The Doctor is . . . Out

Thank you Eileen from Aligeata’s Blog for this wonderful image. Feel free to use it with a pingback to her, not me.

See you all tomorrow for the beginning of the April A to Z challenge.

Lisa

I Get It! The Healthy Side of WordPress

I’m sure many of you have noticed the trend over the past few days of bloggers reaching the breaking point–that point where we realize that blogging has consumed our lives in unhealthy ways and we must reconsider the role it plays in our lives. Just today the fabulous Kathy at Reinventing the Event Horizon made a commitment to the Post A Day Challenge (which she has really been doing all along) but questioned that commitment she “didn’t want pressure to post daily if [she] had nothing meaningful to say on a given day.” And in the response section, in a discussion with Life in the Boomer Lane, Boomer wrote “I need a Blogging 12 Step Program.”

Isn’t that what we all need?

Just this morning I gave myself permission not to create a real post today. I even was thinking about posting an appropriate Mental Health Day sign if I could find one. I didn’t.

I fully intended avoiding my traditional morning habits, but I couldn’t as I decided I had to read and respond to a few of the posts, as well as comments from people who somehow stumbled onto my blog. So, there went my morning.

But I didn’t post, which is usually the very first thing I do in the morning.

Notice how successful I am at avoiding it all day. EPIC FAIL!

Why?  Yesterday, I had one of those less than thrilling days in the classroom that seem to happen more often than not this semester. One student decided another group was ignoring him (when they weren’t) and chose to be completely disrespectful. When I called him out on it, I believe he decided I was racist. But no, I said to myself, asses are asses no matter what color they are.

This morning, staying home with a “sick” child, I spent time grading papers for my on-line Comp I class in anticipation of receiving another pile of papers today from the in person class. Now, I have to point out that the on-line class is (much to my surprise) by far the better course, with more commitment and participation from most of the students enrolled (except for a few slackers who have disappeared). The live class seems to think that drafting is optional and don’t have any desire to workshop for improvement.

As I worked my way through these papers I inevitably stumbled upon the few who chose to ignore my comments on their first draft and continue on the path of imperfection that they were on. Most of the papers were actually pretty good, but I always become frustrated when I see little change. I don’t expect perfection but I do expect effort.

That’s when it hit me, my epiphany! I come to WordPress regularly because it is a community of people who actually care about something–or many things. They care about writing! They care about ideas! They care about learning! They care about improving themselves as writers, or artists, or photographers or simply as people.  I come here, because it is full of people who care!

Does that change anything about the stress level of participating? Well, in a way it does, because I find solace in reading the blogs I love so it aids my mental health. I do need to find a balance between writing and creating and responding and reading. I do need to find a slightly better way of functioning with WordPress throughout the day. But, I also have to allow myself time with this community–because it is a community filled with love.

So this is for you (to go along with Calvin and Hobbes from yesterday)

 

Update, I was just sent this wonderful little gift from Aligeata’s Blog, and I thought I should share with all of you:

 

Waking Up to Warm Fuzzies

Dear Readers,

I learned something from you all yesterday. I learned what a warm, wonderful, supportive community we are building here. I would like to share this with all of you who sent me kind thoughts and helpful comments.

I don’t know yet what my next step in the world of writing will be. I’m not making any decisions at the moment, and simply going to continue on my blogging journey into the unknown. But I am feeling truly honored to have connected with so many of you in such meaningful ways. I hope to get to know you all better. May our journeys continue with joy.

Love,

Lisa

When is it Time to Say “Rest in Peace”?

As if I wasn’t already having a doubt myself as a writer day, I came home to find this in the mail:

I’m not really surprised. Anyone who has read my book GIVING UP THE GHOSTS has liked it. (I’ve linked you to an excerpt of it, if you are interested). Even the harshest critic of them all, a 10 year old avid reader.

I revised for this contest, and made it stronger. But here’s the thin, it is a single book. It doesn’t have series potential, or at least not obvious series potential. It doesn’t follow the over-sexualized young adult vampire trend that I have been reading lately. It is a book about two girls trying to find their place in the world. One of them happens to be able to see ghosts.

I’ve submitted this book to several places, large and small. It is hard to label this book. It’s kind of current, paranormal, fantasy, coming-of-age. It is what it is. I’m not saying it is the world’s most brilliant book, but it certainly is better than some published books that I have read recently.

I admit, I am not a good advocate for myself. I am not good at the business side of writing. I don’t want to write to the needs of a publisher, I want to write the book that my souls is trying to write, but then I want it to find a home.

But that leads to the question, when do you give up? When do you let the poor little manuscript rest in peace, gathering dust with all the rest of the accumulated words from years gone by?

Maybe it is time for me to really give up the ghosts on this one.

Blog! Crash! Burn!

It’s funny how I can dish out advice from the heart, but cannot listen to my own advice. Yesterday, one of my favorite bloggers, A. Hab hit the wall, frustrated with the pressures of Post A Day 2011. This was part of my response to her “Give yourself a break, if you don’t want to post, don’t post. There are no Post a Day Police who will arrest you if you don’t post.”

Well, today I don’t want to post. I feel empty and dried up, with nothing to say. And yet, do I listen to my own advice? NO! I feel like I absolutely have to post. And not only do I have to post, but I have to write the most brilliant post ever! (Which, I assure, this one will probably not be.)

Why? Because yesterday was, of course, the day that I got the most hits ever in one day.  Now I know this should be something I celebrate, but the reality is that I feel more like this:

In order to explain this, I will attempt to answer Mark’s (aka The Idiot) question to me from the other day. He asked “In what way has your view of blogging changed (either positive or negative) since you first started blogging?”

The more I blog, the more confused I become about blogging. I started this as a place to help me write more, and in the hopes that a few people would actually read what I have to say. I’ve done that. I write daily and I have a few faithful followers who read my posts as often as they can stand to hear me blathering on.

Then blogging took on a new role. I’ve discovered a group of people who have interesting stories and share the world in similar ways that I do, through words, pictures, music, or whatever other form inspires them. Through blogging I have found a community, which is pretty special. I enjoy visiting with these friends regularly and hopefully giving them thoughtful responses to their posts. I enjoy discovering fabulous voices and stories that make me feel something and respond. I love the people who make me laugh! I love the stories that make me cry! I even love the stories that make me angry and want to tear my hair out and go marching on Washington or elsewhere to battle the injustices of the world around us. I am awed by the talent and beauty in this world; by the people who make language sing or the artists who bring color to the world on a daily basis.

I have also been truly humbled by this community. I know I can write. I know that I have always had a flair for putting words on the page. But now I know that there are so many people who do it better than I do, and I learn from them on a daily basis. I only hope that I have been growing as a writer by following those who share more eloquently than I can.

I have also discovered that I am not alone in the struggles that I face in all aspects of my life: as an academic, an aspiring writer, a mother, an artist, a friend, a woman, a 40-something, a person who cares about this world, a daughter, and so on. The list could go on forever. Every day I find someone who has faced the same issues with more or less grace than I have, and I learn from them too.

But, I still don’t understand blogging. Sometimes I become overwhelmed by the power of other people’s blogs. I have days where I feel jealous at the success of other blogs (and then I get angry at myself for being jealous). There are days that I see no purpose to blogging, and feel like this is purely a place for egos to fuel each other. Those are the days when I struggle the hardest to write. There are days where I pour my heart and soul into a post, only to have that post ignored and only read by one devoted follower. There are days where I whip a post together, thinking it is meaningless drivel, only to discover numbers rising and more comments than I have had before. Yesterday’s post was somewhere between the two–not meaningless drivel in the sense that meeting my now husband was a significant moment in my life, but not something I expected (especially on a weekend) to attract much attention in the blogging world.

I am beginning to think I have absolutely no clue what makes a good post. Seriously. I’ve stated before that there are times I read the Freshly Pressed posts and think to myself  “That is a horribly written post. Why did they choose that one?” Honestly, I am more likely to read posts recommended by bloggers that I like than Freshly Pressed posts anymore (unless the title is especially intriguing–there are a couple of posts today that I will read for sure). So, I no longer have my sight set on achieving Freshly Pressed status. (Of course, I’ll relish it if it comes, but I have no idea how to achieve it so I can no longer think about it anymore). All I can do is write, and hope that my little blog has a purpose that I don’t yet clearly understand. Thanks for reading.

Why do you blog? Why do I blog? Does anybody know?

Stumbling into Romance

My first week in Hawaii before I started Graduate School was full of conflicting emotions.  I had never been to the island before, and was experiencing the beauty, color, smell and sunshine for the first time. I had just left my home of three years, Okayama, Japan so my heart was filled with the sadness of departure and letting go. I held the fears of a new adventure, as well as the stresses of starting over somewhere completely new. I needed to find an apartment and some kind of job to help support me through a three-year graduate program. There was also an error in my acceptance packet, so I had to convince someone to let me into the three-year MFA instead of the two-year MA–needless to say my emotions were all over the place.

At the first meeting of the new graduate students, I found myself thinking, “I don’t belong here. I can’t do this.” Why? Because this handsome Asian man walked into the meeting sporting a portfolio filled with images and I had nothing. I looked around me as the people in the room shared their various experiences and felt like I had even less than nothing.

But this isn’t about that.

The handsome Asian man walking into the room would represent a significant change in my life. I remember thinking, “He’s cute” and then immediately dismissing him from the realm of possibility. In my mind, if I thought he was cute, I had no chance with him.

Despite my 24 years I had very little experience with men. There was the Japanese man who stole my heart, but it would never lead anywhere, as I have written about elsewhere. There was also that short fling with an American man (Oh, Michael. Six-foot-something. Dark hair, blue eyes. Sigh!). But that was it. That was the extent of my dating history. I had a couple of pathetic dates in high school, and one or two in college, but I don’t know that those counted.

The story of me and men was a short one. And, I was there for grad school, not romance. (If I said that to myself often enough I wouldn’t get lonely or feel bad about my inability to connect with men).

I next met Mr. handsome Asian after I got hired by the Theater Manager to work in House Management (which would eventually include a tuition waiver–woo hoo!). I was talking to the PR Director, another grad student named R Kevin who also happened to go to undergrad with my brother, in a tiny office that used to be a storage closet. In walked Nathan, R’s best friend. We chatted for a little while, and then the guys asked me if I wanted to go play video games with them.

“Um, no thanks,” video games were definitely not on my radar, “I am still moving into my apartment.”

And that was the beginning. Throughout the semester I alternated between having a crush on R Kevin and having a crush on Nathan–but it didn’t really matter as I also began to accept my destiny as a singleton.

Of course, I then learned that both guys had just been broken up with before I got there–by women who they both loved and who would also become friends of mine. So, not thinking romantically was easy–I didn’t want to be the rebound relationship.

I focused on studying, working, trying to get the occasional Hawaii experience, and trying not to succumb to the craziness of my roommates, and eventually finding a new living situation (another crazy story).  I really did not think much about dating (although my crush on Nathan was getting stronger). Eventually, however, it felt like Nathan was paying extra attention to me. I won’t call it flirting, but it seemed like he talked to me an awful lot.

But nothing happened, and I was too shy to do anything about it myself, so friends we remained. Nathan says that he actually asked me out several times (but usually to be part of a group) and I kept saying no because I was busy. Naive. Busy. Who knows.

Eventually, at the end of the semester, we were all at a party at R Kevin’s house. Nathan kept coming over to talk with me and I was very aware of that. We talked about how few people were going to be around during the break. I  had a Christmas break temp job at a television station starting the next morning, so I didn’t stay long. Before I left, Nathan said, “Maybe we can go to the movies sometime over break.” I said sure because it was nice to have a friend to hang out with.

He didn’t call.

Then, about a week later he called said he was sorry, he had been sick all of break. I said, “No problem” as I still thought it was just friends. We made a plan to go to the movies, and the movie choice added to my assumption that this was just two friends going out.

The movie, Dumb and Dumber.

Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Granted, I was a little thrown when Nathan picked me up and handed over this jean jacket of his that I really liked. “I don’t wear this anymore,” he said, “so I thought you might want it.”

“Okay,” I said, my heart fluttered a little but I still thought that all fell within the realms of friendship.

During the movie I felt like I was in Jr. High. Is this a date or isn’t it? Does he like me? What’s going on? I still had no indication until near the end of the movie, when he took my hand.

The rest, shall we say, is history.

On Blog Awards and Community Questions

Yesterday was a big day. I wrote a post that sparked a lot of interesting discussion and made me think more about the topic, which may lead to another post (although not today).

I spent the day with my family, driving to Springfield, MO partially on “business” (my husband had to pick up a repaired moving light for the theater) and partially for family time. After a three hour drive (one way) we went to the Discovery Museum and had a late lunch at a Japanese food restaurant. Not the worlds best Japanese food, but it was nice to get something different for a change. I again played with my camera, and here are some of the cool shots from the museum.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Throughout the day, I realized how “addicted” (for lack of a better word) I have become to connecting with this blogging family. For some reason the wireless on my cell phone was not working all day, leaving me stranded with no knowledge of whether or not anyone had read or liked my post. HORRORS! I only discovered the interesting comments and conversations as we drove back home, but of course I could not reply until we actually got here. So I rushed to my computer as soon as we arrived, and responded to all the comments. Then I looked at the list of posts I had missed throughout the day and I realized how easy it is to get behind when you love to follow so many people.

I hop on over to Facebook for a bit (I spend much less time there these days) only to discover that a friend of mine who uses Blogspot had won two awards. She doesn’t make it on my subscription list, so I have to follow her through Facebook or just by visiting her page. I went over to see what was up only to discover that she had passed one of those awards onto me: The Lovely Blog Award.

As far as I can tell this one has no obligations, but it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and touched that someone really liked me and my work that much (she said amazingly kind words on the post where she gave me the award). So, of course I want to share the wealth, but I am surrounded by lovely bloggers and had no clue who to choose. So, I am going to be like the giant weenie mobile that once drove around America saying “spot the weenie mobile and you have the chance to win . . . ” (only in the US, I’m almost too embarrassed to write that).

 

Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile

 

 

 

Anyway, I intend to pass award along as I read lovely blogs over the next few days. Whoever inspires me or reminds me of loveliness may be the recipient of this award. Picture me tooling around the internet superhighway  in a cute purple Volkswagon Bug (not my real car, but I think it would be fun to use as an award car, and it is perfect for me) carrying special awards to hand out to deserving recipients.

Of course, the first post I read today was an announcement from Vixter, at Little Miss Everything who never fails to brighten my day with her sweet and intelligent reflections on life as a singleton in England.  (For those of you who don’t know, I love all things British). She won an award yesterday too, and passed it onto me! This one is called The Versatile Blogger Award and does come with a list of rules. I, however, am choosing to ignore the rules. I will pass this award along as well, for those bloggers that consistently surprise me with the versatility of their posts.

Anyway, Vixter was also actually one of the first people I thought deserved The Lovely Blogger Award, so she is a double award winner on this day. Yay, Vix.

All of this led to me thinking about the blogging community. I’ve learned a lot both from and about people in this blogging world. But I always have questions that I want to ask, and more than I want to learn. I’d like to think that if I ever met any of you we would have a truly “lovely” (sorry the word is stuck in my head today discussion over lunch or tea, and some of you would turn out to be kindred spirits (if you haven’t already). Sometimes I ask those questions in my comments, but usually I feel like “if they wanted me to know that, they would already have blogged about it.”

So today, I would like for you, my kind readers to post a question or questions that you would like me to answer. They can be silly or serious? There are no restrictions? If I don’t feel comfortable answering one, I’ll let you know. If the answers are worthy of a post, look for those posts as they come. If the answer is simple, I may simply respond.

So there it is, dear community of blogging friends. Lisa is open for questions . . . and may surprise you with an award or two while she answers them. I’m looking forward to the search as I continue to read your wonderful blogs.

Thank you all for your kind words and support on this strange journey!

I Feel Lovely

My new friend and one of my art gurus, Heather from Little Red Henry , just gave me an award and I feel blessed.

I intend to pass this award along, but I will wait until morning, as there are so many lovely blogs that I follow I need to have a clear brain to choose.

Thank you Heather, you are one of the loveliest bloggers and people I know!

Defined by Breasts

“She was outraged at the thought that people would even consider that the letters might not be from Mariana, and I thought of the times when, as women, we are not heard and how after 300 years, Mariana, whose words have changed so many lives, is not allowed the most basic of rights, to claim her own voice.” (Myriam Cyr, “A Note from the Author,” Letters of a Portuguese Nun, xii)

“Be prepared,” my friend Jackie said as we sat working on projects in her fabulous Blue Box Art Studio. “Some artist think that you can only really be an Artist if you’ve taken the proper technique classes, and they will also judge you as a woman.”

I’m just dipping my toe into the world of art right now, and I’m really not doing it because I want to be known as an “artist”. Projects, words, and ideas have all been flooding into me lately, and I’m simply embracing them and then finding ways to express them. This personal journey that I am on is exciting and terrifying and opening me up to so many possibilities.  I don’t really care if  Artists (with a capital A) think what I am doing is Art.

I can’t say the same thing, however, about the Woman issue. If you read my recent post called The Power of Women’s Voices you know that I am fascinated by the stories of women who have pursued their passions and dreams despite society’s expectations. In that post I talked about women historically, but more and more I have come to realize that nothing has really changed for women.

I know, I know. Women hold higher positions throughout the world and have more equality, and yada, yada, yada. But, the reality lies in a subtle manipulation of language that does not allow women to be equal. A woman is almost always defined by her sex: a woman writer, a female artist, a congresswoman, the first woman to run for president. (Yes, yes, I know–Obama will forever be known as the first black president. This subtle manipulation of language to assert power or difference is not exclusive to the description of women).

So, I suggest we change this by our own manipulation of language. How, you ask? Well, here are some examples that have popped into my head:

  • William Shakespeare, perhaps the most well-known non-female playwright of his time . . .
  • Hilary Clinton, who served as Secretary of State under the male President Obama
  • Non-female talk-show host, David Letterman swapped jibes with Ellen the other day, and of course lost (Now . . . I’m making all of this up folks, as examples. This is not intended as a serious statement of fact.)
  • One of the funniest non-female bloggers Mark (aka The Idiot) battles Tori Nelson to a duel of witty banter causing a medical emergency as blog readers every keel over with extreme fits of laughter and tears.  (Okay, I’d really like to see that).
  • The Tony Award goes to newcomer Lisa Kramer who defeats the better-known non-female directors . . . (I told you this is fiction, now bordering on fantasy)

I hope you get my point by now. If we turn the tables, will it reverse the expectations of what is the “norm” or the “ideal”? Or do we continue to stand by and let the “norm” be defined as “white, male, heterosexual etc.” which we all know is a fallacy of the highest order. As long as we continue to define people by their gender/sexual identity/race we reinforce the perception that somehow only certain people define the norm.

So, now I’m moving on to the more “serious” or academic part of the discussion. Feel free to stop reading if you would like, although I hope you won’t. After all, despite the fact that I am a woman, sometimes I actually have valuable insight.  😉

I realize there is value in identifying ourselves by our gender, our sexual identities, our races, and our religions. I myself would be really interested to know the numbers of bloggers who are female vs. the number who are male. I know that most of the blogs I follow happen to be by women, but I wonder if that is simply because they write things that I am more interested in reading, or because there are a greater number of female bloggers out there. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were more women, because we all know the reality that it is hard to get published, and I think it is even harder for females unless they are writing in specific genres. Of course, I don’t have evidence of this, but I’m sure it could be found.

Myriam Cyr’s quote from Letters of a Portuguese Nun shows that, historically at least, anything that surpassed expectations and “threatened to upset the delicate balance of power between men and women” (xviii) could not possible be written by a woman. Apparently, the debate over this issue still rages, led by French scholar Jacques Rougeot and Frederic Deloffre who say

“Admit that the Portuguese Letters were written in a convent, by a nun with little if any instruction, having never known the world, is to believe that spontaneity and pure passion inspired a woman to write a superior work of art over and above what the best minds of the greatest period of French literature could offer their public.” (Cyr xix)

I know there were some French female writers from the time period, but I wonder if the objection is more based on the fact that the nun was a woman than on her training (since she clearly was educated to some extent in the nunnery).  Those who disagree, attribute the letters to a male French aristocrat.

Can we even tell the difference between things created by a man and things created by a woman? I mentioned earlier that most of the blogs I follow happen to be written by women, but how do I really know? Identities can easily be faked in this strange world of web technology.  And, I guess it doesn’t really matter if someone is hiding his identity behind the facade of a woman if I enjoy the blog. (Why anyone would do that, of course, is beyond me). In past Comp classes I’ve conducted an experiment with my students. As a class we pick a topic, and then they write about it with a time limit. They hand these papers forward and I read them out loud. The students then need to guess whether the writer was male or female. I can usually (but not always) by the handwriting or the color of pen (for some reason guys rarely choose purple pens, go figure). Sometimes the students can guess, and sometimes they can’t.  When it comes down to writing about the same things, it is often hard to tell the difference.

Does it matter if something is written or created by a woman? Or by someone with more or less education? Or by a black, asian, mexican, alien with five eyes and a tail. . . It only matters if the creation in some way relates to being one of those things.  It only matters if the creation is rooted in actually living a certain experience. But even then it does not matter . . . because emotions and thoughts can be universal, can’t they?

But maybe I am wrong. Maybe the differences between women and men can be seen in everything we do. If that’s true, then that must be celebrated, because it is difference that makes this world such an interesting place. But difference need not imply one is better than another, Difference simply implies difference.

Art is art whether or not you have learned all the techniques. A writer is a writer even without an extra appendage between the legs. Leaders are leaders even if they happen to have breasts. An artist is an artist, even if the art reflects the feminine divine. A movie star is a movies star even if he/she loves someone of the same sex. [Sometimes movie stars are movie stars despite the fact that they are actually creatures from another planet ;)]

Our reality is defined by language. The question is, does the language control us or do we control the language?

 

Elizabeth Barret Browning

 

“A Curse for a Nation”
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1856)

I heard an Angel speak last night,
And he said “Write!
Write a Nation’s curse for me,
And send it over the Western Sea.”

. . . “Not so,” I answered once again.
“To curse, choose men.
For I, a woman, have only known
How the Heart melts, and the tears run down.”

“Therefore,” the voice said, “Shalt thou write
My curse to-night.

Some women weep and curse, I say
(And no one marvels), night and day.
“And thou shalt take their part to-night,
Weep and write.
A curse from the depths of womanhood
Is very salt, and better and good.”

Art Phase II

I can’t think of anything to write this morning, so here is phase II of my new creation. Phase II is going to be AWESOME!!!

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: