Monday, March 14, 2005

A new old Polish proverb: a swollen head is emptier than a pickle barrel after a pickle eaters’ convention

This afternoon, someone alerted me to the fact that Ocean had been nominated for a prize (one of ten blogs so honored).

It took me only five minutes to start drafting an acceptance speech/post, even though the winner would not be announced until April.

Why this mad dash toward the podium? Clearly I will never have this opportunity again! I do not act – I cannot even hope for a Razzie Award (given to worst performances of the year). When else will I be drafting acceptance speeches? I wanted to savor the feeling of a nomination! Step aside, Halle, it’s my turn to thank the lawyer!

Ultimately, I knew Ocean could not win. It was astonishing enough to see it up there on a list of ten, though perhaps less astonishing if you read the description of what’s under consideration: They’re not exactly Shakespeare, But they’re some of the more amusing, informative or otherwise quirky blogs among the hundreds we scouted… (a Milwaukee publication is the sponsor). Ocean does not have a large enough readership. Even without a tracker, I am quite certain that it cannot compete with the others, even if Ocean had 100% turnout and all readers voted for it -- a mighty hefty "if." It’s like the obscure film that people say “huh?” about and wonder if this is the little indie that’s thrown in to show that the judges are not a predictable lot.

So, no win means no speech-post to write in April. I may as well play with one now, thanking everyone under the sun for placing Ocean on a list, any list.

I wrote my draft. Too contrived! Not humble enough. Should I start again? No, I have too much work to do. I’ll let it go. But you were all mentioned! Especially those who came through today with a lot of “there, there, don’t get discouraged with your cyber-writing” – you were in my speech!

My thank-yous ended with this:

Out of time, I’m out of time! Oh, and the grocery store clerk who laughed when I told him that the sign saying tulips for $6, 2 bunches for $12 seemed silly – thanks for laughing! Yes, all of you, thanks for laughing at my ridiculousness sometimes. Thanks for not taking me seriously so that I, too, can feel free to not take myself seriously.

Not great, but not bad for a first draft.

Proud as a pickle, I posted the whole story. I sat back, beamed a little, then clicked on the site, just to see Ocean’s name again. [Head swells the full size of the pickle barrel at this point.]

The link didn’t work.

Oh, no problem, I’ll fix it – I must have been too excited to fully replicate it in that little blogger box.

Still not working.

I try to get at it in other ways – no luck.

Finally, I call the publication. I mean, how ridiculous to have a post about a nomination that appears to be not real.

I am told that someone put the page up too early, by a few weeks. Moreover, they have to remove at least one of the nominees because it appears, upon the full reading of the blog, that a post in it favored the distribution of narcotics. The publication did not want to align itself with blogs that favor the distribution of narcotics. [Wherein Ocean avoids the first cut and understands the glory felt by those who survive the hatchet at American Idol.]

In the end then, my pickle-barrel-size-swollen-head post quickly left Ocean, to be buried with other deletables. [A more modest post will appear here if and when an announcement of any nomination is really truly made and that announcements remains online for more than one hour.]

A post script about feeling foolish: making a fool of myself here on Ocean comes easily for me. I have a knack for it. However, announcing a coup that proved to be a non-coup is about as foolish as anything I’ve ever done. My penance: I am openly telling you all about my stupidity. Nothing like a little public humiliation to keep you level headed in the future.

I am embarking on a stage in my writing where my main concern is going to be the weather

A few punches this winter and I am ready to give it up. Not writing in general, but writing with any zest and spunk. I’m beaten. I don’t want to worry with each carefully worded opinion piece about who is going to make the villain out of me next. And so I wont write anything at all that in any way strays from a discussion of topics as bland as the weather until I regain my strength.

Someone recently said to me that my teasing had a bit too much bite to it. Maybe once upon a time, in the good old days where I actually dared tease. Right now I feel I have become like an old woman whose teeth have fallen out and she can’t afford replacements. I think Ocean has no bite at all and neither do I.

But what worries me is that I am losing my spark. I used to write with enthusiasm and passion and increasingly I write (here, elsewhere) with fear. I have become a stunned and stunted scared rabbit, less bold than the ones that are currently making an appearance in my backyard. A few jabs from just a couple of people will flip a day upside-down for me and so I avoid saying much of anything (in writing? in person?) more and more.

I am becoming a stepford blogger. Dowd would understand.

Offense taken

Read here about one person’s experience with taking photographs in an area of town that’s not known for its physical loveliness. It reminds me of the many times people have looked at my camera with suspicion and anger. Pictures of urban decay, of scenes that speak of poverty and hardship, these are especially difficult to take without offending those who inhabit those spaces.

But negative feelings at being the subject of someone’s artistic expression go beyond that. I have been screamed at by a French butcher who did not want his market stall filled with rabbits photographed, by a Polish peasant woman who virtually spat at my camera as I tried to take a picture of her table of highland wares, by a janitor in a school building in Warsaw and a vendor at a New York hot dog stand.

These days I ask and I don’t push it if people say no. But it invites a negative outcome more often than not. And always I walk away depleted, in the way one does when one has offended someone out of the blue, unintentionally, and gets slapped down publicly for it.

Let it not be said that posting pictures or words for that matter, is always a joyful experience.