Friday, January 30, 2009

Choosing a Subject - Which Way Do I Go (Day Nineteen, Paragraph 21)

If I had readers, I would put this to a vote but since I don't think I have any readers I will have to make the decision on my own. Just in case, though, I will post a poll over on the right hand side of the page there. Voting is open until 11:59pm EST on Sunday, February 1 (so you'll still have a little time to vote after the game is over). One of the choices will be "none of these" - if you choose this option, please leave your suggestion in the comments.
There are four options in the running for what I will write about on this blog. First, right off the bat, I am eliminating Option Three (write about my kid). I know I am just not going to do that. If I was going to write about him everyday my mother-in-law wouldn't be bugging me all the time. That leaves three viable options: being forced to declutter my house while documenting and writing about the "5 things" I sort each day; using the "Next Blog" feature on to write about the "next" blog; and finally, writing about the first photo in the queue on the Flickr Creative Commons "Attribution" page. One of these three is enormously more appealing to me than the other two. One of the options is enormously less appealing to me than the other two. One of the options is not so interesting to me anymore even though it seemed like a decent idea at the time. I will reserve my decision for now though. On Monday, if there are people, I will submit to their will and my paragraph will be in line with the poll results. If there are no people, I will make my choice based on no identifiable criteria whatsoever. After all, what difference would it really make if there are no people.
Photo credit: A_of_DooM on Flickr

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Choosing a Subject - Option 4 (Day Eighteen, Paragraph 20)

Option 4 is to go to the Flickr Creative Commons "Attribution" page, download the first photo in the queue and write about it. This is kind of like Option 1 but the source is different AND it kills two birds with one stone: I get a subject to write about and I get a photo to post for each entry. See how easy that could be. For instance, this photo here on the right was the first photo is on the page today. My paragraph for the day could be something like this: My husband (oh it was so exciting to have a husband!) took photos of glorious tropical flowers while we were on our honeymoon on St. John. The only thing wrong with the trip was that it was too short - yet at the same time we felt that we had been away on adventure for much longer than the few short days our schedules allowed. Time has such a funny way of being both extended and compressed: I feel as if I have been with my husband forever yet some days I look at him and feel as if I hardly know him. Every year since we've been married we have had something "big" - both monumental and good - happen: he became partner in a successful business in year one; we bought a house and the business grew the next year; the following year we had a wonderful, healthy baby and the business grew yet again. The Pollyanna in me (yes, she *is* in there somewhere!) is excited to see what the next year will bring. My Negative Nelly (you know who I mean) is waiting for the other shoe to drop. In the meantime I need to get some prints made from those shots my husband took so I can finish up some of the decorating in our family room. What a lovely reminder of that brief snapshot in time when the most important decision we had to make was whether we should have another pina colada or go snorkeling again.

So that is Option 4.

Photo credit: mauroguanandi on Flickr

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Choosing a Subject - Option 3 (Day Seventeen, Paragraph 19)

I could write about my kid. I don't want to be a "mommy" blogger though. I think my kid is pretty amazing but I am also grounded enough to know that many of the incredible things he does are tasks accomplished by thousands and thousands of kids everyday. I think I am a pretty good parent but I don't think my experiences (or lack of experience) make me an expert in parenting. Also, I do not want to post photos of the Boy on this blog. I have another blog just for the Boy. It is password protected. Only friends and family are invited (sorry). This brings me back to what started this exercise in searching for a subject - what should be public and what should be private. In my world view, the Boy is private unless there is a way to tell a particular story without specifically identifying who he is. So I guess this isn't really a viable option.

Photo Credit: *clairity* on Flickr

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Choosing a Subject - Option 2 (Day Sixteen, Paragraph 18)

On Blogger - the blogging program I use to write this blog - there is a feature on the tool bar called "Next Blog" that brings the reader to what I assume is the next blog in a queue of some kind. Every so often I am bored (read: trying to look busy at the office while I avoid doing work) so I will click "Next Blog" to see what comes up. Never has the same blog appeared twice. Never has the blog been totally devoid of some interesting content even if that content is not in my native English; sometimes most of the fun of looking at the blog is trying to figure out what the language it is written in. My thought on this is that I could click "Next Blog" and then write a paragraph about the random blog that comes up. It could be a critique. It could be a story I make up based on what I may be able to understand. It could be an anecdote from my own experiences that is remembered as a result of the blog contents. And so on.
I am impressed that I have thought of two potential concepts. Maybe I will have even more to choose from if my brain keeps clicking in the next day or two. I think I need to have made my choice by the end of the week.
Photo credit: MARIANO ORTUĂ‘O on Flickr

Choosing a Subject - Option One (Day 16, Paragraphs 16 & 17)

So I've been thinking about what I can do to open myself up a bit more on this blog while not feeling like I am compromising my personal information out on the big old world wide web and without feeling so self-conscious about writing so much about writing. I'm working on cleaning out all the junk from my life right now and that project may be worth writing about. Note that while I would love to be able to boldly state that by junk I mean all the junk in every sense of the phrase, I mean cleaning up the clutter and getting rid of excess in my material possessions - mostly to help make keeping house easier.
Regardless of where exactly in my life the broom of my clean sweep will reach, cleaning house may not a very interesting topic to write about everyday. I do, however, subscribe to Unclutter so maybe it has more value than I give it credit for. And, hey, I do watch Clean House marathons on TV (mostly so I feel better about myself - I could never be as messy as those people!).

So the "method" I've been using to clean up is the Rule of Five - which I probably learned from an organization show or article. The way I understand this Rule is that it is best employed when you feel overwhelmed by a cleaning task. Instead of forcing yourself to do the whole thing at once - or not doing it at all as is often the case when something is overwhelming - just decide what to do with five things. So if you are cleaning out a drawer that is a mess, pull five items from the drawer and decide if they should be kept, donated, or thrown away. Decide where the thing(s) you are keeping should go - back in the drawer or somewhere else. Stop there for the day. The next day, choose five different things, and so on.
So this is option one - writing about (and maybe posting daily photos? that is pretty ambitious for me) of the five things I sort each day. The new subtitle could be "Five Things, One Paragraph" or something unclever like that. Also, I think this idea fits well with the name of the blog. I may be on to something here if there is actually writing material to be pulled from this project. There is bound to be a good story somewhere in my old junk, right?
Photo credit: House Of Sims on Flickr

Monday, January 26, 2009

Into the Light (Day 15, Paragraphs 14 & 15)

It is amazing what people post on Flickr. Family pictures. Contents of bags. Self-portraits. Pages and pages of personal writing. Artfully arranged still lives of pens, journals, spoons - you name it. Not so artfully arranged still lives of pens, journals, spoons - you name it. Don't get me wrong - I am grateful that people post beautiful photos I can use on this blog. But the kind of laying-it-all-out-there on the web is, I suppose, related to some of the things discomfort I've commented on in earlier posts here. I try very had to keep my personal life off the internet yet I know that many people find it freeing to come and write or post photos of every intimate detail of their lives. Where is the balance?

All of this doubt that I have been having about what to publish on this blog makes me wonder if I have chosen wisely. Perhaps I should have gotten a little notebook and a nice pen. Or maybe just started keeping a journal in Google Docs. Maybe I should become more focused and make this blog *about* something so that I can focus my attentions on that *thing* instead of focusing on what to write about. I never thought this would be quite as much of a struggle as it feels on many of the days I sit and stare at the monitor. This makes me respect writers that much more. Especially writers who pull topics out of thin air and spin them into woolly stories readers want to wrap themselves in. I suppose that is what I will begin to do now - decide what this blog should be about. I am not enjoying this blog as it is now. Granted it has been only two weeks, but still - I can tell I need to rethink this place of mine. I need to put more out there without feeling too exposed. I need more focus. A better place to start from.
Photo credit: RBerteig on Flickr

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lunch (Again) (Day Eleven, Paragraph 13)

A colleague invited me to go to lunch yesterday. I had already eaten my little salad so I declined, but said I would be around today if he was going to eat out again. So I took a leap of faith and didn't bring lunch today. And I was asked to go to lunch. Am I now best friends with the two co-workers I ate with this afternoon? No. Did I struggle to keep conversation flowing because I don't know much about these people? Yes. Did I feel a little bit less like an invisible office hermit? Yes. Was it worth it? I'll let you know - I feel a little heartburn coming on.

Photo credit: arepa182 on Flickr

Letting It All Hang Out (Day Eleven, Paragraph 12)

A woman I know only through a wonderful (private) online group posted a very interesting observation on her (not private) blog about how we live our lives out here on the internet . . . or more accurately, how it may be necessary to exercise discretion in our writing if the lines between "real" life and life online become blurred. She observed that she feels stifled after posting with restraint even though she seeks emotional outlet and refuge in the blogging process. Others, however, seem to post with abandon regardless of the impact on people in their lives. We seem to live in an age of more than just a "ME" generation. The freedom of the internet, on-line publishing, self-publication, self-publicizing has spawned something of a "FUCK YOU IF YOU CAN'T HANDLE ME" generation. There are things, though, that should remain in shadow. Life needs mystery. People need friends. Friends sometimes need their feelings spared at the expense of one's own. Knowing what to bring into the light and what to leave behind is brave and refreshing. I applaud my friend.
Photo credit: *clairity* on Flickr

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

(Day 10, Paragraph 11)

Is it the forum or is it me? I feel so self-conscious about what I write about here. And I feel like I am writing about writing quite a bit even though this is not a place dedicated to writing about writing but rather just a place to write. What one chooses to write about on the web is almost as important as how well one writes about it. For instance, a blog I was introduced to by a friend has essentially had one subject (a chronicle of the writer's experiences) but has not, in my opinion, managed to remain something I am interested in reading. The blog started because of a personal tragedy in the writer's life and went on to record the ups and downs of what transpired after that zero date. The writing is good. The tragedy was compelling. The joy, however, is not so interesting. The quality of the writing has not changed but the joy is mundane - I could read any one of hundreds of blogs that journal the same events. So even though I am not that concerned about having readers, I think (in the ego maniacal portions of my brain), that I have an obligation to be compelling - or at least somewhat interesting - in case there ever is a readership here. And then I begin to wonder, am I writing for the sake of writing or am I writing for the reader. I am not up enough on my rhetoric study to really have a discussion about this but it is an interesting topic. Speaking of topics, I need to think of some before the universe of photos of writing implements on flickr is depleted!

Photo credit: Paul Worthington on Flickr

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Smarter Than Your Honor Student (Day Nine, Paragraph 11)

I don't want to be one of those parents. You know the kind. The ones whose kids poop better than your kids, speak better, walk better, play better, sleep better . . . you get the idea. But my kid is pretty freakin' smart. He is thirteen months old and he understands so much of what is going on around him and is aware of so many concepts it is frightening to me. For instance, this weekend we were having a snack at the kitchen table and I crossed my legs so my bare foot ended up right in his line of sight. He kept pointing to my foot, so I did the "this little piggy" ditty and wee-wee-wee-wee-wee-wee'd it right up to his chinny-chin-chin - much to his delight. A few minutes later, after drinking some soda too quickly, I belched a little and said something to the effect, "Oh, Mommy is such a piggy." Without missing a beat, the kid pointed to my foot. Then last night my husband was singing the alphabet song while he played with the kid. At the conclusion of the song, the kid runs over to the refrigerator magnet toy we have that plays the alphabet song and pushed the button to play the song. Once, it seemed like a coincidence. When it happened twice, though, we knew he understood what was happening. I am not really the bragging type but - my kid is smart.
Photo credit: Zesmerelda on Flickr

Monday, January 19, 2009

Observations on Lunch (Day Eight, Paragraphs 8, 9 & 10)

Lunch is a meal fraught with drama. Much more drama than one would ever think to credit the midday repast with being capable of having. I think of this as I sit alone at my desk and eat half of a turkey sandwich I made this morning and jammed into a plastic bag with a mealy apple and a brown banana. At my current job, I used to eat lunch out with co-workers frequently - a few times a week. That is when I was "in" but now, as the description of my lunch attests, I am most certainly "out." Lunch is so political from the grade school cafeteria to the teacher's room lunch tables to the "power" lunch to the three-martini lunch to the ladies-who lunch.

Who one eats with at lunch is really a testament to ones social position. The table for one has been analyzed ad naseum, but seriously the choice to dine alone is certainly frowned upon - even when the diner reads a paper back book or furiously feigns to be doing "work" while slurping soup. Eating at the desk alone is just as sad a sight as it implies that the diner is not part of any social groups at work. This is the equivalent of a fourth grader eating with the cafeteria monitor because he doesn't fit into any of the cliques at school - but at least the kid has someone to commiserate with.

Eating lunch with other people is validating. The exchange of even mundane and mindless chit-chat confirms that in fact you are not invisible but that you are "in." Eating alone at your desk - not so much.

Photo credit: nateOne on Flickr

Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture (Day Eight, Paragraph 7)

The anticipation. The hues found in nature only in the 1970s. Even the big white frame. A blog I read regularly recently featured a link to Poladroid, a down-loadable application that turns digital pictures into hi-res pics that look like Polaroids (you can even shake the pictures while they are "developing" - how cool is that?). Polaroids were magic in a way that digital cameras never will be. The waiting and watching to see what the photo looked like - with no thought of a do-over because either the moment had been captured or something else had. This was instant gratification in a tangible way. Granted, a digital picture has its own magic: the ability to be manipulated and edited, the instant view in the monitor, the choice to delete right away. But really, it isn't the same.

Photo credit: themissiah on Flickr

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dear Diary (Day Five, Paragraph 6)

When I was a kid, I would write in a diary. I would struggle to think of what to write about - usually resorting to things like strange dreams and more frequently the tales of my hopes of catching the eye of some cute boy. Later in my life, I tried to keep a journal and found myself gravitating towards the subjects of my youth, without the recitations of my dreams. Why did I call what I was doing a journal when I was older and a diary when I was younger? Was one more of a "journey" than the other? Is one a place for emotional outlet while the other is a receptacle simply for recording events? I was thinking about all this in the shower this morning. So to help answer my questions I did a little research on the origins of the two terms. Both words derive from the idea of a daily record. Both are derived from the Latin for "day" which is also the root for "diurnal" - a source for the word "journey." Historically, diary and journal came to mean a personal record of daily events at about the same time. So, from an etymological standpoint, they are equivalents.

A diary and a journal are the same thing, but one sounds like a tiny twee book covered in pink flowers, secured by a teeny lock with a minuscule key and the other sounds like it should be a staid black volume. My point is that I was never really very good at keeping either whatever I was calling it. And that is really what I was thinking about as I lathered up my hair this morning: will this effort to write a paragraph a day follow in the footsteps of my past efforts at writing? Is this more deliberate idea of just a paragraph more or less likely to lead to "success" in writing? If I am not trying to keep a personal daily record am I more likely to write? I am hoping that is the case. While I submit that all writing is personal (otherwise why would it sting to see red pen all over a document you have drafted for a mundane work task), writing about something other than myself may prove to be less daunting. I am not trying to say that these posts will be more interesting than the chronicles of a fourth grade crush - and besides, I've already got a cute boy in my life.

Photo credit: basykes on Flickr

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

January 14, 2009 (Day Three, Paragraph 5)

I hope it isn't too late. I still haven't mailed out the New Years cards. Or the thank you notes from the Boy's first birthday party which was more than one month ago. I have always been a procrastinator: writing papers in the wee hours of the morning they are due since grade school, filling in pledge forms and writing checks at the registration desk on race day, waiting so long to put away the clean laundry that there is no clean laundry left to put away. Since the baby, though, I have really taken it to new heights: paying monthly bills quarterly (I hope I don't have to apply for credit anytime soon . . .), spending more time on the web than working, putting off cleaning out the garage so I have to push the stroller over mountains of bags "to be gone through." More time needs to be done doing than thinking about doing or reading articles about how-to-do. But how does one change one's nature? I hope it isn't too late.
Photo credit: jurvetson on Flickr

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Third Try (Day Two, Paragraph 4)

I know. I know. I know. Yesterday I said this wasn't going to be "about" writing but it seems that today that I am not getting any satisfaction writing about any other topic. This post is my third attempt to meet my quota for the day. My first shot at my daily paragraph was a post about a book I like but I was struggling to put together something interesting and cohesive without sounding too pretentious or too much like I was writing a book report ("I really, really, really, really like this book"); the post is saved in my "draft" folder and maybe I will work it out and publish it one day. My second attempt for today's entry was about my personal life but, after only a few sentences, I was left feeling too vulnerable for "day two"; that paragraph will also linger in the draft folder for now. And now this charming entry, the third try, which will actually see the light of the internet. Hey - don't judge - it is a paragraph.
Photo Credit: Soul Pusher on Flickr

Monday, January 12, 2009

One Paragraph a Day (Day One, Paragraphs 1, 2 & 3)

One paragraph a day.

I've been thinking about writing. And I've been thinking about my life. And I've been thinking that I might be a little happier if I was able to put the one into the other. You decide which is the better combination: putting writing into life or putting life into writing. Either way - it is a bit like peanut butter and chocolate vs. chocolate and peanut butter: it doesn't matter which way you say it, it is a great combination. The thought of "being a writer" or the old adage about "real writers write everyday" is a bit daunting but I think I may be able to handle writing one paragraph a day.

That being said, I don't think this is a blog "about" writing. I don't think this is a blog about anything in particular really. It just is.

The only "RULE" on this blog, as I see it, is that I write one paragraph a day. So if I write three paragraphs today I may not write the next two days - like planning on leftovers so you don't have to cook every night. I think I will be satisfied with myself so long as everything averages out to one paragraph a day.

And see - I'm already on paragraph five and I'm not feeling overwhelmed at all.
Photo credit: sabrina's stash on Flickr