I’ll be offline for the weekend. If you miss me, you can read about the Thirty Things I Love over at my NaBloPoMo site – new posts will be up every day over there.
I had no idea that such a thing existed, but apparently you can get lots of things for free on the internet this week! At the urging of Kristin, who has become quite the give-away addict by all accounts, I am participating. Yipee!
I am giving away a brand spankin’ new copy of Anne Lamott’s book, Grace (Eventually). If you love essays of humor and off-color thoughts on faith, then this is the book for you.
How do you win?
You comment here, on this post. That’s it. See how easy that is? You just say hi, I want to win this book – and make sure I can find you by way of email or website, and I will let you know if you’ve won. You don’t even have to be a blogger to win. You just walk in here like you own the place, and that’s it.
I will even pay to ship you this book – even if you live in Australia. And you know who I’m talking about. How can you beat that?
Oh, and I should probably say that you can only enter once. I just know you are dying to own this book, and will go to great lengths to win a contest here on The Pile, but please restrain yourself an give everyone a chance. You have until Sunday, November 4th at 11:59pm West Coast time to leave a comment, and then I will draw a name from the hat on Monday.
Not interested in this book? Surely you will find something over there that tickles your fancy. And it’s all free!
Also, Bryan wants me to be sure you know that by giving away this book we in no way endorse euthanasia. If you want to know why I bring this up, you’ll just have to win the book.
[This contest is now closed.]
I finally came up with a theme for NaBloPoMo, and made my first post over there as a preview. Here is an excerpt:
Several ideas came to mind when considering what to focus on. I recently began a campaign to lose forty pounds and have been going to the gym four days a week. I bought a new Bible and thought I should try to read it every day and reflect on what it has to say. I thought I would slow the pace of my life down and spend quality time with my daughter, writing about the adventures we have together every day.
All of these things are important to me, but for reasons of practicality or sheer boringness to the reader, none of these seemed like the theme.
Then it hit me last night as I was soaking in a hot bath (all good ideas come to me at the most inconvenient times) that I should write about the Thirty Things I Love.
I’m pretty excited to embark on this adventure, and already have fourteen things on my list. I’m hoping it will establish a habit for me to see the joy in all things, even the mundane and frustrating.
Though I wasn’t thinking about this specifically when the idea hit me, I believe I was subconsciously influenced by the current sermon series at church, The Rebel’s Guide to Joy. Through it, I’ve been pretty convicted for being ungrateful and having a complaining heart.
This year I’ve decided to participate in NaBloPoMo during the month of November.
Ah, what was that?
NAtional BLOg POsting MOnth: Post every day for a month.
I set up my own page at the NaBloPoMo site, and will likely make all my daily posts there with occasional links from here to remind you that I will be engaging in too much of a good thing, and likely going mad because of it. I’m still working out in my head how I want to use the time/space, as in, I’m thinking I might like to write on a theme for the month.
Some themes that I’ve considered are these:
- reflecting on a scripture passage
- tracking my workout/diet record
- recording all the ways I give into or give up control (the bad kind of control!)
- doing something fun every day just with Ruthie, and writing about our adventures
I still have a few days to mull it over before we begin, so if you have any votes or others suggestions please leave them in the comments. I think the trick will be finding a topic that will be both relevant to me and interesting to the reader (i.e. it will be a long month if all I’m writing about is how many minutes I ran on the Monotonous Machine of Monotony, and Oooo! I had a salad for lunch! Yawn.).
Also, if you are one of my blogging friends – sign up to participate! Do it! Go sign up right now! And if you don’t have your own blog, go sign up anyway, because in signing up they give you a blog of your very own to use! Go on! Take that 30 day challenge like the guy who ate supersized meals at McDonald’s for a month – pick a topic or theme and explore it every day for 30 days.
My latest post is up at the Vox Pop Network. Titled Four Star Hospitality, it is about my recent dining experience at Salty’s on Alki, and how it inspired me to be friendlier. Here is an excerpt:
And when I say they smiled and greeted us, I’m not just referring to a pass-by smile on their way to the kitchen. The food prep cooks called out to us from over the counter; waiters stopped collecting their plates to smile and say hello; a bus boy stopped his work, turned from his table, and greeted us as we walked by; a second hostess on her way back to the podium stepped aside, smiled, and said hello.
I wrote this one pretty quickly and in very few drafts. In fact, I think my initial free-write was pretty dern close to what I published, save the ending. I generally have a difficult time ending an essay like this one without putting it in a cute little box with a neat bow on top. It irks me when things feel that ‘wrapped up.’
I also had a slight challenge with tone. At one point I realized I was getting preachy, in a You Should Really Be Doing This Better kind of way. That irks me too, so I had to bring it back around to me and my own experience. And then I have to walk that fine line between telling a story from my perspective versus making it all about me.
I hope I succeeded in the first thing.
I cross-posted one of my recent essays over at A Wild Ride, you can check it out here. I posted it just as it was on This Pile, but I changed the title. Sometimes when I can’t think of a creative title, I just slap something down because I’m anxious to get a post up. It wasn’t until later that I thought of a better title than “Cue eerie music in the background…”
October’s theme at A Wild Ride is sleep, so if you have children with challenging sleep issues, you should check back there from time to time.
I ran into a woman at Fred Meyer a couple months ago. We were both dropping off our kids at the while-you-shop daycare, and I said something to her about how nice it is to be able to shop without distraction. We talked for a few minutes, and then she commented on how I looked familiar to her. After rattling off a few places we might have met, she finally mentioned one of the parks within walking distance of my house, and I remembered her as a mom I chatted with on several occasions while our kids played last summer. We talked some more and then exchanged phone numbers for future play dates.
I posted this last week, but it’s been a little crazy here at the Zughaus. This was an essay I drafted a couple months ago, and was actually part of a larger essay originaly. But as I went on and on I realized there were two threads of thought that should probably be split in order to keep it simple and short(ish).
I think I fined tuned this one in three drafts, plus a little tinkering after Bryan read through it. I also made a point of closing with a question in hopes of generating a conversation in the comments. This seemed to work, as this post contained more comments than either of the other two I posted previously. I got this idea from Jen Lemen, who I’ve noticed ends many of her posts with a thoughtful question to draw people out of lurking.
I once watched with curiosity as my friend stopped to talk to a homeless woman in my neighborhood and extended ways in which she could personally help her. I had no idea what made her capable of doing this, and chalked it up to just not being my thing. I know lots of extroverts, those people who make conversation with everybody. They chat with the cashier while grocery shopping, they talk to the other moms at the park, they say, ‘Hey, that looks cute on you,’ to the fellow shopper at the mall. I once knew a gal whose husband teased her that she’d talk to a light pole if no one else was around.
This is not naturally me. In fact, this is the opposite of me. It is the anti-me. And for the longest time it was the so-not-going-to-EVER-be-me me. But lately I’ve been trying to not use this as an excuse to avoid the people Jesus puts in front of me.
Go here to read the full essay.
I worked on this essay for weeks, and finally posted the fourth or fifth draft. It’s such a rewarding experience to see something kind of good work its way into something (dare I say) excellent. It has also been beneficial in getting over my aversion to drafting. Just when I think something is great, I let it sit for awhile, and don’t even read it. Then I come back to it a week later with fresh eyes, and a new phrase pops into my head that fits perfectly between paragraphs three and four to tie it all together.
It can be a maddening experience though, and I’m beginning to see why writers and artists are so eccentric. We spend so much time in our own thoughts, distracted over an undone work of art, that the Right Here and Now gets a little lost. Please warn me if I start looking a little disheveled and mumble to myself while quietly rocking with pen and pad in hand.
Things are finally falling into place concerning my other writing gig (I just love saying that – writing ‘gig’), and I will hereby unveil it in this post.
In juuust a minute.
But first, a little context. By now you’ve probably figured out that despite the drinking and the swearing and the boob shots, I am a Christian. It’s a tricky topic to talk about directly for many MANY reasons, so I have chosen to refrain from any overt declarations and simply lend a few clues into my faith through my writing. If I do talk about my faith here at This Pile, it’s because there is no other way around processing through the topic at hand.
That being said, I have wanted an outlet for thoughts and essays that speak more directly about my life as a Christian. Recently I discovered my church has a network of blogs called The Vox Pop Network. I thought this was a very cool thing for a church to have, and a couple months ago I inquired about being a contributor to one of these blogs.
Aaaand despite the swearing and the drinking and the boob shots, they gave me a password and said, Go For It! So if you are interested in reading me in a different context – one that is more about Jesus and less about me, one that is several times refined and not a first draft, one that is filled with more hope and less angst – you can follow me (along with other contributors) here.
My first essay contribution, on the topic of baptism, is here.