Category - personal

Crazy/Healthy

I have published a new article to the Medium website:  death

It’s called Crazy/Healthy

“Dude, you are crazy healthy,” the anesthesiologist said after examining my chart. That’s also pretty much what the nurse said who had taken down the medical history. That’s what the doctor who was going to perform my procedure said.

First, to dispel any alarm: I was at this clinic early on a Wednesday morning in May for a routine ‘screening’ procedure — the sort of thing that a man in his mid 60s will have to endure as a consequence of having lived into his seventh decade, provided he harbors serious aspirations of living in to an eighth or even a ninth decade…

Click here to read the rest.

The One I Let Slip Away

In 1969 and 70, I was part of three crowds of more than a half-million people, including the massive demonstration to protest Nixon's invasion of Cambodia in May 1970.  So I'm in this picture, somewhere...

In 1969 and 70, I was part of three crowds of more than a half-million people, including the massive demonstration to protest Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia in May 1970. So I’m in this picture, somewhere…

Not sure where to begin this.. so I’ll start with this llink:

The One I Let Slip Away

….and offer this by way of explanation:

A couple of months ago, I was suddenly inspired to revisit “the archives” – two large Rubbermaid tubs filled with paraphernalia that I started accumulating in the late 1960s… during my senior year in high school, and my first year attempting to go to college.

I don’t remember now exactly what motivated me to dig into those archives, but getting in there has been something of a turning point.

I look at the stuff in that now and realize I sent myself a time capsule from 1969.  And in that time capsule are the beginnings of a (partly fictional?) memoir about coming to age at the end of the 1960s.  That’s what I’ve been working on for the past couple of months – a book that I started writing 45 years ago.  What I’ve posted above is an excerpt…

Two weeks ago I dove into a stack of letters from a girlfriend I met during that period, and the experience was unexpectedly visceral.  I tried to capture the essence of that experience in a couple of pages of free-form verse, which I published to Medium.com this morning in the piece I linked above.

In that post I think I found the emotional heart of what I’ve been working on.

Beyond that, probably the less said, the better.

Greetings, New Subscribers….

…and welcome to your first edition of The Weekly Digest.

The Troubadour Logo - it's a long story...

The Troubadour Logo – it’s a long story…

(Oops.  I got so wrapped up writing this this morning that I forgot to tag the relevant posts for this week’s digest – I thought I’d done that already. It should have included the first two posts below (Jeff T and Melrose Abbey)  Doh!)

I’m sure there’s a better name for this recurring missive, but despite my vaunted creative genius that’s the best I’ve been able to come up with so far.

I am pleased to see that there have been a notable number of new subscribers to this list in the past week – which is even more notable because I don’t know who any of you are.

Most of the subscribers to this list are friends and family – people with whom I have had some form of personal contact since I started the list several years ago. But lately, I’m seeing new subs from people I don’t know, whose e-mail addresses I don’t recognize,

I recall reading somewhere that your ‘fan base’ isn’t really growing until it begins to spread beyond the people that you know personally – so it is gratifying to see that my reach has begun to grow organically beyond a certain inner circle.

I am involved in several realms of creative endeavors.  My most recent business card (I make up new ones all the time) identifies me as:

Paul Schatzkin
writer·photographer·musician·artist

…and each of those categories represents some measure of both accomplishment and aspiration.

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Tales from Digital Rehab (3): This Is Where Our Lives Go

Thursday, September 25, 10:21 AM

blog-digital-distractionsJeez,  is it already almost 10:30?  I was so sure I’d be at the keyboard by 10.  A few minutes before 10, I was almost done clearing my inbox of the detritus that I’d let accumulate by mostly ignoring it the day before.  And then one thing and another… and now it’s 10:21.  Another half hour I’ll never get back…

See, that’s the quandary.

Time slips by in tiny increments… one small distraction after another, and before you know it a quarter, a half, a whole hour has slipped by and there’s nothing to show for it except time spent with the RTG – The Random Trivia Generator.

The Random Trivia Generator is not just Facebook. It’s the whole Universe of digital distractions.  Here we see the downside in the interconnectedness of all things. Maybe it starts with an indispensable tool like e-mail, which by now is mostly littered with  e-newsletters of varying degrees of actual interest, each with their own links to something brighter and shinier beyond.  Once you’re in the browser, there are more links, most of them of the “link bait” variety that promise even deeper satisfaction if you just give into your curiosity and… click here.

I’d snuck into Facebook for a minute.  Just to clear an item I’d left in my inbox from yesterday, a link I needed to post to The 1861 Project’s Facebook page, which these days serves as the Project’s website. Since the actual website attracts so little traffic – and conversely the Facebook page gathers whatever interest there actually is in the project – we just redirected the domain to the Facebook page and we “engage” our “audience” there.

Tales of distraction: I’m suddenly tempted to drop the developing stream of consciousness that was forming here in order to follow up a phone call I made a few minutes ago with an text msg.  But when I open the phone I discover that an e-mail I thought I’d sent from my phone hadn’t actually been sent.  It was stuck in a digital limbo called “Outbox.” So I had to (?) drill down into my mailboxes to find the unsent message and attempt to “Send” again.

And now I’m tempted to check the device again to see if the message has sent. And that’s when I realize:

This is where our lives go. Read More

Tales from Digital Rehab (2) Checking The Urge (to check…)

well, sorta. ok, not really...

well, sorta. ok, not really…

Somewhere I read about a study that revealed that the typical digially-addicted person can go about four minutes before they have to check their gizmo again.

I know the impuse… all to well.

I know what it feels like to slow down at a red light and immediately reach for the mobile device that’s mounted on my dashboard.

Or what it feels like to hit a lull in a conversation and cast a sideward glance at my gizmo…. hey, maybe I’ve got a new e-mail or a notification on Facebook!

And I know what it feels like to retrieve whatever is waiting for me out there in the digital firmament – only to to discover that all that’s waiting for me is near-spam, people and organizations clamoring for my attention even as I’m clamoring for something to be attentive to.

Only now I know what it feels like to feel the urge to check.  To feel the urge countless times a day but but be relieved of the temptation because there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.

I have deactivated my primary email account from both of my mobile gizmos (iPhone and iPad); I have also deleted Facebook from both devices.

So now when I feel the urge… it’s sorta like taking a long walk off a short digital pier: I feel the urge, just like I have for years, but as soon as it strikes the impulse part of the cortex (or limbic system?), some other part remembers: “There’s nothing there. Don’t bother.”

So now the temptation is a phantom – like the impulses and sensations an amputee feels from a missing limb. Like I’ve amputated my gizmos.

Again, the analogy to alcohol and drug recovery seems apt: If this concerted attempt at behavior modification – and focus/concentration recovery – is going to succeed, then it makes sense to treat this as the first 30 days of digital abstinence.  Or, at least, near abstinence.  Mobile, abstinence, at least.

And, again, in the parlance of ‘the program,’ I had a bit of a “slip” today.  I logged onto Facebook this morning just long enough to see if there was anything pressing in the form of a notification or message.

There wasn’t.  Just the usual random trivia.  But I sat there scrolling through it for five or ten minutes.  Just like sidling up to a bar and saying “I’ll just have a sip…”

So I guess that 30 days starts again tomorrow…

Tales from Digital Rehab: Kayaking is Not Multi-tasking

“We live in a media culture where we are buried in information,
but we know nothing.

Ken Burns

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve just returned from five days on a marshy island called Cedar Key in the “big bend” corner of the Gulf of Mexico – where the Florida panhandle meets the peninsula.

Before I left I started disconnecting.

First I Googled the phrase “off the grid” and found images to use for my cover and profile photos on Facebook.   I have not looked at Facebook since.

Then I posted an auto response to my email that said I was gonna be “off the grid” for a few days – “off the grid” being defined these days as “no signal” on my mobile devices.  There was still plenty of electricity at our destination – and WiFi in a lot of locations – but I made a conscious and deliberate decision to be “unplugged” for a few days.

As we were driving down to the island – about 11-1/2 hours with stops along the way – I went a step further in my digital rehab:  I removed the Facebook apps from my iPhone and iPad.

Wednesday night, once Ann and I had settled into our accommodations (provided by AirBnB, naturally…), I opened my e-mail one more time, cleared the inbox as well as I could and closed the application.  I haven’t checked e-mail since.   I think this is the longest I’ve gone without looking at email in about 10 years. Probably longer.

Nor have I been on Facebook.  Or Twitter (which I don’t use nearly as much as Facebook anyway). Or LinkedIn or Pinterest.  And I can’t really say now that I miss any of it.

I don’t miss the deluge of digital narcissism – including my own – or the constant comparison of my virtual existence to that of my friends and colleagues.

In the absence of these distractions, what I have discovered is a measure of continuity in my own thought processes that is both strange and exhilarating.  I am now in the midst of a giant leap in the recovery of my own space and time.

And I might owe it all to kayaking…

* * *

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Enough About Me…

Clark Buckner, New Media Strategist

Clark Buckner, New Media Strategist

…what do you think of me?

Back in May, 2014 I had occasion to sit down and chat with Clark Buckner from TechnologyAdvice.com (they provide coverage content on medical billing solutions, cloud-based platforms, software solutions and much more; also be sure to also check out their Tech Conference Calendar).

So here’s 8 minutes of me regaling Clark with stories about…. me.

The occasion was the Wordcamp (WordPress) conference last spring here in Nashville.  We got to talking and I started to tell Clark him a bit of my background and what all I’ve been doing for the past two decades since I arrived in Nashville.  Apart from being seen at at lot of these tech and start-up events with my camera, I tend to travel a bit under the radar and incognito…. so I suspect Clark was a bit surprised at some of the stories.  And I didn’t even get to the part about how “I used to be Jimmy Buffett...” (long before I got to Nashville).

Sound Like Anybody You Know?

Notes from a productive Sunday:

A few minutes ago, I posted this to my Facebook:

So I’m going through some notes and I find one from Sal Cincotta that says ‘My clients are not looking for a photographer. They’re looking for an artist.” Mantra for the week? Check.

And then this showed up:

creativepeople

I think I’m detecting a trend here.  If not a downright theme for the coming week…