Writing My Life

Now and Then


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after 383 days and 108 posts, am I a bona fide blogger?

AVATARS by the HALF-DOZEN

I didn’t know what to write, but I started anyway. Now, over a year later, I’ve posted 94 entries and 14 pages, equaling 108! If I divide that number into 383 days, I learn that I averaged a post every 3.5 days for just over a year. ADDITIONAL division (is that an oxymoron?) indicates I added about 9 entries month  to seasons. Now the question is this: Am I a bona fide blogger?

When I launched my blog on April 29, 2009, I read some data about how long the average person lasts before bailing out of the blogosphere. I can’t remember how long that definitive time is, but I think I’ve passed it. And I hope I’ve posted often enough to be considered a practicing, dedicated, determined blogger. Are there criteria out in the blog world that defines such web loggers? If so, are longevity and frequency of blogging the deciding factors, or are there more?

I remember one time I missed out on an award that co-bloggers (cobloggers? coggers?) bestow upon one another. In order to receive the recognition, the writer had to post quality and frequent entries. My new blogging friend sent me a message saying that she would have passed the honor onto me, but she didn’t think I posted often enough. I was okay with that because she posted often and surpassed my efforts. Her message actually inspired me to write more because I WANT AN AWARD, dang it!!

Actually, I started writing more because I LOVE BLOGGING/WRITING/CREATING/COMMUNICATING/ REMEMBERING/REFLECTING/and LEARNING! To commemorate this blogging milestone – which is a little weird because this post doesn’t honor the year date or the 100th post or anything like that (I zipped right past both of those occasions! Duh!) – I think I should look back over the past 383 days and 108 posts to examine what I’ve discovered about blogging and about me.

  1. It is ridiculously hard to come up with a creative name for a blog. good times AND seasons is the latest in a long string of ideas. I started with the site’s address, The Sixth Season because I had turned 60 and saw each decade as a season of sorts, but then I was reminded that if that was the case I was actually embarking upon my 7th season. Duh! I’m still not satisfied with the good times … title, but I DO love the Ecclesiastes reference.
  2. Post titles are also hard to create, AND they are really important because a catchy title can attract readers AND might be enough to “get featured on ‘Freshly Pressed'”! I think one of my best post titles is “hair-i-tic” but it better fits one of my pages, and so now I have “hair-i-tic” and “hair-i-tic 2 ~ a PLEASANT hair-raising experience” – a not-so-great title.
  3. It is VERY difficult to create a unique blog that continually features unusual, entertaining posts. I tried to come up with something few, if any bloggers, had thought of. My first idea was Needing Naomi, a blog site dedicated to mothers-in-law because, like stepmothers, I think m-i-ls get a bad rap. But I couldn’t think of a way to sustain the idea without getting in trouble with my own daughters-in-law, and I do that enough without writing about it. Until some INCREDIMAZING idea hits me, I’ll stick with remembering, observing, and reflecting – boring, I know, but right now, it’s all I’ve got.
  4. It’s VERY hard to be creative, and when I try too hard it blows up in my face. When I first started my blogging avocation, I struggled with writing ideas, and thus came up with some very strange ones. Here are a couple:
    1. …  time to dislike … (a post about voles. Yes, v.o.l.e.s.)
    2. …a time to embrace – love in the spring … (a post about worms. Yes, w.o.r.m.s.)
  5. I’ve also learned that you can NEVER guess what will attract readers. The most popular entry I posted is “… a time to ramble …”. I’m not sure why 1,539 people have clicked on it. Could it be links to David Letterman and Sarah Palin? Or references to Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee? Or a silly discussion about old-fashioned slang terms or outdated hairstyles? Could I be riding on the popularity of Ann Cannon’s Deseret News column or her blog because I quoted her? Could it be the tags I listed? Not many visitors left comments, so I am really IN THE DARK!

Well, there SO many more things that I have learned – like how to use a camera so I can post pix on blogs – but the 2 BEST lessons I have learned are …

1.) there are an unbelievable number of good writers in BlogWorld! I am constantly impressed with the humorous, insightful, descriptive, and entertaining writing available in blogs throughout the world. And they are written by everyday people like me, but more talented. A-FREAKIN’-MAZING! My hats off to the multitudes of bloggers out there who light up this sometimes dismal world. I LOVE YOU GUYS!

2.) There are lots of terrific people I’ve met through words and photos posted on web logs. I feel a real kinship to several, and although I’ve never squeezed their hands in greeting or seen their flesh and bone bodies, I admire these people. They inspire me, impress me, entertain me, and make blogging more rewarding than I ever imagined. And whether or not I’m a bona fide blogger, I’ll keep on because it is a big part of my life now, as are the friends I’ve met via this unusual route.

Thank you so much!


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… a time to ramble … around and through “safe” subjects

I still like to read newspapers – not as avidly as my husband – but if there are sections strewn throughout the living room or kitchen, it will take me 30 minutes to pick ’em up, stack ’em up, and throw ’em out recycle ’em. Why so long? Because I can’t go through that process without scanning headlines, skimming 3 or 4 articles, and pouring over at least one story, commentary, or feature.

This morning, I delved into Ann Cannon’s column – “You’re a Pill; Old-fashioned words sought.” I enjoy reading Ann; it’s a lot like reading a blog – but I can tote her words with me into the bathroom. And if I spill diet A&W Rootbeer all over her weekly wisdom, the mess won’t forever end access to future Ann Cannon columns like it would if I dumped a beverage onto my laptop. (It just occurred to me that Ann must also host a blogsite. Wait here, while I check it out. — Hey, she DOES! The Writer’s Corner (and also what I ate today). It’s nearly as fun as her column!)

Although I’m older than Ann, I’m younger than her parents – BYU’s Lavell and Patti Edwards. Still I relate to her experiences and agree with most of her opinions, especially about raising boys. (She has 4 boys, no girls; I birthed 4 boys and no girls but now claim 3 daughters-in-law and 5 grand daughters! )

The other thing I like about Ann’s columns/postings is that she pretty much avoids controversy. I’m not sure why she does, but I know I am scared spitless of topics that raise hackles and inspire cantankerous comments. Look what happened to poor Scott Pierce when he stuck his neck out and wrote about the David Letterman/Sarah Palin battle. The last time I checked, 146 comments were listed! And many of them were nasty, Nasty, NASTY! Scott claimed to be cowardly because he didn’t approach the topic sooner. I don’t know WHY he thought it was safe to plunge in today, but it wasn’t! The sharks were just hidin’ in the reef waiting for him to dip his big toe into the cesspool.

On the other hand, Ann’s “call-to-action” (send in old-fashioned words) has only pulled in 9 comments, but could there be a safer subject? While I have weighed in on controversial issues like bad and good mothers, I usually don’t because I feel uncomfortable even COMMENTING about debates. I fret enough over sounding intelligent when I post a comment, so I don’t want to start looking over my shoulder for conservative/liberal, Republican/Democrat, BYU/Utah, traditionalists/feminists aiming poison pens at my unsuspecting back, too! VERY SCARY!

Today, however, I rallied to Ann’s cry for old-fashioned words. And here’s a revised version – revised because on MY blogsite, I can write more than the 200-word limit required by the Deseret News website! So the following is what I WOULD have submitted had Joe Cannon allowed me a sufficient number of words!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Another rather archaic term – besides the old-fashioned word “pill,” that refers to sulky children – is “Good night, Nurse!” – always uttered in exasperation. Perhaps patients frustrated at being awakened for yet ANOTHER shot or pill, originally growled the farewell in a thinnly veiled attempt to articulate their irritation to the attending medic. (As the nurse exited, she probably mumbled under her breath, “What a pill!!!” And yes, I am assuming that the nurse was female because in the hey-day of “good night, nurse,” the majority of nurses were women.)

“Punk” was one of my Grandma Barrett’s favorite terms, used to describe her state of mind. Before you imagine a little old lady with a 10-inch blue-haired Mohawk, wearing a leather vest, I must explain that Grandma was communicating that she was feeling under the weather. “I’m feelin’ a little ‘punk’ today,” she’d whisper as we dropped by for the first time in a week. (Grandma sometimes felt a little “punk” when she needed to lay on a little guilt, too.)

Then there were “Mormon” slang terms like “flip,” which has now been replaced by “Omiheck.” Missionaries often returned from the near-east or Far West with that classy expression embedded in their vocabularies! (“Flip! I can’t believe how every girl on campus wants her M.R.S. degree!”)

ducktail

Worn by Elvis, James Dean, and Tony Curtis

Descriptive terms have changed, too, but so have the objects they described. A “D.A.” (short for duck’s a**) or “ducktail,” worn by “greasers,” was a long, greasy haircut that swirled into a curl in the middle of the forehead and an up-sweep in the back. Of course, there was a girl’s version of the ducktail, too.

Summer Dee & Donahue

Troy's Sexy Beta Haircut!

The “beta” haircut was a precursor to the Beatle haircut and featured long, swooping bangs, but was cut short above the ears. I could not find a reference to this early ’60s cut, but I think it originated on college campuses, and fraternities spawned the “beta” reference. The best beta cut belonged to teen matinée idol Troy Donahue. Sigh.

Before ending this rather random post, I need to tell you I searched for a few sources for old words beyond what my memory could provide, and found one to be Ann’s own blog. This is just a little ironic because she indirectly mocked her husband for calling their Newfoundland a “pill,” but in The Writer’s Corner, she asked “WHAT IN THE SAM HILL ARE THESE PEOPLE THINKING?” (You don’t hear that reference everyday, and just who in the Sam Hill is Sam Hill?) In another entry, she proclaimed, “That would be a grand gift.” (My Grandpa Barrett was the last person who regularly used “grand,” and he’s been gone for 25 years.)

Let’s face it, Ann likes those old-fashioned words enough to use them. And so do I – most of them anyway. They take me back to a place or a person, an incident or a dream – grand times I can retrieve in memory only.


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… a time and a season … an explanation

When a decade of yearly celebrations comes ’round, we humans often put a little extra into the revelry, whether they be birthdays, anniversaries, etc. For no other reason than that, I’ve determined that ten years equals a season. So, here I am 60-something; thus I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I am in “the SEVENTH season” of life – NOT the SIXTH; hence the corrected title of this blog. (I forgot that once you enter one decade or century, etc., time leaps into a higher round of numbers.)

While this more accurate title makes me feel older, I am convinced that psychologically it can work in my behalf. (See the comments that follow this update.) Another advantage is that the title won’t be so confusing. “The Sixth Season” was often referred to as The Sixth Sense. Even though I may write about those who have left this realm, that is not the purpose or theme of “Seventh Season.” SEASONS, not senses, are at the heart of my ideas.

While Mother Nature focuses upon 4 seasons, Ecclesiastes 3 teaches us that there are many more than those related to weather. “1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

Taking my cue from this Old Testament author, “son of David, king in Jerusalem” (Eccl. 1:1), I plan to reflect upon my times and seasons. While Ecclesiastes looks into “the deepest problems of life,” and is “permeated with a pessimistic flavor,” my purpose is to see the light, the love, the larks, and lessons of life and reflect upon them. So, read on …


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… a time to weep and a time to laugh… (or I didn’t think I looked my age until …)

In 2002, Jamie Lee Curtis, former True Lies hottie and current Activia spokesperson, blasted the media’s perfection myth by posing in her modest underwear, sans makeup and Photoshop’s glamorizing touch-ups. Nora Ephron, writer and director of When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle,  “feels bad about her neck,” and so she wrote an essay about its metamorphosis into a wattle.

While I applauded these celebrities’ willingness to face gravity’s heavy embrace, I chose to duck into clouds of delusion. Enjoying gasps from acquaintances who expressed disbelief that I could be the grandmother of 10, I thought I was successfully dodging Time’s plundering depredation.

But then the day came when I joined the madding crowds clamoring for friends through social networks. Unless you choose the anonymity of such sites’ blue silhouettes, it is necessary to post an image of yourself to accompany witty or sage comments.  

Me as Jane Austen

Me as Jane Austen

 At first, I thought I would remain incognito and choose a caricature of sorts. So I perused the galleries of Flickr.com to find a facsimile of Jane Austen, donned in clothes worthy of a trip to Bath. Her facial features, however, were not far removed from those of the blue silhouettes. 

Me as a Victorian romance-writer

Me as a Victorian romance-writer

 

 Next, I stumbled upon the likeness of a romantic Victorian lady writing, but I could hear echoes of my sons’ guffaws at my choice as they asked, “What the freak???? 

 

Glamour photo courtesey of the DMV

Glamour photo courtesey of the DMV

Eventually, my search for the perfect picture led me to my driver’s license, issued in 2004. Yes, that’s right – my DMV glamour photo! By a stroke of luck, a decent camera angle, a pretty good hair day, and a limited number of pixels, I have a picture ID to be proud of. And I don’t miss an opportunity to show it to any checker at any grocery store or any security attendant at any airport! I’ve even requested that the photo be published along with my obituary when that need arises.

In the meantime, I scanned, cropped, and uploaded the photo onto my computer and pasted it everywhere: My Google profile, my 3 Ning accounts, and Facebook! When long-lost friends found me on FB, I loved reading, “Cute picture!” or “You look fantastic!”  I even laughed when my boss, who sees me every day, accused me of cheating because I used a glamour photo.

But then the proverbial “moment of truth” came when my daughter-in-law “tagged” a current photo of me, taken at my grandbaby’s recent birthday party. I knew that anyone viewing that picture would know I was suffering from the “Oprah Effect” – no matter what the day-time diva looks like  on the  TV screen, Oprah remains svelt and ageless on every cover of O Magazine.

So, in the spirit of Jamie Lee, Nora, and Susan Boyle, too, I decided to publish pictures that reveal the real! Friends, please don’t think I’m feeling sorry for myself or seeking reassurance that I “don’t look that bad” because that’s not the point of this post. I am merely laughing at with myself for a variety of reasons.

Nice grimace!?!

Nice grimace!?!

Moment of Truth #1: Profiles don’t lie. In spite of 20 lost pounds, the double double is still hangin’ around! And I thought the new hair-do was flattering. Let’s rethink that one! At least there’s a cute guy sitting on my lap!

In the ample arms of love

In the ample arms of love

 Moment of Truth #2:  Cap sleeves don’t cut it after age 40. In Utah, 70% of the women call arms like mine “Relief Society arms,” named after the women’s organization of my church.  (I wonder if Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic, and Methodist women nick-name these appendages  “church-lady” arms)

FYI: Global warming is the result of millions of female baby boomers' hot flashes. Now am I a candidate for a Nobel?

Female Baby-boomers: Known source of global warming!

Moment of Truth #3: You’re not experiencing a hot FLASH;  it’s a freakin’ heat WAVE!!! FYI: The onset of global warming coincided with the advancing ages of millions of female Baby-Boomers. And for heaven’s sakes, Girl, don’t wear pink blush! In this condition, YOU DON’T NEED IT! (But isn’t that baby adorable? Awww!) 

 So, that’s it! Oh, there are many more pix in the mix, and I really have to chuckle at how I see myself when I’m NOT looking. If I truly examine these photos, I’ll pass by the pudginess and see the playfulness; I’ll see joy, not jowls; and I’ll look at the love, not the love handles. Besides, in 20 years or so, I’ll sort through this collection and say to myself, “And I thought I looked OLD  in those pictures!”