Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I Think, Therefore I Am... a Thinking Blogger

Several years ago I bought a book of essays on parenting titled Mothers Who Think. I was first drawn to it because Anne Lamott contributed both the foreward and an essay and I was on a Lamott kick, but I also considered myself a thinking mother. A friend asked me some time later, "Well, what does that mean? Mothers Who Think?" I was at a loss to explain because all the words that wanted to come out of my mouth sounded snobby. "Well, they're mothers--who think. Um, uh, well, you know, they didn't stop thinking when they had kids. Okay, well, they're all writers and are more intellectually inclined, um, uh." I stopped myself before saying they were smart mothers. This Geico auto insurance commercial reminds me of the dilemma in which I found myself.

Like the therapist in this commercial who realizes that her point of view might be considered insulting to the caveman, the title of this book seemed self-explanatory to me and it was only when questioned that I realized it could be considered insulting to other women--the mothers who weren't drawn to the book based on its name. If you're not a mother who thinks, then what are you? A non-thinking mother? Ouch, that might be considered more than a little rude.

Similarly, when I first saw the Thinking Blogger award/meme, I didn't think too much about it. I was happy for Bub and Pie--hers was the first blog I saw had been awarded. She always makes me think. In fact, I had previously nominated her for Most Thought Provoking in the Share the Love Blog Awards. (Even when addressing a topic to which I don't relate, I am always spurred on by her intellect which both intimidates me and inspires me to exercise my brain.) Quickly, like a virus, the Thinking Blogger awards began popping up on several of my regular reads. One day, I traced Bub and Pie's award backward to their originator, Ilker Yoldas at The Thinking Blog. There were some very cerebral reads along the way and I began to wonder exactly what constituted a blogger who thinks.

Then I received a Thinking Blogger from Julie, The Ravin' Picture Maven. Shocked and awed, I've had to sit and process this for a couple of days. While at the time I bought Mothers Who Think I definitely considered myself intellectually inclined--albeit on the lower end of the Brainiac scale--as a blogger, I haven't automatically identified myself in that way. There are probably a few reasons for this, from my extemporaneous, haphazard writing tendencies to my feeling out of my depth being a Bachelor of Arts holder in a sea of Master's and Doctoral degree holders. Plus, I have not challenged myself intellectually in the last few years. In fact, the opposite is true. When not dealing with church crises and personal crises (both my own and others'), I have had my head stuck firmly in the mass media sand, preferring feel good movies and television to a well-written book, a philosophical discussion and the nightly news. So, my initial reaction is to question whether or not I am a blogger with the intellectual capacity to be so designated. I'm not one to look a blog-awarding gift horse in the mouth, though, and I have to say that I respect Julie's intellect enough that I'm going to take her word for it. If she sees fit to call me a thinking blogger, well, a thinking blogger I must be.

I've also been thinking more about this question of what constitutes a thinking blogger. Ilker Yoldas would say that a thinking blogger is one that has "real merits, i.e. relative content, and above all... really get(s) you thinking." Lorelle Van Fossen at The Blog Herald raised the standard even higher by declaring that a thinking blogger...

...makes me want to tell someone about what I just read. Not later. NOW. And, without a doubt, they make me want to write about what I just read. I can’t help myself. I have to share the passion! It's almost a religious experience.

Dang! I'm beginning to feel like the caveman in the Geico commercial. If my blog doesn't meet someone else's expectations of real merit and relative content, does that mean it doesn't have any? If I don't inspire religious ecstasy, does that mean I am not thinking? Just like I instinctively knew what is meant by the term "mothers who think", I know what other people mean by the term "blogger who thinks". But I'm going to set aside their characterizations. Relative content is, well... relative and I save my religious experiences for Jesus. So, I guess I need to come up with my own definition of a thinking blogger, one which is summed up in the title of this post. I think, therefore I am a thinking blogger. The very act of choosing to blog, considering what you want your blog to be about and then writing post after post tells me that any blogger is a thinker, just as I would now assert that every mother thinks. Awarding a Thinking Blogger then becomes, for me, noting those blogs whose authors' writing about life, the universe and everything resonates in me and gives me words, images, thoughts, or emotions to ponder--or even just a relationship to care about. Someone out in the 'verse who, because of blogging, I now spend some part of my day, week or month thinking about.

That being said, now comes the truly hard part, choosing five bloggers to receive the Mary-LUE verison of a TiBby (my own personal nickname for the Thinking Blogger). One dilemma I face is whether or not to re-award bloggers who have already been tagged. I checked the original "rules" and there is nothing to say that you can or cannot do so. One of the first awardees took this rule upon himself, though. It seems somewhat logical but I'm torn. There are definitely a few who I would dub a Thinking Blogger if they had not already been so knighted. I'm going to try without double dipping (The metaphors are mixing like crazy here.) I'm also forgoing tagging my "real life" friends. My TiBbys will go to people I know exclusively from the blog'verse.

And the TiBbys go to:

Alpha DogMa. I feel a need to tag her quickly because it is just a matter of time before someone else does. Alpha DogMa has joined in with Sunshine Scribe's Flashback Fridays and is doing a great job of making this regular feature her own. In particular, Flashback Fridays make me think because I always find a subject (what happened to that special friend) or feeling (fondness for someone who taught you something important) to which I relate. More importantly, one of her Flashback Friday posts inspired me to seek out my best friend from junior high. I don't think I would have taken the steps to do that if AD's post hadn't influenced me first.

Atypical of nonsensical text. I don't remember if I found T first or if she found me, but as we've gotten to know each other better, it is clear that we have lots of introspective tendencies in common. Although I'm an extrovert and she is an introvert, she often writes words I could have written myself. I think I do the same for her. Our little joke now is that we are twins separated at birth. T makes me think with her "lower level" ponderings and because I've found a friend who I might never meet in person but is a friend, nonetheless.

Tara of Uphill Idealist. Somehow I came across Tara at her previous blog, Greetings from Experiment House. With a fondness for Madeleine L'Engle, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and a passion for ministry, it isn't any wonder this poet-philospher gives me something to think about.

Darlene at daisies@pluckthepetal.com. I stumbled across Darlene during NaBloPoMo. She had posted a Sunday Scribblings about being a passenger in your own life which she titled "Drivers Wanted". I was floored by this post and gushed about it in her comments section. In reexamining the post a day or two later, I realized that I had focused so much on the excellent writing that I felt a little insensitive to the heart of the piece which looked at life after the loss of her two babies. I emailed her to apologize and she graciously replied that no apology was necessary. Since then, we've become blog buddies, faithfully reading each other's posts, occasionally emailing and even exchanging art. As she expresses herself artistically on her blog, she allows us to share in her personal journey. Darlene makes me think about love and loss and grief.

EnnuiHerself at mysecretennui. Another NaBloPoMo find, EnnuiHerself and I are very different. One of the few non-parent blogs which I visit, mysecretennui is a world of a single, twentysomething grad student from Cleveland. Whether she's writing about pursuing a research degree, trying to get out of Cleveland, ranting about the musical Cats or the new superintendent of Cleveland schools, I love hanging out over at mysecretennui. EnnuiHerself makes me think about life outside of my realm of marriage, motherhood and So-So Cal suburbia.

Of course, based on my own definition of what makes a thinking blogger, you can assume that anyone I take the time to read makes me think. Picking only five was not easy. I encourage you to take time to check out not only these five, but any blog from my blogroll.

Thanks again to Julie for giving me this chance to rant and rave and pick and choose. This is the best blog award I've ever received... (You know what's coming next, right?) the only blog award I've ever received. Ba dum bum!


EnnuiHerself said...

This is so cool!! Thank you so much for the TiBby!!


I wonder if my thesis committee will let me graduate early if I show them this . . .

Beck said...

Yikes. I'm not often troubled by feelings of insufficiency, but really, I am degree-free unless you count the time I "graduated" from grade eight and they made a big deal out of it. I find the whole "thinking blogger" label a bit tricky, too.

atypical said...


Yeah, that about sums it up. Oh the pressure!

By the way, you DO deserve it! :)


P.S. Did I say, "thank you."? Um, well, that's what I meant to say.

bubandpie said...

This post made me think of how you and I met. By one measure, at least, you and I both have a solid claim to the title of bloggers who make people think: we have the longest sentences of Mom-101's readers!

Lamont said...

Mary LUE -
Congrats to you! Lovely job! Thanks in return for my TiBby. After a tough week of dealing with the flu and the challenges of transition - this makes me smile!

daisies said...

wow!! i am floored by this and thrilled of course :)

i have spent the better part of the last week, sick with the flu yet again and feeling anything but a thinker so your TiBby just makes my day.

I love being your blog buddy hon! Thanks for saying such lovely things about me *blush*


Julie Pippert said...

Mary, I made the mistake, once, of following links from one of those voting popularity contests to the nominees. Okay sure, some good ones, but most of the time it took a while for my eyes and mind to quit screaming.

Okay now that I'm finished trashing and being trashy...

I don't think all bloggers intend to be thought-provoking. I don't think all readers want that all the time.

I think it often depends upon goals and definitions. You're right: it is relative.

I do intend to be, and aim for thoughtful and thought-provoking. And in turn, I prefer blogs in that vein.

But not everyone does.

I think the thing about the thinking blog meme is that it is intended to spread to everyone eventually, because everyone thinks someone is interesting. Memes are viruses.

I think if you work to be a thoughtful blogger, and someone finds you thought-provoking...then it all has blended well together and yes, when the tree fell, it made a sound because someone did hear it, even if it was a bird.


Congrats...and enjoy knowing that yes, because you think, you are therefore a thinking blogger. I like that.

Julie Pippert said...

P.S. I'm not sure I can buy into Lorelle's defintition. It's a little more hmm effusive than I usually have energy for. ;)

Mel said...

Wow........congratulations on the Award!

*hanging head*
I don't even use spellcheck..

LOL Scary, huh?

Alpha DogMa said...

TOO FUNNY! I got you and you got me! It is fated that we make the other think. Plus we keep putting up photos of carbs on our site. Though yours have a deeper meaning.
Thank for the tag! I'm flattered by your nice words.