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:
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