Some dust has been bitten.

Another year of the Slice of Life Story Challenge comes to an end. I didn’t do as well this month as I’d hoped, but I’ve made it through to day 31. Having surgery early in the month knocked me for a much harder loop than I’d been anticipating. I missed posting a couple of days — which, considering how sleepy and silly some of my posts were, is probably more a gift to blog readers than anything to be sorry for. Much more importantly, I was supposed to be welcoming new folks into the slicing ranks by reading and commenting on their posts every day, and I deeply regret how hard I fell down on that promise.

I participated in this challenge in 2008, the very first year. That was also my first year of blogging. I’d only had my blog for a month when I stumbled onto the TWT blog and into this challenge. Such a lucky thing that I did! I absolutely credit that first challenge with pushing me across the line from maybe-I’ll-have-a-blog to being a blogger. So grateful to that original group of slicers and to all the great folks who’ve jumped into the challenge over the eleven years between that first run and this one.

What my blog is and how I use it has morphed fairly dramatically since 2008. It’s interesting to look back at early posts and see the ways my voice has changed, the ways it has stayed the same, how some of the more embarrassing posts still sound totally like me. I clearly have a voice (“a Voice“), and it’s interesting to hear it over time.

I’ve come to think of March as my blog-iversary because of this challenge. No matter how absent I’ve been from this space, I always find my way back for Slice of Life in March. I exhaust myself with daily posting … and then I’m ready-not-ready to dive into April and writing poetry all month. March reminds me why I like having a blog and primes me for the rigors of National Poetry Month.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers, for another excellent slicing challenge, for giving me the chance to read such an interesting cross-section of blogs and for getting me reacquainted with my own little corner of these internets.


It’s the final day of the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers! Hundreds of folks have been participating. If you haven’t been one of them, maybe next year will be the year you’ll join in!

New, delicious, year ’round meat treat!

Mmm … if that title doesn’t get you salivating, I don’t know what will!

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Do you ever read the wacky spam comments you get on your blog before you empty the trash?  Some of them don’t make much effort to disguise themselves and just say over and over again that I can get nude pictures of celebrities or some such.  I have no respect for these spammers. They’re too lazy to be worth even a moment of my time.

But then I think of the others, the fabulously-creative souls who try to sound like some trippy movie version of  real people, who want me to believe the crazy business they post is a) normal speech and b) in any way related to whatever I’ve just written … those people I almost love, but they’re just working too hard, you know?  And when I say “those people,” what I really probably mean is “those computer programs,” because could real people actually be killing brain cells writing this silly stuff?

The other day I had a spam email that thanked me for writing “about eating take out on the sofa with the family,” because it made my blog seem “so liveable.”  Um, yeah.  Okay.  And yesterday I had one that claimed my “collection of words and sentences really give a new perspective on how living is great!”  As if.

As much as my blogging ego would love to think my little posts are so powerfully uplifting, I know better.  More importantly, why is anyone putting this kind of effort into spamming?  These messages are never going to get through the filter as they are so obviously bogus, so why waste the time?  Why not just be lazy like the “nude celebrity pix” people and move on?

I wasn’t going to bother writing this post, but at work yesterday I noticed a new collection of canned goods in the food donation box outside my office … and there were three cans of SPAM in there.  I figured that was a sign.  Do people still eat SPAM?  I mean, yes, I guess they do, but … really?  And shouldn’t we put warning labels on it so that our Muslim students know it’s made from pork (something I didn’t know until I looked it up today, by the way)?  And how is it made from pork, exactly?  It certainly doesn’t taste like pork.  It does make for some good poetry, however:

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And then there is my current dilemma of what to cook tomorrow.  I have some VONA writers coming over and no idea what to serve.  SPAM and eggs?  SPAMwiches?  SPAMburgers?  Oh, the choices are endless!

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Check out today’s 100% SPAM-free slices at Two Writing Teachers.

Mirror, mirror …

Reflection seems to be the slicing theme of the last few days, and I find myself in that place, too.  My first week and a half of slicing has been interesting, has catapulted me from nearly silent to practically bursting with things to post.  I’m still awed by this sudden shift, this rediscovery of an ability to compose here that I was almost certain I’d lost.  I commented early in the week that my writing has being fueled by reading the writing of other slicers and by the comments others were leaving on my posts … and on how much of a V8 moment that was for me — the head-slap of realization that I hadn’t just stopped writing my own blog, I’d stopped finding/making time to read any of the blogs I love, to search out new blogs to read.  This online writing is a collaborative process — I share with readers, I am fed by other writers.  How else can it work?  If I were content to have this conversation only with myself, I wouldn’t choose to write online.  The first ten days of this year’s challenge have reminded me that I need all of the ingredients of blogging — writing, reading, commenting — if I have any hope of maintaining my presence here.

One thread emerging from the comments on my posts during this year’s challenge is how open I am about my weaknesses, how honestly I put myself on the page.  I will admit that those comments surprised me.  At first I just thought, “Well, of course that’s how I write,” because isn’t that the point of having the blog, isn’t that what everyone does?  But that really isn’t what everyone does, is it?  At the same time, I was surprised because I think the ways I share my flaws is pretty self-consciously done, careful to reveal and conceal at the same time.  I’m more than happy to point out a weakness here and there, but I hold back the really inciminating stuff … or I think I do, anyway!  One of my contributions to the conference was to lead a conversation with teachers and adult learners about blogging, and the subject of how much of yourself to share online came up.  I started talking about being careful with what you share and about privacy concerns and about there being no need for you to post all your private moments.  I realized that I pay attention to all of that … and then still go ahead and post things I would never have thought I’d post in a public forum.  I am thinking specifically of the times I’ve composed posts and realized I’d have to hold off hitting “publish” until I shared those stories with my family.  That’s only happened twice, but the fact that it’s happened at all is still surprising to me.  I get that it’s easier to share in this almost-anonymous way than to talk to the people who actually know us, but I think there’s more to this seeming openness/over-sharing of mine.  I have more to think about on this one.

My last reflection is about myself as a commenter.  I have serious insecurities about my ability to comment enough and comment well.  Does that sound silly?  Maybe it is.  But I think about it all the time.   There are so many writers in the challenge this year, I know I can’t possibly read everyone’s posts every day.  I thought I’d push myself to read at least five posts a day, but I’ve pushed myself further and have probably read ten to twelve posts a day.  It’s too much, time-wise, but it’s hard not to choose one more and one more and one more.  And, too, I want to jump around and read blogs I haven’t seen yet while at the same time keeping up with the blogs I already love and the newly-discovered loves I’ve found in the last ten days.  I feel guilty about not reading every post on every blog, but I’ve had to reconcile myself to just feeling that guilt because I just don’t have time for more.   And then there’s the issue of the quality of my comments.  The rush to read as many posts as possible limits the time I have to compose the kinds of comments I want to be leaving.  I’ve gotten it “right” here and there, but my track record isn’t great so far, so that’s one thing I want to work on in the rest of the month.  Maybe it means I have to read fewer posts so that I can leave better comments.  We’ll see.

I am feeling energized by the challenge so far.  I have so much to think about and several posts percolating as a result of the first ten days.  No matter what happens moving forward, the challenge has already been hugely successful for me.  Thanks, everyone!

Slicing and Dicing

You know, or something.

I just looked at the calendar and realized that Stacey and Ruth’s Slice-of-Life challenge is starting tomorrow!  It’s the special, 5th anniversary edition, no less.  This challenge is pretty much responsible for me being a blogger — the first one happened about five minutes after I started writing here.  The bloggers I “met” as a result of that challenge taught me so much.

So I have to get my act together and figure out some way to post every day for a month … should be interesting since I haven’t been able to manage a post once a week.  I’m wishing me good luck, and warning you that there might be a whole mess of nothing-but-lame up in here.

2010 in review

So it’s a new year and WordPress has suddenly got this nifty year-in-review thing going.  I got it in my email this morning.  Considering how absent I’ve been this year, it’s a little comical that I get a “wow” on the blog health-o-meter.  If I get back to a more normal posting routine, will I explode the chart all together?

Things that please me from this review?  I’m really happy that none of the top five search items that brought people here in 2010 had anything to do with racism.  I’m still troubled by some of the searches that land folks at my door, but it’s nice to see that those unsavory searches were in the minority last year.

I also love that the photo they chose to post was the great Chac Mool souvenir I saw at Chichén Itzá two years ago.  I’d forgotten about that pic.

Best of all is the documentation of my busiest day ever … a day that had nothing to do with me at all.  It was a day that another blogger, the wonderful writer at Nerdy Apple Bottom, had a day of crazy-ass people thinking a funny post she wrote about her adorable three-year-old son was serious.   My little “Overheard” was at the bottom of that page in the list of “Possibly Related Posts,” which sent a bunch of her readers over to this quiet little space for a minute.  Silly.  (And if you doubt that it’s quiet over here, and the numbers below don’t convince you, go check out Ms. Apple Bottom today.  She’s got her 2010 stats posted.  That’s traffic!  And while you’re there, read “My Son Is Gay.”  Fabulous.)

So 2010 is behind me, and it’s time to figure out who and what I’m going to be in 2011.  Now that I’m out of the classroom, I’m a little unsure.  Am I just going to be a pet peeves and pissed off about politics blog?  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’m not sure it’s where I want to be.  We’ll see.  In the mean time, here are the stats:

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

 

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 4 fully loaded ships.

In 2010, there were 130 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 620 posts. There were 192 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 66mb. That’s about 4 pictures per week.

Featured image

The busiest day of the year was November 4th with 691 views. The most popular post that day was Overheard.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were nerdyapplebottom.com, facebook.com, Google Reader, twowritingteachers.wordpress.com, and stumbleupon.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for paper crane, aztec temple, aztec temples, paper cranes, and manhattan bridge.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Overheard March 2010
14 comments

2

Road Trip, Part II August 2008
6 comments

3

Peace in Folded Paper December 2009
8 comments

4

And Many Happy Returns October 2009
3 comments

5

Where You From? April 2008