Thursday, February 14, 2013

It's Awards Season Again

This is embarrassing.

Way back on December 6th, I was nominated for the Liebster Award by the perfectly lovely Alicia of Forever Changed, who is so honest and intimate with her blogging audience about the journey of her widowhood. Thanks, Alicia! I really do appreciate it. I gather from her last post that she may have stopped blogging and perhaps this saves me some embarrassment. You see, I thanked her (late) and then I never accepted the award. December was, for lots of reasons, a hard month for me. Things were happening that were ultimately good but felt a lot like persistent nausea at the time. Then Christmas started to come. I had everything I could handle just making ready to receive it. So, I did nothing. I had writer's block and I didn't feel like I deserved a blogging award or wanted to answer eleven questions about myself. I didn't feel clever or funny or grateful or sweet. I'm feeling much better now, but I let the award go. The time, it seemed, had passed.

Then—just this Tuesday—Lorinda J. Taylor, the talented science fiction author blogging at Ruminations of a Remambrancer nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I will thank Lorinda both for nominating me and for being a consistently interesting presence on my blog. I always look forward to a comment from her, knowing it will be well-thought out and anything but trite. She nominated me, and here I still had half of this post sitting in my drafts, taunting me that I really, really didn't deserve another one. This time, I decided not to listen. I don't want to let another opportunity to express gratitude pass me by, so I am going to play this time—but I warn you, I tend to break the rules. I am going to accept both awards at once (which takes a bit of audacity) and change it up a bit. These are the rules for Liebster:

How It Works-Liebster: 1. Add the award icon to your blog!
2. Link to your nominator to say thank you.
3. Post 11 facts about yourself.
4. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you.
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
6. Choose 11 up-and-coming bloggers with fewer than 200 followers, go to their blog, and tell them about the award.

How It Works-Very Inspiring Blogger:
1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State seven things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 bloggers for this award and link to them.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award's requirements.

I have a hard time with this gifting of awards. Many awards go around and I have sometimes made an effort to give them to people who haven't had them in the past, by searching their entire sites. I would like to avoid giving them to all my blogging besties over and over again. I don't know how many followers everyone has. So, here, instead, as a public service, I am just going to go ahead and name some of the bloggers whom I particularly enjoy reading, whether they meet the criteria or not. And I'm picking five so I have time to tell you about them. Here's what's in my Google Reader:

Laura Mullane of Swimming for Shore. She will probably never know I nominated her because she seems to have turned her comments off, but Laura Mullane is a fabulous writer. Her blog chronicles her journey as a mother, full of the uncertainty that she was ever supposed to mother at all. Her writing is striking both for honesty and for its skill. Twice now the death of her animals have left me sobbing by my PC, unable to go on.
Jane of Jane in her Infinite Wisdom. I believe I've nominated her before. If so, I don't care. Jane deals the straight dope. Her heart is pure and her mind is both complex and aimed at truth. Her title may be in jest, but it is not so to me.
Nicole Amsler of her blog by the same name. Nicole just writes really, really well—vividly, luxuriously. And she writes a lot about food, none of which I can eat. So reading her blog, for me, is like watching soft core porn with Boston cream pies in it. Except much more tasteful. Lately, she has set herself up as a book club host on the web, where I virtually read along with her and virtually eat her delicious gluten and dairy-laden virtual snacks.
Katy Anders of Lesbians in My Soup. I read all of Katy's posts. They are clever, bizarre, and magical—perfect and utterly unbelievable, like Cirque du Soleil in words. I never comment because even the comment threads on her blog are too clever and perfect for me. But I read and I admire. Oh yes, I do.
Jennifer Neil of Diary of an Even Fatter Girl. This blog is not about weight loss. It's about being human. And Jenn is willing to be honest in a way that people rarely are. She's funny and she's likable. She's also my good friend. Go read her. She will make you laugh and see part of yourself that makes you squirm. Then laugh again.

I fully appreciate that lots of high-quality bloggers do not wish to play virtual chain mail games with me, and I fervently hope that they will consider these two awards a compliment bestowed upon them. Flick away the niggling requirements, like a booger from the tip of your fingernails. It will not wound me one bit.

Now for the silliness...Music please!

Eleven Facts About Me (should more than cover both, wouldn't you say?):1. I have double-jointed thumbs.
2. I can't cartwheel. I won't do it even if you ask nicely.
3. I sometimes listen to Eminem with my fifteen year-old son on his iPad. I pretend these are teachable moments.
4. I have not read one single word of David Foster Wallace's. Ever. I think this makes me rather a dangerous person, don't you?
5. I have had pet rats, pet mice, pet guinea pigs, and pet hamsters. Of these, I strongly recommend rats. People grimace when I say this, but rats are intelligent and friendly. Mice stink, guinea pigs pee constantly, and hamsters are vicious jerks. Get a rat, or better yet, a chicken.
6. Two of my favorite words are "gnocchi" and "recidivism."
7. When people talk about grammar, I rarely know what the Hell they mean, particularly once they start parsing verbals. And yet I am a literacy tutor. Thank God for Google and Strunk & White. What's worse: I'm a damn good literacy tutor.
8. I have a tendency to argue with people on Facebook, especially about politics. This irritates me about myself and yet I do it anyway. Because they're wrong.
9. All my life I've had cats and all of these cats have been mentally ill. The one I have now only recently pissed on my son's bed and then left two turds neatly inside a wicker basket I have placed in my hall for the purpose of decoration. Later, my son placed this basket, with accompanying turds, on my front step, where it still sat when his friend's mother arrived to pick him up for soccer. "Welcome to my lovely home," I said.
10. I once had a job knocking on your door to ask you to join the Sierra Club. You were very rude to me and I quit at the end of a week. You're sorry now that we've cooked the planet, aren't you?
11. I love to cook, and I am really excited about the chemistry of cooking, but I don't actually understand chemistry."This works," I say enthusiastically of my recipes, "due to molecules."

Eleven Questions I Have to Answer (from Alicia):
1. What was your favorite book as a child/teenager?

This, of course, depends entirely on what age I was when you might have asked me. I will go with junior year of high school and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald because it contains these words:

"This is a valley of ashes — a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. "

Fitzgerald made the English language his bitch. I still idolize him.

2. Aside from your parents/grandparents/etc, what adult influenced your life when you were a teenager?

I went to an alternative high school where we had wonderful teachers there who treated us like real humans even though most of us were stoned. One of these was a history teacher who smoked in class and looked like a large toad. He asked in class one day, "How many of you believe that you are ugly?" I raised my hand. He then took a long drag and, after exhaling, said, "I believe I am the most handsome man in the world, and if I can believe that then, sweetheart, so can you."

3. When you were in high school, what did you want to do/be when you grew up?

A psychologist. I had some theory about treating addiction through the use of collage images based on Jung's archetypes. I made a tarot deck for this purpose. It certainly didn't work on me.

4. Of all the "roads not taken" in your life, which one would you like to peek down, just to see what would have happened?

If I had gotten my college degree, I often think, I would be rich and famous now. I would like to peek down there and check so I could see that I'd still be in my kitchen making pot roast and teaching grammar to my kids, but I could pretend to be overqualified. My sense of inferiority, as evidenced by my lack of a diploma, is so integral to my identity, I'm curious to see what I would be like without it.

5. If you went to college, what was your major? Would you choose the same field if you went back today?

I majored (undeclared except in my own mind) in art, psych, sociology, English and humanities while I was attending junior college. If I went back today, I would pursue a degree in English and professional writing or creative writing so that I could be a writer and mother—just like I am now.

6. Do you have any siblings?

I plead the fifth on this.

7. What's the most beautiful place you've ever been to?

Narnia. Loth Lorien. Elysium. Or maybe Ocean Point, Maine.

8. How do you indulge yourself when you need a pick-me-up?

I put orange peels and a cinnamon stick on the stove and cover them with water, boil and then simmer them until I feel cheered up. The house smells like optimism.

9. When was the last time someone else cooked a meal for you?

I think it was my mom, back in August, when my wisdom teeth were all pulled out. I couldn't eat it until weeks later, but it was excellent. Kitchere.

10. What do you wish more people knew about you?

I wish more people knew that my name is pronounced with an r-controlled a, not a long a.

11. Why did you start blogging (which may not be why you blog today)?

I simply wanted a forum for my writing. I figured my parents and my husband might read it—maybe a few friends. Now I blog for the same reasons Catholics go to mass. And to refine my practice of ambiguity.

12. What movie do you always have to watch when it's on television?

This is a trick question because I don't have cable TV. If I did, I might hazard that I'd want to watch The Princess Bride if it came on. All the other movies I like would be bleeped beyond recognition.
"You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means."
Eleven Questions I Am Asking:

1. Would you ever dissect a cat—if no one was using it and it was already dead? If so, why?
2. Are you a writer or a blogger? Does your answer affect what you do?
3. Sushi—yes or no?
4. What sorts of things really offend you, not just on an abstract level, but in day-to-day life?
5. What's the one secret ingredient that brings life to your cooking (or, you know, your re-heated Lean Cuisines)?
6. Santa Claus: magical childhood delight or insult to children everywhere?
7. Name the best piece of short fiction you've ever read.
8. Name a novel that changed your life.
9. What is the thing that everyone likes but you, and even so, you know you're right?
10. If you're on the right path, will you be happy? Or are some people called to walk a harder path?
11. Name a really good soup that can be bought in a can.

You did it! You should get an award just for reading. And, in fact, if you—loyal reader—want one, simply follow the requirements and go for it. You bloggers know who you are. My non-blogging readers, uh....I owe you a fruitcake, OK?


  1. I like hearing about up and coming blogs from bloggers whose blogs I like! Make sense??? I will enjoy checking four of your five nominees out after work today, NO need to introduce me to Jane - she is AWESOME! I love reading her posts!
    I enjoyed learning more about you via your responses -- don't let that lack of a degree get in your way. You are clearly an educated and intelligent person. You don't need a paper to tell me that.
    Just for fun, I might answer some of your questions after work today too -- Santa Claus???? insult? No way - magic and hopeful and cool. Very cool.

    1. I have found some of my favorite bloggers via these awards, come to think of it. I'm pretty sure I found Katy that way.
      Re: Santa, I tend to agree with you and yet I have more than one friend, who I respect in particular, who really have problems with the idea. So I'm very curious now.

    2. Re Santa - I fail to see how being allowed to believe in Santa Claus and then learning later that he doesn't literally exist could traumatize a child! Children love make-believe! When somebody in the second grade announced that Santa wasn't real, I asked my mother about it, and she told me that Santa Claus was a spirit. That satisfied me just fine! I think I always knew he couldn't really come down that chimney! When I was five, my mother took me to a public gathering where Santa was to appear, and I was sitting on the floor. When Santa came in, it was easy to see that he had on dress shoes with boot tops over them. I said to my mother afterwards, "That wasn't really Santa!" and she told me it was one of Santa's helpers. Children don't miss much!

  2. I LOVE that your writer's block is lifting! As for #4, as a SAHM with too many degrees, I would certainly offer you an honorary degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing. :-)

    1. And I will take one! Just send it US mail.... ;)

  3. Great response, with the usual quirky Tara touches! And thanks for the kind words about me! I never give compliments I don't mean! Btw, didn't you pick up a copy of "Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder" awhile back when it was free? Did you ever read it? (Silly question - I know you don't have time to read!)
    I don't understand what you mean on Question #10. I like to pronounce people's names correctly. Do you mean as in "Terra" or as in "Tar-a" (the black,gooey stuff)? Or something else?

    1. Does it count if I started it? I did begin reading it, but I haven't gotten very far, not because I'm not interested, but because I keep getting interrupted. I do well with hard copies of books that I can take to bed because then people tend to leave me alone. I have a harder time with books I read in my living room where my PC is. (I don't have a device.)I pulled it up again last week and tried again. I will keep at it. I am very curious.

      So, my name is Tah-ra, as in the Tibetan goddess of compassion, rather than Tay-ra, as in Gone with the Wind. Since the latter is more common, I am pretty used to answering to both.

    2. OK, if I ever meet you, I will be sure to say Tah-ra!
      Re "Monster" - I'm thrilled you found time to begin it! If you have an extra $5.49, you could buy a copy of the paperback from Amazon! The cover looks great in the flesh - it looks less good in the digital version. I wish I could have specials on the paperback of my books, but CreateSpace won't let you change the price. I'm having another special on "Monster" right now through Monday - free at Smashwords (hint, hint to your readers!) Hey, I just checked for the URL and somebody has downloaded a copy of it!

  4. Tara - Nicole's link goes to Jane's blog --- hmmmmmmm 0I bet I could figure out how to get to Nicole's blog but maybe you can fix it so the link goes there?

    1. Oh, how did I miss this comment before now? It must have fallen into my email void! Fixing it now!

  5. Oranges and cinnamon on the stove- I love doing that!
    And, I'm glad to know how to pronounce your name. I'll never mispronounce it in my head again. =)

    1. I meant to comment on the orange peels, too! Back in the day of wood-burning cookstoves (she even had one when I was little and that was in the 1940s - by then most people had gas ranges!), my grandmother would put orange peel directly on the hot stove top to freshen up the house. I don't think she used cinnamon!

  6. Tara, you are ever so sweet. I am sorry my blog is torturous to you. Since my speaking love language is food, I am mute when it comes to allergies, food sensitivities, etc. And I have several friends who stymy me. Perhaps I should learn a new language?

    And I too can't do a cartwheel. Never have.

    Thank you, sweet friend. I'll plan to do the 11 questions this Friday.

    1. I actually love reading about food. I have this weird relationship with things I can't eat. As long as someone I like is enjoying them, I'm fine. I love to bake, even though I can't tolerate dairy, wheat or sugar. I give the stuff to my kids. So, enjoying food through good writing is a wonderful thing to me.

      And I am SO sorry about screwing up your link and then not noticing! Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

  7. This whole inferiority due to the lack of a college degree situation is one I can so identify with and have to actively push past on a regular basis. It's horrifyingly embarrassing to admit, but I tend to comfort myself by taking note of all the people around me with Master's Degrees who spell like third graders and, worse, have zero curiosity about the world and human nature and how everything works (or doesn't). I just tell myself if they're the product of higher education, then maybe I'm better off without those letters after my name. Heh. Sometimes it works.


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