Two Awards, Plus a Film Plug

About two years ago, before this blog was launched, an online publication presented without any introduction a short film that I could not stop watching. It was an insomniac night and I no longer remember the name of the publication that made the insomnia worthwhile. (Buzzfeed, perhaps?) I think the only thing the publication said about it was that it was “narrated by Siri,” the iPhone voice, and that it was weird.
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Everyone Wins

I’m a dope. If an acceptance speech was required or expected, I did not deliver one. The one time an award was given to me at a real awards ceremony, I dashed from my seat upon hearing my name, ran to the front of the hotel ballroom, paused long enough to collect the plaque (long since lost), looked at it long enough to see that my name was in fact etched on its surface, and dashed back to my newspaper’s table. The presenters were not looked at long enough for their faces to be retained in my memory.

I grabbed that thing as if I expected the membership of the New York Press Association to demand an instant recount. As if someone had clicked start on a stopwatch. It was not my plan to turn into Carl Lewis and hurdle the tables of our rival newspapers, but something snapped. It was 1997 and I still could run, but I lived a life in which I did not expect good things, so when good things came I was not “pleasantly surprised” as I like to be now, I was shocked into feeling like I was getting away with something that I clearly did not deserve.

I reprinted the column here in December; it was called “The New Wave“; the link is to it.
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2014: Mine, Yours, Ours

I am not the only person to have expressed a desire to see a “Best of 2014’s ‘Best of 2014 Lists'” list, but here are some of the bests of 2014 for The Gad About Town.

First a thank you to everyone who reads this website, even if this post is the first one by me that you have seen: Thank you.

This is a small publication with about 300 subscribers (“followers” in WordPress lingo) and a total of under 10000 views since January 2014. Of those 9000 views, it has received 645 comments and about 2000 “likes” (individuals’ faces and logos appear next to each like, making this feel like a community of sorts) across its 190 posts. Six hundred and forty-five comments out of 9207 visits is a 0.07 rate; I do not know if this is good, bad, an uncommonly high percentage, or so very extremely average and just like everyone else’s website as to be unworthy of even bothering to calculate.

I like to think of myself as a professional writer; a year ago, I built a platform out of nothing for myself, climbed on it, and started typing. Being disabled and with a tiny income means that I no longer need to: voluntarily send my résumé to some publication that I either admire or have never heard of in order to pursue a job that I almost certainly do not understand; hope to be invited to be interviewed; dress up or dress down for an interview in which “first impressions are everything” but when I am looking for a job, I do not make a good first impression; positively envision myself working with this staff for years to come (a silent thought, “I’m going to marry [looks around the office] … her”) but keep my expectations in check and understand that I will probably never lay eyes on any of these people again. Those interviews, many of them, are burned in my memory. They became good anecdotes, some of them; I interviewed for a copy editor job at a porn magazine on Lexington Avenue once.

Of the 645 comments given to this site, most have come from about a half-dozen individuals, none of whom I have (yet) met or even spoken with on the phone. Some readers have engaged me on each and every post for a week or so and then vanished. Some I think of as friends who made 2014 remarkable for me. I’m lucky to have met: Willow, who runs an “award-free” site, which is good, because this is not one of those. It’s a thank you note; Judy, a great writer and versifier who is leading a remarkable life, and I am grateful to be along for the part of the ride she shares; Mary, a fellow “spoonie” who has helped me open up in writing about my own condition; Leigh, who sometimes writes as many words in a response to one of my columns as some of the columns; Rebecca; Martha; Mrs. Anglo-Swiss; Catherine Lyons. I think I owe each of these readers a few comments in return. Please visit their sites.

The most frequently viewed post on this site in 2014 is “‘So It Goes,'” a brief reflection on Kurt Vonnegut and time’s passage. I have published some thoughts on the poet W.H. Auden five times: W.H. Auden.”

A Christmas Tree Story” received more “likes” than any other piece. “A Conspiracy Theory of Conspiracy Theories” received national attention because I am a jerk and posted a link to it in the comments section of an article on the same idea on Slate magazine, which led to me being called names. “Matt Coleman, Some Memories” and “Requiem for a Sponsor” were difficult to write. Readers wrote kind things about all of these columns. (I continue to insist on calling these posts, “columns,” because I used to work for a newspaper and I resist change.)

I am fond of three columns about equality and inequality: “Guilty of White,” the publication of which led to the end of a personal friendship when one friend revealed that they think that any person wearing a badge (especially if that badge-wearer is white) is always right, no matter what; “Inequality for No One“; and “Ice Water in My Veins,” about being disabled.

The company that hosts this and many other websites took the time to send each one of us and end-of-the-year round-up, which inspired this end-of-the-year round-up. The introduction to the letter reads:

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Here’s an excerpt: The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,176 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Click here to see the complete report.

Thank you all for a remarkable 2014, Mark Aldrich.

The WordPress Daily Prompt for December 29 asks, “When was the first time you really felt like a grown up (if ever)?”

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