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by Rhyssa
Rated: NPL · Book · Personal · #2150723
a journal
Blog City image small

This book is intended as a place to blog about my life and things I'm interested in and answers to prompts from various blog prompt sites here on WDC, including "30-Day Blogging Challenge and "Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise

I'm not sure yet what it'll turn into, but I'm going to have fun figuring it out.
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June 27, 2018 at 11:25pm
June 27, 2018 at 11:25pm
Have you ever been in stage or performed for an audience?

Actually, I have—and all my life. I sing in church (and school) choirs (in fact, I lead the music in church every Sunday), which means I spend time on display. I also sing solos. The first time I sang a solo was a Mother’s Day when I was about five or six. I like to sing, although I do get some anxiety.

I’ve done talent shows. Sometimes singing, sometimes reading poetry I’ve written.

I’ve also been in church and school plays. Bit parts, mostly. I don’t have the kind of personality to take the lead. When I was a senior in high school, I had a bit part in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

I’ve done some dancing on the stage, but I’m not as good there. The last time was a ballroom competition in college. We got past the first round but were cut in the next if I remember right. Dancing the samba—which makes it a Latin competition, of course.

I don’t mind being on stage. I’ve read poetry and short stories in front of an audience as well. There’s also an element of performance reading to children. I read aloud to my sister when she was young and to my nieces and nephews. Not exactly a stage . . . but that’s performing for an audience. A rather picky audience at that.
June 26, 2018 at 10:38pm
June 26, 2018 at 10:38pm
Donald Hall, a former poet laureate of the USA, who passed away on June 23, 2018, once said, “Literature starts by being personal, but the deeper we go inside the more we become everybody.”
What are your thoughts on the quote?

I think this is a simplistic view of the matter. Depending on the piece of literature and the reader and the writer and the mood of the day and what has been going on in everyone’s life, sometimes we start with the personal and go to a more general, but sometimes we start by seeing the universal and digging deeper into the personal. And sometimes literature takes up out of either and into story so that we live the story instead of creeping into the philosophical.

Perhaps that’s my own prejudices showing. I tend to read fiction more than poetry, although I enjoy it at times. I read fiction for story, not to learn more about myself or other people. When I read poetry it’s for the personal or the song of it or because it has said something right. And sometimes that starts inside and moves to the universal, and sometimes the more I read it, the more personal it gets, and sometimes it’s just beautiful and it flows through me without pausing and making me think of my life or of everybody.

In other words, I feel limited by this statement. Maybe it’s true sometimes. In fact, I know it’s true sometimes. But I react to literature in various ways, and I like it that way.
June 25, 2018 at 10:25pm
June 25, 2018 at 10:25pm
In an interview, Charles Krauthammer said, about his paralysis, “I made a promise to myself on day one [after my injury]. I was not going to allow it to alter my life. You get two choices. You can be hopeless and despairing, or you can live your life. And to me, there was basically no option.”

What are some of those difficult things you do not let to change your life? If you do not want to write about yourself, write about someone you know or even a story character.

This question really reminds me of my sister. I was three, almost four when Rachel was born. She’s smart and lovely with a quick wit and the ability to hold a grudge past any sense of proportion, and I love her dearly.

She’s the sister whose baby died at five days old. That was difficult for all of us, but especially for her. She’s a private person, and all of a sudden, she felt judged and impotent and mourning and on display. Whenever there was someone in the room with her, she put on her strength, especially her other babies. But she wanted time and space to be alone so she didn’t have to be strong for a while.

It still affects her, of course, but she lives. We aren’t given the choice about what’s going to happen to us in life. All we can choose is how we’re going to react to what is given to us.

About two years—maybe two and a half because her fourth (Caleb was her third, the one who died)—she got a bad sinus infection that landed behind her eye, and after everything was done, her retina had detached and she was blind in her left eye. I came to help with the children for about six weeks—well, three weeks there, we brought them to Grandma’s for three weeks, and then another three weeks back there while she learned her new normal.

I was so impressed with how she coped—in fact, the doctors and nurses were as well. The way she put it, the worst thing that could happen was losing Caleb. Losing an eye was nothing when she considered the worse pain.

She drives. She home schools her children (she has five now, four living)—one girl and the rest boys. They’re rowdy and messy and have issues with temper and potty training and all the rest of the things that are associated with children—and she handles them with grace. She still plays the piano—she has all her life and got her Masters in Collaborative Piano when her oldest was a baby. She cooks. She can even pour milk if she uses two hands and a lot of care. In other words, she hasn’t let her life be blighted by what has happened to her. Instead, she survives—she thrives.

When things happen in my life (and they have—the diabetes for one) I try to remember her strength and let it inspire me to be more.
June 21, 2018 at 10:01pm
June 21, 2018 at 10:01pm
Write a Blog entry about a Hope Chest

I know about hope chests intellectually, but they seem to be less important in our time than they might have been in an earlier age. My mother has a box that she brought with her from her parent’s house. It rests at the foot of my parent’s bed and contains linens that are never really taken out. In fact, I’ve seen it open only a few times. When I was a teenager, my parents gave the three of us older girls cedar boxes that they bought from Amish craftsmen at a local farmer’s market. It is there, in my room. I do keep things in it, mostly cloth objects and mementoes of childhood. It’s a bit beat up by this point. The corner was crushed so that while the structure wasn’t compromised, it isn’t as pretty as it might have been at one point and the top is scratched, but I still keep it.

I think my sister Rachel still has hers, somewhere in her house. She has five kids, so it’s probably even more beat up than mine. I think that Joyce’s ended up burned in a fire that took her home about ten years ago along with most of what she and her husband owned.

My hope chest is not full of things that I’ve made or proof of any kind of wifely virtue. And that was its purpose in the past. A hope chest was things that belonged to a new bride. Things that she owned the way she didn’t own herself or any property that her father and husband associated with her. That’s why it seems odd to think about them today, not because they aren’t beautiful, but because they are not important any more. I care much more for my books than for the contents of the box.
June 14, 2018 at 10:14pm
June 14, 2018 at 10:14pm
"Start each day like it was your Birthday." Kate Spade How would you live each day if everyday was your Birthday?

This is an interesting thought . . . until I think about how I generally spend my birthdays. At forty-one, I might get calls from my siblings or nieces and nephews. Sometimes I get to pick the dinner. We almost always have a cake . . . which is a story in itself. My birthday is in February—the seventh. Of the eight people in my family, five were born in February—my next sister on our father’s twenty-fifth birthday, and the youngest two days before the second to youngest’s seventh. So, cake is plentiful and all consuming and eventually a bit much in February. I certainly wouldn’t want cake every day.

But, since cake is the only really special thing that happens on my birthday—well, you can see the dilemma. For me, the reason that we celebrate birthdays is that it is our special day (I also share my birthday with a cousin who was born six hours and twenty minutes before me. My mother was not amused because I was a late first baby, while her sister had an early second and still managed to have him before me). Part of what makes it special is that it doesn’t happen every day.

So, the idea doesn’t appeal. If I had to spend every day as my birthday, I think I’d end up treating it as everyday and bland and common as brushing my teeth or looking in the mirror. I much prefer having the opportunity to have one special day and to enjoy everyone else’s special days as well . . . even if it involves sharing my day with my cousin. Who did name a daughter after me, so I guess I love him anyway.
June 13, 2018 at 11:00pm
June 13, 2018 at 11:00pm
"In order to lead a fascinating life, one brimming with art, music, intrigue and romance, you must surround yourself with precisely these things." Kate Spade What is your take on this? I'm in a Kate Spade mood, so I will be using quotes from her.

This one feels kind of self fulfilling. I mean, if you surround yourself with art, music, intrigue, and romance, certainly your life will be brimming with them. However, I think I’d question the idea that fascinating means a connection with those things. The problem is, people who are not fascinating can surround themselves with things, and still feel their lack of fascinating while their lives look on the outside to be rife with everything anyone would want. And there’s no guarantee that such a life will be happy or fulfilling—in fact, observation seems to suggest otherwise.

I think that the people that I find most fascinating are those who are creative. An artist or musician rather than a collector. I find writers fascinating. I find intelligence fascinating—people who can hold a conversation about something interesting. I find kindness fascinating. Yes, it can be that those people have their dull moments as well. I have a brother-in-law who studied jazz piano and composition. And listing to him perform is amazing. But behind that performance is hours upon hours of practicing and playing all the wrong notes to find the right one. And that’s fascinating.

I would suggest that the most fascinating individuals are those who are doing. I don’t care what they’re doing . . . just that their lives are filled with purpose and discovery and creation. And sometimes that means that we who are introverts retreat to a tower sometimes, in order to survive, but that doesn’t mean that our quiet life in the tower isn’t fascinating. Even though it isn’t as noisy as the people who surround themselves with life and people until they burst with it.
June 12, 2018 at 10:53pm
June 12, 2018 at 10:53pm
Do you think travel is stressful, and what would you do if you found yourself alone in a foreign country where you don’t know the language and you don’t even know if there’s an embassy of your country?

Travel is something that I enjoy and plan for. Yes, it’s stressful, but I try to minimize the stress with careful planning so that I can get where I need to go. I’ve mostly traveled inside the states—to and from school. I’ve taken plane, train, bus, automobile—depending on the year and what I was planning to do when I got there. Mostly I traveled solo, except in the case of car trips. Then I was mostly a passenger.

I’ve never been in a foreign country where I didn’t know the language. I’ve traveled a lot in the US, but only a bit outside—once to Canada for a road trip, and once to England where I spent eighteen months. I don’t know what I’d do traveling outside those restrictions. I think I would still do all right. Body language and tone are as important for understanding as speech. I also would study up as much as possible. Read guidebooks and trying to learn the language as much as I could. Humility and courtesy go a long way.

June 11, 2018 at 11:22pm
June 11, 2018 at 11:22pm
What would your personal fantasy world be like? Can you describe it in detail? Would it be like the earth and its inhabitants or something totally different?

There are two potential answers to this question: the personal fantasy world that my characters like to play in or the personal fantasy world that I would like to inhabit. Personally, I would like to have a world where it is warm and pleasant and people leave me alone when I need it but are close enough that when I want them, they are there. I want it to be dry—I’ve lived in humidity for a large proportion of my life and I don’t care for it. I would want time to write and time to live and accumulate experiences that would prompt things to write about.

My personal fantasy world where my characters set their stories (and here, I’m talking specifically about stories that are not set in our world—I write both) is brighter and clearer than our world and much more full of magic. It’s pre industrial revolution—maybe roughly analogous to Celtic Britain or ancient Rome. There are dragons and other strange beasts and wild places and lots of sharp edges between—the places where stories grow.

It’s a nice place to visit and write about. But I wouldn’t want to live there. I prefer more comfort than my characters live with.
June 8, 2018 at 11:00pm
June 8, 2018 at 11:00pm
What period of history is most interesting to you?

I’m not sure. I kind of like living in the modern world rather than any specific point in history. After all, all periods of history have their flaws—from sanitation to food to plagues—and I know the problems of our time sufficiently. There’s also the fact that insulin wasn’t refined for human consumption until 1922, which means that before then, I would be dead. There are traces of type one diabetes back in ancient Egypt—in fact it was a disease that annoyed and disgusted one famous Greek physician, who basically said it was a useless disease that couldn’t be cured. But that really wasn’t the question. It’s not about living there, it’s about general interest.

I am interested in Shakespeare and England of that day. In fact, I’m also interested in John Donne and Chaucer—all separate periods of English history that I would be interested to visit. I tend to be more interested in periods of history before the industrial revolution. The way people lived before the world got so small. Which means, of course, that a lot of periods of American history fall into the meh area for me.

I’m interested in ancient civilizations. Egypt, Greece, Rome to a lesser extent (mostly because it’s more documented and so there are less edges to build stories into), China. I’m interested in the Anazazi and other peoples who have disappeared. I’m interested in the Britons and the Celts and knights and druids—in fact, I am interested in just about everything. Mostly because of the people and the stories involved.

I wouldn’t want to live in any of those places, but I don’t mind learning about them and using them in stories.
June 6, 2018 at 11:33pm
June 6, 2018 at 11:33pm
Life is about creating yourself, not finding yourself. Do you agree?

Okay. Here’s another difficult one. I mean, life is complicated. I guess my answer has to be no, because in my point of view, creation and discovery are not mutually exclusive.

What I mean is this. Life happens. In the process, we grow and develop as people. We are continually adding layers of self that make us into a new version of ourselves—hopefully a better one. Sometimes we peel layers away as the creative process continues. Like a ceramicist working with clay, we add and subtract, leave for a while, come back, put it in the oven, bake it until it’s strong enough to bear the glaze. Sometimes it’s knocked about, and some things happen to the form that we’re becoming that we can only react to. After all, we don’t choose to go blind or lose a child or contract diabetes. But what we make of that, whether we are smashed and have to rebuild with superglue and duct tape or whether we work through the pain . . . there is creation happening at all times.

However, we don’t necessarily know the end result until we discover it within ourselves. Here we are, making ourselves and we think we’re making a simple life involving a lot of reading and writing and then suddenly, without knowing how it happens, we look at ourselves and realize there is something unexpected. There’s a talent there or an accomplishment or a beauty or a disharmony that we didn’t know we had or didn’t know we were making. Life is occasionally being surprised about who we are and what we can do.

Sometimes, we don’t know who we’ve made of ourselves until we are placed in a pressure situation and then we find that we are . . . well, what are we? Are we the hero or the rogue plot element or the villain or the miracle? Living means that sometimes we surprise ourselves. I live. Therefore I create myself continually, pausing as I pass through particularly life filled moments so that I can find who I am, again.

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