Waste not, want more

No variations on a theme.

Getting Blogged Down

I believe I’ve written before about my blogging woes. Not the ‘howcome I can’t spend my whole life blogging?’ woes, but the ‘ack, people I actually know might be/could be/are reading this,’ ‘might be/could be/are ridiculing my dorky/lack of discretion/boring/lack of ingenuity’ woes. I’ve worried about school people, family people, hypothetical people. Coming in a close second are the ‘this could have consequences in my personal and professional life’ woes. They aren’t much better.

This is part of a blogger’s struggle. I realize. Once again, I don’t feel as though I’m being very creative here. I have friends who have written much more eloquently about this than I ever could. [Two that stand out in my mind this minute are Dana’s A Visit from the Overshare Fairy and Kathy’s Muted No More: How Memoir Complicates the Notion of Privacy.] So while I won’t say this well, or uniquely, I’d like to get the troubling thoughts off my chest.

It has always been difficult for me to write or act in most circumstances without wondering what others could think, which is both a blessing and surprisingly inconvenient. On the one hand, this makes me a born communicator. I have my audience in mind. I can anticipate communication gaps or difference in style. I write and behave according to the situation at hand. This probably also helped my acting abilities back in the day. On the other hand, I unconsciously, and sometimes more consciously, self-censor pretty extensively. Though it is very habitual and not a thing I set out to do everyday, it can be very frustrating in hindsight, and exhausting. I have a very hard time with more explosive people. My mind runs a marathon every minute thinking about how to avoid nuclear war. At worst, I worry that this “flexibility” makes me a shape shifter – a fakey-fakerson that just “acts” depending on who she’s around. Only upon reflection do I worry. But I digress. The point is I’m very conscious of others. This can make me sensitive but can also make me silent or different than I would otherwise be.

I’m slowly coming to sense that part of my reticence can be attributed to my, er, upbringin’. I come from a family that is and was about as publicly or politically active as a cotton ball. I can think of only one publicly vocal member of my family – an actual card carrying party member. This family of mine is the opposite of radical or staunchly ___ or anything that you could point a finger at and name. It would be fun to blame it on my parents’ growing up in an era of dictatorship and repression. In reality, I think it comes down to humble people living their lives and keeping their heads down. I don’t know that anyone else would see it that way. However, like my family, I am not prone to public displays, conflicts, or embarrassment of myself or others.

As it turns out anything I say or do can display, conflict with or embarrass someone, me included. I don’t kid myself. I know that I’ve probably cheesed off a good number of people in my day, both on and off the blog. But I like to keep that sort of thing to a minimum. These concerns have for the longest time kept me from intentionally expanding my readership. I have been quite comfortable limiting the readers who know where I live to a couple of friends that I might cheese off occasionally but that I suspect will accept me anyway. Only very recently have I highlighted blog posts on Facebook, though in passive fashion I’ve listed my blog as my website from Day 1.

My most recent bout of anxiety came when two of my school friends, Jess and Racquel (hi, ladies!) subscribed to my blog. While I was in no way concerned about these particular superstars of telling it like it is following along, their appearance served as a stark reminder that people I know in life might also read my desperate attempts at whatever this is. It was scary.

And thus I marvel at those of you in blog-land who dish it out, take it, talk about your families, spank your friends or otherwise deal with life. I know some of you sweat it more than others. Some of you have very difficult and painful reasons for sharing, or not sharing. For others it’s merely a practical matter. Many of you rage at censorship in all its forms. Some would perhaps tell me to strap on a pair and start living.

Admittedly, some of my boundaries are imposed by others. Some I’ve assumed on behalf of people who know nothing about this “secret” of mine. I haven’t really sorted this out much. Nor am I facing a particular dilemma. Frankly, I think it’s hard to blog the way I’d really like to without being self-employed and completely orphaned – for me. I’m not prepared to deal with the consequences. I imagine there are creative solutions I haven’t yet grasped.

In the meantime, a friend recently wrote to me that she enjoyed blog intimacy, referring to mine to some extent. I was stunned. In the vast expanse of all that I haven’t written, I’ve managed to evoke intimacy in one valued person’s opinion? I’ll take it for now.

Happy Friday the 13th – I promise it’s still the 13th here. You’ll be pleased or disgruntled to know there are three F – the – 13s this year!

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January 14, 2012 Posted by | Community, Self-reflection, Writing | , , , , , , | 17 Comments

7 Ways to Leave Your Lover Wondering What You’ve Been Doing with Your Time

Way back in 2011, just as the days could get no shorter and the music at the mall could get no more annoying in my corner of the world, Dana from zona pellucida found enough light in her day to nominate me for the Seven Links Blog Award. While it is inevitable to be occasionally slapped with blog love of some kind or another, this particular honour excites me because, aside from the fact that I think Dana is awesome and her reading my blog still blows my mind occasionally, it motivates me to really look back at my blog and my best posts.

I have a whopping 80 something blog posts to my name and yet this task of mine is stunningly difficult. What posts do I want to highlight? Which of my mangled moments are my favourite? How can I possibly find controversy and helpfulness in such a quiet blog? But I’m working on doing things despite being unable to -also why you’ll find way more than seven links- so here I go:

1. Most Beautiful

A most beautiful post? Yikes. I don’t generally go for beautiful, nor am I mega-comfortable calling what I do beautiful. But if I must, *batting eyelashes*, my Thanksgiving weekend post Meandering through life keeping fed and watered, about higher education and reuniting with Calgary after 7 years takes the prize. Woman Recovers in Vegas from Assault by Arizona Desert, about my near-death experience,  and Not quite speechless, about finishing school, come in a close second.

2. Most Popular

I’ve written about this before. My post, Words (and other things resembling words) that warm my cockles: #6, about anemones – really the word anemone – is far and away my most popular. This kills me since the post is not exactly a piece of brilliance. It has almost no personal significance. However, it also serves as a reminder that what sells most isn’t always what’s best. Sometimes, people are just confused about sea creatures. Happy to help.

My second and third most popular posts, are Grad School: Deep and Delicious and A Considerate Person’s Guide to Riding the Bus, or Don’t be an Ass, respectively. The first I would find just as perplexing except that consumer products seem to win the google hunt every time and the second makes sense because it had the one-two-three punch of humour, lists, and being the only post I’ve ever put up on Facebook.

3. Most Controversial

While statements I’ve made against James Bond and Malcolm Gladwell could be seen as controversial if anyone had cared/commented I hazard a guess that my most controversial post may be the one in which I question our western, self-affirming, just believe and you will have everything you’ve ever wanted perspective. In Anything I set my mind to – Part 1 I wrote about whether we can get there just because our mommy or mentor said that we could.

4. Most Helpful

It occurs to me that the most helpful post on my blog should be one that gives others something: information, inspiration, perspiration… something. Unfortunately, such posts are few and far between. Vindication for Foot Sufferers Everywhere may prove helpful to those with evil, evil feet and Just Overshoot Me, which tries to explore and explain the issue of ecological overshoot, may provide solace to those who feel alone in a world where we’re constantly striving to use bigger, better, more.

5. Most Surprisingly Successful

As I’ve said, I remain astonished by my top post. But looking a little further along the list, I am most pleasantly surprised that I Prefer My “Maiden” Name and You Can Too (or Not) has achieved relative success in views and comments. It is exactly the sort of post of mine that doesn’t usually receive much attention. It was very fun to write and I’m still excited about the name change. I must admit that I’m pleased this one struck a chord.

6.Most Underrated

Underrated posts are often “underrated” for reasons that have nothing to do with the  posts themselves. It’s a holiday weekend. You published it at two in the morning. Everyone and their dog posted in that period and people are simply fatigued. But sometimes, the post just isn’t that great, or just doesn’t evoke any particular interest are reaction at the time its published. Either way, the flops can be frustrating. Especially the flops you like the most. My first flop, It’s Not Me, It’s Him, was also my very first post, so no big surprise there. It was about a (purely fictional – ha) loss of a developing friendship. This loss may have occurred for any number of reasons but I’ve decided to blame hypothetical people. The second flop I’ve chosen to highlight is my rant about language and generalizations, Warning! Lecture Zone: Generalize at your own risk. I am persnickety about language at the best of times but when it’s hurtful I really get going. I didn’t manage to get many others going with this post.

7. Most Worthy of Pride

Finally, as proof that things really can come full circle, my proudest post is a response my first blog award, also from Dana, where she gave me the once in a lifetime chance to reject an award: Who me? Well if you insist. No, thanks. That post was incredibly fun to write. The fact that it occurred to Dana to fulfill my dream was absolutely priceless!

Once again, this post has meant much more to me than it could to someone else. But I’m grateful for this time down memory lane and the wonderful bloggers that have encouraged and inspired me. For some of my favourite bloggers, cruise my very limited blog roll. [Hi, blog world. I’m trying to keep myself under control. It’s tough. Forgive me.]

January 5, 2012 Posted by | Community, Hypotheticals, Self-reflection, Waste, Writing | , , , | 6 Comments

Stewing Without the Beef

While painfully trying to complete my schoolwork without getting too sidetracked by tangential thoughts about everything that wasn’t what I was doing, I created a number of lists of things that would be fun to do when no longer trapped. Among them was a list of blog post ideas – the sort of thing that in days gone by (i.e. September to November, my only uber consistent blogging in history) would have resulted in an immediate, pithy draft about the matter at hand. I look at the list now and wonder, how on earth did I intend to come up with an interesting post about “What I love about the Christmas tree”? I’m sure it was brilliant, but I know not.

Interruption: I should stop here to acknowledge that I am in fact done that school-like thing that I was doing for the last few years. My post-exam elation was followed by a tremendous kick in painful places that brought me crashing down to Realityville. Nothing tragic, just a closer look at the paper I had yet to finish and the many useful, intelligent, utterly overwhelming comments on a draft. That was 40 agonizing pages of my life that I will never get back. I do not regret it, but it was tough. And anti-climactic. I finished just in time to recover it (with help) from the nether-regions of MS Word evil, email it, praise the universe and get to the shower for a real live theatre production (so much fun) that only extended my feeling of floating in between window panes, seeing everything but unable to escape. The point is, I am happy, but I am many other things too. And I’m giving myself time to feel those other things and not be upset with myself about it. Let the morbid me be for now. [It strikes me that I’ve made it sound as though there was a real live theatre performance in my shower. Sadly, it was just me cleaning my greasy self. The real life theatre performance was a splendid staging of Jitters, a three act Canadian play about egos, reviews, stage fright, “making it” in Canada, playing it up for producers and getting along.] Digression is a magical thing…

I’m still stewing on a number of the topics, including a new one presented to me today thanks to Dana. But one topic I need to deal with now for ritualistic purposes: at the top of my blog to be list, or almost at the top, is “Goodby Studenthood” (either I didn’t have the time to correct my spelling or I was being too brilliant about something else to notice at the time). It’s time dear friends, for me to go post-student.

Step #1: The dreaded sweatband featured here is a relic of my undergrad days. I bought it in first year for a Richard Simmons Halloween costume (so sad that I don’t have a scanner). It somehow morphed into my study band, only to be worn once things got desperate, always upside down (damn the man and all that). The sweatband is being ritually burned this week. I would post pictures but my camera is still languishing sadly in Calgary. Documented or not, the burning will happen.

Step #2: I have to change my about page to reflect this new post-student life. It will take skill and determination, but I will do my best. I should also change my avatar since it too features the sweatband [I suppose once this is published these matters will no longer be in evidence].

Step #3: I have to organize all of my binders, course packs and other student paraphernalia into two categories: the limited number of things I am keeping and everything else. The everything else then gets given away, sold, or calendarized (seriously, it’s happening) to be sold at some relevant time when people might actually want to buy Remedies: the Law of Damages.

Step #4: I must post a damning eff you to studenthood, despite the fact that I am still for many purposes considered a student for the next year. Me oh my. Can you feel the anticipation?

December 20, 2011 Posted by | Brackets, Law, Self-reflection | , , , , | 9 Comments

Woe is Blog

Dear Readers,

The time has come for me to admit a problem.

I am halfway done my semester and about 10% done all the work I will have to do to be finished. (insert English alarm bell sounds here). That’s a bad thing. Not unusual, but bad. A huge paper for a professor I really respect, a large-ish assignment and 3 exams in classes I have done almost nothing for loom large. I have been at my most distracted, no thanks to my rejuvenated blogging and blog-reading effort. I am burnt out. There are a million ways to be ineffective. However, many of them involve the computer. Things I’m not supposed to be learning are just so very interesting. This is difficult when work also involves the computer.

I realize these are privileged, poor educated self types of problems. I am a truly decadent whiner. I can only hope to be a more useful and less self-absorbed being in 6 weeks. Right now it’s all I can do to keep fed and watered.

So I’m bringing some new rules into effect. These rules are boring and you don’t need to know about them, except that if I tell you I am more likely to be accountable. So here you go, lucky for you.

1. I am only allowed to blog twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays me thinks, but don’t hold me to it) between now and December 16th. 😦

2. I am only allowed to read and comment on people’s blogs as well as check for responses to my comments three times a week (Monday, Thursday, Saturday?).

3. The only other time I am allowed to sign on to wordpress is to respond to comments. (eep) I can do this whenever (quickly, without looking at other tempting items).

Please forgive my lower level of blog-ocity.

Sincerely,

Rose (the brain weary)

P.S. Even after this period is over, I am going to have to determine some sort of blog boundary. While I think it’s fabulous to indulge in something I enjoy so much, I have to find a better balance than losing myself in people’s blogs and random Internet searches for two hours a day every day for eternity. Learning is good but so is not sitting in a chair. Wish me luck!

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Doing it the hard way, Irritated, Self-reflection | , , | 10 Comments

Flummoxed by a Flamingo

I was flamingoed today.

This is not like being pantsed. In fact it is a modest honour. It warms my heart and makes me smile like only small but generously given moments can.

If I’ve got this right, Kana has been blogging with WordPress for about a month. With a blend of self-awareness and perspective, Kana’s Notebook has an incredible number of dedicated followers invested in what she has to say, including me. Grateful for the community she’s found, Kana decided to give a little back today surprising some of her commenters with a virtual “flamboyance of flamingos” on their cyber front lawns. I was lucky enough to be included. See:

Proof positive

I am of course, honoured to have registered at all on a busy and prolific blogger’s radar. I am even happier Kana affirmed that there is at least a little value to me procrastinating about schoolwork by losing myself in the lives and words of others.

I’ve been struggling to figure out how I can pass the love along. Will the exercise seem insincere since I don’t have many commenters to choose from, and three of four existed in my life pre-blog? Will my post be a horridly narcissistic caricature of a proper post? Do I have the energy to acknowledge this gift without sounding like an effusive ding-dong? Why can’t I just accept that I’m a ding-dong? As you can imagine, this can spiral.

But Kana gave me the flamingo to recognize and make merry, so I will do the same.

  • To Katie Chipman of Turning Another Page, who is one of my very oldest friends (i.e. pre-kindergarten), thank you for supporting me unconditionally in all my written words, “LOVE”ing everything, reminding me to breathe and always being you.
  • To Dana of zonapellucida, thank you for following through thick, thin, and crazy; for being my only subscriber for- (what felt like) ever; for paying me any attention at all once you hit the big time :); and for giving me the great honour of being nominated for an award I was ENCOURAGED to refuse.
  • To Kathy of Reinventing the  Event Horizon, you are the most dedicated commenter I’ve had since you came on board. Your comments always make me laugh, feel less alone, and drape me in warmth all at once. With stories and writing like yours, I feel pretty darn lucky you take the time to stop by, let alone comment.
  • To Cheyenne of Happiness Like Bread (still up, but not active), your comments are seldom but always considered and thought provoking. Though I can picture you appropriately rolling your eyes at most of my ridiculousness (prime example right there), you touch base anyway and always give me real food for thought. A rare gift. *post-edit: Cheyenne’s now back at The Bee Loud Glade. I am overjoyed.

There. Have I made everyone want to vomit yet? Anytime Kana wants to give me lessons in how to be heartfelt without being even mildly nauseating, I would sign myself right up. Clearly I have some distance to go.

October 24, 2011 Posted by | Community | , | 12 Comments