Thursday, March 03, 2005

Bloggers of Extinction: A Tribute (Part II)

Phoebe — Phoebe Moons
Site and archives are still up, but in stasis as of late December, 2004.

Okay Aimee. Hope you have your kleenex handy — I know I’m gonna need mine.

In my bloglinks (“Faves”) section, she is still listed. If you mouse-over her name, a pop-up message reads, “A brilliant star (in retrograde).” Phoebe named her blog Phoebe Moons after the celestial satellite of the same name, one of at last count, nineteen that orbit the planet Saturn. But this particular moon is different from the rest. It’s orbit is retrograde, in other words, its orbit is in the opposite direction of all the other moons. One of Phoebe’s real-world friends once called that fact to her attention, adding, "That sounds like someone I know!"

Leave it to “friends” to come up with nicknames that stick.

Well regardless of how accurate the Phoebe-to-Phoebe comparison really may or may not be, one aspect of it truly is.

This woman’s writing was out-of-this-world.

I’ve really thought about this and hope I don’t embarrass her too much in saying, but given the old “stranded on a desert island” scenario, if I had to choose only one blog to read, it would be Phoebe’s (providing of course that she was still actively writing…I mean, c’mon…).

There was no one in Blogland with whom I felt more of a kindred spirit as a writer. Phoebe’s ethereal phrasing and intelligent observations always took me to another place whenever I read her words. Her stories were sincere, poignant and consistently satisfying. I always came away from her blog in a better mood than when I got there. I really, really loved her work. Unfortunately for me, there just wasn’t enough of it. Phoebe is a private person, and as in the case of many bloggers, didn’t share her blog with her family. Therefore her time to contribute to it was limited by family and work commitments. I however was satisfied to wait for her posts and enjoy them as she made them available. Happily, she seemed to have a bit more time for reading, and for much of the time she made Blogsville home, she was a faithfully consistent visitor to this space.

Now let’s not kid ourselves, we all love those who love us — that’s human nature. But to receive the incredibly generous comments that Phoebe always seemed to leave, well it was really something special, not only because I knew they were sincere, but more so because they were coming from someone whose work I so well respected.

Last October came the wonderful news that Phoebe was with child following a frustrating series of attempts by she and her husband to start a family. The blessed event seemed to begin the process of what would two months later become her retreat from Blogland. Nobody could say they didn’t understand, as she now clearly had something more important to concentrate on. The good news is, she has recently begun once again to read and comment in and around our community. It is my sincere hope that soon she’ll be able to pick up where she left off with her blog, or at least post every so often.

Phoebe, my dear friend, in your final post, Saying Good-night dated Monday, December 27, 2004, I imagined you flying away into the moonlit winter’s night, like Santa on his sleigh, having bestowed upon all the good children of Blogland your wonderful gifts. As a final classy gesture, you left a long list of kind, well-chosen words for your regular readers.

Your words to me make me tear up with pride every time I think of them. You said, “Good-night A.J., big brother of the ethersphere.”

Godspeed, Sis. Hurry back soon.

Jack — Texas Music
Site’s shell is still up, but all posts and archives pulled as of last week.

This is one of those situations that I have found myself in constantly since I began blogging — hell, let’s be honest — since I’ve been alive. I’m always late. Late for appointments, late coming home for dinner, and in the case of keeping current with my friends here in Blogsville, late for the party.

I’ve avoided mentioning this previously, although I’ve considered it often. It certainly doesn’t paint me in a good light, but I feel I need to be honest because it is something that has been absolutely eating me up since last week. And if it seems like I’m unnecessarily tough on myself here, yeah, yeah I’ll get over it, but I genuinely feel bad, so let me okay?

Maybe it’s not something I should really be all that bummed about. Maybe it is. Maybe it’s a cautionary tale about getting too caught up in oneself, being too caught up in what you’re doing, to the exclusion of learning and participating in the lives of others whom you genuinely consider to be your friends. Or perhaps it’s just another example of why you shouldn’t count your chickens — or your plans — before they’re hatched.

Specifically, I’m referring to my neighbors: other people’s blogs, and taking for granted the idea that they’ll always be there for you to enjoy and interact with. I have a very short list — much shorter than it should be — of those blogs that I check, and/or read on a daily basis. I can easily go a week-to-ten days between visits to some folks on my blogroll. This includes those, I’m embarrassed to say, with whom I am very close personally and whom, I also might add, check and read my own blog religiously.

The obvious question is why. Too busy? That’s the easy excuse. I can always say that I’m too busy, or tired, but the truth is, most of the time, I’m really just too selfish. That’s me, boys and girls. I’m selfish of my time, a lot of which I spend in my off-hours “decompressing” in front of the tube (that’s the TV, not the computer), when I could be reading, commenting and otherwise supporting my friends. This circumstance is especially true when I’m deep into writing, or simply stressing over a story that I need to write. These are both things that I’ve been doing a lot of over the course of the last three months. I have a tendency to become extremely focused, or myopic, depending on how you want to look at it, during those times.

It’s not that I don’t care about reading other people’s blogs, because I do, eventually. It just seems that I allow myself to be distracted with other things that take up my time. And I justify it all by telling myself that I can read later. After all, those posts aren’t going anywhere, right? Well, in the words of the late, great Carnac the Magnificent, “WRONG, PROCASTINATION-BREATH...”

And that brings me specifically to Jack.

I’m here to tellya, folks — I blew it. I literally frittered away nearly every opportunity I had to expand my consciousness via the words of one whom everyone agrees was truly a great writer. In the nine months that Jack and I shared this neighborhood, I saw him everywhere, either in the comments of other bloggers or linked in their blogrolls. That’s how I know him. That’s the only real sense I have of him. I never experienced the emotion with which I’m certain I could have identified, when he wrote about the passing of his father. I never experienced the edge-of-your-seat adrenaline rush from his stories about those drug busts that literally placed you right beside him as the action was unfolding. I never experienced the laughter provided by Jack’s ample wit, as he related to us the humor he found in ordinary observations of his extraordinary day-to-day lifestyle.

These are all things that I can only read others describing now. It’s like a guy who walks into a room full of folks doubled over in laughter from a hilariously funny joke. He doesn’t know what the joke was, but he knows it must have been funny. Well now I feel that the joke’s on me. I’m the one who missed the punchline.

Jack’s was always one of those blogs with which I was going to “catch up later.” If so many people liked him, he must be good, right? But there was no urgency, no pressure, I figured. I always had the best of intentions.

But then you know what they say about the road to hell and good intentions, right?

Besides, Jack’s blog and mine were literally on opposite sides of town. Over half of his blogroll were folks I didn’t know at all. We really didn’t have all that much in common, did we? God, I never cease to amaze myself with the bullshit excuses I can come up with sometimes.

And quite frankly, I was convinced that he didn’t read mine either — or so I assumed because the first comment he ever left wasn’t until last November, in the post I made just prior to the trip to Indianapolis with my brother Alex.

Before that I honestly don’t know how much if ever Jack read my blog. But I do know that from that point forward he commented a few more times, and it was then that I felt it common courtesy to finally take the time to reciprocate.

Yet I hesitated and remained buried in the emotional cocoon that was my “Ticking” story. And just as I was finally finishing it up, Jack was gone, leaving not even a trace of what I had been missing all these months.

So Jack, I know you probably want to come kick my ass for making such a big deal out of all this, but please believe me when I say I’m sorry you’re gone, and I’m sorry that I hardly knew ye. I know that goes double for the many who did.

Next: Contemporaries (continued)
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