Measuring Time

Like most people, I have several clocks in my house. One may tell me it’s 11:30 a.m., another may say 11:35. This drives my husband crazy. I kind of like it, the notion that the measurement of time is only as accurate as the device. Some clocks like to run fast, others slow. Just read Alan Lightman’s exquisite Einstein’s Dreams, with its rich imagining of different theories of time via a brilliant patent clerk’s dreams before his awakening to the one that would forever change our perception of the time-space continuum.  In one world, there are no houses in the valleys or plains, everyone having moved to the mountains once it was discovered that “time flows more slowly the farther from the center of the earth.” In another place, time stands still. Everything is relative, isn’t it?

I went out for a walk a little earlier than usual this morning, to beat the inclement weather that tells me is on the way.  Rain is coming  at 11:00 a.m., snow a little later.  I can monitor its progress in fifteen-minute increments. Know before you go.

I’ve long had  a certain fascination with the notion of a Leap Year. In some traditions it’s considered an unlucky day to be born. In astrological circles, ‘Leapers’ (or ‘Leaplings’)  have “a general magical and  reputation as being lucky.” To my own thinking, how could it be anything but special (even if confusing) to (technically) celebrate a birthday once every four years?

I have nothing but great admiration for those who spend their lives in search of precision and what their own curiosity about the inner workings of all things, both in the natural and man-made worlds, makes available to me. At the same time, we’re all only human and I do smile at the suggestion of vanity that left February short a few days. Here’s what David Ewing Duncan writes in his well-researched and delightfully written Calendar: Humanity’s Epic Struggle to Determine a True and Accurate Year:  It was under the reign of Julius Caesar that January  came to mark the beginning of the year (formerly it was March). Accurate as the new calendar was, it was not free from errors, and, centuries later, another emperor (Augustus) came up with some reforms.

“But either out of vanity or because his supporters demanded it, the Senate decided that Augustus’s new month, with only 30 days, should not have fewer days than the month honoring Julius Caesar, with 31 days. So a day was snatched from February, leaving it with only 28 days — 29 in  leap year.”

The Jewish calendar, a lunar one, has a leap month. For Native Americans, the concept of time encompasses much more than its linear component.  And who knows what the Mayan calendar has in store for us this year?

All of which is to say: Time is nothing short of what you make of it.

What becomes a blogger most?

Sometimes (maybe more often than I might admit) the universe does give you the perk you need just when you need it. On the very day I posted my thoughts on finishing a novel, Ashley Barron, a rapid-rising, gracious presence in the world of self-published, indie writers, delivered a virtual bouquet of roses to my inbox.  My first encounter with Ashley was pure timing and chance (isn’t that the way it is so often Cyberspace?): with several degrees of online friendship between us at that point, I had stumbled on her call for writers who had done book trailers for a post she was planning. Mine was hot off the press.  She included it, along with an innovative assortment of other book trailers in a post, Book Trailers: This Is Fun!, which also included a link to an interview with Sean Biederman, an advertising/marketing/digital production pro.  All of which is to say, Ashley’s curiosity about and interest in writers doing their best to do it on their own is matched only by the story she tells about her own evolution as a writer.

When the notion of blogging began, I could barely say the word (weblog?) without admitting to my technological ignorance of why/how/where one even begins. It wasn’t until other writer/friends — C.M. Mayo (a pioneer if ever there was one), Christine Boyka Kluge, and Pam Hart — began blogging that I took note. The proverbial bee had landed in my bonnet.  A writer needs an online presence. Even if it does feel a bit like ships passing in the night at times,  I trust that the same curiosity that makes me drop anchor at the blog of a writer I’ve come to appreciate will bring visitors to my blog. We are not in this sea alone.

It’s a fascinating thing, indeed, the recognition bloggers devise for one another, chain-letter style. At its best, and done with integrity, it’s a chance for any blogger nominated to take stock of the company she keeps, let a bit of gratitude sink in. So thank you, Ashley, for taking note in ways that are as much an expression of your generosity as an appreciation for the nuanced timbre of a writer’s voice.  Now I get to pay it forward, but first, a few (generally unknown) things about me.

1.  I stopped eating pastrami (something my husband loves) after getting sick from it too many years ago to count. I don’t like hot dogs either (something else he loves) though I do love sauerkraut.

2. What is it about the raspy voice — Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits — that gets to me?

3. Pink is a color almost nonexistent in my wardrobe.

4. I can finally admit what social pressures made me uncomfortable saying back in eighth grade: I loved George Eliot’s ‘Silas Marner.’

5. In the years when I first began thinking ahead to whether I might be a writer by profession (i.e., my college days), I was focused on writing poetry.

6. In my fantasy life I imagine myself riding a wave on a surfboard. Maybe that’s why I write.

Why stop at six? Well, let’s call it poetic license Besides, with so much being made of the Mayan calendar this year, and my birthday auspiciously falling on 12/12/12, you do the math, six things about me plus six of my favs . . . and why they strike me as Kreativ Bloggers par excellence.

Becky Green Aaronson, The Art of an Improbable Life. In a recent post, The Art of Faux-tography, Becky reminds us of that hard-to-resist impulse, phone camera at the ready, to stop everything for the sake of capturing a moment.  What Becky manages to capture, with flair and, yes, love, is a sense of being both in the moment and looking back on it — so many rich, multitudinous moments in weekly posts drawn from the extraordinary photographs of her husband, whose career as a photojournalist has been a charmed one, indeed. Not that it didn’t take  a touch of savoir faire and pure, unmitigated courage to place him in the right place at the right time nor a certain savvy and skill on the part of his life partner to render so beautifully a life story drawn from ‘events of rare coincidences’ (Becky’s words, not mine).

Maureen Doallas  clearly needs a lot less sleep than I do. With its immersion  in both the worlds of poetry and art, Writing Without Paper is an endless, rich resource about  everything you need to know (and more) about writers and artists on the rise (not to mention  familiar ones).  Maureen’s presence on Twitter and Facebook is no less inspired/inspired. Without her, would I have known ‘How to enjoy Leonardo,’ with its eye-opening look at the Mona Lisa, on my iPad or the interactive haiku app, ‘Chasing Fireflies’? And, best of all,  she still manages to find time for her own exquisite poetry.

No surprise, really that it was Maureen Doallas who brought Hannah Stephenson into my radar.  What is there to say, really, about a gifted poet who posts a poem a day on her site, The Storialist?  Well there is this to say: lots of people call themselves poets and post their work, and there is something to admire about the earnest effort.  Hannah Stephenson, true poet that she is, makes the effort seem effortless in the way she links her poems to online images and has allowed her blog to evolve from its original sartorialist-inspired poems to its more expansive incarnation. But let me stop before I wax too poetic here.

So many book blogs, a fair number of good ones, Claire McAlpine’s Word by Word at the very top of the tier.  Her posts, peppered with delightful graphics,  are first and foremost about the book she’s chosen to write about, but so often she brings in some elucidating tidbit that connects the world contained in the pages of a book to the world at large. Without ever pinning a book to its ‘star’ value, she conveys, with intelligence and heart, what it is that will make you want to read a book, or not.

Mercedes M. Yardley, A Broken Laptop.  Full disclosure. When I embarked on a campaign of sorts to interest bloggers in reviewing my book, Mercedes was one of the early takers. The banner photo on her blog, a woman in sexy pumps, made me think she might be a kindred spirit. What she wrote about my short story collection was beyond gratifying, but more important was that it made me a follower of her blog. Mercedes puts herself out there, with grace, skill, style, and wit. Whether she’s writing about painting the kitchen or her tiny daughter or her approach to a dark story she’s working or making it into the ‘Best New Writing of 2012‘ anthology, she makes you feel as if it’s all just part of another day in her life. An extraordinary one, I might add.

Madam Mayo. C. M. Mayo has the distinct honor here of being named twice by me (first for the Versatile Blogger Award and now this) for the recognition she so deserves. With her insights into all things literary (and otherwise), fantastic graphics and podcasts, links to intriguing blogs, guest-writers she brings on board, C.M. Mayo continues to impress me with her ever-evolving presence on the Web. If you don’t know her wonderful body of work (bilingual, to boot), this is the place to find out what you’re missing.