Please Remain Calm; This Is Only a Test

If you’re used to visiting my website directly (as opposed to viewing my feed in a reader), you may notice that it looks quite a lot different today. I’m doing something i never thought i’d do, which is use a WordPress theme i didn’t design myself. I intend for this to be temporary, but i just couldn’t stand the tiny body font and the non-nested comments and the unresponsiveness of my custom theme any longer. I’ll get around to making a new design of my own one of these days. In the meantime, i’m using a theme called Ascetica.

I probably could’ve fixed the comment section without chucking my custom theme, but i was itching for something new anyway. So, here it is, for the time being.

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Rest In Peace, Ray Bradbury

Now, this was a guy who loved his life, and wanted the rest of us to love our own lives. I have a feeling i’d be pretty happy, too, if i could spend my days at the library.

I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library, and it’s better than college. People should educate themselves – you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of 10 years, I had read every book in the library and I’d written a thousand stories.

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.

Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.

Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.

-Ray Bradbury, 1920–2012

I wouldn’t even care if no more than five people ever read my writing; if i could somehow make the same amount of money that i make at my job now by learning and writing whatever i want to write instead, i’d do it in a heartbeat. But that’s what jumping off the cliff is about—taking risks. And i’m not a risk taker. I’m a level-headed kind of person who is planning for retirement and paying her mortgage off as quickly as possible. Maybe if i learned to sleep less i could blog and work and learn and take care of my house and maybe even take care of a dog, too. I know there are women who manage to do all of the above with a kid or two thrown into the mix, so surely it’s possible.

Maybe i just need to get a good caffeine addiction going. I know coffee is the secret weapon of at least a couple of very successful people i know…

The other reason i don’t blog much anymore

…I can’t seem to find the time! Work keeps me busy these days, and when i’m not at work i can’t seem to find the right time/energy combination to keep my house clean, much less keep up this blog.

Things i currently want to blog about:

  1. Our first anniversary
  2. Our trip to Oregon
  3. Fifty Shades of Grey and how it sucks
  4. My garden

Some day i’ll have a smartphone that automatically uploads my photos to Picasa and blogging will be a little bit easier. 🙂

Self-Consciousness

One of the main reasons i don’t blog a lot anymore is that i’m just so self-conscious. I figure there are only a few people out there who won’t find what i post to be boring or braggy or abrasive or whiny or too amateurish to be worthwhile. I’ve got a really good life, but there’s nothing particularly fascinating about it, and sometimes i feel down for no good reason. Who wants to read about that? The good or the bad?

I’m not an expert at anything. You won’t learn anything reading this blog. I feel like i have a lot of ideas, but they tend not to be popular ones and i’m not very good at explaining them. I don’t know how many people can relate to me. I don’t create much anymore. I don’t take very good photos. I don’t post rants anymore because i don’t want to offend anyone. I don’t want to hurt people.

It occurred to me recently that much of my self-consciousness boils down to not wanting to hurt people. I don’t rant about belief anymore because i don’t want to hurt the people i care about, who are mostly spiritual people. Sometimes i want to go off about nutrition and health, and there’s almost nobody out there who wouldn’t be hurt by that. We all eat, and almost all of us could and should eat a whole lot better. And i don’t talk about my own life a lot because people inevitably take what you say about your body or your life and construe it to mean something about what you think of their bodies and their lives.

This timidity extends to my face-to-face interactions with people. What if i say something wrong? What if i mean one thing but express it in a way that’s offensive? What if i’m insulting or rude or weird or divulge too much or too little? What if i say someone’s name and i get it wrong? I’m a really quiet person, and this is why. I’m opinionated; i’m a lot better at tearing people and their ideas and creations down than i am at inspiring them. I’m kind of a destructive force, and i don’t really want to be.

I do think a person can be destructive and do a lot of good for the world. Find the weaknesses and exploit them so that things can be rebuilt better and stronger. Where would we be without our critics? But the thing is that i really like having people to talk to, and i worry that my true colors could actually chase my friends away. It’s a silly thing to worry, though, because my friends already know who i am and they’re still my friends. I never really hold back all that much in the end, so all my caution is eventually thrown to the wind. (I’m eventually going to have a couple of drinks or post something that starts a conversation on Facebook and end up saying what’s really on my mind.)

So maybe i just need to cut all the shy shit out. I’d really like to at least be authentic if i can’t be likable. I’ve always sort of valued the truth above most things, so who am i to withhold it from people? Not that i lie. I just bite my tongue a lot. And sometimes that’s a good thing, because i also change my mind often. So another worry is that i’m going to say something destructive and later on not even hold that opinion anymore, once the damage is already done. I’d love to be less reserved, but it’s so much a part of who i am that i don’t really know how to change. But i think the first step is probably to hit “Publish”…

On Blogging

I have this blog. And i’m not doing anything with it, but i’m not really sure why. I desperately want to redesign it, or at least tweak the design so that it’s responsive, but that’s irrelevant if i’m not writing anything in it. So i’m going to do some musing.

First of all, if i were reading my blog, what would i want it to say? Here are the things i look for in blogs:

(Note: THIS ISN’T AIMED AT ANYONE. This isn’t meant as a critique of other people’s blogs. This is just me trying to feel out what i want to do here.)

1. Original content

I don’t like re-hashings of other people’s content. “So-and-so said this on his blog yesterday.” If i cared, i’d be reading So-and-so’s blog. “Look at these funny photos/cool music videos/neat craft ideas i found.” That’s what social media is for—to share things that aren’t yours. Blogs are where the things that get shared live. It’s where ideas are born and presented to the world. I also don’t care much for guest posts. I suppose if it’s very similar to and/or ties in with what i’ve already subscribed to and is something that the blog owner thinks i’ll genuinely be interested in, it’s okay. But keep it rare. I don’t want a blog to send me away to another site. I want other sites to send me to blogs.

2. Original photos

I really like to see people’s photos in their blogs whenever photos are relevant. Actually, i spoke too soon—i really like to see GOOD photographs on people’s blogs. It makes me angry as hell to see their fugly green Instagram photos all over the place. It really makes me want to close the window, but that’s just because i have this weird hatred for filtered photos. I’m also not interested in seeing photos that have to be credited to someone else. Or stock photos. They HAVE to be original and unique to the post they appear in.

3. A voice.

I like to read blogs to see what’s going on inside someone’s brain. I also love vlogs for this reason—because it’s just someone talking to me about what’s on their mind, and i love that. I don’t get enough of that on a daily basis, sadly. I don’t subscribe to blogs to do my shopping or to be convinced of things or given suggestions for my own life (with the exception of gardening and non-craft-DIY stuff, because i’m actively trying to learn about it). I subscribe to blogs because i’m interested in people.

4. Decent writing

If you’re gonna write, please try to do it well.

5. Life updates, but not just a laundry list

It’s cool that you went on vacation in a really neato place with really fun people. But unless you took some breathtaking photos… I don’t care a lot what you did on each day of your trip. I do want to know what’s going on in your life, but i want to know what you’re feeling and thinking about, not just what’s happening.

6. Not recipes.

I love food and i love cooking and i love people who make up awesome recipes and share them on the internet. But i leave the subscribing to food blogs to other people and rely on Pinterest to help me find what i’m actually looking for. I’m just not interested in what you ate for dinner last night, i’m sorry. Same goes for tutorials—i’ll rely on Google to help me find the tutorial i need when i need it. No reason to subscribe to random weekly tutorials, unless it’s someone like me who’s suddenly all “holy shit, i’ve been using Photoshop for ten years and i just figured out this really useful, simple trick!” That i do like.

7. Words, not SWAG.

I don’t subscribe to blogs for giveaways. SWAG just doesn’t interest me that much.

8. Reactions, not recaps

I don’t need a recap of a movie. Either i’ll watch it myself or i’m not interested in it. But by all means, tell me what it made you think about and why you loved or hated it. Same goes for books. And also albums—if you’ve just discovered some amazing music, i want to know about it. But a brief “this is wonderful and it made me feel ____” and a single youtube video will suffice. And i wouldn’t subscribe to a blog that was nothing but reviews.

9. Artwork

I loooove seeing people’s creations. And it’s way better when they write something about what inspired it.

10. Rants

I love rants! I wouldn’t subscribe to a blog that was nothing but rants, but i love it when people use the opportunity that a blog provides to go off the handle a little bit and get passionate about something. This is your stage and i want to know what you have to say, even if i disagree with it.

11. Decent length

Sometimes you can say a lot with few words. But i read blogs because i like to read, so go ahead and actually write something. That said, i also read blogs because they give me small doses on a regular basis, so don’t write thousands of words in a single blog post.

12. Personal stuff

I don’t think i’m willing to get very personal in my own blog, but i absolutely love it when other people do. Blogs are like public diaries. Sometimes that’s a really bad thing (fifteen-year-olds on Myspace?!) but sometimes it’s so… cathartic?

13. Stories

I like reading people’s little stories. Essays, i guess i should call them. Mostly i like true stories, but one time a friend of mine wrote a story about a morning in her dream-life, and that was also beautiful.

14. A certain frequency

I don’t want to read any one person’s blog more than once a day. Five times a week is actually what i find to be good maximum, since i don’t usually read blogs on the weekends. But i think once a week is probably a good minimum. If it’s been longer than a month i might unsubscribe, ’cause i’m not sure if you’re ever coming back.

15. Questions

I like to know that the blogger wants my input. And i really like it when the blogger responds to my comments (in the comment section, not via email).

I think that about sums it up. So, i’ll be mulling this over and maybe posting something of substance sometime soon. Maybe.

I’ve Been Featured – Humpday Blog Love

Humpday Blog Love Today i am the featured blogger on my friend Calee’s blog, chimesblog. Calee is a good friend of mine and is going to be one of my bridesmaids, but she’s also a very talented designer and crafter and one helluva dedicated runner. She does marathons and stuff. A force to be reckoned with, for sure.

So if you’re new here, welcome! A lot of my writing is purely about my own life, but i also like to review books, movies and music, rant about religion, post my photography, and correct people’s English. 🙂 I’m also a bride-to-be, and i’ve been keeping track of the things that i find inspiring as i do my planing on my tumblr. Have a look around and please enjoy!

On the New Look

You’ve probably noticed by now that the site is looking a little different (unless, of course, you’re only viewing the feed). I designed this theme a year ago and have only now gotten around to actually building it. I know it’s very simple and not terribly exciting, but i just wanted a change. I’ve got a wedding website to attend to, so i probably won’t get to design a new theme for this blog for at least another year, at which time i will *hopefully* be migrating to a new domain anyhow (stephanieafink.com?).

The archives have been moved to their own page and i’ve added a search bar, which was a long time coming. I’ve also added avatars back to the comments, so you WordPress users will be able to show me your lovely faces. My blog matches my portfolio website now, which i think is nice. 🙂

I don’t want to clutter up the sidebar, but i think it probably needs something. An RSS icon? A blogroll, perhaps? I’ve been learning some cool WordPress stuff at work, so the blog may be evolving over the course of the next few weeks. By and by i should be able to post some new websites that i’ve designed as well. Stay tuned.