Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Beyond FINDING A WAY: Blogomania Strikes

I joke with folks who don’t blog that blogging is like e-mail on steroids. There’s SO MUCH to read and write and it really can take over. Not that I’m compulsive enough to get hooked on reading other blogs on a daily basis or to feel compelled to write (much!) more often on my blog. Really. I’m not compulsive. Not at all. It’s just that I LOVE to read other blogs because there are so many amazing stories out there, so much to learn, so much that makes me laugh or cry or curse or marvel, especially when even the comments on other blogs from complete strangers ring so true and make it evident that people (or at least people who populate certain corners of the blogosphere) simply shine with goodness. It can get a little addicting, I have to admit. Add to that another aspect of blogging that I love—reading about books and sharing what I’ve read with other like-minded souls—and this whole blogging thing can pretty much entertain me all day. Much more effectively than cleaning dirty laundry...or bathrooms…or floors, windows, countertops, closets…. Come to think of it, I haven’t even taken a shower yet this morning and here I am, typing away in my pajamas…for three hours. Woops!

So I figure I may as well get on with it. When things overwhelm, as blogging sometimes can, I resort to making lists. Actually, I make lists even when I don’t feel overwhelmed. I love them. And crossing things off them as each thing’s completed like a toddler determined to color a hole into a piece of paper until he can see (and decorate) the tabletop underneath. So here’s a list of things I’d planned to blog about this month but am beginning to realize will never get attended to if I don’t attack them all at once. My trip to Boston, btw and thanks for asking, was wonderful! All the company, including three of my sisters and my sweet mom, had me laughing so hard I thought I was going to hurt myself. And soon my family and my husband’s extended family (including folks from Montreal and Minneapolis) and I will head to warmer climes together for spring break. That means no blogging or emailing or even typing a single word (or cleaning laundry or bathrooms either, for that matter) for over a week! It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it, right? So here’s my list:

Bloggers at Work

Lisa Kenney over at Eudaemonia works full-time and travels quite a bit for work but still manages to volunteer as a publicist for Denver-based juvenile justice non-profit, Pendulum Foundation. In this capacity, Lisa created the Compassion in Juvenile Sentencing blog to raise awareness of the fates of young adults incarcerated in adult prisons and sentenced to life without parole. Recently, Lisa posted a series of interviews with Jason Lind, an adult who’s been in prison since he was a teen. Lisa wrote this about her series, From Inside Supermax:

“The purpose of this series of posts is to gain an understanding of how we’re handling the cases of juveniles convicted of very serious crimes and what happens to these juveniles once we’ve locked them up. I don’t pretend to have any answers, but my contention that juvenile LWOP and incarceration for juveniles in adult prisons is wrong remains strong.” I’m looking forward to reading the eight parts of this series to see what so many young Americans are up against….and what many more will face in the future if we don’t get our education system under control (see reference below to The Freedom Writers Diary for more on that).

Meanwhile on Eudaemonia, Lisa also has been posting weekly chapters of her novel The Foundling Wheel—as she writes them—as part of the popular Dickens Challenge. I printed and read her first ten chapters while en route to Boston and can’t wait to read more!

At Simply Wait, Patry Francis has written yet another priceless post, this one about her son Gabe, on living life well. It’s always a joy to stop by Simply Wait and see something new! Hugs from Denver, Patry!

At Twenty Five Days to Make a Difference, young blogger-activisit Laura highlights a worthy cause every month. She’s currently raising awareness of Compass House, a Buffalo-based shelter for runaway and homeless youth. In her current post, Laura teaches how to give to resources like Compass House easily through CheerfulGivers.org, a Minneapolis-based charity that provides “toy-filled birthday gift bags to food shelves and shelters so that parents living in poverty can give their child a birthday gift.” For Laura’s recent birthday, her family donated to Cheerful Givers in her honor. What a terrific way to spread the love! Kudos to Laura on her continuing work on behalf of worthy organizations. She’s a cheerful giver through and through who makes a difference every day of her life.

Books on My Radar

I read a lot when I travel and (finally!) plowed through The Kite Runner this past weekend for an upcoming book club meeting. I’m happy to have read it, but definitely understand why some folks (like yours truly) hesitate to take it on. The fact that the abuses against children documented in it happen in many impoverished countries on a regular basis (including in Afghanistan, which the U.S. has sorely neglected for the past six years) makes it even harder to tackle, but the writing and story-telling and characters—and especially the glimpses into the lives of Afghanis past and present and of Afghan Americans—make it ultimately worthwhile. I’m looking forward to reading A Thousand Splendid Suns.

As for Atonement, I’ve heard not-so-great stuff about the movie but so far I love reading the book. McEwan’s textured prose and approach hooked me from word one, as many well-read bloggers promised.

In the non-fiction realm, I recently (finally) read The Freedom Writer’s Diary about the experience of a young ambitious Long Beach CA English teacher faced with a class of high school freshmen who preferred to taunt her and their classmates from rival gangs than listen to a word she had to say. How Erin Gruwell not only survived her first year with this class but went on to teach them much more than literature is the underlying story of this book. The true depth and power of The Freedom Writers Diary, however, comes from the journal entries the students wrote over their four years with Erin Gruwell (who was allowed to teach them throughout their high school careers not because she was granted special favors by the administration but because no one else wanted to deal with these kids). The incredibly varied forms of abuse, neglect, and violence to which these young adults were exposed throughout their childhoods boggle the mind. When a student writes about a stable home life of any kind, so often it’s marred with parental illnesses or lost jobs that force the student to step into a parenting role long before he or she is ready. Meanwhile, other kids face life-threatening pressures because they’re set up to defend “their own” above all else. Others have learning disabilities that have never been diagnosed or treated. Others fear for their lives when they step out their front door every morning, or even while they sleep at night. This book rivets with its tales of how these kids are expected to step up and make the grade in school and how so many of them miraculously do just that on their way to college…with a lot of help from Erin Gruwell and many others in the community, but hardly any from the administration within their school or school district. Most of these kids were not even expected to graduate from high school and were largely abandoned in many ways. Hell, most of them expected to die before even getting the chance to grow up. Their stories deserve to be heard not only for their own worth but as dramatic reminders of how much remains to be done to truly protect our children and make sure they get the education they need and deserve.

To learn more about The Freedom Writers, go here.

Bloggers in Need

Many bloggers write to vent and/or laugh, many to connect, some just to make sense of their daily lives. The bravest admit when the going gets tough and open themselves to the grace and goodness of those who’d like to help. I know of a few bloggers who could use a virtual hug or two; feel free to help spread the love to: G at Rooster Calls, Pam at Rhett’s Journey, Laini at Grow Wings, Kim at Kim Stagliano, Michelle at The Zoromski Chronicles, Jodie at Jodie’s Random Thoughts. And if you know of any others in the blogosphere who are calling out for a kind word to help them make their way, feel free to let the rest of us know.

Funky bleach painting © Deborah Gwinn at Seattle-based Moth to Flame Studios


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am compulsive enough to read the blogs I roll with every day. Ugh. It is time consuming but I love it and feel that I learn a lot. So glad you mention Rhett's Journey on your list.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Larramie said...

It's true that some bloggers are either more organized, more efficient or simply need less sleep. Ah, what would we do without them? ;)

12:09 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Thanks for visiting my site - and linking me. How fun!

Now I'm off to visit new links ...

2:06 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Marla, I'm right there with you! Ugh is right but so is the learning.

Larramie, I'm beginning to think I'd get a lot more done if I were an insomniac....if I weren't the type to get miserable and mean and hopelessly discombobulated from lack of sleep. So much for that idea!

Michelle, Have fun blog surfing! Love your sweet photo and blog, K.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

What a post! I don't know how you get everything done that you do and still manage to keep up with so much! Thanks so much for the kind words about Pendulum and about my blogs and about my work in progress.

11:24 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

You're welcome, Lisa! K.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Ello said...

Great post! And there is so much good stuff out there in the blogosphere. It can really become overwhelming!

And I loved Kite Runner!

5:54 PM  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

It's very hard to work on a novel and keep up a blog at the same time, but I seem to be addicted to both!

6:13 PM  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

p.s. Thanks for the kind words about Gabe and his haircut.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

You're welcome, Patry! Now I'm off to Simply Wait to see if you've written any updates. Take care! K.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Special Needs Mama said...

You might like The Bookseller of Kabul too, since it's nonfiction and covers life in the post-Taliban era without romanticism. Check it out. Also, the movie "Kandahar" was amazing.

8:22 PM  
Blogger LYLIN said...

Lol, now I've more blogs to read. Thanks for the links. Blogging has always been a way to express myself and things I believed in. And I have read blogs that have really touched me and somehow made me reflect on my own life. Thanks for sharing. :)

3:44 AM  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

Hi K: Thanks for your nice message this a.m. I will be in the hospital till at least Tuesday. But as you can see, thanks to wifi, I'm still indulging my internet addiction. I can also get email, but can't send them from here for some reason. If I'm not too fuzzy-brained, I may try try to update the blog today. xxx

8:33 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Vicki, I'd heard of the Bookseller and just added it to the TBR list. Kandahar will go to the hubbie's Netflix list. So many lists, so little time lol!

Lylin, my pleasure! Your blog is one of those that's giving me a unique view of the world. Thanks so much.

PATRY, so good to hear from you!! Rest up and don't worry about anything. We're all just so happy to know you're on the road to recovery. K.

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Laura said...

Thank you for linking to my site! I am really excited and grateful too. I am also going to link to you. Thank you so much!

3:31 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Hi Laura! You are SO welcome! I hope my mention drives some more traffic to your site. You give kids AND adults lots of great ideas for easy ways to get involved and really make a difference in our world. Happy Spring! K.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Mary Ann (Moanna) said...

I love blogging and forget that so many people have no clue what they're missing. I was in a meeting the other day talking about something I read on a blog, and had to back up and explain blogging because everyone looked so puzzled. Amazing.

And I love your blog. My list of books to read grows when I visit you and I'm finding the best blogs through you. Simply the best!

6:36 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

M, you just made my day. Thanks!! K.

6:52 AM  

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