Monthly Archives: April 2019

Stupid no more

I’ve been focusing for awhile on recovering some “smarts.” I’m online less, reading more, and so on. I mean, I used to be smart! A bit of a high achiever even. I graduated Summa Cum Laude (from a state college; the state college part has to be mentioned. It wasn’t Harvard). Years, many years, have passed. I guess a lot of people get their intellectual stimulation from their jobs. Okay, at least some people do. I don’t. My (current) work is satisfying in many respects and it’s not that my brain isn’t involved, but it’s not about staying intellectually keen. Compounding the issue was that, due to online use I believe, I wasn’t focusing as much as I used to. I’d give up too easily when presented with a strictly intellectual challenge. Point being, I realized I was losing my edge and I wanted it back!

My focus is improved. I read books. Hell, I’ve almost already achieved my 20-book goal from my 2019 Kinda. Sort Resolutions. I challenge myself more. I didn’t lose my smarts, they were snoozing.

One of my goals for the year was to get my hands on the New York Times crossword puzzle. Recently I did. To tell the truth, I’m still picking away at the puzzle; I haven’t embarrassed myself but it’s definitely not complete. I’ve noticed, when I do crosswords from various papers or sources, that I get better at specific ones over time. You learn how the puzzle maker thinks in some cases and what kinds of tricks they employ. In doing crosswords generally, I find myself recovering information I didn’t know I knew. It’s funny that way; I’ve stored away a good bit of information/knowledge, but I need the right impetus to prompt it. At least that’s what I find when I do crosswords.

Anyway, the point of this post isn’t the crossword but another puzzle I found in the New York Times (I didn’t know they had several puzzles but they do).

This particular puzzle listed 7 letters. The challenge was to make as many 5 letter or more words from those 7 letters as you could and, in this instance, you HAD to use the letter “o”. You could use a letter more than one time in a word. Each word made got a point. If you used all 7 letters in one word, that was worth three points. The puzzle scoring system was: 5 points = Good, 10 points = Excellent, 15 points = Genius.

Okay, I liked this challenge. I love all types of wordy stuff, particularly making words (I once won a weekend vacation to an amusement park because I came up with over 600 words from the name of their new roller coaster). I thought I could get “Excellent” if I put my mind to it. I sincerely, immediately ruled out the possibility of hitting anything the New York Times would consider “Genius.”

Here’s the paper scrap where I did my work. I worked on it on two consecutive days, drawing a short line between the words I came up with on the first session and the words from the second session.

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I came up with 15 points!!! I didn’t cheat, I didn’t rummage around the dictionary, I just sat and thought. What I didn’t know was the the answers were not to come in a following issue as I might have expected, but were printed on the next page (I’m glad I didn’t know). The two words I didn’t come up with were (as I wrote in the upper corner after I’d hit 15 points) were dolar and doodad. I don’t know the word “dolar” so I was never going to think of it. Quite frankly, WordPress doesn’t know it either; as I write this, the editing program keeps putting a red underline underneath it to signal it’s a typo.

Look. I wanted to share this even at the risk of sounding like I’m boasting. Mostly, I’m surprised and pleased. I want to share it because I’ve been open in earlier blog posts about feeling I had lost something over the years. Five years ago, at the time I started this blog, I don’t think I could have gotten those 15 points on the word puzzle. I think I would have come up with a few words, maybe achieved ten points – maybe – and then given up. I WASN’T TRYING ANYMORE. I’m trying again.

I’m trying again.

Short Thought 235 (“happy” memories)

The other week I was flipping channels and watched a bit of Daniel Amen’s program on preserving your memory. He was talking about the importance of keeping a positive attitude and said that to elevate your mood you should attach your happiest memories to specific objects or places in your home so that, every time you looked at them, you’d get an emotional boost. I wouldn’t want to do that. My happiest memories make me sad.

writerinsoul

April 5, 2019

Five years ago today I put up my first post. The gist of that post is still true; namely, that I think of myself as a writer above all else. So long as I am cognizant, I don’t ever expect that to change. Somewhere in the last five years, I started to think, “I will not die without having written.” Not that I’m planning on going anywhere, but I wanted to be sure I wrote something substantial – something of substance – before I’m too old or too dead to do it.  I think I’ve done that. As a body of work, WriterInSoul makes me proud.

Coming in, I didn’t know what to expect and I was leery of trolls, stalkers, and other weird ilk. My concerns were largely unfounded. Still, blogging is exposing yourself and I felt a bit of trepidation about that but it didn’t stop me. This blog is not a diary. It is not a journal. I only write what I want to write. And — I have never deleted anything I’ve written. I’ve done minor edits on posts, when I saw a typo or something like that but I’ve never “taken anything back” or hidden it. Once it was up, it stayed up. My philosophy was not to post anything I wouldn’t be comfortable with anyone – anyone at all – reading. That said, I was ready – ready in my life – to say a lot here.

The blog doesn’t generate as many comments as it did in early times. This post on relationships from 2015 had the most comments. Several of those commenting are no longer around on WordPress. (Kate of Views and Mews by Coffee Kat,, who has been blogging longer than I have, once said that no one who was around when she first started on WordPress, is still here.) People drop away. It doesn’t pay to get too attached and yet I do feel connected to other bloggers. You hope the people you like stick around but you have no say over it.

This post from 2015 on promoting my blog had the second most comments.

The most viewed post is my “About” page and the second most read is the post I wrote three years ago about a man I knew who killed himself. I put up a link to the post on a community yahoo group and many people came to the blog by way of that link. (While I have “advertised” the blog in my community on bulletin boards and once or twice in the small local paper, it is not particularly well known or read. I could promote it on Facebook but I haven’t, in part because I keep my presence on Facebook limited.)

It occurs to me that blogs may start for one reason and continue – if they do – for another. I planned to blog for at least one year. I knew I could do that. Five years never occurred to me (although, that being said, an ability to plan/see into the future has never been my strong suit). I’ve said it before but I often remind myself this is not a job. That is, BLOGGING is not a job; it’s not my job. It has to be something I want, a reward unto itself. If it feels like work I shouldn’t be doing it. I try to find that sweet spot and over these five years, have routinely thought about and evaluated the blog: Is it worth it? What am I doing here? What do I consider a success? Am I getting back what I put in? How much time & effort should I spend? Stuff like that.

Due to not having consistent, decent internet, for some time now I haven’t been able to read other blogs as much as I would like. Reading other bloggers is important to me. There truly is a sense of community and connection and while I haven’t talked to or met any bloggers “in real life” I value the nature of the relationships that exist here on WordPress. Other bloggers are a large factor in why I continue to blog. Which isn’t to say I don’t have readers who are not bloggers – I do and I appreciate them very much as well, both those I know in life and those who I do not.
 
The blog is like a living entity. It frustrates, disappoints, pleases, and delights. Having had it five years, I think in terms of it; it doesn’t go far from my mind. I have not lost the recurring urge to blog, a feeling which makes me think of appetite. I write something (eat something) and I feel satisfied (sated). But sooner or later the “hunger” returns. While the posts have dropped off at times, I’ve never let a month go by without blogging. I dunno – I think it would be strange to stop blogging. I imagine if you stopped after having one a long time as I have, you’d have to remind yourself it no longer existed. What would take its place? That’s a bit of a rhetorical thought.

I have mellowed out a bit about the blog. What long-term relationship doesn’t mellow out a bit?! And when I say “mellowed” I mean in terms of what goes on in my own head about it. I don’t angst about it quite the way I might have earlier on. Yes, I still want readers and comments but I expect the blog is more or less what it is going to be. I’m not expecting – shy of any highly unlikely circumstance – any big surprises or a whopping change in anything related to the blog. Unless WordPress starts charging (I SWEAR I WON’T PAY TO BLOG, grrr. Writing for free is one thing; paying to write would be entirely another!)

Sometimes I worry that the whole blog could disappear and all my writing – and all the comments – with it. I mean, that COULD happen. I don’t own the blog and it exists in the never-never land that is the internet. Although WordPress has my trust to a large extent, I have no control. If it goes away, it goes away. I have to have that attitude. Blogs exist in space; they aren’t books. (Unless you pony up a whole bunch of money to people who will turn it into one: I’ve seen such ads!).

After five years of being here and thinking about it, I think blogs create connection and curb isolation, for their writers and for their readers. They can make you laugh and think, as either writer or reader. When I write, I make myself laugh and I often figure things out by writing about them. I am compelled to share my life – many aspects of it – and WriterInSoul has let me do that. Thanks for coming along.

Colette
April 5, 2019

The return of the spiral curl

In 2014 I put up a post about doing the “curly girl” method, a way of taking care of anything from wavy to super curly hair. I haven’t been hard-core about wearing my hair curly and in fact, was under the impression that shorter, layered hair was better for bringing out waves and curls. Since I’ve let my hair grow long and focused on doing various hairstyles (with posts showing photos in 2016, 2017, and 2018) I didn’t think I could achieve the same “curly girl” results (as I did with shorter, layered hair). Nonetheless I started fooling around with it again this winter and was surprised that I could still get natural curls (curls, particularly wavy ones, are typically harder to achieve in dry, cold winter).  I was delighted to see the “return” of my token Scarlett O’Hara spiral curl. It doesn’t show up all the time but I’ve been seeing it more often recently.

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The very spiral-y curl is underneath other, less curly hair but I tried another photo a different day with the rest of my hair in place to show context. All the colors you see are my own; the hair underneath is MUCH darker than the top layers which grow from the crown and are, as you can see, very light.

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Curly hair is dry hair and the key to bringing out nice curls is conditioning the holy hell out of it. Middle-aged hair is dry hair too so you’ve got to double down on conditioner, especially when it’s long, if you want it to look nice. In fact, some “curly girls” wash their hair with conditioner (they call it co-washing; cute no?😊) I’ve tried washing my hair with conditioner a few times and it actually seemed to produce good results. I was afraid it would just make my hair wimpy.

Lorraine Massey, author of Curly Girl: The Handbook, has a product line, DevaCurl. The products are pricey so I don’t use them exclusively but I have to put in a word for One Condition,  a rich, creamy conditioner that has made a big difference in my hair. I’m not washing my hair with the expensive conditioner; I just mean it’s good stuff as a conditioner – one I often treat as a leave-in.

4/14/19 I’m editing this post to add another, recent photo of my spiral curl, in its spiral-y glory. It just dries like that. I’m a little obsessed – how unusual for it to show up in middle age.
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I’ve noticed before how animals like squirrels, chipmunks, deer, etc. get lighter coats in spring but this squirrel’s tail seemed unusually light. His tail is kinda my hair color too. He/she probably thought I was going to offer a treat when I stopped, not just take a photo, and I might have since I often carry a little snack of peanuts, raisins, and sunflower seeds for myself but unfortunately I had none on me. What a great color!