A Travellerspoint blog

Absconding with Social Media - Part Four - Blogs

Reader, I did not start up an anonymous blog about salacious and epicurean topics rolled into a coconut sprinkled jelly roll. At least not yet. Circumstances haven’t become that dire. How many blogs do I take part in? Three. Or Four. However, I am going to put the fourth into another category.

Blog Number One:

Background: I wrote a novel, quasi semi-autobiographical. Sort of….me. While writing this type of memoir (a comedy) I happened to read a poem with the title of “The Sweet Bag of the Bee.” I liked this title. I named my novel the same title. The novel had some problems. So did the title. Actually the title came from the poem that was hanging about in a book of Elizabethan songs. I was handing out repertoire to students and came across it. It was sweet, sexy and could catch the imagination.

On the face of the issue the poem by Merrick is about two cupids fighting over a bag of honey. Venus tells them to share it. Okay there’s an overt sexual significance there, but then the title in itself can take on the sharing and the travel and the collection of good stuff. I stuffed my novel in a drawer and, without much else on my mind, began to write that blog. I thought it would be a novelty little blog about an expat, not a 20-something newbee in Amsterdam, but and jaded oldee in a small provincial town bored out of her mind. On a whim, or perhaps out of bold determination to stick the phrase someplace I called that blog after Merrick’s poem. In the beginning it was a rather fluffy type of blog with pink borders. Here’s a former post from one of the first years of the blog:

Hi-Alert Conversation

I had just walked into the gym’s dressing room when a stout woman with aubergine hair immediately turned to me and said cheerlessly, “I saw you run the red light.” I felt that irritating bite of insecurity at once, as in the you-stupid foreigner-you-aren’t-allowed-to-do-that kind of thing feeling. But realistically speaking nowhere in the world are you supposed to run a red light. In my defence here in Holland I was not driving a car but parallel pedalling a crappola bike along a bicycle path eight feet downside the main road. The traffic light in question was installed so that cars from the narrow non-issue side streets get a chance to drive up to or off the higher dike road. There weren’t any cars wishing or waiting to do so, so I consciously decided to run the light. Albeit even not challenging any other traffic or risking my life, I could certainly be fined, but given the location and the absence of the police nearby the chances were mighty low. My action, I reflected carefully, in no way had affected her right to the road by hindering, or endangering her person or property. She simply witnessed the event from a distance.

What occurred, though, is kind of social interaction that happens a lot in Holland. I notice citizens feel obliged to tell bad do-ers about various sins overtly witnessed even when not entangled in the action to pour shame on each other face to face in a factual and stalwart rush of aggression. This gets everybody’s defenses quickly raised. Worse is when the accusers start to point, or rather jab, an index finger while they remind me of my transgressions, whether legal breaches or moral questions, reiterating that the violations came from my direction not theirs, hallelujah. This pointing a finger business is extreme rudeness from my cultural point of view and usually where I come from the informative part of such a situation is handled in a kind of “by the way, I just wanted to mention that…”etc. But I have the impression that the Dutch don’t think their intentions should be construed as rude; maybe they’re after a sort of morally water tight and safe satisfaction factor. I never quite know what to say back, especially given cultural differences. Moot is arguing a defense case about running a red light but here’s my survey of possible replies:

What good eyes you have granny.
Brilliant! Did you hear me tinkle the bell? I’m practicing for my upcoming trip to India.
My brakes are a trifle finicky in the morning. Maybe even a little phlegmy.
May I thank you for your concern about my personal safety.
May I thank you for your concern regarding upholding national traffic regulations.
Golly my tires need pumping. I’ll go do it now.
I tapped into good ol’ dharma and was going with “the flow”.
There’s a method to my madness: Run the light coming, stop when going home.
Purple is not a flattering hair hue. It’s a fashion felony.
I took advantage of an opening in the vacuous road; Irrational poetic right of the pavées.
Blame it on the Charging Bull Meditation Mode Scent by Richard Gere I’m favouring.
Oh yeah righty-O, and by the way who do you work for?
Pray tell, what would you have done? Go ahead now, I’m waiting very patiently.
I enjoyed the thrill. The adrenaline rush woke me up.
You forgot to give me the finger.
Het zal je toch een worst zijn. (Let’s not translate this.)
Het zal mij toch een worst zijn. (idem)
I hate this country. I want to break all the rules over and over again. Anarchy!
Show me your Official Upholding Righteousness Badge, Sheriff.
So I’m guessing no gold star for me. Eh, maybe a sneaky bandit eye mask, n’est-ce pas?
Hey you give me a better bike and scout’s honour I promise it will never happen again.
Hum, you could insert a 100% no fail conscientious quality microchip in me. Make my life hell.
Tja! And good morning to you. (The inevitable choice to disarm/negate by positivity.)

Blog Number Two:

It occurred to me looking at the dismal number of viewers to Blog Number One that I really ought to find a place to post which Already Had an Audience. Hence the doppelganger of Blog Number One: The Sweet Bag of the Busy Bee. (Here's the big news: I feel guilty. Travellers Point should have its very own blog from me for being such a good sport and so I have started one, just for you: Scribbles On the Other Side of the Leaf. Check it out!)

Blog Number Three:

After two blogs, I’d pretty much had enough of blogs. I’d promoted Blog Number One on various expat sites and Blog Number Two itself had a steady readership already built in. Sometimes I’d post extraneous blogs on One or Two, as unique occurrences especially catered to each audience. So I wasn’t looking for another blog. But then Vinita said to me I really ought to register my voice studio practice on-line at AngloINFO SouthHolland on their Business Directory. The managing director sent me a few emails to remind me after he and Vinita talked. It was late one night. I had a gin and tonic (this much from Absconding with Social Media – Part One is true) and then I had another. Filling in the forms that I encountered regarding listing your business activities in South Holland, I saw an item out of the corner of my eye that said something about promoting a blog. Blearily I thought, “Hey^*~+=!” and filled in the form. The next morning, to my astonishment, I opened my email to find an enthusiastic email in reply to my willingness to blog for AngloINFO South Holland. I’d signed up for another blog. After a good hard thought (yes, it was also slow) about this unexpected opportunity, I talked with Vinita and it was agreed that we’d become another blog, together. We proposed a series of photographs and poems. It was an enjoyable experience. After nearly a year of this format we changed plans and now feature selected streets of Gouda with short whimsical descriptions. Coming up in May we’ll start our last round with Nectar from Holland, The Bee’s Tour with Vinita when we’ll bring our audience photos from Gouda’s famous cheese market accompanied by short, very short stories.

Meanwhile, after having finished the twelve month long poem part of our two year stint blogging for AngloINFO South Holland, I edited the poems I had written and found I liked some of them rather more than I remembered. (A toast to the gin and tonics for pushing my borders about posting poetry!) Here are two of my favourites:

The Looking Glass of Winter This is a favourite because it’s simple and retro warming for the cold holiday season.

Father’s Day in the Field Our blog is a family orientated venue and this poem and picture is a tribute to the power of fathers.

Coming up, I’ll tackle the Public Facebook Page and Poetry

Posted by apersephone 09:37 Archived in Netherlands Tagged media social abbott blogs persephone Comments (0)

Absconding with Social Media -- Part Three Goodreads

At certain times in my life I have been able to read extensively for leisure, and for the past few years I’ve been fortunate to rediscover deep sea reading. By reading, I mean a book or a couple of books a week kind of reading. I’ve found, a rude awakening at this age, that my teenage impressions (the last time I read Nabokov and during one of the periods of my life when I read widely) seriously need to be updated as they are still hanging around somewhere inside of me. Through the online medium of Goodreads I’ve reacquainted myself with many authors and thoughts on literature. What remains fascinating about Goodreads is that most of the reviews are not professional reviewers but simply folk, like and unlike me, relating their experiences about books. Obviously, when it comes to books we share this passion in common.

Speaking for myself the compulsion to write and post a review is a statement of placement. Not just a “hey look I finished this whopping big book” but more of a “this book impacted (or did not impact) my life at this particular moment and these were my associations and thoughts while I read it” type of review. It’s not a professional review.

Recently a friend remarked that I really ought to start an anonymous blog and monetize the crap out of it and make some money. When I asked what I should write on this here already existing blog another friend said write about books. I’ve read blogs on books and some I find fascinatingly good. However, I prefer Goodreads because I look up the book not the reviewer. The point is The Books.

Likewise following my friend’s suggestion to start an anonymous blog and write to cash in on some topic, I pondered what subject matter I should consider. I came up with food and sex. I googled food+sex+blog and got a masterpiece (olive oil was the hook) in the making. A fictional novel, chapter by chapter, was being posted online by a clever blogger. It was pure porn. At the bottom of the page the author thanked his 55,000 plus readers. I thought, “Sell my soul for only 55,000 bloggers?” Granted I wouldn’t sneeze at 55,000 readers buying my forthcoming book but it seemed to me to not be stating 1 million readers tapped into his erotic prose or that he will make him a mint or a reputable name for himself. Herself, you never know about author gender in the romance/erotica fiction world.

Lately people have asked me what I like to read. On the spur of the moment I came up with a handful of little. It was embarrassing. Then I thought, well professors keep cards to enhance their recollections, why don’t I look up which books I gave five stars to on Goodreads and try to remember why I gave them such a high rating. Along this line of thought I’ve listed six of them for you:

Go Tell it on the Mountain – James Baldwin

La Chute – Albert Camus

A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf

The Message to the Planet – Iris Murdoch

Soul Mountain – Gao Xingjian

Enormous Changes at the Last Minute – Grace Paley

On my next post, I’ll tackle blogs. Yes plural. Blogs.

Posted by apersephone 10:11 Archived in Netherlands Tagged media social abbott persephone goodreads Comments (0)

Absconding with Social Media - Part Two -Twitter

Once upon a time my Twitter account was born of a suspicious mother and an unfaithful father or an unfaithful mother and a suspicious father. Either way, I thought I’d use it as an unanchored musician. The problem with this is that like most online mediums, soundcloud apart, the written word rules. It became, quite early on, rather monotonous and tedious to tweet about making music, “Great rehearsal, looking forward to the concert! Brahms!” I grew uncomfortable with Twitter. It seemed a little too much me, me, me, as in “I brushed my teeth with that new toothpaste, McBird’s Pearls of Wisdom. How long will it take to make a positive effect on my star quality incisors? Can you see them in this dark hole?” I backed off Twitter. However, with a new book coming out soon, I decided at the end of last year to resuscitate my Twitter account. I pitched a fork into the genre “poetry tweets.” It’s not just commercials, which is what Twitter appears to be, a continuous billboard of products and links, but words for fun. Just because. People kind of liked them. I even kind of liked them. Here are a few of them below, but I admit using Twitter well does seem to be an art.

We’re looking for jam. #ClearlyToasted

If it’s not from the honeypot, we’re not interested. #ClearlyToasted

Where the adhesive at? #ClearlyToasted

Baby, turn me over. #ClearlyToasted

People tell me I’ve got a pie face, so why don’t you like me? #ClearlyToasted

In my dream a baby polar bear scampered through our rooms, the smothering house an insufferable mama polar bear. #WinterHomeRenovations

Prompted, I ask, “How is the state of your soul?” Your grey slate: 140 spaces in which to tango tweet. #TheLtmdConfessionalBooth

What do you mean, none of my friends have read “War-Path and Bivouac: The Big Horn and Yellowstone Expedition?” #OneSidedGoodreadsInteraction

In my next post, I’ll tackle goodreads.

Posted by apersephone 10:23 Archived in Netherlands Tagged netherlands abbott twitter persephone Comments (0)

Absconding with Social Media: Part One - Private FB Page

“Face it,” I think to myself, “You are addicted to social media.” I adore planning Facebook posts, usually limited to a theme and only post two to three items every morning. People tell me, although they might not publicly react anymore, they always look to see “what Persephone is up to” and usually it’s a load of blather interspersed with some sort of reality shake. Take for instance this week when I got a 20 question quiz in my email from Oprah; I decided to answer every one of the questions and post it on FB. Why? I don’t know really, but it’s pretty safe to say I love playing with words. How far can I go? Normally people tell me their raw opinions, either on FB or to my face when they meet me on the street. The thing is I can’t be bothered to be pigeonholed into playing rigor mortis with the questions Oprah sent so I am evasive, and yet there’s a little bit of me hanging out there. It’s not that I think these questions are uninteresting or unimportant it’s just that they tend to be, in my humble opinion, limiting in themselves. How far does the haunted mirror stretch on this one? How far must we take this seriously? May we mock ourselves, our human condition?

Persephone Answers Twenty Questions from the Oprah, the Company:

Am I Helpless? If I say yes then I think I am lazy. If I say no, I think who am I kidding? Can you imagine what I would get done, if I had the ammunition? Eradicate violence, for instance. But this is all going in circles.

Do I Know How to Say No? Mwummmph.

Do I Say Yes Enough? I’m guessing yes. Does this subtract from the previous question?

How Do I Want to Be Remembered? Isn’t there a FB Hall of Fame? Definitely need to invest via FB, the stuff of great obituaries.

What Do I Do All Day? Pleeeeease, I can think of tons, loads, gazillions of things (mainly poems) to do all day.

What’s Your Deal Breaker? A gin and tonic. Make that two.

Am I with the right person? Let’s skip this one.

How Much Do I Care What People Think? I’m beginning to learn to pay some amount of attention to these types of handy clues.

Do I Examine My Life Enough? Painstakingly, I find that sometimes the minute avoids the big picture.

Am I Helpful? No idea…..damn, that was the wrong answer, I know it. Too late…..again.

What Am I Afraid Of? Myself. I just never know what I am going to do. Beats me.

Am I Paying Enough Attention to the Incredible Things Around Me? You mean poems? Aces, but sometimes it takes a little unearthing to get the quality stuff. You really can’t count 100 percent on FB. Or email.

Have I Accepted My Body? Yes, when compared to previous years I think I am making headway through the birth canal. Symbolically I mean. But whose? Wait, confusion has set in. Is this umbilical whiplash?

Am I Strong Enough? Pfffff…you just heard me hoisting a marshmallow barbell.

Have I Forgiven My Parents? Yes, many times over. Sometimes unrequested.

Do I Want Children? No. I’d have to forgive them too. I’d hear little voices making demands.

Does What I Wear Reflect Who I Am? I tend to morph into whatever, whatever I wear. Say, what is this thing?

What Am I Missing Out On? Writing a major novel. Stuck on a list of unnecessary requirements.

Do I Let Myself Fail Enough? Once a week on a horse will do nicely, thank you.

Why Are We Here? To excel at the profession of voyeur/voyeuse, obviously. I mean come on, keep it real now. Are we done? This the last question right?

Next on "Absconding with Social Media" I'll tackle Twitter.

Posted by apersephone 08:21 Comments (0)

The Two-Way Mirror at Amsterdam’s Hermitage

Many of us know that to visit a city, a trip to a fine arts museum is an elegant way to pay homage to a world class location. In return, offering a peacock display of recognized quality is the quintessential whiff of museum musk needed to stimulate tourists to sniff out the art scene in Amsterdam. Of course, the other side to admiring this city is to simply slowly walk along the streets. Then, in fact, a visitor is meshed among the city’s highlights and spatially places themselves within the geographical context. However, by merging history in the form of an historical building and world class art an opportunity arises that should not be considered lightly. Amsterdam’s Hermitage showcases traveling exhibitions, as well as an incredible room with a view of the Amstel River featuring a row of splendid canal houses on the other side, occasionally interrupted by a passing barge. You may sit in that space in a chair holding the view for a fair amount of time. I find such outings most inspirational. Here follows a trail of visions of the current Gauguin, Bonnard, and Denis exhibition.

Standing Nude in Modernity

In this salon the colors unimaginable,
We are led to look at it in sterility
The lack of molding, curls and corkscrews
Tear the shadows from the stars
No rounded lamps with frosted glass
No moon to dazzle our eyes.
They so unveiled do tell of cypresses
Green, it is true, in the museum
Everything is but half, the air conditioning
Turned up to frigidity, the bronze cold to touch
The beauty iced, am I to believe here is the wealth
Of Greek Pans?

Random Season

We’ll no longer go to the Bonnard in winter
Wet spring approached and said soggy things
Then left, and I know the summer will shine
Beyond my wildest hopes without you on the other side
Swinging slowly back and forth under the savage cherry tree.

The Frosted Glass Door

The frosted glass door
Does not equal the Gauguin.
It would be futile to think so.
The doors are not an aesthetic reference
To any object a messy painter’s studio has construed
In the fine reflection of the golden blob on the toile
I sit on mustard upholstery and think about
How tasteful my ass must be to rest here.
Rebuke, rebuke Paris the city before me,
The horse shit on the unpaved street,
The chestnut roasting soot insinuated,
The grimy cloth flowers on fancy hats
Positioned like already eaten pastries,
The remnants in reconstructed oils before me
And my ass sits primly still
On mustard watching the
Donkey pull the cart across Paris.

The Blood that Comes Out No Veins

Bordering on kitsch one train rolls through the gallery cubicle
A recording, a loop of heavy sounding wheels
In the prelude, representing landscapes, one heard snoring
-- it was a relief from the Debussy track --
Labeled with proletariat orange plastic tags the gold frames
Prick-screwed endure this venom cast into the wood’s rings
- sliced and aching veins --
(Premenstrual paragraphs loom heavy as apple full breasts,
Extended hip bones anticipating the fall, behind Venus’ mound.
Enhanced night for visitors, the train set circling around all those lost
Creative eggs a squall equaling the dumping of humanity,
A revolutionary honor, senseless culture renamed for ownership.)
Did they serve the old toothless folks
Those soft and puffy buns on occasion
With that droopy slab of fatty young cheese
Glistening in the aluminium tea canister’s reflection?
The museum is the museum of Dutch imprisonment,
A collection to demonstrate the taking of a city
A place beholden to old lusts, deserted and blood bound
Rendered gentle by paid hands that wash your hair.

Posted by apersephone 00:56 Archived in Netherlands Tagged hermitage paintings amsterdam poetry gauguin Comments (0)

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