This is the twelfth or thirteenth Iron Noder I have participated in, and will be (hopefully) the eleventh I have completed. Every year has been different, both in what I was doing on E2, and in the circumstances of my outside life.
Looking back, in all of 2007, I had 19 writeups on E2. By 2007, the initial rush of being on E2, going back to 2001, had faded. "Write about random thing on the internet" was no longer fun. It seems that like a lot of people, I had grown out of E2. 2008 wasn't looking too hot, either, until sometime in September, when I decided to write about Yamhill County, Oregon, a non-spectacular subject that I managed to find interesting things to say about. And it just started something: I realized that I could write about anything, and that it didn't have to be particularly cool, internet-wise, or a grand thesis. I could just make note of interesting things. And the first Iron Noder solidified that. Or I assumed it did: this was 2008, I was still in my 20s, and my memories are hazy. And that kicked off a regular period of writing. I would return every year for another Iron Noder. Some of those years seem to have a unifying enthusiasm, others I was phoning it in. When I look back at my 2011 writeups, I can't remember what was going on. With 2012, I do: I had gotten a job offer to start teaching community college in Brookings, Oregon, and had tied the notion of success in with doing well at Iron Noder. I wrote 101 writeups for 2012. My next noteworthy Iron Noder was 2017, after two years away. I had been in Chile, and had thought my new life as a glamorous international ESL teacher meant I was too cool for writing on the internet. But after a year and a half in Chile, I returned to wanting to express myself here. My writeups in 2017 were unified in theme, not intentionally, and they inspired me to spend 2018 writing a book, my Autogeobiography. All of this paragraph meaning that over the years, my response to Iron Noder has been up and down, sometimes dealing with exterior events, sometimes with personal events, and sometimes I have just had more on my mind than other years.
All of which brings us to 2020. A year that I am sure will be seen as pivotal in United States history, to say the least. A time that, despite its difficulties overall, is not that bad for me. as of yesterday, I have a job. The election meant that one of the worst movements in United States politics is now over, or at least curtailed, and I am keeping busy with inaturalist and making movies on YouTube. I do have very limited social activities. Meaning, basically, none. I am mostly inside my hermetically sealed little apartment, trying to keep myself busy with little games, but being very uncertain about what the larger future holds.
I also wonder how this will reflect to people reading my writings of this year, in the future. It is often difficult to realize how much history is influencing us, at the time. Perhaps when I, or someone else, reads my writeups this year, in future times, it will be obvious that they were the product of a difficult time. My Iron Noder output this year includes three writeups about chewing gum marketing campaigns from a generation previously: something that does not seem to be directly related to living in a country with a pandemic and that had a swirling civil war around it. Maybe it was! Maybe it is obvious in context that I was writing those things out of nostalgia for a simpler time. But for me, my Iron Noder in this plague year has been like so many activities in 2020: a muddled attempt to do something, anything, while waiting for things to resolve themselves.