A MinD in MoTown

…I’m a Toys ‘R Us kid.
October 13, 2009, 5:02 pm
Filed under: I am getting old..., MoTown, Pourquoi?, WE ARE...

Every time I travel to Penn State for a visit – about once per semester – I leave the borough of State College with mixed feelings that seem to slightly cloud my first few days back in reality.

My weekends surrounded by the blue and white are always fabulous. Filled with plenty of laughs, crazy times, drunken debauchery (of sorts) and occasionally new friends, it’s easy to depart Pennsylvania feeling a bit more nostalgic and missing my college life oodles more than the day I arrived.

But – and perhaps this is a sign that I truly am growing up despite my attempts not to entirely – I also leave State College a little happy, anxious to return to the adulthood I’ve created for myself in North Carolina. I strangely start looking forward to lounging on my couch, in sweats, with my puppy and watching TV all night, rather than putting on my sexiest heels and tightest cleavage-exposing shirt as I head to the bar.

I typically expect to feel old and somewhat more mature diving head first back into college fun for a few days, but it’s a strange morose, glum mood that accompanies those sentiments as my brief vacation comes to a close. Days like today, only 24 hours after making my way back home, I find myself lingering somewhere between happy and longing for the weekend that passed and relieved and excited to have it end. Bizarre, right?

It’s easy to anticipate eventually noting a significant detachment from those college years, hitting that point where it’s clear how truly over those “glory days” are. Is this what that feels like? Because, if so, I never supposed it’d arrive while I still had students for friends and people there to visit. When I was married and had kids, perhaps, but not while I’m still only 24 years old, out of school just more than two years, and always longing to return to State College even if for a brief moment.

Is this something different? Maybe just a recognition that I am, indeed, getting older and farther from those days I so completely miss… As I type this post, that seems to be the most logical reasoning because why else – if choosing the former option – would such excitement envelop me in the weeks leading to my Penn State arrival as well as my total happiness throughout the weekend (and I will note that I had an AMAZING time this past weekend, without a doubt!).

Maybe it’s all just another part of growing up and leaving behind the college life I loved so much. Maybe it’s because there are things I would change about how I spent my PSU days, or maybe because I look at all those who are still students and I’m completely filled with jealousy at what they’re just starting to experience. Or hey, maybe I just totally miss the lack of responsibility or care for anything in the world other than fun.

I’m sure a variety of factors and feelings are contributing to my mediocre mood today – and a cold I seemingly got at Penn State is surely not helping – but either way, when this passes and I start planning for my next trip to State College, at least I’ll remember what to expect. Sure, I knew this time, at least to some extent, but writing it now, today, as I’m feeling it seemed like a wise decision.

I suppose the real question is: Will these feelings and emotions change my desire to jump on a plane and fly 500 miles north again in a few months? Will I forego the pure exhiliration of seeing friends, partying, shopping and happily laughing my way through a weekend because I might feel a bit “blah” afterward? Likely not. I can always deal with a little “meh” for something as amazing as a Penn State weekend because, when it truly comes down to it, that place and everything about it will run through my veins forevermore. After all, like the PSU saying goes, I bleed blue and white, and really, I’m not sure I’d have it any other way.

Walk the plank.

I think the New York Times summed it up best when they said “When the Thrill of Blogging is Gone…” in a recent article.

To those of us who run in the same (or nearly the same) blogging circles, the disappearance of many popular bloggers is becoming more and more noticeable. Others are changing the way they blog, simplifying their techniques and sporadically posting rather than regularly providing readers with quips and banter.

The amazing Arjewtino called it quits in early April, saying he “just didn’t have it in” him anymore. At the same time, the ARW (…the almost right word) said she’d be back “at some indeterminable time,” yet few of us had heard much from her since, quite unfortunately. And most recently, SO@24 bid farewell to his loyal readers earlier this month.

And then bloggers like RS27 and Chris from Surviving Myself are reformatting their blogging methods while others – such as GoLightly’s MegKathleen, Wild ARS Chase’s Andy and Kendall from The Odd Duckling – have stepped away from their keyboards and taken “temporary” leaves from their sites, much to the dismay of readers who hope they return to the blogosphere in time.

Has blogging become our generation’s 21st century version of pogs or the Tamagotchi? Is this just another trend that us 20-somethings flock toward then swiftly ditch within a matter of months or years? Will our blogs be little more than a “phase” in our lives, just like those toys of our prepubescent days?

I’m beginning to think so, although I’d love for someone to prove me wrong.

As the aforementioned NYTimes article notes, some people seem to board the blogging ship with dreams of treasure and fame. The moment those distant hopes turn to ill-fated desires, bloggers abandon the deck and swim toward land before drowning in a sub-par-writing sea. Others remain at the hull, braving the storms and riding through, until boredom arises and life on land, away from the blogosphere oceans, seems more appealing*.

Regardless, many great bloggers are departing this Internet-world for a variety of reasons and most of us are likely wondering “who’s next?”

Will it be that blogger you check daily, soaking up every written word, wishing his or her life was your own? Will it be that person who rarely has much to say, but when he/she does, it’s extremely thought-provoking? Or could it be your favorite photo-blogger, fashion-blogger, news-blogger that says farewell? It could be me**, it could be you, it could be Joe Schmo, but someone else is bound to fall victim to blogger-death sooner than later.

And because of that, I’ve compiled a few tips for anyone who feels that demise is imminent:

  • Write for yourself. Once you start shaping your blog around the opinions and thoughts of others, the writing becomes contrived and you won’t necessarily feel as happy with the words you’ve shared.
  • Creating a blog in the hopes of it becoming a book/movie/anything else is ridiculous (really, this goes back to the first tip). The NYTimes article notes that, according to Technorati, “at any given time there are 7 million to 10 million active blogs on the Internet.” Of those, less than 100,000 have a sizeable audience. That’s a very small margin of hope in making a blog more than just ramblings on the Internet.
  • Vowing to blog every day is unwise. Personally, I think people are more likely to continue blogging if they do it when/if inspiration happens. Forcing yourself to write something each day, whether or not you have anything to say, could potentially make for less appealing postings, thus a slow demise.
  • Quality over quantity. Sure, TONS of readers are great. But sometimes, a few dedicated readers who actually enjoy your work is better than hundreds of readers who comment only because they want you to “follow” their blog, too. Don’t get bogged down or frustrated by lower-than-preferred readership (again, back to the first tip!). Just because the hoards aren’t flocking to your blog doesn’t mean what you have to say is any less interesting than someone who regularly receives 1,000 hits. Maybe that person networks better, has stirred more word of mouth or simply make his/her presence known on more blogs than you currently do. It’s a combination of factors, if you ask me.

So if you’re reading this and thinking about jumping ship, maybe I helped talk you into riding the waves a bit longer. Personally, I’m finding this an enjoyable and rather cathartic ride and I hope to keep trudging through with my 12 readers intact, ha.

What, if any, tips can we add to this list? Because really, none of us want to turn around and watch another beloved blogger disappear any time soon. Maybe, just maybe, we can prove this blogging-trend will hold out longer than our Tamagotchi digital pets did.

* I may have overdone the “pirate ship/sea” analogy just a wee bit.
** No worries, I have no plans of “peacing out” yet.

And baby makes (more than) three.
March 12, 2009, 5:51 pm
Filed under: I watch too much TV, Pourquoi?

Move over Jon and Kate Gosselin. See you later Duggars. There’s a new family in TLC-town.

Following in the footsteps of some fairly-successful reality-TV households will not be an easy task, but the Hayes family and their soon-to-be-debuted show, “Table for 12,” seem ready for the undertaking. After all, three sets of multiples – Eric and Betty Hayes have two sets of twins and sextuplets – practically guarantees you one season in the TLC spotlight these days. Before you blink your eyes, the defamed Nadya Suleman and her 14 children, including a set of octuplets, will grace your HD-TV sets one hour per week (this is not on the agenda yet for TLC, but it’ll happen sooner or later, guaranteed!).

Whenever or however this fascination with outrageously large families started is beyond me, but it’s become fairly obvious over the last few years that it’s not disappearing. In fact, the charm and attraction just might be multiplying … by a lot.

If I wander over to TLC and “Jon & Kate Plus 8” while my boyfriend lounges with me on the couch, he quickly refers to it as “the scariest show ever” before asking me to try another television option. Eight kids? In a country where the average family consists of approximately two children, four times as many can be a bit daunting, to say the least.

My favorite is Joel, bottom left with the glasses. He's so cute!

My favorite is Aaden, bottom left with the glasses. He's so cute!

But that’s part of the appeal; the fact that the majority of us will never have the same number of mouths to feed as a typical set of dinnerware China. So it becomes fairly interesting to watch another family react to that amount of stress and responsibility.

However, when the Duggars emerged with their small country-sized litter, I was a bit dismayed. Their family did not carry the same allure. Clearly with a dozen and a half children – their show was originally “17 Kids and Counting,” but then Mama Duggar gave birth and now they’re “18 Kids and Counting” – one becomes somewhat curious how any parents can cope. But after watching one episode and realizing that this family grew to 20 individuals (including parents) on purpose, the excitement swiftly fizzles.

My extended family isn't even this big.

My extended family isn't even this big.

Need I even mention the fact that they have a MASSIVE house and clearly enough money to adequately support their ginormus family? I thought not.

I will note, however, that what makes this family different than the others is their strict Christian values, their modest dress (they all dress alike though, and that is strange) and their willingness to continue having children until God takes away that ability (so bizarre!). This is one family that clearly sways away from the norm other than procreating repeatedly for 21 years.

Seeing the obvious success of these two families and their lives prominently displayed on cable television, TLC apparently decided another larger-than-usual family was just what their programming needed. Cue the Hayes horde.

I completely grasp the concept of taking something profitable and running with it, but a company can still attain repeated hits while remaining unique. Take “Little People, Big World” for example. How much airtime do little people truly get? Not much, and that’s what draws an audience into this specific show. But the Hayes? I’m sorry, but TLC’s preview of “Table for 12” looks exactly like “Jon and Kate Plus 8,” except two extra kids are hanging out, waiting for supper time, and they all have red hair.

One show about a large family? Fabulous. Two? Still pretty decent since the families are quite different. Three? Well, it just might be too much of a good thing. I guess we’ll find out when the Hayes premiere later this month.

“Please enter your password.”
July 29, 2008, 5:18 pm
Filed under: Just whatever, Pourquoi?

I hate throwing things away. Notes from my high school boyfriend, pictures of friends I now loathe (yes, loathe), mementos from my eighth grade field trip to Baltimore … these are just a few of the many things collecting dust in several shoe boxes throughout my house.

It only seems logical then that I would also save voicemails for extended periods of time. And, one could easily assume that since I’m the only one with the password to said voicemails, saving them for years – mmhmm, years – would matter very little because only I can retrieve them.

So if I need a good laugh, or just a mild giggle, I can pick up the phone and listen to one of my good guy friends explaining how Justin Timberlake taught him how to dance in a drunken stupor. Or I can hear former roommates telling me how much they miss me now that I’ve moved 500 miles away.

But the first saved voicemail I always encounter is my most recent ex-boyfriend – a relationship that last 3+ years and ended early 2008. It’s a voicemail from late 2005 during a brief interlude from our coupledom without which we would not have gotten back together. And it’s a message that I saved for the last several years because of this; because it always meant so much to me as the catalyst for reuniting.

Though, I cannot recall the last time I listened to that particular voicemail. I’d hear his voice – “Hey MinD, um…” – and push 9 – “Resaved. Next message.” – and then do the same thing 20-some days later when greeted with “the following message will be deleted from your mailbox.” And yet, even now, months after the relationship has ended and he, too, has put 500 miles distance between us, I cannot hit 7 – “Message deleted.”

At what point does continually resaving this message seem futile? Is it already? Perhaps a bigger picture question: Why can’t I just let this message fall to the wayside? And on an even larger scale, why must I always hold on to things that 1) serve little to no purpose, 2) clutter my home and general life or 3) remind me of things perhaps better left forgotten?

The ex shall always hold a place in my heart and my past, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have every word of that message memorized anyway – I was a 20-year-old girl with a broken heart that December after all. But if I’m just going to continue saving this voicemail – and saving every other piece of my history – when comes the moment where I’m no longer cherishing memories, but holding onto the past?

Several months ago a friend told me I talk about my college experiences far too often, as if the life I lead now just doesn’t measure up. And while my four years at Penn State were the best years of my life thus far, I can’t help but wonder (little Carrie Bradshaw coming out) when I’ll start talking about the new memories I’ve yet to create and leaving the reminders of “better days” behind.

I like to hear myself type.
July 9, 2008, 3:46 pm
Filed under: Argh, News Girl, Pourquoi?

All too often, I’ve stared at the blank page (or screen), wanting to write and almost willing myself to fill the void although nothing comes … except my musings about the inevitable writer’s block.

Since I was a kid and developed a love for writing, a strong emotion or stance on a topic had to completely overwhelm my being in order to adequately create a piece, whether prose, poetry or otherwise. And, in my opinion, some of my best work has come from that bubbling passion forcing my pen to the page.

Then other days, I can blankly gaze at the emptiness with a million thoughts racing through my mind – everything from daily rantings and annoyances to opinions on news and politics (which always struck me as odd considering my extreme novice nature toward that particular subject). And despite my most fervent effort, I’d toss the sheet into the trash or highlight and delete, happily forgetting the blatant crap I tried to pass as intelligent, sound discourse.

At times – rare in comparison to my “writer” attempts – I find myself unable to write the articles I’m paid for, often because the topic does not interest me in any manner. When faced with writing about the impact of our failing economy on junk yards (a topic I was assigned for this upcoming Sunday) or what to do with Fido as you plan your family vacation, I cannot even muster enough journalism knowledge to create a work I’d be proud of by deadline.

Why exactly does it take that passion, that burning urge, to write anything that I’d read repeatedly and still be able to say “wow, that came out really well”? As someone who has chosen journalism as a career path, as someone who hopes to continue growing in the field, and as someone who has been writing for as long as she can remember, why have I not yet developed that talent for sitting down and having the words flow from my hand as if a dam had broken? You would think – and I’ve often assumed, which I seem to do all too often – that I would have a flair for writing on command, be it my own or another’s, by this point. And yet, no dice.

So when will it come? When will I be able to aptly overcome writer’s block whenever I choose? When will I cease blogging about my troubles with this hindrance because I want so badly to write, but have little to say?