It Takes a Village

Dear Family and Friends (and Complete Strangers),

I want to thank you. Thank you for your kind words, your encouragement, your wise advice, your compassion, your love. Thank you for sharing your own struggles with me, for joining me in the pit as it were. Thank you for sitting with me, for hugging me, for checking in on me periodically, for sending me cute animal pictures and videos. Thank you for bringing food, for offering to bring food, for taking us out to eat, for having us over for food, for not judging us when we ate ALL the food and then some. Thank you for helping me with housework, for taking me for a pedicure, for inspiring me to treat my body well, for being so kind to me and helping me to be kind to myself. Thank you for letting me cry, for letting me laugh, for letting me space out completely. Thank you for sending me thoughts, words, and songs of healing. Thank you for letting me explore, doubt, find, process, and pour out my heart. Thank you for offering me love and new hope in return. Thank you.

I don’t think it’s possible to heal alone, but you have not made me try to do that. In fact, you would not have let me if I’d tried, and that’s a really good thing. It takes a village to heal a broken mama’s heart, and I don’t know what I would do without you. I’m not there yet, but I have a little bit of hope, so thank you.

Grateful for you all,

What Would You Do (oo-ooo) With a Time Machine?

I realized this morning that I’ve been neglecting my questions lately. I’m trying to find a balance between answering those and just telling you fun stories about what’s happening. For the most part, there aren’t a lot of fun stories about what’s happening because my days are spent sitting on my couch, writing articles, and then driving half an hour to teach. And sometimes after I drive the 30 minutes to teach, there are no students. So…yeah. The questions are really more interesting than my life. All of that is about to change, but I’m not ready to make a formal announcement just yet, so hang in there, internet, and let’s talk about time travel.

Presuming you had a time machine what’s the stupidest and most dangerous thing you would probably do with it, despite having answered this question and having labeled it as both stupid and dangerous?

Well, I think time travel in general is definitely dangerous and probably stupid. I mean, Marty McFly’s hand disappeared when his mom was slow dancing/struggling with Biff, and his dad was too wussy to step in. But that’s what you risk when you meddle in your parents’ high school lives. My parents didn’t go to high school together, so I wouldn’t have to worry about that, but if we’ve learned anything from Back to the Future, it’s that you don’t screw around with the space-time continuum. Doing so is both stupid and dangerous, and you could lose a hand in the middle of your guitar solo.

However, there are a few things I’d like to see happening:

  • my parents’ wedding – There is no video footage available that I know of. I assume it’s because video cameras were only for TV/film studios in the early 70s.
  • me as a baby – There are not a lot of pictures of me as a baby that I know of, and I don’t really remember anything before I started school, and even then, it’s all pretty hazy until about 5th grade. I’m sure my mom could tell us what I was like, but it would be way cuter to see tiny me in action. Unless I was a jerk. Was I a jerk?
  • my ancestors coming to the U.S. – My sister is making a massive family tree for our reunion this year, and I’m sure she’d love an eye-witness account of this. Plus, y’all know how much I love to travel, but to be ON THE BOAT with them, knowing what the country is going to become generations down the line, and seeing what it was like back then…man, that would be awesome.
  • Beethoven playing his own stuff

All of those things, I just want to witness. I don’t necessarily have to be a participant in history for those. But here are some things I would want to do:

  • meet Jane Austen
  • hang out with the Beatles before they were famous, and teach them all the Monkees’ songs before the Monkees even form a band (just to be a mischievous punk, not because I have anything against the Monkees)
  • follow Jesus, like literally, in person, walking in the dirt (and the rocks, and the…)
  • convince Amy Grant that “Baby, Baby” is a bad idea
  • convince John Mayer not to record half of his songs
  • stop Shutter Island from being filmed, and convince Leo to do a movie that requires more shirtlessness
  • convince myself to go vegetarian in college
  • introduce myself to Mediterranean food much sooner (hummus, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, etc.)
  • smuggle slaves to free states
  • smuggle Jews to safety during WWII
  • invent leg warmers before anyone else
  • invent velcro

Like I said, I think time travel in general would be pretty stupid and dangerous, so I don’t know which of these things is the worst. I’ll let y’all be the judge as to exactly which thing is the stupidest/most dangerous and/or which is the likeliest to cause me to lose appendages. What would YOU do with a time machine?

My Thoughts Exactly

In trying to come up with an answer to today’s question, one thing sticks out more clearly than anything else, and it is exactly the thing my amomymous commenter mentioned in the comments on the previous post. But let’s start with the question:

What is one of the most unforgettable moments in your life and why?

I think it’s interesting that all of the most unforgettable moments in my life are unforgettable because of the other people involved. Sometimes they were good friends, sometimes they were old friends, sometimes they were unlikely spontaneous friends, but they are always in the forefront of those memories.

For example, one summer at Caswell, when we were maybe 15 or 16, Emily Furr Hogan, Julie Gilstrap and I stayed in a room completely separate from the rest of our youth group, and I don’t remember anything else about that week except for the fact that we were constantly singing “Welcome to The Best Stuff in the World Today Cafe” (by the great Kyle Matthews) with two different lyrics in one place because we didn’t know which was right. And we met these guys from Ahoskie/Aulander who were staying in the room next to us, and we hung out with them all week, and one of them sat in a tree outside our room, and it was creepy. And Rhetta wouldn’t let us hold the room key because she thought we’d lose it, and then she accidentally locked us all out of the room. I’m willing to bet that Emily and Julie don’t remember much else from that week either, but they remember those things.

And then there’s the time HP-M and I went to Paris, and those creepy Parisians in the restaurant wouldn’t leave us alone. And one of them whispered in my ear, all sleazy and French-like, “You are so pleasing to me.” Then he followed me into the bathroom. Ew.

I will never forget the unbelievably thunderous applause that erupted in that camp in Puerto Rico when Spunky and the Plate Tectonics took the final bow at the end of our epic lip-sync routine.

And I will never forget the moment I realized I had threatened to fight a group of random girls outside the ‘Bou, and that they were not my beloved hoes.

There are unpleasant moments I’ll never forget either – like finding out that the boy I liked was interested in one of my best friends (this happened on several occasions), or the day ECU’s School of Music faculty told me I could no longer pursue a degree in their program (apparently I’m not a good singer), or my great-grandmother’s funeral. But the redeeming thing about all those moments was the people surrounding me and supporting me through them. And it was because I dropped all my music classes that semester that I got to take Biology with my friend Becky, which MORE than made up for the disappointment and hurt pride I felt because of the music thing.

But I digress. You just asked for ONE of the most memorable moments, and here’s the one that keeps coming to mind:

That day in Italy – the best day of my life as I called it – something happened that day among four complete strangers. Two days earlier, none of us knew the others existed, and then that day, we somehow became family. It was fast and brief, and I will probably never see any of them again, but in those moments, it was real. I remember sitting on the beach, talking to Chris, one of the Canadians I had just met, and we just couldn’t believe that we’d only known each other for a few hours. There was nothing romantic about it. It was just like he was my brother, like we’d grown up together. And later that night, when some Italians started smoking pot, he asked them to move so the smoke wouldn’t blow on me.

Then there was Jacque, the girl who was there with her dad (who had disappeared for a while with a woman we referred to as Joan Ph.D). Jacque was the only Christian I met on that trip, and it was an immediate bonding point for us. She was my sister, and I hope she took my advice and got some Shane Barnard music when she got home.

And finally, there was Raja. He lived in New Jersey, so we tried to get together a few times when I got back to New York, but it never worked out. I remember, though, laughing my butt off, singing Monster Ballads with him. I hadn’t had friends who would do that with me in a while at that point, and it was somehow a good reminder that I wasn’t alone – that somebody got it.

The four of us slept out under the stars that night, listening to the Mediterranean crash on the rocks below, giggling like little kids, and snuggling up (spooning) to keep warm under the flimsy sheet covering us all. At one point, we all flipped over to lie on our other side so the people on the ends (me and Chris) could warm the side of us that had been exposed.

People are often confused and/or appalled when I tell them I did this. They think it was inappropriate or even scandalous, but like I said, it wasn’t romantic or sexual in any way. It was unlikely community, but it was community at its best – selfless and non-judgmental and lots of fun. And that’s why I’ll never forget it.

What are your most unforgettable moments?

QOTD (Question of the Day)

It’s Q&A time once again! Today’s question comes from formspring, and it’s a good one:

What’s your advice for someone who wants to start a blog but is too scared of not saying anything meaningful/too intimidated by technology/ too lazy to actually do it?

Well, this is really three questions, isn’t it? Oh what the hey, I’ll answer them all.

If you’re scared of not saying anything meaningful, I’d just like to invite you to read the past six years of Onward Hoe!, and then tell me why you think that blogging requires depth, insight and/or meaning to be worthwhile. I mean, if that’s the kind of blog you want to have, then obviously you’ll need to start digging deep into your heart/psyche for some powerful stuff. But I write about food and the gas it causes me to have, traveling and seeing water-skiing squirrels (ok I know I STILL haven’t done that), crazy dreams I have, and ridiculous things I find on the internet. Here and there, you might find something poignant or thought-provoking, but by and large, this really is not that sort of blog. And yours doesn’t have to be that sort of blog either. There are all kinds. Here are some examples:

  • Humor Blogs – I hope you’re on one right now. I never really intended it to be put into a category, but I am told it’s funny, so there you go. A few other notable humor blogs are Cake Wrecks, Jennsylvania and Stuff White People Like.
  • Parenting Blogs, which were originally called Mommy Blogs, but then daddies started writing them too, and it wasn’t PC or something to call daddies “Mommy Bloggers,” so we had to change it.
  • Hobby Blogs – Do I really need to explain this?
  • Political Blogs – These are the kinds of blogs I don’t visit.
  • Pop Culture Blogs
  • Celebrity Gossip Blogs
  • Personal Gossip Blogs
  • Travel Blogs
  • Sports Blogs
  • Religious Blogs
  • Photography Blogs
  • Blogs about blogging
  • Marketing Blogs

Oh my gosh there are a million different kinds of blogs that don’t require you to have anything meaningful to say ever! Isn’t that freeing?? And here’s another little tid-bit to free you from this fear: There are well over 100 MILLION WEBSITES on the internet, so if your blog isn’t “meaningful,” it’s likely that no one will ever notice.

Too intimidated by technology, you say? Y’all. Blogging is SUPER-easy. If you can send an email, you can post a blog. I know I use WordPress software now, but honestly, if I were just starting out again, I would use That’s where I started, and it walks you through every step of setting the thing up, so you literally don’t have to know anything about web design or html code or anything. You don’t have to download anything, you don’t have to install anything, you just have to do the writing. Amazingly simple. And if you need help, you can email me.

If you’re too lazy, well that’s your own fault. I don’t know that there’s a lot I can do to help you there as I’m pretty lazy myself, but here’s my thought: If you want to do something – like REALLY want to do it – you do it. We can all agree that sloth is my deadly sin of choice, and that I have a slight fear of commitment, but I’ve been blogging regularly for six years. SIX YEARS! The trick for me has been to not think too much about my commitment to the blog, but just to write what I think is funny or interesting. And I see a lot of funny/interesting things.

If you ever have moments in your life when you think, “Oh my gosh I have to tell somebody about this,” then you can blog. Like the other day, I was getting into my car to go to work. I had just eaten dinner, and I really wanted something sweet. I wondered if I had any candy in my car, and then I opened the door and saw half a bag of lemon drops in the console. And y’all, OUT LOUD, alone in my car, in a voice like Mae West saying, “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime,” I said, with regard to lemon drops, “Ring-a-ding-ding.” And immediately, I needed to tell someone about it.

Now, that is a story best told in person so you can actually hear me say it, but that’s what I’m talking about – moments when you think, “Who can I tell about what has just happened?” I have a lot of those moments, so I am rarely hard-up for material, and that is what provides me with the motivation to make it happen (nearly) every day.

If that doesn’t help you, then once again, remind yourself that if you start a blog and then don’t keep up with it, probably not many people will notice or care. At least that takes the pressure off.

So no matter what the reason you haven’t started a blog, I just want you to know that if I can do it, you can do it. If you really want to, that is.

Everybody Loves Winning

Even if what you win is a random object from a complete stranger’s bedroom or a made-up award, it always feels good to have won something, to feel validated in some way, to feel recognized as a human being. So the other day when my friend Andrea gave me this Beautiful Blog Award, well that just made my day. Thanks, Andrea!! Right back at you!

So apparently there are rules to being a Beautiful Blog Award recipient. I’m trying to follow them. Here we go.

1. Thank the person who nominated me for this award and post a link to her blog. Yes!! I’ve already done that. Here. I’ll do it again. Lil-Kid-Things.

2. Pass the award onto 7 other bloggers who I believe have a Beautiful Blog. Ok, I’m opening the envelope, and the BBA goes tooooooo…
Beautiful Frolic (aka Ma Vie and apparently now something in Norwegian) – This is Amaris. She rarely feels normal, except for when she’s reading Onward Hoe!, that is. She lives life with such reckless abandon that she sometimes doesn’t have time to shower, but really, who needs it when you’re having this much fun?
Pocket Smiles – Paige is one of the most thoughtful and hilarious women I know. I am super impressed with her ability to grow things in her yard, and she has one of the cutest kids on earth. Also, an intense love of cheese.
Thimbly Things – I don’t actually know Kristena, but I imagine her living in the cutest house ever. She has an uncanny knack for making beautiful things out of not-so-beautiful things, and if I ever meet her, we’re totally having a craft night.
Oh Beauty – Ann is a dear, sweet friend who lives entirely too far away (in London), but I hope she stays there because I love going to visit her!! I spent this past Thanksgiving with her and her husband, and they made me feel so welcome.
Soup Spoon – Ok. I don’t like oatmeal raisin cookies, but when L*Joy makes them, I will eat an entire batch. I love how she weaves life stories into her recipes…or maybe how she weaves such delicious food into her already beautiful life.
Under the Mercy – It’s DLF!!! If you don’t know who DLF is, read my FAQ page. This woman has been inviting me to Florida for basically an extended dinner party (like a weekend or week-long dinner party) FOREVER, and I cannot tell you how badly I’d like to take her up on it. The food would be amazing, yes, but just to sit and talk with her makes my heart happy. Or to pull out the sleeper sofa and watch six movies in one day, ordering delivery for every meal…not that we’ve ever done that.
SPareSTAR Photography – This is my amazingly talented sister’s photography blog. SHE REALLY OUGHT TO PUT MORE ON IT (ahem) because seriously, she’s awesome. But we’ll take what we can get, won’t we? Check her out.

3. Contact the other bloggers to let them know they were given the award. I’m on it.
4. Say 7 things about yourself. Seriously? Six years of blogging, and you want to know seven MORE things? Uhhhh.
  1. I don’t know the names of mixed drinks. If I go to a bar, I just ask the bartender to make me something girly. If they need more direction than that, I tell them I want something with fruit and vodka.
  2. I don’t often go to bars.
  3. I pretty much always wear two shirts. Usually one is a tank top, but still. I like to layer.
  4. I haven’t worn sunglasses in a long time. I know it would be better for my eyes if I did, but I can’t find any that don’t make me look like a total douche.
  5. I could never marry a man who wore glasses with transitions lenses.
  6. I never fart in front of other people. Ever.
  7. I think I would make an awesome tour guide.

Whew. Okie dokie. Congratulations, BBA recipients!! You deserve it! Now everybody get back to work.

Exciting News!!

Don’t ask me why, after going to bed at 2:00 a.m., I was awake at 8:30, but I was. Wide awake. I will be asleep much earlier tonight. Anyhoe, because I am an addict, the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is reach for my PunkBerry to see how many people have loved and affirmed me whilst I slept. If I were basing my self-worth on this alone, I would have to conclude that I am only of value to Snapfish, Elance, Writer’s Market and the iTunes store. Thank goodness I’m smarter (and more awesome) than that.

But when I woke up this morning and checked my email, I had a lovely surprise – an email from Jason Boyett, author of the “Pocket Guide” books (Pocket Guide to the Bible, Sainthood, the Afterlife, the Apocalypse, and Adulthood) among other things. Señor Boyett had posted on his blog yesterday that to promote his new book, O Me of Little Faith, when it comes out in May, he’s going to get bloggers round the globe to read it, write reviews on Amazon, blog about it, facebook and twitter it, and just generally talk it up. That’s where I come in.

I emailed him, told him how awesome I was and how awesome y’all are, hinted that there might be an interpretive dance in it for him, and that I’d allude to it in my Neil Diamond musical, and he wrote me back saying he’d send me an advance copy of the book for review!!

Now. To some of you, this means that I’ve just created homework for myself, and you don’t know why a body would do such a thing. To ME, however, it means six things:

  1. A successfully published author knows who I am. This is a very big deal.
  2. I get to INTERVIEW successfully published author, thus becoming best bff’s forever.
  3. Successfully published author was neither offended nor alarmed by my interpretive dance or my Neil Diamond musical, which automatically makes him my best bff forever.
  4. I get a free book, and y’all KNOW how much I love free things.
  5. I get to work on a project! I am awesome at projects.
  6. I don’t know, but I think and hope that he knows Donald Miller and can move me one step closer to meeting/marrying him. Eh? EH?!

And the weather in Asheville was BEAUTIFUL today. A marvelous, stellar day all around.

1000 Ways I’m Better Because of Blogging

Ahem. Do I look any older today? Any wiser, perhaps? You may notice that I have a new banner up at the top there, which is all thanks to my awesome sister, who is much better at that sort of thing than I am. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

This is my ONE THOUSANDTH BLOG POST. I wish I knew how many words that was, but I have no idea. To be sure, it’s enough to fill multiple books, which is very encouraging. I know that I am capable of writing a book. It’s just going to be a matter of time and diligence. And that leads us directly into today’s actual post. I’m not really going to list 1000 ways I’m better because of blogging. You can read back through the past six years to see my journey if you want to. I’m just going to hit five highlights that I think encompass them all.

I’m More Confident in My Writing Ability

I started blogging in 2004 after meeting some girls in NYC who had blogs and couldn’t believe I didn’t have one. I think we’d met just once or twice before they both recognized that I would either love it or be good at it (I’m not sure which – maybe both). And for the first little while there, I really didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t set out to make this website what it is. It just evolved. In the first few months, I blogged about two things: Christianity and community league hockey. And while the hockey was a lot of fun for me, I’m not sure anybody else got it. But my more spiritual writing was what got people’s attention. Those were the posts people read and said, “You know, you’re a really good writer.” I didn’t really believe them (still have trouble with it, actually), but taking the risk of putting my words out into the world began to build a confidence I hadn’t known with anything before.

If you read any books or blogs or articles on writing, one of the things you’ll have read over and over again is that in order to be a better writer, you have to write. Just write and write and write. Every day. And it’s funny – I never really considered what I do here writing. Not “real” writing anyway. Not writing that matters, but it does. It matters to me, to my craft, and hopefully to at least a few people here and there. And I’d like to think I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but even if I haven’t, even if I’ve stayed at the same level or even regressed, it doesn’t really matter because I love it more every day, and the more I fall in love with writing, the more confident I am in my ability to do it. And maybe that’s what improving is.

I’m a Better Problem Solver

I know things about HTML that no Psychology major or ESL teacher should know. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve screwed up this website to the point where I thought I’d lost everything and would have to start all over. And then, miraculously, I fix it. Sometimes this requires the assistance of several people who are clearly much smarter than me, but I think that’s part of problem-solving – humility and the support of people who still love you even though you suck at something.

So first of all, to everyone who has helped me solve a technical issue, I’d like to return the favor. If you ever need anything edited, or if you have a website you want me to advertise, or if you’d like some vegan cupcakes or cookies, you just let me know.

And the other part of problem-solving is just not being afraid to fiddle around. Granted, that’s how I get myself in trouble, too, but it is how I learned to do 100% of the things I now know how to do with my page design, and it spills over into the rest of my life. When I started this thing in 2004, I was not the kind of person who ever would have dreamt of going vegan, writing a book, walking marathons or cutting up/refashioning her clothes. I did what I’d always done, ate what I’d always eaten, wore my clothes the way they were made, and didn’t often push myself into territory that was dramatically different or uncomfortable (sometimes, but not often).

But as I’ve learned to solve problems better, I’ve gotten more comfortable with experimentation and challenge because I’ve realized that (A) it is very hard to screw things up entirely, (B) I am very luck to have an amazing network of people who are always willing to help me out, and (C) that’s how I learn.

I’m No Longer Afraid of Commitment

If you are one of the, like, three people who’ve been reading this since it began, you’ve been with me through two phone companies, eight moves, thirteen roommates, *cough cough* boyfriends/quasiboyfriends, countless crushes you didn’t even know about, three churches (not counting any of the ones involved in Church Search 2010) and at least five jobs. And there have been times when I’ve been more committed to blogging than others. I hope you’ll have noticed that over the past year or two, I’ve become more consistent. This is a phenomenon that is slowly taking over more aspects of my life. I’m living in places for longer, I’ve been with the same phone company for several years now, I try to blog every day, but if I can’t, at least three times a week, and in general, I’m looking for places to be and people to be with for the long haul.

And I’m not scared of it. I am sometimes scared of not having these things ever, of always being this sort of nomad who blows in and out of people’s lives, is never truly known and then easily forgotten. But I know that’ll never happen. I’m too good with a telephone.

I Have a Voice

…which I use on the phone for hundreds of minutes each month. If you haven’t heard it, email me your digits, and I’ll call you. For real. But mostly I’m talking about two things:
1.    My writing voice.
2.    A platform.

I was at my new Thursday morning writing group yesterday, reading a chapter from my book-in-progress to two listeners. One of them has read/heard a lot of me, and the other was a woman I’d just met. And one of the things the new lady had to say was that she loved how my voice on paper was exactly like my speaking voice. I don’t always achieve this, but as my confidence grows, so does my authenticity. And perhaps even more exciting than having a voice is having people recognize it and like it.

I hate to tell y’all this, but only about 7% of what I do here is for you. Mostly what happens is I see something noteworthy in the world or inside myself, and I want to document it. I don’t put it to you for your approval, but for your participation. But when you do approve, well that feels really good. And the more people approve of what you have to say, the more they want to hear, and the greater the opportunity for you to speak on the topics that really matter to you. I don’t do much of that here (mostly it’s just general ridiculousness), but on the days when I do have something important to say, I’m glad y’all are here to listen, and if I’ve said something that resonated with you, feel free to pass it on.

I Know Who I Am (and So Can You)

I feel the most like myself when I am genuinely laughing – not laughing out of politeness or discomfort or as a way to fill a void, but really cracking up. In those moments, I’m not self-conscious, I’m not worried, I’m not dissatisfied. That’s me being myself fully and completely.

These have been good, good times, friends, and if you weren’t around for some of the earlier ones, I want to invite you to see the hilarity for yourself.

Ode to a Weather Man – My poetry really is one of my favorite things on here.
The Zimmerman Limmermacht dream – You know you’re crazy when this kind of thing goes on without you even thinking about it.
Hey, remember when I was a pole dancer? Good times.
The one in which I shake my head violently.
One of my all-time favorite poems, God is NOT a Temp.
The one where Whitney imitates a porn film.
Goodness gracious how many haikus did I write that day?
That’s Racin’!
The one where I talk to Jane Austen, who, sweet as she is, is really quite thick.
Roy Orbison + Clingfilm = Endless Entertainment
Why I’m becoming a Jehova’s Witness (It took me 3 tries just now to type ‘witness’ instead of ‘Whitney.”)

Here’s to another 1000 posts!! Onward Hoe!!

Boyfriend Search 2010

If you follow me on twitter, which you should be doing if you’re on twitter, you have seen recently this tag: #boyfriendsearch2010. The tweets with this tag so far have been as follows:

  • ISO: vegan bread recipe w/out any kind of milk, motivation to write 3 articles, 9 hrs of sleep, 2 hrs of cuddling
  • Yessss. Didn’t even have to wait ’til morning for Flock Of Seagulls hair.
  • I just ate a LOT of beans. Probably a good thing I’m snowed in and can’t subject the public to the forthcoming gas.
  • Eating alone is boring and expensive, y’all. I just want someone to cook with.
  • I don’t want to actually DO ice dancing, but it’d be nice if someone would throw me across the room to “Open Arms.”

I am greatly enjoying this tag for both funny tweets (Flock of Seagulls/beans) and serious ones (eating alone/”Open Arms”), and I would very much like a boyfriend in 2010, but that’s not really the point of this post. I came here today to tell you about Al.

There were a lot of bizarre and hilarious things that happened at yesterday’s all-day census training, including, but not limited to the girl sitting next to me whose hair was normal from the front but had a foot-long braided rat tail in the back, and the lady who brought in her sheet music after lunch and “rehearsed” while we were waiting to get started again. And initially, I thought that Al would also be in that category, but he turned out to be not only completely normal, but also completely awesome.

For the first few hours of the training, I referred to him in my mind (and on G-chat) as “Overalls Howard” because he was wearing overalls, and his name was Howard. But at that point, my name was Elizabeth, so we still had a long way to go. I think we initially bonded over our equal broken-heartedness at the “No Jeans in the Workplace” policy, although Overalls Howard immediately decided that overalls were not jeans even if they were made of denim. They were bib overalls. End of story.

And then, during one of the breaks, we bonded further over our smart phones, he with his Droid and I with my PunkBerry. He was pretty good with it considering he is old enough to be my grandfather, but there were still some features he didn’t quite understand, so I walked him through a couple of them, and he showed me all his cool apps. It was around this point that I found out he goes by his middle name – Al.

Now Al is diabetic, so he had all kinds of little snacks on him to keep his blood sugar up. And at the end of the day, I mentioned that I had to immediately drive 45 minutes to Brevard to teach for three hours when the training was over. He was concerned that I wouldn’t have time to eat, so he pulled out a granola bar and gave it to me “for the road.” I thanked him, and he laughed and said, “You know, I’ve never been on a dinner date quite like this.”

It was my pleasure and my honor, Al, and I’d be happy to take you out for some Lance crackers any time.

Dang Floridians

So I noticed on Twitter just now that “Crashes Car While Shaving Privates” is a trending topic, friends, and you just cannot ignore something like that. So I looked it up and found this article about this woman in Florida who had a wreck while shaving her junk AND DRIVING. She was driving to Key West to meet her boyfriend, and get this: HER EX-HUSBAND WAS IN THE CAR WITH HER. He was holding the wheel. So technically, who was driving? She was in the driver’s seat, but he was in charge of the wheel. Originally, my question was, “Why didn’t she just let him drive?” but then my roommate suggested that maybe the ex didn’t have a license. THEN I find out that she’s the one without a license. It was revoked just the day before after a DUI conviction. There are SO many things about this that I do not understand.

A. Why is she shaving her hooha while she’s driving?
B. Why is she driving at all with a revoked license?
C. If she had someone else in the car, why didn’t she let him drive so she could do her grooming?
D. WHY WHY WHY is her ex-husband going with her to meet her boyfriend?
E. Seriously, who ARE these people?

I do not understand anything about this. Nothing at all.

When Fun Things Aren’t Fun

I babysat all day today, and while they are cool kids, they wear me out when I have them together because I feel more like a referee than anything else. Within the first five minutes, and then every two minutes thereafter, it’s, “Beth, can you tell her to…” or “Beth, can’t you make her stop…” or “Beth, she won’t let me…” blah blah blah. And I honestly wonder why they even bother playing together when it’s so argumentative and tense. I just think it can’t be fun for them, and I wonder why they don’t realize that it could be so much more fun if they’d only cooperate better. If they’d just get over wanting to have their way all the time and holding on to it so tightly and taking it so personally when they don’t get it, play time would be a lot more playful.

And then I realized that when fun things suck, that’s almost always the reason, even as adults. I’m not even really talking about competition. I think competition can be good. It pushes us to be better. I’m talking about how we create unnecessary competitions in our minds that don’t exist and can, therefore, never be won. Somehow we just always feel like we’re losing.

My friend Andrea sent me a link to another gal’s blog post about blogging and jealousy among women, and it was right on the money. She talked about how our fear breeds insecurity, and we start thinking other bloggers/women are better than we are, and then we want to be like them, and then we are just more dissatisfied with ourselves when we don’t become them completely, and somewhere along the way, we lose who we are, and that, friends, is just tragic.

Those other bloggers – they already exist in the world. We’ve already got one of them. We need one of you.

Blogging started out for me as a fun creative outlet. I wanted to write, but it had never occurred to me to try to sell my work anywhere because no one had ever suggested to me that I might be good enough at it to do so. I just knew I had a lot of words and thoughts, and I thought it was cool that I could put them on the internet. Behold: My First Real Post. It’s filled with inside jokes and randomness, some of which I don’t even understand, but by golly, I had a lot of fun writing it.

And then everybody started blogging. Then we realized what huge potential it had – what huge potential we had. And then it became a competition to see who could get the coolest layout, the most comments, the most hits each month, the most paid ads. And then it sucked.

It wasn’t an actual competition, mind you. No one else said to me, “I get more visitors to MY blog than you do! Neener neener neeeeeenerrrr!” or, “Hey, let’s see who can make the most money off of blog ads.” No. This is all in my mind, making me feel insufficient for no reason at all.

But after my day of babysitting, reading the blogging and jealousy post, and all my recent conversations with Andrea, I’ve come to one conclusion: I don’t care what the marketing experts say; I am my audience.

I might not have anything of any value to offer to anyone in the blogosphere. I can’t tell you how to make a zillion dollars as a blogger or get a thousand comments per post. I don’t have any exciting new ideas or products to sell. I know so little about web design and html code, it’s shameful. I have no idea who reads my blog or what they want, and I don’t know how to meet their needs. I don’t have any control over other people’s blogs or blogging success, and really, it doesn’t matter if I only make $6 a year from my advertising.

All I know is who I am, and if I know that I need other people’s presence, influence, wisdom and humor online, then I can be pretty sure that someone needs mine. So look out, internet! Things can only get more ridiculous.