Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Diary of a Meh-body

When I was living in England in the mid-1970s, I was given a copy of George and Weedon Grossmith's The Diary of a Nobody as an example of humorous (humourous) British writing. The book's "diarist" is one Charles Pooter, who has the brilliant idea that in a world of famous people's diaries, what was really needed is the diary of a regular guy. He takes it upon himself to step up to the challenge. And while the Grossmiths' characters are hilarious, the takeaway is that the lives of us normal slobs just ain't that exciting.

Which brings me to my latest failure as a diarist. Daughter Kate gave me a lovely daily journal for Christmas, so my New Year's resolution was to write a bit in it every day, as one is supposed to do. I made it through January 5th (sorry, Kate). I even mentioned it was sounding like The Diary of a Nobody on Day 4. Trouble is, all my happy throughts/worries/thanksgivings sound alike, day in, day out.

With one solid resolution-failure under my belt for 2017, I vowed to take it up again for Lent. Before turning on the computer and starting work, I'd make a cup of tea and settle down with pen and journal to, yet again, try to mine the depths of my experiences and inner self(ves). I've managed 6 so far. A little better, yeah? Still, reading back over the pages - boring. I have no special insight into who I am from these pages. At all.

Truth is, regular folks live regular lives. Lovely things happen. Exciting things happen, Tragic things happen. Sad things happen. The results of writing about those things can be phenomenal or just a list of . . . things. Alas, while writing has always been a big part of my vocation, I am flat-out lousy at turning a normal day's events, anxieties, and routines into an engrossing read. I'd need to embellish it. Come up with witty retorts to demoralizing circumstances. Add more color. Paint a stronger, funnier, more poignant picture.

So, truth - a journal or true diary - or embellishment - a good story?

Reading back over various journals I've started over the past 40 years, they all tell the same story: love of family, love (mostly) of work, worry about money, and rage at the ways of the world. Any really juicy, indictable, true stuff I write is destroyed immediately after it's down on paper, usually by setting fire to it in the sink and washing away the ashes. (Yeah, don't go looking for stuff after I'm gone.)

I'm at a crossroads. Do I continue my rather boring daily diary of a nobody? Or. do I write for some alter ego, journaling the life of a fictional me?


Sunday, March 05, 2017

Why I Don't Give Up Social Media For Lent

Well, it's that time of year. Time to give up or take on. Lent. My least favorite season (except for late August, which seems to go on forever). I know I'm supposed to love it in some spiritual way. I just don't. It's a season for me to feel guilty for not feeling spiritual about the whole thing. Ah, well.

Anyway, since the invention of social media, one of the most popular Lenten disciplines seems to be giving it up. Eschewing Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Instagram, whatever seemed to be all the rage last Wednesday, as friends bid adieu until Easter. I get it. It soaks up time. It makes you mad. You (can) become a different person by engaging in the various posts and comment.

I honor my friends who give up social media for any period of time. Go. Be at peace. And, yeah, we'll talk about you while you're gone. *wink*

But giving up social media is probably the last thing I'd do for Lent. Here's why:
  • It's my job. My wage-paying work involves planning, scheduling, and posting about The Episcopal Church on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and a variety of blogs. Timely information is essential to sucessful social media, so I can't wall myself off from it. And I'm not sure it's possible to do the professional part and ignore my personal accounts at the same time. For good or for ill, I can't give up social media for Lent.
  • I can't imagine doing something that takes me out of relationship with family and friends. Facebook, especially, keeps me close to far-flung family, old school chums, and colleagues that I don't often - if ever - see. I intentionally keep the number of "friends" there small - for folks I really want to stay connected with. I love the pictures. I love the silly posts about food or cats or politics. I love watching children grow, relationships blossom, and both happy and sad events unfold. I love going on vacation with y'all and following careers. Why would I give that up? Seems the opposite of what Lent should be, but that's just me.
  • If I give up social media, how would the world keep turning without our Friday Virtual Cocktail Party? Civilization would be fractured. The world as we know it would end. I cannot in good faith be responsible for that. 
So I'm still here, Lent or no. Never fear - our Friday Virtual Cocktail Party shall go on whatever color the season. Cheers!

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Crazy Woman's Guide to the Perfect Day Off

After a busy couple of weeks involving tending a sick grandgirl, fighting off a cold, travel, booth-tending, and grandboy's birthday party, I was glad for a day off with no plans and obligations. Relaxing, however, is not one of my natural gifts. I was determined, though, to recharge my batteries today, and I think I succeeded. Here's the recipe for a perfect day off:
  1. The night before, stay up reading as long as you want. I recommend, say, until 1-1:30am.
  2. Sleep in as late as you want (for me, 9-ish am).
  3. OK, OK, do a tiny bit of work that just has to be done because if you don't, it will bug you all day. Then turn off the computer and don't answer the work phone. 
  4. Watch old episodes of Perry Mason (I am my mother's daughter - she loved her some Perry Mason) or whatever goofy thing lets you sit with feet up in your pjs. 
  5. Order lunch from Uber. Do not leave the house, even for food. No need.
  6. Take an afternoon nap. Just because you can. And it might be raining, so . . . 
  7. Get up just in time to drive to a 90-minute massage. Try to fall asleep on the massage table. 
  8. Go back to watching Perry Masons (did I mention I'm my mother's daughter?) or catch up on Bates Motel. Whatever.
  9. Eat junk food.
  10. Go to bed. 
So there. The perfect day off. Now, back to work tomorrow, you lazy chick!

Wednesday, February 08, 2017


Reading over my scared but hopeful post of January 1st, I realize that I have completely failed to live up to those feathers of hope. Instead, I find myself angry. Tired. Still living in a state of disbelief that we seem to be living in some strange, 19th century alternate universe after November's appalling election results.

What I thought was a pretty solid values system hammered out after the atrocities of two world wars and the civil rights/women's rights/LGBT rights movements of the past fifty years appears to have evaporated.

People shouting in praise God and Jesus and the literal interpretation of the Bible are also shouting in hatred against the poor, the stranger, clean air, food, and water, and the basic health, education, and well-being of fellow human beings. Excuse my scepticism of your personal understanding of living the way of Christ.

Every morning I wake up determined to make the day positive, light-filled. I pledge not to let anything rattle me. Shun the news. Keep things on the sunny side. But it doesn't take long before some word of an unbelievable injustice seeps through an email or phone call or, yes, a social media post, and then my sweetness-and-light plan evaporates.

Despite my stuck-ness, I manage to put up a good front. I get work done. Have a few laughs. Take walks. Read. Plan and carry out stuff. Manage to keep my home clean and stocked with food. But something still has hold of an arm or a leg and keeps me from moving forward, outward, onward.

The only truly unstuck time is when I'm with Liam and Charlotte. They make me laugh and look at things in new, fresh ways. They ask impossible questions with impossible answers. We get messy and tired and artsy and silly together. There's no time to be stuck if really in the moment with funny little kids.

But without them, I find myself in quicksand again. Angry. Unbelieving. Appalled. Despairing.

Folks remind me that love will win in the end, and, yes, I believe that. But in the meantime . . . what? How much damage gets done, how many lives lost and broken in the meantime, before love finally shows up?

So here I am. Stuck.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

For 2017, That Thing with Feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops - at all
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm
I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest Sea
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
~ Emily Dickinson  
I start this year discouraged. I'm discouraged that smart is dumb, and dumb is smart. That saying and doing hateful things is right, and checking your mouth and actions out of common decency is wrong. That looking backward to some fantasyland bygone age is where we should be headed, but looking to the future with clear-eyed understanding of how the world functions in the 21st century based on scientific knowledge (and I'd say, God-given scientific knowledge) is ridiculed. So, yes, the start of 2017 finds me deeply discouraged.

What I'm left with on this first day of a new year is that thing with feathers, hope. A cardinal-in-the-snow type of hope. Hope exemplified every day by the little children in my life, by colleagues, by family and friends near and far, by mere acquaintances - all loving and living out the good. The true good.

My New Year's plan is to keep my eyes turned toward the good that gives me hope. I'm going to hang on tight to the folks who reach out to help, not hurt. Who speak with respect and love, not hate and bigotry. Who foster understanding, not humiliation. That's the best I can do in these times. Maybe if enough of us do that, then that thing with feathers can flourish and give us a better song to sing.

Happy New Year, all!