No Second Gunman on the Grassy Knoll

This morning, I read a post from a blogger who hadn’t updated in several months. She explained away her absence by admitting that she had fallen out of love with blogging because, in a nutshell, she found herself writing to please others instead of being true to herself. Once she amassed a following thanks to a couple of Freshly Pressed posts, she began censoring her thoughts in order to avoid offending others, whereas before she had written whatever she wanted and never had to worry about what anybody else thought…because there wasn’t anybody else reading. Tori found herself suppressing her views on politics and race, among other topics.

Immediately before that, I read an update from a blogger who is the exact opposite: he never holds anything back. I’m convinced that if you look up the word “TMI” in the dictionary you’ll find a picture of Ron. But his posts are funny as hell. Most of the time, anyway. Today he wrote how he believes that 9/11 was an inside job orchestrated by the government. Personally, I could not disagree more. I rarely subscribe to the whole “grassy knoll/second gunman” types of conspiracy theories many folks cling to. But, I do believe in ghosts and think aliens exist, if not in a hangar near Area 51 then somewhere in the universe, at least. So, who am I to judge?

I appreciate the dichotomy of these two individuals, and can relate to each of them.

I’ve alluded to having another blog before. It’s no secret that I met Tara through our mutual writing there. I wrote, off and on, for about ten years at the “other place.” I eventually gave it up, and while there were several reasons for my departure, a big one was because I, too, felt the way Tori does. I think it’s a problem common to many bloggers: you start out with good intentions, just looking for a place to record your thoughts and feelings, but eventually people discover you, start following, leave comments, and suddenly you’re writing FOR them instead of TO them. The name of my blog over there was very telling: “Here We Are Now, Entertain Us.” Which is exactly what I was doing. Once upon a time I wrote honest, heartfelt entries about my failing relationship and eventual divorce, words that captured every detail of what I was going through at the time. Reading that stuff today is downright painful, because the emotions were so raw. Sometimes when I think “maybe things weren’t that bad,” I’ll look back on that fateful summer and remember that they were, if anything, even worse than I remembered. It’s good to have that record, if nothing else.

It’s a sign! (Courtesy of

Those entries attracted a very large following, because – let’s face it – people love drama. But after the drama faded and I was happily ensconced in my new townhouse (and new life), I felt the pressure to entertain these people. I began holding back personal thoughts and focused instead on less trivial (yet humorous) matters. But, that wasn’t what I wanted to write about. Like Tori, I fell out of love with the very act of writing.

So, I came to WordPress in 2010 for a fresh start. After experimenting for a bit to figure out what course my writing would take, I settled on the idea of a blog that would incorporate both Ron-style honesty (I too have been accused of oversharing at times) and The Other Blog-type humorous anecdotes. It’s a combination that works well for me: one day I’m writing about being deprived of a Big Wheel or making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, and the next I’m pouring my heart out with declarations of love for Tara, or cursing the bastards at my last job for letting me go. It’s a nice balance for me, and unlike over at the other place, I never feel pressured to make people laugh or entertain them. Yes, some of my posts are entertaining, but I’m still writing them for me and not anybody else. Hell, my comments have decreased by half these past few months, yet I’m churning out more posts than ever.

I’ll admit it hasn’t been without its share of challenges, the biggest one being the fact that my family and friends read the blog. At least at the other place, I toiled away in relative obscurity. Nobody knew the blog existed, not even my ex-wife, not even when things were decent between us. Now I’ve got my parents reading, my girlfriend, her mom, my brother and sister-in-law, my close friends. Even, on occasion, the ex-wife.  Sometimes, that’s scary.  My parents, for instance, were convinced that when I was unemployed I shouldn’t be writing “down with corporate America and by the way I’m drinking at 3:00 in the afternoon in my pajamas” posts as that could have negatively affected my job search. I don’t think it ever did (and besides, I usually waited until 4:00 to drink), but I still had to contend with their vocal disapproval. At least I didn’t fall into the self-censorship trap. And for the record, they’re great about the blog, often suggesting topics for me to write about.

So I’ll keep on keeping on, as they say. In fact, because I haven’t rattled the cage quite enough lately, here are a few random thoughts sure to bug some people. I throw these out there as a show of solidarity to Tori, and any other bloggers hesitant to speak their minds.

  1. I am convinced that, if Mitt Romney is elected President, America won’t “go to hell in a hand basket,” but we will take an enormous step backwards in terms of progressiveness. Not only did he support health care reform in Massachusetts, but his plan served as the blueprint for Obama’s own care package – which Romney wants to repeal.  How does that make the least bit of sense? The man is an expert at sticking his foot in his mouth (am I right, London and Palestine?), has waffled on many issues besides healthcare (including evolution, automotive industry bailouts, “don’t ask, don’t tell,” abortion, and LGBT rights), would probably fire a nuclear missile at Iran the first chance he got, is completely out of touch with the average citizen, and his social views are downright antiquated. Then again, that’s the problem with the Republican Party as a whole.  Ideologically, they’re stuck in the 1950s. It wasn’t always this way. Abraham Lincoln was a pretty amazing guy, and also – gasp! – a Republican.
  2. On the issue of gay marriage: why is this even an issue in the first place? Who cares if a gay couple wants to get married? Why is it ANY of your concern?! Should women be allowed to vote? Should black people be confined to the back of the bus? Discriminating against gays is just another form of racism. I have zero patience for intolerance. Live and let live, dammit! That would make the world a better place. And if you think “but the Bible says…” is an argument that is going to sway me, boy, are you mistaken.
  3. Dave Matthews is overrated. There, I said it.

I know there are people reading who will disagree with me, and that’s great! It’s what makes this country so wonderful: the fact that we aren’t all pigeonholed into the same sets of beliefs. I’m all about diversity, after all. Some of my closest friends are staunch conservatives but still great people, and I know a few liberals who are real pricks. I’ll never make crass assumptions about anybody without getting to know them first. The bottom line is, if you respect me, I’ll respect you.

Now, blog away, my friends! I’m curious to know, are there topics you shy away from in your writing? How true to yourself are you on your blog? Do you hate the idea of self-censorship or view it as a necessary component of the whole blogging experience?


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

34 thoughts on “No Second Gunman on the Grassy Knoll

  1. Oh Mark, I pretty much just love you! Well, as much as a lesbian who lives across the country and has never met you, but read you at both places so we kinda have history for years,(or at least I have your history) could love you!

    I agree on numbers 1 and 2……and half of number 3. He and I have a love/hate relationship!


    1. Hottest comment ever…lol.

      Seriously, thanks for following along over the years, Kristen. It always makes me smile when people from “over there” show up over here. Like you…and Sarah below. 🙂


  2. Aw, I believe we met while you were blogging at ‘the other place’ too. I still read over there, but write less frequently. Somehow, I feel like I have less to say, or its just too mundane, or whatever. But I’m glad we *did* meet, because you’ve become one of my favorite blog friends! 🙂

    Also, on your numbered items:

    1. I seriously am afraid what will happen if Romney gets elected president. I worry especially for my health rights as a woman, considering their stance on abortion, wanting to revoke funding to planned parenthood (do they even REALIZE how many people that place HELPS?), etc.

    2. I think that if you want to get married, you should be able to get married. Doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, or purple.

    3. I do secretly like Dave Matthews.


    1. Aww…thanks, Sarah! I agree: we’ve become pretty close away from “over there.” I always remember the way you would gather your favorite comments from the previous month and post those as an entry. It was a kick seeing my name up there from time to time!

      And personally, I don’t see how anybody who is a woman or a minority or not straight would ever consider voting for Romney.


  3. ” I’m convinced that if you look up the word “TMI” in the dictionary you’ll find a picture of Ron”

    Bwhahahahahaha! Do ya think?

    Hell no, I don’t shy away from any topic on my blog. However, when I first started blogging I was very tentative about what I shared, but as time moved on I’ve opened up more.

    My thing is this…as long as you say something without TRYING to offend anyone and being mean, and are open to hearing your readers counter-opinions, then it works. And I have to say in the 5 years that I’ve had my blog, I’ve never had anyone freak out about what I share. They may not have agreed with me, but they didn’t get nasty about. I think it’s all in how you say something.

    I agree on #1 and #2. But I don’t even know who Dave Matthews is, sorry.

    Blog on buddy!


    1. At The Other Place, I did get into some unpleasant dust-ups from time to time. Then again, the atmosphere was different. I can’t explain it…but it was.

      Thanks for the bountiful TMI and laughs, Ron!


  4. I’m glad you are staying true to yourself, Mark. This is your blog. Nobody else’s and so what if people don’t agree with everything you say. That is just their opinion. I may not agree with some things and that’s okay too. I will never say…”Oh Mark…you are so wrong on so many levels” because quite frankly, I respect what your ‘level’ is.

    I’m not a judge and I’m not the moral police. I have my own beliefs and one thing we can agree on is that yes, the world is going to go to hell in a handbasket but the reason I know it’s going is not the same as yours.

    I think I’m rambling so I will quit now!


  5. When I really sit down & think about it #2 just blows my mind! I can not believe it’s even an issue! How does gay marriage affect any of us & why is it any of our business? Someday school kids will read about this & think how crazy we all were.

    #1. I’m so bitter towads politicians…all of them make me sick.

    #3. Me too….God! He’s awful!

    P.S. I’ve often wondered what it’s like to have your parents reading your blog. I could never, ever do it!


    1. It can be a real kick having my parents read the blog. Sometimes. Occasionally I’ll pause while I’m writing something and think, “Do I REALLY want to post this?” Invariably, I always do, though.

      You’re totally right about school kids looking back on this period in our history someday and just shaking their heads in disbelief. I can’t wait for that day to come!


  6. I agree with you on 2 out of 3…I hate DM and could care less who marries who. So that being said, I agree with you 66% of the time but have always liked you 100% of the time. Wish our jobs caused us to cross paths more often. I might have to actually drive 25 minutes north to see you,. Damn.


  7. Dig your soapbox Mark. I appreciate your honesty and openness. I think you’ve crafted a blog where dialogue and differences are ok. I bet that’s innate with how you lead your life.

    Here’s to blogging your mind! Now do you want me to sing a little En Vogue for you? *free your mind! and the rest will follow…*

    What? You don’t like them?


    1. Love your comment, Jess. And you’re right: I do try to live my life exactly that way.

      And no, I do NOT like En Vogue. So stop it, you!! I don’t want to be songbombed with them before heading to work!


  8. I used to write at “that other place”, and we may (or may not) have exchanged the odd note, but I was a regular reader of yours and was disappointed when you left. Not sure how it was I fell on this blog, but I recognized you immediately. Weird.

    Your writing and your choice of topics still amuse me… I’m so glad you found love again, and a kick ass job!

    There… I feel like I came out of the closet. Hope you don’t feel “overexposed”


    1. Hey…I remember you!!

      Wait. Was that a different lurker?!

      In any case, thank you for stepping out of the shadows to say hi. I appreciate that, and I’m glad you thought of enough of me to follow along over here.


      1. oh cool that you didn’t run screaming from the room. Something else about you has been hanging in the back of my head for a while. I recall you once wrote about discovering you were Czech (or Hungarian, or some other eastern European descent)…. and that your family was from (Dobo)Ruska?….. well MY mothers family is from (Dobo)Ruska… a village of what? 32.4 people… weird.


      2. Close. I always thought I was Czech but discovered I might actually be Hungarian. (And I’ve since learned I’ve got Polish blood, too). The village my ancestors hailed from is Trebisov, which is in Slovakia today but hasn’t necessarily always been thanks to shifting borders.


  9. Awesome post, sir. With you on all counts (I’ve been scared to admit my blah feelings towards Dave Matthews for a long, long time as most of my friends are barefoot music fest hippies).


  10. I completely understand Mark, about feeling like you have to hold back…I stopped holding back years ago and started speaking my mind a little more freely and lost about 50% of my clientele. You know what though? I like going to work now! 🙂
    In the process of our honesty, we sometimes offend people unknowingly, but other times, it draws other like- minded people to us. Like attracts like 🙂
    Maybe you and I should get together and talk about some topics that we can both write about and challenge each other. The fact that we’re family will make it even better 🙂


    1. Not a bad idea, Esther. I’m game if you are. I sort of did change things up here and began writing about specific incidents instead of the daily playback I’d been doing after we talked that one time. Not that I have anything against the daily playback, but it’s nice to give my parents a guilt trip over never having a Big Wheel.

      Don’t tell them I said that.

      Oh, wait…

      Like DOES attract like. I’m actually surprised I haven’t had anybody say anything negative about this post. I guess being respectful also breeds respect.


  11. I agree with all 3 points. Although add John Mayer in with Dave Matthews. Never have understood the love, but that’s what having different opinions is all about. 🙂 And I was over at the “Other Place” as well, so when I found out you where you ended, I stalked….oops, I mean followed you over here. 🙂 (although I’m not really a stalker……..I’m more of a drive-by kinda gal.) Heh.


  12. I have no opinion on your politicians except I was excited to see Barack Obama take office because I liked his platform. I still like his platform, I think he needs more support to help put your country back on track.
    I find I do censor my writing now since I discovered my daughter follows my blog. I wanted desperately to participate in K8did’s Seven Deadly Sins writing challenge. I wrote the post, I poured my heart & soul into the post, but couldn’t bring myself to post it because I did not want my daughter to know certain things about my past. I stopped writing for a long while after that because I was totally drained & could not get the release I needed. I would like to get back to being able to write what I want, I have to figure out the balance.


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