“I never know when I sit down, just what I am going to write. I make no plan; it just comes, and I don’t know where it comes from.” ~ D. H. Lawrence

“Double Image,” August Strindberg (1892, oil on canvas) 

 

“The paper I write on or you write on, every word we write, every cross and twirl of the pen, and the curious way we write what we think, yet very faintly . . . In them realities for you and me—in them poems for you and me . . . In them themes, hints, provokers.”  ~ Walt Whitman
"Wonderland" (1894, oil on canvas)

Rarely do I know what I am going to write when I sit down at this keyboard. I may have an idea generated from a dream or something that I have read in the news, but most of the time it’s more a matter of touching the keys and letting the words come out. No great creative genius is involved. Rather, it is more a matter of need: I need to write, to release, to ponder, to construe, to evoke. I need to do this as naturally as I need to breathe. 

That is my reality, and truthfully, it has always been this way. I have been writing about things since I was very young, before I even knew how to string letters together to form words. I would put pencil to whatever scraps of paper I could find in the house, and I would write. Of course what I wrote made no sense to anyone but me, but I knew what I was saying. And I had such a need to share my thoughts that I would take these scraps of paper and slip them under the doors of my parents’ neighbors in the large apartment house in which we resided in London. 

Some of the people knew that these notes were from me, but others were confused by the nonsensical missives that appeared under their doors with no regular schedule. The doorman in our building knew what I was doing, so he ever so kindly explained to the confused tenants that it was the little girl in apartment 13 who had been writing to them. 

Then when I went to school and learned how to form words, I wrote more. I wrote poems, letters, stories. But my dream at that time was not to become a writer. I wanted to be a hairdresser . . . 

“O, how incomprehensible everything was, and actually sad, although it was also beautiful. One knew nothing. And sometimes it seemed that something never seen yet long desired was about to happen, that a veil would drop from it all; but then it passed, nothing happened, the riddle remained unsolved, the secret spell unbroken, and in the end one grew old and looked cunning . . . or wise . . . And still one knew nothing, perhaps, was still waiting and listening.” ~ Hermann Hesse, “Narcissus and Goldmund”
"Baby's First Cradle" (1901, oil on canvas)

In many ways, this blog is like those indecipherable scraps of paper: I know what I’m trying to say, but not everyone who reads my words can discern my meaning. That’s okay, though. The beauty of blogs is that readers can just close the window if they do not find the post interesting, or appealing, or if the subject matter is not something that coincides with their personal beliefs. 

I’m not trying to please anyone but myself. In the beginning of this blogging stuff, I was more self-censoring, not wanting to offend anyone who happened to be reading. I wrote in more general terms, putting less of myself into my posts. Over the months, though, that changed, as I had thought that it might. My persona began to creep into my posts more and more. My life, my family, all of it, became fodder. So much so that now my posts are a virtual doorway into my life. 

Is this a good thing? Perhaps not. Will I change it? Probably not. Do I regret this progression? A bit. 

“The swarm of words,
and little stories
are just to loosen you
from where you are stuck.” ~ Shitou Xiqian
"The Wave VII" (1901, oil on canvas)

When I first heard about blogs—personal online journals that are available to anyone and everyone—I must admit to being personally appalled. What kind of person puts his or her life online for the world to see? It just didn’t seem right to me, someone who had always hidden my journals from other people, seeing them as both highly personal and private. 

Then a few years later I decided to create a MySpace page. I played a bit with the internal blog aspect of the page, which made me realize that the whole social networking thing was really just a collective blog—people visiting each other’s sites, sharing opinions, leaving notes, posting pictures. Then I was given the assignment to create a web page for one of my publishing classes. The site could be about anything; there were no parameters. 

I decided to create a site on which people could create a community poem. I called it The Poem Makers. In concept, it was a pretty creative idea (or so I thought): I would write the first line of the poem, and then anyone who visited could add a line and/or comment on the poem in progress. As part of the site, I wanted to include a blog page on which participants could post ongoing commentary about the project, poetry, whatever. My search for a blog page led me to WordPress. 

Essentially the project was disastrous, mostly because I didn’t know enough HTML to create an interactive site, that and the fact that I knew relatively little about promoting a site.  I eventually abandoned the website, but I took that experience and decided to keep going with the blog. My first post was in February 2008, which means that I’ve been doing this for over two years. 

“Within all of us is a varying amount of space lint and star dust, the residue from our creation. Most are too busy to notice it, and it is stronger in some than others. It is strongest in those of us who fly and is responsible for an unconscious, subtle desire to slip into some wings and try for the elusive boundaries of our origin.” ~ K. O. Eckland, Footprints on Clouds
"Coastal Landscape" (1901, oil on canvas)

In that time I have gone from basic posts about nothing at all to posts that include images and music and cover a range of topics. I like how I have progressed. I know so much more now than I did when I began; in particular, I realize that bloggers tend to congregate in communities and that if you want other people to read and comment on your blog, then you need to read and comment on other people’s blogs—regularly. 

I have also noticed a change in my writing style: Whereas when I was writing for publication, I was much more sparse with my words, never using five words when three will do, always choosing the simpler word over the multisyllabic one. Now that I’m writing without an editor, I tend to be more verbose. I do edit myself, but anyone who writes knows the limitations of such a thing. I do go on and on, and it’s an indulgence that gives me pleasure. I also take more liberties with punctuation than before. Always a stickler for grammar, I am merciless with a red pen when it comes to editing or grading someone else’s work. Too bad I cannot admit to being as rigorous with my own. 

Oh well . . . 

“The process of writing has something infinite about it.  Even though it is interrupted each night, it is one single notation.” ~ Elias Canetti
"Aleja" (1903, oil on canvas)

I remember how excited I was when the number of hits that I had received went past 200. It was a time for great rejoicing. I am now well past 300,000 hits, but I still love to see who is visiting, what they are reading, how they got here. I don’t know that I’ll ever tire of paying attention to my statistics as they serve as my validation, for now. 

I suppose all of this boils down to a few simple facts: I have come to love the freedom of blogging. I sometimes resent feeling as if I have to post until I realize that no one is making me do so. I no longer feel as if blogs are an obscene violation of privacy spurred on by the blogger’s own need for exposure. I take pleasure in reading blogs that are written well, or are visually appealing, or are in line with my own sensitivities. 

For now, this whole thing is an open-ended experiment. Who knows where it will take me, but I’m going to enjoy the ride while I can. 

More later. Peace. 

All images are by Swedish novelist and playwright August Strindberg, who turned to painting during times of crisis in which he felt unable to write. 

Music from Bare Naked Ladies, “Call and Answer”
 
  
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“Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, “Is life a multiple choice test or is it a true or false test?” . . . Then a voice comes to me out of the dark and says, “We hate to tell you this but life is a thousand word essay.” ~ Charles M. Schulz

Old Whiskey Barrel

“Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.” ~ Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns

The reality that has been today is such a cliché that I think I might have to go outside and hug a tree before I put my fist through a wall. It’s a classic case of good news/bad news; why can’t it ever just be good news?

Corey has an interview set for tomorrow for the port security position. He is absolutely convinced that it will not go well. Somehow, I have to convince him not to dig this hole too deeply, or he will fall into it and not be able to climb out again. This is the good news, sort of.

This is the bad news: Corey’s parents, who have spent the past few months helping us to stay on our feet, are now facing a crisis of their own. It just breaks my heart. Corey is convinced that the dark cloud under which we exist has now spread to his parents, kind of a bad luck by association kind of thing. I try to remind him that they have their own good ju ju going in the form of their deep faith. Yet somehow, Corey has assumed the blame for this, too.

Sometimes, I feel as if this whole life thing is much too confusing. Just when it seems that I have figured out how things work, something happens to make me realize that I really know very little. Sisyphus comes to mind: continually pushing that big boulder uphill only to have it roll down again. No forward motion. No gathering momentum. No strong foothold.

Don’t mind me. I’m feeling lost and confused and very, very frustrated.

“I know the answer! The answer lies within the heart of all mankind! The answer is twelve? I think I’m in the wrong building.” ~ Charles M. Schulz

I am in the process of developing something, though. It’s much too tenuous to talk about in any detail. Let me just say that if this works out, it would be tremendous. It would mean that I have finally found that small magic porthole through which I might be able to touch my dreams. And no, it’s not a job. It’s a project, a big project that I have thought about for almost ten years. Let me leave it at that.

I sent out yet more forms today: three to pharmaceutical companies, one to my long-term disability carrier, and one to the company that is serving as my interface to the Social Security administration. I collected everything last night, and Corey took all of it to the post office today. As a result, my desk is much cleaner now. Well clean might be an overstatement—perhaps neater is more accurate.

I just had to pause to listen to “Vide Cor Meum,” which is playing in the background. I’m playing all of my YouTube selections. If anyone is interested in subscribing to my YouTube account, I believe that this is the link: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=1B61E79445B7518E. I’m kind of new at this whole YouTube account thing.

I told Corey that I want to make some videos of my own for some songs that I cannot find, but I don’t know how to go about doing that. I imagine I need some kind of program. If you are a YouTube person, some advice would be much appreciated.

“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance, but live right in it, under its roof.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

Winter Stilllife

I took a look at my stats page yesterday, something that I haven’t done in a while. I always find it interesting to see who is linking here, and from which sites people are getting to my site.

I found a few new addresses, but it’s always a bit disconcerting to go to an address listed and find your own blog as part of a larger blog. I don’t really know how that works. I mean, I know about web crawling and spiders, and all of that, but it never fails to amaze me when I end up on things like a forum for psychologytribe.com. When I first began this whole blogging thing, I never anticipated having my blog name or url show up in some of the places that it has been featured.

Don’t misunderstand, I appreciate the exposure. I really do. I suppose it’s just that I’m still a bit ignorant as to the hows and wherefores of links and referrals. That being said, my two posts about beauty continue their unbroken reign in my top posts/most viewed, as does my post on The Great Gatsby. In fact, I just received a new comment on the Gatsby post from a 15-year-old girl who wanted to assure me that not all teenagers are mindless twits, which, of course, I already knew, but I was delighted that she took the time to comment.

By the way, I’m not ignoring the devastating earthquake in Chile. But writing about the quake in Haiti three times in a row took its toll on me emotionally. I am offering this link to an MSNBC slideshow featuring pictures from the quake in Chile, which was ranked 8.8 on the Richter Scale, one of the most powerful quakes to hit anywhere on the earth in over a century. Thankfully, the death toll is much, much lower than that in Haiti, mostly because of Chile’s stringent building codes. The quake, which hit 200 miles outside of Santiago, was especially destructive to the town of Concepcion.

Unfortunately, the tsunami that hit the coast after the quake was also powerful. The seaside town of Constitucion was hard hit by the surging tsunami, and hundreds of people are missing. Three waves hit after the quake, with the third one being the most powerful and causing the most damage.

Fortunately, the waves that passed Hawaii, Australia, Japan, and other places were much smaller than had been originally predicted.

That’s all for today. Images featured are more pictures taken after the snowstorm.

More later. Peace.

“When the Music’s Not Forgotten,” by Deadman (heard on an episode of “Criminal Minds”)