Bits-and-Pieces

I need a dictation machine attached to my jaw as I run.

That way, I could just pant-talk my blog posts; I do a great deal of blogging in my head when I’m out for a run, but then I get home, and there’s laundry to fold, the kitchen floor to sweep, plants to jam into the ground, Snow on the Mountain (cursed opportunist!) to weed, classes to prepare, and kid pick-ups to do. By the time I sit down, it’s 9 p.m., and we’re just about to have dinner and watch a show–

so I really do need that jaw-anchored dictation machine if I’m ever going to blog out as much stuff as I have swirling around in my noggin.

With Byron working steadily at the green house down the road during this busy gardening season, I’m “on” more than usual at home. Every night, I have a moment of, “Seriously? I’m making dinner again? Is this going to happen again tomorrow? Because I might need to start preparing mentally if this whole make-dinner-every-night thing is going to circle around again on me in 24 hours.”

Then, once the dinner is done, there are all those dishes needing washing up.

Were I a singleton, I’d just toss a potato in the microwave and eat it directly out of the skin (Nature’s plate). Every now and then, I’d cook, but it surely wouldn’t be careful meals pre-planned on a daily basis. I’d live my personal credo of A Careful Dinner Cooked Twice a Month Is Once Too Often.

The truth is, in many ways I don’t excel at being an adult. The tasks of daily life are like weights tied to the wings of the little happy fairies who flutter around inside my torso.

On the other hand, even though in my home life my 12-year-old has to tell me, with semi-tempered exasperation, “It’s time to leave, or we’ll be late,” I’m a pretty consistently good adult when it comes to teaching. I mean, somebody’s got to be the grown-up in the room, right? Especially when it’s so often peppered with students fresh out of rehab? The sense of obligation to my students and the material has had me, in recent weeks, getting ready for summer session–starts today–and looking ahead to the SEVEN online sections I’ll be teaching Fall semester. In particular, I’m fretting about the creation of a new class that I proposed and shepherded through the curriculum process this last year: Writing for Social Media. It was approved at all the various levels of approval, which means it’s on the books and now on the schedule to be taught for the first time this upcoming Fall. The thing about a class like this is that it’s focused around ever-changing, ever-emerging technologies, many of which I can presume my students will be more savvy with than I, the teacher. If I can’t out-technology the students, I’ll have to focus on the academic component of creating messages for Facebook, Twitter, and blogs–as in, we’ll be doing some Aristotelian rhetorical analysis of people’s updates. Usually, when it comes to structuring 17 weeks of study, an instructor can rely upon published textbooks as resources. However, with the case of social media, there really aren’t textbooks that focus on how to craft effective messages in 140 characters or fewer or how to leave a comment that’s not insultingly ridiculous pap. So far, my syllabus consists of the words “No LOL usages allowed, even if you have actually just LOL-ed, which I highly doubt you have, as so little on Facebook is actually amusing in an uncontrollable gut-bellowing fashion. If, in fact, your body is barking out a laugh, just do the damn laugh; don’t type it.”

Generally speaking, I find swearing in my syllabus to be an effective technique for establishing my credibility.

Anyhow, every time I have started to plan out the Writing for Social Media class, sans textbook, I quickly get so overwhelmed with the 900 bits I need to pull together and the googolplex of possible activities we might complete that my brain frantically scratches out a “Gone Fishin'” sign and tacks it onto the door of its hut.

Fortunately, after I had a few beers the other night, at about midnight, my brain decided it was time to yank down the sign and get back to work. In a happy explosion of My Inhibitions Are Lowered, So I Can Start to Peg Out a Semester Calendar, I began to build the scaffolding of the class…which now means I kind of have a plan, and kind of having that plan means I’m now tumbling through the domino effect of documents to write and links to embed. In short, I now have only about 887 bits that I need to pull together.

Which is, you know, why I need that running-jaw-dictaphone dealie. I also could use a stop-scrambling-your-metaphors sorter; for the low cost of only $19.99, I could get one of those and halt my nonsensical mixing of fishing and scaffolding and dominoes into the same paragraph.

In the absence of such helpful devices (good news, though: I phoned Melinda Gates, and she’s going to ease into the running-talk machine idea with Bill over pot roast next Sunday and then work on him regarding the metaphor-unscrambler when they hit Fiji in July; he’s more positive and responsive when his mouth is full of beef or his face is full of sun), consistently thoughtful blog posts may be a long time coming. But I do have a few quick updates that might be of interest:

1) For those who read these posts: “The Smell of Success…or Perhaps an Abundance of Broccoli” and “Drop the Damn Fork!”

As of yesterday, I’m 1.4 pounds away from “goal” with my “program” at Weight Watchers. Honestly, I haven’t been following “program” at all–after the first few weeks, the drudgery of recording every bite and calculating the corresponding points proved too taxing for my non-adult self, and so I adopted a more straightforward policy of “Whatever you’re eating, eat less of it than you want. Always be hungry. Then go get weighed in public by a stranger.” It’s worked well enough, even though I’m doing a good job of being unmotivated and sabotaging my better choices the closer I get to “goal.” This “goal” is according to Weight Watchers’ health guidelines for my height, and hitting it will mean I’ll be within medically-dictated parameters for the first time since I was about 13. Interestingly, even though I’ve now lost almost 38 pounds, I don’t feel different or thin (trust me, I’m not, as I’ll be hitting the very highest number within the prescribed guidelines, so I still tote around a fair bit of heft); I still have all my lumps and bulges–now with a few new bits of sag here and there to break up the landscape, and I’m still just the me I’ve been all along. So there’s a lesson: we are distinct from the sum of our pounds.

2) For those who read this post: “Of Tesbih and Testes: Then It Got Personal”

My beloved friend, Jessica, a woman who sustained our family during the year in Turkey, has had a big life change. After some more financial irregularities and uncountable debts and lying and fighting, her third Turkish husband, Kerem, ended up begging her to take out yet another loan to save his hide. At this point, he had closed his rent-a-car shop and had been unemployed for months. Jessica was teaching full time, giving private English lessons to multiple clients, and doing some translating for a company needing movie reviews–not to mention handling all of the household chores, raising the kids, and paying the bills from her income.

Suddenly, although it had been brewing for ages, the marriage was over. Jessica was fed up–done–and pushed Kerem into a corner where he had to accept divorce. She managed to get him to the court house and to agree to allowing her full-custody of their son (this, after several years of his threatening her with, “You’ll come home one day, and the boy and I will be gone. You’ll never find us”). The divorce took place with record-setting rapidity. For a little over a month now, Jessica has been free of the weight of that marriage; she’s taken a job in Istanbul starting next year, so her income will be significantly higher, and she’ll be closer to Kerem and his family (he has moved to Istanbul and lives with them), so they can see the boy child frequently. Jessica and I have Skyped and Facebooked, and I can tell you she’s pretty blissed out right now. Also: she read my post about her marriages, and she read everyone’s comments, and while she said that seeing everyone’s opinions and judgments was very difficult, it was an eye-opening pain.

3) If you read this post: “If These Old Walls Could Speak”

The neighbors who have three relatively-untended children are

having a fourth.

Me am screamy on this issue but am trying to be kind to the existing children since it’s not the kids I’m mad at. If you read the mom’s blog, you’d think this pregnancy and her life were sponsored and packaged by Martha Stewart. However, as with Martha Stewart, there’s an uneasy disconnect between the smartly-shot, soft-edged photos and an intuitive sense that this purveyor of lifestyle is not as fabulous a person as her flower arrangements imply.

Plus, as I noted in my original post, every story needs a villain, so I’m going to be quite willful in hanging onto her as a Black Hat.

4) For those of you who read this post: “That Solid Inward Comfort of Mind”

Our Girl has used the power of romanticizing memory to turn her experience with Discovery Girls into the highlight of her life, and I think that’s great. The people were excellent, and the whole thing makes her feel special, even glamorous. I could have used some of that when I was 12. So she’s glossed over her heart-wrenching disappointment from the first day–Ah, Glorious Memory!–and now texts and plays Words with Friends regularly with a few of the other Minnesota girls. They’re planning a release party when their issue hits the stands in July. As a pre-July teaser, though, one of her “article” photos is being used in the current issue of the magazine (the one featuring the girls of Wisconsin). She’s the non-glasses-wearing girl in the BFF photo below:

5) For those who read this post: “Gulp”

The hand-shaking “I read your blog” interview candidate got the job.

My groundbreaking series of “personify the body part” vagina posts will be put on hold for the foreseeable future.

6) Not only am I becoming a Very Big Girl by actually starting to use an RSS reader for the first time, I’m trying to get up to speed with a few other “time savers” that actually aid in eating up my hours. Thus, in my attempts to stay on top of at least a few of the newer, bigger apps and Internet technologies, I’m trying out Spotify today. Hell, if Bieber invested in it, it’s got to be good. I live my life by asking myself, before every decision, “What would Bieber do?” Alternately, if the decision involves earrings, I ask myself, “What would Beyonce do?”

Anyhow, Spotify easily embeds music into blogs. The song embedded here features speed-metal-fiddle and is a ragingly-kickass song by the local Duluth music group known as Trampled by Turtles. It’s on my running playlist (try to imagine foot strikes keeping up with the increasing beat). Byron has standing orders that if the YMCA ever calls to tell him they’ve got his unconscious wife there on a stretcher, the first words out of his mouth should be, “Look at her iPod. Is the song ‘Wait So Long’ by Trampled by Turtles playing? If so, that’s the cause of her blackout. She was trying to keep up with the fiddler. I’ll be right down, and I’ll be bringing her a revitalizing Shamrock Shake, so worry not.”

Wouldn’t it be awesome if Spotify had a Dicate-While-You run app?

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Published by Jocelyn

There's this game put out by the American Girl company called "300 Wishes"--I really like playing it because then I get to marvel, "Wow, it's like I'm a real live American girl who has 300 wishes, and that doesn't suck, especially compared to being a dead one with none."

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28 Comments

  1. Wow. As with all your posts, by the time I reach the end I have forgotten all the many comments I wanted to make and am left only with a sense of loving your writing and your spirit.

    Your daughter is beautiful! And she looks like you.

    1. Yes, yes, yes. My friends who have divorced have to process their culturally-inculcated feelings that they have “failed” or that they should feel some “shame” that they are divorcing. On the contrary: I have great respect for those who have the courage to get out of an unhappy situation; I also like Dan Savage’s view that relationships can end, but that doesn’t mean they “failed.” They did what they needed to do in one’s life, and then they were done. That’s a form of success.

  2. I’m with Heart – so much information! And I’ve read all the reference posts.

    Way cool on the ad photo with your daughter. And I’m glad to hear your friend got out of that marriage. And also congrats on the WW goal-approaching. I’m with you on the drudgery of recording food eaten So tedious. I did that when I was just trying to eat healthier food and made it two weeks.

  3. NO! I clicked over and yes, I imagine the actual event of the pregnancy looks MUCH different from the internet version. YAY for your friend successfully divorcing. I was actually a bit worried about her. And you’re nearly at your weight goal! And writing curriculum! (That is/was my favorite part about teaching–your syllabus style sounds so much like mine–WHEN will we meet IRL??? We simply MUST.)
    Your daughter is awesome. Good for her.
    Also? I despise making dinner. Just like you.
    And I write awesome posts while taking showers, so the app should be waterproof.

    1. We do have much in common–esp the loving writing curriculum part. I could design classes and do nothing else for the rest of my career. Of course, it helps to then see the class in action about five times, so some fine tuning can take place!

      Waterproof app. Me likey.

  4. I am exhausted just reading this.

    So you’re gonna be one of those people who force me to turn the sound off on my computer when I read their blogs? Will you be obliged to embed Bieber music?

    It seems he has said he is the Kurt Cobain of his generation. Now there’s a scary thought.

    1. I’m totally not going to make you turn off the sound when you read my blog. That Spotify was a one-off–just trying it out. You’re safe here, honey.

  5. Yes, I see that, a dictation machine in your hand wouldn’t be much good. Actually, if you manage to speak clearly and run, do you run fast enough?

    Has Jessica Turk No. 4 lined up ?

    Cooking a big, fancy dinner is fun, it’s the daily catering that gets boring. Just think, if you all nibbled on a baked potato skin, you could stop running, wouldn’t have to go to weight watchers and there’d be no washing up. You’d also have plenty of spare time for posts.

    A course in writing for social media? What are you trying to do, ruin it for 99% of bloggers? If bloggers, tweeters and Facebookers could write, would they bother to write for social media?

    (I’d love to know what you come up with, seriously, can that even be done? There are as many ways of blogging, for instance, as there are bloggers, all 6.7 million of them publishing 152 million blogs – I fished that out of google without checking the articles, so no guarantee of accuracy. Social media writing as a form of literature, will wonders never cease? Please, please, blog about it.)

    I meant to ask after the interviewee with the handshake. Could you impress upon her how important social media are and encourage her to start a blog?

    Finally, about that bit referring to a blogger and her blog on pregnancy, ripping her and her style of parenting off, and having certain other people make knowing remarks: is that a tad off?

    1. Let’s see…in order:

      1) I’m a slow runner on my best day, so I could absolutely manage to speak while running.

      2) Jessica’s taking a break. I’m sure your firm comments on the post about her were instrumental in that wake-up.

      3) I actually love cooking. I just don’t love cooking every day, especially because what the kids will eat differs from what Byron and I would like to eat, so there are often several meals and versions thereof being made.

      4) My feeling is that there are good bloggers, tweeters, and FBers out there. They are rare–just like good “real” authors are rare. A class asking people to slow down and think about how voice and audience change according to the platform used has found its time. It’s in no way a literature class; it’s sheerly a writing class, so we will look at purpose, context, audience, message-creation, etc.

      5) The interviewee is on Twitter; I figured out that much as I tried to trace her connections to knowing me. I think she’s on FB, too. One can hope a blog will surface so that we can then dismiss it as poor writing, right?

      6) It’s a tad off to move into a neighborhood, never exit your house to meet or say hello (even just the once) to anyone, yet allow your children to run wild in strangers’ private spaces and get themselves into all sorts of trouble that adults-who-are-not-their-parents-and-who-have-never-met-their-parents have to deal with. It’s also a tad off not to call what you see happening right in front of your face–because, what?, it’s better to pretend not to see poor behavior? When we do that in this area of the world, it’s called “Minnesota Nice,” and few things grate on me more. I’m happy to put words to bull when I see it. For example, I’m often full of bull, and it’s perfectly fine for me to admit it. Here, I’ll give you a few bits of honesty to level things out with the pregnant blogger: I really am often an arrested juvenile; I can be a bratty and brusque; in many ways, I’m selfish; in crucial moments, I have reacted without empathy; I have a tendency towards excess in nearly every area of my life; and I really get tired of people and find myself frustrated with the energy it takes to play along with their fear of self-awareness. An alternate response to it being off would be this: your idea of off and my idea of off may be defined differently; under my definition, conveying the story of people who have entered my life is not off at all. They are more than welcome to write their versions of their neighbor across the street. I have, on occasion, been told I’m not exactly nice. Because I disagree with many people’s parameters of what constitutes “nice,” I’m okay with not fitting into their definition.

      1. I’m glad to hear Jessica is taking a break. I wish her all the best.

        I wish you success with the Social Media course and still hope that you will be able to blog about it. I would find that really interesting. You are an excellent blogger, very unusual; so much blogging is aimed at three-minute-attention-spans, I always feel that I must keep my posts short rather than go into detail, which would make them come alive. My take on blogging pleases neither me nor those I would like to address. It’s a vexed thing, at times I am madly irritated by writing and reading blogs.

        Re the pregnant blogger: I don’t know who this is and most probably have not come across her blog. I expect everything you say is true, but I had the feeling that there is a slight whiff of the school playground about slagging someone off without giving them a chance to reply; that is, unless the blogger in question reads your blog, and you have a kind of ding-dong going? I also felt slightly uncomfortable about one of the comments to the point, again a bit like some kids getting in a huddle and trashing someone else. I’ve been at the unhappy receiving end, perhaps that’s why I reacted.

        Apart from that, we are probably twins, everything you say about yourself is equally true of me. I am definitely not ‘nice’, indeed, I’d hate to be ‘nice’ and everything that goes with it. It’s tiresome, meaningless, annoying, tedious, totally without bottom.

        I love cooking too, and I’m not at all bad at it; I positively relish the chance to cook for guests. It’s the daily catering which bores me. I still do it, though.

        About the way we use language: it’s been said before, bloggers have to be very careful about the words they choose, if they are writing about anything meaningful at all. Without body language, without a nudge and a wink, without tone of voice, it is often hard to judge/convey the exact meaning and misunderstandings arise easily. Then there are the different shades of the language itself; (my English is the old-fashioned sort, the English English I was taught is the literary sort for non-English speakers). Pointing out language pitfalls might be part of a Social Media study course. Fascinating stuff, I’d love to be a mouse in your class room.

        Enough, sorry to have taken up so much of your time.

        1. Oh, gracious, no apology needed! I quite enjoy a genuine conversation in the comments. Keep it coming!

          I’ll let Jessica know she has a bunch of lovely people rooting for her in this next phase of her life. Personally, I’m giddy for her–not having to live in a household so full of strife and in a relationship that sucked away her best efforts. Even more, I’m delighted for her kids, particularly the 11-year-old girl who was often the recipient of her step-father’s frustrations and witness to in-house fighting.

          Now that I know you’re interested, I’ll be happy to blog about the Social Media course. It’s really pushing me, in terms of trying to figure out how to structure it and how to use some never-before-used technologies (like screenshots) in my instructions and announcements. Beyond that, this will be the first time in my 21 years of teaching writing that I will be teaching students how to do real-world, every-day-applicable writing. There’s something exciting about that.

          I thank you for saying I’m a good blogger; I often feel I fail in terms of the larger community aspect of blogging, wherein I get around and visit others. Too, I’d like to post more frequently and have more momentum. The whole business of posts needing to be a certain length really irks me; if there’s a story being told, then readers should be happy to read the entire thing and not just be looking for “writing as sound bytes.” That type of thing is better for Facebook and Twitter. Blogs are made for length, if you ask me. I’ve decided that ultimately, the writing done on one’s blog has to satisfy oneself and somehow tie into the writer’s personal purposes.

          You are very correct that I am being unfair and most likely unkind to the pregnant blogger in not having a back-and-forth with her. For three years now, I’ve been willing and happy to talk to her or her husband, but they refuse to engage. Blogging about her is, on a very frank level, petty on my part, yet it feels like a sort of gratifying payback for their family’s presumptuous way of violating the basic tenets of the social contract. So, yes, you are very right. I have been on the receiving end in my life of getting slagged off, too, so I am aware of the minefield that this thing is. I am definitely not a Good Person when it comes to this issue, but I, at the same time, feel quite justified in telling the story of my life through my perceptions.

          Incidentally, did you notice that you were comfortable judging Jessica in the original post about her–disagreeing strenuously with my assertion that she’s no fool–yet you’re very protective of a woman I am judging? Methinks you’re a contrarian! (and because you are ever so correct that language and tone are hard to read online, please know that it’s no sin in my world to be a contrarian).

  6. Whew! When do you sleep?
    I will limit my replies to items that particularly stood out to me…..in no particular order because, well, that would mean I’d have to remember the order you wrote them.
    The divorce stuff, I know a lot about. I have never been divorced, but I know that no one goes into it and comes out the same. It is not easy, it is life-altering in many different ways, for different people. But a break is a VERY GOOD idea.
    The cooking stuff I totally agree on every point. I do not cook any more. I used to cook every night, a rotating menu of hamburger cooked in 5 to 7 different ways (spaghetti, goulash, hamburgers, chili, Spanish rice, and tacos) because that was the only stuff everyone in the family would eat. I have determined that I am owed approximately 15 years of meals, and I plan to collect from my husband. He never liked anything when I tried something different. Now he cooks nearly every meal. Nothing fancy, but if you saw me you’d see that I am not suffering from hunger pains.
    Your Girl is great in that ad! I love that she is determined to take only the good away from her experience. What a maturity she must have to be able to do that. Or, maybe she really did only see the good stuff and has forgotten anything not so wonderful.
    Your newest invention ideas……isn’t there a thing called a Blue Tooth for a phone that could be used for simple recording? I am no techie, but if there isn’t a way to use that, you should certainly get the patent for that. I can refer you to a patent attorney.
    Finally, to the neighbor family……I think I pretty much gave the possible other side of the story before, as that is what I do-every day. But I get it. I understand your concerns, and I totally agree that the idea of them having another child is……well, to be Minnesota Nice about it…..maybe not so good? Do you know anything about their religion from her blog? We have a group of Lastadian Lutheran families in this area. They have 10, 12, 14+ kids. The mom is busy taking care of the most recent addition, the dad is off earning enough $$$ to feed and clothe the herd, and the kids run all over, with no supervision. The thought process, from what I have been able to discern, is that “the Lord will watch over them, and if they get hurt of killed, that is the Lord’s will. Plus there are several left over, so what’s the big deal?” Apparently the Lord requires the assistance of the village to raise those children. We have had families in court for delinquencies, and child protection matters, but the parents are unfazed. It may just be the expression of their religious beliefs! Doesn’t that warm your heart as you watch the little ones dodge cars in the street?
    ANYway, this response is nearly as long as the post, so I won’t check to see whether I have forgotten any points. Great update!

    1. Thank you for every last thing you typed here. I grew up with a similar rotation of dinners (largely based on hamburger), and it’s only now that I can appreciate the effort that rotation took for my parents. One of our current household favorites is crock pot pork chops with cream of mushroom soup–it’s amazingly better than it might sound. Anyhow, this was one of my dad’s standard contributions to my growing-up-year dinners, and I kind of love that we have it so often now, in my adulthood.

      Your thoughts on the family across the street are always appreciated. I’m starting to think they might be Catholic, ‘tho I don’t know for sure. The sect you describe is intriguing and may be exactly the apostolic sect that is prominent in Duluth (there’s a local school where most of the kids attend). Since the women in the local sect don’t wear make-up or go off to work, I’m guessing the neighbor family is not part of it; however, now that I think of it, the people who “flipped” the house of these neighbors are from that sect. It’s only from the mom’s blog that I even know what she looks like. And the truth is, it’s Dad who’s home all day, every day, holed up in the house, alternately leaving the nine-year-old home alone to watch the two younger kids while Dad runs errands, etc. So maybe I put a slightly larger black hat on the Dad. All of my complaints aside, I’m pretty sure that if I met them outside of through their wandering kids, I’d really like them. They are educated and know how to talk a talk that I’m familiar with. But holy moly, do I feel for that 9-year-old boy, he who is being homeschooled while his sisters go off to school and preschool. I just wish Dad would help that nice kid make a friend and then have that friend over for a playdate sometime. Reports from neighborhood kids have also let us know eldest boy there sometimes takes to his room to cry for awhile because he misses his mom so much.

  7. Whew – I am not too far behind. Only like a year. I’m so glad the WW worked for you. I need to do that again. Not to discourage you by saying – again. Nice update on Turkey. Let me know how Melissa Gates gets that recorder topic going. And I love this quote – A Careful Dinner Cooked Twice a Month Is Once Too Often.

    1. No worries on saying “again”–this is my…ummmm…third or fourth time through the WW. I know the pitfalls.

      I’m glad you’re still out there. Isn’t that funny, this blogging relationship thing? I’m just glad to know you’re still out there.

  8. Well, it looks like you are well busy! We’ve been a little bit busy too and …. good news – we won our case against Evil Mehmet yesterday. Now we just have to wait a year or two for the law enforcment to get some money back but at least Turkish Justice has said loud and clear that he is a b***stard!!!

    1. I HAVE TO TYPE IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE I AM SO HAPPY TO HEAR FROM YOU, VICKY, AND TO KNOW JUSTICE PREVAILED! THIS IS AMAZING NEWS; I’M THRILLED FOR YOU AND THE MR. Okay, I can stop with the caps now. But thank you for sharing this news. May your celebrations be huge.

      1. Can’t really remember if the celebrations were huge but the hangover certainly is!! Girl looks lovely on that advert and I’m really happy for her and that everything is going fine for all of you.

  9. “The truth is, in many ways I don’t excel at being an adult” is the truth for me too! Matter of fact, when I read that line I thought I really need to double-check my family trees and see if perhaps we really are related some where along the way! That and the issue of fixing a new, exciting, different, delicious (hah) meal every freaking day is -well, that is tantamount to slave labor in my book! I cherish the days when my daughter comes in from work carrying hoagies or pizza or some other easy to put on the table meal and saves me from the excess work of engaging my brain to try to think of something edible (and easy and fast) for supper. Add to that it also has to be something the two persnickity grandkids will eat as well -besides mac’n’cheese, ya know!

    You do at times rattle my poor chemo brain dead gray matter as you flit from topic to topic but then again, I have a tendency to do that and to ramble, on and on and on too, so who am I to judge and I love your stuff that I have to explain, that is not to complain. Just stating I’m old and confuse easily ya know!
    Keep writing anything and everything you can think of and if you find one of those dictation machines, let me know. I always tend to have my finest thoughts for a really great blog post when I am furthest from the computer -or a paper and pen! Peace!

  10. wow, that’s quite an update. i like cooking when i know there is time to do it and we will get to sit down together to enjoy it. when everyone goes 9 different directions and eats on a whim, it;s much less fun. i’d opt for the spud.

    i am glad jessica is free of the freeloader. seems it was really necessary.

    the job candidate is now a coworker eh? well, that’s an interesting development.

    the neighbor is spawning again. really? it’s a free country and all but it’s disturbing when people who don’t parent the children they already have continue to bring more into the world.

    i am glad your girl has been able to find the warm memories in her experience with the magazine. she seems like a very positive and resilient girl, which is a good thing.

  11. Excellent idea to refer back to those previous posts that left me hanging, even if I didn’t realize my suspension until I read the updates. I’m very pleased for your friend, Allegra and your own personal success. I’m a little scared for you in that social media course, though. But knowing you (I think) if your students show you up, you’ll concede their superior knowledge gracefully and include it in the next semester’s material.
    But the really interesting part of this post is how you refer to yourself, and what strikes me is that, despite having suffered as a younger person from all kinds of self-esteem bashing, both self- and other-inflicted, you do come across as very, very accepting of yourself. I was going to say ‘comfortable’, but I don’t think that’s quite right.

    Just yesterday I had a minor discussion with a friend about the ostensibly-adult syndrome, which probably hits home for many people – me included. It makes me want to ask the most adult person I know if they feel that way, too. Another friend surprised me by admitting that she had only felt capable in the last few years of giving anybody advice, because she’d ‘finally lived long enough to know a few things’. She was 90.

    And I do enjoy reading the back-and-forth between you and Friko. It gets a little sharp sometimes but it’s honest, and I kind of envy the two of you for being able to do that. Minnesota Nice (loved that!) has its positive aspects, I’m sure, even if it feels fake. Everytime (frequently) I think about stepping outside my own boundaries of (public) niceness, I wonder what the point would be. i can’t do it without being super critical, and that just feels nasty.

    I read about a technology program at the University of Victoria, BC where people in need of machines can get them designed and custom made. I think they like their clients to be at least paraplegic and/or sightless, but you could run your idea by them anyway. Lemme know. I could use it too. . .

    1. As ever, I appreciate your equanimity and the even and clear eyes you bring to what I’m trying to say. I’m scared of the Social Media course, too, but I figure it’ll invigorate my teaching and keep me on my toes, which should get me a few years closer to retirement by the time I relax again.

      It’s true that I am very accepting of myself. I actually think that ties into some of the back and forth between me and Friko (who–never be mistaken–I appreciate hugely)…I was raised with “niceness” over authentic expression, and I spent decades with the whole “if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all,” or, worse yet, taking something that felt not great and trying to wring it into okayness. The relief of my forties has been a willingness to express my annoyance at others when I feel it, to accept that not everyone has to like everyone, and to believe that there is, in fact, power in pushing beyond the established boundaries of public niceness. I’m no longer convinced that nice for the sake of keeping everyone pacified serves much purpose at all. I’ve really been thinking about the back and forths with Friko, specifically about her (and several others’) reactions to my blogging about my neighbors in a way that feels negative. I do get that reaction. I do. However, for me, it goes beyond a gut sense of “this isn’t nice” and moves into questions about what writing is entitled to do. Question #1: is it okay to write about other people? My anwswer is yes. Question #2: is it only okay to write about other people if you’re saying nice things? My answer is no. I daresay most people’s is yes. Question #3: if someone is making you crazy, is it okay to write about them? My anwswer is yes, as writing is therapeutic that way. On this question others would probably say yes, too, but…there’s a disconnect between Question #2 and #3, isn’t there? Most of us who put our words to paper (as it were) believe in the therapy of venting annoyance about others, say, in a diary. But when it comes to sharing those feelings of annoyance, I and many readers diverge. Again for me, if someone annoys me to the point that I need to pour some of that emotion into writing, I don’t need to stop with the act of writing but, rather, feel that another legitimate part of writing is sharing my impressions of the world with others. That’s not to say they are fair or true, but I am writing what is true to my individual eyes–when I write about someone else, I am sharing Jocelyn’s perceptions of her reality. If I put the brakes on that, then my efforts at writing are restricted to how great I think my husband is and how lovely I find my children, and after not too long, there’s not much more there. If writing is about challenge and growth and pushing and pulling and questioning and wondering and depth, then we have to be okay with writing what we feel and see of the world, even if it isn’t set up like a court room with time for rebuttals.

      I’ve also been thinking a lot about which people I could write about in a way that feels judgmental, yet the audience would not call foul. I could trash Kate Middleton’s hat; I could tell you of the failings of a family member which wounded me deeply; I could trash a childhood bully…and no one would say I was slagging. They’d say fair enough. As of right now, I’m spending my running time thinking about where that line between “okay to write about negatively and not okay to write about negatively” falls. It’s definitely for the best that there is no dictation machine wired to my jaw.

  12. I too write posts in my head all the time, only to have them evaporate before the time comes. I’ve tried a couple of dictation apps – they turn EVERYTHING into GIBBERISH – not worth the time, in my oh so very very humble opinion.

  13. I am pleased that your friend came to a conclusion about her marriage that allowed her to move on to a better place. I was a divorce attorney for nearly 20 years. Divorce is rarely easy, but very often necessary and frequently allows for a major (positive) metamorphosis.

    I think your Allegra is a very wise girl. Embrace the good, accept that things may not have been perfect, but don’t allow the disappointments to define the day.

    (do I seem alarmingly alliterative today?)

    I, too, have little tolerance for cluelessness in parents that affects not only their children but my own. The self-absorption that allows for bringing another child into a family such as you have described is appalling. And no, it doesn’t bother me in the least that you blog about someone who, at the very essence of it, makes you think.

    Since most of my poetry and blog posts that are never published are composed as I drive my minivan hither and yon with children aboard, I would welcome any dictation device that did not require that I listen to the sound of my own voice and type it up later. Is that too much to ask? I think not.

  14. I’m pretty sure I have written hit songs, remembered where I lost my class ring in 12th grade, and solved many of the world’s problems, all while out for an afternoon or evening run. Of course, all is completely erased by the time I get home.

    No LOL? So what are you feelings on OMG, SMH, and IMHO? 🙂 I don’t really mind LOL if someone is “laughing” at something someone else has said. However, when someone follows their own statement with LOL it bothers me a little 🙂

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