BLOGGING – IT’S WHAT I DO

MARATHON | THE DAILY POST

SERENDIPITY will be five years old in a few weeks. Ready to start kindergarten. How quickly they grow from infants to sturdy little children with their own lives.

On one level, it feels like I just started doing this. This site is ever-evolving. It wanders in directions I never expected. Since I don’t really plan, most of my best stuff just happened because it happened. I hadn’t given it much thought. Not always true, of course. I do plan some posts, but most — often the best of the bunch — just fall out of my fingers into the keyboard. Voila! A post happened.

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On the other hand, it also feels like I’ve been doing this forever. SERENDIPITY is the last thing I check at night before I go to sleep and the first thing I do in the morning when I settle down with my coffee.

I sit with my muffin or biscuits and my big cup of coffee … and SERENDIPITY is up. For the next few hours, I will write, read, edit, and ponder. I almost didn’t bother with this prompt because I couldn’t think of anything to say. Until I realized blogging itself has become my version of a marathon. It’s an endless marathon that doesn’t finish after 26 miles. It goes on and on and on as long as I and my co-conspirators have the will and interest to keep plugging away at it.

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Blogging isn’t a hobby. Writing for me isn’t a hobby. More like something I’m compelled to do.  Writing is who I am as well as what I do, whether it’s a few lines of text surrounding a photograph, or a long, researched piece about something I feel is important. i can’t just “toss something off” without at least believing it’s well-written, has a beginning, middle, and end which tie together. The typos are in there just to keep you on your toes — well, not really, but I’m a terrible proofreader.

There are days when I don’t want to do it. Then, I think, about it. I realize … this is what I do. If I don’t do this thing, with what will I occupy myself? Shall I take pictures no one will ever see? Write long emails to friends too busy to read them? Write another book (Ganeesh spare me that agony … once was enough).

So everyday except when I am traveling en route to somewhere else or too sick to do anything, I write. A little bit, or a little more, and rarely, a lot. This is who I am, and this is what I do.

I will keep doing it until I hear the cows mooing at the barn under the glow of a blue moon. Probably because … it’s just me.

YESTERDAY IS ANOTHER COUNTRY – GARRY ARMSTRONG

“Yesterday is another country, all borders are closed.”

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It was a wonderful piece of dialogue from “MidSomer Murders.” In the episode, Chief Inspector Barnaby is questioning a murder suspect about his whereabouts the previous day. The suspect tries to dodge the questions with thinly veiled irony. “Yesterday, Chief Inspector, is another country. All borders are closed.” Barnaby ultimately opens the borders and nails the suspect. Still, I liked the perp’s style.

As we begin the new year, many folks around the world are thinking about the events of the past 12 months. Here, in the United States, many of us think of 2016 as another country with all borders closed. We don’t want to recall the epic long Presidential campaign and its result. We’ll have to open those borders in less than three weeks with the swearing-in of the new President.

Reality bites and this time, it has fangs and claws.

Our yesterdays are always subject to border closings, depending on how we remember them. I often write about legendary people I’ve met in my professional life. Those are pleasant stories to recount.

There are parts of my past I choose not to share. Those borders have remained closed. Rich Paschall, a fellow blogger on Serendipity, wrote a touching piece about heroes and icons we lost last year.  It jogged my mind to return to this piece that I began writing last week. Thanks, Rich!

A lot of the borders to yesterday are closed because we don’t want to revive the memories. I certainly don’t. They aren’t happy memories. They make me sad. I’ve never been good at handling emotions.

Someone recently wrote a Facebook piece about the pain of seeing a loved one pass away, deep in dementia.  Quickly,  I tried to blot out the images of Mom, whose last years were diminished by dementia. No luck. I could clearly see the woman who used to be Mom.  Strike that.  That’s what I was thinking in the moment, especially during the final months of her life. She was still Mom but she didn’t know me.

I struggled during those final visits. In  part, I struggled because I felt guilty I couldn’t come to see Mom more often. It was a four (or more) hour drive from Massachusetts to Long Island. During the drives, my mind would fill with images of a younger Mom. I could hear her laugh and see her smile. I remembered the things we did together over the years. In my mind, I saw her wedding pictures — Mom and Dad in the prime of their lives.

By then, Dad had already been gone for five years, yet I hadn’t been able to cry for him. Now Mom was slipping away. In what turned out to be my last visit, I tried my best to reach through the dementia, to reclaim a few moments with Mom.  I failed. A few weeks later, in the middle of sub teaching a high school class, the principal and Marilyn entered the classroom. I instantly knew Mom was gone.

I was the main eulogist at Mom’s funeral. I’m a wordsmith. I could see people crying and smiling as I recalled my mother’s life. My stomach was tight, but I couldn’t cry. Not a tear.

I’ve talked to Marilyn about the grieving process. She understands, but it still troubles me. I’m such a sucker for sentimental old movies, but real life is something else, something I didn’t want to share.

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I’ve tried to shoebox the frailty of life. Keep the anxiety behind one of those closed borders. Marilyn will be 70 in March. I’ll be 75 in April. We have lots of health issues.

We try to enjoy each other and our life together. We feed off each other. Today, the borders are open.

FACEBOOK REVISITED by ELLIN CURLEY

I wrote a blog a few months ago when I first started using Facebook. I wrote about how disappointed I was because I didn’t feel as ‘connected’ after joining Facebook as I had hoped.

I realize now that my problem was that I didn’t really understand Facebook and had unrealistic expectations. My friends had told me that they felt much more connected and less isolated on Facebook. I assumed they were talking about emotional connection. So I naïvely expected to become more involved with my Facebook friends lives. To me, that meant regular comments, back and forth about our families, careers or hobbies, etc. I envisioned something more like texting, but with a wider range of people. I said I was naïve.

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That’s how it may work for some people, millennials in particular. But my ‘friends’ are mostly in the Baby Boomer demographic. Some people post vacation photos or the odd family photo or announcement. Some even post about a particularly memorable meal. I see some cat and dog videos and photos and many wonderful humor posts. But mostly I get articles. And most of these are ‘political’ news items.

I’ve now developed a more realistic relationship with Facebook. I read it to find articles I wouldn’t have otherwise come across. I truly appreciate that. I also enjoy the comments my ‘friends’ make about the pieces, although I don’t usually read through the endless comments and rants written by strangers.

I particularly like the Facebook feature that tells me when someone has liked, commented on or shared an article that I have shared or posted. It is very gratifying to get a ‘like’ or a ‘share’ from someone. It’s like having a conversation about the piece and agreeing (or respectfully disagreeing) in that wonderfully bonding way. That actually does make me feel ‘connected’ on an intellectual level.

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One of the major criticisms of Facebook is that you only talk to like-minded people. For me, that’s a plus. I read actual newspapers so I’m exposed to plenty of opposing views. I don’t need Facebook for that. But for those who rely solely on Facebook news, the lack of divergent views and ‘facts’ is a serious problem. On the other hand, I don’t understand why anyone would use Facebook as their primary news source. It’s content is fairly random and it is not designed to be comprehensive or unbiased, like a newspaper.

Now that I understand Facebook’s limitations and have adjusted my expectations, I am a big Facebook fan. I have interesting and intelligent Facebook ‘friends’. So I get to see a lot of fun, interesting, funny and informative things that I otherwise would have missed. I also get to share things that I find interesting – mostly articles from reputable news sources and funny videos and photos. And I get to learn about other people’s pet issues, just as they get to learn about mine.

I’m not really more involved in anyone’s life, but I am sharing mutually enjoyable content. It’s not what I went in hoping for. But Facebook has added an unexpected dimension to my life. For that I say, “Thank you, Facebook!”

JANUARY IS THE STRANGEST MONTH – 4 YEARS IN PICTURES

At least in New England, January has the most unpredictable weather patterns of the year. In theory, it’s the deepest of the deep winter months. This is when the icy grip of Jack Frost has his fingers around our collective heart … except … when he doesn’t. Because there’s this thing we call “The January Thaw” when it gets springtime warm, often just after we get a foot or more of snow.

I started SERENDIPITY in February 2012, so my first January was 2013.

JANUARY 2013

Sometimes, January is a month of blizzards. Others, it’s dry. Sunny. Maybe cold, maybe not.

JANUARY 2014

Last January, we were in Arizona … which has got to be the nicest weather they get all year, or at least it feels that way to we who come from more northern climes.

JANUARY 2015

JANUARY 2016


And although the month is just halfway done …

JANUARY 2017