How Blogs Die

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It’s been a little over a year since I started leavingamerika.com.  I wanted to use the URL leavingamerica.com, but the squatter who domain parked it wanted 18 thousand dollars, so that never happened.

When I started this blog, it was early in the Trump presidency.  I knew (a) this could be trouble for Arab-Americans, and (b) that I personally could not tolerate living in a country ruled by that asshole. So I made plans to leave the US.

At first I was going to move to Nice, France, but that turned out to be too expensive an option. So  I went to El Gouna, Egypt, instead, and blogged quite regularly about the following subjects:

  1. Becoming an American expat
  2. Leading the immigrant’s interstitial life
  3. Literature and philosophy and the search for meaning
  4. What happens when you get older, including depression and health issues
  5. Travel observations in the South of France and a vibrant Middle Eastern country

I thought that five-pronged radius of topics would be broad enough to elicit a readership of at least a few thousand followers.

It didn’t.

I thought my writing style was sufficiently engaging to attract many readers.

It wasn’t.

I thought the depth and real hurt that I talked about in some of the posts would resonate in some deep way with serious people, who, like myself, are adrift in this world,

This did not happen.

Most of the followers I did get (which never exceeded around 60) seemed to be bots that Followed this blog because of keywords like “travel” or “health” or “losing weight.” (I deleted most of them off my blog earlier today, btw.)

They never commented, of course.

In fact, the only 2 people actually commented on this blog, and one was an old friend, and another an articulate lady from Australia who had visited Dahab.

As for the rest, nothing, ever.

I did reach out to other blogs, in particular, to people who ran blogs about topics that interested me deeply — such as modern Arab fiction in translation, or Arab-American fiction, or what is happening to my once beloved city of Alexandria.

But the response I received from them was always tepid and often snarky. You always got the sense that somehow you were not important enough in their view.

In view of the anemic traffic (which I am publishing here, something very few blogs have had the courage to do unless they are successful), the inescapable conclusion is that leavingamerika.com is a failure.

Not through lack of trying, as I have worked hard to make it work, but it simply did not succeed.

So I’m shutting it down, except (possibly) for capsule book reviews, which may appear on a sporadic basis.

In the days ahead, I will cause many “legacy” posts to vanish, especially the ones I wrote during the past two months.

Then I will melt back into complete personal anonymity.

It will be as if leavingamerika.com never happened.

I may travel to the Oregon Trail this summer; I may move to NYC next month; or I may return to Gouna in the Fall — the return ticket is already booked, and the villa where I hung out with Sandy the cat earlier this year remains available, and the wilderness of the Eastern desert still beckons.

Whatever my future brings, dear strangers, you will never know about it, nor will you much care one way or the other.

Perhaps a blog is an amateur’s distraction, a conceit, a thing to do instead of jumping off a bridge, when your life blows up — or maybe it’s a way to avoid coming to terms with the reality that you cannot actually write at a professional level.

I have no advice to anyone about what I learned about why this blog failed, even with all the hundreds or original pretty pictures I posted and the tens of thousands of carefully crafted words I wrote during the past year.

I am past the age of 65, and my view of life is fairly standard for someone who has made it to that age — without turning into an arrogant dick or stabbing a conga line of people in the back along the way.

Sorry ya’ll found it so boring!

So long.

leaving america

Unto the breach

nytimes comment

First thing I did this morning was respond to a NYT editorial, and they published my comment. You can read it here.

gouna

Only three days left before I move my stuff out of here. I shall miss this place, despite its many faults, which I have documented in many, many prior posts.

gouna cat

I shall miss Sandy, who today decided she wanted to spend time with her Daddy in the house or on the back porch all day. It’s as if she knows something’s up, and when I go catch the bus at the front gate nowadays, she awaits anxiously, and is always there by the gate when I return, having waited hours for me to come back.

And this is a cat I shall abandon in 4 days.

gouna cat

Should I take her with me to the new place?  No. This is where she belongs, and I would only leave her again in a month’s time, when I return to America.

I’ll give the pool guy some money, and a bag of cat food, and tell him to fill Sandy’s bowl while I am gone, until one of this villa’s owner arrives on the 17th.

I look forward to moving to the new place.  There is more wind there (thus less bugs, presumably), and easier proximity to Abu Tig Marina and downtown, without having to rely on Gouna’s creaky old shuttle buses, with their over-talkative drivers. Maybe, also, there won’t be any Italians coming every weekend next door, or overly intrusive maintenance people, who love to linger on the street by this house, living their days in an unfree state of incessant sai’di conversations.

They say you are not a true expat unless you leave your country for a long period of time. I have been in Egypt for 6 months. Does that qualify?

Of course not.

Then again, how can I be an expat if I have merely returned to the country where I grew up?

I have kept this blog going to document what it’s actually like to leave the United States of America as a direct result of the November 2016 election.

It was a form of protest, yes, but also, more pointedly: a derisive refusal to continue to live in FLA amidst the unspeakably vile.

When I was in High School, I wrote a crappy short story called Kindred Asunder that I submitted in my Creative Writing class.

That was a very long time ago.

It looks like not much has changed; I was already on to this shit at 17, but had no answer to the implicit question: what do you do when there is no reconciliation possible; when it’s not that a divorce is needed; but there was never any true union in the first place?

It is obvious something is going to have to give. Something major, perhaps even catastrophic.

What is the thinking man or woman to do?

Well, instead of being consumed by impotent rage, and making the mistake of saying stupid inflammatory things, or worse, going postal, the true expat will retire to a walled garden, enjoy his mahshi, and keep an eye on the vulgarians from a safe distance.

Is that a cop out?

Absolutely.

The key to be a successful expat is not to stay in one place too long; never trust anyone; be honest without oversharing; have a valid Western passport; never get involved in local political discussions; and always have enough in the bank to keep the gig going.

If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s that there are people who are prepared to go as radical as necessary to control the outcome of things.

If you are thinking about becoming an expat, is that your fight?

Or do you cede ground to the rabid con artists and true believers and move on?

Well, that is the Gouna way, from what I have observed after living here for six months.

The only thing is, what happens if and when you’re cornered? When you run out of countries, or money, or room to breathe, and the so-called “populist”/fascisto walls close in on you everywhere you go? What happens when the orange grenade is about to blow your precious, little feathered world to smithereens?

What do you do then?

What do you do when the visigoths finally breach your lovely Epicurean walled garden?

Who is going to save your ass?

You?

leaving america

Breezy night

abu tig marina

Breeze on karaoke night

Finally the day has come for me to meet the real estate agent and sign the contract for the new villa, which I will be renting — insha’Allah! — from Dec 16 thru March 15th 2018.

If all goes through as expected, I shall be free in 12 days from having to endure the weekend nightmares of Abu Tig marina.

I’m looking forward to my wife booking a flight from the States and joining me quite soon.

Last night was not too bad: just the usual karaoke nonsense from Breeze.

They do this every Sunday night, with some loud-mouthed DJ trying to entice patrons to sing awful songs from the 70s.  It s really quite horrible to listen to,  but Breeze is on the other side of the marina from where I’m currently staying, and though water carries sound like there’s no tomorrow, the volume was not too bad, and the bar must have been empty, as the singing stopped early.

Watching the gut-wrenching news from the States, it is again doubly obvious that I was correct to expat out of the US.  I do not know if Trump will be impeached, but I do think Muller will get him de minimus on obstruction of justice charges, and serve this on a platter to Congress.

If the 2018 off-year elections result in the Repubs losing their majority in both houses, then Trump may be gone by the end of 2018, but will most likely not be imprisoned, in a deal that Congress will cut to keep the nation from civil war.

If on the other hand he fires Muller, watch out.

However, should nothing of consequence vis-a-vis the Groper in Chief happen as a result of this investigation, then you can expect the current tax bill, if it passes both houses and is signed into law, to provide a windfall for large corporations and the wealthy and quickly lead to massive deficits.

This would then lead Republican to achieve their true aim, which is to claim that in order to balance the budget they have to gut Medicaid and privatize Social Security as well as Medicare.

That is another scenario that could lead to the rupture of the United States, which at this point will have become a true kleptocracy that protects itself from overthrow or foreign attack with a massive standing army at its back.

Whichever way you look at it, living in the United States will become an untenable proposition for many Arab Americans, just to mention one demographic, who will be increasingly vilified and scapegoated as a group by this administration in order to divert attention from its catastrophic policies.

So my immediate goal is to secure for my wife and I a quiet, safe, nice place to live, in an affordable part of the world.

Here nutjobs who may be out to harm me simply on the basis of my name will be unable to Google me, find out my address, and drive up to the house and shoot me in the face in my driveway.

I am not joking or being an alarmist; I have lived in Florida for 16 years, and know exactly what I am talking about through past, deeply-disturbing personal experiences.

Things are fast going to go badly — as if they have not already– in the US in the coming year, and Trump and his minions will continuously try to stir up the pot by doing things like declaring Jerusalem the capital of Occupied Palestine, or attempting unwanted state visits to the UK, and other circus acts that do nothing but roil the world, instead of providing calm, steady global leadership.

One day, things may fundamentally change in American politics, such that a Trump-like presidency can never happen again,

But until that day, I’m staying as far away as possible.

 

leaving america