to take it off the goat first. Goats give milk. This milk is good for people who are allergic to normal milk, which comes from cows. You can make cheese from goats’ milk. Personally, I hate goat cheese, especially Peccorino Romano. In my opinion, it makes me puke.
Goats are entertaining becaue they are funny looking and do many funny things. They like to scamper around in the back pasture crashing their heads together and jumping straight up in the air. Goats have funny looking eyes, which is why they are demonic, but I don’t think so.
In conclusion, I have many things in common with goats, goats are useful, and goats are entertaining. For these reasons and many others. I like goats.
Reading through the first blog — “The Trick is Not Minding” — has been fascinating and revelatory. That was twelve years ago and so much has happened in the interval — my whole life changed. It wasn’t until six years later that I retired. In 2008 I was trying to patch things up and hold them together, to regain my hiking abilities after hip surgery and a year of not hiking. I was trying to find my feet again and trying not to hate myself for the mistakes I had made. In 2010 my brother would die and I would start a new blog. Somewhere in there I got the idea of blogs for publicizing my writing and painting and I made public blogs. When I left Blogger, this was my “blog roll.” They are now all private blogs.
“A Lifetime Apprenticeship” is a painting blog. “Alles geben”, “The Trick is Not Minding,” and “Vita Nova” are personal blogs. “Free Magic Show” is about the time I spent with the boys on bikes. The other two are, obviously, about novels, the two I’d written at that time. You can see one is for students taking an online writing class…
Apparently somewhere in there back then I thumbed through one of the tomes and found this. I can still get behind it even some 27 years later.
Poem from 1993
In the sweet blue beauty of the moon
I push aside the air to see if
There’s anything I know, have seen before
but only moonlight
traces the outline of my hands.
Belief is what you do in spite of yourself.
“You gotta have faith in the unknown.”
“Gotta’?” Got to? FAITH??
The “unknown” is all we “know”
It’s the only destination. It doesn’t require “faith”