Monday, November 22, 2010

"First" Post

There's something daunting about a blank page. There's something daunting about a first blog entry.

But of course, this isn't a first blog entry. I've written 2,186 entries before this over the course of six and a half years. I've written about my life, about politics, philosophy, religion, politics, education, books, movies, food, board games, homesteading... the list goes on. Of course, the "first entry" feels like it should be something else. An introduction, perhaps? That's what's really daunting--how do I introduce myself?

As the topics I've written about show, I have a wide range of interests. I've long been a "Renaissance man." The flip side of that is that, although I wasn't one, I suffer from the "Valedictorian Syndrome." In other words, I'm pretty good at a lot of different things, but it's always been a case of "jack of all trades, master of none." In high school, I wrote a lot, I was in band, choir, and drama, played tennis, competed in quiz bowl, and had friends in every group within the school. In college, of course, you have to narrow your focus and choose a major, so I... double-majored: English and music. Within music, I sang, I played trombone, I got into conducting, I got into composing--again, I resisted narrowing. I went to graduate school, where I had to focus on one thing--or did I? Although I ended up not doing both theses, I double-majored in composition and choral conducting, and besides the conducting and music theory that went along with those majors, I took a lot of music education master's classes.

I was fortunate enough--if fortune it was--to get a job teaching both English and music at a boarding school in Pennsylvania, and if you know anything about boarding school life, you should know that being a generalist is an asset. Not only was I teaching in two departments, I coached tennis and--despite not playing either in an organized form since elementary school--soccer and basketball. It worked for me because I enjoyed learning new things. I taught there for five years, meeting my future wife while chaperoning a high school dance. She was very mature for her age, I swear (she was also a chaperone for the other school!). When she took a job in Massachusetts, I found a job teaching English in Rhode Island. We stayed in New England for two years, probably shouldn't have left, but did. We had one year at a school back in Pennsylvania and then went to Indiana, to another boarding school. My wife taught; I didn't. I did, however, become a father and a stay-at-home dad.

Now, since August, I've had my own job at the same school, but not as a teacher. Instead, I am a "counselor." No, I don't deal with crazy kids, except in the usual sense that they're all crazy and we all deal with them. No, I don't talk to kids about their feelings, at least not any more than any other adult in their lives. Like I said, the job title isn't clear about what I do. Instead, I'm the nexus of communication between parents, teachers, and students, overseeing residential life, and more or less being a stand-in dad for 50 boys while they're at school. It's probably just about the perfect job for a Renaissance man.

Blogging, likewise, is a good "job" for the generalist, at least for readers with similarly broad interests. I've heard it said that blogs should actually be focused on a single topic, but I doubt that I could maintain such a single-minded blog, so I won't.

If you find any--or many!--of my topics interesting, I'll be glad to have you along for the ride. Agree or disagree with a particular perspective, I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please do comment. In any case, be welcome.


  1. I know all about changing domains in blogging. I've done it several times myself over the years. Have lived in New England (where we grew up and currently live), the mid-Atlantic states, and as far out as Indiana, too. Working stiffs here, lobsterman and transcriptionist, and two fabulous collie dogs, just trying to subsist thru the long New England winters.


  2. Great summary of your life, there. You sound rounded and happy. That's the important stuff anyway.
    Congrats on all.

  3. A single topic for a blog? Now you tell me....

    John, I think that Renaissance Man describes you perfectly, and I wish there were more like you. Too many people narrowly focused on their prescribed specialties have fractured our world.

    Greetings on your first journal entry from one who majored in philosophy, minored in geography, taught elementary school, drove a semi cross country, drove a school bus, and now is a transportation planner. Just followed my nose, as they say.

    Any young people mentored by you will be truly lucky. I salute you!

  4. Oh, yeah, forgot about the Master's in South Asian Studies and two years in the Peace Corps (growing up on a New England farm experience came in handy).

  5. A refresher is never a bad thing. I think I've been reading your blog almost from the outset. Not a bad six and a half years, John!

  6. I didn't know you'd moved house. I'll update by blogroll to reflect that.