Last week I finished watching Ken Burns’ recent documentary on the life of Ernest Hemingway, which was honestly a match made in heaven for me. Burns is my favorite documentary filmmaker and Hemingway is one of my favorite novelists.

Whenever I hear that Ken Burns is releasing anything, I get excited. The quality never dips an inch, and each one feels like the result of years upon years of painstaking effort. His 17-hour epic on the Vietnam War took Burns 10 years to make. And just as the quality remains the same, so too does the style. Together, his 30-plus…


Like most kids I went through a series of phases. I had my Pokémon phase, my gelled-up hair phase, my building-things phase, et cetera. At age eleven I had my dragon phase. I’ve touched on this before in a previous blog post centered around the notebooks I’d fill with dragon cartoons during class at that age. Today I’d like to revisit the other half of my high school dragon cartooning- the trading cards I made and took home to laminate.


I’ve always been the guy with a plan; now I have no clarity whatsoever

Photo by RetroSupply on Unsplash

I knew that I wanted to study Creative Writing at university when I was twelve years old. From that point forward, I focused everything on building towards this very specific, seemingly achievable goal. Looking back on it, I can’t help but feel like my trajectory as a person must have been the inverse of most people. I had this clarity of purpose that lasted ten years, and it was only after I graduated that I didn’t know what to do with myself. Whereas most people around me didn’t seem to know what to do with their lives in their teenage…


Do you ever get the spooky feeling that the world at large is reacting to your personal choices? Not too long ago I finished reading Mary Beard’s SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome for the first time, and no sooner had I put the book down than it came to my attention that a brand new Nero exhibition was opening at the British Museum and a new TV drama centered on the life of Livia Drusilla was being released. I know the universe isn’t actually stalking me Truman Show style, but the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. …


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I remember the first time I watched a live football match. It was June 21st, 2002. I was nine years old and the whole school had gathered in the assembly hall to watch England play Brazil in the World Cup quarterfinals. I don’t remember anything from the actual game itself. At the time I wasn’t interested football. But I do have a vivid memory of the occasion, particularly the aftermath. Brazil beat England 2–1, and I can recall the moment the teachers led each group of students back to their classrooms. …


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In my Year in Review post for 2020, I mentioned how the COVID-19 pandemic reaffirmed my need for strong guidelines with clearly-defined, specific, and actionable targets. I found that I needed a pre-built structure in order to be productive day-to-day. After all, I’m at home. There’s nothing that can physically stop me from staying in bed as late as I want or deciding I’m “done for the day” as early as I feel like it. There’s no supervisor to ensure I work at a certain pace. …


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Last week I went a little meta by writing a blog post about me blogging. Today I’m gonna double-down on that and write a blog post about a blog post about me blogging.

Don’t worry, I promise it makes sense. I won’t keep doing this ad infinitum. It’s just that after reviewing my last post, it occurred to me that I might have raised a few questions worth answering.

I’m pretty happy with the piece itself. I didn’t realize until after it was finished how much I needed to write it. The whole thing felt like coming up for air…


Howdy.

I feel like it’s been a hot minute since I’ve addressed my readers directly- and perhaps that’s the problem right there.

When I started this blog, I wanted to connect with people and build relationships. And when I say relationships, I don’t necessarily mean anything so advanced as lifelong friendships, but simply a feeling that my posts were worth something to others. I wanted to build a dialogue, however limited that might be. In my previous two posts I wrote about the limited dynamic between a content creator and those that consume the content. It’s not the same as…


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In my last post I discussed the nature of parasocial relationships- what they are, how they form, and how they contrast (or indeed align) with the standard relationships we build offline. I did a quick Google search to see how others have defined the phenomenon, and the one I like best comes from the website findapsychologist.org:

“Parasocial relationships are one-sided relationships, where one person extends emotional energy, interest and time, and the other party, the persona, is completely unaware of the other’s existence.”

It’s that simple. As I said in the previous post, this term predates the internet, and goes…


Photo by Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash

For the past 3 years, I’ve been using ASMR to help me get to sleep every night. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced the tingly skin-orgasm that you’re supposed to get when consuming ASMR. For me it’s just something generally relaxing that I’ve now gotten used to and can’t imagine doing without. It’s kinda like white noise, the same way certain people find it easier to sleep if there’s a nearby fan making a constant whirring sound. Total silence can be distracting. Therefore, the brand of ASMR I listen to is very specific; I don’t like ones…

Michael J. Vowles

Freelance writer, occasional traveler, full-time ice cream taster. I run a blog at https://tumbleweedwrites.com where I ramble with enthusiasm.

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