Happy blogiversary to meeeeee!
Actually, no. Not really. I was just looking at my blogging files and suddenly realised that they go all the way back 2016. 2016, you guys.
Okay, it’s not that long. But really – who knew I had that many words in my head? Well, coherent ones, anyway. I did not.
So, I’m not sure when I actually started my blog. Ahem. I started it on Weebly, because it was just so easy, before realising that I was going to have to switch to WordPress if I wanted to be able to do anything fancy with it. I’m still not sure I’ll ever actually do anything fancy with it, but, you know. I could if I wanted. Anyhow, when I switched I just got really fed up with the whole importing blog posts and re-jigging images and everything, so not all my blog posts made it across. And the old website’s long gone. And because I can be very organised, but often choose not to be, I appear not to have saved any of my original blog posts. Which means the oldest blog post I have is from when I started using Novlr writing software to write them, which was in April of 2016. I actually discovered that I have a load of blogs and short stories over on Novlr, and I don’t use that any more either – I couldn’t even remember the password to get into it. I feel like a small child, scattering debris behind me and not picking it up again, even though the odds are I’m going to want it again.
So, my blogiversary was actually sometime before April 2016, but it’s close enough. Plus, I like that first blog post I found, so I’m going to inflict it on you below. It’s about an octopus.
And what have I learnt in two years of blogging (ignoring the few months where I ignored the blog entirely)?
- The blogs you like the least always seem to be the ones everyone else likes the most.
- It’s okay to be personal. In fact, it’s necessary.
- No matter how many times you spell and grammar check, you won’t catch everything – particularly really blindingly obvious mistakes.
- The cat is more popular than I am.
- Dragons are more popular than anyone else.
- Bloggers are, by and large, wonderful people.
- Save your damn blog posts somewhere you can find them again.
- If all else fails, interview the cat or the dragon.
I think that’s pretty good going for two years of blogging. And it’s also reminded me that later on this year it’ll be two years since Beaufort made his grand, barbecue-festooned entrance. I did manage to find his first story hidden on Novlr, but I can’t find the date. It may have been November. Or maybe October. Either way – I’m going to have to think of something special for his birthday. As befits the High Lord of the Cloverly Dragons.
But for now – a blog about an octopus escapologist.
(April 17th, 2016)
There was a fantastic story that popped up this week, about Inky the octopus’ great escape from a New Zealand aquarium. I cheered him on – I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s not like he’s a large, hungry polar bear, or an enraged banker, is he? He’s not likely to wreak havoc on the local chippie, or with your grandmother’s pension plan. He’s just a small, multi-limbed being who had had enough of being pointed at by small children and manhandled by aquarium workers. Or octopus-handled. I’m not sure of the exact terminology, here. Person-handled? Be that as it may, I love – love – the fact that he didn’t make a break for it during the day, but instead waited until the middle of the night to clamber out of his tank, sneak across the floor, and head for the outside world.
But those poor other fish, though. They would have all been shouting: “Inky, Inky, come on! Just open the tank? Please! We won’t slow you down…” Then again, they’re fish, so opening the tanks probably wouldn’t have been any help at all, except to the other octopus in residence, who goes by the unfortunate name of Blotchy, and apparently wasn’t as intelligent or as personable as our hero. That I can see: “No, Blotchy, you’ll only slow me down. Besides, I never liked you much anyway.” And then our brave cephalopod vanishes down the drain and is away for the cool green waters of Hawkes’ Bay.
The whole story was wonderful – not least the description of Inky as being a bit of a “surprise octopus”, which had me imagining him hiding behind coral heads to shoot ink at aquarium workers, while yelling “Gotcha!” Well, it must get boring in a fish tank. But it also got me thinking about freedom, and captivity, and about how we carry our own prisons with us. Some of us inherit them, some of us are given them, some of us build them for ourselves, and we’ve become so accustomed to them that we barely notice they’re there. Often, we’ve been carrying them since childhood.
They come in lots of forms, some of them so cleverly constructed that they’re like safari parks – we think we’re free even when we’re not. We even look free to other people. But there are limits to our freedom. And I don’t mean big limits – don’t do this because you’ll get arrested/die/be disowned by your great-aunt Alda. (Assuming you like your great-aunt Alda, and that this is an undesirable outcome). These are smaller, more insidious confines – if those are the zoo walls, these are our artfully designed enclosures. Beautiful, looking like freedom, but prisons nonetheless. And, unlike Inky, we don’t set ourselves the task of testing the limits of our enclosures on a regular basis. If we notice them, we accept them. Hey, we think, they keep us safe. They keep all the other stuff out (and the other stuff is always scary). They’ve always been there. Everyone’s got them.
All of which, of course, are pretty rubbish reasons for staying in a fish tank when there’s an ocean at the other end of the drainpipe.
Maybe we should be channelling a little octopus bravery and testing the limits of our captivity. Maybe it’s as simple as talking to the neighbour we only nod at but think we might become friends with, given the chance; or as complex as packing the job in, selling our stuff and stepping out on the road to somewhere else. Maybe it’s saying no when you’d normally say yes, or having hot sauce instead of mayonnaise. Maybe it’s joining a sports team or going to a restaurant on your own or reading a book you wouldn’t normally read. Little things, right? (Well, other than the quitting your job and heading off into the sunset one. If you do that, I absolve myself of all responsibility. This is a blog post inspired by an octopus. Don’t get your life advice from a blog that takes inspiration from such dubious sources.) Our confines are so often created by our fears and reinforced by our behaviour, and sometimes it doesn’t hurt to shake the bars a little. Maybe you’ll decide that actually, no, this is more than enough room, like a reef fish cruising his own little domain, with all the clean water and good food and reef fish nookie he needs. But maybe you’ll find you need to expand things a little more, a moray eel that has her home but roams the reef at night.
Or you might just go, bollocks to it. I’m an octopus.
I may need to rethink my previous statement regarding coherent ideas. It has only the loosest relationship to the facts. Although I do stand by my directions not to take life advice from a blog that gets its inspiration from escaped cephalopods.
How about you, lovely people? What were you writing and reading at this time two years ago? (Or, you know, what other stuff were you doing? I do realise that some people have a life outside writing and reading. Understand, no, but realise yes. 😉 ) Let me know below!