Monday, September 16, 2013

The Metamorphoses of a Blog

If you live in Monterey, then you know that summer begins in September. Tourists pile in by the thousands, beginning Memorial Day weekend and continue pouring in through Labor Day.  They wear shorts, tank tops, sunglasses. They're equipped with beach umbrellas, coolers, rubber floaties.
And to their surprise, they freeze their asses off because it's foggy as all hell May-August.

I can't get enough of this delicious sunshine. I can describe it much like Goldilocks described the 3 bowls of porridge she tasted at the bears' kitchen table..."This one is much too hot... This one is much too cold... But this one (Monterey) is just right."  And it is. It's been a delightful 78-82 degrees for a couple of weeks and holding steady.

And I'm holding steady too. Holding steady to the unflappable truth that the only thing in life we can be certain of is change. I'm holding steady to dreams and personal ambitions as well, be they small, be they simple. I have a handful, as I'm sure all of you do. Mine tend to hover in the writing/photography, art and publishing realm. They're the kind of dreams, though, that have vivid, detailed beginnings; ones you easily recall upon waking, but whose endings fizzle away into incompletion with no recollection.   
I dream of a poem being published in The Sun Magazine or my screenplay being read by someone who matters.  I daydream about my blog picking up a big corporate sponsor or two and actually earning bank for my writing. And yes, I dream about having "follow-through". I can't begin to imagine what that feels like. I've started 6 or more short stories, 3 children's books, a box full of interviews, a folder of photographs, stacks upon stacks of poetry. I've hoarded about 50 skateboards, that my dear mother-in-law picked up for me at yard sales for 2 bucks each, because I will in fact do artwork on them again one day. I'm the girl with the ideas.  I'm the girl who could come up with a hundred business plans, but YOU, not me, will have to see the project through to the end.

I'm holding steady to the idea that I can move forward on some of these projects and if I don't? Well, if they all just spill out of my soul and into boxes, folders and computer hard drives, then at least I can say that the spilling brought me quiet satisfaction and released a part of me that needed to be un-caged at that moment. I'm particularly interested in interviews. I have this deeply rooted desire to ask and listen, ask and listen. I would like to interview individuals, one each week, for this blog. Simple people. Complex people. Misfits. Trend-setters. Whatever. The desire stems from a firm belief, that is wedged, etched, carved in my core; that individual lives, individual stories are worth hearing and are what truly matters.

Oh yes, I can spew about the economy, war versus peace, women's issues, lgbtq rights, animal abuse, poverty...but really, at the end of the day, it's an individual's experience that is worth remembering.  Think of your own lives. Can we really recall points, figures, images as much as we  can recall a conversation that moved us?

I have a hobby: I like to watch. ;) I can sit for hours on a park bench, at a bus station, in a coffeehouse and just watch people.  My dream is to interview them, not just watch them. Kind of win their trust, open them up a bit with sincerity and charm, and then ask some interesting and important questions. Then, listen.  Just listen to them, which is a skill in and of itself and sometimes challenging. I'd like to sit back and let them spill because most people like to spill. That spillage is the story, the significant piece of non-fiction that we can all relate to.  Listening to individuals connects us as humans and frankly, we all need to feel connected.

There's a man, a black man with soft eyes and weathered skin. He always wears a red and charcoal flannel shirt and jeans, sometimes a baseball cap that's frayed around the edges. He usually can be spotted in front of the Starbucks in Seaside or at the bike trail where they hand out free meals each evening. His large cardboard sign reads, "VIETNAM VET. ANYTHING HELPS. GOD BLESS YOU."  This man interests me. He intrigues me and his story is my story and your story.  I feel as if I want to look into him, not simply at him from afar. Why, you ask? Because this man's experiences are part of a bigger tapestry whose threads stitch together the very fabric of our existence. Not just his!  You see from afar, we can think, "Oh, I hope he's ok." or "I wonder if I have a buck to give him." or some might think, "He's probably not really a vet. What a gimmick."  But to actually speak with him for 15 minutes, ask him his name, his opinions on various subjects, where he grew up and so on, might offer up an understanding and bring some enlightenment in the form of not just kindness but authentic connection.

It's perhaps the difference between looking out on a field of brown-skinned farmworkers and thinking, "Wow, that's difficult, back-breaking work" and sitting one-on-one with one of the workers, over coffee perhaps, and asking her about her life. It's the difference between noticing a store owner behind a counter and asking him how he's doing today. Sometimes, that's all it takes to spark a connection that brings people together. There in lies the understanding.
There in lies the element of being human.
This is my dream for my own personal growth and for this blog. Because by sharing those interactions/interviews with y'all, an even larger group of strangers unite in the commonality of being human. I've touched on this subject before, but never truly dissected it. I could, at best, compare it with dipping my toes in the ocean but never diving into the wave. I wanna dive into that wave now, head first! Could be frightening. Could hit hard on the ocean floor. Could tumble and crash against the rocks. It's a risk that I'm willing to take. I'm also listening to one of my best friends, who I can always count on to be straight-up with me. She told me, in so many words, that the blogs are getting a bit repetitive and that I had the ability to expand my writing, to venture out more. Her words, along with my personal desires and unfinished projects, have brought me to this moment.

Oh, don't panic! I will still be writing about the escapades of Sweet Pea and The Cousin! But there's small changes in the air for them too.  The Cousin is about to have her world rocked, big time, with the arrival of a new sibling on September 30! (Hopefully, the child will be born with a safety helmet on.) And Sweet Pea's mom will soon be in transition and between jobs, so she will be home with Sweet Pea more...Where does that leave the nanny?  Well, we met last night to discuss it and I basically said, "You're keeping me! End of story."  But life does bring change and that we can depend on. I roll pretty well with change. Hell, I intentionally change my hairstyle and color every other month. It's awesome when I want to remain anonymous in a crowded room.  So, beginning October, I begin my journey with them in new and changing ways. I'll still be bringing you the lowdown, just other things as well to kind of mix it up. Things like observations and hopefully, interviews.  But those little girls, who have melted my heart, and yours, like butter in mama's skillet, will certainly be hanging around too.
Perhaps, my first interview will be with The Cousin. Now that would prove insightful!
And readership, I'd love your feedback as my blog metamorphoses into new shapes, new conversations and explores unchartered waters.  
To be continued...

"We be stylin"

"I love to get her to this manic state."

"Baa Bee, that's the funniest joke I've heard in a long time."

"I'll be back!"


  1. I love you, Val. And I am Definitely listening!
    Thank you for showing up with all the humor, insight and humanity that you do!
    Write ON! Change, Good!

  2. Go for it! Yes, Yes! Venture out and do some interviews and let us know what you find. My guess is....LOTS! You're a natural at getting people to relax and engage in a meaningful conversation that's worth passing along to all of us. I can't wait!
    As for your dreams that are in the wings, well, it was good to admit this, for I'll bet we all have some of these. And yes, as corny as it seems, the process of accumulating folders of poems and photos and in itself, liberating. Freeing us that creative spirit...writing down those moments that absolutely must be recorded. That is a wonderfully satisfying feeling! Even if you just share these with a couple of friends. It still counts... I'm excited for you and for your new blogging ventures and stories and can't wait to read them. Much love in your new quest! And keep those haiku poems coming, too!!