Wednesday, July 26, 2006

You Want A Piece Of Me?

I'm still parallel-playing at my age. I cannot resist a challenge. I'm a keener when it comes to questionnaires. I'm an open book - and I'd probably tell you this stuff even if you didn't ask. But, since you asked...

Hi. I am Marla Good. My blog is called Hello Josephine.

This is Josephine:



Those were the first words I ever said to her. "Hello, Josephine."


You did ask, didn't you?





Yes. That.


What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

You know, before I had a child, I never thought much about kids unless they were either piercing my eardrums with shrieks or somehow spattering me with their ectoplasm. I believe that there were jokes made upon hearing babies cry about my ovaries shriveling up and falling out my pant leg. But at some point...okay, at the point when I was pregnant and watched Cold Mountain and there was that scene...you know it...when the soldiers laid the baby on the cold ground and tied the woman to the stake to get her to confess to the whereabouts of her cow? I lost it then and there. Now I cannot stand the thought of children being hurt. In the slightest - whether it's me not wanting to play "What's Your Name" with Josie for the fiftygazillionth time or children being starved and abused here in Toronto, or the children of famine and war all around the world. Add to that my sorrow for the parents of these children - oh crap, I could barely stand upright if I let those thoughts enter any further into my conscience. I would never stop getting all Sally Struthers if I let myself go. So I take my meds and I do what I can to feel like I may have eased a little misery here and there. I could do more.



What is your idea of earthly happiness?

A clear conscience. Mine's pretty good, it gets a little singed, but never really burnt. But, you know, snuggling with my family in the half-awake/half-asleep state is hard up under that. But I couldn't really enjoy it if my conscience was smoldering, so conscience first, then cuddles.



To what faults do you feel most indulgent?

Self-indulgence. I take the fluffier pillows, the fattier bit of steak, the larger serving of ice cream and I steal time to accomplish things that matter most to me only, to blog, to read and to write. I procrastinate, I over-promise, and I like to think that my charm and wit will help cover-up what my generosity doesn't compensate for. And, because this question is preceded by one wherein I mention my conscience - I don't feel bad about any of that stuff. Much. I mean, it's like grabbing the oxygen mask first. Or the Nutella first. Whatever.



Who are your favorite heroes/heroines of fiction?

Katie Carr in "How to be Good" by Nick Hornby. She was the inspiration for my contribution to an upcoming panel discussion that I feel honoured to be invited to participate in. She came up with a brilliant solution to a problem more pervasive than anyone wants to admit.


Charlotte, in Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White.
In her short life, she knew her position in life, her duty, and yet still wanted to do one good thing for a friend. Her life was complex, but clear. I'm envious of that balance.

The ubiquitous Elizabeth Bennet, for her preciseness in speaking. Of course I know it was Austen's writing, but how prudently were her words chosen, even in passion - the very opposite of a lot of the careless spewing that often goes into blogs.




Who are your heroes/heroines in real life?

Anyone who does more than I do, which is practically everyone. Whether it's single-parenting, swimming across a lake, having more kids, surviving a disease, following a dream, saving lives, making a charitable difference...the list is endless. Man, I SUCK. Where's the hair shirt?



Who are your favorite characters in history?

Oh, cripes. I'm not running for Miss America here.



What historical figures do you most despise?

Evil meanies. The usual ones.



What is the quality you most admire in a man or woman?

“Everyone tries to define this thing called Character. It's not hard. Character is doing what's right when nobody's looking.”



What is your favorite virtue?

Of the Cardinal Virtues? Courage. I would like to have more, but luckily I haven't really needed it anyway.

Of the Theological Virtues? Hope. Without hope, I wouldn't even bother to open my eyes in the morning.

Of the Contrary Virtues? Diligence against sloths. The are so slow-moving that algae grows on them and they eat it. Disgusting. Oh...sloth? That too.

Of the Heavenly Virtues?
Fortitude. I carry on despite how I am, but what if things were worse? Holy crap, I'd suck. I've said it before - I'd be first down at the Donner Party.



Who or what would you have liked to be?

The person I could have been if I'd always tried a little harder - but without losing who or what I am now. So it's un-possible to be anything but me, as I am.



Where would you like to live?

Austin, Texas. It's weird, and some people want it to stay that way.

And we just might just make that move one day.



What is your most marked characteristic?

Verbosity, which is excellent for my liberal applications of sarcasm - both of which are hopefully tempered by some humility, and all together, they allow me to express myself as I really am. Otherwise, I'd burst.



What do you most value in your friends?

Understanding. Hopefully they love me for who I am, not how I am.



What is your principle defect?

Thoughtlessness. And over-thinking. A winning combination!



What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?

To be given everything I ever asked for. I mean, perfect teeth and skin wouldn't be something to regret, but what would I do with that pony now? And when I wanted to grow up to be a lone wolf journalist living from story to story, looking for soul in the cold, cruel world...where and who would I be now without the family I chose, and that not only chose me, but keeps choosing me every day?



What is your favorite bird?

The Swallow. They have so many symbolic meanings, most importantly, that home is near.

"Swallows- Because of its annual return, the swallow is often used as a symbol of spring, increasing light, fertility, regeneration, and birth and awakening. In Mali, swallows are considered symbols of purity because they never land on the ground. One of the most fortunate of birds, to see a swallow in the early days of spring is very lucky. If swallows nest in the eaves of your house, success, happiness, good fortune and protection from storms are assured for all."



Who are your favorite prose writers?

E.B. White, James Herriott, Ann Marie MacDonald, Damon Runyan, O.Henry, Raymond Chandler, and there are more, of course.



Who are your favorite poets?

E.B. White, Sarah Teasdale (when I was 12 - snerk - get me!). Mary. I should read more poetry.



Who are your favorite composers/musicians?

Dave Alvin, Dolly Parton, Richard Thompson, Etta James, Paul Westerberg, the Clash, Harlan Howard, Dan Kershaw, Nudie and the Turks, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone. Gillian Welch. Johnny Cash. Hank Williams. Josephine. And more, of course.



Who are your favorite artists?

Margaret Kilgallen, Isabel Samaras, Bryce McCloud , Camille Rose Garcia , Jim and Jimmy, and all of the wonderful folk artists that dared to just create because well, they just had to, and I mustn't forget Frederica Tomas.

But most of all, Steve.





What are your favorite names?

Josephine and Pasquale and Beauty. But I really like certain words more than names: Frond. Appetite. Beauty. Perfidia. Ephemera. Viscous. Pea.




What is it you most dislike?

Learning my limitations. I really would rather think of myself as all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful, and able to do anything if I'd just try... but I keep getting reminded that I'm human, and it's such a bummer.



What natural gift would you most like to possess?

I would love to sing. I mean, I do sing, but I would like for it to sound as beautiful to others as it does to me.



How would you like to die?

Readily, willingly, ably and TIMELY. Timelyly. Shit, nothing sounds right. When it's time.



What is your present state of mind?

Contemplative.



What is your motto?

Leave the party while you're still having fun. On the flip side of that, never sample the dregs.





Oh wait...this is about blogging?



What is the quality you most admire in a blogger?

Um, is the term "voice" applicable here as a quality? Because I like for a blogger to write as she speaks, and to speak as she thinks, and to think as she feels - and to speak and feel and think about her unique experience. And when it comes out right, it has to make me want to hump her leg with gleeful admiration.



What is your most marked blogging characteristic (or, how would you describe your blog)?

A picture is worth a thousand words, but with me, you're going to get the thousand words anyway. Plus another three hundred for extra credit. And, you know, Boo Boo.




What is your greatest virtue as a blogger (what do you most like about your blog)?

That my blog is like my life: A mysterious, beautiful box of varied chocolate punching bags!

You never know what you're going to get...a blithering recap of various events, some of which may or not bear some relation to things I've mentioned before...an obscure link-sodden meme... a sensitive post that will make you wipe your nose on your bare arm if you have to...ten pounds of toddler charm in a five pound sack (and I mean it - it is chock full of cute toddler posts)...perhaps a freaky post about histrionic jerkitude in the form of a cat... and I don't know what the hell kind of rambling...all in between having DEEP THOUGHTS.



But blogging is not my life, and my blog does not tell everything about me. I could walk away from it. I think. Is there a test on this later?






What do you regard as the principle defect of your blog?

I have terrible blog manners. I don't have a blogroll or any bells and whistles. I have the basic boring "black template of death". I hate buttons and tags and thingies. I don't always respond to comments, even lovely ones, the way I maybe should. And man, my readers are pretty great. I lurk at many blogs daily, and don't even leave a simple comment when I know comments make people so so happy. And I'm a trifle regretful about these things. But not enough to make me do something about it (See thoughtlessness above). But if I did it all the way I'd love to, it'd be a full time job and I already have enough jobs (See over-thinking above).

I view it much as I view my garden - it's mine, and I nurture it for myself mainly, but kind of for others to enjoy too (The term "as a by-product" comes to mind, but I'm not that careless.) (How about in a shy-exhibitionist way? Is that better?). Stop and smell the flowers, smile or say something if you want to or keep on walking and that's more than fine and hey, look out for Boo Boo, and if you're going to shit in my garden, at least let me know what fence I should lob it back over after I scoop it up and make fun of it.




It's amazing enough to me that I have a blog (and a real garden, for that matter) at all. From time to time I'll scatter some seeds and point out some other lovely gardens, but really, it's mine to do what I want with. It's all optional. It has to be enough for me that I get to post, because those are already enough of the stolen moments. Spending a minute more time or effort on anything beyond content is squandering time I could be using to smell my daughter's head.

(Waves at all of the readers and commenters she really does appreciate, and ducks behind the hydrangeas, resuming gardening as if nobody is watching.)



What character of fiction do you most wish had a blog?

Nobody, really. Do people go around wishing for stuff like this? Cripes. I can barely keep up as it is. Okay, maybe, if movie characters count, Veronica, from Heathers. Before, during and after the body count, please.


What historical or real life person do you most wish had a blog?

My mothers (biological and adoptive) and grandmothers. There's so much that I want to know, but could never, don't want to or can no longer ask. (Wow - a rather heartfelt answer after that last one!) And I cannot wait to read Josephine's.



What is your present state of blog (present state of mind as a blogger)?

Flux.

Of course in the meaning flowing in and flowing out.

Not so much with the archaic diarrhea or dysentery meaning.

Perhaps in the abnormal discharge of matter from or within the body meaning.

Quite possibly in the amount of of radiant energy across a given area meaning.

Most certainly in the continuous change meaning.

Euphemistically in the substance mixed with a solid to lower its melting point meaning.

Cutely in the verb transitive: to treat with a flux to promote melting.

And yes, as simply as in the origins of the word, from late Middle English deriving from the Latin "fluxus" - to flow.

For that matter, yes, all of the others that my friend the Thesaurus provides: continuous change, changeability, variability, inconstancy, fluidity, instability, unsteadiness, fluctuation, variation, shift, movement, oscillation, alternation, rise and fall, seesawing, yo-yoing.



And I say all that like it's a good thing.




What is your blog motto?

"Ever try to get snot off a cat?"

Seriously, no one has ever told me if they've tried to get snot off a cat. I'm still waiting. And I'll tell you - I have, and some hairs are going to come off with it, once you can get the cat to stand for it, which is after he gets over the initial insult. It was originally a throw-off from SnotFest 2006, but I kept it because, well - it's like those "like nailing Jell-o to a wall" sayings. They're funny because they're true.

So there. It really means "It's funny because it's true."


And you wanted a piece of me? You want a piece of me?!