A tenth anniversary post in five parts, accompanied by ten years of photos from the blog.
I. The Measure of a Decade – what do ten years really mean?
II. My Random Niche – how CK began, and what it became
III. Excelsior, Always – my year in review
IV. The Unhealthy Habit – how CK changed my life (finally) (again)
V. Past Is Prologue – my gratitude for the past ten years
Stop what you’re doing and look around.
I imagine you are in your office. Or on a bus. Maybe curled up with your laptop. Perhaps hurtling through space in the far flung future.
Regardless of where you are, when you stopped to look around how many things did you notice that are at least ten years old?
Your desk? Your wedding band? Your favorite mug?
When you consider a decade in that respect, it doesn’t seem like such a long time. Plenty of things survive ten years. All they need to is to be treated well to stay intact.
Think about your surroundings again. How many of the ten-year-old things you noticed took time and effort to maintain – like stoking a flame? And, of those, how many of them have aged well, gaining value and appeal?
A potted houseplant? Your home? Your child in the next room?
A decade seems much longer from that perspective – the viewpoint of active maintenance. That’s how I’m seeing the past decade today – ten years after the moment I launched Crushing Krisis.
I’m at once terrific and awful at saving things.
On one hand, I am an incorrigible packrat. I have the first newspaper that published one of my poems and the promo mailer from my first college play. Yet, I’m horrible at archiving those things in a coherent, accessible way.
Right now they are in a box in my attic. I think.
Crushing Krisis started as a digital version of that box – “a random niche” is what I called it in an early post. A place to” talk at and file away random bits of information,” where I could write on any topic that didn’t have a home somewhere else – in a term paper, or on a message board.
In the beginning, each post was a note to myself. Later posts matured into bulletins, letters, missives, and serialized screeds – and they were increasingly aimed as much at myself as at the world at large.
At a time when blogs are big business and many bloggers are SEO experts, CK remains as random a niche as ever. While it exists as a collection of thoughts for me, I understand that the memory (and attention span) of the average reader is much shorter. To them, CK is a post they stumbled upon, or a week of archives they paged through.
So, what is Crushing Krisis? After ten years, you’d think I know how to define it. Is it a diary or a litany of links? Is it about the city of Philadelphia or the wide world of social media? Is the focus communication and journalism or music and art? Is it my home base on the web or a satellite to my artistic identity?
My favorite explanation for what it’s about was one of my earliest taglines, “Yearns, burns, and other concerns.”
Trying to define it any other way seems futile – no matter how I try to plan for or explain Crushing Krisis, it always turns into what I least expected.
Ten years in and taken as a whole, Crushing Krisis is a massive tome – just a few thousand words shy of a million.
I added a lot of text to that collection in Year 10. As always, I have my favorites, but this year it was harder than ever to pick the highlights.
Thoughts and Adventures
As always, I documented my most epic adventures and deepest thoughts. I finished the story of jumping out of a plane, and how it changed my life. I shared my personal musical motivation mantra: “What Would Madonna Do?” Elise and I I became Battlestar Galactica’s Six and Baltar for Halloween, resulting in a tweet by the President of SyFy network!
I had my 15-seconds of Philebrity, and gave my first ever acceptance speech. I broke my typical February Funk by spending the night with Katie Barbato, one of my favorite songwriters. I attended the NYC #140conf, blogging up a storm about it and learning how Twitter saved lives on the ground in Haiti. I marveled at how what was once new to me is now an “oldie.”
I wrote a myriad of posts about becoming homeowners, starting with telling the story of our house in three parts. I got all full of my project manager self before realizing a few minutes later that our settlement might hinge on two jars of change.
My Musical Life
A huge component of Crushing Krisis has always been my life as a songwriter, but in Year 10 it officially became the life of a performing songwriter – both in gigs and on video. I posted an early video demo of Regenerate, which became my theme for the year. I released my first piano demo, a recording of “Crashing” to commemorate it’s tenth birthday, plus demos of my plaintive “Kick Me” and my long-brewing cover of Madonna’s “Crazy For You.”
I booked my first solo show at the historic Tin Angel, a goal I’ve had for longer than CK’s been around, and transformed it into a guerrilla CD-release show for a DIY disc I produced, designed, and printed in under a week.
It was a good year for Arcati Crisis, too. Gina and I covered Swell Season’s Oscar-winner “Falling Slowly,” and shared an entire concert’s worth of videos – including first glimpses at our new tunes “Better” and “Holy Grail.” We celebrated the tenth birthday of “Under My Skin,” the earliest song of mine with a Gina co-write credit. And we booked a gig in almost every month of the year!
Not only did I make my own music, I watched as Elise become an increasingly confident rock star, and witnessed her brother graduate high school while singing to a half-packed arena.
More than ever before, I wrote posts on Crushing Krisis that were useful to people other than just me. I explained the Blame-a-Thon to an internet audience of thousands. I interviewed fellow artists on if you should say yes to every performance opportunity. I explained the Air Force’s “Web Posting Response Assessment” AKA Troll-Buster.
I reviewed the Michael Jackson blockbuster This Is It, St. Vincent at the First Unitarian, and the obscure indie delight Timer. I contributed a guest post to killer music blog A New Band a Day. I endorsed Net Neutrality and discussed (and was quoted on!) the Philadelphia promoter bill. I even spent two months writing a special feature, the most comprehensive guide to X-Men trade paperbacks on the entire internet!
I also captured many scattered moments – me in flux between one adventure and the next. I captured my feelings at the apex of happiness as it intersected one of the busiest monthS of my life. I speculated that a gnome was involved in my losing my keys and guitar picks. I exposed Gina’s secret prejudice against Wham.
I finally came to terms with being an adult, and happy. Elise mocked my post-District 9 aversion to prawns. I celebrated the ten birthday of Bluishorange, one of the blogs I’ve been reading since day one of CK. I decluttered my commitments, leaving more room for my OCD Godzilla to roam.
I wondered what I’m waiting for to be the best me. Connected to that, Britt and I continued our inexorable march towards local fame. I had an episode of Tourette’s in the tampon aisle of Target. I compared myself to a rabid wombat. I may have crashed our broadband connection with the amazing powers of my hair. I detailed my uttered skeevedness at riding the El, the insanity of which wound up with my volunteering to do hits of poison if it meant killing a tiny whippoorwill alarm clock outside my window.
As always, there were things I didn’t – or couldn’t – write about.
I didn’t tell you about delivering two of my hugest projects ever at work, and fostering our company into the social media age. I even ran a corporate Facebook page!
I didn’t detail how for first time ever I made more money from my music than I spent or lost. I skipped collecting all the feelings behind my two Tin Angel appearances, and missed discussion a slew of other gigs.
I neglected to mention that I finally got in shape, adding definition I’ve never had and shedding a few meager pounds that had plagued me for years.
I didn’t discuss Erika’s amazing wedding, or that I’ve suddenly found myself in both a team of groom’s men and a bride’s party. I haven’t talked about Steve’s stunning turn in Jonathan Larson’s Tick, Tick, Boom!, playing against a seventeen-year-old Broadway veteran.
Other things too – hundreds of thoughts, feelings, and inane ponderings. Crushing Krisis is a lot of things, but it can’t be everything. It’s not my whole life.
And that’s okay.
In 2000, a few minutes into my blogging experiment, I told perhaps the greatest truth about myself I’ve ever disclosed on CK. I said:
I have this unhealthy habit at wanting to be the best at everything very quickly. Well, not the best, but… i like to achieve things very quickly. … [I] want recognition without much long term commitment. The reverse are things that i have put longtime commitment into, but want no recognition in. Am i fucked up or what?
Crushing Krisis is one of the few things in my life to begin in the former category and wind up in the latter.
After the newness and the need to post every fifteen minutes wore off I realized there was no one to best – I could only better myself. I think that’s why I’m still blogging. There’s nothing to win, so there’s nothing to lose. I can still get excited about every post.
It sounds simple, but in every other area of my life my unhealthy habit plagued me. I said yes to everything because I always wanted to prove myself.
In a way, Year 10 cured me of that habit. After several years of organizing plays, music festivals, and fundraisers, I found myself finally focusing on me. My music, my social media presence, my blog. It makes me feel more real. It makes my friendships feel more crisp and in focus. It makes each day more exciting.
For the third consecutive year I’m writing this post and thinking about twelve months of amazing highs with very few lows. I kicked my unhealthy habit, and is it any wonder I’m happier than ever, blogging and tweeting and playing gigs?
Stop and look around you again.
Most of those ten-year-old things you saw at the beginning of the post were meant to live that long, or longer. Sure, some of them required more upkeep than others, but those possessions and people are not gossamer soap bubbles that can pop at any second. They were made with the intent of spanning time.
How long was Crushing Krisis meant to last? A week, was my early estimation – long enough to keep me occupied before I moved into my first college apartment.
Of course, I also proclaimed that all posts would be presented without any editting [sic] or line breaks, so what did I know? How could I know how much putting words into this little white box would come mean to me?
This past year I learned that it’s okay – even normal – for social media to mean something. Blame Drew’s Cancer meant something to people, and it changed my life. At the #140 Conference we heard about people rescued from the rubble in Haiti because of Twitter.
Ten years ago I didn’t have very many things that meant something to me. Music, both by others and my own. Gina, someone I could always rely on. Not much else.
Over the years, Crushing Krisis not only gained meaning, but it helped me discover other things that were meaningful to me. Elise became woven inexorably into the fabric of the blog. It became about feeling at home in the business world, about living as an independent adult.
In Year 9 CK became the story of our engagement and wedding. In Year 10 it told the tale of us buying our first house, and of me finally pushing myself to achieve the modicum of local fame I’ve always wanted for myself.
My blog means something to me, and I could never give it up – never give you up, whoever you are today in your office, on the bus, at your laptop, or in space.
How could I give you up when I’ve spent ten years telling you the story of my life in single-post increments? How could I give up the potential of blogging about my first sold-out solo show or when I’m finally ready to accept the challenge of being a father?
Plus, I’ve got to eventually get my driver’s license. I’m sure I’ll blog about that.
I can claim all I want that writing about those milestones is just for me, but that would be a lie. If it was just for me this healthy habit would have been left by the wayside years ago.
This is for me and you.
You, Josh, my longest-running reader. You, Rabi, my blogging best friend.
You, Gina, my partner in never-ending adventures.
You, Elise, the love of my life.
You, who read, comment, and inspire. You, Izabelle, Amy, and Tim; Hillary, Laurel, Dante, Lindsay, Megan, and Erika; Wes, Karen, and Chaz; Jenny and Steve; Britt, Nan, Mikey, and the rest of #BDC; Mark, Kari, Joe, and Michael; Sandra, Patty P., Cecily, and Maya; all of my twitter friends, blue crew, and little monsters – you all know who you are.
You, anyone who has gone from spectator to character and back again.
You, the longtime lurker, first-time reader, or casual visitor.
You, at your desk on a laptop in a space bus, hurtling into the great unknown.
Thank you for making this a better decade than I could have ever imagined back in my stuffy dorm room in the year 2000.
Thank you, and happy birthday to this.