To blog or not to blog



To blog, or not to blog; that is the question.

Whether ‘tis nobler to make readers suffer

These posts and arouse outrageous mention

In the comments section and cause trouble,

Or opposing, end this scrawl today, to write

No more; and by to write to say I end

The heartache and the thousand natural shocks

My posts are heir to, ‘tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish’d …

As you can see, I write a lot like Shakespeare, especially the parts that are his very own words, which I will put back later. I promise. I took them off an obscure website, so I don’t think anyone will notice. And no, I’m not plagiarizing; I’m merely borrowing. I learned that from my students, who often borrow entire essays.

In case you haven’t noticed (because you can rarely make it through my posts, and believe me I empathize: it’s hard for me as well), I have a lot in common with Shakespeare.

• He was born brilliant, and I was also born.

• We both had early lives.

• He managed to write 30+ plays (comedies, tragedies, and romances) and about 154 sonnets; I manage to write a now weekly blog.

• He liked hoop earrings, and I do too.

• He was a bard; I have been barred (due to excessive punning).

• He was from Avon; I have used Avon. *

• He was buried after his death, something I am planning myself. Not the death, the sequence of events: death, then burial.

Eerie, isn’t it? If I didn’t know better (and I rarely do), we could be twins, separated merely by talent, gender, legacy, facial hair, and about 450 years.

*Hi Miss Avon Representative: If you would like to give me free beauty products because I inadvertently advertised for you on my blog by using your company’s name, please feel free. I believe your products will make me look young and beautiful again. I also believe in unicorns. Just ring the bell.

If you are one of those I-can’t-look-away-from-this-train-wreck kind of reader and happen to have arrived here at the second ending of this post, both relieved and horrified, go here to see a 1960s “Ding Dong, Avon calling” commercial.


My year of blogging dangerously


Few people realize the dangers involved in blogging. Since I started one year ago, I wake up with more wrinkles that I ever had before. My dentist has capped one tooth and filled another with the contents of my bank account. My teaching schedule has gone from sitting on the beach watching the waves roll in to watching sharks circle around me as I thrash and call for help to a lifeguard who is busy talking on his cell phone. Gas prices have gone up 45 cents and reality TV has not gone away. Thirteen full moons have appeared since I started blogging, something that happens only once in a blue moon. The coffee pot at work broke and in this past year, no classes were cancelled due to snow. Had I known then what I know now, I would have been clairvoyant. And had I married someone with the name Voyant, I would have named my first child, Clare.



But be that as it wasn’t and won’t be, I think I would have still started blogging. I’ve made friends with several gravatars, discovered a lot of great blogs, been mightily encouraged by people who don’t have real names, and been mistaken for a truck blog: year’s truck. My ice orchid has bloomed not once, but twice this year, something I attribute to the blogging. The orchid sits beside me as I type, patiently listening as I read my words aloud.



Starting the blog, dragging my words out to the curb, and putting up the “For Free” sign scared me. If I’m honest, it still does. But the blogging has helped me bloom in my own way. I dress up my words, wash behind their ears, and send them out. Sometimes they are well received and sometimes not, but at least they’re not hanging around the house complaining that they are bored. Now they can go out into the world and do the boring.



This past year I wrote about a time in high school when I had an overdue library book. I received a note with just my name and the title of the book on it. The book was Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. That note still describes me well, but now that I am opening up as a typist and almost writer, I feel like a blooming idiot.



From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your year of reading dangerously.

My ice orchid’s second blooming

Why I don’t call myself a writer: part one


Four hours set aside for writing


Hour one:

I open my computer. Then I remember I need to throw a load of clothes into the washing machine. I go down to the basement and notice the new containers we bought to organize the boxes of pictures, the winter clothes, and other must-save-because-you-never-know-when-you-might-need-it items sitting on the shelves.


Hour two:

The basement is organized. I open my computer. I hear the dryer buzzer. If I get the clothes out now, I won’t have to iron anything or, more likely, wear wrinkled clothes. When I’m putting away my blouses, I notice how messy the closet is. That is one of the things on my to-do list. After I finish, I do the hall closet as well. When I carry out the bag of clothes to give to the Goodwill, I notice my computer.


Hour three:

I open a blank Word document. It looks sad, bereft of words. My mind, ever sympathetic, also goes blank. I enter the is-ness of the blankness. I am one with the nothing that is, or is it? Maybe nothing is not. This makes me thirsty and a little bit hungry. I make a cup of tea and cut up a mango.

I notice three or four documents on the desktop that I have not put into files. I drag them to the appropriate folders. One of the files is for the genealogy folder. Last night I had an idea about how to search for one of my great-great grandparents. I’ll do just that one thing before I start. When I find something, I get another idea.

While I’ve been researching the dead, the living have been sending me emails. I will check quickly, just in case someone in Nigeria wants to share $23 million dollars with me because, of all the people on the wide world’s web, he or she selected me.

I finish the mango and open the folder marked “Blog Ideas.” I read through all of the files. Frankly, I’m appalled. Who comes up with these ideas? Then I remember I do. I close that folder and open the one called “Blog Ready.” It’s empty. I close the computer.

Hour four:

I search for the green notebook, the one in which I write other appalling ideas. Now I must find one of my Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.3mm pens. I convince myself that the words I need are hidden in one of those slender tubes.  I find one of the pens in the office cabinet on the upper left-hand shelf. The contents of the cabinet need sorting. When I sit down and begin writing, I notice I have thirty minutes left to write.

The moral of the story:

Some are called to write; I am called to clean and sort. My legacy will be clean closets. At my funeral, I expect one of my children to say, “Mother was a fairly good woman, almost average in the areas of mothering, being a wife, and writing; but, heaven’s above, she could clean out closets like nobody’s business. I’ll always remember her for that and for the way she organized her spices. And I’m so grateful she left all these papers for me to line my pantry with.”



The diagnosis


When you look in the mirror, do you look more circular than before? Have your hips begun to explore the horizon, one heading east and the other west? Do all of your new best friends have names like imrtru and lovesickcarrots? Do you understand what imrtru stands for? Have you started eating all of your meals with your imaginary friends in front of a computer screen? Have you experienced dropped eye syndrome: you find it difficult to raise your eyes from the screen to focus on live human beings? Do you sometimes discover that your spouse is gone and you have no idea where because you weren’t listening to a word he or she said because you were commenting on someone’s blog? Do you know the names of all your blog friends’ pets, but regularly forget the names of your spouse and children? Are you increasingly upset with people because they breathe and it breaks your concentration while you are reading online? If they chew food near you when you are trying to read, do you feel the urge to throw things at them?


If you answered yes to these questions, you need help. Probably more than I can give you. You have the classic symptoms of sittentuberlocus. (See below for an explanation of this word.) In layman’s terms, you are a couch potato. However, your case is more serious; your sickness is coupled with bloggitis: a serious inflammation of the brain. People with this disease often begin to grow large potato-like lumps on their bodies, called fat. Their vocal cords atrophy due to lack of use. Their hearing becomes increasingly sensitive and they startle at the sound of human voices. Bouts of chortling and sniggering are common, triggered by words and images on their computer screens. If the disease is left unattended, these people are usually left unattended because their caretakers can no longer communicate with them. The final prognosis is brain freeze, known as “death by blogging.”


What can be done? Frankly, not much.


However, I have developed a revolutionary new treatment that I am offering you free of charge! It is so new and revolutionary that I haven’t even fully developed it. So, you will need to come back tomorrow to find out more. But I can promise you this: my treatment will in no way cure you, change your life, help you make friends, succeed in business, or get published. In fact, I am so confident of that claim that I am offering a money-back guarantee!


See you tomorrow.


(*See above for the word: Few people have taken the time to research the etymology of this word. Sitten is Low German for “sit,” tuber is Latin for “hump or swelling,” and locus has two possible sources. Some say it comes from the Latin and means “location.” However, others, like myself, who have spent more than 30 minutes researching the word, believe it comes from the Spanish word loco, which is a nice way to say “crazy.” So it could either be translated as “the place a potato sits” or “crazy sitting potato.” Please note that although we call people with this disease “couch potatoes,” not all of them are found on couches. Some sit in recliners that rock.)


Photo found here.

Bloggers Anonymous


This is where I stand up and say, “Hi, my name’s yearstricken and I blog. It started in October of this year. The blog, not the writing and the drawing. That’s been going on for years. A lot of it (most?) done in secret. For years I’d make late night walks to the curb to put “stuff” in the recycling container. I didn’t want anyone to see the amount of paper I’d written or drawn on or question me about the amount of time I’d spent scribbling.


I have used up more paper than I care to admit. I’m saddened to think of all the trees that had to give their lives to satisfy my needs. As restitution, I have put most of my writing on my computer. The drawings require paper, but I erase a lot, which is a form of recycling. It’s been a while since my husband has innocently picked up a piece of paper thinking it was a harmless grocery list only to find he was face to face with a poem in free verse. That was awkward and unsettling for both of us.


My poor family has had to endure a number of painful and uncomfortable moments when I have either thrust a piece of paper into one of their hands or cornered one of them by saying, ‘Would you like to hear what I wrote?’ It’s the equivalent of being accosted by a dirt-encrusted wino who puts his arm around you and asks for some spare change. Except the wino lives with you and is called mother or wife. That’s me, folks.


But that’s not the end of my ability to unsettle. Earlier this year, I started sending out my words to a select group of strangers, called editors. You have no idea the amount of sorrow and regret I caused them. Response after response came in saying, ‘We’re sorry…we regret to inform…’ Talk about guilt.


So I started blogging. My family is visibly relieved. Editors throughout the United States are sleeping better. And I discovered that blogging is an acceptable form of begging for spare change, or in blogese, asking if someone would like to hear what I wrote.”




The world of blog is full of creative, kind, funny, brilliant, and generous people. And kind, I mentioned that, right? One of these shiny beings who creates ten beautiful things before breakfast every day (or so it seems) nominated me for an award. Her name is kathryningrid. She lives over on kiwsparks street. She has regular parties there, and if you go, she will encourage you to dance, sing, paint, make pictures, and build castles out of words. Thank you, kathryningrid.


I am supposed to share seven things about myself you don’t know.

  • I have never owned a house.
  • I deliberately shoplifted once when I was a teenager: a tube of Coppertone. This year I had to have cryosurgery on two small patches on my face because of too much sun exposure when I was young. See, crime never pays. Back then, Coppertone didn’t protect your skin.
  • A few years later, I accidentally shoplifted a tube of lipstick. I was at a drugstore looking at makeup sets and was wearing a wraparound skirt with large pockets. When I got home, I found the lipstick in one of the pockets. It must have fallen in when I was picking up the sets. It was bright red, not my color. I didn’t know how to explain it to the store clerk, so I threw it away.
  • I love music from the likes of the Carter Family and their album Gold Watch And Chain: Their Complete Victor Recordings 1933-1934. My children prefer toothpicks in the eyeballs to this kind of music. Oddly “toothpicks in the eyeballs” is not the name of an actual band.
  • I am not particularly musical but during a very difficult time in my life, I wrote two blues songs.
  • I find it difficult to talk about myself. Writing is different. It’s more like what you do in a confessional: talk about yourself with the hopes that whoever is eavesdropping will forgive you and love you anyway.
  • The first time I took a blood test, I passed with an A-. Not bad, huh?

One of the rules of the award is to nominate others. Three of these websites I was going to pick had just been nominated, so I didn’t include them. Once I have time to work more on my website, I will make a blog roll like I see on the real bloggers’ sites.

  • k8edid – funny and nobody makes buttons like this woman
  • corpora – an applied linguistics researcher who plays with words
  • Boomerrantz – funny boomer ranter who now goes by her real name
  • kvenna ráð – bring oxygen, she may take your breath away