Mar. 18th, 2016

lotta blah

Mar. 18th, 2016 03:07 pm
rinue: (Default)
I've been doing a lot of writing for Atlas Obscura the last couple of months, and that's probably going to continue happening since every time I turn something in, they're like "hey, what are you writing next? Can it be even longer? Can we give you a raise?" and I even get nice "this one was so fun" notes from the accounting department. (Also it's a good thing I decided to write this blog entry because I forgot to invoice my last article until just now.) Plus fan letters from strangers and friends of friends?

I'm not exactly surprised that this is a good fit for me, because I have been reading the site since before it was Atlas Obscura, when it was an Athnasius Kircher fan blog. I've been with them since before they started. Plus, connecting disparate bits of historical trivia to tell a coherent story is what I do. I could say "what I do for fun," but I do it whether it's fun or not. (It's fun, though.) That I am currently being given a platform and money for it is something I almost don't want to talk about because I don't want to jinx it and have it go away. Especially since I have an editor whose "what do you mean here" doesn't indicate that something needs to be cut, but that I have more rope to follow an intereseting tangent, or just to vamp.

The whole thing simultaneously feels like "well, yeah, of course you'd be doing this" and also like "except how is it this information is not already widely available in the way I'm presenting it." I realize "obscure" is right in the name of the site, but for the most part I'm writing about stuff that's already online, it's just that nobody has put it together or contextualized it or put it in front of this audience. Frankly I'm not the most obvious person to be a bridge between nerdy and pop. But I'm functioning somewhere between Bill Nye and James Burke.

I don't want to exaggerate the significance of this, because I'm not making a living off it, but I'm in an odd place right now, generally. I've never been a very ambitious person. I'm brave, which is sometimes mistaken for ambitious. I'm also a bit optimistic. But, for instance, I can't count how many of my friends in elementary school declared they wanted to be the first female president. My response was inevitably that (aside from hoping we'd already have had one by the time I turned 35, which alas) I'd much rather be vice president and not have to do anything except break tie votes in the Senate, which never happens. (It's happened 244 times in around 230 years. Fully 29 of those were John Adams. Biden has done it no times.) Or supreme court lifetime appointment. Neither of which I think is likely to happen to me or is something I'm interested in pursuing. I just want to sit under my cork tree, you know? (Sidebar, Ferdinand was burned by the Nazis? And rebutted by Hemmingway?)

But what I mean is, I'm puttering around writing bits of things and working on developing some film stuff, and generally what I'm doing is being well-receieved by publications I respect a lot. (For instance, The Toast ran not only that Yoko pice but some of my oddball humor stuff, and they're exactly who I'd want to publish that with; they're the people who make me laugh.) I'm also right on the verge of paying off my student loan, although we still need to knock out Ciro's and then start building some savings for retirement, or a downpayment, or who knows.

That's the sticking point: who knows. I'm doing pretty well by my non-ambitious standards, which means I need to figure out what the next level is. Because otherwise I just sit here watching a lot of just-ok youtube videos. And, ugh. Although I quite like the strategy of aiming for the moon so that even if you miss, you land among the stars, I can't even begin to pick a moon, partly because I'm pretty close to my limit now. Not necessarily in terms of skill, but in terms of free time. I have some, some which I could put toward a dream project, the one that makes me feel alive and gives me a sense that I'm moving forward. But do I honestly feel that any of my ideas can take that kind of pressure? No, not really. That's not how I do. More to the point, if I try to imagine what I'd do if money and time were no object, it's a big ol' blank, at least where homelife is concerned. (Professionally, I'd like to be running United Artists back in the 1930s, although yes this would also be a nightmare.)

It's so diffuse a complaint I don't even know how to make it. Or how to resolve it. It's embarassing. Potentially, I'm about to stop being up against the wall all the time. But, you know, the nice thing about being up against a wall is that although there's not much to look at, you have a wall to lean on.

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