My Private Island

I’ve mentioned this before, and that is if you ask me to estimate how many people read my blog without thinking I would honestly say around 10-12. I’ve recited that figure on numerous occasion, because 1) I can’t imagine anyone outside of those 10-12 people (friends and family) whom I’ve bullied into reading my blog would be interested in reading it, and 2) truthfully, only having a few readers is a little liberating, and it kind of allows me to be a bit self-deprecating.  I have permission to express things more freely.  Hey, I’m only writing for friends. And it allows me a neat excuse when I’m outted as a blogger who doesn’t have the notoriety of say a Patton Oswald (or any number of bloggers).  “Well, really only a few friends and family follow me, it’s not a big deal.”

Ostensibly, I post as a way to practice writing since language is not my strength.  Growing up, I was the toddler that hit or destroyed things while my more precocious relative of an equal age bedazzled the adults with words.  I would often hear, “why can’t you be more like him?” as I grew up. This probably lead to more hitting of the things and a fair amount of stink-eye. Writing helps me compose my thoughts and use my words, which is especially good on days where I’m actively trying to set fire to things with my mind. Through my blog I get to post my ramblings, my rants, ridiculous anecdotes, and my heartbreak – noise inside the brain of an extremely ordinary person. I also use my posts as a way to send mass letters to friends an family announcing, “this is where I’m at right now. This is who I am right now.”

Having only a handful of readers also takes away a certain measure of accountability, “hey, only 10-12 people will read this so it’s ok if I lose my mind over some issue.” This false belief has lead to some carelessness on my part. There’s nothing more humbling than being told, “I read your blog,” wait, what??? “and I only realized how affected you were by something that was said when you wrote a particular rant” (paraphrased a ton) by someone whom you didn’t realize knew you had a blog, and whose dear friend it was  you wrote a scathing piece about. Err… whoops. Not my finest moment.  Or you get an email from your Jr. High bully asking, “hey, is that me? Oh yeah, I remember you now” where you learn a lesson in the power of the internet, and why using full names maybe wasn’t your finest moment.  These experiences have made me more keenly aware that this isn’t my private island of 10, though I admit it more often than not still feels that way.

Someone recently told me in regard to this space, “you don’t know how your words affect people” which was extremely humbling. So, this is a shout-out and a thank you to all of those other readers whom I sometimes forget I have.  To Melissa, Jenn, Heather (you are strong, and amazing – though we haven’t met, I hope you know I think you’re great; I believe in you), Drew, Jerry, Jim, Julie, Heather B., Denise, Roanna and David (actual gifted writers), Lynn, Tori, Gail, and Irina (thank you for keeping me sane in the real world and for allowing Buddy to talk politics openly – sorry about Marine le Pen, Buddy). To Brandi who is one of the toughest people I know with a heart of pure gold, and Meredith who makes me laugh more than she knows. To Lori (I believe in you, too. You got this.)  To Karen (I may not always comment, but I enjoy everything you write). And to Dale, you’re a PITA, but you’ve kept me grounded through some dark times (by being a PITA – I think that’s your secret).  To the 10ish: Anna, Jonathan, Dad, Charla, Seth, April, Aunt Philis, Kim, Tony, HRH DeAnne, Kati, and Shari – you’re troopers to survive all the years of my blog nonsense, and for encouraging me (and for once asking me about t-shirts – I did look into it, but the image was too small to work with).  To everyone else who follows me along this bumpy ride of life, I may not know your name, but I appreciate you and thank you.  And to Scott and Carolyn,  whom I miss more than words could ever express – thank you for your encouragement – for suggesting I was funny, for cheering me on all those years. This world is a little less bright without your beautiful and gentle light.

All of you make for one amazing set of 10 on this island of mine.

A Donated Dare

I need your help.  Yes, I’m talking directly to you.  Don’t even think about looking over your shoulder.  Well, unless you’ve found yourself at the center of a spy thriller or you’re a conspiracy nut (and by “nut” I mean “thoughtful individual who clearly sees all of those clandestine government plots and truly understands ‘they’re out to get you’”).  Anyway, back to the help I need.

Some Background (everyone loves a story)

Some of you are aware that I follow a blog written by a 24 year old (now, 24 ½!) who is out in Asia in the midst of a two year adventure. It’s called Backpackology.  Unfortunately, that adventure became a little too adventurous and he lost all of the tools he uses to bring his blog to life. After months of not writing, where we were pretty sure his entrails were decorating some mad hermits wall in some remote jungle (because what mad hermit would live anywhere else), he posted an update letting everyone know that he was indeed alive.  A collective sigh or relief was breathed throughout the internet and money was exchanged as the bets were called in. “I had $25 on him being alive! Hand it over, folks!”

In the update he announced he’d started a Kickstarter campaign.  If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s .”..a funding platform for creative projects…”  It’s something I use to back some of my favorite projects, and you can learn more about them here: Kickstarter Basics

The great thing about Kickstarter is that once the project is funded, you can receive  rewards for your donations. In this case I pledged for a “dare”.

The Help I Need (see, cleverly titled so you’ll know this is the “ask” part of the blog)

This is where I need your ideas.  The “Dare” level gives me the “opportunity to dare [him] to do something (ANYTHING) that [he] will film and publish on [his] blog.  The stipulations are: it must be legal, it can’t take longer that one day to perform, cost more than $50, it can’t harm other or live animals and it cannot cause seriously harm to [him] or [his] belongings (though psychological harm is completely permissible so long as it’s funny).” (I’m loosely quoting since Kickstarter won’t let me cut and paste and I don’t feel like typing everything at the moment due to a profound sense of laziness.)

Now, I mostly contributed at this level to help him continue to do what he loves doing and that he is quite talented at sharing and well… because I want to continue to live vicariously through his adventures since my big trip at 24 was to mosey around New Orleans and get a hurricane glass from Pat O’Brien’s. WOO! Cheap, tall glass y’all!  (I know, I was a wild one.)  That being said though, I’d like to make an attempt at a dare, but I’m drawing a big blank.  See, I’m at an age where my dares are more along the lines of: “I dare you to go straight home and stop risking your life and worrying your family.”  I realize this technically falls under the category of “lame”, but in my defense, and why I’m now turning to you adventurous sorts (again, no need to look over your shoulder, I do mean you), everyone I asked had the exact same reaction (granted, they’re all about my age – we wave canes at one another and curse change – you know the sort). Even people I approached from around the area of the world where he’s traveling gave it some thought and stated coming home was the best adventure. (You know, I kind of thought they’d be good for some off the beaten path kind of ideas.) For the record, he’s traveling around China, Korea, Pakistan, India, Kyrgyzstan to give you some idea.  The only “near” adventure I could think of was to have him participate in the celebration of Holi, in India (or Pakistan) but that occurs at the end of this month which is before the project is officially funded (which is also right before April 1st – come to think of it that may be the most appropriate time to propose a dare).

Wikipedia Commons – Sandeep Pranavam

So, you worldly travelers, can you think of any offbeat festival to attend, any odd regional food you’d like to see tried (he did try a 1,000 year old egg… there was video proof… umm blech), any fun, ridiculous, inspiring, crazy (yet safe) thing I (and of course by “I” I mean “we”) could suggest? (I’ll definitely post the results here once he’s completed it).  Think big! Think fun! Think challenging! Think of what you’d want to do if you were 24 ½! Think of something that doesn’t sounds like, “board a plane back to the United States and become a sensible, contributing member of society so you can die in obscurity like the rest of us – tally ho and such, call your mother” because that would be stealing my idea.

Backpackology with Steve McDonald

I rarely talk about the blogs I read.  It’s not a remark on the blogs themselves, it’s more of a selfish thing.  I discover them (or they discover me) and then I start hoarding them – like that lady you once saw on that reality show – you know – that lady – the one who had all the stuff and a crazed look in her eyes.  I’m sure she had cats.   (Ok, confession: I’ve never actually seen Hoarders, so I’m kind of hoping you have and that we’re starting to bond.  I’m also hoping that you recall some lady from the show (maybe more than one – maybe she had some crazed lady relatives – who doesn’t?), with an insane look in her eyes (or eye, I won’t discriminate) and some cats so you can relate to the hoarding analogy thing.  We are relating now, right?) So you see, I’m like her or maybe them, depending on the episode, except instead of cats or sporks or Betty Boop doo-dads  I hoard blogs.  Oh dear, it seems I’ve found myself in the middle of an analogy that’s quickly going south. Eject! EJECT!

These special online finds make me feel like I’ve joined an  elite “in the know” group who are privileged enough to get to share in (live vicariously through) the author’s many adventures. Well today I’ve decided I’m making an exception, because I’m enjoying a particular blog so much that it’s not fair not to share it.  It’s called Backpackology.  It’s the travel-blog of a 24 year old out on a 2 year adventure to backpack solo across Asia.  It’s well-written, entertaining and occasionally suspenseful as his laptop needs repairs or he’s simply unable to file any updates and the next post appears with a title like “Kidnapped in Alipur“.

I highly recommend it if you’re up for a real life adventure and suggest you start your adventures with him here: Stepping Off the Edge

It’s well worth a read.