9!

Today is my ninth blogaversary! Blogoversary? The spelling of made-up words seems a bit fluid…

This is my 1,682nd post. There have been 6,458 comments, 56,348 views, and 31,286 visitors from 126 countries and territories. There are 1,572 followers via WordPress with another couple hundred by email, twitter, and Facebook, with, I’m sure, a bit of overlap.

It seems like so many added up that way, but Top of JC’s Mind is still a small blog, averaging about 20 views a day. I remain grateful for all my visitors and followers. [Time for my usual disclaimer: I rarely look at my stats and don’t do much to actively gain views. In the crush of real life, I decided to devote my blogging time to writing posts and answering comments, so I don’t do the kinds of outreach needed to build up a large readership.]

I’m thankful to still be actively blogging at all. It seems that many bloggers start out but don’t continue for this many years or only post a few times a year.

Not that I post on a regular schedule but I’ve made it to 1,682 posts, so I do manage to say things!

I’ve been happy with my choice to be an eclectic blog. I know some of you visit for the poetry posts or for the family stories. Others might favor my political posts or pandemic posts or environmental posts. Some visit via Linda G. Hill‘s One-Liner Wednesdays or Stream of Consciousness Saturdays series. Some seem to arrive via searches of various sorts, which I find fascinating.

I know now that there are quite a few other eclectic blogs and I love knowing that there are so many of us rambling on about whatever is “top of mind” at the moment.

So, on to Year 10! Hope to see you checking in from time to time.

With thanks,
Joanne

One-Liner Wednesday: still COVID

Another of my occasional reminders that COVID-19 is still with us.

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays, which I occasionally use to shamelessly promote another blog post. 😉 Learn more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/08/24/one-liner-wednesday-upon-the-throne/

SoCS: too much

I am awash with too many emotions to SoC today, because, well, reasons…

This JC’s Confessions post from earlier in the week gives some clues.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “wash/awash.” Join us! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/07/29/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-30-2022/

SoCS: list

I’ve made a list of blog posts I need to write.

Well, in my head, not on paper or screen.

And I won’t bother all of you with writing it here.

But, #SoCS can get checked off soon…

I admit that I’m in a bit of a lull when it comes to writing these days, especially creative writing. We’ve been travelling quite a bit. I’m also waiting out a grief wave.

The bigger issue with blog posts, though, is that there are a lot of heavy topics about which I want to write, most of them follow-ups to previous posts. JoAnna of the Forest suggested that it is better for my health and well-being to mix in some lighter posts, so I’m hoping this counts!

Hope to be back soon with another post, at least…

[LOL – I wrote this post relying on my memory of the prompt from yesterday, which I misremembered as “make a list” but I think this works. Just change the first sentence to “made a note.”]
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “make a note.” Join us! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/07/08/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-9-2022/

the end

So today is the last day of Just Jot It January. I want to thank Linda Hill, the Canadian author whose blog Life in Progress hosts Just Jot It January, and her blogging community who provide prompts and support for the process.

I know Linda is having a very busy time in her life and considered not holding #JusJoJan this year. I had commented during the decision-making process that I would participate as I could if she held it but that I wasn’t going to put my pressure on myself to post every day.

So, of course, Linda did go forward with Just Jot It January and I did post every day, despite international travel and my current unsettled state of grief/overwhelm/exhaustion.

Have I ever mentioned that I have a bit of a tenacious streak?

Theoretically, I could continue posting every day but I know that won’t happen. I need to devote more time to doing poetry submissions, which will cut into blog writing time. I’m also hoping that I will be writing some more new poems soon. I’m guessing that the Binghamton Poetry Project will be having some sessions in the coming weeks and I’m getting some ideas popping into my head otherwise. I also have a few poems that need final edits before I send them out.

I wish Linda and all the other #JusJoJan bloggers a successful 2022. We’ve all made it through 1/12th of the year intact. May this January be our springboard into February and beyond!

what I’ve been writing

Although you can’t tell from the count of my recent blog posts, I have been carving out some writing time.

Unfortunately, you can’t tell that from my poetry output either, although I do have one recently written and accepted piece that I will share when it is published. I have had to compose a fair number of cover letters as I have done quite a few chapbook and full-length submissions, as well as some individual poems. I’ve gotten a number of rejections, but currently have the chapbook manuscript under consideration in four places and the collection in nine. I can hear my fellow poets saying that’s not enough, but I’m hoping to get a few more in later this week.

I spent a major amount of time thinking about, writing, and editing comments for a listening session with our bishop in preparation for a diocesan synod and the World Synod of Bishops called by Pope Francis to discern the future path of the church. The official title in English is “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission”. In keeping with this, individuals were asked to share our hopes, dreams, and experiences with the church and our visions for the future. I chose to focus on the voices that have been marginalized in the church, concentrating on the voices of women. I prepared written remarks and then a shorter version that I could read aloud at the session within our three minute time limit. I do not like speaking in public but, inspired by others, especially some teens and young adults, I managed to do it. There was a lot of “speaking truth to power” at our session, one of at least twenty planned for our diocese, which is doing a credible job in reaching out to the people. Some diocese around the world are not doing much outreach, which could limit the effectiveness of the process when the bishops convene in 2023.

I have also been doing some holiday-related writing. My first priority was to write a letter to people on my parents’ Christmas card list who may not have heard about Paco’s death in September or even Nana’s in May 2019. It was difficult to write but I’m glad that I made myself do it because I heard back from several people who expressed their sympathies and shared memories with me. I also had the opportunity to do some reflective writing about this in conjunction with a support group I have been attending on preparing for the holidays after the loss of loved ones.

After sending out the letter to my parents’ friends, I tackled my own list, which was a bit more complicated. I did a family newsletter, still a difficult thing when having to report a death, that went in some cards, while others got a handwritten note or just a signed brief greeting, depending on how regularly I have been in contact with the recipient. All the addressing, stuffing, and stamping of envelopes adds to the time involved but most of them are in the mail now. A few are set aside for other members of the family to complete.

Now, there is, finally, this blog post. I’d like to say that I will post regularly from now on but I know that would be more wishful thinking than promise. B, T, and I are preparing for an extended holiday trip, which could create more leisure time for writing or be a total whirlwind with too little sleep to be cogent.

Which will it be? Stay tuned…

BPP online anthology link

The fall online anthology of the Binghamton Poetry Project is now posted here. I had written about it in this post, which I have updated with the link, but thought I’d do a new post announcing it because quite a bit of time has passed. Enjoy!

JC’s Confession #19

In the first few seasons of The Late Show, Stephen Colbert did a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.

JC

I am still on Facebook and feel guilty about it.

I’m confessing this now because it is top of mind after reflecting on Ellen Morris Prewitt’s post on leaving Facebook. Ellen is an amazing author, blogger, community volunteer, and former lawyer from the American South. She shares her insights on a range of topics and has recently published a number of powerful posts about race and racism. I urge everyone to visit her blog and subscribe.

I confess that, despite my dismay over Facebook spreading false information, their exploitative business model, and the vagaries of their newsfeed algorithms, I am staying with the platform for now.

I’ve tried to make my own Facebook experience as insulated from harm as possible. I use Social Fixer, which allows me to hide sponsored posts, political posts, and other parts of the page that I don’t want to see. I spend almost no time scrolling through my newsfeed and do not use Facebook as a news source. I do automatically send posts to my blog page and then link them to my personal timeline for added visibility, although I remain annoyed at how few people can actually see my posts due to the aforementioned vagaries of Facebook algorithms.

I admit that part of the reason I stay with Facebook is that there are people with whom I am connected only via Facebook and don’t want to lose touch with them. I also am one of the administrators for a private Facebook group for my college class and don’t want to abandon that responsibility.

I know those are personal excuses that in no way forgive my responsibility in participating with a platform that causes harm. I do favor policies and regulations that will make Facebook a safe, honest cyberplace.

I’m probably hopelessly naïve to think that that is possible.

But that is, perhaps, a confession for another day…

One-Liner Wednesday: Paco tribute

Because I announced my father’s death in this One-Liner Wednesday post, I’m linking the promised tribute to him with thanks to him and to all my friends and readers who have been sending out prayers and good thoughts on our behalf over the years.

Please join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2021/10/13/one-liner-wednesday-aaaand/

SoCS: Paco and puzzles

After having announced Paco’s death on One-Liner Wednesday this week, I had thought I wouldn’t post again until I had time and mental space to put together a proper tribute post or, perhaps, a post about last days and good-byes.

Then, the SoCS prompt arrived and it was puzzle and I knew I needed to post for it.

Until these last few months when he was too ill, Paco worked puzzles as part of the routine of his day. He still got the daily newspaper in print and did their wordsearch, which had the added twist that the remaining letters could be unscrambled to solve a question that was posted with the puzzle. Paco also had wordsearch books that he would work on. Wordsearches seemed like an unlikely type of puzzle for Paco to enjoy because he was dyslexic, something that he did not discover until his youngest granddaughter was diagnosed as a child with an inherited form of dyslexia. This led to a number of fundraisers organized by first Paco’s grandson and later his aforementioned granddaughter to raise money for Learning Ally, which helps people with visual impairment or print disabilities to access written language. These fundraisers came to be known as the Paco Project in his honor.

Another word puzzle that was part of Paco’s day was watching Wheel of Fortune in the evening. It came on right after the national news. My older sister would often call him at the time and they would watch part of the show together, even though they were hundreds of miles away from each other.

Paco’s other puzzle passion was jigsaws. When he was in his apartment in independent living, there was a card table in the corner of the living room with a puzzle on it for him, Nana, and visitors to work on whenever the mood struck them. For many years, he made 500 piece puzzles, with the occasional 750 piece thrown in. However, over his last couple of years as some dementia developed, he cut back to 300 piece puzzles. He worked on those until he fell in June and never recovered his ability to be up and about and clear enough mentally for puzzles.

At some point, after we get through this initial period of busy-ness with paperwork and bureaucracy following a death, we will find a home for the several shopping bags’ worth of Paco’s jigsaw puzzles that we brought home with us. I expect we will keep a few special ones as mementoes for ourselves and donate the rest for others, who we hope will enjoy them as much as he did.

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As you can tell from this post, Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is puzzle. As always, you are invited to join us. Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2021/09/17/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-sept-18-2021/

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