Category Archives: Opinion

Blogging Bureaucracy

A blog is a space in which to log entries of any kind. A blogger is one who fills the spaces of his or her web log with such entries. The goal is to produce quality content that we enjoy and love. This should be the reason we begin blogging and why we continue. To produce our passions.

blogger

In case they don’t see your tattoo.

So when did being the spectator become more important than being the producer?

When I began blogging, it was hard to ignore the blogging bureaucracy. Like most, I quickly learned the rules of the trade.  They aren’t easy to miss. Guides to blog success are posted at every major intersection of the internet like big electronic billboards: Interact with the right bloggers! Read read read! Don’t forget to comment! Participate in the blogging community! Guest post and reblog!

Got it.

So, upon the birth of 25toFly and my discovery of WordPress, I immediately found a slew of blogs that I liked and followed. I got to know the people behind them. Friendships were formed and everything was just dandy. It was like being in the popular clique that I was never a part of in high school. And it was fun.

But cliques are exclusive, and exclusivity limits the experience. I started to develop bad habits. My writing was laced with inside jokes that half of my readers couldn’t decipher. I was supporting ideas out of loyalty instead of sincerity. I found myself leaving drive-by comments. I stopped giving new blogs the time of day. I second guessed my own content if I didn’t score a certain number of likes. All of which pointed to the glaring fact that I was caught up in a popularity contest. 

like

Need more thumbs.

None of this was fair of me, because none of it was me

Reading other works is important. It can inspire us, help us network with other writers and artists, and give us new perspectives, but without balance and authenticity, it can be detrimental to our own growth.

I was so caught up in what everyone else was doing, that I severely neglected my blog. There was so much to read and so many opportunities to seize. By the time I finished chiming in on everyone else’s conversations, writing a post of my own felt like trying to backstroke through peanut butter. So I wouldn’t write anything at all. The next day, the cycle would begin again as soon as I opened my reader, spinning me around like my shoestrings were tied to a high speed merry-go-round.

I had enough. I fell hush.

secrets

Pleading the fifth

My comments resembled crumbs, and my Gravatar was practically an apparition. At first, I worried. Were all of the people reading my blog only there because I read theirs in return? Is my blog a stinking pile of uncovered cat poop without my comment reciprocation? Will I vanish into an internet black hole never to be “Liked” again? But then, I realized that it didn’t matter, because even if my thoughts rang true, I’d still be blogging.

To my surprise, detaching myself from the noise for a while allowed me to enjoy blogging like I did before the need to be liked took over. When I finally returned to the conversations, I made sure they were the ones I really wanted to be a part of and that my engagement was genuine.

You see, we are all worthy of the Blogger title, whether we are the next Mark Twain or just want to post pictures of our cats. Your blog is yours. Show it some love, and don’t compare it to everyone else’s. Produce what you love, whatever that may be, and make it your priority. Without it, your blog doesn’t exist. So let’s put the blogging bureaucracy to rest. Your blog, your rules.

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A Daunting Delivery

Yesterday I posted a riddle on Twitter and Facebook: Name a book that everyone has, no one reads, and contains the most characters ever put in between two covers.

phone book

This is an image depicting the answer to the riddle mentioned above.

What you see in the photo, other than my ultra generic but sincerely welcoming welcome mat, is something called a phone book. There is also a large orange door that keeps me safe from intruders. That is a cool color for a door, right? How many people can say that they have an orange door? Sometimes I describe it as “papaya” just to play it up. Unfortunately, my door’s special hue can’t get rid of the aforementioned abomination.

Last week, I arrived home from a taxing day of work and mindlessly climbed the stairs three stories up to my apartment. As I rounded the corner of the stairwell, I saw a line of identical plastic bags placed strategically in front of each door on my floor. As if they were presents or something. Pfft! I didn’t even have to inspect the shady package to know what awaited me. That is partly because the bag was clear, but mostly because I could smell the tears of the rain forest emanating from the pages.

Another phone book.

I didn’t fret. I had a plan. I would pretend it wasn’t there and hope that eventually maintenance or the old, hoarder lady next door would swipe it up without me having to even touch it. A week went by, and I noticed that the stubborn yellow eyesore wasn’t giving up easily. Although it moved about three feet from its original imposing position on my threshold, it continued to annoy me. But its position was such that it was no longer decipherable who’s doorstep the book belonged to, so I held on to my composure.

Until one day, I came home and found a disturbing scene at my door step.

There it was. The phone book, miraculously and deliberately resting not only on top of my threshold once again but actually leaning up against my door, clashing horribly with my beautiful papaya. It was as if it was telling me, “I’m coming in whether you like it or not.” It was inexplicable. Had one of my neighbors become frustrated by my blatant disregard for this unwanted delivery? Maybe someone was jealous of my courage to boldly reject the persistent Yellow Pages and wanted to teach me a lesson by nudging the book back closer to my door? Or perhaps the dumpster food itself scooted its way back into my path just to spite me.

There is no telling which scenario is more likely, but I still haven’t let that thing into my house. The last time I did, I ended up with a phone book Eiffel Tower on top of my fridge. Never again.

Okay, I get it. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a NASA worthy computer the size of a staple at their disposal at all times. You know, besides the billions of people world wide who are using a cell phone. Excuse me, smart phone. But come on Yellow Book, do you really need to distribute five phone books to the same household twice a year to ensure that we are all able to order Domino’s when we are hung over?

Not only is it a huge waste of resources, but it just doesn’t make any sense. When was the last time you wished you had a phone book so you could look up your friend’s number that you lost? Never. Why? Probably because your friend’s number is a cell phone number, and guess what type of phone numbers are not in the phone book? The exact kind of number that you need. Plus, using a phone book when you can transfer information simply by booty bumping your mobile device with another is practically as primative as using a warming pan to heat your sheets at night.

warming pan

Can I use the embers of a burning phone book?

Phone book, you misguided me as a tween when I accidentally called the wrong Bobby Smith and lost my one chance at true love. You made sure to trick me into perpetually looking up numbers that were unlisted, and you most certainly don’t rip in half with ease like I saw on TV.

Your silly games no longer fool me. You are nothing but a pathetic leech clinging on for one last shot at cluttering my shelves. No, you are worse than clutter. You are a true waste of space.

As this game of chicken comes to an end, fear not. You will surely be scooped up and recycled by some Good Samaritan that is not me and then redistributed back to my very doorstep in six short months. But next time I will be ready…

Waiting

There is a collection of children’s books that I acquired as a child. I remember precisely what their covers look like and how my mother sounded reading them to me. Some of them I read to myself in ritual fashion. Some of them I read to my Barbies when they weren’t being flung from my ceiling fan. These stories probably had more influence in shaping my young mind than I’ve realized before.

Today I thought about virtues. The image that flashes in my mind is the cover to a book whose home was among the Beanie Babies on a tiny bookshelf in my 6 year old self’s closet. The Book of Virtues. I can see the images in my mind, but for some reason I cannot recite to myself a single story, poem, or line from the book. I can practically smell the thing and feel the gaudy over-sized bow in my hair, but I can’t place a single word.

the book of virtues

What can this mean? That I could retain the concept of the importance of milk when giving a mouse a cookie but not a single learned moral quality from this book? Somehow I remember the prevailing quest of Corduroy the bear, the unconditional providing of The Giving Tree, and plights of The Tub People, but I am still at a loss for a mere morsel of the teachings of this “treasury.”

Maybe I don’t remember the character names or rhyming verses, but this book obviously taught me, if nothing else, what an actual virtue is. The general idea. The meaning of the word itself. I know that much. So let’s explore this for a moment.

“Patience is a virtue.” I can hear my mother speaking this phrase just as clearly as I can recall her reading to me from those books.

Patience is not something that I grasp well. I’ve always prided myself in having an extremely level head and impeccable moral compass. Much like Corduroy the bear, I understand the irrelevance of the materialistic. I make it a point to practice the selflessness depicted in The Giving Tree. I even put my drain plug in at all times in case my tub figurines come to life when I am away.

My battle with patience is a vastly different story.

Maybe this stems from the feeling that I have been constantly waiting on something my entire life. Waiting to be old enough to drive. Waiting to go off to college. Waiting to start working. Waiting for relationships to form, for someone to get me, for opportunities and excitement. Waiting for life to happen to me, when really I should have been actively seeking my own life.

waiting room

Even waiting rooms make me uneasy.

For this reason, when I want something desperately, I have an impossible time waiting to pursue it. To achieve an end result. My type of impatience has evolved in this sense, and it has its very own cycle. It all starts with a vision. An idea. It could be something as simple as deciding that I want to go rollerblading this weekend or as complex as deciding I want to move across the country by the time that I am twenty-five  (25tofly).

The initial phase is raw excitement. It begins as overwhelming, optimistic joy and certainty. However, seeing this idea to fruition is rarely immediate. After a while, anticipation can start to feel less promising and more draining. Sometimes circumstances are such that a goal takes many steps towards achieving. Some steps are less enthralling than others, and these steps take time. For me, that time often passes so slowly that it can be maddening.

It’s as if increasing the time that lapses between the establishment and accomplishment of my goal also increases the likelihood of failure. This isn’t necessarily always the case, yet the anxiety that I associate with the passing of time is unavoidable.

The point is that my impatience is a fear of waiting. Waiting is inevitable, so there is an ultimatum to reach in this cycle. I can allow the frustrations from my impatience to break me, or I can attempt to endure the home stretch. Right now I am approaching that ultimatum. I’m trying to holding out for the home stretch, and it is taking everything I’ve got.

Patience has not been my virtue, but maybe it can be.

Note: This post is out of character, but my goal here was to write something heartfelt instead of pumping out something in my typical style that was unmotivated. I want to extend a special thank you to Rich for talking me through this post and helping me to edit this piece efficiently. My friend, you certainly have no problems with patience.

becca cord signature

Don’t Hate The Re-Gifted Blog

I am overwhelmed since the end of Becca on Fire, so this is an old post I wrote back in May that I re-edited for today. I wanted to revisit my blog’s history for a moment of deep reflection on how things have changed and how I have grown.

We both know that’s not true. I am really just too busy re-gifting last year’s snuggies and bad DVDs. So here, have this re-gifted blog specially selected by me for you. I will most likely not post again until the weekend. Instead, this week I will throw myself back into YOUR blogs that have been neglected in lieu of the beautiful chaos.

tuesday sucks

Is it just me, or is Tuesday the most uneventful day of the week? Check it out.

  • Monday is the black sheep of the weekday family, but at least it is known for something. It’s famous for all the wrong reasons, but that’s the way to do it these days, right?
  • Wednesday is kind of like the just-popular-enough step brother of Thursday. It also is often referred to by using the word hump, which is never a bad thing unless it is in the same sentence with the word surprise or butt. If you aren’t familiar with humping, just ask Daan.
  • Thursday is just close enough to Friday to switch your thoughts from putting proximity mines in your favorite co-worker’s cubicle, to thoughts of drinking rum in your  backyard in a hammock for two whole days. Isn’t that everyone’s idea of a weekend well spent?
  • Friday = Parties, paychecks, and pandemonium. I don’t think elaboration is necessary.
  • Saturday is Mecca. Saturday is that distant cousin of all other week days who ran off from the weekday family to live a Summer in Paris sipping Cafe au Lait by day and squandering Absinthe by night. It is the day to sleep in, do whatever you want, and then entertain the enchanting notions of  the unpredictable course Saturday night could take you. OR you can play Hitman until your eyeballs look weird and everyone thinks you are either stoned or Steve Buscemi.
  • Finally, there is Sunday Funday. Even the most chill day of the week gets an inviting name. Host of family barbecues, abundant naps, football, catching up on housework, and maybe even a little front porch swing action, Sunday is akin to Wednesday but with slightly better genes.

What happened to Tuesday? You never hear anyone say, “Dude, you will never believe what went down last Tuesday”. Okay, maybe you might, but for me Tuesdays remain the most mundane of all the days, and the only thing that’s “going down” is my spirits.

Maybe I will reinvent Tuesday. It’s time to take the monotony out of Tuesday. It will finally be envied by all the other weekdays. Here is what I am thinking:

Tool Tuesday: Wrap things in tulle while listening to Tool and sitting on a stool.
Why it won’t work: Tuesday will always suck, and I used all of my tulle to make an indoor hammock for Saturday.

I will be working on getting my shit together and writing a legitimate post with awards, tequila, fireworks,  people doing ridiculous things in horse masks and maybe even some real jokes! You know, something worth seeing. Until then, please go visit Le Clown and help him get another deserving blogger Freshly Pressed. There, I pulled a Santa. I am done until 2013.

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Emotions: How Do They Work?

I don’t know if it is all of the lovely comments I received on yesterday’s post, the fact that Le Clown tried to help my wasteland Facebook page last night, or the fact that I stopped killing people with fiber wire for a few days, but I am a tad bit… emotional.

First, I heard about this story this morning on the radio.

dr. house it's not cancer

Word

If you are too lazy to read it, the gist of the story is that a principal gave two boys the option of holding hands for a while or suspension in response to their misconduct of fighting. I missed the first half of the story on the radio stating what the boys were in trouble for, so initially I couldn’t help but think, “Well that sounds like a punishment pulled right out of the homophobia jar”. It made me feel a bit dejected. Then I caught the full story and felt all merry and stuff. The boys were fighting. I believe that holding hands wasn’t a punishment, but  rather an opportunity to teach the kids a lesson of humanity. A kiss and make up kind of thing. Whether or not I am right or wrong, I will be running around with the can’t-we-all-just-get-along sentiment for the rest of the day.

Then, as if my eyes weren’t already swollen shut, the radio station announced an opportunity to see real snow here in south Louisiana where I am still wearing shorts and an ankle bracelet in the middle of December. Yes, they are apparently going to fill a part of town with “real” snow. I mean, I was wigging out with happy because of the snow on WordPress, but now they are manifesting the real stuff in the middle of my seventy-degrees-and-sunny town. The logistics of this event are still baffling my sensitive little mind, but who cares about logic when there is poorly frozen precipitation?

After I regained composure, and arrived to work right on time, then and only then did I promptly realize that my pants were ripped in a not so subtle area. It was too late to go home and change. Naturally. Sheer coincidence or life’s impeccable comedic timing? You tell me.

becca cord signature

Some People Have Spoken

There is nothing better than waking up at 7:00 am on your one day to sleep in. It is just magical. It is especially refreshing if you wake up because your apartment walls are thinner than Trump’s hairline and it sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher is haunting you. That concludes the venting portion of today’s post.

First order of business:

Thanks to all of those who gave me some feedback on my header and “button”. I know I didn’t leave much time for everyone to have a chance to give input, but it didn’t take many responses until I knew what to do. I think the collective response so far is that I should have stuck with the old header. Sometimes your first instinct is the better one. So, I brought back my girl Cinder. *And the crowd goes wild*

As far as the button goes, it stays, but it needed some enhancing. I found a much better tutorial to help me with that here. In this instance, unlike my header, my first choice for a helpful link was not the best. Oh, we are also not going to call it a button anymore. The more I look at that word, the more disgustingly cutesy it seems. We are going to call it a label. A blog label. A blabel. The phrase, “check out/grab my button!” should be reserved for getting lucky. Read the rest of this entry

Why You Shouldn’t Tell Anyone You Decided to Quit Smoking

quit smoking

Contrary to popular belief, raking cigarette butts into piles like fall leaves in which one intends to jump is frowned upon.

It seems like almost a decade ago that I made the naive decision to start smoking. Maybe this is because it actually was a decade ago. That means I have probably consumed approximately 35 some odd thousand “joes” as we dubbed them. How appalling.

I was a mere fifteen years old when I decided it was necessary that I begin smoking. It was actually a dual decision made by Jazzy and me. We would do it together. Jazzy and I both maybe 100 pounds each yet were utterly convinced we needed to lose weight. I blame this on our environment at the time. We were just emerging as principal dancers in the ballet company we belonged to, and if you look up ballerina in the dictionary it will read: person who feels the need to achieve perfection at all times.

becca cord in a tutu

The Marlborough Man Marzipan

We were perpetually unsatisfied with our bodies, which I eventually grew out of thankfully, but at the time we scrounged for anything that promised a quick fix towards emaciating ourselves.  This lead to the smoking. We read somewhere back on AOL, in between getting kicked off of the dial-up, that nicotine boosts your metabolism. Thus, we ran with the idea like the stupid tweens that we were.

That 5-year-old, frail as it was stale, Virginia Slim that Jazzy had hidden from her mother when she was a concerned young tot, gave me the worst sensation I had ever felt, tasted and smelled in my entire life. Naturally, I had to have more. That is not to say that you immediately become overwhelmingly addicted to cigarettes after that first puff, but like I said, I was determined.

Fast forward to the present. I am a full believer in the notion that you mentally must be ready to quit and truly want to do so in order to succeed. Don’t quit just because it is more of a turn-off for your new boyfriend than the thought of Lady GaGa’s wiener. Don’t quit just because you want that same boyfriend’s mom to approve of you. Basically, don’t quit for the benefit of someone else. Quit because you are sick of it.

I’ve been sick of smoking for most of this year. Then, after two trips up north where they treat smokers in the same manner as I imagine they treated the witches of Salem, I was beyond sick of it. I began smoking less and less. I knew what time it was better than Flavor Flav and his army of clocks.

How would this be different from the other times I made the attempt but failed? This time, I refused to broadcast my goal to my friends and family. Here are some of the reasons why I didn’t, and why you shouldn’t (note: this goes for giving up anything unhealthy for you).

1. The majority of your affirmations and praise will come from others instead of yourself. Becoming your own cheerleader is the most important. The confidence you will have in yourself will be the most powerful, especially if that confidence is coming from no other sources.

2. Some of your still-smoking friends may tease you, taunt you or worse, ostracize you. They may feel just as uncomfortable smoking around you as you feel not smoking around them. If you don’t announce your decision at the front door, the pressure is off both sides.

3. Let’s say you become seduced by booze and light up. You will know you’ve slipped up, but no one will feel obligated to point it out.  

4. If everyone is tracking your “progress” when those downfalls happen, you won’t have to deal with the added stress of feeling like everyone thinks you failed. That stress can lead to a full-blown smoking relapse. Because, who are you kidding, right?

5. Bottom line: This decision is about you, not everyone else.

In conclusion, I would like to announce that I am not quitting smoking. I just haven’t had a cigarette in a while.

becca cord signature

How Do We Stop Talking About Work?

While I often take pleasure in cooking and eating at home, I just as equally fancy dining out. Often I am alone, and therefore I belong to a certain club. The i’ll-just-have-a-seat-at-the-bar club. Not only is there a certain sense of empowerment from bypassing the wait (if there is one) or reign of the host, but it also feels there is a certain collective understanding between fellow bar bandits and lounge loiterers. I like to believe we are all there for the same reasons.

In my mind, those reasons include allowing our minds to wander and get lost in all the conversations around us without actually having to put forth the effort of input if there is no desire to do so. We can let the day’s labor fall behind and just be our person. Sure, it may sound lonely to eat solo at a restaurant full of families, couples, and friends, but for me it is one of the most relaxing ways to end a draining work day. Plus, you get drinks the fastest and especially if you are charming enough to chum up the bartender. Then you are really in, and there is nothing wrong with that.

I actually enjoy just listening, observing and often laughing silently to myself over the various exchanges I witness. On the other side, when the mood strikes, you can almost always find an interesting character to chat with. My problem as of late is that the vibe of this club and its participants seems to come off as: we are all here because we want to forget about the work day and have a nice meal, but we have nothing else to talk about but the work we want to forget. Basically, my fellow club members have been leaving me with a sour taste in mouth. And no, they weren’t buying me margaritas.

Just the other night I encountered a perfect example of this. There was a man in his late fifties from New York visiting Louisiana for what he elusively called “some training” and a woman I’d place in her mid-thirties sporting a mouth full of braces and decorative scrubs. I sat there for a solid two hours merely a few bar stools away listening (like I had any other choice). In the first five minutes, these two exchanged your typical where-ya-froms and what-do-ya-dos. The next hour and fifty-five minutes consisted of  nothing other than exhausting work chatter.

She very obviously worked at some sort of doctors office or hospital and was carrying a practically unfitting and ridiculously tiny sequined purse, I assumed to distract from the shine of her braces. She insisted on talking about the problems of people living pay-check to pay-check and issues with employer promises that are left unfulfilled. This, in turn, left the conversation open for the man to repeatedly and vaguely reference how he recently made a “life change”. Eventually, she gave in and took the bait.

He then proceeded to unravel the details behind his “life change” which was really only an occupational change. He had left an unnamed company that he had been with for something like twenty years to help his friend with a big business venture. Wait for it. She pressed further to get answers from him all the while unaware that he was orchestrating her responses and puppeteering her curiosity. Finally, he made his big reveal. His big life change would be opening a new Pop-a-Lock branch.

Now, I am by no means anti Pop-a-Lock. Hell, had it not been for the friends I made working at the campus police station while in undergrad, I probably would have been one of their most cherished customers. I’ll admit I was pretty disappointed in the anticlimactic end to his hyped up story. However, I was more unsettled, almost saddened, that the two couldn’t talk about one single topic other than work.

But it is not just strangers. Every conversation I have purposely over-heard in the past few weeks has revolved around work. Some of them were neutral chats about a particular industry, but more often than not, I witnessed heated rants by jaded employees who just couldn’t seem to stop spewing about the exhausting topic. It is natural to use venting as a coping mechanism, and believe me I have practiced my fair share of it, but where is the line drawn? Can’t we all just order a really big chocolate dessert, another drink, and talk about the fascinating concept of  hula hoops or something?

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