Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dogged Out, Except Not

I don't like getting up early, and not only because of how much better I am at staying up late than I am at getting up early, which is a lot. But on Monday, I got up very early by my standards, and not-really-all-that-early by general Monday standards, so that I could get to Madison Square Garden in time to get myself settled and onto the Garden floor in time for the 8:30am Basset Hound Best In Breed round at the Westminster Kennel Club's 136th Annual All Breed Dog Show. I did not quite make it in time for that -- although I did see some Basset Hounds as they hobbled Basset Houdily from Ring One after their circuit, so I was both close and close enough to see those baleful wonders up close for at least a moment -- but I was in the Garden for eight-plus hours on Monday, in the service of The Classical. My previous post w/r/t workload is my previous post w/r/t workload, but this was an assignment I didn't mind at all. There are only so many opportunities in one's life to spend all day kicking it with Bouviers des Flandres. This was one, and I don't regret it at all.

We'd originally obtained a press pass for the estimable Julie Klausner, but she got another assignment, which led to Bethlehem Shoals overnighting me her credential and me (um) clearing my schedule and setting an earlier-than-usual alarm for Monday. My mandate was her mandate: go there, deal with the allergies and insanity, take some pictures, and generally just do my best to absorb as much goofery as possible. I did my best, throwing up a couple of photo-heavy blog posts during the day -- this here and this slightly longer one here -- and then eating a hilariously expensive sandwich at Manganaro's (it was delicious, but prosciutto + mozzarella + roasted peppers ≠ $14, at least in a functioning sandwich market) and coming home and... not writing much else. Which is fair enough, I guess. My eyes itched. I needed to do laundry. There are only so many things to write about Affenpinschers in such a short period of time.

But eventually I got back into it, and wrote a column today on the WKC that I'm pretty pleased with. It's here, and I hope you'll read it. There are more photos, if that makes it any more enticing, but there's also a posi-core love vibe that has been missing from everything I have written for... well, for a really long time, at least until I happily made my peace with Jeremy Lin at Vice last week and got crushtarded on Bill Raftery at The Classical the week before that. I may be a happy dude yet. Or it might just be that spending this much time around affectionate fuzz-beasts is good for a body. We'll see, I suppose. For now, though, I'm a little sinus-y and a lot happier for the experience of spending all those hours around all those endearingly doggish (if spectacularly fluffed-out) dogs and endearingly dog-positive individuals. Given the choice between a headache and the broader, deeper aches that afflicted me in weeks before that, I'll absolutely take it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Out of Not That Terribly Great Silence

Oh boy. There are times in life when one -- in this case, "one" being me -- does not have the time to do basic things. Not basic like shower or shave; once a week for each, and I've managed to maintain that even during periods of high stress. But stuff like updating this blog after I write something was, for a little while, something I didn't feel like I had time to do. I was, and to a certain extent still am, pretty much typing all the time every day, which made the prospect of doing more of it, here or anywhere, pretty unappetizing. And then there was the next stage, or time in one's life or whatever, when it had been so very long since the last time I updated anything here that the idea of doing it grew daunting and huge and cf. above in re: pretty unappetizing.

And so here we are, on a Sunday. I'm in New Haven with my wife, doing laundry, and the website that I have not really mentioned at all on this my personal blog is now over two months old; if you count our November preview period, it's been something more like three months. That website is The Classical, this website right here. While the maintenance and development of and crafting of content for and frantic sporadic attempts to improve that website is certainly the greater part of the reason why I haven't been doing much at this one, it's also more than that. The successful Kickstarter campaign that funded the site was and remains one of the most thrilling and humbling moments of my professional life -- we asked the internet to help us do this thing with small donations, and we got those donations from people who wanted us to do it, and we did the thing.

At the same time, The Classical has been humbling in another way: the site doesn't work as well as we want it to just yet, and the pace of improvement -- and, to go back to why I haven't put so much as a link up here in months, the capacities of the editorial team to do the writing and editing we need to do on what amounts to our bathroom breaks and pre-sleep hours -- is frustrating. Not difficult to anticipate, but also and all the same unanticipated. It's difficult, and while I'm delighted and honored to do it, it is also difficult. Fitting all of that into a life that, due to my current prevailing rate of pay, already demands a huge amount of writing in order to pay the usual bills and such, is also difficult. It is worth it, thousandfold. I am happy to be doing it, and proud to be doing it. But it has occasioned a certain drawing back in other aspects of my life. So yeah, less time to put up dog videos here, or sleep, or leave my apartment, or other things of that nature. How very sad for me and us all, I know.

Besides the Classical stuff, I've been doing the usual NFL season stuff -- yakkin'-related football activities with the brilliant and delirious Jeff Johnson at GQ, the weekly "Mercy Rule" column at Vice, the usual Wall Street Journal-based extrusions, and a few other things I'm happy with. Foremost among these is this massive, goofy feature/listicle on the idea of High Bro Culture, from the Man of the Year issue of GQ. It's a masterpiece. Diddy knows what I'm talking about.

Thanks, Diddy!

Anyway, all of this is to say that I shouldn't be complaining, and am more or less not complaining except insofar as it's tough for me to explain this without being like "My arms and eyes hurt a lot." But also I shouldn't be complaining because I've done some writing I'm really proud of at The Classical. The first piece I wrote for The Classical, back in the November preview period and in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky implosion at Penn State, is as vicious as I could've hoped it to be, and I'm still proud of it. My essays on the weirdness of big-ticket high school sports and the sublime positivity of Bill Raftery and the ulcerous ulcerosity of the Belichick Patriots are all things I'm proud of, and I don't even know what this one is about, besides an elaborate expression of Yuletide exhaustion, but I like it pretty well, too.

And I'm even prouder about the stuff that I've had the privilege of editing, by writers I personally know and love and writers I know less well, and which I've gotten to help make better and in some cases help make great... it's worth it. It's worth it because we are putting very good writing on the site every day, and because whatever success I've had over the past year came because people gave me an opportunity and an online space on which to stretch out and grow and get better as a writer; if it weren't for Gerard at Can't Stop the Bleeding and Alex and Choire at The Awl and Stephen at gbNYC, I would be notably sadder and worse at writing. The opportunity to do the same service to other writers makes me glad and proud all over, always. So, yes, The Classical will continue to be worth it. But, yes, too, it takes up a lot of time that I used to use in different ways. Like maintaining my professional site, or putting up that picture of Diddy, which I've been wanting to get up here forever.

I'm going to update the right-hand column with some recent pieces of note, and I'm going to try to get in here more often, because I like it. Talk to you again in three or four months!