The polite, rote explanations for my blogging absence are good at deflecting any line of inquiry about why: I’m married now. I’m more involved in my union. I’m on the Scranton Parking Authority. I’m on the Executive Board of the Scranton City Democratic Committee.
Sounds pretty busy, right?
It is. But the truth is that I was possessed, sadly, by the Fear.
It’s left me with both shame and embarrassment that I gave in to the weaker side of a conflicting nature, the one that Plays It Safe. A specific moment stands out as the Turning Point. Political events are a tedious necessity, but as with most of existence, they tend to be what one makes of them. I was in line at a buffet, getting ready for some sloshy, watery version of Chicken Marsala when a gentleman I did not know told me I needed cut the blogging out. Being loud, he said, can be dangerous. Praising one implicitly trashes another. You’re making enemies. Losing support. Alienating voting blocs.
I ran for office. Twice.
And so I shut my mouth.
My old blog, NEPArtisan, was widely read around the area, state, and country. I got calls from major national bloggers asking for my thoughts on the Holden vs. Cartwright race, for example. And I gave it all up to Play It Safe. Still, people ask when I’m coming back. There’s a void, they say. I listen, nod, and provide excuses.
I’m 32 now. Much safer than I was when I stopped blogging regularly, but also more confident in my convictions and wiser about how to present them.
Debate is a sign of respect, according to the way I was raised. But a lot of people mistake a debate of ideas for a personal attack. People like their politicians to agree with them. Sounds reasonable. I like it, too. This leads to generic, one-size-fits-all candidates. In fact, in a moment of frightening wisdom, a local politician once said to me, “No matter what anybody asks you, lie like hell. It’ll get you elected, and then you can do the right thing.” It’s that kind of twisted logic that makes politics hard.
What about the woman who refuses to vote for anybody who isn’t pro-life? Relevant to School Board? No. The opposite of my belief system. Yes. Worth fighting over to score the vote? No. Lie or walk next door? (For what it’s worth, one pro-life woman hugged me and told me I was pro-life “on the inside” when I chose to engage her on the topic. She said she would vote for me!)
It’s tough. And it’s easy to exist in a paradigm where moral compromise in the name of the Greater Good is logical and acceptable. But there’s the rabbit hole. And soon we make and take deals that are far from where we started.
So, time to tackle the question that tortures me on the ride to and from work every day: Why am I here?
At this moment, it’s to tell you that I may be back. I don’t like commitments (other than my marriage, of course). I don’t feel a particular antagonism toward The Times or a need to even provide another voice or perspective. But I used to love speaking up and hearing others do the same.
So maybe I can start writing about politics again. Maybe I can talk about what I’m writing (a backstory for a screenplay based on one of my stories). Or listening to (lately, The Bravery). Or reading (Grunts by Mary Gentle).
There’s certainly a lot to write about. I’m engaged in a protracted battle with Riverside’s School Board over a contract (we’re headed toward our 3rd year without one), and the threat of a long September strike is looming. Kevin Haggerty is running for public office again and that’s always something. I like Hillary and think she’ll win, but I’ll be supporting Bernie Sanders. And, of course, this is Lackawanna County, so a political a lovely and entertaining blunder is bound to pop up.
I’m not going to manage the posting frequency of NEPArtisan. I refuse. Commentary for its own sake is a waste. Here, writing will be for me. Selfish, I know. But there’s that marriage, the union, the SPA…
You get the picture.
Glad to (maybe) be back.