Tuesday, May 6, 2008

How not to build a blog audience. Or: Updates all up in this piece

Here is how not to build a blog audience:

Step one: Start a blog. Name it something catchy and/or amusing, like, “Cavernous Tales of a Spelunking Enthusiast,” or, “Paige’s Page,” or, “Free Pornography Available Here.” Design nifty-looking graphics.
Step two: Post frequently. Fill your posts with amusing anecdotes or perhaps simply entertaining language moist furniture clown pants.
Step three: Wait until you have quite a few devoted blog visitors. Repeatedly promise them future “content.”
Step four: Stop posting for no reason. Ha! That will show them.

Anyway, that was all by way of saying that I am very sorry to have kept you waiting, friends. I have no excuse. Life has been relatively boring and amusing-anecdote-free, and I have completely lost the desire to write about it. In the winter, I spent most of my evenings sitting at my computer, writing something or other. More recently, I have taken to less-productive activities, such as watching “The Wire” and listening to music on my iPod while pretending to find the deep hidden relevance of each song to my life (this activity has led me to the conclusion that grassroots international development is most achievable when one remembers to “get low”). But I am going to try to return to my old ways, friends. For one thing, the future members of G8 who read this and other PCV blogs are beginning the fun, last-month-before-I-leave-America stage where they start hyperventilating every time they pass a Taco Bell, wondering if they’re making the right decision (You’re not! Get out while you still can! I haven’t had a decent burrito in nearly a year! Run! Ha ha ha! Just kidding! Maybe!). And despite the layers and layers of cynicism inherent in me that would require an intense session with one of Bill O’Reilly’s loofahs to scrub out (Friends, remember that I am a humor professional. Do not attempt to utilize such fresh topical humor in your own lives. You might tweak a hammy and pull up lamer than Barbaro. Zing!), I do feel that it’s only fair to be available and informative for those folks, because I want them to bring me gifts.

For another thing, I have recently discovered my grasp of English vocabulary, syntax, and grammar to be slipping at an alarming rate. This is more than a little concerning, considering the fact that I was a total grammar and spelling snob, in America, and the fact that I would still like to at least pretend that I can write at a professional level (Those of you without any exposure to my non-blogging self will have to take my word for it that I could write a mean sentence or two in my day, and that I don’t try very hard on this blog. It is, after all, the internet, which everyone knows is just a passing fad.). So I really should be practicing my composition a little more frequently, not to mention my cursive and my phonics. And blogging is an easy way to do that, which is one of the reasons I started doing it in the first place. I will have to remember that listening to The Shins on repeat does not a professional writer make, and that watching four episodes of "The Wire" in a single night will do nothing to help me move out of the proverbial (wait, literal) mother's basement where I shall surely be living come September 2009.

So, updates. Again, not much ever happens, in my little town on a mountain, so there is not much of interest. Mostly, I just wake up every morning and do the same thing I did the day before, which consists of going to work and interspersing periods of productivity with periods of banging my head against the metaphorical (sometimes literal) wall. I still owe you what I hope will be an interesting piece discussing what it can be like to live with a host family; I'll try to get that written in the next few days. I also may write a post about work; while it is true that not much is actually happening, many things are sort of happening, or about to happen, or hopefully starting soon, or somesuch, and it might make for interesting blog fodder. Basically, I have been engaged, over the last few weeks, in an intense effort to come up with a long-term plan that will allow me to stay at my current organization and my current site. The difficulty and inactivity at work have continued without seeming to improve at a rate that I'd find acceptable over the course of two years' worth of work, and so I have started doing some things that will hopefully determine whether my organization has the desire and ability for the sort of improvement that makes my time here worthwhile enough. I'd explain but it would be boring and take a lot of space, so I'll just make it a standalone post that those of you who prefer toilet anecdotes to musings on grassroots international development (and, thinking about it, I count myself among you) can skip.

But there are some minor (very very minor) tidbits from the last couple of weeks that I can share with you before the meatier stuff to come. I will do this in easy-to-write bullet format:

  • We have a new dog at my house. I will discuss this more in my host-family post, but a week or so ago a one-month old dog showed up in our yard. My host brother said he'd brought it from Tbilisi, but he hadn't been in Tbilisi, and thus, since I was too lazy to ask any more questions about it, the puppy's genesis remains a mystery. That said, it was pretty clearly a conciliatory gesture on his part for the huge fight we'd had a few weeks prior, and I'm glad it's around. It appears to be English Pointer-ish and is about two months old at this point. My family named it either Duda, which has no meaning that I know of, or Duta, which is the name of a Georgian television personality who prances around with puppets on a kids' show called "Duta's Fairy Tales," hosts the Georgian equivalent of "American Idol," and pretends to be John Belushi in "The Blues Brothers" in a popular cell phone commercial. It's hard to tell, and I haven't asked for clarification, because I may be the laziest person on the planet. Duda/Duta has turned into a very energetic puppy. I take complete credit for this, because it seemed pretty melancholy the first few days it was at our house, so I lavished attention upon it, with the hopes that I could train it to obey simple commands that would seem run of the mill in America but that I have never seen any dog in Georgia perform. My hope is that many future interactions will go like this:
Me: Excuse me, sir, have you met my family's English Pointer?
Other Person: Why, no, I haven't! By the way, you speak excellent Georgian!
Me: Who, me? Pshaw. Anyway, watch this! (to the dog) Sit!
Dog sits.
Other Person: (faints)
  • The other recent Exciting Addition to the Jincharadze household is...wait for it...a hammock! Now, for reasons that are completely unexplainable, the only place in Georgia, apparently, where it is possible to buy a good hammock is the town of Khashuri, about three hours east of Chokhatauri. I had already been making plans for the volunteer stationed in Khashuri to purchase me a hammock when my host mother stopped in Khashuri to buy one on her way back from Tbilisi, so I was delighted to see it. Hammocking wasn't really my thing in America, but there's a lot more sitting around to do here, no air conditioning, and someone's always on the couch in the kitchen. I was quite excited to start listening to deeply meaningful Shins songs on repeat in increased comfort, until it started raining a few days ago and hasn't stopped long enough to put up a hammock. Ha ha, Jesus. Ha ha. You can make it stop now.
  • I spent this past Saturday at a sort of "English Activity Day" put on by Julien and Martha, friends of mine in a near-ish town called Terjola. I was supposed to help them supervise some random English-language activities for students in three different language ability groups. I ended up having to do very little, in exchange for which I got a delicious pasta dinner back at their house, but the best part of the day was when I was working with a group of "intermediate" students to create a story from a magazine photo. The students selected a weird photo of a cat on a sofa, and then, by taking turns creating sentences for the story, came up with this jewel that requires and will receive no further comment from me:
"There is a cat in the sofa. It is thinking. Cat thinking about his family. It is very strange. He is alone. It is afraid. It is very lovely. He will go and kill a man. After this somebody will catch him and will take in zoo in cage. And he will kill himself. His grave will be in Terjola. Other cats will visit him, and dogs too. They are crying. One day there will come her lovely cat. This cat miss dead cat and he will kill himself too. About this story will write the Shakespeare."
  • Last week, a friend came up to Chokhatauri during the day to drop something off for me (ok, ok, it was DVDs of "The Wire"). Incidentally, she was the first not-me American to visit Cho in many months. We went to one of the two sort-of restaurant-things in town (the other one was closed). Nobody was inside, but the boys who always stand around on the steps outside this restaurant assured us it was open. So we hunted a woman who worked there down, ordered food, and ate it. It tasted pretty good, and was cheap. When I went back to my office, everyone asked where I'd gone. "To that cafe next door," I said. This prompted raucous laughter. "Nobody ever goes to cafes here," one coworker said, which I already knew, since I've never seen anyone AT this cafe. "People go eat in Ozurgeti if they have money." I protested that my mtzvadi (pork kabob) and two beers cost me six lari, which is not a lot of money. "You must have been eating dog mtzvadi," she replied. She did not elaborate whether this meant mtzvadi FOR dogs, or mtzvadi OF dogs. Neither seems a likely scenario. Much more likely are these two conclusions: one, my coworkers are kind of crazy, and two, putting money into a restaurant in Chokhatauri will likely be a bad investment for some time to come.
  • Yesterday, I spent like 40 minutes figuring out how to install certain drivers on my computer that would allow me to type in Unicode Georgian (basically, to type in Georgian outside of using certain fonts in MS Word). So, now I can do this: გააჩერეთ, რა. This simultaneously delighted me and made me profoundly embarrassed to be making even 100 American dollars a month. Sometimes I really should find some work to do.

And, on that note, I will now find some work to do. From tomorrow until the weekend I will be in Tbilisi, doing work while trying to dodge the incoming Russian missiles being fired from the MiGs that by now blanket the sky like smog. Ha ha! That's just a fun joke for those of you who have heard tell about the recent ratcheting of developments between Georgia and Russia concerning the it's-ours-nu-uh-it's-sovereign-but-basically-ours territory of Abkhazia. I got in a minor amount of trouble the last time I wrote about politics on this blog, so I will leave a summary of these events to my friend Jen, who wrote an extremely amusing one on her own blog. I will try to blog some more while I am there. Do not abandon your fair blogger, friends. I am back for good.


Also, you know what? It was a joke, but I am now seriously considering changing the name of this blog to "Cavernous Tales of a Spelunking Enthusiast."


Anonymous said...

good to hear from you again. We missed you.

Rotiv said...

Hello from Portugal :)
Freedom for Georgia!