This week, I celebrate a very special milestone: The 10th anniversary of this blog.
For 10 years, I’ve used this space to share my thoughts — sometimes funny, sometimes silly, always heartfelt.
I wrote my first post on Aug. 9, 2004, where I hesitantly wrote that I’d be starting a “Livejournal” (one of the 2004 versions of WordPress) and shared a few disjointed thoughts from the day. Over the next six years, I wrote occasionally in the blog, whenever an idea struck me.
Many times, I would go weeks or months without a post, and then I’d be hesitant to write a new post. “It’s been two months; my ‘comeback’ really needs to be a good one!” I’d tell myself.
So in October 2010, I made what has become a fairly major life decision: I made a commitment to publish a blog post every Wednesday.
To this day, I have kept that promise to myself. Even on weeks when I was flooded with grad school assignments; on nights when I spent the whole evening at a restaurant, laughing with friends; on nights when gravity pulled my eyes and my body downward; I wrote. When all I wanted to do in the whole world was to skip a week of blogging, I wrote. When I wracked my brain for a topic worthy of sharing with all of my friends and came up empty, I wrote — sometimes those posts were not the best, but sometimes they surprised me and became some of my favorites.
On the stressful Tuesday nights — or “my funny Tuesdays,” as I call them — I’ve had many moments when I wonder why I even bother with this blog. Some of you have even asked why I continue to do this. So in honor of my blog’s tin/aluminum anniversary, I present you with these shiny 10 reasons why I do this.
Top 10 Reasons Why I Maintain LiaLehrer.com:
1) Practice writing. If you’re a tennis player, you develop your skill by playing tennis. If you’re a singer, you take singing lessons and perform in shows. What do you do when your skill, hobby, and interest is writing? For me, I’ve used this blog to practice my writing on a weekly basis, allowing me to develop my writing voice.
2) Use a team to improve my writing. I bet most of you didn’t know this — but before I post anything on this blog, I send it to at least two people (my parents) and occasionally one or two others to edit. My dad is the person who first inspired and continues to inspire me to write, and his edits constantly tighten and improve my writing. He challenges me to choose better, more colorful words, and to always include a picture. My mom‘s role is to make sure I don’t write something embarrassing. My brother and sister-in-law, Michael and Rachel, listen to the stories I tell out loud (or, really, the things I complain about in life) and say, “Save it for a blog post!” And my boyfriend, Adam, serves as my external hard drive, helping me remember details about places we’ve visited or people we’ve met who star in my blogs.
3) Maintain my status as a journalist. I worked hard for my B.S. in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. While much of my current job involves writing, interviewing, photography, and graphic design, it’s helpful to maintain my ability to attend an event or visit a city and review it. Maybe in another life, I’ll follow in my father’s footsteps and be a professional travel writer — but for now, in this life, I only do that on Wednesdays.
4) Provide some discipline in my life. As mentioned, there have been many a night when writing was the last thing I’ve wanted to do. But this promise that I made to myself — to post every Wednesday — has whipped me into shape. I constantly maintain a list of potential blog ideas, and when I’m out and about in the world, I look at everything as a potential blog topic. Sometimes even the blog entries I write at 11 p.m. on Tuesday nights — or, let’s be real, the ones I write at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays — become some of my favorites. At work, in my volunteer positions, and with my friends and family, most people have figured out that I work really well with deadlines (a residual side effect of my journalism training). My self-imposed weekly blog deadline is akin to my piano teacher as a child, whose visit forced me to practice at least the day before her arrival; or the cleaning lady, whose visits force me to go through my piles of papers at least occasionally.
5) Observe the world in a different way. When most people travel — whether it’s abroad or a few blocks away from their homes — they may take in the sights and sounds of the place and maybe take a photo or two. If I know that I’m going to blog about a place, my eyes open wider, my ears listen harder, and my nose smells like there’s no tomorrow. As an amateur travel writer, I use my love of writing as a way to share my experiences with you. And if you can’t go there yourself right now, well, I’ll do my best to take you there vicariously through this website.
6) Preserve memories. Whether I’m traveling, or experiencing something new in my neighborhood, or noticing a funny or awkward situation, I want to remember everything. I’ve noticed that some of my happiest experiences in my life — summers at camp, on USY on Wheels, or in Israel; family vacations; making new friends in college; or just being a kid in elementary school — are documented in journals. This blog has become a public journal where I can share and preserve some of my best, funniest, or strangest memories.
7) Work on my stand-up career. I’m no Jon Stewart or Sarah Silverman, but I very much appreciate the art of comedy. I study “Seinfeld” like a textbook, and often my posts emulate a Jerry Seinfeld-esque “What’s with the people who put carpeting on the lid of their toilet seat?” I come from a family of joke-tellers, and attempts at humor are in my blood. If I can make you chuckle or even a half a chuckle, like when you read something and do that guttural “heh” because what you read was mediumly funny, then I’ve done my job. And if my career as a Jewish professional doesn’t work out, there’s always a stand-up career to fall back on.
8) Maybe I’ll write a book someday. I absolutely loved Mindy Kaling’s book “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns.)” Though much of her book was autobiographical and described her road to fame — and I have no desire to be famous — many of her chapters were short non-sequiturs that reminded me of the type of posts I aspire to write. So who knows; maybe someday you’ll see excerpts from this blog in between two hard covers. Though really, seeing a book with my byline on Amazon is more like a science fiction story. By the time such a thing happens in real life, I’m pretty sure there will be no paper left in the world and you’ll have to beam the contents of the book into your brain. In which case, I’d be happy to sign my famous signature onto your forehead.
9) Inspire others. I’m not saying that my blog has changed the world, but maybe I’ve at least made you rethink things a little. Maybe you’ve considered listening to audio books. Maybe you’ve considered helping me bring back the fanny pack. Perhaps you’ve adopted my “caller calls back” method for dropped cell phone calls. You may have learned not to put duct tape in the dishwasher. Maybe you’ve tried dabbling in different types of car honks. Maybe you’ve been inspired to buy more gift cards as presents. Perhaps you’ve learned the proper angle to use when taking a photo of people. Perhaps you’ve joined me and stopped eating donuts because they make you feel yucky, too. Maybe you’ll join me on my fitness obsession and get a Fitbit and/or a standing desk. And maybe you’ll give flotation tanks a try, or visit my new favorite destination, Quebec City. And at the very least, it gives us something to chat about.
10) Connect with friends around the world. Karen, if you’re reading this, I’m going to give you a little shoutout. I have a friend and former roommate from Northwestern, Karen, who lives in Boston. We don’t chat as often as I would like — especially not as often as when we shared an apartment in Evanston — but Karen Gchats me about once a month on a Wednesday after I post my blog for the week. She usually has a comment she shares with me about my blog, whether it’s that she agrees, or she has a suggestion, or maybe even a minor correction. I truly look forward to these conversations — it has become our way of keeping in touch. Similarly, when I post my blog entries to Facebook, I receive comments from friends near and far, some of whom I haven’t seen in many years. I very much enjoy these interactions. I love how the written word — my favorite hobby — can bring people together, spark conversations, and re-ignite friendships. So thank you, dear friends, for helping me use this blog as a platform for discussion.
Here’s hoping for at least another 10 years of writing, collaborating, sharing, preserving, and storytelling with all of you. Thank you for reading.