October 04, 2005

new blog

My new blog:

Full Circle.

I haven't even switched from the default MT template yet, so it's, um, not pretty. But it'll do for now. I'll have more time to fuss with it later this month. In the meantime, I can write somewhere new. Which is the point, no? Because I am, after all, somewhere new.

So please join me there. I won't be updating here anymore.

Posted by Tamar at 12:31 PM | TrackBack

August 31, 2005

blog mensch

This is just to say that I'm proud as hell of my friend Toni. She started blogging her experiences as Baton Rouge got swiped by the edge of Hurricane Katrina. In the storm's horrific and heartbreaking aftermath, official news is primarily concentrating on the big picture, particularly on conditions in New Orleans. But a hell of a lot of people are worried about friends and family in outlying areas, small towns and suburbs not covered by the news stations. So Toni's been blogging everything she hears and sees, sending her son out to do some reconnaissance and now going out to offer help and also report back for people who feel helpless and in the dark. It's a kind, kind thing to do.

Posted by Tamar at 12:21 PM | TrackBack

August 06, 2005

new Hidden Laughter entry

About an encounter in the park. One that leaves me with questions.

Posted by Tamar at 12:32 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

May 29, 2005

new Hidden Laughter entry

Comeback kid.

What Damian's been up to.

Posted by Tamar at 12:05 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 21, 2005

new Hidden Laughter entry

Woke up this morning to find (thanks to a comment on my blog and then a look at my referrer logs) that the Today Show's all-week coverage of all things autism-related had a direct effect on me, that their very helpful online list of resources included my very own Hidden Laughter journal, the story of Damian's development from before diagnosis to now. Better than coffee (don't drink coffee) (and whoa, don't need it now).

But, um. What was the last entry up there? Some irritable rant about using a child's autism, falsely equating it with musical supergenius? Probably not what people who need a resource are looking for, huh? And I've been meaning to update on Damian and how he's doing at school for a while now. Been busy. Yeah, I know. Some excuse. If I don't write it down, it's gone. Amazing what a little external boost will do. New entry now up. All about how he's doing at school. Well, and at home. Because it's all linked, isn't it?

Posted by Tamar at 12:24 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 01, 2005

postcards from the id

Anonymous postcards sent to a stranger with a deep secret written (and sometimes illustrated) therein and then displayed on a gallery wall as well as a website for the world to see, nobody knowing it's yours? It tickles the voyeur in each of us, that part of us that wants to see how someone else really and truly feels. And some are as dark as you'd expect. Others, not so much.

I think my favorite postcard is this:

Sometimes I still keep one eye open
after I've supposedly gone to sleep
just in case
my stuffed animals
come to life.

How can you not love that admission? In the present tense, no less.

Posted by Tamar at 10:02 PM

January 06, 2005

Holidailies: a fond farewell (and a Hidden Laughter entry)

Today is the last day of Holidailies. I thoroughly enjoyed it, more so this year because my mother was participating and I got to witness her enthusiasm as her delightful voice was introduced to new readers. I love the portal concept, loved dipping into other journals and blogs I'd forgotten about or never knew existed.

This online world is so much vaster than it was when I started posting online in 1999, so stunningly huge, an ocean of voices detailing their lives and thoughts. Sometimes I get lost, drown in it, want to stop adding my thoughts to the cacophony. But then something comes along like Holidailies: a smaller, more manageable chunk of humanity with little tastes offered beforehand, an appetizer plate of choices, and I appreciate the venue once more.

Really, there's something intrinsically wonderful about online journals and personal blogs Ė the glimpse into other people's lives, the chance for ordinary Joes (or, more likely Josephines) invite you the reader into an otherwise opaque, unknown slice of life. Just as memoirs have taken off like crazy in the publishing world, accounts by non-celebrities who have something to say, something to recount, this kind of personal web writing has the chance to enchant, move, surprise and enrich us as readers. So what if there's an ocean of writers? There are plenty of people who want to swim in those waters. I know I do.

Thanks, Jette and Chip. I needed the reminder.

(But, um, writing every day? Why did I do that last year? What was I thinking? After a few months of three to four times a week, every day flattened me this month and in fact I didn't get all the way through. A whole year? Man.)

On another note and another front: I just posted a new entry in Hidden Laughter. Go and you shall find. (For Holidailies folk who don't know what I'm talking about, Hidden Laughter is my journal of my son's progress through autism and my thoughts around and about the topic.)

Posted by Tamar at 08:41 PM

December 05, 2004

hi there

Hi. How are you? Been a few days, huh? I miss you too. What have I been up to? Oh, not much. Just cranking out a few thousand words a day, y'know, your average everyday sort of life. Other than that, not much. And you?

Ahem. Yeah, I'm back. In fact, I did something foolish. I signed up for Holidailies. Yup, I'm going to finish my novel AND post an entry every single day from December 7th through January 6th. Yup. Because those words, I just can't get enough of them. Well, also because I did it last year and enjoyed it. Also because I tried Blog Explosion and hated the endless surf-through ick-this-blog-bites-I-hope-the-next-one's-good accumulation of points. It made me depressed, actually. So many mediocre blogs out there. Also some good ones (I blogmarked some, will go back and get acquainted real soon and may in fact surf some more, too, but in limited doses). But just so many. A veritable ocean of blogs. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of humanity. Blogging can be a statement of individuality, I think that's what appeals to us as writers and as readers. But en masse it becomes a blur, the sky full of too many stars and it becomes a vague pulsating headache-inducing light.

I like Holidailies. I like the manageable size. I like the fact that many of the bloggers and journallers are drawn from a community that already know each other (hi, guys). It feels far less anonymous as a result. I also like that it's a portal, that you can read the teaser for an entry and choose to click or not click. You choose whether to read my words. Much more pleasant than forced surfing through endless smiley-faced sweet mom and angry conservative sports fan blogs.

Besides, I do miss writing here. Whenever I stop for a bit, half a dozen entries pop into my head and crowd out more important thoughts. The only cure, apparently, is to keep the blog up to date and clear the debris out of my brain. Anyway, I figure I'm on a roll now with the novel. And writing begets writing. And besides, why not? So I signed up.

See you Tuesday, if not before.

Oh, and while I'm being meta, go pre-order Erin's book, okay? Now that she's listed contributors, I can tell you that I'm one of them. I'm delighted to be part of it and look forward to reading the book as a whole. It's a wonderful concept and a juicy set of writers.

Posted by Tamar at 10:27 PM

October 27, 2004

this blog

I think I'm going to do what Tiny Coconut recommended in her comment: I'm going to ditch the daily nature of this site. If I need a breather, I'll give myself one. Days, weeks, whatever. If I don't need one, I'll be here daily, every-other-daily, weekly, somethingly. Sporadic, constant, in between, who knows? I know if I close up shop, I'll immediately think of three dozen posts I just HAVE TO write. So I might as well keep the store open but make the hours flexible.

Life feels a little less tangled today anyway. We'll see how it goes.

Posted by Tamar at 10:29 PM | Comments (2)

October 24, 2004

comment trouble

Just so you know: if you've tried to comment here in the past few days (or on Toni's blog or my mom's, for that matter) and been stopped in your tracks by a stern warning that you were guilty of "questionable content," don't fear. Somehow my Blacklist install got a little feisty. Someone somehow mysteriously fed a colon into its list and it burped up accusations left and right (because, after all, every time you post a URL, ie: your website, it contains a colon therein). But I had a little chat with said Blacklist and it regurgitated the colon and promised to mind its manners in the future. So comment away.

Posted by Tamar at 12:01 AM

October 14, 2004

new Hidden Laughter entry

His own music. Unexpected and expected both at once. And very cool.

Posted by Tamar at 10:57 PM | Comments (6)

September 12, 2004

new Hidden Laughter entry

Here. About the first day of kindergarten.

Also a new one in the passworded blog. About the mediation aftermath.

Posted by Tamar at 11:09 PM | Comments (2)

September 11, 2004

two memorials

I've been thinking about it all afternoon and evening. I want to say something meaningful about the date, about the anniversary, but I have nothing. Sometimes you feel and can't talk. Sometimes your words seem shallow. You weren't there, covered in ash. You weren't there with broken heart and broken life. You were only there in your mind and that's not really so much.

And so instead of my words I give you links to other, more eloquent speakers. First, this essay by Lizbeth, who was across the river that day, her husband in the city. Not in the inferno, but closer and far more tangible for her than for me, mourning my city from three thousand miles away, the smoke in my nostrils only echoed ghost tendrils.

The second one my friend Chris pointed out today in her blog: John Edwards' moving speech at a prayer breakfast this morning.

Both made me cry. I don't have the words, but I'm grateful that they do.

Posted by Tamar at 09:45 PM

September 07, 2004

that's done

Mediation this morning. Went not so great. Still, my relief feels like a tangible thing. It's over, we know where we stand and have a sense of what to do next. If you want to know the specifics, you can read my passworded blog. It's all there.

Posted by Tamar at 10:09 PM

reconfigure?

Sometimes I think this blog should be a single-issue site. Maybe writing. The writing process, different genres and styles, the getting of an agent and publishing contract, the publishing industry all threaded through with books I read and books I hear about. But you know? Other people do that, and probably better.

Okay, maybe a cute kid blog. I have a cute kid, after all. Lots of fodder there. And people love to read cute stories, don't they? (Hey, where are you going? Come back here!) And I love to write about him. But even though Damian is of course the cutest child on the face of the planet, it might get dull after a while. And what happens if he doesnít do anything cute or even interesting for a whole day? Or even a week? Blog goes kaput.

Well, then, how about a weight loss blog? Whaddayamean I have to be actively losing weight or at least working on it? I'll get back to that, I swear. Tomorrow. Really. And I'll have a lot to say about it, too. At least once a week. What? Daily blog? Crap.

Ah, I have it! A sex blog. Sex gets hits. Lots and lots of hits. I'll get readers out the wazoo. And up the wahoo too. And out my ears. And piled high and deep. And who doesn't want that? Except, um, I'd have to write about it. Sex, that is. And. Well. In fiction, I can do that. Personal weblog? No thanks, I'll pass. A little too intimate for my taste.

Well, okay, forget the intimate. Forget the personal. It's all too personal, really, telling stories of my life. Why do I want to do that, am I a zoo animal on display in a cage? Am I a talking, walking stage show? I should write about something less personal. Oh, I know! Politics! I have lots of political opinions. I may not know much, but I know how I feel. Passionate. And it's really easy to write, too: "Bush sucks. Bush bites. Bush is evil incarnate. Vote Kerry. Kerry is my friend. My bestest friend in the whole wide world." I mean, who wouldn't hit "refresh" twenty times a day for that level of deep, insightful political discourse? (Hey, come back here!)

Nah, politics has been done. Done to death. Politics everywhere you look. And politics give me a stomach ache, anyway.

Well, how about a food blog? Yeah, but I don't cook enough different meals right now. But hey, it might empower me, if I have an audience. And I do love to cook. And eat. And eat. And shop for food. And caress food. Biting into juicy, dripping peaches and slurping up bowls of white, gelatinous but so sweet and creamy pudding. (Sounds like the sex blog, doesnít it?) (I think I just grossed myself out.) It could be fun. All that food. But I'd have to cook all the time, new things every day, experimenting with recipes and inventing new variants. Too much work.

What else is there? Maybe a blog about the weirdness that is Los Angeles, particularly Hollywood. God knows there's enough of that to last a lifetime. And enough to say about it as well as years of stockpiled stories. And I have an insider/outsider's view of it all. But I could get in hot water if I said the wrong thing about the wrong person, because after all, everyone ego surfs, yes? Besides, I'm not sure I could stand myself if I wrote wall to wall Hollywood snark. I don't want to ever get that bitter.

What does that leave? Okay, probably a lot. So many topics to explore, so many things to write about. But you know? That might gain me a more specific niche in someone's blogroll, might carve me a more particular name for myself, but it would bore me to tears. And the personal stuff? May feel odd sometimes, my life on display or at least some slivers thereof, but it's how I write, it's who I am and how I see the world, through my experiences, not just my thoughts.

I think I'll stick with the current format. At least for now.

Posted by Tamar at 10:03 PM | Comments (3)

August 28, 2004

checking in

Yes, I'm still here. No, I haven't abandoned this blog. I'm just drowning in words right now. My own, but they leave no time for any other thoughts and I don't yet feel comfortable talking about exactly what it is I'm doing. I never understood that, why bloggers keep mum on their activities. But sometimes you're baking a cake and you aren't sure it'll rise properly and you want a chance to see for yourself whether it's chocolatey enough and springy enough and looks right frosted and ooops, you better go redo that side, it's gotten uneven. And that kind of thing, well, sometimes you're just not ready to show it off till it's done. If it in fact does come out well and if you don't end up running to the bakery half an hour before company comes to cover for your mistakes.

Sometimes, in other words, it just isn't the right time to talk about what you're doing and thinking but there isn't enough room in your brain for anything else and so you keep mum.

Thanks for your patience, guys. I should be back blogging daily within the next few days.

Posted by Tamar at 09:39 PM | Comments (1)

August 21, 2004

new Hidden Laughter entry

Noteworthy normalcy. Some nice progress.

Posted by Tamar at 12:12 AM | Comments (1)

August 18, 2004

baggage with attitude

Dan's a bag hound. He loves bicycle bags, backpacks, computer bags and I think even garment bags and those little overnighter suitcases, though less so. I end up with his hand-me-downs so I'm cool with this luggage lust.

At any rate, he found a fun site tonight. Good bags, but more importantly, extremely amusing descriptions. For instance, check out the Very Busy Man bag. Don't you want to buy it now?

(While you're there, mouse over the left hand sidebar. Just, y'know, because.)

Posted by Tamar at 11:51 PM

August 15, 2004

new Hidden Laughter entry

Graduation day.

Nearly three and a half years and a whole lot of changes. And now a goodbye.

Posted by Tamar at 11:39 PM | Comments (1)

August 09, 2004

new Hidden Laughter entry

Here. One Capri Sun too many.

Posted by Tamar at 03:05 PM | Comments (3)

August 04, 2004

spam, the next generation

First there was junk mail, flyers stuffed into your mailbox. Tedious. Then came fax spam. I never had a fax machine but it certainly sounds annoying enough. Then email spam, which never made a whole lot of sense to me. Who do these people think will be convinced by their ever-odder promotionals? Who pays for this? Why? Do the companies they advertise really get enough revenue from it to make it worth the bad blood?

Then came comment spam, wherein a blog's posts are inundated with comments, sometimes blatantly commercial, other times purporting to be on topic: "Nice blog!" but nevertheless replete with linkage to shady chemical concoctions and not-so-soft-core unclothed athletics. The idea behind comment spam, if you're not familiar with the beast, is not to convinced a blog's readers to click those links. No, it's to raise the advertised entity's URL higher in the search engines. More linkage from more sites means a higher ranking. They're manufacturing the links themselves, but any reasonably alert blogger can catch them in the act or block their entry with Blacklist or the like.

Today I discovered a new form of spam. So simple, so obvious. I saw a bland, generic comment on an old entry. ("I like your blog." That was all. No specifics.). Got suspicious. The URL given was to a blog hosted by blogspot. Hmm. Maybe this is for real. Checked the link. (Via my email link, not the web-based one. No tracks that way.) It looked almost real, but something about it... a smutty username, contentless posting... I read the comments on the one and only post.

Yup.

A spammer had set him/herself up as a blogger. Faux blogging, the new spam. They can create as many links as they want to as many off-color and off-shore sites as they want. Nobody will delete the links since nobody's home. Brilliant, really.

Only problem? A site matters to the search engines only insofar as it too garners hits. So these spammer-bloggers will still have to seed their URLS throughout the blogoverse. It'll just make it that much harder for us to catch them at it. What they're really doing is now camouflaged by something that looks an awful lot like a legit blog.

What's next? Spam people?

Posted by Tamar at 10:19 PM

July 17, 2004

a new use for IM

Instant messaging is the new cinema verite. Blog verite. Here, Allison records an IM conversation with a friend; typing between contractions.

And congratulations, Allison! Especially a baby who actually lets you sleep. What a lovely baby. With a lovely name, to boot. (Well, I'm fond of it.) (And in Israel, nobody will try to tack that extra "a" on the end.) (Though it's an uncommon name here that I'm not used to reading it in print, so I keep doing double takes reading about how I -- I mean she -- is getting bonding time with daddy.) (I'm done with parentheticals now.) (I think.)

Posted by Tamar at 09:46 PM | Comments (1)

July 09, 2004

new Hidden Laughter entry

Called "audition?" Only in LA would we have this problem!

Posted by Tamar at 10:15 PM | Comments (2)

July 04, 2004

happy journalversary to me

We interrupt this vacation to celebrate an important Ė nay, astounding Ė anniversary. What? Birth of country, signing of some piece of paper, fireworks and rockets redglare? No, no. Far more navel-gazing, this.

Today is the fifth anniversary of my first online post in the web journal / web log / online diary format. The nature of my writing here has changed since then, the nature of here has even changed, but it remains public personal writing. Five years with no real break. Visions and Revisions slid into Hidden Laughter, which I then supplemented with pictures on Postcards from LA, which allowed me to circle back to near-daily words on this blog. Iím amazed. Shocked. Amused, even.

I almost didnít do it. I spent a week or two that June learning GoLive, drew a picture of the stained glass lamp in our living room and made it background to a splash page, set up an archive format, all ready to go live indeed and then stopped. ďWhy the hell am I doing this? Online? Personal? Exposed? Me? My life? What the fuck?Ē And that was nearly that. But Dan said ďJust try it outĒ and ďit seems like it might be a good thing.Ē I trust him. So I held my breath and uploaded an entry.

The world didnít end.

People didnít laugh at me.

People read my words. A few at first, then a surge when Diane mentioned her friendís brand new journal and some readers stuck around. Others came. Never huge numbers, three digit and never four, but hey, thatís something, isnít it? Thatís real. Tangible. People I didnít know beforehand. People who came back for my words. And that felt Ė and feels Ė good.

Even now, after five years, Iíd prefer if you donít ask why Iím doing this. I have answers, both pat and complex, but I canít articulate the true, underlying answer. I fumble at answers. Iím not sure anyone ultimately knows why he or she does it. But more and more people are doing it. The explosion of blog software choices and journalscape-diaryland-blogspot-dreamhost hosting sites makes that clear. It satisfies a need. A need to connect? A need to write your life? A need to write your thoughts, dreams, share stories and snippets of information. A need to reach out and be perceived by others. A need to have a record of yourself. An online reflection of a part of you, albeit never all of you. Itís all/some/part of that and sometimes, somehow something different too. And five years later, Iím still and again doing it.

Back then, I was on an email list for journallers. Bloggers and journallers were different beasts, never the twain shall meet, and so we had our disparate worlds. Things change. And I digress. So yes, back then I was on an email list. Intensely curious about this new world and the people in it, and so I read and listened and clicked on links. That email list had a question of the day. One day the question arose: how long do you think youíll be doing this? I was shocked at how many people said ďUntil you pry the keyboard from my cold, dead hands.Ē Because for me, it was an experiment. I fully expected to stop within six months. And I couldnít conceive of why someone would think of this as an integral part of the fabric of their life. Because, after all, this is strange. To write about yourself, to have other people Ė friends and strangers and old friends who return when they google you and then get to read about your new life Ė to have all these people reading your words. It is strange. Very. And so of course it couldnít last. Just a blip. A passing fancy.

That, of course, was five years ago. Obviously the fancy hasn't yet passed me by. My blog/journal/site serves functions I know and ones I donít. It feels right and sometimes it feels wrong and when it does, I either write through it, take a break or redefine my online presence and continue on. Iíll write until it feels wrong and doesnít go back to feeling right. But in the meantime, Iím here. Iím glad I am. Being here, writing here, has enriched my life more than I ever could have imagined back when I uploaded that very first entry about the Fourth of July past and present. It has altered my life in tangible ways. And that fact astounds me.

Posted by Tamar at 11:42 PM

May 26, 2004

a secret of sorts

Because I can't seem to process things without writing them down and because I've become committed to chronicling Damian's story as it unfolds, I've started to write entries about this whole kindergarten mess. But I still want to avoid Googlebots and prying school district eyes. So I've created yet another blog specifically for this material. I hope to someday be able to move it over to Hidden Laughter, but for now this will suffice. And "now" may last a while...

Email me for the URL and password if you want to read it. I'll be updating whenever I have something relevant to say. Which right now is a lot. (Email info is at the bottom of the right column/sidebar/thingamajig.)

Posted by Tamar at 09:56 PM

May 19, 2004

new Hidden Laughter entry

What Remains. I talk about the idea of a cure, also about some stuff we're seeing right now and what to do about it.

Posted by Tamar at 09:16 PM | Comments (4)

May 17, 2004

go here -- and here -- and here too

One of the pleasures of blogging like this is the ability to send you other places. So here goes:

For an antidote to my melancholy bird story, Otto tells the hysterical tale of a demented but determined squirrel.

Jessie went down to City Hall (in Cambridge, I assume) last night to watch a wonderful historic moment. Who believed it would happen this fast?

Someone named Carol wrote in to Neil Gaiman with some of the best advice for aspiring writers I've read in a while. (Note: the link to the entry doesn't work, so scroll down to the bottom of this archive page. It's the second part of the May 9th entry.)

Tiny Coconut has her own valuable perspective to add to my "Don't let your kids grow up to be screenwriters" rant from the other day.

Eve summed up how I often feel. Super-mom? Yeah, right.

Allison's thinking about naming her baby French Fry.

And finally, congratulations to Laura, who may have just bought a house (rather close to my in-laws, actually). Apartment 11D no longer? I remember that panic/giddy/shock/panic feeling extremely well. Three years ago last month that was us. Best decision we ever made. Not our perfect dream home (well, location), but crucial for all kinds of reasons. No regrets here. Good luck with it, Laura.

More of my own words tomorrow night. Till then, enjoy other people's.

This was fun. My first blog jog.

Posted by Tamar at 10:04 PM | Comments (1)

May 02, 2004

why read blogs?

I've been semi-following the current discussion on blogs vs. journalism because that's mostly not the kind of blog I read or the reason I read them (mostly, that is -- there are exceptions). I thought Toni hit it exactly in a post today when she wrote:

What the blogging world is doing currently is forming communities, global villages. And the future of that movement will profoundly change everything from politics to how laws are made to what's for dinner, because of access. I don't just want to know what someone thinks of Bush or Kerry; I want to know how what Bush has done has affected their lives. I also don't just want to know how politics has affected them, but parenting issues and love and loss and humor... because it's a form of communication that we crave far beyond journalism... and we get it in fiction. Books and movies. Welcome to the new world entertainment, the quasi short film, the blog.

The rest of the post is excellent, too. Though I disagree with your final conclusion, Toni. I think video might become incorporated just as photos have, but that the blog as written form will stand because it's about thoughts, not about documentary. But that's a quibble. I'd like to see someone in the mainstream media synthesize the different types of blogs, not just talk about one form or another. They're all of a piece, people reaching out in this new way.

Posted by Tamar at 10:00 PM

May 01, 2004

blogroll revamp

I just reorganized my blogroll, splitting up the categories somewhat differently. It's always tricky, so many shades of gray: writer moms who write about politics, moms who write articles here or there but maybe don't identify themselves as writers, authors who are in fact parents but don't talk about it... and so on and so forth and like that.

If you're on my blogroll and feel I've done you a grave injustice by placing you in the wrong list, let me know. I'm happy to swap things around.

Posted by Tamar at 11:10 PM | Comments (2)

April 14, 2004

new Hidden Laughter entry

Called third time's the charm?

Here's a preview: the answer is yes.

Posted by Tamar at 05:40 PM | Comments (2)

googlebomb revisited

So our reverse googlebomb seems to have done the trick. The Wikipedia entry is now the top site that comes up when you Google "Jew." Interestingly, Google now has a disclaimer of sorts at the top of the page when it displays these particular search results. I understand their point. The ACLU would concur. It's still disgusting that a hate group could do such a thing.

It also upsets me -- and I write this knowing certain friends will think I'm talking about them, and maybe I am -- but the only people I've seen actually follow suit and link to the Wikipedia entry are also Jewish. I know plenty of people who read my blog who haven't honored my request. They're coincidentally all gentile. So I have to ask: does this feel like a minor thing to you? Too much bother? Because to me, as a Jew, it's rather more.

Posted by Tamar at 05:34 PM | Comments (7)

April 12, 2004

blog intrigue

I followed Dianeís link to Rance today. (No, Diane, I hadnít heard about him either.) An anonymous celebrity blogger. Not just any old celeb, either, but the kind that ends up on magazine covers and gets award nominations and has paparazzi swarms follow him on occasion. A movie star, in other words. A self-reflective, appropriately ironic one who writes well. Not bad reading.

The question pops into your head immediately, doesnít it? Is this guy for real or is he just someone in the biz who can fake the talk and fudge the walk? Itís clear from his blog that he runs into this skepticism all the time. He seems amused by it. Which strikes me as the appropriate response.

It comes up a lot, I find. Is this person for real or is this another Kaycee Nicole, faking a dramatic life for the attention it garners? It came up last week on Teresa Nielson Haydenís blog, a discussion about another intriguingly positioned blogger and whether she was the real McCoy. Maybe itís the nature of blogs and online journals, that we can create ourselves however we choose, our words are all you have to judge us by Ė not our faces, not our voices, not our parents or even our pets. If I put up a picture of my cats, say, whoís to say that's not a shot I lifted from somewhere in an effort to have sexier felines and therefore seem hipper/cooler/dorkier myself?

I remember a wonderful writer, Acanit, who posted an online journal in 2001 as a former TV journalist, an Iranian living in America. The photos on her site showed she was a knockout. That right there made people suspicious, I think. And she wrote about difficult things and also about sex (which of course garners attention). Her stories were almost too perfect, some people said. As if they were written rather than lived. Created from someoneís imagination. And then one day she pulled her site down and she was gone. She had reasons, a love affair she didnít want to talk about, but a lot of people said her cover was about to blow and so she got out quick.

I always wondered. They all seemed so certain, her critics. But what if they were wrong? How would you feel to have your existence doubted? And why? People get so passionate, so intent on debunking bloggers/journallers they think are making it all up. And yes, itís important to know if youíre going to enter into a friendship with that person, if, in the case of Kaycee Nicole, you're going to send care packages and cry at a manufactured death. But in this case? If Rance isnít really a movie star, who does that hurt? He tells a good story, he gives an intriguing glimpse into that life. We want to see. If heís imagining instead of living the life of a movie star, itís still a fun read. No harm done.

But thatís not quite true, is it? Because people would feel Ė as people have felt Ė duped. Tricked. Even betrayed, as silly as that seems. Nobody wants to be the brunt of a joke. And when you read a bloggerís account of his life, you feel a kind of intimacy that feels real for all that itís virtual. If it turns out to be a fake, youíre left with nothing. And so people analyze word choices, suss out authenticity in the choice of story material, and try to protect their hearts or at least their dignity. I understand that, I do. But I think sometimes, as with this guy Rance, you just have to shrug, smile, and go along for the ride.

And thatís okay too.

Posted by Tamar at 11:10 PM | Comments (3)

April 09, 2004

please pass the word on

Via Dawn:

A hate group has googlebombed the word "Jew" to link to their site. Basically that means a bunch of their hate-cronies have linked to their horrible nasty site (it lists the Anti-Defamation League, B'nai B'rith, Simon Wiesenthal Center and the ACLU as "Jewish hate groups") and so Google is listing it at the top of their searches when you type in the word "Jew." So Melanie and others and I ask you to link the word "Jew" to the Wikipedia definition. All you have to do is this: Jew. If enough of us do this, we can knock them off the top spot on Google.

And people still argue that anti-semitism no longer exists.

If you have a blog or any kind of personal website, please do link the word "Jew" to Wikipedia. This is ill. Worse than ill.

Posted by Tamar at 08:43 PM

April 02, 2004

a life changing event

Tears literally welled up when I opened Dawn's blog today and saw that she'd brought home her new baby girl. I'm so very glad for her. I've found myself thinking about her situation, about J. and what she must be going through, and about adoption in general on and off all week. Someone I don't know personally, I only know through her words on her webpage, and I feel emotionally touched by her experience. This is the power of the blog world.

Coincidentally, I was reading some of the archives at Apartment 11D today and saw Laura's commentary on why women don't write as many political blogs. (Her thesis: we do, but they're more of the personal-is-political ilk as opposed to analyses of current events, partly because of our bias and partly because we don't usually have as much time.) I think there are a whole host of reasons, and that Laura is right about some of them. And of course she's dead-on right for herself. For me, well, time enters into it. I can't do a link-filled exegesis because I don't have that kind of time. If I have extended writing time, it has to be about career-building work, not blog-building play.

But frankly, for me, itís about something far simpler. I prefer to read personal accounts than I do someone pontificating about current events or ranting about how screwed up the world is becoming. For me, yes, the personal is political but also the personal simply touches me more deeply. As Iíve read Dawnís story over the past months, Iíve thought for the first time about the toll giving a baby up for adoption must take on a birth mother, about the benefits of open adoption but the costs of it too, the delicate balance that must occur so the birth mother doesnít feel overly pressured to make that irrevocable decision based on someone elseís overwhelming desire. Dawnís grace and thoughtfulness through this has amazed and informed me and has deepened my understanding of the human condition. How is that less respectable than Atrios blogging on Bushís latest idiocy or Boing Boing linking to yet another snippet of fact?

Personal blogs, usually written by women, are considered lesser in this blogoverse. That's fucked.

I have more to say about this, but thatíll do for now. I have to go be a mom right now.

(And Mazel Tov, Dawn. She's beautiful already!)

Posted by Tamar at 09:49 PM | Comments (3)

April 01, 2004

heh

I'm burned out. Hollow. Brain has turned to mush. Body wants to follow suit. Or maybe it's the other way around. Too fried to tell. So naturally I found myself on Jennifer Crusie's website this evening, preparing for some enjoyably lightweight reading.

I'm partway through reading her FAQ, which is mostly serious (well, more or less) and definitely interesting. What caught my eye, though, was:

4. Do you research your sex scenes? Yes, but it's a hassle because I always have to keep one hand free to take notes.

Maybe it's just because I'm bleary-eyed and doped with fatigue, but this cracked me up.

Posted by Tamar at 09:31 PM

March 27, 2004

is the nightmare over yet?

The folk at Fractious Times have split off a lefty political blog. I'm glad. I generally avoid reading political blogs because I just get too upset. I hate Bush so much I find it difficult to read about him and impossible to hear his voice.

I hated Reagan. I wore a black armband the day after his election. I was shocked he was re-elected. I thought he'd snowed everyone, the Teflon president who could do no wrong despite the idiocies of his policies. I thought it couldn't get worse. Then Bush Senior was elected. Corruption is thy middle name. Who could be worse than him?

Then thankfully, Clinton was not only elected, but reelected and I thought the country had returned to sanity. Well, except for the whole sex-and-lies hooha, which frankly? Yawn.

But then Bush the Beyond Corrupt was not-exactly-elected. Now I know it can't get worse than this. He's such a horrible excuse for a president I can't even talk about it. Besides, if you want to read liberal rants, there are plenty of places you can go.

But when I followed the link to The Moat and read a bit, I realized there actually is reason for hope. Kerry might win this thing. If staunch Republicans can finally see past Bush's I'm The Man Against Terrorism smoke and mirrors to the love-your-corporate-cronies-and-laugh-at-everyone-else mentality lurking beneath a thin veneer of I'm-your-pal-bonhomie. He's not our pal. He's also not our best bet against terrorism. He may in fact be our worst.

Oops, there I go ranting. My point is, if intelligent Republicans can see the corruption and deceit and environmental (and human) mayhem the Bush administration is perpetrating, maybe we can pull together and get this horror behind us.

Thank you, Corina. You've given me hope.

And thank you, Melissa and Elizabeth and everyone. Now I feel unfrozen, able to read political blogs without being afraid I'll choke on my own disgust.

Posted by Tamar at 09:34 PM | Comments (1)

March 10, 2004

new Hidden Laughter entry

This one about some of Damian's current issues. Well, one. But probably the central piece.

Posted by Tamar at 09:47 PM

February 18, 2004

Damian's domain

I don't usually do this, but I just found a google search in my referrer logs that actually made me laugh. Instead of typing "Domain Name Server" (something I've been intimately acquainted with the past few days), someone typed "Damian Name Serves."

Apparently my kid can host websites. Either that, or he names tennis serves. He'd probably call them Ayoo Two and Emuff The Big Chase.

Posted by Tamar at 11:19 PM

that key

It turns out these online databases, these blogs, they're more fragile than they look. If you, say, delete a weblog accidentally (who would do that?) (Oh, nobody I know) (ducking and running now), you can still see all the files, every single one, on the server. Just sitting there hanging out. Index file, every archive page. Everything. But you can't get there from here. Whatever that mysterious something is (some cgi scripting key) that connects the main Movable Type interface with the files it created, that's gone and you're locked out of your online house.

I guess the same thing is true when you delete a file from your hard drive -- the file's still there but the link to it is gone -- but you can't see the thing anymore so for you it really is gone. In this case, it was frustratingly close but infinitely far.

So strange. So fragile. We type and we save and we go on as if everything's concrete, tangible, like the hardcover books on the shelf or the key in your hand. Illusory. Everything on my hard drive. Illusory. Blow on it, spill water on it. Bye bye novel, bye bye email, bye bye online life.

As my friend Otto said last night this goes to show: the maxim back up! back up! and when in doubt, back up! applies to websites too.

Because everyone hits the delete key by accident every now and again. Everyone makes dumb mistakes. If you want proof, go look at my photoblog. The format is wonky on the entry archives. Why? Um... hmm... yeah. I'll get on that today. Moving a domain from one server to another is trickier than it looks. On the surface everything remains the same, the still surface of a pond on a windless day. Underneath? Like water, it shifts, it moves, it eddies and flows. It's ephemeral. Looks solid. Isn't.

Posted by Tamar at 10:22 AM

February 15, 2004

just so you know

Things may be a little screwy here for a few days. I'm going to be switching webhosts, probably tomorrow. There's some behind-the-scenes tinkering involved. Also, the weird port number version of the URL (postcardsfromla:16080) may no longer take you anywhere. It's all a great big mystery.

Posted by Tamar at 11:03 PM

February 07, 2004

new hidden laughter entry

Here. Called Three Road Markers. The words every parent of a spectrum child hopes to hear.

Posted by Tamar at 02:18 PM | Comments (7)

February 06, 2004

stupid things people say

This makes me almost glad I spent the last month of my pregnancy on bedrest. I didn't have to deal with the idiotspeak that seems to flood people's vocal cords when faced with a woman in late pregnancy.

Of course, I didn't escape altogether. There was that woman who laughed and said "Any day now!" and "You've got the biggest belly I've ever seen!" I was six and a half months pregnant at the time.

She didn't try to touch it, though.

(Good luck, Jessie. I'll be thinking of you next month and hoping for a splendid birth experience. And you're a better woman than I for holding your tongue with those boneheads.)

Posted by Tamar at 08:49 PM | Comments (2)

February 02, 2004

woo!

Toni's back! (You may notice from the URL that I had a little something to do with that. Yes, you can thank me.) (Diane's hosting us so she did too. Thanks all around, yes.) (Let's comment a lot, make her feel welcome, maybe she'll stick around this time.) (I think she will, though. Movable Type is fun.) (So are parentheticals.)

Posted by Tamar at 10:15 PM

January 31, 2004

photo exposure

Yesterday I was checking the stats for all my sites and I came across a whole bunch of people coming in from Variety.com, of all places. Variety is one of two big entertainment industry trade papers; I used to subscribe to it myself until I stopped caring who ran which studio and what scripts were hot.

When I tracked the referrals back, I found an article with the title, "Picture Postcard," subtitled "Photo blogs provide alternate view." Cool, I thought. My photoblog is mentioned in in a roundup of blogs showing the city.

Not quite. It's a short article, just a paragraph. And it only references one photoblog.

The writer (who has an interesting blog of his own) says, in part, "Take a break from the stereotypical Los Angeles visuals (exploding car chases, tan bikini lines, glitz, sunglasses and palm trees) and look at this daily photo blog of the City of Angels." And goes on to say, "The photographer here, Tamar, takes some marvelous and unconventional pictures of the city."

Nice.

It's a funny thing. Photography is the only creative outlet I have that's purely for me, unrelated to a career, and I like that about it. But it's also unrelated to anything else, and I'm not sure that's such a good thing. I haven't become embedded in the photoblog community, I look at few other sites with any regularity. I do occasionally enter photos in memes like Photofriday (I like Photofriday), but not with any regularity or determination. It's been almost like a secret, my photography site. And yet. Back in July, Coolstop found my site and named it cool stop of the day. (I was too distracted to mention that anywhere, it was a private sort of pleasure.) And now this.

I'm not sure why I've shied away from being more public about it all. Fear that I'm not good enough to play with the big kids with their fancy cameras and professional experience? Does that matter if I enjoy it? This exposure is good for me, I think. I think I need to own this more. I'm not a photographer in the same sense that I'm a writer, but this too is part of me.

Posted by Tamar at 09:51 PM | Comments (4)

January 23, 2004

a simple fix

I finally figured out something that's been irritating me since I started this blog. The URL is supposed to be www.postcardsfromla.com/blog but always comes out www.postcardsfromla.com:16080/blog. My aesthetic sensibility is revulsed. To put it another way: yick.

However. It seems that if you simply add a "/" to the end, the original URL remains intact. In other words,

http://www.postcardsfromla.com/blog

will turn into the nastiness seen above, but

http://www.postcardsfromla.com/blog/

will not.

I have a favor to ask those of you who have me blogrolled/Niebelung ringed/link-page listed: could you switch over, add the extra "/"? It would mean a lot to me. It means anyone coming through from your site will see and potentially bookmark the correct site.

Posted by Tamar at 10:20 PM | Comments (1)

January 20, 2004

go visit them

So Diane just started a new fitness blog, called That Calvin Klein Skirt. I've seen the skirt. It exists. And I have no doubt Diane will fit into it again. Just like I'll fit into my wedding dress. I like these icons in our closets. I like her new blog, too.

I'm tempted to start my own fitness blog, but I think an occasional journal, a mostly-daily photoblog and this blog are enough, don't you? And I can (and do) write about fitness/weight loss issues here, after all. I consider this an issue blog of sorts, only I have multiple issues. Um, so to speak.

Speaking of which (which which? issues? blogs? fitness?), I've been meaning to link to a new forum. I quite like it so far. It's called Resolutions, founded by the smart and funny Kat, and the idea is probably self-evident: talk about whatever issues you resolve to work on. (See how I tied all those things together? Except maybe blogs and since the forum is populated by a fair number of blogger/journallers it fits there too. Heh. I amuse myself. I also overuse parentheticals. Perhaps I should go to bed early tonight, huh?)

Anyway. Resolutions is pretty cool and I'm moderating the Reading and Writing forum, so go over there and give me something to moderate, okay?

Posted by Tamar at 09:11 PM

January 13, 2004

hidden laughter entry up

Bragging.

About an encounter Saturday afternoon that led me to contemplate one of the differences between being a parent of a child with special needs and the other kind. Uncomfortable.

Posted by Tamar at 10:15 PM | Comments (1)

January 12, 2004

writer blogs

Well, it seems I was wrong. All author blogs are not in fact written by science fiction/fantasy writers or by people who started out writing online. I discovered two this past week via Pamie's blog: the very successful Meg Cabot of Princess Diaries fame and Caren Lissner, a newcomer whose first novel,Carrie Pilby, comes highly recommended.

I must admit, Cabot's site has mostly persuaded me that I'm too old to be her demographic (not a slam, just a fact -- she's good but I'm not her audience) but I'm a bit in love with Lissner's. Anyone who starts the first several weeks of her blog writing the same exact phrase every single day ("Woke up, put clothes on, went to work.") has a wonderfully dry sense of humor. And when she quotes a friend who wrote in to ask her to put more stuff in her blog, she answers: "No." Heh. Fortunately, though the beginning of her blog was a great piece of performance art, she has gradually included more snippets and bits over the months so it's now a site worth return visits. And honestly? That gimmick got me intrigued enough to do exactly what it was intended to: I'm going to buy her book and read it.

Both Lissner and Cabot say the same thing about their blog writing, though. Cabot said in her December 28th entry (no permalink, sorry) that she was discussing with Susan Juby (another non-sf writer with a blog!) how difficult it is to maintain a blog if you're a fiction writer

Because if youíre a novelist AND a blogger, youíre always like, ďWell, that funny thing that happened to me would make a great blog. But it would also make a great scene in a book.Ē So youíre always, ďDo I blog about it? Or put it in a book?Ē You canít use it for BOTH (although I know probably will, though I swear not on purpose).

And Lissner says (in her 7/27/03 entry) that:

The reason I don't do a full-fledged blog is that I'm doing too much other creative writing I don't want to take away from, and if I have an idea I want to use in a future book, I don't want to spoil it by putting it in more raw form here. But I may sometimes want to talk here anyway.

I know the feeling. When I was writing screenplays, this was no big deal. I was hardly about to insert a scene from my own life into my scripts, they were always larger than life. But now -- well, my current novel is far from my life (me, a trapeze artist? Not quite), but my stories are closer. Much closer. And who knows what my next novel will be? (Actually, I do know, and yes, it bears some passing resemblance to people I've met at least once or twice.) But that won't stop me from writing snippets of real life here. I like to believe I have more stories in me than that. But something does hold me back from writing more full autobiography in this space. I'm with Caren Lissner on this; I don't want to take away from my other creative writing. I never found personal essays took anything from my screenwriting, but they do tap into the same back-of-my-brain awake-dreaming source as my prose fiction. So yes, I think it's possible to blog and I hope blog enjoyably, but yet hold something back for the other work.

Interesting to consider.

Posted by Tamar at 09:29 PM | Comments (6)

January 10, 2004

Paul the Dog

I'm in the midst of excavating my tiny office so I can consider painting it pretty colors, as opposed to its current lovely meld of institutional minty green and spackle-and-primer white with a coating of sparkly acoustic popcorn on the ceiling. Also so I can actually find important documents instead of constantly ordering new copies and feigning atrocious mail service. (ahem)

Therefore I won't post any of the half finished or partly considered highly intelligent entries I had planned. Instead I leave you with a link:

Paul the Dog.

I'm not exactly a dog lover. I like them, and, okay, yeah, I'm specifically partial to Golden Retrievers in memory of my family's sweetheart of a dog, Miranda the Serene. But mostly I prefer cats. Or kids. But Jennie's site won me on the first page with a shot of the dog taking a bath with the caption, "Paul shrinks in water." Or maybe it was the image of a post-bath pup with the caption: "Is that a rat? No, it's Paul!" But my favorite is on the last page, when Paul is a naughty boy indeed. A veritable home wrecker.

Posted by Tamar at 09:07 PM | Comments (1)

January 05, 2004

shutting down

Melissa is shutting down her journal. This makes me sad, though I've seen it coming for a while. Melissa's was one of the very first online journals I read regularly. When she was invested in the writing, she wrote with passion, intelligence, and a touching vulnerability. I think it's that very vulnerability, which I found so moving, that she now finds too uncomfortable to continue. I understand that. I've been and am there too. My response has been to reframe my online presence. Melissa may end up doing that too, but it's also just as legitimate to step away altogether.

At the same time that Melissa has been pulling away from journalling, my mother has started one up. Watching my mother's joy at starting her blog, the lyrical way she shapes her entries, the obvious pleasure it's giving her, makes me remember that newness. That delight.

It's an odd thing, writing personal thoughts in a public forum. It was and will always be an odd thing. It can be intensely rewarding, which I see in my mother's reaction. But at a certain point it may start to feel dissonant, out of sync. Wrong. Which means it's time to stop. It's not that time for me, I'm having far too much fun with this new format, this new definition of online writing. But when it's no longer fun, I'll close up shop. I'll miss Melissa's writing but I understand her reasons for saying goodbye.

Posted by Tamar at 09:43 PM | Comments (1)

December 23, 2003

My mother, my blogger

So I set my mom up with a blog/journal/web presence last week. She knows what she's getting into, to some extent; she's been reading mine for... four and a half years? Is that possible?

She's been reading along, seen what it's done for me, been intrigued. So she asked and I did and here it is. I love it. I unequivocally love it. It's like looking into a mirror in some ways: we share some of the same flavor and outlook. Not surprising, I guess. I mean, she is my mom. But still, it is. I mean, she's not me.

Anyway, very cool. Go check her out. Leave her comments. Make her happy.

Posted by Tamar at 08:24 PM

December 17, 2003

This is not

This is not a journal. Letís get that straight up front. I had one of those. I wrote about my day, my week, my life. It was fun. Also surreal. As I wrote once, itís like inviting people to become peeping toms in your life. It filled a need I didnít even understand. Then it didnít. Then it felt even stranger.

This is not a weblog. I read some of those. Lots of links. Lots of commentary, usually snide but sometimes profound about said linkage. I like the ones with more of a personal take on what they ferret out. I donít have time for that, though, and Iím not sure I have that kind of brain. Iíd like to do more, actually, more analysis or at least snark on the things I do read (not politics, it gives me a stomach ache), but Iím seldom at home and sitting at the computer long enough to properly websurf and cogitate coherent commentary.

This is not a set of stories, personal essays. I know because the bits and pieces I post are not adding up to more than bigger bits and pieces. The writing is not meant to be particularly graceful though I hope it entertains at times and perhaps makes you think other times. It may even annoy you sometimes. Thatís life.

This isÖ well, Iím not sure exactly what this is.

This is not a problem. Except that now it is, at least sometimes in my head it is. Because I may have made a tactical error. I signed up for the lovely and fun Holidailies challenge. Which is fine, right? I post most every day. I like having more readers. I like being part of a group endeavor.

I forgot to take one thing into account. Although the challenge is for anyone with a personal web page (which this certainly is), the fact is, only online journallers have signed up. Except maybe Kat. And me. And I read the entries posted by some of my favorite journallers and several others that grow on me by the day, and I canít help it. I start thinking in journal terms again. What can I write about my day? What happened today? What is going on in my life? How do I feel about it? I did it for so long, itís so easy to fall into that habit of thinking. Thereís nothing wrong with it (she hastens to add), else why are so many journals on my daily reading list? Iím a journal reading addict. I love Ďem. But itís not something I choose to do right now. (I donít count my occasionally updated journal of Damianís developmental progress; due to its narrow focus, it doesnít qualify, not really.) Iím afraid that participating in Holidailies might change the nature and definition of this page. Iím not sure what the hell to call it but I know it when I see it and it ainít no journal.

Or is it? Maybe Iím fooling myself. Maybe this is a journal in weblog disguise. Big hat, sunglasses, a wig and a fake mustache, but underneath a squishy, squeezable love-me Iím-a-journal?

See my dilemma? Either Iím the cow in a field of Holidailies horses or Iím in denial.

So okay. Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe I have to come to terms with my self-definition, wrestle it to the ground. Weblog or journal, declare yourself, Ms. Postscript!

Okay. Insert deep breath here. Wipe sweat from brow. Wipe dirt from pants leg. Wipe smirk from face. I declare this siteÖ

Mine. For better or for worse.

Thatís about it.

Posted by Tamar at 09:16 PM | Comments (3)

November 30, 2003

holidailies

I've joined Jette's yearly Holidailies challenge this year. The participants all promise to update at daily for the month of December (or at least a minimum of 20 of the 30 days). I thought this would be a fun way to keep me on a daily-posting regimen. I've been enjoying posting this often, more than I would have guessed, but December is a tricky month and a little external incentive can't hurt.

If you want to join and haven't, you should know Jette is closing registration tomorrow (December 1st). (And check out that way cool portal for all the sites.)

Posted by Tamar at 11:05 PM

November 21, 2003

funny women

Tired tonight, so I'm going to send you to others who have done the thinking for me. First, Kat, who has channelled the spirit of Theodore Geisel and hit me where it hurts. Also, Allison, who has an interesting point about the whole Michael Jackson furor.

And to all a good night.

Posted by Tamar at 11:52 PM

November 20, 2003

new journal entry

My monthly entry in Hidden Laughter is now up. (Not that I mean for it to be monthly but that's what seems to happen.) This one's all about emotions.

Posted by Tamar at 09:58 PM | Comments (2)

November 13, 2003

read this too

Over at The Usual Suspects, they (we?) have this fascinating interview project in process. Everyone who participates chooses two people to interview, the interviewee answers five questions and then turns around and interviews two other people.

Toni interviewed me. She asked hard questions, too. Here are my lengthy answers. Oh, and if you felt like coming back here afterward and and leaving a comment, that would be fine with me.

Posted by Tamar at 09:38 PM | Comments (1)

read this

I've been meaning to link to Leaving Los Angeles since I found the site a couple of weeks ago. I was going to write something pithy about how I too want to get out, how this city is a kind of purgatory (Dan's phrase for it, years ago, coming back to haunt me) where lost souls drift, neither heaven nor quite hell. Welcome to the Hotel California; you can check in any time you like but you can never, no not ever leave. Except that she is leaving and I wish I too could slip out the back, leaving behind nothing but my shame.

But I mostly don't read this blog (more of a journal, really, a journal of the past) because I empathize with the sentiment. This is a damned good writer (no surprise there, she's a successful journalist) and the life she's led here makes mine look positively suburban and dull. I've met a few celebrities, had a few strange encounters, but the stories Nancy Rommelmann tells leave mine in the dust. It's a different Los Angeles, one I've caught glimpses of but only through a doorway left open by accident and then swiftly closed again.

I'm completely hooked. I hope she continues writing online after she leaves LA.

Posted by Tamar at 09:28 PM | Comments (3)

November 01, 2003

novelist blogs

Hey Allison, Roger Simon and Jennifer Weiner aren't the only blogger/novelists around, y'know. There's also the extremely successful Neil Gaiman, also Caitlin Kiernan and Will Shetterly, not to mention Holly Lisle, S.L. Viehl and Diane Duane. John Scalzi has been writing an online column/blog since well before his SF novels were picked up by a publisher. His first novel is in the pipeline though not yet published, but still. He counts. (Plus, his blog is one of my favorites.) And Pamie's another writer who journalled first, then published a novel. Now she's got a journal and a blog. And (I hope) a second novel in the relatively near future? Oh, and William Gibson had a blog for a while, until he decided it interfered too much with his novelizing.

Hmm. Now that I sit back and look, every one of these blogs, with the sole exception of Pamie's, is written by a SF or fantasy writer. What does this mean? That weblogs and SF are somehow intertwined? That the same people are drawn to both? That I need other sources of linkage to discover the mystery writers, poets, and highfaluting literary bloggers out there? That I need to write a fantasy novel to get published or that I need to shut down my blog to publish my current (non SF) opus because the two parts of my brain are incompatible?

Now I'm worried.

Posted by Tamar at 09:44 PM

October 24, 2003

journal-to-blog and why

Iíve spent too much time the past few days reading various online journal accounts about JournalCon, or, as it was known this year, the Web Writerís Weekend. I find myself oddly removed from the experience. I say odd because I registered for the conference last year and was disappointed when I had to cancel. Odd too because I started my first online journal in 1999, just around the corner from now but practically the Jurassic era when it comes to online writing. Back then, I cared about the Community. I saw the popular journallers as cool kids, rock stars, celebrities. I desperately wanted Diarist Awards. But when I got a few nominations and even won one (or two? I think two), when the cool kids started learning my name and my site, it stopped mattering so much. I realized it was a relatively small, insular community and that everyone was just us folks. Which in fact all celebrities are. Movie stars, rock stars, big name politicians. They squabble with their spouses and brush their teeth and tie their shoes the same as everyone else. Iíve come to realize that too, over time. Iíve met people with real-world success and seen their personal struggles and recognized a kind of comforting universality in that. But now reading many of the JournalCon reports, I see a kind of giggly ďIím meeting YOU! And ohmygod, you know who I am!Ē astonishment about other journallers that amazes me. I understand it, I guess, but it seemsÖ wellÖ young. Innocent. Self-deprecating. It makes me a little sad even though it probably shouldnít.

I should add, though, that thereís a group who went Ė Melissa, Eliza, Kymm, Mo and their cohorts Ė and Iíd have loved to have stayed up late gossiping and talking and joking with them all. There are several journallers, some who went and more who didnít, that Iíd love to have met and gotten to know. And now that Iím entering the blogoverse, Iím discovering a whole new set of writers Iíd like to meet. So I understand the impulse to go to these things, definitely. It just felt odd to read those gushing, star-struck self-doubting entries.

Iíve been thinking too about journals Ė my journal, old and new Ė versus weblogs Ė my weblog, brand new. My first journal, visions and revisions, started as an experiment in telling personal stories, slice of life but with a shape to each essay. I loved it and through it I learned that I love writing narrative prose. With time, though, the personal became more personal, more revealing, more, well, therapeutic. And that felt uncomfortable. Why do we reveal ourselves to strangers online? For the attention? So we feel less alone? Because itís easier than talking to friends? Why is that? How is that? Itís an odd phenomenon, the kind of thing that starts to fall apart if you examine it too closely. Which I started to do.

But then my son was diagnosed with a developmental disorder and the journal had a new purpose. Which it still has, though under a new name. I know from some rather extraordinary (and much appreciated) feedback that my site has helped other parents going through the same thing and so it feels important to continue writing of that journey even when I wanted to pull back from writing online at all. Pull back from being so open to so many people.

Why am I back, then? Why in this form? Why now? Do I need the same things from it? I donít think so. I think this serves a new function. I havenít defined the need yet Ė I suspect, as has happened before, that the need will define itself Ė but I think I can define what I want to do with this weblog. I want to talk about what I think. Not (or mostly not) what I do with my daily life but my thoughts and observations on my life and othersí. The weblog format is perfect for this. Quick, succinct if appropriate, so easy to link to other peopleís words and reflect on them with my own. And the community I see in the blog worldĖ or rather, the many interlocking communities Ė they intrigue me. It often feels like an ongoing roundtable dialogue on various issues and I love that and hope to be part of that conversational flow. I also hope to capture my thoughts about various aspects of my life: writing a novel, losing weight, finding the right school placement for my son (which entails many thoughts about the purposes of education, Iím sure). All that and undoubtedly more. Itís still my life, still about me, but perhaps less intimate than it was before. My world redefined, broadened to include the rest of the universe.

Posted by Tamar at 10:48 PM | Comments (3)

October 11, 2003

online chow

I just spent too much time last night and today researching for our upcoming trip to the Central Coast. We've been there plenty of times, but I wanted to find out if there are any new restaurants I should know about. Used to be I'd dip into Zagat's and take a look but more often than not we've been disappointed by their recommendations, and besides, the books only come out once a year and they're far from comprehensive.

Enter Chowhound. Man, I love this site. I went to their general California forum and, in a relatively short time (well, okay, maybe it took a little longer, but that was because I kept reading irrrelevant posts because they were fun), I discovered that:

Cambria has a new top restaurant called Black Cat Bistro, but it's small and you'll need reservations.

McPhee's Grill in Templeton has gone way downhill, forget about it.

There's a classy French restaurant in Paso Robles, called Bistro Laurent. It may not be appropriate for this trip, but I'll sure keep it in mind for the future.

The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo (crazy place, I've always wanted to visit) has great eclairs in their little restaurant.

Buono Tavola, an outstanding Italian place in San Luis Obispo, (we ate there four years ago and I still remember the silky pasta), now has another outpost in Paso Robles.

The Albertson's supermarket in Morro Bay has a good selection of local wines, cheap.

In addition to dozens of wineries in the area with assorted tasting rooms, there's also a local brewery with a tap room.

There's a little Mexican deli in a gas station (!) in Morro Bay that has great tamales.

I mean, really. How else can you stumble across this information except with a combination of blind luck and lots of free time? And Chowhound covers the entire US plus some.

I'm really really hungry after writing all that down. Must. Go. Eat.

Ciao. (Or should that be chow?) (ow)

Posted by Tamar at 05:37 PM | Comments (2)

October 09, 2003

everyone needs a patron saint

For those of us working on slimming down: Our Lady of Weight Loss can watch over us. Love the artwork. Very early Renaissance. I'm particularly tickled by Our Lady of Aromatic Vegetables.

(Link discovered via Skinnycat.com, a wonderfully written weight loss blog.)

Posted by Tamar at 12:53 PM

October 08, 2003

new journal entry

An upcoming adventure, of sorts. One I'd rather not have -- or, more importantly, put Damian through, but so be it. Here.

Posted by Tamar at 09:45 PM

October 04, 2003

by the way

Did I mention? I'm planning to post at least once a day for the next three weeks. As Diane said when she started up again, it's a good way to make it become habit.

Posted by Tamar at 08:30 PM

blogging

Yes, I have finally succumbed to the lure of the simple interface, seduced by the idea that I can post a snippet of a thought and have it instantly appear. So easy. So freeing. Now I can say anything anytime and don't have to finish more than a thought or two, no need for full essay-length contemplation. Don't get me wrong, I still love writing Hidden Laughter but its focus has become so narrow and that's not all of me. I get pleasure out of posting on Postcards from LA, too, but a photoblog is a different beast and satisfies a different urge.

And hey, I'm not the only one seduced by simplicity: Diane started up again in blog form and her journal morphed into a blog, Pamie's got (a shared) one alongside her regular online journal, Jenfu has a reading/writing blog, Mo's got a weight loss blog as an adjunct. You don't have to be journaller or blogger now, you can be both. I like that idea. I'm going to give it a try.

Posted by Tamar at 01:00 PM