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Hello friends, family, and possibly strangers.  Congratulations on finding my blog.  I’m assuming you found it because I personally emailed you the link, or perhaps you found it by looking on my facebook profile and/or wall.  In any event, you found it somehow, and I welcome you here.

This blog is the result of my 2012 New Year’s resolution.  I’m writing it because at the tender of age of 30, I realize that I’m going through some kind of third-life crisis.  For one thing, I’m one year into my career as a lawyer and although I find it fulfilling, it’s a bit consuming and I need a creative outlet to avoid going insane.  For another thing, I feel like I’m not taking advantage of the digital age to the fullest extent that I could be and I don’t want to be an out-of-touch old man (although from what I understand, blogs are quickly becoming passé, but I’ll be buried deep in the cold, cold ground before I start “tweeting”).  But most of all, I realize that more and more I’ve become the kind of person whom I’ve always wanted to avoid becoming: the kind of person who wastes time.

I waste a lot of time in front of the computer.  I work in front of a computer all day and into the night, and when I get home, the first thing I do is turn on the computer and sit down in front of it.  And what to I do in front of my computer?  Look at facebook for hours on end.  Stare at my gmail account, waiting for certain women to send me long-awaited emails or IMs.  Watch the next episode of Breaking Bad even though I don’t like the show.  Get lost looking at linked videos on YouTube or linked articles on Wikipedia.  Read pointless news stories from suspect sources.

I justify all of this wasted time by saying that I work hard, and I need to do this nightly/weekend/whenever ritual in order to “unwind”.  But the truth is, doing these things doesn’t help relieve stress—they only make me more stressed out, because I think of how the time could be spent doing something, anything, else.  Hence, I resolve that in 2012, I’m going to start either (a) not sitting in front of my computer as much after work or (b), if I must sit in front of it, working on a blog.

So why a blog?  There are two reasons.  One is that many of my friends have told me that I’m a good writer, and have asked me to write more and to share my writing.  Like most other people, I love thinking that I have the power to make others happy, so I hope that this blog brings some people out there some kind of pleasure, even if they are my close friends who are reading this out of a sense of obligation.   The other reason is that I constantly have all kinds of brilliant ideas (assuming that brilliance is in the eye of the beholder) that I think I should be sharing with the world, and this blog will force me to do so.  Even if nobody reads it, at least I’ll be putting my ideas out there.

This blog will likely be mostly autobiographical, with my opinions on life, love, cities, travel, politics, culture, food, and anything else I can think of backed up only with anecdotal evidence.  I may occasionally include actual facts taken from reputable sources, or links, videos, and pictures, but I fear that having the goal of including anything other than what is in my brain will seem too labor-intensive and will discourage me from writing.  In other words, I would really not recommend quoting my blog in your term paper.

This is not my first attempt at blogging, or autobiographical writing, or writing in general.  I’ve always loved creative writing, since I was a wee lad.  Somewhere in a box under the eaves in my parent’s house (where there’s that fluffy fiberglass insulation that looks like cotton candy but that you mustn’t eat) there’s a 5 ¼-inch floppy disk with the initial 3 or so pages of my first attempt at a novel, which I started in fourth grade.  There are 3.5-inch floppies with short stories I wrote in middle school and high school.  Although many people (read: my parents) often praised my creative writing skills, the first time I wrote something that earned a fair amount of respect and praise from my peers was when I was 18 and I spent the year on Young Judaea Year Course in Israel.  There, I wrote a 100-or-so page autobiographical manifesto detailing my time in the magical land of milk and honey, my volunteer work on a kibbutz, and of course, the agonizing suffering I was feeling from my first real case of unrequited love.  I showed it to a couple of friends on the program with me and soon I had people lined up, asking for their turns to read it (or maybe I was shoving it off on as many people as I could find, forcing them to read it.  This was a long time ago and the details are kind of hazy).  I even had a couple of friends who wanted me to read it aloud to them, because I used funny voices for some of the “characters” (i.e. other kids on the program).

Hearing my friends praise my writing fueled those narcissistic tendencies possessed by so many other writers: the belief that my life was more interesting than the lives of others, or that, at the very least, my worldview was unique and fascinating.  Unfortunately/fortunately, these beliefs have only become much stronger over the years.  In college I minored (almost) in creative writing, and my favorite forms of writing were always biographical.  I was into that inherently Jewish form of satire in which I would write a piece that was incredibly self-deprecating, but managed to paint such a scathing look at the rest of the world around me that I still seemed better than everybody else (note: look for this theme in future entries of this blog).  I wrote a couple of screenplays that were “fictional”, but clearly revolved around characters based on myself and the other people in my life.

In 2004 I went to Japan, where I would end up teaching English for 3 years.  It was there that I started my first real “blog”, a xanga page (do people still use xanga?).  Every week, without fail, I would write a fairly-long piece about my most recent experiences in Japan.  The pieces were often highly critical—of Japanese culture, of the Japanese education system, and more than I’d like to admit, of Japanese women.  Eventually, I realized that I did not want my exploits made public, so I pulled down my xanga page, but I continued sending weekly reports to a distribution list of my closest friends and fans, which included a few strangers whom had enjoyed reading my xanga page (one of whom I am still friends with 7 years later).  I still have about 500 pages of material from that blog that I planned on one day making into a book, but whenever I try going back and reading it, all I can think is, “wow, I was a real asshole.”

Law school came and went, and I became much more cynical but a much better writer as well.  After the bar exam I went on a 4-month trip around the world, during which I wrote a number of pieces chronicling my travels, which I sent to an updated distribution list.  I think those entries contained some of my finest writing ever, and my friends seemed to enjoy reading them to the point that, as I noted above, several have recommended that I try my hand at blogging again.  So here I am.

Unlike my travel blogs, this blog is going to be open to the public.  This means two things: one, it must be G-rated, or PG-rated, or at the very worst, PG-13.  Or really, it just can’t include anything that will damage my political career (or real career, for that matter).  Two, it must be accessible to people who do not know me all that well.  This is going to be the tricky part.  Many of my fans say they like reading my autobiographical pieces because I write similar to how I talk, and my pieces reminds them of me.  If a reader doesn’t know me at all, there might not be that same appeal.  Then again, I didn’t join this internet thing to make friends.  If just one person* reads and enjoys my blog, then it’s worth it, even if that one person is me.

There’s a big chance that my approach to this blog will be similar to many persons’ approaches to going to the gym—gung ho in January, finished by February.  If that’s the case, so it goes.  However, as long as I can keep this up, even if it’s only for a month, I hope that y’all enjoy.

–J

*If I can figure out how to embed videos, I’m including this classic from the Muppets that always makes me choke up.  Also, if I can figure out how to embed videos, you can expect many more Muppet clips in the future.

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