What I’ve learned from a year of blogging

I started this site, I think in comics, exactly a year ago today. It started as a place for me to vent my usually incoherent ramblings about my life– but since then, it’s garnered a couple dozen readers, a few thousand views, and even a post that went minor-league viral.

Spectacular, I know.

Regardless, I’ve published 126 posts this year (including this one) which, to me, is a surprisingly large amount. How did I even find the time to write all of those? What did I even write about? Did I gain anything from all of that work? Well, in all of this writing and drawing and blogging, I had to have learned something, right?

Right?

1. How to draw really fast

Between this blog and Minus One, I’ve had to draw a ton in this last year. Specifically, drawing with a tablet directly into Photoshop. Drawing with a tablet feels much different from drawing on paper, mostly because of the disconnect between hand and image. (You draw on one surface, but it shows up on another) As a result, I used to be very very slow and shaky with my tablet. But since all this year I’ve been all

I’ve gained the skill of

Despite all this, though, I haven’t become any better at drawing. Only faster. I’m afraid to say that in this coming year I will still continue to look like a misshapen munchkin.

2. I need to call my parents more

I say this because this happened once:

Yeah. I’m a bad daughter.

3. The internet is a big and scary place

So I started this blog for myself, but at the same time, have tried to promote it. I started a twitter, and a tumblr, and a Facebook page, but to be honest I have no idea what to do with them or what the proper etiquette is or how to make them equally fun and engaging. I am not social media savvy. 

More recently I’ve been posting my blog onto Reddit (while trying to follow reddiquette– I post other links too!) and people there aren’t afraid to be honest. It’s not a bad thing– people often offer tips and advice and corrections which I’ve found very helpful. You just have to have a thick skin sometimes. And I haven’t been trolled yet… knock on wood.

4. Even my parents read my blog. I have to watch what I say.

There are people who blog anonymously, or sometimes not anonymously, and treat their blog as the great confessional. And there’s nothing wrong with that. As for me, though, I have family and friends reading my blog. Therefore I’ve established a two rules for myself:

1. Ask before writing about someone else

My college friends can attest. I’ve often asked them permission to write about something before writing it. It would get awkward if people had to tiptoe around me, afraid that what they said was going to be blogged. The very last thing I want to do is to hurt, embarrass, or offend anybody from a post, even if it makes for a funny story. So it can’t hurt to check. Anyway, when I ask, the answer is usually

2. Don’t say on your blog what you wouldn’t tell someone in real life

I have bad days too. I’ve been tempted to write some emo posts. But I don’t enjoy getting all teary on people in real life, so there’s no reason I should do it here. Nobody wants to hear that.

These are my own rules, though, not anybody else’s. Some bloggers are fueled by writing about controversial topics, or by lambasting others, or by passionately writing about their greatest hopes and fears. I’ve seen these blogs, and tons and tons and tons of them are absolutely brilliant. But that’s not me.

5. Everybody’s life is interesting, if you spin it the right way

I know I’ve been to Japan and Germany, but usually my life is pretty ordinary. I go to college. Study. Hang out with friends. You know, normal stuff.

And there have been many, many times where I’ve been struck by the dreaded

What I’ve tried to do, then, is to find humor in everyday life. Like riding elevators. Or getting a helmet. Or having allergies. Not all of these posts are that hilarious, mind you. But it’s made me look at my life differently– to see how the mundane can, actually, be a funny story.

In other words, maybe my life isn’t so boring after all.

And that’s what I’ve learned after a year of blogging. And now, on to the next year!

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I’m gonna be a judo master (once I learn to, uh, roll on the ground)

I’ve always wanted to learn a martial art.

I’m going to admit that it’s partially because of comics. When your first manga (which I read at the tender age of 7) was about badass cyborg hunter-warriors beating the bloody crap out of each other, the ability to fight would seem desirable.

When I was in middle school, in fact, I coerced my parents into signing me up for a karate class. Except it was Tiger Schulmann’s Karate, a large mixed martial arts chain in my region. I soon discovered that the class was more about building little kids’ self-esteem than actually learning karate. Kids advanced belts depending on how long they had been at the dojo and not so much on skill. When I got there, I was already better than many of the kids. (Just because I was older and more coordinated, and they were like, 6 years old.) And, being in my cynical pre-teen years, I quickly tired of my “sensei” preaching the value of believing in myself.

And then I transferred to another dojo that was so hardcore I was scared out of my mind. Thus ended my venture into karate.

But now, I’m a bit more mature.  I understand that martial arts takes commitment. It takes practice and refinement. I’m old enough to understand that I won’t be able to learn it instantly.

And I’m still immature enough to want to beat the crap out of people.

Well, okay, only in self-defense and if they attack me first. But living in a city– I’d like to know how to defend myself, you know?

So this semester, I signed up for one of Northeastern’s instructional programs, for judo. For those who don’t know what judo is, it’s a modern and combative martial art that focuses on grappling rather than striking. It’s been refined into a competitive sport, complete with rules, a scoring system, and an official slot at the Olympics. Northeastern has a team, which appealed to me– I could be able to pursue judo beyond just a basic class!

Granted, of course, that I survive.

I’ve been to a few classes, and it’s hysterically fun. I also suck at it. Our sensei is a large man from Thailand who resembles a giant panda (one that could kill you in an instant, of course)

He’s a hilarious guy, though absolutely serious about his sport. Some of the stories he’s told us…

Cheerful. Then again, it’s entirely true. Judo is a sport of throwing. If you can’t protect yourself when you’re thrown, you could be seriously injured. Our sensei also told us how

So far, then, we’ve primarily been learning how to, well, roll on the ground. Which sounds like it’s easy. Except I suck at it. No kidding– I’m the worst in the class.

Oh, sigh. Sensei even had to defend me:

It matters little, though. I’ve never really had much natural athletic ability– I’m the type who needs lots and lots and lots of practice. So I’ll get better! And I love the class– it’s surprisingly fun! While we spent the first class rolling and learning how to fall, we moved onto something a little different the second class:

Even more awkward was when I was paired up with a guy:

Even more awkward was when we learned our first grapple hold:

But the class is really, really fun! I absolutely love it, even if I do suck. I just wish I had more free time to practice. Because I definitely need to catch up with the rest of the class…

One of these days, I tell you! I will be a JUDO MASTER!