Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Entry for 31 December 2008:

When I began keeping this blog 2 years and 4 months ago, it never occurred to me that I would ever get to 200 entries, let alone 300. However, interesting things kept happening and its function kept expanding, to include the politics of psychotherapy, therapy and research training, poetry, commentary on published articles and book chapters, and so on. And so, “by commodius vicus of recirculation” (to borrow a phrase from Joyce’s Finnegans Wake), I suddenly find myself at entry number 300, considering my starting point, the journey so far, and the future prospects.

My first entry, written 31 August 2006, but not posted until several days later, was entitled, “Arrival in New California”, and began as follows:
We have arrived safely in Scotland. As we flew into Glasgow yesterday, we suddenly noticed that there are hills and mountains all around, and of course the river Clyde broadening out toward the sea in the distance. It reminded us strongly of California in the winter, when everything is green. So we have decided that Scotland is our new California! A New California for our new life...

Journey through Old California. And of course, as I write this, we are in Old California, the place where I was born and lived my first 28 years. New Year’s Eve day dawned this morning, another clear, cool Northern California winter’s day, again frosty as it has been for the past several days. After breakfast and clearing out the lower house (my mom has stayed in the upper house since my dad died), we said goodbye to my mom until next August. Descending out of the foothills, just past Valley Springs, we encountered the fog that has blanketed the entire Central Valley, from Redding to Bakersfield, over the past day or two, leading to multi-car pile-ups on the major highways. San Andreas, as my mom noted, is “Above the fog and below the snow" Down in the great valley where I grew up, however, there’s been no wind lately and therefore nothing to blow away the fog, so here it sits.

Much of Northern California has so far had only about 5 inches of rain this season, on top of several years of drought, so there really isn’t much green yet as we pass Tracey and climb over the Altamont Pass. Diane marvels again at the sheer number of car and trucks, like us seemingly driving from nowhere to nowhere. American loves its cars, and California especially. Finally, near the top of the pass, the fog is beginning to burn off, and we are suddenly nearly blinded by the bright winter sun. This is the fourth time we’ve passed through here on this trip, and like the previous 3 trips the windmills of Altamont stand there, unturning, still, bereft of breeze, waitng in vain for a windy day. No, this isn’t really very Scottish afterall…

The Journey So Far

Why blog? This blog has provided me with an opportunity to meet a need I have to document, take note, express, create and reflect. Why do it in such a public way, I have been asked, and not as a diary or a private blog, shared only with a small circle of family and friends? This is as difficult to explain as it is true of my experience: The need in me that drives this blog is a need to express and communicate to others, or an Other. It is part of the same need that pushes me to write and publish articles, to present my work at conferences, and to write and read my poetry for audiences. It is a need to connect, to be heard, to make a difference in another’s experience, which is itself a need to be in contact and thereby to be real. This is an old and familiar part of me. To quote the comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes: “’I am significant!’, screamed the dust speck”. Scientific publications are great, and I’ve done lots of those (about 110 at last count), but they lack intimacy and immediacy, which is where the blog comes in.

Types of entries.
In general, entries fall on a spectrum from personal (typically labelled as “Personal experiences” or sometimes as “Poems and Dreams”) to professional (labelled variously as “*News”, “Articles”, “Research”, “Training Opportunities” etc), with some entries blending personal and professional content (e.g., some of the “Politics” entries). At some point, I started posting text versions of selected lectures and conference presentation and doing little commentary pieces when a new article was published. Over time, I would say, I’ve reduced the amount of personal content in relation to professional content, especially as the readership of the blog has increased to the point where it is likely that some of the readership is not necessarily friendly.

Rate of entries. At the beginning I wrote entries every day or two (highest number: 24 in September 2006; second highest number: 20: March 2007). At times, the rate of entries has slowed to a trickle (4 entries for Sept and October of 2008), but just when I thought I’d dried up, something in me would find the need to write something. Over the past year, I’ve produced on average one or two entries per week, which feels like a good number for this.

Blog Process. I do collect ideas for blog entries, although many are never written. At the end of each month, there are usually a couple unfinished entries, most of which will never be completed. I never compose directly in Blogger; instead, I draft entries first on my notebook computer, then copy them onto the Blog. I always revise entries before posting, sometimes extensively, so that posted versions are generally second drafts (but still contain typos and errors nevertheless). I occasionally go back and revise previously posted entries.

Reader comments invited. I think people find posting comments to this blog to the a bit of a pain, which is my theory for why there aren’t more comments posted. To begin with, you have to sign up for a Google account. Early on, I decided to moderate comments, after someone posted spam on the blog. That means you can’t post directly to my blog; instead, when you submit your comment, Blogger sends me an email message containing the comment and asking me if I want to publish or reject. I will publish any comment that is reasonably relevant and appropriate. Two recent comments that I rejected were ads, one for someone’s internet dating website and the other a dodgy-looking internet drug discount site pushing anti-anxiety medication! I think a lot of my serious readers have really interesting things to say but are too shy to post comments, so I would like to take this opportunity to encourage them to do so!

Future Prospects

What are my goals and resolutions for the 2009?

1. I’d like to continue doing 2 entries per week, along the same lines as before, continuing to mix personal and professional entries.
2. I certainly intend to continue documenting my views of developments in the politics of the helping professions in Scotland and the UK.
3. I plan to resume my “Saturday Adventure” entries of interesting sights around Scotland.
4. Although this blog is primarily a verbal medium, I’d like to include more photographs.
5. I’d like to write more about the social anxiety research we’re doing in the Research Clinic; I’ve had to be careful here because of confidentiality issues. Fortunately, as we accumulate more clients it becomes more possible to write generally about common, repeating clinical phenomena that are emerging in several different clients.
6. I’m hoping that new, unexpected and interesting things to write about will emerge. Part of the fun of doing this is the opportunity to follow new interesting developments!

For now, I wish you a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

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