Are you part of someone’s tribe? Has the tribe spoken?

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There’s thing going around about being part of someone’s tribe. (It may be blasé by now and perhaps marketers have moved onto something else because I’m often behind the latest trends…but anyway….) The idea here is that a writer or otherwise creative entrepreneur type person needs a tribe. A group of people so dedicated to them that they spread the word. Offer support. Pledge undying loyalty to the person, their products and/or their brand.

Now aside from family, which I think is actually a tribe of sorts, isn’t this a little bit weird? Even your group of friends could be a tribe, I guess. Or your co-workers. But like total strangers?

Am I missing something?

I’m a writer and I write books and I’d love people to buy those books. But do I want a Jim Jones mob following my every move and quoting me to others? Is that really the idea? Do I want my face to be the favorite Halloween mask next year? Didn’t they used to call this hero worship or some such?

See, I’m asking all these questions because I don’t know

What about you guys. Do you have tribes? Or are you part of a tribe? Do you wear special costumes? Have your own line of makeup? A secret handshake? A nifty decoder ring? Do you all post baby pictures on Facebook at a designated time every Thursday? Go for teepee camp outs and such?

Let me know. Educate me. Explain it to me. What is this tribe thing all about?

Writer Chick

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Browser Hell

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I don’t know about you but lately I’ve been having a lot of trouble with browsers. Actually, maybe it’s longer than lately. It all started two months ago when I downloaded a funky trojan horse (all because of my love of the Gilmore Girls) and ended up having to reformat my hard drive.

I had been using Firefox, so I thought okay, I’ll download Firefox again – slight problem, ff3 was all that I could find. No good, I tried that once and it wasn’t pretty – so off I went looking for Firefox 2. Luckily I found it. Well, maybe not so lucky since it just didn’t work right like before. Downloads were too long, sometimes ending up in this endless loop.

I decided to try Chrome. That was way too minimal. Back to Firefox. Until it just drove me up the wall the other night. I had been talking to a friend who mentioned she’d been using Chrome, so I thought I’d give it a try again. And I did. For about 36 hours I had Chrome and while it was better than the first time I used it – I lost all my bookmarks, it doesn’t believe in tool bars and I lost my stumble bar. Apparently I had an old version. The new version – nope, not liking that either. Dang!

So today I decided on Opera. Now Opera isn’t so bad – it’s a bit weird on the tab issue and if you close one tab you close them all. It too doesn’t have a stumble bar but it does have all these other weird bars, that are sort of neat and yet annoying at the same time.

Out of frustration I even switched over to Internet Explorer (since there is no way in hell to ever get rid of IE when you have a PC) but it seems to be trying to imitate Firefox and plus I just never liked it very much anyway, so back to Opera.

I toyed with the idea of Flock but its add ons are Firefox and the code is Mozilla based – so it made me decide against it. Also I just couldn’t bear to download yet another browser only to discover I don’t like it either.

It’s things like this that make me realize what a dinosaur I am – I just don’t like the updates that folks do to what originally seem like great little programs. Maybe I just can’t keep up with the times but it seems like either you have to have a browser with everything under the sun or nothing at all. Is there no ‘in between’ browser that I can be happy with?

How about you? What browser do you use? What’s good about it? Is there another browser out there to try that I haven’t mentioned? Thoughts, opinions, rants?

I'm a Slacker-Bitch

Okay, so here’s the deal. I haven’t been around to see anybody lately. I am a total shameless slacker-bitch and feel free to call me names because I probably deserve it. But I’ve been a little (a whole lot actually, like a lot!) distracted lately – in a really really good way and well…what can I say. It’s been gooooooood. God willing and hoping that I can actually lasso a little focus, I’ll be around to visit y’all – soon. Maybe even today.

Fate

Is there such a thing? Really? Or do we just convince ourselves that a number of coincidences add up to it?

Is everything that happens in our lives meant to happen. Are we meant to meet the people we meet? Become friends, lovers, in-laws. Is it all going according to some master plan? Or do we have some wiggle room? I’m a bit torn on the issue there are certain things that have happened in my life that I truly believe were meant to be. That were inevitable. That no matter what I did or where I turned that that situation, event or person would have still found their way into my life. It’s a little spooky actually to feel that way about something or someone, and luckily it doesn’t happen too often for me or I’d really be whigged out about it. Although it does happen often enough that I have to wonder, are some things meant to be?

On the other hand, so much of life is random, inexplicable and wild. There is nothing master plan or organized about it. As though we are all just thrown into a white water river and must do our best to ride the rapids down to the peaceful water, if there is any. And if we can stay alive long enough to get there.

I have come to the conclusion that it must be a mixture that somehow there is a fate of sorts. Perhaps it has to do with one’s own master plan, one’s own dream and needs in life and on occasion life let’s us have something we really want or to be with someone we really want to be with – so that when it screws us over continually on most everything else we can feel grateful?

Possibly even feel like we have some cause or control over our own destinies. I do prefer to think that way, rather than believe that everything is already planned and mapped out. If that is the case, then what point is there in living my life? What point is there in making any plans? None I think.

Still….there are those moments that seem overwhelmingly destined to happen, that you know were meant to be. Maybe life is just trying to confuse us? I’m not sure I have any point here. What do you think? Opinions, ideas, recipes?

Leave 'em Laughing

An old adage from show business, which I suspect started in the Vaudeville days. The logic being that if you could keep the crowd laughing and happy, no harm in the form of a giant hook would come after you. Yep, that would be me. I am that girl. I have been since I can remember. There is just something in me that has always been able to coax a laugh out of anyone. Even people who despise me.

And when you learn something early on in life, it gets used a lot and also, it becomes part of your arsenal of survival. I wouldn’t say I grew up in an unhappy home – but there was a lot of fighting and noise and my mother bless her heart is one high strung woman. Apparently, it was for her, that God gave me this gift. It seemed no matter how upset she would become I could always manage to crack her up. As long as I could stay detached it worked out pretty well.

So, I grew up with this weapon of humor. There were points in my life that I had a repertoire of 200-300 jokes and I could literally tell jokes for 2 hours straight, barely taking a breath in between. Which was good because I was kind of scrawny and geeky when I was a kid and it was probably the only thing that kept the popular kids (read bullies) from humiliating me along with the other geeks and stuffing me in trash cans and lockers. Needless to say, I developed this talent to a veritable art form expanding from mere humor and jokes into witty repartee, sarcasm and ascerbic adventures and continued to hone it through the years.

So much so that it became just who I was. And I have to say that for most of my life I have always thought of myself as the funny chick. You know, not the pretty one, not the popular one, not the smart one, not the talented one, the funny one. That was my personna. Don’t believe me, ask anyone who knows me to describe me, the first word out of their mouth will be funny…. and, so on.

So, when I got the blogging bug, as so many of us have, what would make more sense than to do funny stuff. Write funny pieces, stories, anecdotes, satire, political rants seasoned just right with a blend of sarcasm and potty jokes. Yup – that was Writer Chick. Nobody ever came to my blog without leaving with a smile on their face. I can promise you that was the case. Because you see, it was the goal. Though secretly I longed to write other things, well actually I did, but I longed to post them here. And actually I did a couple of times and as Michael likes to say, ‘they went over like a fart in church’. So, I knew that wasn’t going to fly – yet I still had the need to write the ‘other’ stuff. So, I started another blog so that I could do that – and no this is not an invitation for people to ask about the other blog and get a link and visit, because if that blog was something you wanted to read it would already be on your radar – in other words don’t worry about that.

But the point I guess, if there is a point, which I’m seriously beginning to wonder about – is this, I got myself into this mindset that the only reason anybody came here was so they could get laugh and then move about their business. And in essence sort of created my own monster, no one made me feel that way it was wholly created by me. Nonetheless, the blog began to feel a little bit like a prison that held me in a certain cell and would not let me out in the exercise yard. And I started to really think that my only worth in the blog world was the laughtrack. Again, this was me making me think this, no one else. But it made me restless and made me want to pull the plug on the blog, made me want to do something else – yet somehow I just couldn’t quite get there, let it all go. 500 plus posts, all the hours, all the time, all the energy – I couldn’t quite throw it in the trash.

So then the new solution became self hosting. It was going to somehow make me feel that I wasn’t trapped in the good humor truck and that I could offer other flavors of ice cream and it would be new and exciting. Well, not so much. With the new blog now, not only did I have a litany of crap I had to learn and clearly didn’t understand on the technical end, I lost my page rank, my stats tanked and I wasn’t sure if anyone was reading at all, funny or not. Crap! Now what?

Well, slowly but surely I believe I have evolved if one can do such a thing in the blog world. I like the humor, truly I do and lately I’m missing it – and I want to round it up again – but also have other things to say. Things that aren’t funny, that may even be quite serious or a bummer, but I’m okay with it now. Because the truth is I am the funny chick and I will always be, but now I know I don’t always have to be funny. That’s actually pretty cool and somewhat of a relief, you know what I mean. And crap, I hope this post made some sense.

What Do You Do With the Love, Once You Get It?

We humans are a pretty complicated lot. I suppose that’s as obvious as gum melting on a hot sidewalk, yes? I like to ponder this particular fact often. I suppose, like most of us, I crave a certain amount of attention, love, appreciation. That’s normal, right?

So, why is it that whenever that happens I get all blushy and bashful and in some cases downright embarrassed? Seriously, the little child within me is a mass of teeming contradictions. She tries so hard to please people, make people laugh, write good things that have some sort of impact on others. Tries to learn life’s lessons and live the moral to the stories. Yet…

Whenever anyone gives her a pat on the head, utters an ‘atta girl’ and in some cases gushes beautifully over something she has done – her first inclination is to deny it? To think, “aw, they are just being nice”?

Why is it, that she can’t just say thank you without embarrassment? Without feeling like it’s not really true, or that it is a pity tip (that is a phrase coined long ago by some waitress, somewhere, to mean that you get a large tip because some kindly customer sees you are having the worst of bad hair days and other customers are being mean to you, so they try to right the imbalance by giving you a hideously large tip to make up for it).

What’s that dizzy, dancy, queasy feeling that snakes its way up through your gut into your throat and makes you feel like you need some sort of medication?

Is it (in my case) just that Catholic guilt thing, pride goeth before the fall, being humble is better and if you’re a good and honest person, that’s how you should feel? Is it genetic? I don’t have the thank you, gene? A family trait – I come from a long line of farmers – so maybe it’s my lot to just hoe the garden and feed the hungry and not expect or want or accept thanks? You see what I mean about the little girl who lives in there, inside my head?

I still can’t quite figure out how to accept a compliment gracefully as they say. My first response is always some sort of humorous self deprecating comment. Sometimes I can take a deep breath, give myself a silent pep talk, force down the blood pressure and just say thank you. Yet, even then the response just doesn’t seem quite right. Not sufficient. I see others do it so well, like honey glistening on flower petals. Effortlessly and gracefully and I think, “golly bob, how the heck do they do that?” I think perhaps I’ll never know.

Maybe some of us, like me for example, are just meant to trip and stammer over the compliments and find a pill that will keep us from turning bright red in mixed company. Probably.

So…how do you handle the love when you get it? Are you a basket of twittering giggles or do you just absorb it and breath it in like fresh air?

Something in the Air?

Every now and then, you hit a rough patch in life. It always seems to come out of nowhere and often comes when it seems you are just about to hit your stride. Whenever that happens I find myself getting wound up into the twisty road of ‘why’.

In the last few weeks, lots of stuff has been swirling all around. A friend of mine is very concerned about their parent, my friend Kelly, as most of you know, was in a very bad car accident, Roomie’s friend was just diagnosed with cancer and still other friends are having difficulties too, to a lesser degree. It makes me wonder, is there something in the air?

I tend to be a little supersticious, or maybe just paranoid – but this is very unsettling to me. Although, this year has been filled with lots of changes, some good, some bad, generally speaking my life tends to be even and calm. When something gets in the mix that riles that up, I look inward to see if there is something I’m doing that is causing it. In this case, it wouldn’t seem so, since most of it is happening around me and isn’t specifically about me. Which makes it worse because there is precious little I can do about it, except watch it unfold.

Since Kelly’s accident, it is nearly impossible for me to not to think about it and her most of the time. I find it hard to concentrate on the rest of my life but know that I must. I will be no good to her or anyone else if I steep myself in worry and concern and don’t focus on the daily tasks that are necessary to get on in life. Yet, when I do this, I feel guilty as though I am letting her down. Truth be told, I felt that way the entire time I was in Seattle. Not only could I not fix things (an unrealistic goal, of course, but that has never stopped me) but I was so distressed and upset personally, that I spent much of my time there trying not to fall apart around Kelly and her family – especially her children. Consequently, I spent a lot of time out on their deck, late at night, crying when everyone else was asleep.

Maybe that is the normal response to situations like this, I really don’t know – the last time I had someone in my life in a critical and dire condition was when I was twelve years old and my grandfather was in and out of the hospital. From that standpoint, I should count myself as lucky, because most of the people in my life are healthy and happy and doing well.

I could just adopt the view that sometimes things just happen. That is true enough, yet still, with Kelly it shouldn’t have happened – not because she is my friend or because she is a good person – but because it just doesn’t fit. She is an adventurous woman, an excellent driver, very perceptive and intuitive and doesn’t fit the profile of someone who would get into an accident. I just can’t get that out of my mind. I just can’t stop wondering what happened – was she upset just before the accident, did something get her so riled up that she wasn’t paying attention? These questions and many more swirl around in my head whenever I think about it but I find no answers – and may never.

As far as I can tell, Kelly wasn’t aware of my being there and/or if she was, she didn’t know me. It’s possible that that part of her memory is gone and she may never know me again – except in the context of now. As though life came along and decided to pluck parts of her life away from her and is holding them hostage for an unknown ransome.

And though it’s futile and not well-advised I can’t but help to ask, why? Why Kelly? Why now? Maybe someday I’ll find the answer but for now, I am stuck with only the the continuous and never ending winding road of questions.

Is There Any Good News?

Is there anything good going on in the world, because I need to hear about it. Predictions of $100 a barrell oil (which means $8 a gallon for us?), people nervous about Iran, our leaders have zero percent approval and all of the candidates for the next big race stink. California almost burned to the ground, people get ruder every day, you can’t smoke in your car and several cities apparently, we’re all going to be paying for universal healthcare, Al Gore is a hero, Bin Laden is just misunderstood, taxes will go up, Hillary will win by default, stop signs mean nothing and McDonald’s is considered a restaurant?

I know I could stick my head in the sand and think of only puppy dogs and butterflies. Not read the news or listen to the radio and forget about politics. I could get my hands on some feel good meds and look at the nice sunset. I could write stories where life is fair and everybody lives happily ever after…But…

I’m too scared to look away. Too scared to pretend this too shall pass. Too scared that not enough of us are paying attention. Too scared that the chicken littles are winning the game and we won’t know it until we’re just part of the Matrix.

Things are just looking too much like a bad sci-fi movie to me, with all of us as the unwitting bit players, saying our lines, while thinking about what we’ll have for lunch.

Zelda would say, ‘hey it’s just something to do. It’ll change, it always does.” But does it? Will it? Does the bad never end?

WC

Time to Manage

A couple of decades ago, or maybe longer, there was a big whoop dee doo about time management. Whole industries sprung up from that concept. I think somebody wrote a book or maybe several somebodies did because it sure caught on. Now you can’t go in a bookstore without a million books on how to manage your time.

And of course there are the requisite tools that go with such concepts: day planners, month at a glance, palm pilots, blackberries, appointment calenders, net meetings, alarm clocks, timers, schedule templates, pop up reminder features on email programs, electronic calenders, beeping cell phones. And more.

I hate schedules. Always have, always will. Ironically, I am quite good at organizing. Others. Not myself. I am loath to discipline myself and put myself on a schedule. I tell myself constantly…Monday, I’m starting….(fill in the blank). Because I never really do it. I always find some reason not to. The guilt sometimes overcomes me and makes me do things but I resent it. I have gotten accustomed to my little cursing voice that tells me what a loser and schedule slacker I am. It’s merely a buzz in my ear that is easily remedied with a q-tip and turning up the radio dial.

BUT, I’ve realized something. I need to do it. I must do it. Somehow I have got to do it. With my current job, I have less time, a longer commute, longer hours. No longer can I just bee bop home at 4 p.m. and be there by 4:10 p.m. The round trip commute takes an hour and twenty daily. Plus if there are errands to run, dog food to buy or stop offs to make I’m home even later. I have to hit the ground running and I just haven’t been doing that. How do you squeeze work, exercise, blogging, writing, marketing, quality time with friends, gardening and veg-out time into 2.5 less hours per day?

That is my quandry. That is my challenge. I must work it out.

Any suggestions? Any tips? Please don’t refer to gadgets or software though because I will be sure to get lost in the learning curve and by the time I master it I will no longer be interested. I need tricks. I need ways to fool myself into getting a handle on this thing before I am forever lost to slackdom and a lifetime of computer Mah Jong. It’s a curse I’m telling you a real curse. Thoughts?

WC

I Think my Job is Making me Sick

I went home from work early yesterday and took a sick day today. I’ve just been feeling crappy. Aching, exhausted, light-headed and just generally beat to hell. It’s probably just the heat and not being hydrated enough. Since I (conveniently) work in a doctor’s office, they took my vitals and everything checked out. Could be a bug or a virus or something. But it’s probably the heat.

But it’s had me thinking. I’ve made no secret that my current job has been quite the rollercoaster ride from day one and there are days I truly threaten to jump out the first floor window – but maybe it’s more than that. I feel like I’ve changed. I don’t laugh as much, I’m tired a lot. I’ve gained weight (as though I needed more of that!), my appetite is weird. I don’t want to see friends or do things. I just want to hide in my room and read or surf the web. I haven’t had a real adventure in ages and lately I just feel old and used up.

Can a job do that to you, or is it a coincidence? Can it really change your demeanor and outlook on life? Can it turn you from an optimistic goofball to a pessimistic grumbler? Make you feel uggo when you used to think you were pretty cute. Make you second guess yourself, lose confidence? I wonder. Because all of that and more has happened since I started there.

I’m sure the common response will be “Quit, who needs that?” But it’s not that simple. I have financial obligations, I need to eat, a place to live, food for my dog and cat, Internet connection, phone and so on. I’m not a twenty something up and commer who would have her choice of any kind of job out there. And even if I were, good paying jobs don’t grow on trees as Ma used to say.

So, what do you do when your job seems to be eating you alive but you have to keep it? I’ve tried compartmenting it in my mind. You know the routine, leave the job at the office and enjoy your life once you’re out of there. But by the time I get home, I just want to bury my head. I have no energy for anything. I force myself to do things – the laundry, cook dinner, blog, take care of the garden – but my heart isn’t in it.

What do you do when you’re in this situation? Or are you in this situation or ever been in this situation. I’m curious to know. I sometimes think that everyone goes through this and I’m just being a whiner and need to get over myself – other times I’m not so sure.

What do you think?

WC