Boat on the Schuylkill River

July 2023 Update

posted in: Personal Essay, Photography, Reading, Writing | 0

The big news from July, at least in terms of this blog, was my changing its name and domain. I felt I had outgrown its previous identity, This Creative Midlife, and changed it to Being and Formulating, a name I used once before for a prior blog. I wrote a little more about that change earlier.

At the time, I didn’t mention much about the technical side of the change. I was surprised it was as easy as it was. I use SiteGround for hosting, and they have a built in function for switching the primary domain. It had been thiscreativemidlife.com. I already owned tomipri.com through SiteGround and was able to reassign my primary domain to that. All my content was preserved and all the internal links were updated. A redirect from thiscreativemidlife was automatically set up.

The only unnerving thing was it took 15-20 minutes for the changes to finalize so neither domain was working during that time.

Changing my domain nearly coincided with the lasted Google Analytics update. Knowing I was changing my domain, I didn’t take any of the recommended actions for thiscreativemidlife. Once my new domain was working, I set it up in the new Google Analytics 4. I then added Google Site Kit. I had previously used Exact Metrics but grew tired of their constant encouragement to pay for their premium version. This is just a personal blog so I don’t need premium services to be satisfied with it.

I was concerned that making all these changes would hurt my traffic (not that I’m all that concerned but it has been nice seeing it grow modestly over the 6 years I’m been posting). The opposite was true. In July, I had the most site visits (according to Jetpack) since March 2022.

I’m glad I made these changes. I like having the domain just be my name so I’m not committed to any particular approach or theme. If I tire of Being and Formulating, I can change it to something else without needing to change the domain again.

Of course, there was more to July than just working on this blog, but not much more as Philadelphia experienced some hot weather. Other than 4 days of mid- to upper-90s toward the end of the month, we didn’t have a lot of excessive heat, but it was consistently hot with a lot of humidity, and it didn’t cool off much at night. I feel thankful that we haven’t had the extreme weather other places have gotten.

The hot weather meant Holly and I didn’t do a lot during July.

We did get out to the Philadelphia Film Society’s Film Center a couple of times. The Film Center is showing all of the top 100 of the British Film Institute’s Greatest Films of All Time, and we went to see Barry Lyndon which is 45th on the list. We saw Chungking Express (88th) back in February. I’m guessing we’ll be seeing more now that they are into the top 50 films.

I’ve seen most of Kubrick’s movies but somehow never got around to Barry Lyndon and am glad I finally did as I enjoyed it quite a bit. Seeing it on the big screen was a treat.

The other movie we saw was Oppenheimer. I’ve long had an interest in depictions of the Cold War and nuclear confrontations in film so I was excited to see Oppenheimer and it didn’t disappoint.


Photography

Because of the heat, I went out only twice to take any photos. Holly and I went out early one Sunday for a short walk. I had hoped to be out a little longer, but we were deterred by the hot weather.

We walked to see the new construction for a new building for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHoP). I brought along my Nikon Z fc with my Nikkor 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 lens.

CHoP has buildings on both sides of the Schuylkill River. Their Roberts Center for Pediatric Research (which I’m a bit obsessed with taking picture of) is on our side of the river, and we can easily see it from our apartment. The new building is going up on our side of the Roberts Center so we will be able to see that going up once it gets tall enough. As of now, we can see the crane. We wanted to take a closer look. There wasn’t much to see except for the crane.

We were also interested in seeing the progress made on the Christian Street to Grays Ferry extension of the Schuylkill River Trail. We’re really excited for this extension since it will connect to part of the city that’s a little difficult for us to walk to. It’s starting to look like something, but it still has over a year before it opens.

I also took a few general pictures along out walk.


Writing

I finished reading The Making of a Story by Alice LaPlante. I had good intentions to work through all the exercises but started to discriminate as I went along since I wasn’t finding all of the valuable. Despite that, I found the book overall to be insightful. I’ve read a lot of writing books so much of what LaPlante had to offer wasn’t new to me, but it still served as a well-organized guide that often went more in-depth than a lot of other writing books. I imagine it would be a great book for a novice writer.

The selection of sample stories is excellent. Among others, it includes:

  • Sonny’s Blues, James Baldwin
  • The Swimmer, John Cheever
  • The Lady with a Little Dog, Anton Chekhov
  • Hills Like White Elephants, Ernest Hemingway
  • People Like That Are the Only People Here: Canonical Babble in Peed Onk, Lorrie Moore
  • Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been, Joyce Carol Oates
  • The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien

Although not all the exercises worked for me, the ones I did complete left me with a handful of story ideas, notes, or drafts.

I also signed up for InkersCon 2023. I had never heard of this conference before. I received a promotional email from Draft2Digital with a discount code. With the code, it cost $199 which didn’t seem too pricey for a virtual conference, especially since it included 30 presentation and additional recordings of many of the synchronous sessions.

By the end of the month, I watched 7 of the presentations and found most of them interesting. The conference focuses more on the business side of being an independent author so it hasn’t been 100% relevant to me at this point, but it has given me a lot to think about.

Several of the presentations have been by people who work like crazy to make 7-figure incomes. Which is good for them, but I don’t have the energy, ambition, or time to take that path so those have been interesting in a more abstract way.


Reading

In addition to The Making of a Story, I finished 3 books in July: Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul: Memories and the City, Stanley Tucci’s Taste: My Life Through Food, and Emma Cline’s The Guest.

I read Pamuk’s Snow shortly after it came out in 2004 and really enjoyed it. I was curious about his follow-up memoir but never got around to it until nearly 2 decades later. I was fascinated by his story of growing up in Istanbul and the ongoing tension between the history of the city and a drive toward modernity. The book is a mix of the culture of the city, memories of his family, and thoughts about his favorite writers and artists.

June and the first half of July were a bit rough at work. As I mentioned in my June 2023 Update, I treated myself to some bibliotherapy. Tucci’s Taste was a welcome respite from the stress of my job, although it got a little darker at the end than I anticipated. But reading about Italian food was a delightful escape.

I had bought other books along with Taste that I had planned to get to, but I had a library hold on The Guest, and it became available as I was finishing Taste. I read The Girls, Daddy, and much of what she’s written for The New Yorker and have liked them all. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about The Guest but ended up loving it. Not only is the main character, Alex, hard to like, she’s also hard to understand. There’s something enigmatic about her and about the novel in general. It verges on being a picaresque novel as unemployed and indebted Alex takes up with a wealthy older man. When he kicks her out of his house, she wanders a vacation town taking up with a series of people she takes advantage of. Once I realized that the novel was structured in this way, I began to appreciate it for what it is.

Books Read in 2023

So far, I’ve read 21 books in 2023:


Being and Formulating Posts in 2023

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