Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Finding My Way
I have a friend who is always about six steps ahead of me when it comes to the things that will change your life. Because of a desire for simplicity and a lack of finances I’m usually behind in the ‘next great thing’ game. But she’s on top of it all. She has some kind of psychic ability to know what’s coming up and jump on board at the exact right moment.
I see the stuff, on TV, in the magazines. Smart phones, Blue tooth, High Def, Twitter, Social Networking, on board navigational systems, WiFi…it’s all pretty confusing to me, so I avoid it when I can. For the most part I don’ t mind being out of the game. I appreciate technology but don’t feel a need to keep up with the latest and greatest of anything.
Sure, she’s slowly sucked me into a few things and I humbly admit I’m a better person for it. Six years ago I was sure I would hate having a digital camera. So much to figure out. I’d have to learn more confusing things on the computer to even find my pictures. I had a nice, comfortable relationship with my old 35mm film camera. There was no reason to stray. Then my friend came to stay with me and snapped four trillion pictures of our visit, posting them to the internet before she even got home. I was intrigued.
Long story short, I researched, anguished about it, researched some more, and finally dove in. I’m on my second digital camera now, after completely wearing out the first one. I had to buy an external hard drive just for picture storage. Having digital is like having free, unlimited film. Who knew? (she did…)
The same thing happened with facebook. I saw no need for it, until I tried it and found it was the perfect way to stay in touch with family and friends who are flung across the country. Now I check my facebook page as often as I do email. It has become my easy way of knowing what the people I love are up to on a regular basis.
This is how I happened to stumble on the phenomenon known as the blogosphere. I’d heard the word ‘blog’ but had no use for it. My first impression was that they were for celebrity gossip and political ramblings. I have no use for either of those things. Then I happened to stumble upon one that was about parenting. It was about being a mom. That’s it. No platform, no gossip. Just down and dirty glimpses of life, written by another mom like me.
Again I was intrigued. I clicked around and found more, and more, and more of these other moms out there, sharing their lives on this thing called blogging.
For a few years I’ve had a file in my computer called “my encyclopedia”. I created this file the day I finished reading The Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. It’s an ingenious book, in which the author has taken the ordinary things that happen in her life, things that make her ponder a bit about life, and organized them like an encyclopedia. It’s a much more entertaining read than I’m making it out to be, but the idea itself is what blew me away.
I was always walking around thinking strange things and remembering specific memories of my growing up years, and wanting to jot them down, but having no good way to organize them. So that day, the day I read the last page of Amy’s book, I sat down at the computer, opened up a blank page, titled it “My Encyclopedia” and began writing. Soon I had dozens of entries. Here’s a sample:
I go through spells of reading. I find a whole stack of great books from the public library and go hog wild, digging through them. I desperately carve out extra moments in the day that I can disappear and read even one more chapter of the current book of interest. Soon the whole stack is read, or returned un-read when I realize it is not the book I thought it was. But after reading so much, in such a short amount of time, I have realized it makes my brain work differently for several days after. I begin to narrate my life, as I walk through it.
“She noticed a stray Cheerio on the carpet as she walked down the hall to check on the current status of the kitchen counter. Tempted to pick it up she stepped over it at the last minute, as a kind of small test for the children, to see if any one of them would think to pick it up themselves, before it got crushed in the carpet. She doubted any of them would…you know children. Within 24 hours she would be vacuuming up the ten thousand crumbs that had magically exploded out of one tiny cereal bit as it met the sole of a child’s shoe.”
It is an odd thing, to be living your life on the outside while narrating it as you go on the inside. It makes me want to sit down and work on some writing project. Then when I find the time to sit down and write, the words seem to stop, paralyzed by the stark white computer screen. Time to go get some more library books.
Or an entry under “R”….
For most of my childhood I believed the music being played on the radio was actually being played at the station, by the musicians. Many times I wished I was old enough to drive so I could rush down to the KCMQ studio and accidentally run into Donny Osmond or Sonny and Cher as they were exiting the building. I was a ridiculously old child before it dawned on me that the station played recordings.
So when I found the world of mommy blogs I could already relate. These were just postings that resembled my own encyclopedia. And it was fun to read about what other people were thinking about. So finally I dove in.
In the beginning I wrote about little things. A short paragraph here. A few pictures there. Then I stumbled upon a great gig, writing a parenting column for the local paper. I began posting the essays from my column on my blog. And life got more and more busy as our two oldest became seniors, a year apart, and the college application process started. Life’s kicked up a notch and now I’m not just the mom to four busy kids, but on a weekly basis I have actual writing deadlines and a job at the library to show up to three days a week. Oh yeah, and a few loads of laundry to do and about four thousand meals to pull off. So now my blog is mostly my essays, things I ‘had’ to write for another venue. But some day I hope to go back to the original template. Just random thoughts, snippets of our life. Because that’s sometimes what I enjoy the most about clicking over to my favorite blogs. Just the everyday stuff that makes us say, “Yeah, I’ve felt/thought/seen that!”
In the meantime I am finding a surprising side effect from reading blogs. I’ve found friends all over the country who I may never meet in person, but understand me like few others do. Their incredible writing keeps me plugging away, making my stuff better and more inspired. I’ve made author friends who I dream of living next door to because they seem to be the perfect mix of professional and friend. And I imagine they’d make incredible over-the-fence editors.
Who knows what the next big thing might be. I’ll let my techy friend figure it out and try it out, and then I’ll decide if it fits into my life. For now I am perfectly content with the low tech version of the life I’ve managed to carve out for myself. I snap my digital pictures, load them up to my facebook page, click over to check a few of my favorite blogs, then send out an email to my sister, just to see how her day is going. It’s enough for now.
It’s more than enough for now.