Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Merry Kokopelli

In my house, everyone gets decked out for Christmas...

Monday, November 28, 2005


And a Happy Thanksgiving it was.

For the first time since Dad passed away, we celebrated Thanksgiving ALL together, at one table, the four sisters, their (available) husbands, my niece and nephew, and my mother. How much it warmed my heart to look around my dining table and see all those faces smiling, really enjoying each other. We so rarely do that anymore.

Friday, we made our annual foray to the "World's Largest Christmas Bazaar" at the Portland Expo Center. Saturday, the sun made an appearance, so my sister D and her husband, my niece, my hubs and I took a long walk down along the dike next to the Channel. We saw cranes, and cormorants, geese, hawks, and a "possible" eagle. Then we stopped at the little houseboat restaurant on the channel for a bite before heading back to the house; where the "left behind" contingent were about to revolt. They were swiftly appeased with a quick trip to Dollar Tree. Battle averted.

Which is not to say that the visit didn't go on for, oh, about twelve hours too long. By Sunday morning, the guests were fairly fleeing the confines. I told my sister, "Everybody's leaving...  I'm so conflicted. I don't know whether to be sad or have a party!" I did manage a quick, two-step happy dance as the little carpool rounded the corner at the end of our street.

Now, I'm on strike, for at least the next twelve hours. I'm playing with the 'puter, half-watching CSI reruns on Spike TV, munching on leftover pretzels, and downing mass quantities of water in an attempt to cleanse the sugar and alcohol out of my system so I can climb back on the diet wagon tomorrow.

I was just visiting some AOL journals (the few, the proud...) and I experienced an interesting phenomenon. SOME of the journals I visited were missing something. Something at the top of the page. Something involving little yellow moving trucks, cel phones, drugs, love match, AOL 9.0. Probably nothing more than yet another wrinkle in the technological fabric of America Online Reinvented. (The incarnation of AOL that worships at the altar of advertising revenue, rather than subscriber dues.) Hmmm... Ads sporadically disappearing. On a few journals. Sometimes. It bears watching, anyway.

And can I just add this thought?

I am here in AOL J-land, and I plan on staying for the foreseeable future. I've stated many times: I write because I can't not write. And I write here because there's no reason not to, though the streets of the community are mighty quiet these days. In the early days of J-land, we put our messages in bottles, floated them out into the ether, waited to see what would happen. And readers happened. And then friends. Then the purge of the unwanted ad banners happened, and Journal-land is back to feeling like those early days. But different...a little sadder. A little bit like we were expected to choose sides, and no matter what side we chose, we were going to alienate someone. I have tried to keep track of my friends who have streamed away from AOL. I added their new journals to my bloglines feeds.  I visit and comment, to let them know I want to keep the lines open. Unfortunately, many of my friends, for whatever reason, have not reciprocated. So I can't help but feel that I have committed some unpardonable faux pas by choosing not to leave AOL.

What I would like to ask everyone is this: Visit your friends, wherever they went. It is simple, and free, to set up a "Bloglines" account. I set up mine a long time ago, when the AOL alerts started getting so "iffy." You CAN follow those who are writing elsewhere now. And leave them a little note to let them know you've stopped by.

And, those of you who left AOL, please come back and see us. Perhaps you have come by, but have not commented. For awhile--until we can sort out these weird aftershocks that everyone is experiencing--why not leave a quick note? Just say, "Hi! I'm still reading!" It would mean a lot to us. The internet is a vast, free, sometimes lonely space. We don't have to let our "community" be defined by which blog site we subscribe to... Do we?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Giving Thanks

I call myself "sadly agnostic." Sadly? How can one be "sadly" agnostic?

Because, at one time, I believed. At the breast of my Catholic mother, in the hands of the teaching Sisters of St. Casmir, I was brought up believing. A tiny, skinny stripling soul, too small to see over the back of the next pew without standing on the kneeler. I believed in an immense, overwhelming, more terrible than lovable heavenly "Father." And a human spawn of that Parent, come to earth to suffer worse pain and degradation than I would ever fear to endure; that I might, upon drawing my last earthly breath, be allowed the slimmest of opportunities to float into that Heavenly Presence. And be reunited with all of my dear departed family members. And perhaps my late cat, though the jury was still out as to whether Rusty would be permitted at that big reunion in the sky.

Catholic dogma sat heavily on the shoulders of an anti-establishment high school hippie. The rituals became meaningless, the words, rote...like incantations; mystical chants. Say these words, go through these motions, and you will be saved. From what? To what? I walked away. But I never stopped believing, In the Big Guy in the sky who was ready with the carrot if you were good, and the thunderbolt if you stepped seriously out of line.

Then, there was the "born again" experience in the eighties. When, by God, if words were going to come out of my mouth, they were going to really mean something. If I was going to go through motions, they would come from the heart. God became my Dad, and Jesus my brother, and all my fellow pew warmers were my litter-mates in the Lord. Until, deeper into that life, I realized that these folks, with their direct line to the Almighty, were as wicked as the raw unwashed. Only they were "forgiven." There was no evil they couldn't at least give a trial run. Just to make sure the Lord was as good as his Word.

And, thus, agnostic. But why "sadly?" Because it is sad to realize that what I had once embraced as the greatest truth might turn out to be the greatest fiction. To suspect that perhaps mankind created God in its own image and likeness, rather than the other way around. To perceive that God could be the code that society long ago dreamed up to keep itself from descending into utter self-serving chaos; and yet be, at the same time, the great club by which we enforce the rule of the dominant. My consuming dilemma over the last ten years has been how to discern between the spirituality of a Creator, and the manufacture of spirituality. I've seen plenty of the latter...cannot be absolutely certain I have ever experienced the former. Sad. I feel like I've lost an innocence that so many people blissfully retain. Like I've learned a secret that I would have been much happier not knowing.

So, what can "Thanksgiving" mean to an agnostic? If you don't believe in God, to whom do you give thanks? It's funny. Some things are so indelibly written on the heart, a lifetime of experience cannot erase them. There are times when little prayers still spring to my mind, unbidden. I've learned to bat away the "help me" pleas.  I figure if there is a God, it certainly wouldn't do for me to turn to Him only in desperation. I know I don't like hearing from relatives who only call when they need something...

But, I do not stifle spontaneous offerings of thanks. Overflows of gratitude due the Creator; the Universe; that Force inconceivably greater than myself from which beauty, balance, harmony and goodness flow. Music, the night sky, laughter, a mate's embrace...things so transcendent they simply cannot be cosmic accidents, deserve acknowledgment and celebration. It's such a natural thing...a silent "Thank you" formed in an awestruck, humble heart. It doesn't seem to matter that my head is not entirely convinced there is a "you" to thank. My heart is pretty sure there is.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Holidays Inspire...




Up in the attic,
Down on my knees.
Lifetimes of boxes,
Timeless to me.
Letters and photographs,
Yellowed with years,
Some bringing laughter,
Some bringing tears.

Time never changes,
The memories, the faces
Of loved ones, who bring to me,
All that i come from,
And all that i live for,
And all that i'm going to be.
My precious family
Is more than an heirloom to me.

Amy Grant

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What Have You Done, John Murtha?

Mr. Murtha really put his foot in it, I'm afraid. I would like to be elated that a Democrat finally stood up and took a very public stand against the Iraq War. Unfortunately, John Murtha went about it in probably the worst possible way. I cringed as I saw the clips of him having a nearly incomprehensible conniption into a microphone somewhere on The Hill... Rolling cameras caught every nuance of his ungrammatical, uninspired, raw emotional tirade. Later, on the PBS Evening News, he ranted, raved, interrupted and talked over reporter Margaret Warner as she attempted to steer the interview down some logical path.

And look what he started. Congress has once again erupted into one big screaming match. Adolescent name calling, cries of cowardice, finger-pointing, accusations of dishonesty are whizzing about, so thick that you need to belly-crawl through the hallowed halls to avoid being shredded by the shrapnel. There's not a pellet of merit to any of this folderol. It's not meaningful debate, it's not "working out the bugs" on the way to a compromise; it's not accomplishing anything for the war effort, the peace effort, our men and women in the line of fire in Iraq, or the American people at large. It's an emotionally charged tug of war, waged for the ultimate prize of...poll numbers. The President's are slipping, and the Democrats' aren't rising apace. So, let's start a war of words. Let's drag the American people around by their emotional hair and see which side's following can scream the loudest.

Mr. Murtha's passionate anti-war tirade gave the Republicans just the opening they have been looking for. They know what the Democrats have yet to figure out: that pure, raw emotion plays into the Republican battle plan every time. These are the people who were able to advance their war agenda and silence any meaningful objections, by digging an American flag out of the rubble of the Twin Towers, waving it like crazy, shaking their fists and roaring that anyone who wasn't with them was against them.

They've kept that tattered pennant in their back pocket; all they've needed to do is craftily caress it with the barest of touches, and chant the magic words--"terrorists...our shores...nine-eleven" to tap into all the fear, hatred, and other roiling emotions hidden just below the surface of the American psyche. It has worked like a charm for over four years. We've handed them everything they wanted, as long as they've pledged to lead us to glory, and keep those bad men from coming over here and blowing up any more buildings.

Over the last few months, the administration's struggle to competently address fresh problems--disaster relief, Supreme Court appointments, Plamegate--provided a small space of time for the public to pause, shake the hyper-patriotic fog from their minds, and take a hard look at what the Texas Cartel is actually doing for this country. The administration failed miserably to deal with natural disasters for which there was at least some warning. How, then, could we believe that they had the ability to protect us from the unpredictable catastrophe of a major terrorist attack? Then the President puts forth the name of his own woefully unqualified Texas lawyer for a seat on the Supreme Court. The entire nation--right, left and in between--scratched their heads at that one. Next, a White House staff member is indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice. A little more of the Bush Administration's teflon coating flakes off and floats away on the breeze. Gasoline prices soar through the roof (because the Bush League can't resist milking every dollar of profit from yet another disaster), and families face the prospect of choosing between eating and heating this winter. Slowly, painfully, the American people begin to snap out of the emotional hypnosis under which the Republican administration had so easily manipulated them.

And then, along comes John Murtha. At a time when Republicans were sinking lower and lower in the polls, and were casting about for any handhold to stop the skid and reverse direction, Murtha plays right into their hand. He goes where the administration's detractors should by now fear to tread--the hooting, hollering, fuming, ranting world of tangled passions attached to the Iraq War. Surely the Democrats must realize that, in this arena, they are rank amateurs compared to the GOP. For some inexplicable reason, Murtha just couldn't leave well enough alone; he couldn't allow the government's recent obvious failures to continue to pour acid on the emotional chain that has bound the American people to the Bush Administration.

The distinguished Representative from Ohio's 12th Congressional District got the screaming started again. And the name calling. And the finger pointing. And the McCarthy-istic challenges to the "loyalty" and "patriotism" of the opposition. Back to that vicious war of words where the Republicans--by virtue of their fearlessness to create their own truth--have already demonstrated their superiority. John Murtha got us right back to square one. Bad show, Mr. Murtha.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I'm Finished...

....freaking out now.  Is it safe to come back?

Thursday, November 17, 2005


An open letter to my cherished journal friends:

Hello, my friends:

The events of the last two days that have blown journal land to smithereens have just...I don't know. Spoiled the whole experience for me, I guess. I was never really a big mover and shaker in journal land, but even the few friends I have are now all over the place. I can't find you, and if I do, my damn new laptop with its "cookies" issues will not let me comment on your journals. I would like to continue to read, to keep up with all of you, but it's just becoming too frustrating. And it's no fun really, without the "give and take" of commenting.

Tonight, I'm going to take "Coming to Terms" private...with no readers. Then, I think I'm just going to sit on it for awhile. At some point, I'll either download my entries and delete the journal entirely, or re-open it after all the fuss has died down and/or some resolution has been reached with all the "AOL Betrayal" issues. Or I might start a journal somewhere else, but I doubt it. All good things come to an end, and maybe this one has. Rather rudely and abruptly, I'd say. I'm kind of upset right now, and it's been my experience that when I make decisions when I'm in this state, they rarely come to any good.

Lisa :-]




Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Journal Land Gets Hit by a Virtual Tsunami....

Here is the comment I left at Scalzi's.  He is inviting everyone who has an opinion about the new ad banners to vent their spleens. 

Chalk one more in the column of "hate the ad banners."  This is just AOL reminding us, as they feel compelled to do from time to time, that our journals are NOT ours, that they can and will do anything they want with them, and we have absolutely no recourse, except to leave AOL.  And so, many of us shall. 

I have been an AOL customer since 1997.  My husband has been bugging me for years to change ISP's, mostly because AOL is the most expensive service out there.  But I have insisted we not drop AOL...$300 a year for the privelege of belonging to and writing for the journal community has been worth it for me.  The addition of these hideous and unwanted ad banners has greatly devalued the service.  In fact, I don't see why I should pay that kind of money to help line the pockets of AOL advertisers.   Wouldn't it be more traditional for THEM to pay US?

Not to mention the fact that this little "upgrade" had completely screwed up the technical aspect of journal land.  Maybe we would not be QUITE as angry about the ads if we were not locked out of our journals, unable to post, unable to comment, unable to properly copy and paste out of our word processing programs.  Let's face it, AOL.  You monumentally screwed up on this one.  Lisa  :-[   http://journals.aol.com/mlraminiak/ComingtotermswithMiddleAge/

Mine was the 86th comment on the thread, though some people have commented and re-commented several times.  Please, everyone, go...  http://journals.aol.com/johnmscalzi/bytheway/entries/5067  Leave a comment.  Let's see that count go up into the multiple hundreds.  I can't see AOL paying any attention to less than a hundred mal-contents.  There have GOT to be more of us out there who think these ad banners are a BAD THING.  Let's show them our numbers.   

Friday, November 11, 2005

...On The Radio

I have spent the last few weeks in a flurry of domestic activity. As the picture outside my windows gets darker, soggier, and more somber, the inside of my house is going bright, clean and sparkling. Junk drawers that have collected another year’s worth of clutter, carpeting that will need daily vacuuming for six months to catch up with what nine pets have shed during the summer months, furniture that is looking tired and dull in its same old places…all these things have been getting the hyper-Suzy-Homemaker treatment. I have loaded up every cd player in the house with my early-seasonal-that-is-not-really-Christmas music (I have so many Christmas cd’s that if I don’t start listening to them in October, I don’t get to hear all of them!)

But lately my music, which I dearly love, has left me with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction. Often, I just turn it off, and toil alone in silence. And not a comfortable silence. Something is missing. In the past, I’ve not had trouble keeping myself happy and occupied when I’m alone. I don’t usually have to fight off feelings of isolation and loneliness. Yesterday, it finally dawned on me what is missing. Radio.

I became a radio junkie very early in life. I was ten years old when the "British Invasion" made radio the essential accessory for any boomer child in or approaching adolescence. I was still playing with Barbies, but I knew the Billboard Top Ten of any given week. We listened to top 40 radio as close to 24 hours a day as we possibly could. I can still name the line-up of WLS (Chicago) disc jockeys of the mid-sixties: Clark Weber, Bernie Allen, Dex Card, Ron Riley, Art Roberts. Wholesome, teeny-bopper silliness and numerous commercial breaks…and they actually got around to playing five or six records an hour, too. Remember the wondrous AM-radio concept of the "Twin Spin?" Those highly touted times when they would play two records back-to-back without a commercial in between? That was exciting, ground-breaking stuff.

In the seventies, we "matured" as an audience; we demanded more music, less talk. Once again, the boomers snapped their fingers, and the world jumped. FM radio stations, with their formats of more music, better music, the music that didn’t get air time on AM radio, rose to prominence and flourished. Remember how AM radio stationsused to edit every song to three minutes or less? Unedited airings of records like The Doors’ Light My Fire got to be known as "the FM Version."

The AM stations, having lost their musical audience to the FM band, began to embrace the "Talk Radio" format. Not, thank God, talk radio as we know it today. It was a format that offered interesting, informative presentations on a variety of subjects…home shows, shows about Hollywood and the entertainment scene, garden shows, travel shows, sports shows. One of my favorites was a program that aired on WGN radio late on Saturday afternoons. It was called "The Sportswriters." It featured a panel of sports reporters and columnists from the Chicago newspapers, engaging in that time-honored male pass-time that has since been labeled "arm-chair quarterbacking." In your mind’s eye you could see this circle of somewhat disheveled looking characters, cigar smoke circling their heads, pencils behind ears, beer or scotch in smudgy glasses…pontificating upon the finer points of the Chicago sports scene. We used to call them "The Rude Guys;" they argued, talked over each other, and made veiled, AM radio-friendly allusions to each others’ heritage. The Rude Guys. Today, they’d look more like Wally and Beaver’s older cousins.

Those were the days. You could set yourself a project, like painting the house or laying a new floor. Turn on the radio and just let it play, hour after hour, and never get bored, or angry, or tempted to grab the thing and throw it out the window. You’d laugh. You’d take a trip to somewhere you’d never been; hear a review of a new restaurant you’d like to try; learn more about some local character. You might pick up a handy tip or two. Toiling away, all by yourself, you’d almost feel like you had spent the day surrounded by friends at a really good party.

You’d even keep up with local and international news; it was reported at the top of every hour. Or, if something earth-shattering were going on, like an assassination or a natural disaster, you’d get the "We interrupt this program…" spiel. But, by and large, the news was confined to ten-minute slots at the top of every hour—five minutes for national news, five for local. And it was enough. Five minutes was plenty of time to relay the important stuff, no embellishments, no analysis, no twist or spin. Just the facts, ma’am. If only…

Ah, yes, here’s the antique fuss-budget waxing nostalgic about the good old days. Pretty pathetic. But, you know what? There are some things that HAVE gone completely to the dogs, and radio is one of them. I cannot listen to more than ten minutes of today’s "talk radio" without being induced to scream, "Oh, shut up!" and reach one hand out to slam the thing off before my other hand makes it to my head to commence tearing my hair out. If the Lord sent an angel to search for one iota of good to redeem today’s talk radio scene, He’d end up blasting it to cosmic dust before you could say "Sodom and Gomorrah." It is a showcase of pure smarm, ugliness, contentiousness, greed, rudeness…teeming with every negative aspect of the human character. Is it a true reflection of our society? I don’t know. I’m not interested in analyzing it that minutely. I only know that radio used to be one of my closest friends. And I miss it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Fairy Tales

Sunday night, The West Wing aired what they touted as a "great live television event." Great, it wasn’t.  Much as I once loved that show, it is definitely a few years past its prime, to put it kindly. But the writers’ take on a "gloves off, no rules" debate between presidential candidates did contain some food for thought.

The buzz (what buzz there was) seems to be mostly about our make-believe opponents’ views on health care. Jimmy Smits’ "Congressman Matt Santos (D-TX)" character shoots us some interesting facts on how efficient Medicare is, in terms of how much it spends on administrative costs, compared to private insurance companies and HMO’s. And, to give him his due, "Senator Vinnick (R-CA)" (Alan Alda) gets in some good licks about how to bail Third World countries out of their crushing debt load. The dumbest point either character made was when the mythical Republican candidate tried to explain that it was permissible to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because nobody ever goes there. (It’s a Wildlife refuge, stupid!)

My favorite soliloquy of the program, bar none, was Matt Santos’ response to the demonization of the word "liberal." When he asserts that a "liberal" was responsible for ending slavery in this country, Senator Vinnick retorts, "A REPUBLICAN ended slavery in this country." To which Santos replies, "Yes Senator…a LIBERAL Republican. Whatever happened to those?" What, indeed? And then Matt Santos goes on to tick off a laundry list of milestones of social progress—from abolishing slavery to women’s suffrage to civil rights to Social Security—that have been advanced by liberal factions in this country over the decades. I have been googling all over the internet trying to get the exact text of this speech and haven’t been able to find it…and I didn’t tape the show, so I can’t go that route. I’d like to spray paint the words on every building, billboard, and railroad car in America; publish them in 100-point font in every newspaper in the county; tattoo them up the sleeves of every liberal candidate who stands irresolute behind a podium because (s)he has let the right-wing’s twisting of that word silence the message. Like the fictional Congressman Santos, we need to remember why we are what we are, and be proud of it.

Oh, yes, the Democrats have completely mislaid their message. Is it any wonder that John Kerry lost the 2004 election? When allhe could do was say, "I’ll do exactly the same things that this oil-baron war-hawk religious right-wing nutcase that you seem to like so much has been doing. But I’ll do them better, because I’m a Democrat. God bless America!" Faced with that choice, perhaps Americans could be forgiven for sticking with the devil they knew.

Still, it was glaringly obvious that Sunday’s West Wing debate was a fairy tale. I watched last year’s real debates, painful as they were, for as long as I could stomach the idiocy. One would think the truth-in-advertising police would bar them from even calling these stump speech marathons "debates." The candidates don’t debate anything. Ninety percent of the time, they don’t even answer the questions. If a question comes within twenty miles of one of the candidate’s talking points, the candidate just rolls out the talking point. No need to make the "answer" sound thoughtful or spontaneous. By the time I shut off the television, too embarrassed by the proceedings to watch any more, I could only think…are there REALLY people out in TV-Land who honestly believe that these phony contests have any merit whatsoever? How can the polls ask who won? How can there be a winner when there is no debate?

Yet I can’t imagine that taking away the "rules" would make a difference. Politics is not about debating the issues anymore. One of the risks of true debate is compromise…and, by all means, we can’t have THAT! Twenty-first century politics in America is about awarding the office to the last man left standing at the end of the bloody, slime-launching, teeth-gnashing, flesh-ripping battle. Egged on by throngs of wild-eyed voters screaming for blood. Imagine what might happen if real ideas were allowed to take center stage. On second thought, don’t bother. It’ll never happen.

Thursday, November 3, 2005


My previous entry seems to have struck a chord. A sweet, strong, harmonic chord with some. A clunker with others.

Just goes to show you what the misuse of one tiny word can do. "Mere." That was the word. "Mere hobbyists." After all, journaling IS a hobby. A hobby to which many of us are passionately dedicated. That little adjective—"mere"—dismissed a whole segment of the journaling community. Myself included, actually. Often, when I start to accuse myself of spending too much time writing journal entries, I think, "Other people knit, or scrapbook, or put together hot rods in their garage in their spare time. I write. It’s a perfectly legitimate thing to do."

But I look at it this way. I love music...have always loved music. I sing all the time. I even played the guitar in my younger days, sang in the church choir for awhile. But I was not given the talent, the zeal, the passion for music that a true musician must possess. I will sing, and I will play guitar, if I darn well want to. It makes me happy. But it doesn’t make me a musician.

Writing, however, is something that bubbles up from a well in the depths of my soul. Something I have to do, as much as eating, sleeping, or going to the bathroom. It’s part of who I am, and who I will always be. There have been times in my life when I didn’t write; crazy, busy times when I did not use my God-given talent for anything more than love letters and birthday cards. In retrospect, those turned out to be the times when I was simply playing at being someone, something, that I am not. I may have even thought I was happy, that I had "made it." But I was not being true to myself. I ignored my talent because it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t always fun. And it didn't put food on the table. Truthfully, if I was still working full-time, I probably would not yet have "rediscovered" myself.

But you can write, and not be a writer. You can write perfectly legitimate, wonderful, worthy things. You can even do it for a living. Many people do, I suspect. I don’t mean to disrespect people who want to use this forum, or any forum, in any way they choose. And I don’t mean to say that the product they produce is somehow inferior because it doesn’t come from the pen of a "writer." If I was sitting on a street corner, playing my guitar and singing my heart out, and someone came up to me and said, "You can’t perform here because you are not a musician," I’d spit in their eye. Please, my j-land "hobbyist" friends, feel free to spit in mine if I ever again dismiss you with a single, poorly chosen word.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

The Keepers of the Land of Blog

These days, when husband and I talk, we most often debate the madness going on at his job. He comes home from work looking like a flat tire, and the venting seems to pump some air back into him. I don’t feel obligated to listen in silence. I’m sure that’s probably what I should do, what he would prefer I do… But that’s just not the woman he married.

Last Sunday, on yet another long ride home from Eugene, the conversation turned to my world instead of his. Actually, he asked me if there was anything exciting going on among my journal friends; I wonder whether he is really interested, or if asking after my gig is simply a way to avoid talking about his. My life in journal land is so much an extension of my life inside my head, that sometimes it’s hard to know where one ends and the other begins. Husband has never been much interested in the "life inside my head" part; but even he is keen enough to realize that, absent a job or other socially acceptable distraction, my blog is a big part of my life…and I think he feels a little left out. So he acts interested; and, to his credit, remembers enough about the "characters" involved to be able to make the right noises during my monologues.

This time, though, the conversation turned philosophical. Partly because there seems to be another "disturbance in the Force" of journal land going on right now. All the writers I read are wallowing through major life issues, which are manifesting themselves in different ways in the virtual pages of their blogs. It got me to thinking: perhaps this is what separates the true writers from the mere hobbyists among us. There are those who quit writing altogether, leaving us with a swan song entry explaining that they’ve written all that’s worth writing, and they’re off to spend their time on more worthwhile pursuits. ( The inference being that all these however many months of blogging have been nothing but a waste of time.) These people, in my mind, are not writers. They may be intelligent, interesting and articulate, and write very well when they choose to do so, but they have not the passion of true writers.

We’ve seen those, too, who disappear for a few days or a week or a month, then return to the ether "all better." They’ve dealt with whatever trauma needed to be resolved, and are now "over it" enough to resume writing. Their journals are kind of like crocheted afghans…very pretty showpieces, never intended for any practical use. Never-ending projects only picked up when nothing more pressing or stimulating is happening. More often than not, these people eventually lay us aside and don’t return. No warning, no goodbye...they just disappear.

From time to time, journal land is jolted by the seismic rattle of those who explode onto the blog scene, write fifteen entries a day for two weeks, then evaporate into the ozone. On to next season’s "happening" hobby… "Backwards Tibetan Barefoot Rock-Climbing"…or whatever.

And then there are the rest of us. The ones who are neither wholly satisfied with this place of literary masturbation, nor even remotely capable of walking away from it. In the midst of dealing with life issues, we don’t quit writing. Our prose might gain a new dimension from our trials. It might reveal a glimpse of a heart in mourning, or become strident as we rail against challenges to our souls. Or we may murmur peace and understanding as we gain some insight on our journey. But always, the words come. We could no more stop writing than we could stop breathing. The concept of being too busy to write is beyond our ken. Writing is what we DO. Have always done. "Journal land" is a special and unique place to cache that writing. In some ways, it may even be the perfect place. Readership and feedback—the perks of blogging that take your writing out of your head and into reality. How important is that? That incredible sense of validation can be a springboard to "bigger and better…" Or it can be all some of the more humble among us will ever need.

And we do need it, as much as any junkie ever needed any fix. Others come and go. We make friends. They go away. We stay. We write. As long as we exist, the Land of Blog—that land that straddles the border between reality and fantasy—will also exist. For us, through us, and by us.