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Brave Little Blogger Contest

 

See what I did there?

Earlier in the week, I took a stroll through my old blog at Xanga. This is old stuff, folks. The idea of a blig or a blog or whatever it was was completely foreign to me. Facebook wasn’t a thing yet unless you were actually a student, people still used MySpace, and the world, while shrinking, was still pretty big.

I wrote everything I thought in that blog. Insecurities, fears. Reading back over some of the stuff that is still there (not all, though, because I don’t even remember the password, so there’s no doubt all sorts of nuggets hiding in private mode) I was completely embarrassed.

And then I wondered why.

One of my main goals in my writing, whatever format it has been in, has been to be as bald and blatant as possible. To say the things that you might think but never admit. Things like sometimes I have farting competitions with myself and I think I just realized I haven’t worn deodorant in like three days, or that I have coupon codes for sex toy sites in excess. Things that everyone kind of ignores about themselves.

But I realized, in my reading, that I leave a whole lot out now. I don’t post my laments about my relationship…or not as much as I did. I don’t wonder in print about people who talk about Sue Schmo and what they say about me.

I don’t criticize or talk about people I love because I know they’ll probably read it. I don’t say things online that I wouldn’t say to someone’s face….even though I may think them. And while that may be the socially acceptable and responsible thing to do – the smart thing – it makes me feel like a hypocrite.

For instance, I can’t say on Facebook that my best friend’s family hates me or that there are certain people who I keep in my life only because they have to be. I can’t say that there are days I feel like the biggest loser on Earth because I feel like talking to someone and I have only the toddler and the cat. I can’t say the things that annoy me about the people I love most. Not even that I love them maybe too much.

In all honesty, I can’t say which is better. My Xanga posts were lamenty, embarrassing, angst ridden, teenagery blather…but they were straight from the gut. The posts I write today are struggly, observant, sometimes well written, and read by everyone I know.

To be straight, I don’t know where the line is. I don’t find anything appealing about airing marital issues online or sounding like the OMGLOL4RLZ chicks whose posts I ignore on my facebook news feed every day, but I don’t want to feel like I’m being anything less than totally honest.

First world issues, I guess. There are worse problems in the world than my blog. Or so I hear.

A Smidgen of Religion

Hello, all.

I hope you will pardon my recent hiatus. I can’t promise that it’s exactly over.

I go through shit like this – and while I don’t think it’s exactly lofty enough to qualify as writer’s block, suffice it to say that the metaphorical well has been dry as of late.

My life has reached a point of repetition that somewhat precludes any creative recount. My life is not boring, but it doesn’t hold the thrill in the retelling.

So what am I doing? I’m telling you all about how I don’t really have anything to talk about.

We went to church yesterday. Not even laid back drink some wine church, this was hard core. Our friend Marty was speaking, and so in support and solidarity, we ventured out to listen.

I’m pretty sure you all know how I feel about God and Jesus and such.

Do you? Because I’d really like to know. Send me a detailed email, thanks a lot. Problem solved.

Marty did a great job, though I’ll be honest now and say that I didn’t really hear all of it (sorry, Martimus) because I was a bit distracted.

That was my life, once. I was the handraising song singing swaying handshaker who saw a new person in a pew and buzzed over like a fly with that sticky disgusting paper. I was so sure about everything I thought and believed and felt and said.

There was also a little lady across from me who was SO. DAMN. HAPPY. to be in church that if she hadn’t been confined to a walker I think she’d straight up have gone Irish high stepping across the pulpittery. She was not so much a distraction as she was my new favorite person on earth.

But back to the point. I don’t know. I know that when Josh and I got married we were so. Sure.

We got married because we loved each other, sure. We had love and we had commitment. But we had that without the marriage license. We had lived for almost two years with the same commitment we had when we came home from the courthouse.

We couldn’t, however, join the church. We were living in sin and I couldn’t transfer my membership until it was rectified.

Now, I wouldn’t have done things differently. But I have to wonder – if I had known then that in six years the church and God and belief I was altering my life to appease would be…not so much of me, would I have been so eager to pacify it? For that matter, if everything happens for a reason, was that the reason we were so smitten with being holy? To get us hitched?

 

I don’t have any answer. I don’t know what I think or feel or even want to believe.

One day.

 

Muckbrain

I’d like to say that I’ve been relatively quiet lately because I’ve been bustling busy, being scholarly and cleaning house and such. 

 

Alas.

 

I think the fairest way to say it is that I just ran out of words. Like I’ve said before, I have this calendar of post ideas and the idea is to jog creativity and such. And everything I’ve ever read about serious writing says that to be a writer, you write. You write on days when you’re sick and days when you’re tired and days when you have nothing to say. 

 

And normally I do. But for the past week or so, it just hasn’t been there. Nothing at all. I’m not depressed or anything, I think I just needed a bit of a break. So I took one. I didn’t Facebook like I usually do. I didn’t respond to emails. I didn’t really tweet. 

 

This past weekend was pretty lovely, and Josh and I spent most of it geocaching, which is perhaps the greatest thing ever. If you’ve never heard of it, concisely it’s like a worldwide scavenger hunt, and you participate using GPSs. You drive around wherever it takes you (there’s a handy iPhone app), and you usually end up going some pretty cool places. 

 

Josh and I started geocaching last year, took a break over the summer because damn it’s hot, and then we remembered a few weeks ago…”oh yeah, that’s super fun, let’s do it again.”

 

So we did. This weekend we went all over North Mississippi/Tennessee/Alabama, following blinking GPS dots, digging in the brush, climbing hills, and – in one instance – trying not to get sucked into the muck of a sulphur spring.

 

I don’t really know why I like it so much. I have a habit of scanning out the window while we drive, to see if I see any dead bodies in the woods. 

 

I never said I wasn’t, you know, weird. 

In progress.

I’ve found that it’s easiest to be frustrated with change when it’s disappointing.

 

I had, like everyone does, a picture of what I expected from my life at whatever point. This point. Three years from now.

 

I wouldn’t be upset if, say, I were a millionaire this time next year. That’s not in my plan, but I think I could handle it.

 

(On a completely separate note, I’m watching the State of the Union and DAMN MY PRESIDENT HAS BALLS. Just saying.)

 

It’s when things go wrong that I don’t handle things well. 

 

When there’s less money than I need.

When a little girl looks at me to make it feel better and I can’t.

When I’m presented with a fourth grade math problem and I have no clue ho to begin it.

When the house looks like a cotillion of hobos took it over the night before.

 

I know I sound like a whiny brat. A pampered little simp. I suppose I am, but that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes I am totally at a loss. A loss of drive and fervor, a loss of confidence and security.

 

I suppose I need to buck up. Have a backbone.

 

I’m working on it.

Stupid resolutions

I talked last week about the resolutions I’m making. And not making.

I’ve read so many people saying things like “I resolve to lose X pounds,” or “Tomorrow is diet day,” or similar statements about cleaning house or doing…whatever. Quitting smoking or getting divorced or making progress on projects.

And I get it. The fresh start of something…anything…is a stimulant.

It totally is for me too.

But I am conciously choosing not to do that this year, because maybe it’s just me but I get SO upset with myself when I inevitably mess up my goal.

So here’s the secret, kids, aim low!

Not really. I have decided, though, to be a bit more positive when choosing changes for my life.

Like I resolve to not be such a bitch. To be more giving and less selfish.

To make an effort to be happier – not to fix myself. Because I don’t need fixing. I’m ok.

These are all things I’ve said before, but where did it all ever come from? Why do we pick things we think are wrong with us and try to change ourselves?

It’s all very negative if you think on it. It’s stupid to start out a new section of your life by bathing it in things you don’t like about yourself.

Because if anyone is going to like you, shouldn’t it be…well, you?

From a random act

I had promised myself I wouldn’t write about this. It seems…exploitative. Wrong.
 
But for some reason it keeps presenting itself.
 
Let me preface things by saying I’m not claiming to be some big mournful friend. I am not that, to the point that I wasn’t even Facebook friends with these people. I don’t really know why – there was no ill will. It’s just not something I ever did – hunt them down and friend them.
 
Anyway, it doesn’t matter.
 
Tuesday morning, Josh was getting up and dressed for his day. He was up and about like always, and on one of his trips in and out of the bedroom, I heard him catch his breath. I turned over to see him standing in the doorway, his phone glowing in his eyes.
 
“Amanda Cossey was shot. She’s dead.”
 
It was the most bizarre thing I could imagine being said. He might as well have been talking about goats with purple horns and allergies.
 
I saw faces, names, confusion of memories and high school and passing acquaintances.
 
Amanda had been in school with me for years. I remember her as bubbly and popular, but one of the rare kinds of bubbly and popular where she actually seemed sincere. I remembered basketball games and cheerleading.
 
And then it was just there, like something raw in my belly. I felt completely useless, and the kind of pretentious that makes you feel dirty. 
 
This sounds awful – but she wasn’t my friend. She was a remembered presence, someone I thought of fondly.  I hadn’t seen her since high school. I didn’t know when she got married or when her baby was born.
 
To feel the way I felt was somehow misplaced.
 
I’m still not sure why.
 
The day passed, the requisite Facebook statuses were posted. News stories
 
I know it’s normal to be confused when something like this happens. 
 
Except, dammit all, it’s not. Nothing about this is normal. And it doesn’t matter if we were friends or not. 
 
The fact is that a girl I knew is dead. Not because she was sick or because a car crashed. Because someone saw her as an obstacle instead of what she was…

 
A wife.
A mother.
A friend.
A sister.
A daughter. 
 
She wasn’t these things to me. 
But it doesn’t seem to matter. 
 
I don’t want to be one of those people who immediately jumps on any tragedy to talk about how great the person was and how close we were. 
 
I have good memories of Amanda. She didn’t deserve this kind of end. 
 
I hope one day we understand things like this. 

Only ten years late

Last week I took my last final of the semester.  
This means that I have officially taken twelve years to complete a two year degree. 
 
Who the hell cares, because holy shit I never even thought I would even do that much. It’s very exciting. And now we wait, because in just a month I will either be attending Ole Miss (already accepted/admitted, just not registered) or the University of Alabama (just applied last week). This is very important since (barring Josh’s somewhat unhealthy obsession with their football program), Alabama seems to have the whole “distance learning” thing firmly in hand. They’ve been helpful and friendly and I hope I know something soon.
 
So it’s a big deal that Northeast is over. 
 
I mean, big deal, right? It’s a junior college and I pretty much gave up all my lofty Ivy League dreams the minute I signed the papers in 1998.
 
But it is a big deal to me. That school, corny as it may be, gave me some of the best and most interesting experiences of my life. 
 
Like the time we set up a scavenger hunt and asked a bunch of guys to the Sadie Hawkins’ dance.
Like sitting in daisy fields and watching meteor showers.
Like carving jack o’lanterns at Liza’s.
Like watching movies at Matt McCoy’s.
Like climbing up the porch roof at Scooby and Wingo’s crack house.
Like sitting in the stairwell in Indianapolis and talking about sin and heaven.
Like standing in the blistering heat to do not much besides carry around a clarinet.
Like empty stages and time to reflect.
 
I learned a lot about myself during the time I spent there. And I suppose since I left I am supposed to have grown up, whatever that means.
 
But I don’t really think so.
 
And it’s not like I’ll particularly miss it – the missable part is long over, but there’s some odd finality in at long last closing that book. 
 
Let’s just hope the grades come back nicely.
 

Thoughts on competition

(looking for the giveaway?)

So we’ve talked about the competition that I’m in for the blogging scholarship. A normal person would link to the voting thing right about now, but I’ve pretty much given up hope of winning. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Which is good, because it frees me up to say what I really think.

I mean, I was never officially hindered, but if I were talking trash and then I accepted ten grand from them that would be a little bit of bad form. Which I try to avoid. Sometimes.

But I won’t be accepting any money from them, so I’ve got some things to say.

Within a few hours of the email announcing the finalists, several of the finalists had hundreds of votes. Within a day or so, the numbers had escalated to tens of thousands.

It was intimidating, especially considering that the top contender at one point had 64,567 votes to my 75.

Then Friday night I got an email saying that the votes had been reset, due to “ballot stuffing” – which is a term I’ve never heard before. But I suppose it makes sense.

The same people are winning now, which is what was expected I guess.

The reset, though, led to a situation I hadn’t anticipated. I soon received an email from a fellow contestant, and this dude is PISSED. He’s angry that the suspected cheaters were not removed from eligibility (basically there was no way to know that it wasn’t done by a third party, the people said), and he’s calling for people to petition the proprietors. Then the website edits his comments calling for the petition, saying they don’t appreciate “hate mail.”

Hence commences a series of “reply-all” conversations, picking and sniping and keeping serene zen all in turn.

Which brings me to my reevaluation of the entire situation.

I think online voting is a shit way to determine something like a scholarship. I purposely haven’t perused the other blogs because I tend to get down on myself, so I don’t know how I stack up against any of them, hence this statement is unbiased: I think merit and need and all around awesome should be factors in the decision. I think it should be decided by committee or whatever. The current system is obviously flawed.

Besides that, we all know that popular doesn’t always equal best. Ashton Kutcher has five zillion followers on Twitter and Ke$ha is a thing.

Proof provided.

To dream, perchance to beg

Alright. I really don’t know exactly how to say this.

I last asked for you guys to vote for me during a contest held to find a resident blogger for a popular website.

I didn’t win, but I think it was a little close.

The next contest I didn’t even mention on the blog, but that was just because I never had a chance to be Cheap Sally’s gojillion dollar saving savvy blogger.

So after all that, I don’t really blame you if you brush this off and ignore it – except please don’t.

Every year, collegescholarships.org grants a $10,000 scholarship to a blogger. The only requirements are that you live in the US, have a blog, and go to college.

Just so happens – and you may not know this since I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it – I am, in fact, a college student. In fact, just this week I was admitted to the University of Mississippi, where I can hopefully finish my BA in record-ass time so I can go on to grad school. Yeah, I’m really doing that. No sarcasm.

So on a whim, I wrote an essay. I talked about how I’d blogged through so many major transitional times in my life, how it meant so much to me to be able to say what I think and feel. How this blog has become part of my identity and a project I adore and never want to leave.

The guidelines say they look for passion and depth. I don’t know how deep I am, but passion I have in spades…because people, this is my life. My kids. My family. My hopes and dreams. If this isn’t my passion then I’ve misunderstood the word.

Now I’m a finalist – and that may not mean a ton since I have no clue how many entries there were – and I’m happy about that.

The final round is based on votes. Which means I have to ask you to vote.

You can vote once a day (though i may be wrong about that) until November 23rd, from any and every device you come across.

Click through, select my name, and submit. The end.

I cannot tell you how much this means. How grateful I am. Please help.

I am woman. Hear me… more?

(Last night was the election, but to spare you political yammering, I’ve asked Lindsey from Campfire Song to grace us with her presence. I found her on Twitter, and I think I love her. Also, if you’re new here, you can follow me using one of the buttons on the right. I love it when people do that.)

When I asked Emily for a topic to write about today, she suggested, among other things, maxi pads.

I really wanted to write about maxi pads, just to see if I could do it.

Annnnd, I couldn’t.

But I thought for a few days about her suggestion, and what maxi pads mean in the world today… or at least who uses them.

Here goes – sort of.

I’ve never really considered myself to be a feminine woman. I know I’m attractive and all that, but somehow I’ve always thought of myself as slightly masculine. It might be the short haircuts I sported during my teen years or the fact that I’m an awful dresser or that I don’t have a cutesy voice or that many of my friends are men – I don’t know.

At face value I can identify myself as a woman in terms of being a wife, mother, sexual being – but what power does being “woman” give me? What makes me special to the world as a female? What do I offer that a male can’t?

Femininity can’t be all about hemlines and boobs and a sultry perfume, right?

Are my best qualities what they are because of my gender, or my personality? What makes me different from my husband, for example, might be

• my sensitivity
• my generous spirit
• my ability to make our house a home
• my desire to take care
• my drive to do what’s right, even facing adversity
• my profound ability to talk (much like every other woman, right?)

Recognizing the benefits of the female gender is difficult for me because both sexes have their strengths and purpose. Many of my best (and worst) traits are also shared by men. An individual’s actions don’t represent the entire gender. And gender transformations lend to the idea that femininity might not be all about biology or looks, either.

Maybe it’s… a feeling?

Some women don’t feel like women unless they’re done up in the mornings. I don’t feel feminine without a great hairstyle. For some it’s clothing, others it’s pampering, yet others it’s attention from their men that makes them feel powerful.

To me it seems to be something that’s in our heads. It’s a desire to embrace who we truly are, without conforming to societal expectations, that allows us to truly be feminine.

Have you ever wondered why you were born the sex you are? Or what your responsibility (if any) is to fulfill that role in your life? I’m still figuring out what my femininity is for.

Because some days (like when I’m 40 weeks pregnant or PMSing) I’m sure it’s a curse.

Lindsey is mom to four kiddos under the age of five. She writes at Campfire Song about life as a military wife and SAHM, growing up, social media and funny stuff. She’s @dashingly on Twitter, and she sometimes haunts Facebook too.