03 June 2006

No, It's not THAT kind of blog

I feel dirty after reading what people were searching for when they found my blog. Who knew the world was so full of sick fucks. "men pooping pictures"? Eeew. "Excessively long pubic hair?" Likewise. And now "Red Snatch Crotch." I mean, come on, people. I am going to delete all my old posts and start just posting excellent butter cookie recipes.

02 June 2006

How is my blog changing my life?

The BlogHer question of the year is: "How is your blog changing your life?"

This is my attempt to answer that question.

Blogging is what I have always wanted. I didnt know it until I started doing it, but it was the precise thing I always craved.

It started like this: I learned to read early. I clearly remember getting my first library card at age 6 after we moved into town from out in the sticks. I asked my mom how to spell my name and was embarrassed when she told me the letters - I already knew that - what I wanted was to write it in cursive, because I knew that a cursive signature meant something was Serious and Important, and this was as important a thing as I could imagine at age six.

Getting the library card was my first step toward being someone grown up. I could be trusted with books.

The library was only about 25 feet square but to me it was an endless magical wonderland where I wanted to be all the time. I made my mom drive me there every day they were open - three days a week.

I read constantly and I fell in love with authors. I had deep, intense relationships with books and authors. I was in love like a teenager, mooney and obsessive.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louise Fitzhugh, Walter Farley and his endless Black Stallion series. I loved them and dozens of other authors and read my favorite books over and over until the words were a bigger part of my life than what was right there in front of me. In my head, the authors were my friends, my family. I held inner conversations with characters and with the authors who created them.

I always wanted meet the authors, too. We lived in a tiny town where author appearances and book signings weren't common. The closest person to a real author I met was Danny Rife's mom, Joanne, who wrote for the local paper, which was published once a week.

When I was 12, I wrote a gushing letter to Ray Bradbury and was thrilled when he wrote me back a one-word answer "Thanks." That letter was more precious than a sheet of pure gold to me. I carried it around in my school binder and showed it to all my friends. It had come folded in half lengthwise and I kept it that way, until it almost tore in half from all the folding and unfolding, the crease growing soft and furry.

At 16, William Goldman possessed me with his book The Princess Bride. I loved the story, but the parts where he spoke directly to the audience were what intoxicated me.

An author, revealing his life and the story behind the story - breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the reader - that was a new one on me, and I fell hard, reading that book dozens of times in the next five years. It took me longer than that to realize that the "author" who was speaking was just another character in the book, that his dad was NOT from Florin, that there was no wife named"Helen" or fat kid called Jason.

Looking back, I seem so frightfully immature. At 19, my mom was having her first baby. I was carrying around a tattered paperback copy of The Princess Bride and quoting it to my friends. Oh well. I have always been a little slow.

But Goldman had given me a taste of what I wanted. I wanted to read an author and not just absorb their words. I wanted to be able to ask them questions and have them answer. I wanted them to know me and how they had affected me. I wanted them to...blog.

I remember reading Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions and being struck by her absolute honesty and her wonderful humor. I thought "There is no one else out there doing this." I thought she was amazing.

Now a dozen years later, I know that thinking Anne Lamott was unique was sort of like what a friend told me about the singer Marian Anderson - it wasn't that she was so uniquely talented. It was just she got to use her talent at a time when so many others were prohibited from doing so.

There are plenty of people out there as talented as Anne Lamott. Funnier, too. Its just that something in their lives kept them from getting an agent and publisher and a book deal. Now if they have a blog, they can hop on the internet and write a post and two minutes later I can be reading their words and nodding my head and laughing or crying. Then I can write them a comment and eagerly await a comment back.

Blogging has made writing and reading so much more rich and satisfying for me. I read new content from my favorite authors every day. (Some of them are over there in my sidebar.) I know about their real lives. They know about me. This is what I have always been searching for, and I feel like I am a teenager in love all over again - in love a hundred times over.

Check out my new linky blog, Linkateria

My favorite blogging of the day.

I am often advised to be less picky about my explicit criteria for who I will date. (I am advised to be more picky about who I actually date, but that's a different story.)
- From Flooded Lizard Kingdom

Check out my new linky blog, Linkateria

Now with a new blog

I have a new blog, Linkateria, just for all my linky link posts. I find so much wonderful stuff but my stats show that no one sticks around long enough to click them, so they will be banished to a new area.

01 June 2006


A little something for everyone. This is such good stuff that I could not wait to get home and post it for you.

Crafty. And hilarious. Make some of these lovely yarn things for your loved ones and they will never forget you. "I don't know if it's the parched, dangling tongues or the crudely shapen appendages, but something just isn't sitting well."

Don't mess with her. Hysterical post about what can go wrong when your husband decides to invite a film crew to use your house as a location...."I do admit to being the owner of a sharp tongue. I am also anal, bossy, and on a deadline."

Sweet. Greater love hath no one than a friend who helps out in a time of crisis. Warning: made me cry. "Much of that time in my life is a blur but I will always remember the overwhelming feeling that someone cared enough to help me out like that."

Caustic. And funny. This writing kills me. "...she found the nearest pile of mulch and did a bellyflop into it. When she got up she looked like she had been tossed around in a giant bag of Shake-n-Bake (Baby flavor)."

Scary. More news of malfeasance from the Bushies. Is anything they will stoop to surprising anymore?

Idiocy. Weren't we just talking about the Bush administration?

Smart. A really fine, simple explanation of net neutrality. What it is, why it is important. "The deepest pockets are not the deepest sources of innovation -- to the contrary...When was the last time a new telephone service was introduced? Call-waiting?"

Ranting. Supafine in high feminist dudgeon, and it is worth reading. "The "Mommy wars" and all these books about motherhood focus on a different class of people than the one I belong to. I don't have the luxury of choosing whether or not to work."

31 May 2006

Cloak of Invisibility

I'm sorry I have been kind of a bitch lately. First I make fun of a nice woman who wanted nothing more than to pray for my healing and THEN I take easy shots at baby names, managing to offend Elizabeth of Table for Five who is actually the LAST internet person I should be mean to, since we will be sharing a room at BlogHer and she will have the perfect opportunity to smother me in my sleep (which some will argue is long overdue anyway).

None of this is very appropriate behavior for an Enlightened Spiritual Master in Training (which we all are, IMO, not just me).

I am feeling a little out of sorts lately. Dinosaurish. I guess the baby name thing got to me because I am seeing me and all the Susans and Donnas and Cindys going the way that Ethels and Mabels and Pearls did before me. It is only natural, I suppose - someday soon Jennifers and Kristens and Stephanies will fade away too.

And aging is a kind of fading away. I remember being puzzled at my invisibility in my late 30's. An attractive young woman learns that her mere presence is enough to guarantee that she will be the center of attention. Her every bon mot is treated like a pearl of genuine wisdom by men and by quite a few women, too. Everyone wants to be around a pretty youth.

Then something happens. People just stop paying so much attention. At first it is merely puzzling, like a far-off sound that you can't quite identify. Then it becomes more and more obvious until it is like an anvil across the head: oh, I'm not ALL THAT anymore - even more so since I was only moderately good-looking to begin with.

Now as someone who is about to turn 45, my invisibility is almost complete. I can say and do the most outrageous things and I am greeted with either the mildest of curiosity or, more often, complete blankness. If I had behaved the same way at 23, the media would have been alerted.

In one way it is infuriating, in another it is a joy. I can see why single women my age end up with 45 cats - no one notices and stops them.

It is all a very good argument for developing some skills and inner resources beyond the physical. Physical beauty does guarantee some advantages, but being pretty is like being a professional athlete - most careers are not that long. The saddest thing is when people think that physical attractiveness is all they have to offer, and then try desperate measures to extend their physical talent far beyond its natural life.

The other side of the coin is all the wisdom you get from becoming older. With age really does come wisdom. Things seem so simple and obvious now.

The fabulous irony, of course, is that so few will listen. They will pay attention to Paris Hilton saying "It's hot" 4000 times before they will bother with a middle-aged woman's well-thought-out premise.

The good part about being almost 45 is that the irony is obvious and hilarious. It's hard to stay pissed off for long when the years have given me such a good sense of humor and an understanding of this amazing cosmic joke. Life is short, people. Laugh it up. And that is the last piece of advice this old hag is going to dispense tonight.

My favorite photo I have ever taken. My dad with his great-grandson on his lap, playing tickle toes.

30 May 2006

Baby Name Barf

Stolen from Kottke - the Social Security Administration's 2005 list of top baby names (your tax dollars at work. When you are old and destitute, you can thank them for projects like this).

I don't know why the girls' names are so much more barf-worthy to me than the boys'. I guess because parents try to get creative with the girls.

For special feelings of queasiness, I select Madison (#3 on the most-popular list), Ava (oh, come on! Just call her "Princess Grace" and get your whole 50's movie star worship thing out of the way) and the much-overused "Ashley."

Other girls' names I may scream if I hear one more time:
Tiffany (I know someone named Tiffni. No! No! Bad mommy.)
Caitlyn/Caitlin/Kaitlyn/Kaitlynn/however you spell it
Brittany (I worked with a dear wonderful woman who named her child Britni. Sigh. First, it is the name of a Spaniel. Second, spelling counts, people.)

Names I wish would come back because they crack me up:
I guess I am good with that ending "L" sound.

Ok, that's enough bitching about names for now. I know you can't help the name you were given. You can barely help what you named your kid.

Fer chrissakes, I had to grow up with that g**d*mn Johnny Cash song "A Boy Named Sue" so that is probably what scarred me so badly about the whole name business in the first place. Every adult I met, upon hearing my name, would lean over and leer "Are you a boy named Sue? How do you do?" That is how I perfected my blank hateful stare at an early age. I mean, I must have heard it 1000 times.

And if I had a girl what would I call her? Xochitl, of course. A fine strong Aztec name. You got a problem with that?

29 May 2006

I'm not that pushy. I don't insist that often. But if you haven't already, please go read this beautiful letter to her son "MamaSaysOm - Ache" at La Vie en Rose...A Sweet Life.

Michelle is an amazing young woman. A beautiful spirit, an explorer, someone who sees life and motherhood deeply and with a creative, fresh eye. I envy her talent so much that I want to share it with the world.

Also sweet: dear, dear Mr. Rogers. He really believed in what he was doing.

The adventures of Suebob, girl reporter

On weekends I change from a mild-mannered cubicle dweller into an ace newspaper reporter, which is my true identity. I do not have a cape, but I have 7 pens, a steno pad and a slightly expired press pass that never fails to get me a good parking spot.

After so many hours at my regular job, sending emails that keep getting forwarded from person to person while no one claims responsibility ("Perhaps Bob Smith can help you on the project. Bob?" Bob: "Sorry, this isn't my area of responsibility but Andrea Carter knows about this." Andrea: "Since the reorganization I don't own this area any more"...and so forth) it is refreshing to get out and look people in the face and talk to them. Besides, most staff writers would like Saturdays off, instead of going out and cover goofy stuff like parades and food festivals.

I reported on Memorial Day today and was determined not to make the rookie mistake of getting a blistering sunburn at the event. I slathered myself in sunscreen, stuffed 400 kleenexes into my purse (allergies are kicking my butt), grabbed my notepad and took off.

The event was easy to cover, a piece of cake. Except for the fact that it was hot, and I guess I was sweating, because sunscreen got in my eyes.

I was already a little runny from my allergies and being outside standing in a field of grass, but then the terrible pain in my eyes began and I started crying. Not a little dab-at-the-corner-of-your-eyes crying, either. Full on tears, flowing freely down my face, unstoppable.

Some people mistook my heaving sobs for overwhelming emotion at the sacrifice of our service members and nodded approvingly in my direction. For one moment I was seen as a super patriot, not as a despised member of the America-hating, peacemongering, liberal media!

I interviewed one woman who turned out to be a nutcase. This happens every so often as a reporter. You walk up to enough strangers and start asking them questions and some of them are bound to be off their tree.

She took a look at me crying and decided I needed prayer. She did a laying on of hands and beseeched the Lord on my behalf. I thanked her kindly, because she was right. At that point nothing short of a miracle could have helped me.

I peered at the program through my tears. We were only on the Civil War and we still had both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq to get through. I was okay until the bagpiper came out and then I knew it was time for me to hit the road. A girl can only stand so much suffering in one day.

Anyway, I survived. A day in the sun, commemorating our fallen appropriately, and a couple dollars in the bank. But next time, I'm getting the sweatproof sunscreen.

Spring fevah

I love you, nature. Why are you trying to kill me? It is a beautiful spring day and I am inside blowing my nose...hay fever. I look and feel like my face has sprung several leaks. ick.

Mr. Stapler dog update

Since several people have asked: Mr. Stapler found a dog-sitter for the 2 1/2 months he will be in Chicago. He is coming home for some weekends, maybe a couple weeks during that time.

I did promise to go visit her, since the poor dog will be alone most of the time. I can drive over and have lunch there - it is close to my work.

His work even reimburses him for the sitter, because it is a travel-related expense.

28 May 2006

Sneaky fun

The next door neighbors have a darling girl who is about 4 years old. She is the light of her father's life. When he comes home from work, they spend hours playing ball out in the back yard.

A lot of balls come over the fence. I usually toss them back, but one day a couple months ago Goldie popped this soft plastic one before I could sent it back. I looked around for a new one but couldn't find a matching ball, until today, at the swap meet, I found the exact replica - soft, purple, with tiny bumps all over. I spent a dollar for it.

I came home and tossed it over the fence. A few hours later, I heard squeals of joy. "Mi pelota! Mi pelota!" Apparently after a long absence, the purple ball had magically reappeared.

I got to hear happy little girl laughter for about an hour as she played with the ball with her mom. Hands down the best dollar I ever spent.

The best thing ever

Have I mentioned how much I love my house? It is tiny (500 sq ft). It is ancient (built 1948). It is in a neighborhood where people shoot each other rather distressingly often.

But it has several fabulous features. I can walk to the beach. It is mine all mine (well, to rent at least. But no one else lives here.)

And it has an outside shower. My landlord put it on the wall outside the laundry room after some previous tenant jammed the drain by washing her laborador retriever in the bathroom.

Nothing feels better than showering outside in the warm sun on a spring afternoon, especially after I am all sweaty and dirty from gardening. It is relaxing way beyond any indoor shower and when I am done, I feel all floaty and happy.

Of course I was wearing a swimsuit! Is that how you think of me? I'm shocked.

Photo from my travels - Las Vegas

Safe refuge
I wish I could have brought this home with me. Sometimes I just need a place like this...I fantasize that it opens to a white sandy beach on some turquoise blue water, perfectly quiet and perfectly safe.
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