Tuesday, May 30, 2006

And the winner is. . .

It's June 1st on the East Coast, so I'm going to go ahead and reveal my Perfect Post Award. I'm on my own tomorrow morning and I don't want to forget to post this amidst the chaos of getting the spudlet up and ready for school. So, here you go, my very first Perfect Post.

A Perfect Post

Lucinda of Suburban Turmoil and MommaK of Petroville have started the Perfect Post awards. This is a monthly opportunity to give a shout out to your favorite bloggers. So, today, I would like to give Cyn over at The Cynical Kitchen my May 2006 Perfect Post Award for "What They Really Meant to Say Was..." about the angst of getting published.

She is funny, poignant, down-to-earth and descriptive. She is a writer. I first "met" her when Mel at Actual Unretouched Photo linked to a post titled "It Could Be Worse." If you are, or ever have been, a mother of preschoolers, you must read this. Now.

From her Hump Day Haikus to her posts on the challenges of raising children, I think you will agree that she is a must read. Oh, and don't forget to check out her hysterical description of life as a coffee shop owner, "How I Got This Way."

I hope you enjoy her as much as I do.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Happening-truth versus Story-truth (Version 2.0)

Note: I have updated this post since yesterday. I didn't like the last sentence, and, like a true "talker," I added a new paragraph in it's place.

In my Booking Through Thursday post, I mentioned something that Tim O'Brien talks about in his book, The Things They Carried, and how it deals with what is true. I said that I thought the critics of James Frey should take a look at what Mr. O'Brien has to say. Well, the subject of telling the truth in writing has come up a couple of more times in unrelated places so I thought I would let you know exactly what he said.

The Things They Carried is a study of young men fighting in the Vietnam War. I can't do justice to describing it more than that, but in the book, O'Brien introduces us to many of his fellow soldiers and himself through multiple vignettes. More than two-thirds of the way through the story, O'Brien confesses:
It's time to be blunt.

I'm forty-three years old, true, and I'm a writer now, and a long time ago I walked through Quang Ngai Province as a foot soldier.

Almost everything else is invented.

But it's not a game. It's a form. Right here, now, as I invent myself, I'm thinking of all I want to tell you about why this book is written as it is. For instance, I want to tell you this: twenty years ago I watched a man die on a trail near the village of My Khe. I did not kill him. But I was present you see, and my presence was guilt enough. I remember his face, which was not a pretty face, because his jaw was in his throat, and I remember feeling the burden of responsibility and grief. I blamed myself. And rightly so, because I was present.

But listen. Even that story is made up.

I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.

Here is the happening-truth. I was once a soldier. There were many bodies, real bodies with real faces, but I was young then and I was afraid to look. And now, twenty years later, I'm left with faceless responsibility and faceless grief.

Here is the story-truth. He was a slim, , almost dainty young man of about twenty. He lay in the center of a red clay trail near the village of My Khe. His jaw was in his throat. His one eye was shut, the other eye was a star-shaped hole. I killed him.

What stories can do, I guess, is make things present.

I can look at things I never looked at. I can attach faces to grief and love and pity and God. I can be brave. I can make myself feel again.

"Daddy, tell the truth," Kathleen can say, "did you ever kill anybody?" And I can say, honestly, "Of course not."

Or I can say, honestly, "Yes."
I was really wowed by this intrusion into the book's narrative. I had already read A Million Little Pieces a couple of months before. Reading The Things They Carried helped me deal with the fact or fiction controversy surrounding James Frey's novel. Although I wish Frey's book, like O'Brien's had been classified as fiction, I can still appreciate its story-truth.

Beyond that, though, these words have just stuck in my consciousness. I think about the power of writing to help you feel something. And I guess by "you," I mean the writer or the reader. Writing his stories helped O'Brien deal with his war experiences. Reading his stories helped me feel closer to my uncle who died a couple of years ago. He was 18 or 19 when he was in Vietnam. It changed his life absolutely. I feel as if I know something of my uncle's experiences now.

Why share this? I don't know. I've come across a blogger or two who seem to be struggling who how transparent they can be in their posts. It is a forum pretty much anyone can access. If they tell private details of their lives they risk offending involved parties. They also invite unwelcome comments and criticism from those referred to as "trolls." I wonder if there isn't a way to incorporate O'Brien's thoughts on story-truth and happening-truth in the blogosphere. I know for myself, if I could take some of my happening-truth and craft it into a story, it might be cathartic for me. Something to think about.

Friday, May 26, 2006

What are the last five books I finished reading?

Booking Through Thursday
  1. What are the last five books that you finished reading? These are five books I remember finishing. They might be the last five. I'm really not sure.
    • A Million Little Pieces/My Friend Leonard by James Frey (3 1/2 stars)
    • God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie Debartolo (1 star)
    • The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien (5 stars)
    • Guys Write for Guys Read edited by Jon Scieszka (5 stars)
    • The Girls by Lori Lansens (4 stars)

  2. How long did it take you to read them? Sigh! If you read my profile, you will see that I'm really a hit and miss reader. I might read eight books in seven days or not read anything for months. I read A Million Little Pieces/My Friend Leonard (I'm counting them as one because it really is one long story) in November. I went through them very quickly, a few days each. For God-Shaped Hole, it was between Christmas and New Year's. That went quickly, also. In fact, the next two books did, too. The last one, The Girls, has taken about three weeks. I have been very busy and migraine-y but I just finished it an hour ago! So, apparently it took me seven months to complete five books. Now, I have started at least three books in-between but they are lying around unfinished for now. The pace has picked up since I've been cruising the blog world. There are so many good recommendations out there. It is making me book hungry.

  3. Did you enjoy reading these books? Why or why not? I enjoyed all of them except for God-Shaped Hole. Blech! One of the reviews on the cover says it is 'This generation's Love Story.' I should have paid more attention to that review. Have you seen Love Story? For all it's popularity at the time, it sucks. The best thing about this book was that two of the characters are writers/journalers. It inspired me to renew my writing, hence I now have three blogs. Count 'em, one, two, three.

    I was disappointed after reading the Frey when the controversy erupted. I don't think he needed to be drawn and quartered but I remember thinking as I was reading 'Million,' "I wonder who is in charge of fact checking for something like this?" I guess the answer is, "No one." Having said that, it is a very powerful book. I might be a little biased because I've watched people with addictions screw up their lives. I would absolutely recommend it to someone.
The Things They Carried is so great. It has an emotional tie-in for me because my late uncle, who was a vet recommended it to me before he died. But the writing is excellent, the approach is great. And, interestingly enough, O'Brien has a lot to say about the difference between what really happened and what is true. I think it would be good for some of the Frey critics to read.

Guys Write for Guys Read is a collection of essays/drawings by male authors. It is part of a non-profit organization to get boys reading. The link is in my sidebar. Well, it is just so much fun and so insightful. Anyone could and should read it!

The Girls is good but I'm still digesting it and don't know how to express what I feel. It is about a set of conjoined twins in Canada (fiction.) Very interesting. Melancholy. Like I said, I need to sit with it longer before I can really discuss it.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

a jar of clay

a jar of clay, I am
cracked, through and through,
but not falling apart

a jar of clay, I am
held together by a Light from within
by a Paradox which altogether breaks and binds me
the Light meant to be housed inside me but
created to be seen by others
only by holding my form around this
Treasure can I be who I am meant to be. . .
a Testimony

a jar of clay, I am
a mystery to the other jars around me
from the outside they seem. . .
whole, flawless, perfect
but the Treasure cannot abide in a jar
unwilling to be broken

by Mary
April 2002

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

While Mommy is blogging, the child is. . .

. . .putting foam stickers all over her legs.

Well, it kept her busy for a few minutes while I was working on the next masterpiece for this blog. I can be grateful that no permanent ink was used, no liquids were poured unnecessarily from one container to another, she didn't decide to create in the kitchen, she didn't take off for the neighbor's without telling me, she didn't use my checkbook for a scratch pad, etc.

And yes, all of those things have happened before.

My Journey in the Blogosphere

The Long and Winding Road into the Blogosphere.
Do you see it? Just around the bend?

It wasn't too long into my blogging journey that I realized a few things. Here are some of my realizations:

On frequency:
I want to blog when I have something to say. HOWEVER, I expect the blogs I read to be updated DAILY with humorous, heartfelt, thought provoking posts. Helloooooo, I'’m waiting! Our PC is located in the living area and I will check on my blogs frequently throughout the day, hoping against hope there is a new post up. Now, though, I have Bloglines. All my blogs are listed and I can go to one site and see which ones have new posts. I still have to check on some by myself if I am watching the comments.

On insecurities:
I am a strong, secure woman. I am comfortable in my own skin (mostly) BUT because comments are the blog equivalent of a conversation, I find myself facing a few insecurities: "Why isn'’t anybody '‘talking'’ to me?"” "“Do you love me? Do you really love me?" I thought I left that kind of thing behind in high school, er, I mean college, um, well for sure by my 30's.

On the rules:
There is such a thing as blog etiquette but I don't really know what it is. I think, on the kinds of blogs I peruse, if you can't say something nice, don'’t say anything at all seems suitable. If you are mean, you will be reprimanded. Severely. I did find a "Blog Disclaimer" which you can find here: Wow. That is a lot to be thinking about as you participate in the blogging community. For the most part, my hope is that kindergarten sand box rules will suffice.

On my posting personality:
As I look back over my posts, I realize. . .
  • I love to use ellipses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  • I tend to put a "warning" in the title of or beginning of a post. I want people to be prepared if they are expecting, say, something funny and I've written about the situation in Uganda. So, if you see a warning, it is not because I feel apologetic for what I'm writing but I don't want anyone to waste their time on a post dedicated to poop, for example, if they aren't interested in poop.
  • I like to use the word "really" with a question mark and italicized to make a point. (Ex: So and so said the sky wasn't blue but green. Really?) I think I see it as a way to let people know, with one word, that I think something is stupid or wrong or whatever. If it is used sparingly, it probably works. If it is used too much, I probably just seem like a big donkey.
  • I prefer to post with a picture. I think it is because I'm a visual learner. It is fun to look for a picture to go with a post.
On blog identity:
I don't want to be a mommy blogger. Don't get me wrong. I love the mommy bloggers. I have quite a few bookmarked and bloglined. It is all part of a bigger "Mary" issue. I just don't like to be labeled. Feminist. Stay at home mom. Mommy blogger. Instead of rebel without a cause, I guess you can just call me rebel without a label. Unless, of course, it is a label I take on for myself: Christian, ENFP, bookworm. If I feel that I am being labeled, it makes me want to scream out, "But that's not all I am!" This falls squarely into the realm of my problem, so I hope I haven't offended anyone, because I am a feminist, a stay at home mom, a mommy blogger. Whew. I said it and the sky didn't fall in.

On blog accuracy:
I can't proofread my own work. My brain works in strange and mysterious ways and if I think I typed something a certain way, that is the way my brain interprets it visually--until I hit the publish post button. At that point, I will see an error, go back in to edit post and correct it. I'll hit publish post again. Shoot. There's another error. I will do this countless times before I am satisfied. So, forgive me if you have Bloglines or some other web update service that lets you know each time I post.

Well, that's all ffffffolks. For now. I'm sure I'll be making more corrections to this post a few times before all is said and done!

9:20 pm 05/23/06: first corrections made. One change of phrase, two typos.

9:42 am 05/24/06: second correction made. Italicized short phrase to clarify emphasis.

9:59 am 05/24/06: fiddled with the post again. Added long, winding road picture and added bullet point to posting personality section -- about liking photos in my posts!

5:18 pm 09/27/06: deleted changes to font color because of my new blog design.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Booking through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday

This week's questions were suggested by Cate.

Have you ever stumbled on a reading and found the author so charming you started reading their books? Or, have you ever met a formerly favorite author and stopped reading their works because of how they treated their fans?
Charming, huh? To be honest, I can't think of an author I started reading because I found the author charming. Hmmmm. . . I also can't think of an author whose works I stopped reading because of how they treated their fans.

I can think of two authors who I admire beyond their works. Two authors who, because of who their character and passions, I read most of their work, any interview I can find, and have even written to each of them (and received replies -- thank you both!) Those two authors are Madeleine L'Engle and Andrew Vachss. If you know both of these authors, you know that they couldn't be more different in what they write and who they are; however, they are both passionate and committed people.

Madeleine L'Engle is impassioned about being a writer and her faith. She writes eloquently about both. I've always enjoyed her Wrinkle in Time series but when I read Walking on Water it sent me on a reading binge which included The Crosswicks Journals. (Two titles from that series, A Circle of Quiet and Two Part Invention are so amazing, I can't even say how exquisite those two books are.)

Andrew Vachss is a fierce child advocate. His Burke novels are harsh. Dark beyond dark. Nevertheless, there is a redeeming quality to them in how he writes about Burke and his "family." His chosen family. The books invariably deal with child abuse so be forewarned. Take heart though, the abusers usually pay. Dearly. In life, Vachss pursues justice for children with all of his heart, soul and strength. When I read an interview with him, I get all fired up and want to lead the charge against the abusers. And. . . he loves dogs. The coolest, best dogs. Shepherds, Mastiffs, mutts.

So, I read their writing before I "met" them but my admiration goes beyond their works in print to their life's work.

Monday, May 15, 2006

None of the answers to the following questions are 42!

The computer, Deep Thought, designed to find the answer to the question of
life, the universe and everything.

Well, Julia tagged Michelle and Michelle tagged me. Here's the game. Michelle asked me five quesitons which I answered at her blog and will also post here. If you want me to come up with five questions, tailor made for you, just ask!

1. Is it more essential to develop beliefs or gain knowledge?

I don’t think you can really do one without the other. To a degree I believe they are both essential. I think the pursuit of knowledge alone is dangerous and fruitless. If you develop your beliefs, your knowledge will grow. They follow one after the other.

2. Which vice would you like to indulge in if it carried no risk?

Drunkenness. I’ve only had maybe a dozen alcoholic beverages in my life. I don’t like the taste and I’m too afraid of losing control to ever “really” drink even if it were the most delicious substance on earth. That said, there are times when things have been a little too much and I’ve thought, “Right now, I could really use a drink.”

3. Is there only one soul mate for each person?

No. For all the stories of Romeo and Juliet, Lancelot and Guinevere, and yes, even the true love story of Davy and Sheldon Van Auken from A Severe Mercy, my absolute favorite, I just don’t believe it. I believe in chemistry between two people, compatibility between two people, history between two people. I believe these things can be strong enough sometimes to create the illusion of “the one person” for you, but again, I say, “No.” (It should be noted, for my husband’s sake, that I’ve had this opinion since 7th grade. Scouts honor! And yes, I was probably a little bit of a weirdo in junior high.)

4. Who are your role models?

As a woman, I'd have to say the BFFs! The most amazing women of God, women of honor, character, integrity who’ve been there for me in difficult times and who, as I’ve seen them go through difficult times, provide a most excellent example of submitting to the Lord for me to follow. There are other people I admire writers, historical figures, etc., but the BFFs are my real life, flesh and blood role models.

5. Would you rather be smart, athletic or good-looking?

Smart. Why change what’s been working all these years! (Cheese!)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Serious Things Versus Playtime

Note: Today's post is submitted by my husband, Paul. He's a man of few words and if he is bothering to write something, it is probably worth reading. Take it away, Paul.

Serious things...

Sometime late in 1993 Mary and I went to see Schindler's List and I think it took until 2004 before I could muster the emotional courage to go face another heavy movie (Passion of the Christ). By that time I had also decided that I prefer to slip into and out of such movies alone because my inner introvert wants to think about serious matters, but not have to articulate coherent words about them with other people.

So, once I heard that United 93 was at least a well done film, my inner debate team had to go to work with one side not wanting to re-live 9/11, and the other side not wanting to let the passage of time screw with the truth of what happened. What I found after I made the right decision was a powerful movie experience like no other, and particularly refreshing for lots of reasons including a few here:
  • No previews.
  • No actors I've ever heard of.
  • The air traffic bits were pretty cool, some of the actual air traffic controllers played themselves.
  • Evil people portrayed correctly as evil.
  • Americans portrayed correctly identifying evil and bravely standing up to it.
  • Americans portrayed correctly risking and sacrificing their lives for the sake of others.
  • No excuses made for the evildoers.
  • Bravery and political incorrectness on the part of the filmmakers by actually showing the Islamic part of the equation.
  • Most importantly, it's just a straight telling of an amazing story.

In most areas of our lives we need reminded of the basics occasionally and, by just showing it straight, this movie very effectively pushes the reset button on almost 5 years of noise that's followed 9/11. Even though movies are usually an escape from reality, this one actually rescues a slice of reality from the muck.

So this isn't supposed to be a movie review, just some venting and a bit of encouragement to go support a great film. While you are at it, take the teenagers who might have been too young to understand at the time, and have yourself a muck-ectomy.


Mission Impossible 3 is pretty good, you can go see it if you want.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Inexplicably? Really?

Warning: pop culture post of very little importance follows:

Okay, I'm not one to post about the entertainment industry and its icons. This isn't because I don't pay at least some attention to all that. In fact, I pay more attention than I care to admit. Let's just say I check out the entertainment links on Yahoo and leave it at that.

However, there is a story on said Yahoo entertainment news that leaves me a little perplexed. Apparently Paris Hilton has a video game coming out and was at some game conference this week to promote it. The perplexing part is the following:
Paris Hilton unveiled her new video game on Thursday, but inexplicably called it by the wrong name as she greeted throngs of fans and photographers.
Inexplicably? The Dictionary.com definition of inexplicably is: Difficult or impossible to explain or account for.

What universe is that reporter living in? The ubiquitous Miss Hilton's entire image is almost entirely based on her being a vacuous blonde heiress too wrapped up in her own self to pay attention to anyone or anything else. Wouldn't it have been a better use of the word if she had called it by the correct name and the line had then read:
Paris Hilton unveiled her new video game on Thursday, but inexplicably called it by the right name as she greeted throngs of fans and photographers.
Don't you think? I don't write this as a put-down of Paris Hilton. You can't believe everything you read or see portrayed about somebody. It may all be an act put on deliberately for some reason. The video game may have been called "Diamondquest" the entire time and the name changed at the last minute. Who knows? I just think that it is so weird that a reporter would choose that word to describe that faux pas.

Call me crazy but I think that is inexplicable.

Note: Dictionary.com was used to look up three words for this post. I'm a little worried. They were all words I used to spell without thinking. My brain is shriveling. Help me!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A lazy post

I call this "a lazy post" because I think it is funny but it isn't my own. Also, beware fellow bloggers. I think it is very important that we, at all times, are able to poke fun at ourselves. No offense intended. So, with that said, here goes:

From the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy soundtrack, the transcript which follows should be read with your best fake English accent. (Except for you Glyn, your real English accent will suffice.)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Blogging

Blogging: Blogging is the act of regularly updating your web site with some humdrum information about your life or a link to something you just read on the Internet in the mistaken belief that anyone actually cares. It is the 21st century equivalent of hanging around railway stations writing pithy but erudite descriptions of the passing trains.

To take part in blogging or, to use the appropriate terminology, to join the blogosphere there are a couple of things you need to do. Firstly, you will need to increase the size of your ego. Without a swollen ego, you simply cannot achieve the levels of solipsism required by a modern blog. This necessary step is often missed by new bloggers, but without it you won’t believe that anyone is remotely interested in what you have had for lunch today, how cute your cat Mittens is, or whether or not you designed some tedious Internet protocol.

In fact, blogging without an oversized ego can actually be dangerous. If you start using words like blogosphere, there is a very real possibility that your own major intestine will leap straight up through your neck and throttle your brain in an attempt to preserve civilization.

Fortunately, there are various forms of medication to increase the size of your ego, many offering a money-back guarantee that you’ll be at least twice as obnoxious in four weeks or less. Until you are sufficiently obnoxious, you might feel the need to explain, or at the very least describe the very things you link to. Experienced bloggers know that they are so important that readers will blindly follow their links. After all a few seconds of one blogger’s time are clearly more valuable than all the time spent by people discovering they really didn’t care.

The other thing you should do to become a successful blogger is change your web site to use dotted lines and unreadable tiny fonts, wherever possible.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Word Cloud

How cool is this? It is from a company called SnapShirts and yes, you can give them your web address and the name of your site and they will generate a word cloud specific to the words used on your blog. You can customize it to a certain extent. After you finish, they give you the option of having the image emailed to you. So much fun.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Booking Through Thursday, Round Robin Style, Part II

Booking through Thursday

Okay... Laura said that we would keep this running for a couple of weeks since she is dealing with some issues. There have been about 10 hits so far and I'm in the mood to play again. New week, new turn I figure.

The last to play was naridu. She went from Redwall by Jacques to Josephine the Singer by Kafka. Her post about it is excellent and "check" there goes another book for my exponentially increasing book list.

So, Josephine the Singer is by Kafka. Kafka reminds me of my Development of the Novel in the 20th Century class and my Modern Novel class. I had them both the same semester. In addition to reading Kafka, we also read Thomas Mann. So, my pick for this round is Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. From the Amazon.com description:

First published in 1929, Mann's novel tells the story of Hans Castorp, a modern everyman who spends seven years in an Alpine sanatorium for tuberculosis patients, finally leaving to become a soldier in World War I. Isolated from the concerns of the everyday world, he is exposed to the wide range of ideas that shaped a world on the verge of explosion.
I only got about 3/4 of the way through the book but I did really enjoy what I read. I have, many, many years later, vivid images of Hans and the others at the sanitorium. I don't want tuburculosis but I'd love a few weeks up in the Alps!


Everyone Poops

(Note: I just finished posting this over at the famly blog but decided to cheat and post it here, too. Context: For my daughter's birthday we gave her two guinea pigs.)

There is a book called Everyone Poops. It is one of those cute but gross kid books. I worked with a youth minister once who received a lot of flak for reading it to a bunch of highschoolers. A-n-y-w-a-y, as I was scooping out the Guinea Pig Condo this morning I remembered that book and I had my first serious thought of "What have I done?"

Don't get me wrong. I think these two piggies are about the cutest piggies ever. However, I'm experiencing a little mommy PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as I'm cleaning up all the little pooplets.

My first in-depth experience wasn't actually with my kid babies but my dog baby, Bob. With a puppy, a lot of your energy is invested in their excrement:
  • Where is the poop?
  • I've got to pick up the poop.
  • Why are there red plastic chunks in the poop?
  • Yikes, is that a worm in the poop?
  • I want my husband to pick up my dog's poop.
After four years of Bob poop, I added kid poop to my repertoire. Fortunately, I never had to ask where my kid's poop was. Wait. That isn't true. Marley was a tub pooper. Shudder. So, except for the tub poop potential, I didn't have to ask where the poop was. Diaper. Toilet. Easy. And, really, if I had ever had to ask why there were red plastic chunks in their poop, well, straightjacket and a padded room, I think.

With kids, though, it tends to be more of a frequency issue in the beginning followed by the inevitable effort to encourage the transition from diaper to toilet. Sometimes, in the effort to make that transition, you develop "issues." My daughter had one of these issues. Constipation. Let's just say there were many tearful times holding her and telling her, "You can do it, honey. You can do it."

Voila! The years passed and I was done with poop. The kids take care of it all of their own and the dog--may he rest in peace--is cavorting around doggy heaven. Enter the piggies. O-m-i-g-o-s-h! Pooplets to the left of me. Pooplets to the right of me. They're little. Okay. That's good. But I've gone and done it. I've let myself in for 5 - 8 years (average guinea pig life span) of this.

"You can do it, honey. You can do it."

P.S. I like to embellish my posts with pictures. In the name of not pushing a poop post over the edge of decency, I've elected to go without a photo today.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Me, myself and I

Update: Since I wrote this post, I have become more accustomed to talking about myself. Very accustomed. Just thought I'd let you know that.

Fellow bloggers, a confession needs to be made . . . Self-consciousness exists on the part of this writer when talking about herself on this blog. Having had recent experiences dealing with the impact of narcissism on a group of people, hypersensitivity occurs when writing about oneself in a post.

Okay. That is hard. To write just a few sentences without using the words, me, myself or I (and I still had to refer to "herself," "this writer," and "oneself.) I really am very aware of talking too much about myself on this blog. I don't want everything to be about me, me, me. Aren't I wonderful. Aren't I funny. My other blogs are specifically very personal, talking about my immediate family or the family that I've lost. Here, though, it seems somehow wrong to talk about Mary.

I just need to get over that. Blogs, by their nature, are first person reference vehicles. I'm not a narcissist. (Honestly, I'm really not.) I don't need to be concerned that someone reading this is going to think that. Even if they do, so what? One of the advantages of a blog is you don't have to be face to face with someone who doesn't like you. If you get a nasty comment, delete. That simple. No one has to read it if he/she doesn't want to read it, for pity's sake!

And, blogs, in this crazy, over scheduled, hard-to-connect-with-others world, are places to be yourself. It is one way to be known, understood and loved. Now, as long as it isn't a one way street and you are making an effort to know, understand and love, it's all good, right? Today, I talk about ME, unreservedly, unabashedly and unashamedly, because it doesn't feel right but I think it is okay.

So, here goes, a little about ME:

I am an ENFP. For the uninitiated, that is a "temperament type" from the Myers-Briggs Temperament Inventory. I love all things MBTI. I was introduced to it years ago and being familiar with it has been very helpful to me in many, many ways. Mostly, though, it is just fun. If you want to know more, there are tons and tons of websites. One good one is Keirsey.com. I won't attempt to give you the by-the-book explanation of what it means to be an ENFP. The website can do that better, but I will use the basic structure to put together a little picture of Mary for you.

More people = good. That translates into me having a tendency to invite too many people to things. My friend Carol could tell you about her first time coming over to my house. Having been invited over for lunch after church, shy Carol was surprised to find 20 some-odd people all joining us for spaghetti. Really, it was at least 20 people. To increase her discomfort level, we ended up asking her husband to go pick up someone for us. My husband hadn't met her yet and actually walked up to her, sitting all alone on the couch, and asked her who she was.

I ended up inviting 100 people to my daughter's first birthday party because I couldn't leave out anyone. Thanks be to the Lord for my friend, Michelle. She catered for me! Carnitas, rice, beans, jell-O jigglers. Don't ever, ever ask me to help you reduce the size of an invitations list. It won't turn out well.

I know things. I just do. I'm not talking scary psychic stuff. I just pick up stuff, from reading, TV, the computer, whatever. It creates a kind of a "big picture" type of thing that I might not be aware of until I need to use it. PERSPECTIVE. I whip it out at, usually, appropriate times. Somewhere I heard the analogy that an iNtuitive might see a duck and hear it quack, but something, deep inside might tell her, "It's not a duck. I know it." Likely as not, she is right.

If I am really "into" something, like the MBTI, I immerse myself in it. I can understand it deeply but can't necessarily explain it to someone else. I liken it to someone who is fluent in a second language trying to explain something to someone who knows her native language. Somehow, she can't flip back the switch to the native language and just keeps trying to explain things in the second language. As I've aged though, (like a good cheese) I have made good friends with my sensible side. Just the facts, ma'am. A decent balance of what my eyes see and what my intuition "tells" me.

This is a little bit of a tough one to explain because it isn't about having feelings. It means I tend to take how other people will feel about things into consideration when I make a decision. A thinker might make the "right" decision using troublesome things like principles and facts. I want to do that, but it doesn't really work out that way. Personal issues, extenuating circumstances, the impact on the people involved all factor into my decision making process. Of course, sometimes, for more personal decisions, I just take what I feel like doing and try to find every imaginable justification to make that the "right" decision. Cuz that's what I want.

I guess you could say I "perceive" time in my own special way. I prefer the generalities of time, not the specifics. When my son started kindergarten, I thought it would kill me. For the first five years of his life, he went to bed anywhere from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Whatever worked on that particular day. He slept in until 7:30ish in the morning. (See, that "ish" right there. There's a lot of ish in Mary time.) Adjusting to putting him to bed at 7:30 e-v-e-r-y night. Torture.

Also, I reserve the right to change my mind up until the last possible moment. Until something happens, it isn't a done deal. Try being a consistent parent with that personality trait. I can't even remember half the consequences I give the kiddos. I can't keep a schedule straight. I have double booked more hours of time than I care to admit. Welcome to Mary's La La Land.

With too much structure I feel confined, claustrophobic, emotionally cramped. I get y. I cry. Oh, poor me. It really is pathetic. Of all my temperament characteristics, this one is my strongest. My whole family is perceivers, Paul, Colin, myself. Well, I guess the jury is still out on Marley. She's a little young to tell. Anyway, we don't get a lot accomplished. We go so far with the flow, we end up nowhere. It can be quite comical at times.

Thus endeth the Mary post. A little picture of ME.

Note: The word "I" was used over 40 times in this post. This does not include use of words "me" and "myself."

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. —Henry David Thoreau