First Post

There’s no smooth way to write The First Post.  I should know.  I’ve written three of them, the first (in 2008) of which ended thusly:

I don’t really feel like completely baring my soul all in one night, so we’ll stop here.

Whoa.  Let’s curb that attitude, young lady.

I think the awkwardness of blog introductions stems from an intense desire to begin on the right track.  To prove that you are not only justified in starting a blog, but that you’re going to be good at it.  Of course, you have to be careful not to betray earnestness.  You’re a blogger, but you’re also an artist who cannot be pinned down on a webpage.  You’re ironic and mysterious and lead a rich life the Internet can never truly know about.

Or maybe that’s just me and Kate Moss.

To reach my point, I thought that this time I would sidestep all the above complications and just spend my introductory post explaining what the heck my blog name means, and where it came from.

The phrase “in spec” has a rich history, most of which occurred in my own mind.  I decided at some point during my sophomore year of college that it is tragically unfair that one can say “in retrospect,” but when talking about the present, must say “at present.”  Why can’t we talk about spec?  Why can’t we say, “In spec, I’m regretting my decision to wear a Minnesota Vikings jersey in public”?

A few years later, I ranted on Eight Days a Week (my previous WordPress blog) about the injustice:

I’ve always thought it a terrible crime that one might say “in retrospect” when looking back upon something that’s already happened, but cannot say “in spec” when referring to something happening at present.  Of course, one can say “at present,” but that’s an entirely different phrase.  No relation to this mysterious “retrospect.”  And anyway, “at present” is boring.  It’s as if your mother, perhaps wearing the pea coat and netted hat of her early days, is tapping you on the shoulder and telling you that at present, you are not behaving properly.  Spec implies something much more romantic.  Spec implies spectacles.  Implies, by extension, rose-colored glasses.  Implies, then, Edith Piaf, implies Paris, implies yellow lights on the river, dark-capped apartment buildings with balconies pushing out.  And since dear Edith is not with us at present (she was once), and since we are currently not in Paris (we have been before), but rather on the living room rug with a sweaty dog leaning against our right knee, “in spec” seems to imply retrospect.  So while “at present,” (and this is me blatantly ignoring all free access to the OED which my UMM alum status hath granted me) only implies the current, “in spec,” while referring to living room rug, sweaty dog, right knee, actually encompasses much, much more.  Therefore, “in spec,” from now on, must for all romantic souls replace the colorless “at present.”

Does the rant make a lot of sense?  No.  Was it fun?  Yes.  And it would have remained in the archives had I not decided that the new blog needed a unique name.  I wanted my blog to stand out.  Because I’m an eldest child and must be noticed.

More than that, I wanted the name of my blog to somehow encompass what I write about.  “In Spec” to me implies the present but nods to the past (as explained in the above passage).  I blog about both: what I’m reading now, followed by a quirky coincidence from the 19th century, for instance.

In Spec implies other concepts as well:

It sounds like inspect, which is something I like to do here.  I like to examine, to inspect everyday stories and people and images and write about them as if they’re the most important things in the world.  Often, they are.

It sounds sort of goofy.  I do goofy here.  I also do silly, punny, awkward, clumsy, and tastefully humorous.

Finally, spec, the dictionary tells me, is an 18th century-originating abbreviation for “speculation.”  The definition is: “In the hope of success but without any specific commission or instructions.”  I think that sums things up nicely; that is exactly how I blog.  I plan, I plot, I live, but in the end, I write about whatever strikes me and hope for the best.  I don’t blog for a career, I don’t blog because someone told me to, I don’t blog because it’s trendy, I don’t blog because I know how to blog.  I blog because I love to write and because when I sit down in front of Mac at the end of the day, I hope I’ll have something to say.

But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Thank you for checking out In Spec.  If you decide you’d like to hang around, there’s a subscribe button on the left sidebar.  If you’d like to tell me to quit while I’m behind, there’s space for comments below.


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