Happy New Year, all.
May you have a healthy, happy year.
Happy New Year, all.
May you have a healthy, happy year.
As I was reading a friend's blog entry (and it was the included image that made me think of this, but the post is worth reading), I was reminded of a time when my paternal grandmother corrected me. I was young, maybe six, maybe a little older, and I was talking to her about Nancy Drew. I mentioned Nancy's tit-ee-an hair, and my grandma said, "Tee-shan."
My grandmother was of country stock, she lived on a dirt road, and yet she knew how to pronounce Titian. She'd been to college. She also knew how to make whoopie pies, which she we called devil dogs. She knew a whole lot of stuff, and I wish I could hang out with her for a while. I left the country at the end of 1992, and my grandma died in 1999. I saw her in between, but she had Alzheimer's, so it was hard. I don't know if she knew that the baby she held in 1996 was my daughter Charlotte.
This is just one of those things. Tonight I made Christmas-y treats with two of my friends, and our significant others were there too. We had a great time. But S. reminisced about her grandmother's bun recipe, which no one had managed to write down, and I thought about my grandma's cooking. We have her recipe for Texas sheet cake, Ranger cookies*, and some other things. I feel sure, however, that there were things that Grandma made without a recipe, and we've probably lost those forever.
*I preferred chocolate chip cookies, but Grandma seemed to always make Ranger cookies.
And so we go on. If I have grandchildren, they may not care that I correct their pronunciation of Titian; they may never encounter that word. And that's okay. (It took a lot for me to write that.) I do hope that I can give them some memories, and more importantly, some recipes.
Which means, oh hell, I need to start writing my cooking down.
thank you. I really appreciated your comments, some of which surprised me. I have lurkers!
And while I haven't looked at my stats, I'm sure that if there's a high point, it's because of all you commenters. Which brings me to:
You like me! You really like me! (Apologies to Sally F.)
It seems a little like vouja dé. I feel like I've done this sort of "zOMG, do you laaaiiiiiiike me?" thing before, and that troubles me.
Because really, à la base, and excuse my French, isn't blogging supposed to be about the blogger rather than the audience? (Here's where you chime in "Why yes, Alison, yes!")
And so I guess I will start thinking of myself and what I want to say. If you want to read my words and thoughts, then that's great. If you don't, that's fine. I think I'll keep writing for ME in this space. If I move from here, I'll let you know.
The title of this entry is in opposition with this photo of me that Allan took back in 2005.
I seem to have lost that t-shirt in transition, and I mean that in every sense of the word.
Tonight I posted a link on Facebook, and I included a lot of commentary, and then in a comment to my own commentary, I wrote "Also, bla bla bla. I should really turn half of my statuses on Facebook into blog entries."
And I really should.
It's no secret that Facebook and Twitter took away from my blogging. My move from France back the US took away from my blogging, and it took away some of my readers, as well.
I need to decide what I'm willing to put here. And if that turns out to be "nothing," I need to shut this blog down.
Typepad has been great, but if I'm not using the service, why continue paying?
And now I'm going to do something I never thought I'd do. If you are reading this, if you read my blog, even if you never comment, please comment now. I'd like to know what the stats can't tell me. You don't even have to say anything if you don't want to. Just leave a * or some other symbol. I just want to know how many people are really reading me.
Thanks in advance.
A few days ago a locally-based independent bookstore announced that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, about a week after announcing it would close two of its stores in Charlotte and Pittsburgh. Now, Joseph-Beth will also close stores in Cleveland and Nashville.
I work in a locally-owned (not -based, nuance) independent bookstore, and I do not relish this news. Joseph-Beth's Lexington store (their flagship) will remain open. So that's good. This town has several book stores, and I believe it's a big enough town that we can all co-exist.
The announcement last week got me thinking about the nature of bookstores. Say what you will about digital media and "the death of print," but there is still a place in society for bookstores. One of the common complaints I've heard about Joseph-Beth is that it sold so much besides books. "It's like a gift shop that has books," is the refrain. That kind of store has its place for sure. But Joseph-Beth and Barnes & Noble are such big places that when you go it becomes a "shopping experience."
The bookstore I work in is small. Many people think that it is a used bookstore, because they are not used to seeing such a small bookstore with new inventory. And at least once a week, we have a customer who says "I had no idea this place was here!" or "I'm so glad I found you!" and that feels really good.
About a year ago, my friend Nick wrote a piece for a local weekly alternative paper, and he spent some time at the Morris book shop talking to my manager, Hap. The resulting essay was long, but what Nick wrote stayed with me: the idea of a bookstore as a cultural commons. Here's a PDF link to the paper the article was in. (The article starts on page 5; incidentally, there is an awesome review of the Twilight series by another friend on page 1.) Here are some choice phrases that Nick wrote about the place I work:
Local bookshops are able to
provide the interpersonal intimacy
absent from the digital realm. More
specifically, a transaction at a shop
like Morris establishes a relationship
beyond mere commodity, or informa-
tion, exchange. The shop is a nexus
for community interests, interests that
one shouldn’t have to—even virtually—
leave his or her community to explore.
Its connective tissue is simply people
(who are your neighbors) and books.
There’s no telling what will happen
to the printed word in the future, but
places like Morris needn’t worry any-
time soon. By providing a venue for
the community to educate itself and
learn about one another, it connects
to its customers by establishing bonds
that transcend typical commodity
transactions. While its fate is beholden
to the industry it operates within, it
sees itself—and deserves to be seen—as
something greater than a middleman.
Nick wrote some good anecdotes about that afternoon he spent at the Morris book shop, so if you have a few minutes, the entire article is worth a read. What I've quoted here is the crux of it, however. A bookstore is a gathering place for ideas. Sure, coffee helps. But we don't have coffee at the Morris book shop (yet), and I have to tell you, I have been privy to — and participated in — some incredible conversations over the past 18 months that I've worked there.
I'm not so starry-eyed as to think that these kinds of "cultural commons" discussions don't happen outside of small, independent bookstores. Of course they do. Connections are made all the time, in all kinds of places. But places like the Morris book shop, or Third Street Stuff and Coffee, or Coffee Times, or the Co-op have an intimacy that larger stores do not. These are community-oriented, locally-owned places. Their patrons are community-oriented as well. These are the places where ideas are discussed, fleshed out, perhaps even come to fruition.
I've no doubt that Joseph-Beth was once this kind of place. And I think as we move forward, we need to look back to a time when homogenization was only something you associated with milk. There will always be chain stores and restaurants. Some folks crave the stability of having the same offerings no matter what city they are in, and I kind of get that. But in our own towns, let's embrace the local joints: not only are they motors of the economy, but that's where stuff really happens.
Nahhhh, not really.
My Typepad account was suspended a couple of weeks ago (while I was in France, phew, I didn't want to let any of you ingrates know I was out of the country anyway). I'd failed to update my debit card info. So while you could read my blog, I couldn't post to it. I didn't mind; as I said, I was away from home, and I don't like to broadcast that kind of information.
But then I had another dilemma: should I renew at all? Typepad's parent company Six Apart was recently sold to Video Egg. Y'all have Google fingers. I'm not linking today. I'm not sure what it means for Typepad. And I'm not sure I want to continue blogging.
I have to think about things over the next few weeks. You know, the future of this blog. The future of the archives of this blog. That kind of thing.
Every damn day I hate Facebook for one reason or another.
But then I look at the good stuff about it, and I relax. I still hate it. I will always hate Facebook to some degree, but that kid knew what he was doing. So I commend him for that, and I continue to use his service, which changed my life here in Lexington. (See? I can't hate it that much. It really helped me in a social way.)
I heard about Facebook when you still needed a .edu email to join, so I got an alum email address from my alma mater. I was an early adult adopter, and some of my earliest friends on Facebook were my blogging friends. And I don't mean that in a hipster way, like Facebook is so uncool now that they let everyone in.
(Although I'm sure that folks who were in college five years ago feel that way. To that I say I GET YOU.)
The changes Facebook has made annoy me. To be sure, rare is the FB application that I will allow. And I clamp down on my privacy settings as soon as I hear about a change. For this bullshit, I hate Facebook. But for all the rest, I love it.
And I hate that I love it.
Today a Facebook friend from high school posted an AP photo of President Obama. She said "This picture was actually attached to an AP article entitled Many Obama 2008 supporters defecting to GOP....is it just me, or do I detect a little craziness in his eye? maybe its just the full moon...."
I thought of commenting that the media often uses unflattering photos of personalities. Then I thought better of it, so I said nothing.
Then I saw that another guy who was in our high school class said this about the photo: "He's a liberal...of course he's nuts."
I took the bait.
I replied, "Gee, based on that logic, I must be nuts too."
To which the guy said "That would be correct."
I replied back, "Wow. Have a great Sunday. See ya!"
I just didn't want to get into a political argument with someone I wasn't even friends with back in high school.
My friend who'd posted the link called him out on the name calling (he'd also spewed some other stuff about liberals, then said "You can't fix stupid. LOL"), and I have to commend her for that. It was also her space that was being used, so I don't blame her.
I addressed her, and agreed with what she had said regarding politics. She is more conservative than I am, I am pretty sure, but she seems to be open to other points of view, and doesn't label people.
The point here is two threefold: No matter our political beliefs, those who are on the other side of the spectrum are not crazy or stupid. And yes, it took a lot for me to write that. But being labeled "nuts" and "stupid" by someone whose beliefs are more conservative than my own made me realize that we tend to operate in generalities.
The other second point is that we can always learn something from the other side.
The third is that it's important to vote.
And there's another thing I thought about all afternoon: I'm proud of who I am, of my principles and beliefs. That might be another blog entry, although as my t-shirt rightly states, I never finish anyth
I have started frequenting the comments to articles on a news site. Occasionally I leave a comment. My username is Alison, because back when I signed up, I thought "First!" There is no other identifying information about me on my profile at this site.(I'm just saying that, because it's not linked to this blog, or any of my other usernames around teh interwebs.)
Last night someone found a comment I made so interesting (because I said I knew someone who was involved with what might be called "alternative religion," and if you give me an S, some ham, and an ism, you've got it), that he kind of got his panties in a wad. This person, to paraphrase, found my acquaintance with this "alternative religion guy" quite amusing. I quote, "I've read many of her posts on other political issues and found her support for Obama so unrelenting* that I suspected her true icon name was Ali's son. But this is even better."
*Um, it's really not unrelenting.
I just kind of laughed at the guy's bizarre logic. But then I got to thinking, SO WHAT? What if I were a Muslim? What if the President were a Muslim? In a perfect world, no one would care, because this is America, Land of the Free and It Doesn't Matter What Religion Others Practice. (Oh wait, in a perfect world, there'd be no religion, but I digress).
Remember when people were freaking out because presidential candidate John F. Kennedy was Catholic? I don't either. But it happened. And guess what? It turned out to be no big deal.
Perhaps in my lifetime, we'll have a Muslim president and it will turn out to be no big deal. Even better? An atheist president! Imagine that!
...but the free wi-fi at Bluegrass Airport helps.
I'm going to France for a quick trip. It's really, really hard to get excited about going anywhere anymore when the whole process of traveling by air is so stressful. I know, call the waahhh-mbulance. Such a first-world problem.
I'll be fine once I get over myself.
The fun thing about being in airports is getting to watch people. Right now I'm kind of eavesdropping on a French guy who's not happy about something. I can only hear every third word.
So, yeah. Traveling. To France. For the first time in...a year.
Allan and I just finished watching Metropolitan, which I'd begun to believe I'd imagined. Our local Blockbuster (before it closed for good) didn't have it, and our local local (that's a double local, y'all) video store didn't have it either. Last week we got our Netflix for Wii disc, and we set up a queue of films. I pulled Metropolitan out of some distant place in my brain. You know, that bit of 1990 that we all don't remember.
In an apartment on Manhattan a couple of friends from the New York upper-class meet almost every night to talk about social mobility, play bridge and discuss Fourier's socialism; the cynic Nick, the philosophical Charlie, party girl Sally and austenite Audrey. They are joined by Tom. His background is much simpler and he is critical of their way of life. But he finds a soul mate in Audrey, who without his knowledge falls in love with him.
*Yeah, no. I'm not going to spend any time thinking of clever shit to use as a title.
At the time, I was in this weird relationship with a guy; he and I met in college, but he was transferring to another school, and Chautauqua was near enough that we saw each other fairly regularly that summer. I'll call him Clay, just for anonymity's sake. Clay was from a large city in a western state, and had gone to boarding school in another large city in another western state. He and I were, in the common parlance, fuckbuddies. I wanted more; I thought I was in love with him (I probably was, in all honesty).
Clay had spent a year in France during high school with a program that teamed his school up with other boarding schools. This was a seminal year for Clay, and his best friends, which he made that year, had gone to Exeter.
Clay told me stories about his time in France with his friends; he also told me stories about going sailing with said friends once they were back in the States. They did all kinds of things, he and his friends. For this preacher's kid from suburban Pittsburgh, it was all unbelievable yet desirable, because it was way, way out of my league.
And so the first time I watched Metropolitan, I imagined that the characters were Clay's friends (never mind that Clay didn't live in New York, and I had no idea where his Exeter friends were from). I imagined that this was the kind of life he led when he was with his friends (never mind that he lived in a fucking western city in a western state).
I wanted to watch this film again, not because of Clay, but because I remembered that we had it at the Chautauqua Cinema back in the day, and I remembered that I really enjoyed it.
And I watched it, and I enjoyed it, but this time I saw the characters from a completely different point of view. These poor rich kids who quote Jane Austen and have to live up to impossible standards, well, I felt sorry for them. Twenty years ago I wanted to be them. I wanted to be like Clay, who'd been to boarding school, and who had other rich friends whose families had fleets of Range Rovers, or second homes in Breckenridge, or who were simply named Breckenridge (Breck for short, of course).
I don't remember laughing when I watched Metropolitan back in the day. Tonight I laughed. I know so much more now than I did then.
Edit: Siskel and Ebert on Metropolitan. Much respect!
I go back and forth on this. Should I pay for things I can do myself?
I "waxed" my legs today with a home sugaring kit. For two or three of the years I lived in France, I had my parts done at a salon. Legs and bikini area, hoo-wah!
While I don't feel capable of cutting my hair, I'm sure I could color it myself, but I pay someone to do it.
We're looking for someone to clean our house. We can do it, sure, but it's nice to not have to.
I recently painted our living room. When I finished, I said "Next room, we're hiring painters."
But will we? It's as if I have this luxury-o-meter in my head, and it's pretty arbitrary. It's okay for me to get my hair cut and colored, but having my legs waxed seems like excess.
It seems like excess to hire painters. It almost seems like excess to have a cleaner, but Allan had one for years before I moved here (and Mrs. A. cleaned for Allan's mom for years before she passed away); Mrs. A. retired two years ago and we haven't replaced her. And yes, we miss her.
So hiring a cleaner rates high on the luxury-o-meter. Leg waxing doesn't. Painting? I'm not sure. I painted the kids' rooms last fall, so I painted three rooms in six months. I'm over it, but I will probably paint the walls of our next project, whenever that will be.
What's on your luxury-o-meter? What are you willing to pay to have done?
Yeah, that's pretty much how I'm feeling about this webspace. When I started blogging nearly six years ago, it was still a novel thing. Now everyone and their goddamn mother has a blog. (No offense to all the mothers out there!) I don't know where I fit into the blogosphere anymore. My blog stats plummeted after I moved to Lexington to be with Allan. I still have a core of readers, and I appreciate them all, but they know how to find me in an emergency.
Lately I've been thinking about social media, and I'm trying to figure out what I want to say about it without sounding like a jackass. I've been using social media for years, and it's interesting to see patterns of adoption.
When I knew I was moving to Lexington, I contacted a food preparation company Allan had told me about, to propose my services to expand their Internet presence, because I read they were hoping to eventually franchise their business. I never heard back; perhaps I went about it the wrong way, or perhaps they didn't think it was important. Whatever, it doesn't matter.
My point is that I did this long before Twitter existed, or Facebook was opened to the general public. My point is that I'm an early adopter. I'm not an über-early adopter, mind you. I joined Flickr a little more than a year after its start, and I thought Twitter was stupid when I first heard about it, so I didn't join that until January of 2008. But, relatively speaking, I'm on it. (Foursquare? Dude, Brightkite has been doing the location-based thing for years, but without all the stupid Mayor crap.)
So it was interesting for me to see how political candidates used social media last year. It's interesting to see how businesses decide to use social media.
And inversely, it's interesting to be reminded that not everyone is like me in this regard. I read about this next thing I'm going to talk about (notice I said "talk," not "write," heh) last week, and thought I might blog about it, but I put it out of my head until I saw this tweet from @dvs earlier today. The link in his tweet goes here, but I read about it somewhere else (and for the life of me I can't remember where). Whatever, again, it doesn't matter. What matters is the gist of it: This post on Read Write Web rose to near the top of Google rankings for the search "facebook login." (But it never got to #1, as far as I know.) Some people who went to RWW were confused and thought it was a new Facebook. And they left disgruntled comments on the blog entry saying as much!
So what, right? But this means that people don't use the address bar of their browser to go to websites (or bookmark them). They go to the Google and search for it. And this kind of shocked me, Alison, who has ten different website tabs set as her Firefox "home" page.
It makes me want to tilt my head in that way that Kyle (or Stan) does on South Park and say "Reallllyyyy?"
Now, some of you are longtime readers of this blog, and many of you are bloggers yourselves. A lot of you are like me, and I know this, because we are contacts (and some of you are friends) on other social media sites. Perhaps you already know all about the RWW/Facebook login and are mocking me because I'm posting about it nearly a week after it happened.
And in the defense of those who use the Google, I will admit to Googling when I'm not sure of a website's URL. (Like the website of the food company I mentioned above. I just looked it up a few minutes ago.) But for a website I go to on a regular basis? If it's not in my home tabs or bookmarked, Firefox remembers it and the URL auto-fills in my address bar.
RWW had an interesting follow-up post about the FB login entry. It gave me something more to think about.
What about you? How do you get to your most-visited websites?
It's 3 am, and I woke up with a stabby pain in my throat, right up near my right ear. GREAT. When I wandered into the kitchen and saw that it was 2:15, I almost cried. I thought it must be about six, which would be bad, but not that bad. My attempt to fall back to sleep was unsuccessful, so here I am.
I'm still processing what happened at the clinic yesterday. It was not good. A friend wrote me an email asking how it went with my face, and here's what I wrote back, slightly edited:
About two and a half years ago, I had a root canal on a molar. A porcelain crown was then placed on what was left of the molar, and I thought that was that.
Except it wasn't.
It was just the beginning of a host of dental problems.
But let me back up. I needed a root canal because I'd cracked the root of my tooth because [drum roll] I clench my teeth. Yes, I clenched my teeth hard enough to break the shit out of one. So my dentist made me a night guard or bite guard or whatever you want to call it, and I've worn it really regularly, maybe 95% of the time — at night, as prescribed.
That tooth with the crown? It never really settled down, despite what my dentist would call "occlusal adjustments," meaning she carved away at the tooth above it to make my bite feel more normal.
My bite's been off ever since (although I'm not convinced it's solely because of the crown), which causes a great amount of tension in my temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, and things have been aggravated recently. In the past five months, I've lost a significant amount of tooth enamel. I'm destroying my teeth. And I still clench them, despite specific massage therapy. My dentist has theories, but doesn't know what else she can do for me, so she's sending me to the Orofacial Pain Clinic at the University of Kentucky.
My evaluation is tomorrow today. I've already received paperwork to fill out, but I have to be at the clinic an hour before my appointment to fill out more paperwork. And then I have a three-hour evaluation.
I'm a little nervous. Not because I'm afraid of the dentist or anything (hell, I used to want to BE a dentist and I ended up marrying one), but because it's a THREE-HOUR tour evaluation.
Three hours of being grilled about my teeth (pun totally intended), x-rayed, possibly poked and prodded, grilled some more; it's enough to stress anyone out.
On the other hand, I can't wait. I want answers. I like my teeth. I want to keep them.
Also? I just decided I'd do NaBloPoMo in February. I guess this is my first entry.
Tonight I put the following status message out on Facebook:
Can someone explain to me why there's high fructose corn syrup in a can of kidney beans?
And I got 35 comments. Oh wait, 22 comments, since 13 of them were mine.
But still, 22 comments (and a conversation) with one question.
This is why I wonder why I still blog. I throw out one sentence on Facebook, and get immediate feedback. I write a blog entry and, meh. If it sounds like I'm whining, well, I probably am.
What's the point of elaborating my thoughts, pulling them out of my brain and putting them into words here, if one sentence on Facebook garners a better reaction? (I know, I know, that's not the point of blogging. Indulge me for a minute.)
I rinsed the beans, by the way. In the future, I'll be reading ALL food labels, not just some. Who knew they'd put HCFS in a can of beans? Also, corn subsidies suck, and M0nsant0 is evil.
We've had snow on the ground for about a week, and I don't mind at all. When I refilled my coffee mug this morning, I noticed it was snowing again. My only concern is the roads; today I have to work.
Having grown up in Pennsylvania, I'm no stranger to snow. Even better, having grown up on a hill, I associate snow with sled riding. FUN! I'm sure my parents felt differently about it.
This morning I'm thinking about other things than snow, however. I'm thinking about the nature of blogging and what it means to have a weblog. A friend of mine had a Diaryland blog back in 2000 or 2001, and she sent me the link. At the time I thought "I couldn't possibly put my thoughts ONLINE! For just ANYBODY!" Three years later, I started to do just that.
As this blog has evolved, so has my attitude toward it. I'm content. Settled, if you will. I'm not so willing to put it out there. But I have Facebook and Twitter accounts. I'm connected.
So I'm not sure what my feelings are about a certain blogger* I follow (in all three places, mind you). I'm pretty sure she's an attention whore. But aren't all bloggers, to some degree? Face it, if you're posting things online, anywhere, you've got a desire for attention.
No, it's more than that. Could it be jealousy I'm feeling? If so, what am I jealous of? I can't put my finger on it.
Maybe I just want her to be a little more subtle. Maybe I wish I had her drive. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Maybe I should unfollow her.
*No, I'm not talking about YOU.
Deedee commented that she'd like stories about PeopleOfTheBookstore, kind of like PeopleOfWalmart (*shudder* Y'all know how to use your Google finger). But she didn't want me to get fired. Which I totally appreciate.
The thing is, there really aren't that many weirdos that come into the book store. We get a lot of freaks, sure, but weirdos, no.
All kidding aside, it's true. It's hard to blog about the book store customers because they're mostly of a certain ilk:
I don't know what to do with this blog. Part of me really wants to revive it, and part wants to delete it.
Some of you have given me feedback on what direction to go, and I think I need to revisit that and then decide. Lately I've just wanted to hold certain facets of my life closer to the chest, and that's okay, but it's difficult to find something to write about that I find interesting, let alone you, dear readers.
This post? Goes in the borrrring category.