Who is Chris Miller?
What is Placeholder?
A few months ago I noticed that a handful of readers were being directed to this blog from some new sources. When I checked into the origins, I found that a number of websites had published the same article, which in turn directed them here. Called The 40 Best Peace Corps Blogs, as far as I could tell it originated from a site called Online Education Database. I don’t know anything about the site, or how they came up with their top 40 list, but I certainly was flattered to see my blog sitting in the #5 slot (actually I’m not sure if the 40 blogs are intended to be listed in rank order, but either way, I appreciate just being included on the list at all).
When I read the blurb that corresponded with this blog, though, I was curious about where they got their information.
First of all, I never really thought of this site as a “Peace Corps blog.” When I started the site, I really wasn’t sure what I would end up writing about, what the focal point would be. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be centered on Peace Corps. I wanted it to be something broader than that, something harder to pin down. I wanted to leave it as wide open as possible, to use a big, undefined bucket in order to catch whatever fell my way. I wasn’t interested in writing about Peace Corps, per se, but wanted to capture the experiences of a stranger living in a strange land. Plus, I wanted to latitude to include reflections on any part of my life, not to mention the fact that, looking forward, the blog might continue (and evolve) after my volunteer days are over and done with. I used the name Placeholder, thinking that I would re-title the blog after things became clearer. That hasn’t happened so far, and the name has stuck. It’s true that I am serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, and since I write about my experiences here in Ethiopia, I guess it’s fair enough to call this a Peace Corps Blog (in a descriptive sense, but not in any official one; I’m not blogging on behalf of Peace Corps, nor do any opinions or ideas I express represent Peace Corps or the US government in any way, shape, or form – these are completely my own opinions, descriptions, ideas, imaginations, what have you). Check.
Secondly, the blurb claims that I don’t write exclusively about my time during Peace Corps. I’d have to do a thorough check of all past entries, but I doubt that’s accurate. I’m pretty sure everything I’ve written corresponds with the time I’ve been either a trainee or volunteer, and nothing else. But seeing as some of the topics I write about (music, words, etc.) don’t always relate directly to my volunteer service, I could see where a reader could gain the opposite impression, that I was writing at a different time, in a different context. Fair enough.
The third, and most obvious, point that caught my attention in the blurb was that it named the author of this blog Chris Miller. That’s not me. I’ve been blogging under the nom de internet Placeholder. That’s for a number of reasons that I don’t care to get into here. Most important, I suppose, was that I wanted to retain a certain amount of anonymity, to make the site more about the content and quality of the writing, rather than about me, per se, or my status as a Peace Corps volunteer.
So who is Chris Miller? For me, that’s clear. He’s one of two grandfathers that I never knew and never met. I don’t know much about him other than that he supposedly served in some sort of dirigible corps for the US military in World War I, and that the traumas of serving in said war had a marked effect on the remainder of his life. My father fared much better after serving in World War II. As for me, I’m lucky. Too young for Vietnam, too old for Iraq, Afghanistan, what have you (not that I would’ve volunteered anyway), I’m so grateful and happy to be overseas, serving in the name of Peace.
And, now that I think about it, I’m happy to blog in the name of my grandfather, Chris J. Miller, who sacrificed far more than I will in my two-year tour of duty.
So, who is Chris Miller? For the purposes of this blog, it’s me.