So why do this?
While most of the thoughts that come hurtling, unbidden, across my mind each day are either too crazy, boring, misinformed, weird, morbid, scary, perverted or dark to merit being recorded, I’ve concluded there are at least a few observations are probably actually somewhat interesting and are worth mentioning to other people. Since I’m a writer, it makes sense to write these things down, lest they be lost forever. Otherwise, it seems like a lot of wasted brain function. It’s sort of like recycling plastic bottles, except we’re talking about my own thoughts.
Parenting, especially, is full of little daily adventures, and I already feel I’ve let too many of these gems slip away into oblivion. I already consider that a kind of writer’s malpractice, but this hopefully will help put a stop to that.
And, in my job, I get to go to a lot of cool places. Ditto about the writer’s malpractice and avoiding the oblivion.
This won’t be just a dad blog or travel blog, but there will be big chunks of those.
This one’s not a negligible part of it: Writing helps me keep my sanity, and I feel overall healthier when I do it. Except when it makes me feel nuts, which probably isn’t often enough to really worry about.
I sometimes find the urge to write these things on social media. But it’s not the place for them. They just require too many words and most people who will see it in a feed probably won’t really care and it could very well annoy people.
Why call it ‘My Pretentious Balloon’?
That comes from something that the writer David Foster Wallace said in an interview with Terry Gross on NPR, talking about the hypersensitivity in today’s culture over how people perceive you: ‘This entire, how to talk straight about anything that really means anything that might sound cliche, that might sound uncool, might sound unhip, I mean, there’s an absolute terror that goes along with it…. If the greatest sin in the past was, you know, obscenity or shock, the greatest sin now is appearing naive or old-fashioned so that somebody can give you sort of a very cool arch smile and devastate you with one extraordinarily crafted line that puts kind of a hole in your pretentious balloon.’
So I guess the title is a way to confronting the anxiety of writing about things of a personal nature and putting it out into the world to be subjected to the views and criticisms of whoever reads it. I’m a journalist, yes, but writing about other people and what they do and say is a lot different than basically letting people inside your own head so they can have a look around. There’s a fear of appearing out-of-touch or dumb, and having someone come along and put ‘a hole in your pretentious balloon.’ So basically, the title is me saying, ‘OK, this makes me uneasy, but I’m doing it anyway. Here’s my pretentious balloon for you to pop.’
Writing is risk. But risk worth taking.
Plus, while I’d thought of doing this blog for a while, reading some of Wallace’s essays was the final push. It telegraphed: If done seriously enough, you can write something with a hyper-personal viewpoint that people can actually read and not feel is a waste of their time, that might comfort them, make them laugh or, rarely, inspire them. Plus, if Wallace, who it seems was almost always a hopeless, hard-to-watch nervous wreck in his public appearances, could stand putting himself out there, so can I. (Of course, he ended up hanging himself. Following his example only goes so far.)
OK, that’s that. Cool, you read the whole first entry — thanks.