Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bandwagons

I’ve never considered myself too good to jump on a bandwagon. I became a Toronto Blue Jays fan the fall of ’85, and I haven’t watched baseball since their last World Series run in ’93. The first U2 album I bought was The Joshua Tree (though I remained on the bandwagon in that case, even through Zooropa and Pop). I did get in on the ground floor of Survivor, but that was purest chance – after reading the premise of this new "reality show", and reacting with suitable feelings of smug superiority to the unwashed masses who would consume such fare, I happened to randomly flick to the right channel one night, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

One disadvantage of being a chronic latecomer to all the big TV crazes is that I tend to know too much about the various plot surprises once I finally get a chance to catch up on all the episodes I’ve missed. I watched the entire first season of Lost on DVD, knowing in advance that the season would end with the opening of the fabled hatch. And I was at an even greater disadvantage when I finally got my boxed sets of Buffy, having been drawn into the show by the illicit Buffy-Spike relationship in season six. As far as I was concerned, Buffy had always had a sister named Dawn, and as I watched the first few seasons, I always wondered when and how her mother would kick the bucket.

Nothing irritates my husband like a spoiler; it’s essential to him to see all the episodes of any show in the correct order, and to avoid media exposure whenever necessary in order to dodge unwelcome information. I’m more ambivalent; the pleasures of suspense are weighed precariously for me against the discomforts of anxiety. As a child, I always read the last page of a book first, just to reassure myself that everything would turn out okay, and to this day I enjoy the Harry Potter books more on the second read-through, when I can slow down enough to delight in the colourful eccentricities of Hogwarts and its denizens. For that reason, I’m often in favour of jumping into a good show mid-season, while hubby stubbornly refuses to watch anything until he can get all the back episodes downloaded to DVD.

Our current catch-up attempts involve Battlestar Galactica (we’re midway through season 1 and hope to be caught up in time for next fall) and Heroes (we watched episode 4 last night, and now we’re all set for the new episode tomorrow). There is always a certain disappointment, though, when we have to scale back our investment in a show from our heady pace of 3-4 episodes per week down to a paltry single episode (barring baseball, State of the Union, and other annoying shuffles to the TV schedule). Watching TV shows on DVD has some of the intensity of reading a good novel: you can immerse yourself in another world, returning there at each leisure moment, accelerating the pace as the suspense heats up. Few shows can sustain that kind of intensity when they occupy a mere one-hour time slot every Wednesday night.

Something of the same principle applies to blog-reading. I’ve written before about how much I love reading archives. Partly that’s because there’s a certain freshness to the earliest entries in a blog; that’s where you can find all the really good stories, told with an innocent meditativeness, an absence of glitz, of clever slang, of audience awareness. Archive reading appeals to me also, though, because it allows me to immerse myself in the unfolding drama of a blogger’s life. I read quickly, gulping down two or three months in a single sitting. I get a flavour of how that blogger writes, attune my mind to her sense of humour, develop a breathless interest in her child’s health and behaviour issues. As I said in my last post, I love you all for different reasons, those of you who keep blogs, and comment here so I can visit them, but it would be fair to say that I never love you more than when I’m first combing through your archives. When that courtship period is over, I continue to enjoy the regular updates, but there is a certain loss of intensity.

Archive reading is a pleasure that cannot, presumably, be extended indefinitely. I’ve tried to be strict with myself lately about not adding to my already extensive list of must-reads. While that is a sensible policy, it overlooks the fact that finding new blogs contributes something essential to the fun and excitement of blogging. If I declare my Bloglines to be full, I’m cutting myself off from the irreplaceable pleasure of discovering someone new.

Izzy, in her recent post on blog ennui, asks why so many bloggers are feeling disenchanted. Is it inevitable that after a year or so, the excitement of the new blog (like the excitement of a new romance) will be on the wane? I suspect that certain losses are unavoidable. It’s exciting to watch your numbers rise, to go from feeling giddy at your first-ever comment to feeling a bit embarrassed if a post gets "only" 11 responses (when, at one time, the sight of that number would have prompted the double digits dance). It’s heady stuff, this ever-expanding world of blog camaraderie. But there’s a limit to it, and a few of us are banging our heads against those limits already.

I wonder, too, if at some point I’ll simply run out of things to say. I mine my past for a lot of my posts, but my pool of good stories is starting to shrink. How much is there to say about motherhood before even my capacity for over-analysis starts to wear out?

I can understand how blog ennui arises, but that’s not to say that I’m feeling it right now – blogging is still fun for me, still addictive and rewarding. I’m late enough to the party – having jumped on the bandwagon, as always, once it was well underway – that I’m still in that puppy-love stage. When we hold hands, I get butterflies, and when I see you in the hallway I pull off my glasses and hide them in my pocket. But I’d like to think that I’m in this for the long haul: that after all the new-relationship jitters are past, there will be subtler reasons to stick with my blog, and with those who read it. I’d like to think that my blog and I will be kicking back in our bathrobes and slippers five years from now, in the comfortable intimacy of a long-established relationship, and we’ll sip some strong coffee and tell jokes, those old chestnuts that just get funnier with each retelling. And I’ll forget to suck in my tummy, and I won’t care that my wrinkles show in the morning sunlight: I’ll dangle my participles and split my infinitives and end my sentences with prepositions if I want to, because blogging won’t be about showing off or proving myself as a writer anymore.

It’ll be a good place to be. I’ll meet you there in five years, okay?

38 comments:

Suz said...

I like being late to the party, too. I watched seasons 1-5 of the Sopranos on bedrest and all that wacking helped out tremendously with the tedium. Having started blogging to express my feelings about our infertility, I'm new to the world of parental blogs and to blogs that have children as their focus. I have to say that I'm enjoying coming late to the party and constructing my own moveable feast.

Momish said...

I'll be there. Let's call it a date! Being new to the bandwagon myself, I can't imagine feeling blah or blasse anytime soon.

P.S. (for me, 11 comments demands a double digits dance!)

Karianna said...

I love the archives, too, although with TV shows I enjoy the suspense and surprise.

But, I saw the entire series of Babylon 5 within the course of a couple weekends (from the VHS tapes my then-boyfriend, now husband made).

Since I hadn't been interested in that show, there were no spoilers for me, so I had the benefit of watching everything all at once, but not knowing what was coming.

cinnamon gurl said...

I hope I'll be there too... and I look forward to the double digits dance.

I have also likened blogging to meeting someone new, but only in my head... I haven't actually blogged about that yet. As you say, one opportunity presented by blogging is in revisiting the stories of our pasts; for me the best part is having a new audience for your favourites, the ones that our loved ones are sick of hearing over and over again.

Of course I also like what's been happening in my present as a result of bloggin, and that is a lot like when I first got into photography; the more pictures I made, the more I saw. And so it goes with blogging; the more posts I write, the more posts I find. It makes me see in new ways. And I really really hope I still have fresh eyes in five years. The amount of ennui going around, really makes one admire the staying power of someone like Dooce.

metro mama said...

I hope I'll be there too--in my slippers.

Pieces said...

You have described the thrill of watching TV on DVD perfectly. I have also just begun Battlestar Gallactica and every night it is such a thrill to look at the Loved and say "Some more Arrested Development tonight?" Total immersion, ready at my every whim. I love it.

I like the comparison to blog immersion as well. I'm feeling the ennui lately. I am wondering if it isn't dangerous for me to invest in online, virtual relationships if it keeps me from sticking myself out there more in the real world. I haven't figured it out yet.

Mouse said...

To pick up on one small point: I'm so glad you're watching BSG! I was trying to explain its brilliance to a friend on Friday, but I don't think I convinced her.

I was actually going to write about the latest episode last night, but Blogger wasn't cooperating then. And I'm not sure I'll get to it tonight, but I know now that at least one of my readers will know the characters.

Aliki2006 said...

I love the elaborate TV "archives" and blogworld metaphor--we are late bandwagoners here, too. We didn't start watching "Lost" until last season (gasp!) and are, consequently, still feeling rather lost about it (we still haven't caught up with past seasons yet).

Beck said...

I always read the last pages of mysteries first, so I can spend my the rest of my reading time shaking my head in smug superiority - "You fools! It's not the vicar! It's the TROPHY WIFE!"
But definitely, yes about blogging - I enjoy it, but I'm ambivalent about it.

penelopeto said...

i find reading archives is like discovering the answers to the greatest mysteries i never knew existed. it is also where i find that some of bloggers i love the most are the ones that i would have been quickest to prejudge and dismiss as too unlike me to find common ground with, had i 'met' them back then. stupid judginess.

and i know the ennui of which you speak. i know that people are way busy, but when my faves don't visit for a while, or blogger won't load the damn page, i feel like i must have been blacklisted.

Crunchy Carpets said...

Well...I am your giddy girlfriend now that I know you watch Battlestar...

We are waaay too much into that show here....dh had to be for his work and we just can't get enough of it.

The blogging is still new to me and my bookmarks are going to explode because everytime I find a new one, I book mark it so I can read the archives at my leasure.

Whenever THAT is.

nomotherearth said...

Are you watching TV at my house? You already know of my love for Buffy and BSG. I've tried to get people to watch Battlestar, but they just roll their eyes and look at me like I'm a freak. If you get a chance, I highly recommend Angel and Firefly, as well.

TV on DVD is the best. I totally get the analogy to that of reading a novel - immersing yourself in that world. And it helps that you can stop and start it, when you're dealing with the reality of kids.

mad_hatter said...

TV on DVD=breastfeeding in my lexicon. When Miss M was on the tit non-stop those first few months, my husband and I liked to say that breastfeeding put the boob back in boob tube. For me, it was 6 Feet Under, Arrested Development, and (vintage!) 21 Jump Street.

I need to proudly confess that I was a Buffy geek from the 4rth episode of season one forwards. Buffy is the only hip relationship I ever had from the get-go. I cherish those many years of eye-widening new episodes and devastating season-enders.

Now, my daughter doesn't go to bed until near 11 and I am at work when she naps. My only leisure time these days is blogging--late night blogging. I too am still in the honeymoon phase of blogging but I do wonder how long I can sustain it--not from a stories point of view but from a time commitment one. If only my kid were a good sleeper...

I also have had many misgivings lately about blogging and what it means for my daughter's sense of privay and autonomy--as you know, oh faithful reader, so I need not unleash that can of worms here in a comment that is already pushing all length boundaries.

I have come to realize these past few weeks that I am a wordy commenter. Apologies all round.

One last thing: 11 comments to me is paradise--even more so if 5 of them aren't me chatting back to the first 6.

Mommy off the Record said...

I hope you're still writing in 5 years too, B&P. As for the comments, I love them but sometimes they also stress me out. It's definitely a love hate relationship with me and the comments.

bubandpie said...

Nomo - Of course you recommend Angel and Firefly! I will maintain that nothing on television has ever equaled seasons 3 and 4 of Angel for drama and character development. (Though I'm not as sold as I once was on Wesley as a name for my second-born son; during the few hours when I thought I might be pregnant I was pretty sure I'd be hitting the name books again.)

Andrea said...

Not only do I watch BSG obsessively, I'll be blogging about it soon. I'll try to remember to post a spoiler alert for you.

I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see a sci-fi show--a GOOD sci-fi show--break out of the ghetto.

I read somewhere that the average life expectancy of a blog is three years. My goal is three years and one day--I want to see what's on hte other side of the hump and if it's worth it.

Mom101 said...

This is a really lovely post, Bub. I'm like your husband - I don't even read critical reviews of movies because I don't want to know ANYTHING. Nothing worse than someone saying "Ooh...there's a twist." It makes me crazy. Then I'm spending the whole movie waiting for "the twist" instead of just being surprised by it. Good thing I saw the Crying Game on opening night.

As for blogs, I'm like you. I love diving into the early archives. It's more like Lost than any sort of spoiler - I just get to learn more and more about the person as I go.h

ali said...

love archives...wish i had the time to get to them!

sunshine scribe said...

I hope you will still be writing with the same enthusiasm 5 years from now and then just think of your archives! I'll look forward to going back and digging through the classics then for a second time :)

Mother Bumper said...

Oh I hope I'm still here in five years with my feet up and blogging. I still get excited when I get a comment and to get ten or more makes me shuffle dance baby!

I'm with you on the TV show catch-up stuff, I can join into a show at anytime and enjoy it but Husband, nooooo. He must not watch anything until all the back story has been watched. I'm still waiting to get past episode three of BGalatica SEASON ONE! GAH!

Julie Pippert said...

For me the disenchantment is writing to be read...and not being read. Lately I have begun to question the need to blog. If I write for myself, then why not just write, and save to my own computer, or better yet, jot it down in an old-fashioned journal? But, as alwasy with myself, I have a higher purpose: a desire to share, participate, discuss, and most of all help. So many words have such a positive impact on me, that I always hope to write something meaningful and positive for another. So I keep publishing publically. For now. I never seem to run out of words, although I might just curse myself with that statement. Still, I have at least a dozen rough drafts of potential posts if I ever do.

As for being a latecomer, that might be more than half the problem.

It never is with TV or books though, I always seem to be on the forefront there.

Which can be heartbreaking, such as with the brief works of Doria Russell and untimely death of Kate Ross, and the cancellation of Wonder Falls and Keen Eddie. And not one person in the world I know with whom to discuss Eureka.

And no joke...my word verification begins with TV. LOL

Mrs. Chicky said...

I've only read one blogger's archive from beginning to present and that took some time. But I'm like your husband in that I prefer to have no knowledge of the outcome before I get into a show, movie or book.

Rock the Cradle said...

Since this is one arena I know will remain constant and accessable for me, no matter where we end up, I'll be sticking around too.

My blog will probably change as I change, which shouldn't be much of a shock to people, since I have a small audience.

Archives are a treat for me. Something I read when I have that extra moment that sometimes magically materializes.

I am a BSG fan too. And a fan of the Sopranos, and gods help me, The Venture Brothers.

And, of course, House, for pure viewing satisfaction.

I just saw someone mention Firefly and was filled with warm fuzzy feelings. Why WHY WHY did it end???

I. LOVE. Netflix.

Christina said...

I certainly hope to be there, too. I'm coming up on my year anniversary, and I still find plenty to write about. I'm only beginning to write about things that happened in my past, and there is a wealth of stories there.

Oh, and I didn't join the Buffy bandwagon until season 4, so I also had to do a lot of catching up!

We've been watching Heroes from day 1, though, and we're happy with it so far.

Oh, The Joys said...

Oh, the place where I'll let my complete and utter inability to spell just hang out all over the place... grand!

Piece of Work said...

I just love coming here! There's always a post that totally speaks to me and makes me smile and nod. Although, I admit, I hate knowing the ending before I start reading or watching. For me, the blog goes through phases--sometimes I have lots to say and it all comes out right and it feels easy. Other times I feel under too much pressure to be funny or smart or emotional and I get stuck. Or else something else is going on in my life that is sort of numbing me (Isaac's surgeries come to mind) and so I find it difficult to write much of anything.
But, I'll still be here in 5 years, I know it.

Robbin said...

I hope you don't run out of things to say. I don't get tired of reading!

I am a perpetual TV latecomer myself. My husband had to force me to watch the first episodes of Eureka that he had Tivo-ed and now I am hooked. Tivo is, I am ashamed to say, a staple of my life. I STILL haven't watched Lost. By the time I get around to renting what I have missed, I will have to do a one-week marathon to catch up.

Kristen said...

Yeah, I don't think your blog is going anywhere, B&P. This reminded me that I used to read archives religiously, and I really had almost forgotten that sense of wonder and excitement as I got to "know" a new blog/ger. I feel like I don't have time for that anymore, and that's a shame.

I actually read some of my own archives recently (before my one year blogging anniversary) and was shocked at how much the Fringe has changed. And that's my own! Imagine if we were reading the archives on all our must reads!

Eric said...

My wife (the former Minnehaha Mama) definitely has you beat on the whole "coming late to the party" thing. Cutting-edge music listener that she is, she managed to discover a hot new band called Fleetwood Mac in 1998. Even her now-longstanding "favorite band" (The Replacements) she discovered only after they had broken up. But I still love her, of course. Together, we are just now discovering (on DVD), the HBO series "Big Love," which I would definitely recommend.

crazymumma said...

I am in Prison Break heaven these nights, first season....

I don't think any of us really run out of things to say, maybe out of time to say them though....

Jennifer said...

Oh, I love archives! My favorite thing to do, when I discover a new blog, is to find the very first post the blogger wrote. I like to get a peek into that first thought -- the thing someone writes when they aren't really sure anyone will read or what direction it will take.

Mouse said...

This is what I love about the internet--casually finding out that I have ended up in the same place as so many other watchers of BSG and Eureka, along with mourners of Firefly, Wonderfalls, and Keen Eddie! (And yes, I watch more TV than I should!)

Her Bad Mother said...

I think that the current epidemic of blog ennui has much to do with the season - the weather is changing, the days are getting shorter, the sky darker, noses runnier... and we ponder our lives, our futures, the cold days ahead, and wonder whether we can ever be funny again. That's just me, anyway.

I'm not tired of my blog, or blogging, or the blog community - I'm just tired, and reflective in that way that sort of defies being written about. But it's just a phase, and I'll get out of it, and through it again, many times, probably, in the next five years and beyond... :)

virtualsprite said...

I'm with HBM... it's hard to keep up with everything. Especially during the school year when my primary job seems to be schlepping. And I'm tired. So very, very tired. Suddenly I understand all the eye creams out there.

But I love archives, too. Just love them. So glad you've come out of the closet to unite us archive lurkers!

Mary-LUE said...

Hi B&P! I barely glanced at posts while I was gone and need to go back and soak up the last couple here.

I do hope, as the others have said, that you are blogging in five years which also means, I suppose, that I am planning on being here in five years!

I am not much of an archive reader. I think I would really enjoy them for the reason you state but I think I just run out of time. I may just have to set aside some special archive reading time soon.

Yours is one of the few blogs where I especially enjoy the comments section. Although today I just gave these a passing glance, I usually read them all and click back and forth. I'm definitely hoping that will continue here. You "hang out" with a great crowd.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Yes - five years. If this blog medium is used for self-expression (e.g., expression of the self for the self, mainly), then it's all good. Sure, it's fun to connect with others and prompt comments, but the minute you forget your initial motivation and start writing for an audience, the thrill fades.

Lady M said...

There is indeed something intensely enjoyable about find a 'new' great blog with tons of archives to read, one month at a time. With some long time writers, you can see the dates, the engagement, wedding planning, and lives unfolding.

Like you, I also get stressed during the first reading of a book or viewing of a film, thus re-reads and re-watchings of the best are better.

Nancy said...

I tend to completely miss out on some of the bandwagons -- never really got into Seinfeld or Friends -- so it's amazing when I hit one, like I guess I did with blogging.

I'm not sure if I'll be around the blogging scene in 5 years, but I hope you will be so I can continue to read. And if I am around, I do hope it's the comfy environment you describe in your final paragraph. Sounds like a great place to be.h