Each year as I age (and boy am I aging), the end of daylight savings and the darkness of November through March gets harder and harder, because it precipitates a very strong Seasonal Affective Disorder in me (appropriately acronymed SAD). If you don't know what SAD is, it's basically the winter blues, brought on by a lack of sunlight (that's a scientific definition, right?). Everybody gets the blues once in a while, but when you're getting them for four or five months straight, and you haven't seen sunlight since what feels like the Jurassic Era, things start to go a little pear-shaped.
Wonder if you have SAD? My systems include pretty basic depression type symptoms: feeling blah, sleeping too much, anxiety, lack of an ability to focus, generally feeling hopeless. You can have them mildly, you can have them very strong, you can have them in between, you can have these symptoms sometimes and not others, etc etc. It varies for each person.
I know that in late August it may seem a bit, how do you say, excessive to already be worrying about SAD, but I've learned in life you've got to be like a Boy Scout: overly prepared and wearing a lot of khaki. So with that in mind, there are a few steps I've learned to take that make the endless slog of winter months feel a little better and more productive, though. I've written about them before, and I'm going to share them again here (with some updated tips I've found useful).
A couple of things: These tips are probably good to do yearround, because they mostly include "healthy living" type things (GROSS). Also, as with every post, I am not a doctor, and probably nobody should listen to me about anything, ever. That said, definitely listen to these tips and heal your SAD-addled brain. If you want me from November to March, I'll be hiding out in the Caribbean or under my desk, no in betweens.
As I wrote earlier, now it's 2016, and "nobody blogs anymore." I was interested in exploring why this happened, and why it's so hard to get this world of personal blogs back on the internet. So I (via email) asked four friends who made up the core of my blogging group in the mid-2000s to share their thoughts with me on the topic: What happened to personal blogging as we knew it, and why did it happen?
I'll bet what all of us miss is the smallness of the blogosphere. It was once possible to read everything in your blogroll. (Or, in the late days of the High Blogosphere, your RSS reader.) Mine was always aspirational: I'd read all of y'all's stuff, plus, you know, The Poor Man, Eschaton, Calpundit, Tapped, Pandagon, then maybe half of a really long Crooked Timber post on Hegel or something, see what Volokh had to say, sneer at something on Tacitus. I tried to read everything I could with what time I wasn't fisking something really, really important.
But the crucial thing was that it was possible to read or at least know about everything happening. And that made it exciting! I'm not the first person to observe that the early blogosphere was a bit like post-college college; I learned things about political science and economics that I never bothered to study in college, at least enough to seek out more information about specific topics. It was also like post-college college in that it felt socially like a closed loop, like a dorm. The blogroll was never as much a library device as it was a banner, a House Shield.
I would say that social media has suffered in the same way that blogging did. It eventually grows so large and non-local that it becomes difficult to keep up with it. I think Facebook was probably fun at one point (wasn't it? Surely it had to've been) and I definitely remember Friendster and MySpace being fun and important things at the start. But all these and even Twitter went the way of the media: they became global, not local, with rules and expectations set by everyone, not just us.
Now that it's no longer small I would find it hard to write something jut for fun. It's partly because I'm old and don't have any kind of fun that really needs to be shared all that badly, and partly because I enjoy writing about fun topics like exclusionary zoning or installation art. Maybe some part of me occasionally thinks about sharing feelings about family or sadness or dreams, and like a responsible adult I suppress those instincts! So I don't know what for myself a return to blogging would look like, other than of course the excellent blogging we are serving up at TheAtlantic.com. I think there isn't any other return to blogging because the borderlessness that made it great personally and the boundaries that made it right socially are gone.
What I don't get anymore is where the blogging instinct went, or what people are channeling that feeling into now. I don't buy that Vine represents exactly the same energy although I will buy that it's immensely creative (based on the Vine that I have seen). Mittens will know better than me what young writers are doing with their time, but it isn't starting blogs just hoping to get noticed.
We did so much sharing through text. Is that over? Millennials don't want to do that anymore? I guess we have little choice to conclude that ours is the greatest generation and it was blogging that made us strong.
Been a while since I did a roundup of things that are bringing me joy, but it's summertime and the living is easy or whatever so here's some good stuff:
-Traveling like a madwoman. OK, I can't say I explicitly recommend a 7-week period in which you go to the beach, go camping, to to Minnesota for work, go to Boston to visit a friend and her adorable new baby, go to San Fran for a wedding, and then go to the UK for a wedding, but getting to spend time with rad people makes up for it. And I bought a fascinator for the upcoming UK wedding, so win.
-I'm apparently really into the "short essays as memoirs by woman" genre of books lately, and I have two I can recommend wholeheartedly: Jessi Klein's "You'll Grow Out of It" and Nora Mcinerny's "It's Okay to Laugh." If you like this blog, you'll really like those books, because those women are actually talented writers with a voice I aspire to.
-The Sofia Coppola rose. It's on sale at Costco, which I went to for the first time in my life yesterday. How does anybody get out of there without buying literally everything? SURE I NEED 27 POUNDS OF FROZEN SALMON WHAT A DEAL.
-Fresh Rose Face Mask. It's pricey but you can get an affordable sample of it on Amazon to try out first.
-Chrissy Teigen's cookbook. It's actually good. It was the choice of our last cookbook club, and the standout was really this insane dip. Make it.
-Y'all know I drank the koolaid for Reply All a long time ago, but this particular episode explaining a couple of truly weird internet memes/scandals (Harambe, and some weird beauty blogger that may have been kidnapped by ISIS?) is so funny.
-Barrel Oak Winery out in Virginia. We stopped here after a camping trip in early July. Stunning views, woodfire grilled pizza, decent wine, lots of puppies and kiddies playing around, and just about an hour from DC? I hope to go back soon.