Sweetly Sardonic

A few years ago while in a fit of optimism, I decided to create a “30 Before 30” List. At the time, I was writing in an artificial, saccharine tone. Writing in a style unnatural and uncomfortable to me, I couldn’t make myself care about the blog. Most of the posts in 2011-2012 reflect that, particularly that list.

Whether fortunately or unfortunately, the sardonic and cynical me is back. Walking a fine line between cautiously hopeful and fatalistic, I’ve decided to take a look back over some of my earlier posts. The original “30 Before 30” only had 25 goals, only one of which I’ve actually accomplished since posting. The other 24 seem, well, ridiculously stupid. I’m going to try to come up with a more realistic, more me 30 Before 30 List. If you’ve got any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

The idea of a new list goes very well with my new motto. I stumbled on a quote by Pat Rothfuss the other day that I’ve decided to try to live by for the next few weeks or months:

“The truth is that the world is full of dragons, and none of us are as powerful or cool as we’d like to be. And that sucks. But when you’re confronted with that fact, you can either crawl into a hole and quit, or you can get out there, take off your shoes, and Bilbo it up.”

So… Bilbo it up, readers.



“. . .And then what happened?” The Prodigal Blogger Returns

Guess who’s back? Back again? Shepherd’s back. Tell a friend.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten the all but required Eminem reference out of the way, I would like to announce the return of “Writing, Life, and an Itch to Explore.” I know, I know. This is the second “return” in the past two years, and the previous one barely lasted a month, but I’ve got a plan. It’ll work. Trust me, I’m a professional.

How have you all survived? I can only imagine how barren life must have seemed without everyone’s favorite mustachioed, be-sweatered, frequently tweeded smartass regularly posting doses of literary mana/drivel. 

For the curious, there are several reasons as to why I’ve been on hiatus for so long–some good and quite a few bad. I’m still practicing my craft, wordsmithing, forging language over a hot and thankless set of keys; however, in order to better develop a particular voice and style, I chose to practice privately. It may or may not have been beneficial. I’m still teaching special education, and it has been one of the most demanding and rewarding experiences of my life. I go to bed exhausted each day, but can’t help but feel as though, perhaps, I’ve made a small difference in someone’s life. And, admittedly, I’ve been somewhat lazy and hermit-like this past year. Withdrawing from most social experiences, digital or analog, I retreated into fiction and spent this year reading, writing, and dreaming. 

I decided to highlight the above-paragraph in a moody shade of blue. Even though it’s true, it seems maudlin. Maudlin and the color blue go well together, like Mexican food and Dos Equis. 

It’s been some time since I’ve looked over previous blog postings, and, man, some of this stuff is shit. I had forgotten how hackneyed I used to sound. There’s some real gold here, but a lot of this is about as interesting as a thirteen year-old’s diary. I still adore the idea behind a “30 Before 30 List,” but come on. . . How many places do I need to visit, and is that the only measure of a good life? And why the hell would I want to do a Polar Bear Plunge?

Here’s the plan: I’m going to be doing my damnedest to post at least once a week. Some previous posts may disappear and static pages may be revised. I’ll also be writing whatever strikes my fancy, so you might find a book review, commentary on current events, humorous stories from my day, or maybe, just maybe, I’ll try to revive the short-lived but well-conceived “Tweeded Ten“–’cause everyone loves tweed and almost everyone loves lists. The more engaged you all are, the better these posts will be.

It’s good to be back, folks. Here’s to good reading.

90s, oh 90s! Please, come back!

I’ve been striving with WordPress or Google Chrome lately and have had issues logging in to my WordPress Blog account, but, finally, I have returned! Have no fear blogging world, I’m back!

Alright, now that the roaring masses have died down, and the applause is dwindling to just a single set of hands (somewhere in the back row near where that strange guy is smiling at me oddly), I’ll begin.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it means to grow old. While I am not an old person by any stretch, I am beginning to feel like I’m out of touch with all that’s hip and cool. (I think my use of “hip” just proved it.) I first noticed it this semester when I would use phrases or quotes from TV shows and movies that I thought were still current. My students, with that dazed look so common in high schoolers, would stare and respond with, “uh, Mr. Shepherd, what are you talking about?” What kid doesn’t know “Pinky and the Brain?!” How can these teenage boys not have based all they know about girls off Topanga and Corey and the whole “Boy Meets World” gang?!

I was driving to see a friend last weekend, and I decided to tune in to a local country station. I immediately recognized the song playing and started singing along, the following song was a favorite of mine too. “Wow, they’re playing some really good stuff today,” I thought to myself. I sang a few more songs, and the radio host broke my heart: “Thanks for tuning in to Country Classics! Remember to tune in next Sunday for more classic country gold!” Am I really getting older? Where did the 90s go?

I haven’t followed many teams or sports in years; I simply don’t have the time (or the desire, really). I am always reading, writing, studying, grading, etc. and televised sporting events just don’t get my blood and testosterone flowing anymore. Imagine my surprise when I turned on the television and found out that Michael Jordan wasn’t playing basketball any longer and that Ken Griffey Jr. was no longer a baseball superstar.

There have been many other instances where I’ve shown my age (and have been laughed at by my students), but these examples should serve as a witness. It’s probably a good thing that I’ve started my 30 Before 30 List. Also, I’ve found a grey hair(s).

25 of 30!

My 30 Before 30 List is coming along nicely. I have 25 of 30 items chosen and set in blogging stone here on the site. I’ve been trying to consider the final five items, but I’m having the hardest time. Recently, I’ve been spending a great deal of time with my gearhead friends, working on cars and bikes, and I’ve thought about adding “Rebuild a classic car” to the list. Does that sound like a good idea?

In other news, I’ve been reconsidering travelling and studying abroad. Several years ago, I pulled an application for several teaching programs in Japan and Korea, hoping and wanting to teach abroad. I decided against it. Last year, missing what it felt like to be a student, I nearly applied to over a dozen universities in Europe to begin my Master’s in English or Creative Writing. As this school year draws to a close, I’m starting to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t look into graduate studies in Ireland or somewhere cool like that.

The 30 Before 30 List

I’m not dead, I promise. I will be returning to regular posts eventually. In fact, amongst the research papers, Kite Runner unit tests, and numerous quizzes, I’ve noticed time to breathe–this is a very good sign. If I have time to breathe, then, eventually, I’ll have time to do other things, right?

In other news, I’ve added something new to the blog. I would like to direct your attention to the new “30 Before 30 List” page above. I threw it up today during my planning period, so I won’t claim it’s perfect, but it’s a start. I found myself perusing Freshly Pressed blogs and discovered multiple bloggers had created a “30 Before 30” list or some such thing, and I fell into a pensive mood. College has come and gone, the career has begun, and the next big event in my life is the big 3-0. When that time comes, I’ll no longer be able to claim that I’m a young adult or am “stretching my wings.” There are some goals I want to accomplish before then.

So. . . I created a list of my own. There are only twenty-five items on the list rather than thirty, so it’s up to you, the reader, to help me come up with five more. Let’s do this!