9/4/06

Playground games, blogging games

Playgrounds and writing are on my mind this week. I've become the Playground Lady from my favorite comic strip, Rick Detorie's "One Big Happy", although I will always identify with Ruthie's storytime Library Lady. Watching the recess dynamics at my second job stirs up all sorts of irritating memories. They sit there nagging for attention like pea gravel inside my old Buster Brown anklets and saddle shoes.

If you missed Susan Stamberg's interview with short story writer Karen Russell on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday morning, you can hear it online. The title of Russell's story collection is St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. After Russell reads an excerpt from the title story, Stamberg says, "You have such a vivid imagination. Is this something you cultivated from childhood and channeled into your writing?"

Russell replied instantly, "I directly credit being terrible at sports. If I'd had even an ounce of skill at kickball I'd have been out on the field with the other kids...It was safer to be sitting in a corner imagining things than dodging a ball." Ooooh, baby, do I know what she means! Can you say "Red Rover, Red Rover, send Nancy Lou right over"??

My blog was "tagged" by Prairie Bluestem on the cyber-playground today, so I'm It. Normally, I'd decline to participate in this game, as I declined to participate in many sports activities over the decades. My thinking is along this line: If a business has a company softball game at the annual picnic, I won't apply for a job there. This isn't particularly healthy, I admit.

This cyber-game of tag is similar to a chain letter, but it doesn't promise that I'll receive a picture postcard with a printed recipe from every state in the Union. Been waiting for those to arrive since 1966. I thought "blog tag" had to do with subject classifications, so I'm already feeling insecure!

We are all shaped as much by our perceived inadequacies as we are by our strengths. Because I've always felt inadequate speaking to people, writing a letter to clearly express my thoughts became my modus operandi. I believed I could not think on my feet or say what I meant. This belief probably dates from the time my grandfather phoned me long distance to wish me a happy birthday while my birthday party with classmates and friends was in progress. "Happy birthday," he said. "And happy birthday to you, too," I said, immediately realizing it wasn't his birthday and turning bright red.

I began writing letters so I wouldn't ever repeat that moment, I guess. People expressed appreciation for my letters, so I wrote more. Positive feedback is lots more satisfying than repeatedly failing to break through the line in Red Rover. Plus, I loved the luxurious feeling of note paper and pretty stationery! Sealing wax and postage stamps enhanced the letter-writing experience.

This blog, and my Anchorwoman blog are extensions from that birthday phone call. Part of the reason for writing blogs is to clarify and express my thoughts so I don't blurt out something dumb and have to be teased about it later. Another part is to entertain my parents and friends particularly through illnesses. A little part is to work out the same sort of childhood experiences as Red Rover, a bit of inexpensive bloggotherapy. I write posts, too, for the pure joy of playing with words, and for the discipline and craft of improving each entry. Some people go bowling, some go bar-hopping, others sing in the choir. I blog. Writing about the beautiful and funny aspects of the human experience reinforce those positive observations and improve my outlook on life.

I send paper copies of my entries to my parents, now just my dad. It's reassuring to me that a physical copy of my effort exists. Maybe someone will appreciate it in the future the same way I appreciate the cursive handwritten autobiography of my great-great-grandfather homesteading in Nebraska. My sons don't read my blog unless I send them a link to a particular post. It is too soon. At twenty I didn't have any idea that learning continues through life, questions persist, experiences bring wisdom, and grown-ups feel sadness...

I'm not quite willing to participate in this game of tag. If you would like to copy the following questions, go for it. If you would like to send me a picture postcard of your state capitol building with your favorite recipe, please write a comment!

1. Are you happy/satisfied with your blog's content and look?
2. Does your family know about your blog?
3. Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog? Do you consider it a private thing?
4. Did blogging cause positive changes in your thoughts?
5. Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or do you love to go and discover more by yourself?
6. What does a visitor counter mean to you? Do you like having one on your blog?
7. Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?
8. Do you think there is any real benefit in blogging?
9. Do you think that blogger's society is isolated from the real world or interaction with events?
10. Does criticism annoy you or do you feel it's a normal thing?
11. Do you fear some political blogs and avoid them?
12. Were you shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?
13. What do you think will happen to your blog after you die?
14. What do you like to hear? What song would you like to link to on your blog?
15. Five bloggers to be the next "victims"?

1 comment:

Genevieve said...

My daughter (college senior) rarely reads my blog either. I was really surprised to see on my visitor counter that she had looked through about fifty blog entries over the holiday weekend.

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