Tag Archives: blog

I spy with my public eye

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Back home, I’m very protective about this blog – there is only a handful of people that know about it, generally because they stumbled upon it by accident, and I have literally asked them not to read (I can only hope they actually complied…). Here, however, I tend to be more sloppy, although most times I can deflect questions “oh, but that’s my Dutch blog, you wouldn’t understand it anyway”.

Right before summer, however, we were having a bbq with some friends. It was just a cosy, comfy afternoon, and as we were talking, something slipped – I’m not even sure what it was anymore, but it was clear to everyone that I’d written and published a non-fictional text in English.

You have to give us the link!

Ehm… how about no?

Needless to say, a lively discussion ensued. Why would I refuse to give the link? Why couldn’t they read something that was already out there anyways, open for everyone to read? How could I expect something that I posted on the Internet to remain private anyway?

They have a point, of course. It’s not like I break taboos here – I don’t talk about my sex life, I rarely discuss very personal things, I don’t bash my friends/coworkers, … in fact, I think there is little to no content to be found on this blog that I haven’t told anyone before, that I would get into trouble for or that I would be ashamed to admit that I wrote. There is nothing to hide here – so why do I insist on doing just that?

Because they might not like what they see – and it scares me shitless.

I can go to a public sauna, and I won’t even bother to wrap a towel around me when I leave the cabin to go shower. I will be surrounded by hundreds of strangers, men and women, and I won’t care in the least. Like what you see? Nice, thank you. Don’t like it? There’s a skinnier/rounder/bigger-breasted/better-whatever-you-want girl right over there, kindly re-direct your attention.
But now if I would go to the sauna with, let’s say, my dad, now that would be… awkward (and yes, that happened.).

And that’s how it goes in the blogosphere. There’s a whole lot of strangers passing by your writing, most of whom just glance and move on, while others actually like what they see and strike up a conversation, i.e. they comment or subscribe. You get the occasional side eye or disrespectful look, but there is always the excuse: they don’t even know me, what do they care, and what right do they have to judge me anyways?

That changes when people you actually know are added to the equation.

Because at the end of the day, I’m proud of my writing, I’m proud of what I’ve put out there – if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have published it in the first place. And while obviously I don’t want to obligate my friends/family to read my blog, if I give them the link I will expect them to read it. And I will expect feedback. So imagine -just imagine- that they don’t like it. That they find my writing boring, or pompous, or just completely pointless. Imagine they just don’t care. Either of two options will then happen: 1. they will lie to me or 2. they will tell me straight up my writing sucks. And that I won’t be able to brush that off the way I could with the (fairly) anonymous comments before.

I’m not sure I’m willing to take that risk (yet).

So here I am

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… on my own again.

I will have to get used to it – a fact which was demonstrated only now when I got home and wanted to open the front door by pressing the handle instead of using the key: for the past 2 weeks, someone was waiting for me here, and the front door wasn’t locked. It was great fun and we travelled around quite alot, although I managed to arrange some drama here and there with tears on both sides – I really have to learn when to shut up. Or actually, simply to shut up. Generally I know perfectly well when I should, the problem is I don’t. Maybe I’ll come back to this later, when I’ve arranged my thoughts on the subject a little bit better.

We’ve taken a whole lot of pictures, and thus I take advantage to change my header image to something of my own making – the Öresund bridge is very pretty, but everything is just so much prettier when you made it yourself ;). Below is the complete stitch (click to enlarge) which is unfortunately too wide for the header. I’ll try to post some of the better pictures in a later stage, once I’ve had the time to sort them all out and photoshop those in need of a straight horizon (seriously, one would think half of the pictures were taken while standing on a rocking ship!), but right now I’m just tired and wanna go to bed – I have just gotten home from work (it’s 10 pm) and it’ll be early day tomorrow (don’t feel too sorry for me… I only showed up at work around 1 pm today). Oh, and there’s 200+ posts waiting in my feed to be read…

Tomorrow…

Kullaberg, Sweden (courtesy from myself)

I’m an adult. When did that happen?

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Yeah, I confess, I’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy today.

I had an idea for a post in my head, it was really brilliant – something to do with The Rocky Horror Glee Show (watching Glee too, yes, I think you can feel where this is headed) and some very deep and life-shocking questions like: how come in Prude America cheerleaders’ skirts are that short? and do they really wear those

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

uniforms in class and like all.the.time? do people actually get Slushee’d (or however it’s supposed to be written)? what is a Slushee anyway? and is your “status” in high school really defined by whether you’re in chess club or physic’s club? I’m not even sure I know what’s the thing with these clubs, I mean, what does a “chastity club” do? and does anybody know how I could find out where there’s a Rocky Horror being played somewhere here in Sweden? ‘Cause I got the feeling I’m missing out on something here.
 
You know… the really Big Questions.

Instead I’ve been home all day. Hey, if authorities refuse to call what I do “work” and insist on naming it “personal development”, then I can decide that my “personal development” requires me to stay home all day and watch Grey’s Anatomy in bed. And eat chocolate. And ginger bread.

The season 1 cast of Grey's Anatomy

Meredith makes me think too much. (Image via Wikipedia)

And then dear old Meredith throws you one of her deep, sensible one-liners in your face on responsibility and growing up. It got me thinking. Which, in my case, is most often not a good thing: the line between thinking and worrying is very thin in my head.

We face many challenges in our lives. Primary school. High school. First love. Escaping our overly anxious parents. You’re 16 now, you can handle it. Friendships. Exams. College. Juggling extracurricular activities. First relationships. More exams. Internships. Living on your own. First jobs. First everything.

But you handle it. You handle it and you pull through, because you’re not on your own. You got friends, you got people surrounding you who go through the same stuff, the same problems, the same ups and the same downs, people you can relate to. You talk to each other, learn from each other and pull each other through, because you’re friends and that’s not only what friends are for, that’s what friends do. They pull you through.

So here I am. And I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to get a personnummer, or how to sort out my health insurance. I don’t know how to open a bank account, where to go to complain about my paycheck not being correct, or how to change my mortgage plan.
Meanwhile my friends are struggling with organizing their marriage, building a house, breastfeeding the baby, following up on the contractors, trying to survive the sleepless nights.

And there is so little left. So little to relate, to talk about. They can’t help me, I can’t help them. We’re in different places.
They envy me, they tell me, because I’m the adventurous one, the smart one, the one who’s enjoying life to the fullest before settling down. But really, it’s me who envies them. It’s me who, quite literally, ran away from the newly built houses, the weddings, and the babies, from the friends, because they have what I can’t. As it turns out, that may not have been quite the right response.

But I’m an adult. Supposedly. And thus I have to take responsibility for the choices I make. Which, in this case, means I’ll have to sit through a year of personal development in Sweden. And figure out how to get health insurance all by myself. I guess it could be worse, but I’m pretty sure it could be better.

 
 
Meanwhile, in an attempt to make the best of it, I managed to get invited to a Halloween party! And I have NO idea what I’m supposed to wear – I don’t have any old clothes or shoes or helmets or even cardboard here, so DIY options are pretty limited. I guess I could always wear my labcoat and go as a scientist, but then again, there’s not too much dressing up in that, is there? ;) (look o look, a smiley! I can still SMILE!) (well, at least digitally… ;) ). Any ideas?
On a completely unrelated note T is coming to visit for two whole weeks on Sunday. I am not yet sure what I will do – I don’t really have the time to pre-write that many posts and my archive is pretty thin as yet, so chances are it will be a bit quiet around here until mid-november. I am still preparing a Smörgåsbord and a quote for this weekend though, so I’ll keep you posted on what I’ve decided to do!

Five Ways to Get Featured on Freshly Pressed

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As you may or may not know, I am currently maintaining two blogs: this one, and The Other Blog. And while this one is set as the primary one, The Other One was first, and this seems to be the reason why – more often than not – people who follow my comments to my blog actually end up on The Other Blog. Which is in Dutch. And talks mainly about how nice it is here (you gotta comfort them friends and family, after all). And is thus not very well suited reading material for your average American blogger. And as any beginning blogger obsessing over stats can testify: it’s hard enough to get other bloggers to pay attention to your feeble attempt to join the blogosphere, let alone if half of those which bother to be interested are redirected to the wrong blog. In addition to that that, I’m not too keen on my friends and family visiting The Other Blog discovering this one. It’s MINE! My precious…

Ahum, sorry about that.

And thus I was trying to find my way around the WordPress FAQ section to see how I best performed the surgery on my Sesame twin-blogs, when I stumbled upon this article.

Five Ways to Get Featured on Freshly Pressed

Stop the worrying over dropping stats, the sleepless nights, the frustration over why-oh-why the WordPress Gods didn’t recognize the sheer genius of your last post – there is an actual manual on how to get your much-deserved 24 hours of fame! Obviously, generous as I am, I gladly share their tips with you.

1. Write unique content that’s free of bad stuff.
Each post that makes it to Freshly Pressed contains original content created by the WordPress user. Bad stuff includes (but isn’t limited to) plagiarism, hate speech, fear-mongering, adult/mature content, copyrighted images that belong to someone else, spam or content that is primarily advertorial in nature.
Ehm.. yeah… so since I just copy-pasted this from the original page, I guess this post doesn’t exactly fit the “original content” requirement. At least I’m not pretending it’s my own… and I provided a link to source… no?

2. Include images or other visuals.
Although not every topic can be illustrated, we believe most blog posts can and should have a visual element. We like original images (meaning, your own) but if not, be sure you properly credit the original source. Video rocks, too. You may get a request from us to add an image before you are promoted to Freshly Pressed — the faster you can respond, the more likely we’ll put your post on the homepage.
But… but… I can’t upload my own pictures right now! I don’t have the cable to connect to my laptop… :/ (and while having lost it could, in my case, be an entirely plausible explanation to this situation arising, actually I received my current camera second hand from a friend which had already lost the cable). And I don’t have a card reader. Yet. But let’s see if Google or Flickr can come up with something to match this post…

This is probably how I'd react on being Freshly Pressed.

(Image taken from Lori Dyans post on being Freshly Pressed not so long ago – apparently, we have a lot in common.)

3. Add tags.
We find new posts by surfing the tag pages. If you don’t use tags, we can’t find you and how sad would that be? Also, don’t use tags that are too obscure (“beauty tips from the ancient world”) but rather more common tags (“beauty,” “history”).
“freshly”, “pressed”, “freshly pressed”, “tips”, “blog”, “hints”, “wordpress”, ehm… ehm… help? Somebody?

4. Cap off your post with a compelling headline.
Your headline needs to stand out. Avoid swear words, excessive punctuation or vague statements. We love a clever headline, and that’s often the reason we click on your article in the first place.
Now that was easy… I learned copy-pasted from the master.

5. Aim for typo-free content.
We know, we’re human, too — errors happen. We recommend using our Proofreading feature before you hit “publish.” If you’ve got a few typos but we really like your post, we may ask you to fix them. In most cases, we’ll put your post on Freshly Pressed after you’ve made the changes.
Do I get more credit for not being a native speaker? Yeah… thought so… maybe this is the signal to get something done about my punctuation, though, I seem to be using ahelluvalot ellipses lately… (I rest my case).

Ok, I am ready – WordPress home page, here I come!

NOTE – For those who’d like to see additional tips on blogging and maintaining a blog in general, check Share the Word, the Editor’s Blog by Joy Victory (the “Editorial Czar”) and Erica Johnson (“Editorial Producer”) which provides regular posts with self-evident and less self-evident tips and tricks for us newbie bloggers. Enjoy and learn!

The high and the low

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I’ve only started this blog recently, and I am fully aware that I cannot expect people to suddenly rush in and become faithful readers, with new subscribers every day. In addition to that, I am a huge supporter of “write for yourself”: as a blogger, you should write about stuff that YOU like, that YOU care about, that YOU find interesting. If other people happen to have the same likes and interests, and like the way you write about them, well, more power to you! (if there’s one phrase I learned in this blogging world… )

Now this blog was originally called into life to keep my friends and family posted on my life abroad. But just to get a hang of it, the feel, I started a few weeks early, and I experienced a freedom of writing, of reading, a whole world full of people who had the same ideas, had different ideas. And it is refreshing. I am the type of person who takes herself as the standard, and automatically presumes everyone else has the same ideas she has, draws the same conclusions from the same premises. And while I know (somewhere) this is not true (or there would be world peace and no more hunger), it is in a way confronting to “meet” people who are … different.

And it dawned on me. If I were to open this blog to my friends and family, it wouldn’t be the same blog anymore. Even though it was only 2 weeks old, even though I didn’t write anything strictly personal or that they weren’t allowed to know, I had it hard to share … this World.

Therefore I split my blog – this is my World, my free World, which I use to ventilate my ideas, to meet other people, to learn. The Other Blog is part of that world, the part where I move abroad to start a job, where I miss my friends. It is therefore also in my native language, to lower the boundary for those not fluent in English – it would not be fair to exclude them from my adventures here.

And it is funny that, while I feel my heart is here, in my World of Lies, the number of hits on The Other Blog is much, much higher. Maybe I have not been able to interest the visitors who came here out of curiosity after Jane’s blog’s first birthday present, maybe they follow through the blog surfer and don’t show up in the stats, maybe they just never bothered in the first place and only came to look out of boredom… But while I miss them, while I miss the spike on my blog stats (it was like being Freshly Pressed in lilliputterland!), I tell myself it doesn’t matter. This World is mine. And while anyone is welcome to join, no one shall be held against their will. My ego will have to find satisfaction elsewhere.

To share or not to share, that’s the question

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For those who haven’t read my About section (shame on you all!), one of the reasons I have started this blog is the fact that I’ll be starting a job abroad for a year and I’d like some way to keep in touch with my friends and family without having to mail them all separately once a week. It’s not like have a huge family or tons of friends, but enough to not wanting to mail them all with the same stories on a regular basis. Hence: a blog.

But.

(There always is a but, isn’t there.)

A blog accessible to friends and family is naturally restricted in its topics. I cannot – not TRULY – write about an argument with my mother (or the lack thereof – I am pretty sure this will be material for a TON of posts), or the not-so-impressive painting of a friend who feels he has just completed his masterpiece (okay, this one I made up).

So the question is: should I or should I not share the address with them? If I don’t, the whole purpose of the blog is kinda lost. Completely lost, even. If I do, I will not be as free to write as I would like to be. Currently I haven’t disclosed the address to anyone, but I have done a similar thing while I was an exchange student, and people have asked me if I’ll do it again. I’ve responded evasively … “maybe”.

A recap of 2 weeks of blogging

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This is a response to a call from Jane to post today on anything we learned/value/wonder/… from/about/… blogging. Admittedly, this blog is barely a few weeks old, but I have been blogging (on and off) for some time, and especially these last weeks I have been doing a lot of ‘research’ on the subject (solely for the benefit of my own blog, obviously, not because I – imagine – like reading blogs). For what it’s worth: my list of wonderings.

  • I love blogs of strong, self-confident women with children and a good sense of humor.
    It is so predictable I am slowly turning into a cliche myself. I always try the “intellectual” blogs, with views on actuality and politics, with new scientific discoveries and Big Opinions on moral and social issues – I feel I should know about these things. Form an opinion of my own. Truth is, in most cases I couldn’t care less and all I really wanna read is how yoga elicits murderous feelings on a beautiful morning and which weirdo jobs people have practiced over the years. It makes me feel like a voyeur, peeking into other people’s lives. I only comfort myself with the idea that, if they didn’t want me to know, they wouldn’t put it online. The strangest thing is, while blogging is supposedly a men’s world and all, I only encounter women’s blogs. Or maybe those are the only ones capable of keeping my interest. Now there’s an idea.

  • American people are religious.
    And not only that, they are very much into the whole empowerment thing. I know this observation seems to have nothing to do with blogging, but it is only through blogging that I come to understand the religiousness of American people. Or rather the omnipresence and naturalness of it. I have never set foot in America (for the record, I’m European), and while I got a faint media-based idea of the average American as a conservative God-bless-America capitalist (fortunately, friends have assured me reality is different), I always had the idea that this whole religion thing was but a cover up. Just an excuse to accomplish a hidden agenda. I think I still don’t grasp the full impact of religion on people’s lives, but it just strikes me – people BELIEVE. Small things: “Today after church …” Huh?! They talk about their church and community, they sign comments with ‘God bless you’. They go to Bible study groups – I think I couldn’t even go to one if I wanted to, solely for the lack of it. They quote the Bible in their posts! And this comes from people who otherwise profile themselves as Democrats (which, as I understand it, is the more ‘progressive’ party?). When I cry out : “my god” (mind the small caps) or “Jesus Christ”, it’s just… something I’ve taken over from television. Not in America. To someone who can count the number of friends and family going to church weekly on one hand (mostly out of habit rather than out of conviction), it is a VERY strange experience. But interesting, too.
  • Everybody uses my layout.
    Ok, this probably isn’t true. But about half of the blogs I am following has the same layout as mine. The other half has layouts which I have considered. It’s creepy.
  • Republicans don’t blog.
    Again, probably not true – maybe WordPress is a Democrat bastion which Republicans refuse to use, I don’t know. If it matters what kind of ketchup you eat to be politically correct, I imagine the blogging platform is even more important. Either way, it seems that I only get to read blogs from people with Democrat sympathies. Which may not be so strange in itself (lots of explanations possible), but what strikes me the most is that I KNOW these things. And I’ve been reading those blogs for … 3 weeks? Any other nationality bloggers I haven’t a clue how they would vote (and I follow Portuguese, French, British, Belgian, Canadian, …), but Americans seem to have this need to position themselves. You’re not just American, you’re a Democratic American or a Republican one. One person seemed to be undecisive, and actually wrote he had trouble finding a job cause future employers couldn’t figure out whether he was a Democrat or a Republican. What’s that all about? Meanwhile I still don’t know the difference between the two. I urgently need to visit this country.
  • All bloggers want to be writers.
    Okay, again, maybe not all. But the number of journalists is astounding, and many bloggers seem to either have finished a novel, are in the process of writing one, are thinking of writing one or simply just aspire to be a writer while knowing perfectly well they’ll never get there but maybe if this blog-thing works out they’ll get the confidence to one day sit down and start (wow, quite the sentence there). The worst part of that is… I’m one of them, lol.

  • Reading blogs is addictive.
    No further comments required.