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I don’t understand death and loss.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I’ve gone through the process any number of times and the length of my list of dead and gone is colossal.  I have had careers die.  I have had love and passion die.  I have had my trust and my heart stolen.  I have had friendships drift away.  I have had marriages end.  I have had family that I loved dearly taken away.  Gone are houses, more than a few vehicles, massive quantities of other worldly goods, innumerable pets and most of my sentimental memorabilia.  I have lost my art and my lifestyle, even my freedom for a time (no it wasn’t prison).  Most everything for one reason or another, at one time or another has left me. 

Sure, there were reasons.  It’s not like I don’t take care of or am lackadaisical with what is important and necessary.  I’m not a total loser, only a part-time one.  I’ve worked hard for what I’ve had, but there have been some nasty obstacles to overcome and it’s likely I could have made better choices at different times in my life.  I could make you weep with my tragedies, but what would the point be.  I stopped crying long ago and learned to find a way to keep living.  It’s not like there is really any other conscionable alternative.  You breathe in and out.  You place one foot in front of the other.  You put your big girl pants on and continue.

I’m certain everyone experiences loss and death during their lives.  It’s part of life.  I get it.  I just don’t understand why it has to be so friggin’ hard or why there has to be so much of it.  I mean, you work your ass off and poof!  I learned a long time ago not to hold anything too tightly.  Never get so attached to a person, place or thing that their loss will destroy you.  Not that I haven’t been devastated many times over.  I have simply learned it’s an unavoidable part of life.  Still, this last couple of years, I’m starting to feel like I’m enduring my own personal seven plagues of the Apocalypse and I gotta say, even I have my limits.  I mean . . . really?  When is enough, enough?

Okay, the house burned . . . not all of it . . . what was left of the possessions went into the basement and rebuilding began.  Hey, I got a return on investment for years of insurance premiums.  The basement flooded . . . salvaged what can be saved and moved on.  I had to leave my job . . . so what, I had more time to deal with the rest of the chaos and I’ll get another.  Right?  Oh yeah, the cars that burned with the house and had to be replaced . . . was it really necessary for a tree to fly out of the sky and smash one to smithereens?  No problem, nobody was hurt.  Forget about the furnace that quit working . . . piece of cake . . . it doesn’t get THAT cold and what else are sweaters for anyway? 

It’s just stuff.  Belongings I loved and needed, but things that can be replaced to some degree . . . over time.  Fire, flood, storm, destitution and deprivation . . . did I leave anything out?  None of it is anything I’m gonna lose sleep over and the little every day disasters don’t even qualify for honorable mentions.  Would I have rather not have gone through it?  Of course . . . part-time loser, not mental defective with masochistic tendencies.  To hijack the old saying . . . been there; overcome(sic) that; got the t-shirt; and donated it to the Goodwill years ago.

I’ve got to say I’m having a bit of a problem with the pestilence.  I call it pestilence, but it’s really the black death of our generation . . . cancer.  It has struck all around me like a pharaoh’s curse.  I’ve thought perhaps it’s just that I’m getting old enough to start anticipating my friends and loved ones will start dropping like flies.  Hell, I’m not Methuselah, just your average middle-aged woman.  I’m not yet so elderly to begin a daily perusal of the obituaries to see who checked out today.  I wouldn’t think I should be partaking of that particular oldster’s pastime just yet.  Besides, it’s not the variety of health issues we expect our elders and peers to experience as youth fades.  It’s just freakin’ cancer.

I know I’m not alone in my struggle.  All you have to do is turn on the tube to see the extent of suffering in the world today.  The media frenzy is crushing with the 24-hour-a-day, play-by-play commentary of the havoc being wrought by man and mother nature . . . earthquakes, floods, tornados, hurricanes, draught, wild fires, oil spills, nuclear meltdowns, government breakdowns, stock market crashes, fiscal failure, home foreclosures, environmental devastation, starvation, terrorism, war, revolution, riots, child and drug abuse, murder and all manner of mayhem. 

We do seem to be circling the drain and I – for one – am getting pretty flippin’ tired of this crap.  Even I need a bit of down time between catastrophes and I’m better equipped to cope than most.  It is incomprehensible to me how some of the peoples of the world are managing to survive at all.  Almost everybody I know is experiencing tribulation of one sort or another.  No one’s sorrow is more or less significant than another’s.  When it happens to you, it is the worst thing you can imagine.

I’m making a formal request and sending out into the universe. 

Do you hear me higher power that I’m not sure how to address properly?  If you’re listening, I know a whole lot of us down here could use a break, so if you could/would . . . please.  I know I’d appreciate it.  We could use a hand, big time.  Anything would be a nice start.

While I’m waiting on an answer, I don’t plan to just sit on my duff.  I’m going to care for those in my charge as best I can; help others whenever and wherever I may; and try my damnedest to just breath.  To that end, I’m going to resurrect this all but abandoned blog.  Writing is precious to me and I love blogging.  I just let the calamities in my life squeeze it out.  I’m doing it for me and hope it will not be morbid and morose.  It may seem trivial to some, but there isn’t much I really have any control over these days.  This I do, so I will.

Dear Readers, I wrote this the end of September with the intent of posting it then but just kept putting it off.  I decided I had stalled long enough.  I don’t know if my higher power is working on getting us a little relief, but you all have been vital in my efforts to revive this blog.  MDR’s rebirth has exceeded my wildest imagining.  I will never be able to truly show you my appreciation, but I do . . . Thank you.

Note:  The first smart ass that points out there are only six plagues here will immediately have a plague visited on them.  I’ve already made the arrangements.

A little history to get ya’ll up to speed.  My baby here . . . Miss Demure Restraint . . . will be four years old on December 1st.  She’s been a bit schizophrenic in the past, but she’s responding well to medication.  I guess in a lot of ways she’s a reflection of my personal head space.  So what does that say about me? Yeah, I’m a little on the crazy side, but then what sane person gets on the internet and blindly writes to an audience that may or may not be there? Only a whack job exposes himself to the potential rejection trauma such activities may and sometimes do result in.  I think being a little nuts is an inherent trait in the artistic temperament.  That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, MDR was rolling on down the road, enjoying the ride and ran head on into a block wall a little over two years ago.  An incident, I can only describe as a “cat fight” broke out between a couple of commenters on one of my posts.  I have to take responsibility as I had the power to not approve a comment, but was intimidated by the “acumen” of the commenter throwing the first punch.  Then I felt obligated to approve the offended party’s response.  Long story short . . . things got ugly . . . fast.  I posted an apology and removed the comments, but something was broken I couldn’t fix.   I struggled for a short time to continue, but it just wasn’t the same after that.  I pretty much quit blogging until the beginning of last month.

I have made every mistake known to man in this blog, maybe even a couple nobody ever thought of.  Some of the comments on yesterday’s post got me to thinking and that can be dangerous even painful.  Yes, the smell of burning brain cells fills the air as I sit pounding away on the laptop.  I figure I have from agonizing experience learned a few things which I feel compelled to share.   I have to start with a disclaimer . . . there is NO wrong way to blog.  What I offer here is just a little common sense (I know the ultimate oxymoron) and suggestions on applying the bloggy golden rule . . . treat your fellow bloggers the way you wish to be treated. 

  1. Turn on your comment moderation function.  You are responsible for the content of your blog and that includes the comments.  Comments can be rather like an untended child.  You take your eyes off them for a minute and they will run into the street directly in front of a bus.  There are trolls out there people!  They can overrun your blog in no time at all.  Some of you are fully capable of dealing with them, but make it a conscious decision to leave your front door unlocked.  Don’t imagine for a moment they wouldn’t do it to you.  Well, maybe not you Androgoth.  Any troll taking on a vampire king will quickly regret it.  You don’t have to approve a comment that is offensive to you, your readers or your other commenters.  Don’t fall into the trap I did of being intimidated into approving something you aren’t comfortable having as a permanent part of your blog.
  2. Respond to the commenters on your blog.  Come on, it’s not hard.  Somebody has taken the time to read your blog and leave you a comment.  That’s a big deal . . . for me it is.  There are many ways to accomplish this.  The easiest way I know is to reply to the comment on your own blog.  You can do it as part of the approval process.  If you have time to approve the comment, you can at least say “Thanks.”  I have known some people that send an e-mail response.  I just got one yesterday, as a matter of fact.  Still others will go to the commenter’s blog to respond.  I freely admit I have failed in the past to take this simple step.  I have no excuse, but stupidity and failure to engage my brain.  I’ve learned it is important to let people know their effort was appreciated by acknowledging them.  Duh!
  3. Comment on your commentors’ blogs.  I figure if they spent their precious time on me, it’s the least I can do.  I was never so impressed as when a couple of the “pressed to death” bloggers not only responded to my comments on their blogs, but actually managed to take the time to visit me and leave a comment.  Sure I hadn’t gotten to their blogs through “Freshly Pressed” and didn’t even see their “pressed” posts until much later.  Still, these guys found a way when they were dealing with an overwhelming response burden.  I think I can safely say we all love comments.  It feels good.  Payback people . . . payback.  Take the time.  Read a couple of posts.  Find something you can comment on.  The upside is you may find some interesting people and places you will visit regularly.
  4. Make relevant comments and don’t spam.  Read the posts you comment on.  Personally, I don’t want to sound like a lame, inappropriate blog monkey.  Get a feel for the tone of the overall blog.  I would never comment on Always Curtsy When You Sneeze or The Waiting the same way I comment on Angry Rant or Barking in the Dark.  It’s fine to say, “Love the post,” but try to say something pertinent about the post you are commenting on.   Never make a comment simply to promote your blog.  Its spamming, rude and jackassary in the extreme.  You have a link back to your blog when using your WordPress account or by providing your URL.   Set your Gravatar up to include your blog.  Don’t just show up and say, “You should see my blog . . . assclownspammer.com.” 

Okay, this post is now officially way too long, but I have to say one more thing.  The people you see commenting here are the best.  They have taught me to be a better member of the blog community and as different as each of them is, I believe, they represent what blogging should really be about.  They are also some of the best damn writers I’ve had the pleasure to read.

Play nice and people will play with you.  Be an ass clown and they will take their ball and go home.  Oh yeah, it never hurts to link to your buddies occasionally in your posts.  So, now for the fun part . . . its your turn.  What do you consider proper blog etiquette?  What are your pet peeves?

I’m of two minds when it comes to these blog awards.  First, I’m always honored to have my writing recognized in any way, shape or form.  This one is especially surprising because I don’t really know the blogger bestowing it.  Thank you, Angel Land Canada, I am most grateful. You can be sure I have already been checking out your site.  Second, I believe it is a great way to find new and interesting blogs to read.  That’s the angel sitting on my right shoulder.   The devil on my left is whispering, “Run away.  You remember what happened last time.”  To fill you in, last time I got a blog award it was a precursor to going into blog hiding for almost two years.  Well, let’s give this another go.

I am passing this award on to 15 blogs I personally follow:

Now I’m supposed to reveal seven things about myself. 

  1. I’m a Wikipedia junkie  . . . I will search anything and I do it all the time.
  2. I have a lhasa apso named Rocky that talks . . . he also happy dances with me when no one is around.
  3. I’m a failed computer graphic artist . . . I never could color inside the lines or release artist license.
  4. I met my best friend through this blog . . . we’ve been friends almost four years now.
  5. I’m a natural blonde . . . the carpet matches the drapes . . . TMI?
  6. I won’t eat any meat still on the bone . . . it’s too much like eating an animal . . . I know . . . meat = animal, but if I don’t see the bones I can handle it.
  7. I was Chinese in a past life . . . I know this because I could eat Chinese every day, three meals a day.

So, there it is.  The important thing is for you to check out the blogs I’ve linked here.  They are awesome.

Mum was only going to be living with me for six weeks, maybe two months.  That was nine, long months ago.  I love my Mum.  She is sweet and well-intentioned.  She is much sweeter than I am.  I would do anything for her.  I am now, however, on the verge of losing my mind.  Patience . . . I’m not sure when that deserted me but I think it was somewhere between the Chubby Checker debate and the blog debacle.  Maybe I’m just crazy.  That is Mum’s opinion anyway.  It is an art form . . . caring for your parent . . . a highly underrated art form.

Remember the Twist . . . the song and dance that became a worldwide phenomenon in 1960 when Cubby Checker’s cover of the song hit the Billboard Hot 100.  That’s how it happened in my reality.  Mum, she remembers doing the twist at her high school dances.  The only problem is that she graduated from high school in 1954.  “No, Mum, you couldn’t have.  The song wasn’t out yet.”  “I did too.  You can’t remember that, you weren’t even born.”  “Look Mum.  See Wikipedia says . . .” “Wiki-whatever-ia wasn’t there either.” “Okay, Mum.  You did the Twist in high school.”  Divergent time streams, that’s all I can come up with.

I know each generation has their own particular style and I’m no fashionista, but come on.  “Mum, that shirt doesn’t go with those pants.”  “They’re the same color.” “But the shirt is plaid and the pants are striped.  Besides those pants are too big.”  “I like these pants.”  “Mum, they are falling off!”  “I thought that was the style now days.”  “For teenage, rapper dudes, Mum, not women in their 70’s.” “Are you saying I’m too old to be trendy?”   “Fine, let’s just go to the store.”  I try hard not to notice the stares from people thinking I’m some kind of elder abuse offender.

We also speak different languages.  “I forgot my water in the bedroom” means “Please get my water from the bedroom.”  “I need to do laundry today” means “Please do my laundry today.”  I have learned to focus on keywords like a computer search engine . . . water bedroom . . . laundry today . . . then I’m able to extrapolate the most likely meaning.  It works most of the time.  Just like a search engine, sometimes I need more information.  “What are you doing?”  Now, that can mean “I’m bored” or “I’m hungry” or “I don’t feel well” or any number of other things.  What I finally figured out is she doesn’t want to know what I’m doing and more input is needed for proper translation.

I made the mistake of actually telling her what I was doing recently and that lead to the blog incident.  Now I know Mum thinks my writing is a huge waste of time.  This is nothing new.  It started when I was in grade school.  Back then it was . . . “What are you doing?”  “Writing a story.”  “Is it homework?” “No.”  “Is your homework done?” “Yes.” “Then go outside and play.”  I fully accepted long ago that she thinks anything is a better use of my talents than writing.  I don’t know why I thought the current event would be any different.

I was merrily doing my happy dance around the house earlier this month in celebration of a huge blog accomplishment.  I had written a post about a local celebrity . . . Phoenix Jones, the real life superhero.  Anyway, he and his wife saw it, liked it and posted a link on his Facebook page.  I mean how cool is that?  They liked it enough to share it with his fans at a time when the media spotlight had focused on him like a laser beam.  It was as good as being “Freshly Pressed.”  More people than I ever dreamed were reading my blog!

Enter Mum.  “What are you doing?”  In my excitement I forgot the training of a lifetime and told her about my blog (first time in four years).  “Can I read it?”  I should have known this was a trap, but I walked right into it.  “You wrote this?”  “I did.”  “I don’t get it.  Aren’t you supposed to be looking for work?” “Yes, Mum.  I’m doing that right now.”  Yeah, my feelings were hurt, but hey, what did I expect?  I know she loves me and wants what is best for me.  She’s 100% right.  What I need more than anything is a job.  The bottom line is that Mum and I are very different people.   It doesn’t diminish our love and caring for one another.  Mum’s from Venus and I’m from Alpha Centauri.

It’s almost over.  I should be sleeping in my own bed very soon.  My aching back!  The peddler of futon sleep preeminence swore the mattress he sold me – memory foam and all – was as good as any I have ever slept on.  May he writhe in a lumpy, back-breaking innerspring purgatory to atone for his transgressions against the spines of trusting customers like moi’.  In other words, he lied or mislead at the very least.  Curse him.  I just had to get that out of my system.  Anyway, Mum will be returning to her home in the next couple of weeks.  It’s a good thing for both of us.

That is the question.  You see, I don’t have a Facebook page.  Nope, not a one . . . no writer’s page, no personal page, no family page, no nothin’.  I’ll pause a moment here to let you get over the shock.

*Imagine a field of long grass rustling in the breeze and take a few deep breaths*

Okay, as I was saying . . . I don’t have a Facebook page.  There’s no simple reason why I never joined the Facebook revolution.  I suppose in the beginning, I didn’t enlist because it seemed like a kid’s pastime and to some extent it was.  That is after all how it got started and who’d have imagined a game of computer tag would somehow become the electronic blitzkrieg of the new millennium. 

The more time passed, the more excuses I had for not jumping on the band wagon.  I had my little blog and it seemed enough of a virtual life for me.  I didn’t have the time, didn’t know anyone there, didn’t understand how it worked and for sure, didn’t see the potential.  There are people out there that, frankly, I’d rather not know anything about my escapades.  You know the types . . . ex-husbands, old rivals, jilted lovers, guys that dumped me, my stalker from the 90’s, even the girl I went to summer camp with in junior high school and most especially my family.  Besides, does anybody really want to know that I shaved my legs today or that the dog gacked on the new rug?  Oh yeah, my life’s just one big adventure.    

Then there’s the “friending” and “unfriending” dilemma.  I hate rejection and tend to be uncomfortable rebuffing others.  How is that going to work for me?  Or worse yet, what if I did have a page and nobody “liked” me?  The thought of being discarded by the electronic hordes is crushing.  I’ve never been very good at working popularity contests and let’s face it there is that element to the endeavor.  I would, at this point, be just another Johnny Come-Lately to a party that has grown so large as to dwarf even the most high profile attendees.  Do I really need another ego delimiter in my life, especially right now?

I will confess that last night I stuck a toe into the Facebook ocean.  I have gone far enough in the registration process to have received an e-mail from the “Facebook Team” with a link and confirmation code necessary to seal-the-deal.  I’m curious, what is the “Facebook Team” and does anybody believe anything but a computer program is responsible for this correspondence?  It informs me that I too will be able to “communicate and stay in touch with all of my(sic) friends” as well as “share photos, plan events, and more.”  I’d like to sign up for the “more” please, like maybe a little fame and fortune, mostly the fortune. Anyway, I’m one of those people that have to ease themselves into the cold water slowly and clicking on that link feels like plunging in to me. 

So I’m right back where I started.  Am I missing an opportunity to get more exposure for my writing by not participating?  Am I just a big chicken or getting too old to try something new?  Or is it just one more thing that takes time away from my already overwhelming life and actually writing?  How long is that link and code good for?  I guess the only real question still is . . . To Facebook or not to Facebook?

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