Being a Reluctant Kindle Owner

It was almost unbelievable, the price Amazon was asking. I had to refresh the page to make sure that what I was seeing wasn’t a mirage of wishful thinking. Fifty dollars for a Kindle Fire was almost unbeatable. Somehow Jeff Bezos’s flunkies had figured a way to make the tablet version of Amazon’s e-reader less expensive than the regular ol’ Kindle.

I hesitated, my virtual finger on the “Add to Cart” button. What would this mean for my reading? For so long, I’d treasured owning physical copies of my books. Did this mean I’d never buy another paper book again? And what about the other, more tablety functions now readily available? Surely my attention span couldn’t outlast the temptation of Tetris Blitz just a tap away. I bought the thing anyway.

***

The first book I remember owning was a gift from my first-grade teacher entitled “Walter the Baker” by Eric Carle, the same genius that brought the world such adverb-centric titles as “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “The Very Busy Spider.” (My guess is that no kid in his or her right mind would read about a caterpillar that was kind of hungry or a spider that was a little busy – there’s nothing extraordinary about that!) It was a heavy white book with glossy pages that shined in the light when you turned them. I read it over and over, but, inevitably, I grew older and moved on to more difficult reading levels.

It was in the second grade that I first discovered Harry Potter at the annual Derby Ridge Elementary Scholastic book fair. I might have been one of the only kids to actually care about browsing shelves of books in search of my next reading project, not just getting out of class for 15 minutes. I have vivid memories of flipping through the off-white pages of the catalog they’d send home with us, scanning for sweet new stories and deals that could convince my parents to shell out the (maybe) $8 to satiate my literature lust.

Before we walked in our single-file lines to the book fair, the teachers would warn us to never judge a book by its cover. It was only later that I learned that this was just something that parents said to their dorky kids to make them feel better about being lame because I judged the shit out of the cover of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” and now that nobody can argue otherwise, I can safely say that I was the first kid in my grade at my school to start reading it. Granted, the first chapter was more difficult than anything I’d ever read up to that point, but I persevered and finished the book. Several times.

I know exactly where to find my copy of “Sorcerer’s.” Sure, it might be stuffed into a plastic tub in the unfinished area of my parents’ basement, but it’s there. “Walter the Baker” is also there, tucked away in another plastic tub filled with other precious elementary school memories. I’d wager that, of the books I’ve read, 85 percent of every book could be found in a storage bin at home.

This touches on one of the fears I had going into my purchase of a Kindle. There’s something magnetic about seeing a pile of books that you’ve read, wished you read, or will probably never read. But they’re yours. It’s hard to think that a Kindle full of books could elicit a similar feeling. I’d owned one before, but I lost interest in it because it felt off, like finishing your degree a semester late, after most of your friends have already graduated. But what was it really that kept me away from e-books? The previous two paragraphs were only drummed up only after I remembered my copy of “Sorcerer’s.” It’s not entirely irrational to think that these same memories wouldn’t have existed had I purchased the book online instead.

***

I’ve had a previous run-in with Kindles. I owned one way back in college and used it pretty regularly. However, the screwy thing was that with Amazon, I sometimes ended up paying more for electronic copies of books than the physical versions. This didn’t sit well with me. If I’m paying all that money (that I don’t ever see anyway) for something, I better freaking be able to hold it in my hands.

The idea of ownership has plagued me for a while now. My history of owning media — mainly music, television shows, movies and books — has covered every point on the spectrum. I have an equally fond memory of setting up Napster for the first time with my dad and brother. Sure, we were all participating in something that was totally illegal and cost some people tens of thousands of dollars in court and legal fees, but we were doing it as a family. Just like the last season of “Breaking Bad,” except without the drugs and death and stuff.

Even though we had Napster (and eventually Limewire), I still owned CDs and DVDs. Partly because they made easy gifts around birthdays and Christmastime, and partly because I became more interested in owning my own things as I matured. When you reach middle school and junior high, your personality is constructed almost entirely on what you have. To be more specific, middle school personalities were built on your favorite things. Bands, books, movies, TV shows, sports teams, athletes. When MySpace rolled around, we were able to easily catalog all of this information, even going so far as to rank our favorite people. (The big debate was always whether you’d make your girlfriend your top friend or not. It took real strength, as the best friend of someone, to allow a slip in your own ranking for a relationship you knew wouldn’t last longer than your next class.)

I eventually amassed a nice little collection of CDs once I started driving. I was late to the iPod train (owning a MiniDisc player seemed cooler then than it does now), and so I relied heavily on a solid rotation of Weezer, Rage Against the Machine and Killers albums. At the time, buying physical CDs was still a pretty normal thing to do. And I never really stopped, even after I finally adopted the iPod and used streaming services.

It isn’t pretentiousness that keeps me buying CDs (or music for that matter). It’s almost fear, really. Fear that I’ll somehow lose my computer or the music on it, fear that my phone will be dead and I can’t charge it, rendering my streaming service useless on a long car ride. More than that though is that I listen to full albums more often when I own them, as opposed to one or two songs that I’m familiar with. Plus, bands reward the few of us who buy physical copies of their albums by including cool, sometimes interactive artwork (see Father John Misty’s latest album for a great example). Being able to hold it in my hands still means something to me.

However, you could make the exact same argument for a physical book vs. digital copy. The paper, cover, and texture aren’t picked at random. There’s an art to designing a book. Aesthetics and function are all considered, and when you pick that copy up after it finally gets delivered to your apartment (because, naturally, nobody is buying that thing at a bookstore), you appreciate the effort that went into the design in a way that’s foreign to reading an e-book.

***

My old Kindle got discarded somewhere in between sophomore finals and Ayn Rand’s goliath “Atlas Shrugged,” which I’m glad to say I never finished. I returned to reading physical copies of books because, y’know, I just liked the smell, man. There’s something so special about holding a real book in your hands. Blurghhhh. I’ve thought and even said this before. But while there is a difference between flipping paper pages and clicking a button, you’re still reading the same book.

I justified my Kindle purchase by reasoning that I could save money on book costs by using the public library’s e-book database. I remember thinking how amazing it was that they just let you read the book, and then immediately remembering that’s exactly what libraries do. Plus, I tend to read faster and more often on my Kindle than with a physical book, probably thanks to consistent weight and font size (I own two different copies of the “Lord of the Rings” because the second copy has a larger font, making it easier on my eyes and more bearable to read).

It’s always been a dream of mine to own a house with a full library. The thought of having a room dedicated to the books I’ve read and books I want to read is comforting, like being able to revisit moments in time where I felt a certain way. Seeing memories lined along the walls, spines colorful and bland, each one conjuring up something previously unremembered. Scrolling through my Kindle’s library is nowhere near as appealing.

I made a promise to myself to purchase physical copies of books that I really enjoyed. Hopefully this newfound plan will help the vetting process, so to speak. I’ve already discovered one that I know I’ll buy sometime soon (“Station Eleven” by Emily St. Mandel). As the world moves further toward digital everything, I’ve made a subconscious and now conscious effort to hold on to the physical world. The idea that what I’ve carefully chosen to own — to allow to take up real, tangible space in my life — will last beyond my own life, is essential to who I am.

“Gorgeous” – X Ambassadors

Like music? Like reading 500 words or less? You’re in luck!

Daily Phat Jam

If the three people that read my posts with any regularity had a chance to check out my last one on Sundara Karma’s “Flame,” then this latest Phat Jam may convince you that I’m an asshole hypocrite. But let me explain myself.

So, last time I wrote about how indie and alternative music is slowly moving beyond its pretentious, mostly synthetic electropop phase. Now, I’ll admit that these #buzzwords are used in a broad sense, to speak on trends within the music industry that I’ve noticed and have decided to turn away from. Because I am the king of what should be accepted within music.

This latest X Ambassadors track, “Gorgeous,” feels like a much cooler step-sibling to the first single, “Renegades.” While the latter is a good song on its own, and better fits into the current trending catalog of alternative music, “Gorgeous” sounds like a completely different band.

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“Flame” – Sundara Karma

I write about music when I’m debating about whether I should post something new on here. Check it out!

Daily Phat Jam

Once the tectonic plates of cultural sensibilities conclude crashing against one another, we’re left with settled dust and a changed landscape. Boomers still reference the Summer of Love with the faint glimmer of a twinkle in their eyes that only those remembering their first crush can summon. It was a period of time that saw dramatic and significant change, both culturally and politically.

Music works much the same way. Right after Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” came out in the second half of 2012, listeners were drowned with a biblical flood of clap stomp, hey-hoing by the likes of The Lumineers, Passenger and Phillip Phillips, whose Top 40 success marked the end of Mumford-styled music being cool, because plugging insurance companies isn’t what indie folk is about. It’s the banjos, man. The banjos. To put this in very depressing perspective: Steven Tyler – yes, that Steven Tyler – just released his…

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Three Kinds of Ad Campaigns that Need to Change

There are certain indispensable advertisements or ad campaigns that have been around forever and have earned the right to be around as long as they’d like. They’ve managed to weave their way into the fabric of American culture, like football on Sundays or government-authorized torture. The Coca-Cola polar bears, the Geico Gecko, and Alf are all examples of advertising mainstays (except maybe not Alf, despite how much I’d like him to be.) However, not all ads or campaigns are worth keeping around. Here are three examples of ads or ad campaigns that need to change.

Print Wristwatch Ads

Nothing says “wristwatch” like planes and *ahem* John Travolta

If ever there were a type of advertisement that you could label as “tryhard,” print wristwatch ads are it. All you have to do is pick up any men’s magazine (GQ, Esquire, Men’s Health – if you could call that a magazine) and you’ll be exposed to a litany of incomprehensible watch ads. The major offender here is Breitling, whose basic formula is Celebrity + Action Profession + Watch = Ad, which creates a branded image in the consumer’s mind that makes you think Breitling are grossly expensive watches worn by Danny Zuko while he lives out his childhood dream job.

Other ads feature the latest sports hero NOT EVEN WEARING THE WATCH or Leo DiCaprio forgetting to how to wear a watch coupled with some pithy copy and an arrangement that looks like it was designed in MS Paint. For one of the only remaining popular men’s accessories still available, watch advertising needs to innovate or GTFO.

Hard Alcohol Commercials

“Just looking at my eyebrows will make you want to drink.”

There’s no question that beer commercials are some of the most anticipated (and most beloved) of all television advertisements. People gather around their screens, halt their conversations and collectively shush Charlie, the guy who won’t stop complaining about losing in his fantasy football league, to watch Bud Light and Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercial offerings. We’ve seen the “Wazzup!” ads, the “Budweiser Frogs” ads and people cry every year at the annual Clydesdale commercial. But hard alcohol commercials still leave a lot to be desired.

Is there anything cooler than a grizzled actor (who hasn’t been in anything memorable since Goodfellas) ordering expensive tequila like an asshole at a rundown bar? No, there isn’t. But Ray Liotta and 1800 Tequila are hardly the worst offenders. Oh wait, never mind, they’ve had tough-talking white guys in commercials for a while now. Other liquors, however, use the same boring formula, one that makes every ad seem like the denouement for the newest action movie that you won’t bother seeing.

T-Mobile Unlimited Data Commercials

Just bein’ Millennial!

I understand that advertisers are still figuring out what works when targeting Millennials. That’s fine, you can’t know for sure until you try everything out. However, T-Mobile’s latest batch of ads is almost insulting in their ridiculousness. They feature hip young people do hip young things, like breakdancing, riding BMX bikes or yo-yoing (?), because who wouldn’t with Data Stash?

One of the only redeeming qualities of these commercials is that, yes, they are somewhat informative (at least as informative as cellphone commercials can be.) There is a chance that maybe I’m a bit too sensitive to these ads and that this kind of thing really works for people my age. Come to think of it, breakdancing has convinced to buy a product on more than one occasion, so I’m probably wrong.

“Peace Keeper” – Bear Hands

Here’s a music blog that I contribute to! We post whatever we’re listening to at the time and what we have to say about it. If anything, there’s some great music on here!

Daily Phat Jam

           A friend of mine really likes this band, Bear Hands, and hasn’t shut up about them the past few months. I mean that in the nicest way possible, because I can definitely understand bugging people about a band you love until they finally give in and admit you were right.

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A Longish Essay on Music and Selling Out

 

About a week ago, while listening to the radio at work, a coworker of mine mentioned that the lead singer of Maroon 5, Adam Levine, is very talented. To my surprise, my initial reaction wasn’t, “That guy and his band blow.” Instead, I said, “I really like their first album.” Which is true. Songs About Jane is a great album with a unique sound. However, every subsequent Maroon 5 album features a sound blander than unsalted crackers and Levine increasingly wearing fewer clothes (although that doesn’t show up in the audio).

Bands like Maroon 5 have always left me confused. Why would you take a sound that I deemed to be interesting and change it to something I deem less interesting? Of course, all of this is based on my own opinion. However, if you look at their page on Metacritic.com, their albums have been reviewed more poorly with each release. Songs About Jane isn’t even featured on the site, but Rolling Stone gave it a 3/5 in 2003, which is pretty decent for a debut album.

What all this really comes down to is selling out. Some might say that selling out is what the unrecognizable musicians say about the popular ones. But popularity alone doesn’t warrant a label like “sellout.”

Selling out is appearing on TV commercials endorsing products that have nothing to do with your music. Selling out is signing to a major record label and putting out factory-sealed ear bullshit. Selling out is hosting a show called “The Voice” and performing 34 shows on the 12th Annual Honda Civic Tour.

Being famous isn’t a synonym for being a sellout. The more I thought about it, the more complex the issue became. I tried to break down the different directions bands/musicians take, from start to finish (or where they are now). The list is obviously not complete, and more importantly, is really only based on my limited knowledge of the music industry and (ultimately) on my tastes. With that being said, I hope you enjoy.

 

Artists that recognized what was popular and went that direction

 

All it takes is one breakthrough single to catapult an artist into relevancy. This is true for solo artists like Ed Sheeran, the aforementioned Maroon 5 and other bland rock groups like 3 Doors Down. All it took was one pretty decent song or album (“The a Team,” Songs About Jane, “Kryptonite”) and boom: you’re best friends with Taylor Swift.

Ed Sheeran’s debut album, “+,” featured a couple different acoustic songs that broke through Top 40 airwaves and one, “The A Team,” peaked at number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. Now, two years after his debut release, Sheeran’s second album, “X,” features a new single that sounds entirely different.

Sing” sounds like an American Idol contestant performing a Justin Timberlake B-side from 2002. My immediate reaction was that Sheeran had tanked, that he’d officially sold out. However, after doing a little sampling from both albums, it appears to be that both include a mixture of stripped-down acoustic and more tediously produced tracks.

Why the difference? It could be that after initial success, Sheeran’s team (no pun intended) figured it best that his singles be more pop friendly and less about struggling, crack-addicted prostitutes.

Maybe it was a managerial decision that brought us “Sing.” Maybe it was to boost sales. Or maybe he just got tired of performing really sad songs. Either way, it’s clear that “Sing” is a step towards more chart friendly music.

 

As for 3 Doors Down, consider their single “When I’m Gone.” Without a music video, the lyrics could easily be about a relationship (or, as some people on SongMeanings.com think, suicide). However, the official music video features the dudes in Three Double D on an aircraft carrier, playing for the troops. The video begins with the text:

3 Doors Down

Performed Live on the

U.S.S. George Washington

In the Mediterranean Sea

October 2, 2002”

The words are even written in an official-looking serif font, as if 3 Doors Down were SEAL Team Six on an official U.S. military mission to rock the troops and wear backwards hats. However, instead of sniper rifles, Three Double D is armed with lyrics that sting like a headshot to the heart: “So hold me when I’m here/right me when I’m wrong/Hold me when I’m scared/and love me when I’m gone.” Yeah, that’s definitely about the war in Afghanistan.

The best part about “When I’m Gone,” though, is that according to Wikipedia (because that’s where I get all of my sources), the original video featured “band members in a swamp, being buried alive while playing.” Clearly being buried alive while playing instruments isn’t nearly as patriotic, and doesn’t sell nearly as many records.

Further, in 2007, 3DD released the single “Citizen Soldier” in conjunction with a United States National Guard recruitment campaign. The song even features The National Guard.

Uhh…what?

Okay, so maybe 3 Doors Down just really cares about the United States military, specifically the everyday soldiers. So much so that they have made a career out of it. Because once you make yourself the “military band,” you always have an audience. It’s entirely possible that 3DD found a niche after the initial success of “Kryptonite” and jumped on it. They do have a foundation devoted to bettering the lives of children, so maybe I’m the asshole, because I don’t have one of those.

 

Artists that recognized what was popular and went the opposite direction

Artists so often say that they make music for themselves. Whatever they’re interested in, whatever inspires them or motivates them, that’s the direction they take. If people happen to like their music, then sweet. If not, also sweet. Now usually the musicians that say this are well established and have the money to make whatever kinds of claims about their creativity that they want.

The prime example of this path is Radiohead. Their first album, Pablo Honey, came out in 1993 and features the ultra-popular single “Creep.” Literally everyone has heard “Creep.” If you haven’t, here it is. It’s also here, here and way over here. “Creep” was so popular that Thom Yorke, lead singer of the band and writer of the song, grew to hate it. But Radiohead was on top. So…yeah.

Subsequent albums, however, would separate Radiohead from their moody, melancholic image and make them into the poster boys of experimental alternative rock. Radiohead received critical acclaim for OK Computer in 1997, changed their sound, shed their record label and even offered their seventh album, In Rainbows, online for whatever people felt like paying. Not exactly starring on “The Voice.” And yet, they’re still super rich and famous.

So they put out music that appealed to people in 1993. “Creep” is still the only Radiohead song regularly played in Columbia. While my hometown isn’t exactly a bastion of alternative rock diversity, it is fairly telling. And yet, Radiohead maintains their success without the help of Top 40, or sometimes even price tags.

 

Artists that change mostly everything about halfway through

 

I can’t help but admit that I’ve always liked Green Day. When I was younger, Dookie appealed to me because, well, what 12-year-old wouldn’t find this funny? There’s literally a monkey holding a piece of poop with a thought bubble that says “Throw?” on the front cover.

The album mostly talks about masturbation, sexual orientation, boredom and other issues facing burnouts (pun intended this time). After their initial success with Dookie, the band went on to put out some decent records, they released a song that everyone remembers from their graduation ceremony and Billie Joe Armstrong, the lead singer, might’ve gotten kind of chubby.

Then, in 2004, 10 years after Dookie, the band released American Idiot, an album completely unlike anything they’d made before. Musically, American Idiot features a cohesive, interwoven narrative, two 9-minute-long songs and a song that bashes the George W. Bush administration.

Actually, I have to admit that I love this album. It came out when I was in 7th grade and holds a special place in my heart as the first album with a “Parental Advisory” warning on it that my parents allowed me to buy.

With that being said, I can’t stand the new image that came with Green Day’s new sound. Wearing all black, suspenders, and guy liner, having dyed shaggy black hair, stupid skinny red ties and studded belts doesn’t make you punk rock. It makes you look like Hot Topic. And what’s amazing about Green Day’s 2004 image is that, in my mind, it’s synonymous with Hot Topic. Much like the proverbial chicken and egg debate, it’s almost impossible to decide which came first: Hot Topic’s shitty clothes or Green Day’s shitty clothes.

What’s key here though is that Green Day had become pretty irrelevant before American Idiot’s release. Their 2000 album, Warning, was received well by critics but was also their lowest selling album at the time. Four years later, they changed their image, did something drastic with the sound and scope of their music and became megastars.

 

Artists whose sound slowly evolves over time

This final category generally consists of all bands, except for those especially shitty groups (looking at you, Hinder) that, much like crocodiles, haven’t even tried to evolve for as long as we’ve known about them.

My favorite modern example of this evolution is Arctic Monkeys. I must admit that I’m a bit biased, as they’re my favorite band, but still. Their career arc is something to be envied, as they’ve only grown in popularity while shifting their sound album to album.

Arctic Monkeys’ first album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, came out in 2006 when the band members were all 20 years old. It featured fast-paced, British-sounding songs with (usually) silly names like “You Probably Couldn’t See for the Lights but You Were Staring Straight at Me” and “Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong But…” that were so popular with alt-rock bands in the mid-2000s. The album sold 1.5+ million copies in the UK, Arctic Monkeys’ most to date.

This debut album was the critical point in their careers. It would have been easy for Arctic Monkeys to take their initial success and run with it straight to the Top 40 charts. I have a recurring nightmare where the band members are all on their knees, prostrating themselves before Ryan Seacrest, laughing maniacally but somehow maintaining his perfectly styled hair.

Instead, only a year later, Arctic Monkeys released a harder, louder album with even more production. Favourite Worst Nightmare received an 82 on Metacritic, the exact same score as their first album but sold just over half the amount as Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.

Why the drop in sales? It could have been that Arctic Monkeys exploded in the UK with more hype than a drunken Brian Windhorst discussing LeBron at ESPN’s 2010 Christmas party. Maybe it had to do with file sharing or something else silly. Either way, the numbers dropped off.

Arctic Monkeys’ third album, Humbug, came out in 2009 and featured what appeared to be an entirely new sound for the band. It didn’t have quite the same pop hooks that the previous two records did and even kind of sounded like a Queens of the Stone Age album, which makes sense because Josh Homme co-produced it. Still, Humbug was certified platinum in the UK, which means it sold more than 300,000 copies.

I’m getting tired of explaining their career, but Arctic Monkeys next two albums saw the band changing their sound once again, with a release in 2011 that included songs tinged with poppier melodies and one in 2013 soaked in sex. Regarding 2013’s AM, Arctic Monkeys front man Alex Turner said it best himself: “It sounds like a Dr. Dre beat, but we’ve given it an Ike Turner bowl-cut and sent it galloping across the desert on a Stratocaster.”

The album was certified 2x Platinum, their best record sales since their debut album, and won the 2013 Brit award for Best British Album. And yet, when you compare the sounds of their first and most recent albums, Arctic Monkeys sound alike but feel very different. Now, the band remains one of the most popular and commercially successful rock groups in the world.

 

I’d like to think that if I were a musician on the verge of a huge breakthrough (or an author/writer/whatever else), I’d have the integrity to say no to big money and embrace my creativity, wherever it took me. However, there’s a good chance that I would sign my name on the first contract with seven-digit compensation. So I can’t really blame some artists for taking the money. There are bottom lines in our world and if it means an artist has to write a shitty, disingenuous song that millions of people will purchase, most would be willing to do it.

Ultimately, despite what you think about an artist selling out or making bad music, the fact remains that there are people that like it, and they’re willing to spend their money on it. Bitching about how “music sucks these days,” or how “Top 40 is trash” won’t change that. The best you can really do is write a 2000+-word article exploring it and post it to your blog for people to read. And if this article does land me a big contract worth millions, I guarantee I’ll sell out immediately. Sorry, integrity, but I gots bills to pay.

 

As Satisfying as Mega Bloks

As Satisfying as Mega Bloks

Mega-Blocks-logo-fix

I had grand plans for myself this summer. Among others, I was going to read a handful of novels, spend as much time with friends as possible, and write a prolific amount. After only a month of summer, I’ve met two thirds of my goals, and yet, what plagues me the most is that my writing has been nonexistent.

I’ve written a few blogs here and there, and while this technically is writing, it’s about as satisfying as playing with Mega Bloks. Sure, they’re kinda like Legos, but you’re really wishing you were playing with Legos the whole time. And who spells “blocks” without the “C”?

My biggest issue, as I would assume is the case with most writers, is that I have the tendency to see other people’s productivity and pit it against my own. Friends are writing for websites, magazines, and newspapers all with “official” titles that supposedly add to their legitimacy. And they do. Any schmuck with Wi-Fi and a computer can write a blog. Not everyone can write for an actual publication.

One of the excuses that I tell myself is that it’s difficult for me to focus on both reading and writing. When I spend the majority of my time and energy on work and reading, I don’t even think to think about writing.

In addition, I tell myself that forced writing means bad writing. Every writer is naturally critical of his or her own work, and when you’re aware that you’ve been in a slump, you’re only harder on yourself.

The real issue is that when I see myself as a writer, I expect myself to think and act like a writer. This means that I should write. But at this point in my life, I’m just a guy that likes to write.

What I’ve realized it’s hard to keep productive in the summer. I read a ton more, but everything else seems to drop off. Even my tweeting has slowed (check me out at @drewthegoose, sometimes I’m funny).

The way I look at it now is that I’m adding to personal experience by spending time with family and friends and reading. When I get hit with the need to write again, I will. This could take the form of more blogs, more short stories, or even a play. But definitely not poetry.

I’m fortunate enough to have (what I see as) a large amount of followers on WordPress. This is in part thanks to an article I wrote a couple years ago about honest brands. But now I feel obligated to produce because I have followers. This is silly and narcissistic.

A blog like mine – without any real sense of direction, much like myself – shouldn’t be anything more than a collection of ideas, projects, and other writings that have nowhere else to go. If someone happens to gain some sort of insight or is even slightly entertained by what I have to say, then sweet.

As corny as it sounds, writing is therapeutic. I already feel better about myself because A) I actually finished writing this and B) What’s been bothering me for weeks has finally been expressed. Once articulated, my problems transform from angst into something else. To say the result is “strength” would be trite and far too reminiscent of a Jimmy Eat World song. But it certainly doesn’t make me feel worse.