Sunday, January 4, 2009

2008: Reflections on a Blog

I've been browsing my archives and reflecting on the past year and feeling grateful, pleased and happy that I've been in the blog world over a year now. I started this blog a bit tentatively because I wasn't clear about my voice or the purpose of my blog. Well, there is nothing like writing several times a month to help you figure out your voice and your purpose. I think I'm growing more and more into my own voice and I feel much more clear about my purpose. It is exactly what my header says--Writing my story: a cornucopia of the loves that make me write. The loves that I've written about most this year include: travel, family, interior design, books and movies, school and then the all-encompassing "daily" label that covers a multitude of topics that I just happen to be thinking about on that day.

This year has had its ups and downs and several highlights. For me those highlights include the family trip to Denmark, a friend's wedding and another friend's long, summer visit, starting school again, re-organizing my house, getting furniture restored or adding new pieces to my collection, and celebrating birthdays, holidays and every day with good friends and family. And really, one of my favorite parts of the whole year has been the chance to write so much and interact with friends and readers on the Internet. It has been my favorite hobby this whole year. I've always written in journals and notebooks and in little asides that litter my hard drive and my bookshelves but the immediacy of writing and actually having someone or anyone read that writing is like the ambrosia of the gods. Too yummy.

I've put together a list of my favorite posts this year. Thank you, readers and lurkers and bloggers alike who've read, perused and inspired me this year to catalog, define, and elucidate the hills and valleys that have charted my course these past months. You've made this ride amazing.

Call Me Miss Potter, If You Please
". . . The character of Miss Beatrix Potter. A quiet, somewhat homely, refined woman who has been under the tight scrutiny of her mismanaging mother for all of her adult life, but who lives an active artistic life with her painting and writing. I want to be Miss Potter. I don't want the mother, or the strict Victorian society, but I do want the countryside of the Lake District, the constant drawing of nature, and the writing of books. If anything embodies my secret desires this is it--to live the artistic life."

Hold My Hand, Forever
"My mother came here as a bride at 21, a California girl used to sand clutching her flat belly. They settled on a little farm where she learned how to irrigate, drive a tractor, and chase stray bulls from the garden on a Sunday afternoon in her heels. She birthed six babies through sixteen years on that dusty acreage west of town. All because one Saturday afternoon while watching a football game and drinking root beers, a dark-haired, earnest cowboy named Ralph held her hand and she never wanted him to let go."

The Born Business
"I think that birth is such a mind-altering and perspective-changing experience that we need to give women every opportunity, every advantage, and every option available to them to make their birthing experiences positive and empowering. And that is where I think a movie like The Business of Being Born is a great introduction to the discussion."

The After-Easter Sale
"How much chocolate is too much chocolate? I mean, really. Two bags? Four? Eight? I'm even burping chocolate. (Note to self: marshmallow bunnies don't taste better the second time around.)"

Isn't that Nice?
"It was soon my turn to have my purchases rung up. The cashier started by apologizing. He was so sweet and so young and I was so wicked and impatient. And then, that trick of my mother’s kicked in: Despite my anger and my impatience, I plastered my oh-so-sincere smile across my face and turned on the sweet.

'Oh, that’s okay. I’m sure it was frustrating for you too. You were so kind to help her out like that. I’m afraid I wouldn’t have been so accommodating.' More like I would have turned cashier-kamikaze and head butted her out of my line after scanning her items three extra times."

Chocolate Choices
"You see the people of the world can be divided into two very important categories: Those Who Love Icing and Those Who Hate Icing. And I am a long-time, card-carrying member of the first group. I've always judged a cake by its icing. . . . And this cake, this cake of Sam's? It has the best frosting I have ever tasted in my life. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I might do illegal acts if this frosting were the pay off."

What I Miss About Having Company
"And of course, the talking. The discussions that ranged over five days. The particular question that my friend asked me about an old, old problem and I didn't have an answer, which made me see the issue in an entirely new light. The airing of opinions and refining of tastes that occurred as we shared and explored an array of topics. The great long conversation of our friendship that has stretched across many years, many states, and many emotions."

Denmark Day 1
"The gate agent had just taken my bag and Spencer's bag because there was no room left in the overhead compartments of the very full plane. That look of concern on Spencer's face reads something like this: "Why did that NORTHWEST gate agent not give me a claim ticket for my bag? Why do they insist that they CAN'T gate check my bag? How is my bag supposed to arrive in Copenhagen when the gate agent (read: wing nut) ripped the bags out of my hands without so much as asking my name? Why don't I have a claim ticket again?" (read: someone didn't do HIS job. Same someone who will insist 14 days later that it was EVERYONE else's fault but his that our luggage takes nearly 10 days to be located. Same someone who will not answer our very expensive international calls until we have called him a total of 23 times. Yep, just remember. Don't ever let a NORTHWEST gate agent take your bags from you. They will fall into a dark abyss that only said wing nut will be able to locate. Because he is the ONLY ONE in the UNIVERSE who knows the claim ticket number. And no airline, airport, or lost luggage agent will begin to assist you without first asking, "What is your claim ticket number?" You mean the one I NEVER RECEIVED?)"

Denmark Day 3
"The sign at the pier on Gammel Strand where we exited our harbor tour [says Havenerundfart]. You see the last four letters on that sign? Well, that one tiny little word in Danish means "speed" or "momentum" or "rate" or "velocity" and is on many, many signs throughout the country. (And yes, the Danish meaning only added emphasis to the English meaning.) Let's just say that one little word inspired hours and hours and hours of hilarity on this trip. Especially when Rus would do things like mispronounce the sign below to say something the equivalent of "Have you a fun f**t?"

Denmark Day 4: Part 2
"But one chair went unoccupied. The boys weren't about to take it from one of the girls and the girls thought they would be more comfortable on the floor than one of the bigger boys. Julie was the closest girl to the unoccupied chair and she was protesting and desisting from claiming it with great good humor. That is until the mother ship, Jamie, decided the matter by barking the order, 'Julie, get up in that chair.' To which Julie's body responded with a frightening speed, while her face registered total shock."

The Not-So Secret
"I stink at secrets. Always have and likely always will. At least secrets about myself. From the time I was three years old and experienced the horror of having the longest-calf-needle-in-America plunged into my backside by my seven-year-old brother who was chasing me and laughing wickedly at my terror of said needle."

Tagged: Joys and Fears in My Life
"I'm easily startled. This has something to do with my ability to get quickly absorbed by whatever is in front of me. Please never, never walk up behind me (or beside me, or really, even in front of me) without sounding some kind of alarm or notice or warning. Fog horns work best. If you do walk up without warning me, be prepared to defend yourself. I've been known to utter a shriek so high-pitched your ear drums will split. Then I will begin to flail wildly in your direction and I take no prisoners. (Think Jackie Chan meets Baloo the Bear and you will have the right idea of what a terrifying spectacle you will behold). I nearly took my boss out a few months ago when he approached my desk suddenly and with a booming voice. The black eye was with him for about three weeks."

How Do You Do It?
"Then the pressure starts to build and either more balls get thrown in the rotation or I have to increase the speed that I throw the balls in order to get everything done. Then it starts to get ugly. I start dropping balls everywhere, throwing them wildly, and looking like a crazy person as I try to keep things under control until eventually I can't track any of the balls or the direction they are flying and I put my hands down in defeat and drop everything. Then I curl up in a corner and wish I could die."

Back to Life, Back to Reality
"The native landscape here can be strong and vibrant with rich browns, bold oranges, and startling shots of green. But today it seems parched and withering after the green softness of coastal Denmark. Today I'm seeing with new eyes an old place that I love. And that place isn't winning."

Here's the Dish
"Maybe that is why I've been avoiding, delaying, and running from the implications. I've been really unsure for a long time where I am, if I'm settled and what my life looks like. I've been in a giant holding pattern waiting for the next big thing to come along: my fabulous life as a writer in New York, my adventurous life as deep sea diver in Alaska, my neo-spiritual life as hiking guide in the mountains of New Mexico. Something or anything different than the job I work, the body I have, and the indecision that continues to mount in my life."

Love to Order
"Wouldn't it be nice if it were that easy? My order would go something like this: tall, dark and handsome; spiritual, but hold the fanatical; funny, but hold the flatulence jokes; intelligent, but hold the ego; with a side order of will-take-me-to-any-show-ballet-or-theater-without-gritting-his-teeth."

The Buggy Ride
"And that high-pitched shriek, she'd been shrieking in the back of her throat? Well, it turned in to a full-blown panic attack when we hit the Great Cloud. Still keeping her mouth shut and her sunglasses on, and still managing to keep the Polaris on the road, Amy began a frantic tango of survival, the likes of which I have never been privy to witness in this life and hope to never see in the next."

The Lawn Chronicles
"Truly I began to wonder what he was thinking. Until this morning that is, when I realized that Mr. Twenty-Two wasn't lazy, ineffecient, too busy, or lacking in a responsibility gene. He was making a fashion statement. For what our lawn is now sporting is a mullet. We are business in the front, and party in the back."

"I think this year has been especially hard for me because I keep expecting that I'm going to make a trip up to Burley to see them and she will have chili on the stove when I arrive and we will sit on the blue "divan" in the living room and catch up on the news. Then I will go to sleep in the pink bedroom upstairs and wake up in the morning to the smell of popping bacon and sit in the little breakfast room and eat Apple Jacks with half and half."

Why Chocolate Doesn't Do the Trick During a Week Like This
"I must thrive on anxiety for as much as I milk it and coax it and welcome it into my home and heart. It is like a lover who courts and woos me with the constant plying of attention and devotion and proclamations of undying commitment. I can't let go of it. And it certainly seems enamored with me. It is not a mutually agreeable relationship but it is the most long-term relationship I've been in to date. And sometimes misery as your only company must satisfy as company indeed."

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