Book Review: the lives and times of archy & mehitabel

A Cockroach Who Blogs

One of my favorite poets, Fireblossom of Shay’s Word Garden reminded me of the stories of “archy & mehitabel” in a recent poem. These are old stories, but bring fond memories back to me.

I have a book, “the lives and times of archy & mehitabel” written by Don Marquis. I’ve read this book many times and still enjoy it.

The book I have was published in 1940 and in my opinion, features a character who had to be one of the most unique bloggers in history.

My book belonged to my grandfather, Dad Arthur. When I visited his library I would pick this book to read. When he died it was passed on to my father, and knowing my love for it, he eventually gave it to me.

A Timeless Literary Classic

The book is now faded with age and worn from the many times it’s been read. But that’s the sign of a well loved book, isn’t it?

I smile as I write this because it IS an odd duck of a book. The main character is a philosophical cockroach named Archy, who in his past life was a human who wrote free verse poetry. He discovers a typewriter and begins to type out his thoughts, dreams and complaints. You can see why I say he was a blogger:~)

Archy writes about his life and the multiple lives of his cat friend, Mehitabel, who claims to have been Cleopatra in a former life. He writes about the many characters they meet along the way. His stories are poignant, funny and recount situations that any of us could relate to today.

These stories of Archy the cockroach and Mehitabel the cat still make me sigh and smile in equal measure.

Freestyle Poetry By Don Marquis

One of the things I like most about this book is that it touches on the many difficulties that writers experience today. Archy’s style is unique; he writes on an old manual typewriter, jumping on the keys with his body. Here’s one of his more famous writings:

boss, i am disappointed in
some of your readers they
are always asking how does
Archy work the shift so as to get a
new line or how does archy do
this or do that they
are always interested in technical
details when the main question is
whether the stuff is
literature or not…”

Now tell me, doesn’t this apply to many bloggers? These days we deal with the same struggles Archy did when we talk to people about blogging. The literary side of writing can be easily lost while explaining the technical details.

Writing Style Models Bloggers

Archy would have been very comfortable with the freedom of style that bloggers enjoy. For example, as you can see from his poem, Archy doesn’t pay attention to capitalization or grammar; he writes about what he’s thinking or feeling in his everyday life. Sound familiar?

“the lives and times of archy & mehitabel” is still available. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys poetry written by a different kind of writer. Archy is a lot of fun to read, albeit not always an easy read; this is true stream of consciousness writing. It is also outdated in some of its stories.

I like “the lives and times of archy & mehitabel” because of its past as well as its future potential. I hold this book and know that both my grandfather and my father held it before me. Perhaps, they even laughed at the same lines as I do today.

Someday, I may give this book to my children or their children. I find it strangely comforting that a very early blogger and poet, who just happened to be a cockroach, could be the link between my past and my future.

What about you?

What older books remind you of a blogger’s style of writing?
What books have passed down to you that you continue to read and re-read?
Did you ever have to use a typewriter when writing? If so, what were the difficulties and how did it compare to our modern computers?

Artwork by George Herriman

Comfort Words

Photo by shapecharge

Online Universe

I love blogging because it’s so much more than just writing online articles. To me, blogging allows us to develop an online community. It is proof of how interconnected we are with each other, no matter how far away we live from each other.

Even though we can’t actually “reach out and touch someone,” our words do what our hands can’t.

Not to get all metaphysical and stuff, but I like to think that blogging gives us a link to the Universe. So, when we’re thinking about something that’s troubling us, more often than not we will land on a post with helpful words.

I call this blogging magic. You go where you’re supposed to go:~)

Helping Each Other

That’s what happened to me. As I write this, I am heading back to surgery again for my second kidney stone.  YUCK!!!

The idea of surgery always sort of scares me. So, when I went visiting, my blogging community did not fail me. I found words that calmed me.

I visited Chania Girl of Living Happiness. She can usually cheer me up. Turns out, she wrote a guest post on Karen Wallace’s The Calm Space, a site I had not visited before.

Not only is this site very appropriately titled for me, but also has the subtitle of “from stress to serenity one step at a time.” What an excellent thing for me to read as I prepare for surgery:~)

The Calm Space is like entering a room with many different doorways, all of which explore the magic and wonders of our lives.  If you haven’t already visited, I recommend you check it out!

Chania Girl’s guest post, Through the Eyes of Wonder, helped me face my fears by taking some time to look at life through the eyes of my child.

Her post offered wonderful suggestions to keep wonder in our lives. I loved these words and felt they were very comforting as they reminded me to look beyond myself and my worries:

“But maybe tonight I will take my blanket and go up to the roof, spread my wings and gaze at the stars. To look beyond myself to something higher and greater than me, that will make me feel very small indeed, and that’s probably the best place to begin for changing my perspective.”

In addition, I visited Joy of UnfoldingYourPathtoJoy’s Blog and discovered her Fearless Fun Friday series, which featured a guest post by Lisa from Sacred Circle, another site I had not visited before, but will be visiting more frequently as it’s a fun and inspiring site.

Lisa’s post was about dealing with fear. She wrote about different ways to cope with fear. My favorite was called Invite Your Monsters in for Tea. In this section, she wrote:

“Sit ‘em down and entertain them with the juice of who you are, and then, as is proper with all guests, politely send them on their merry way with gratitude and their bellies full of chocolate chip cookies.  Befriending our fear might sound like a radical, maybe even impossible idea, but it’s when we give our power over to our fear that it gets really scary.”

Heart Writing

So, now I feel calmer and comforted, even though none of these bloggers knew when they wrote their posts that they would be helping me today.

They just wrote something from their hearts and sent it into the Universe where their words found the way to my heart.

Whatever might be said about blogging, I feel for those who see it only as a personal diary, political gab or advertising.

It is also comfort food filled with the stuffing of wisdom. Today, I plan to eat my fill. I know it will make this day go by easier:~)

p.s. The comments will be closed for this post as I doubt I’ll be in the mood to respond or visit for a few days or maybe even more. I hope to have a Story Photo post for next Monday, June 7, 2010.

Like Minds: The Love List Project

lovelist-(1)Graphic Illustration by Jason Berg

We bloggers tend to think alike.

One thing I love about blogging is the synchronicity between bloggers in my community. Many times I visit my Google Reader to find the authors have written about similar topics, even though the blogs are from places all around the globe. I believe there’s an energy that connects us and it comes out through our writing.

This happened to me recently when I visited Lance at the Jungle of Life and learned that Kristin Tennant of Halfway to Normal had come up with a fantastic idea called The Love List Project. Her idea is to develop your own “love list” and keep it going. She also came up with the idea of sharing our “love list” progress on her blog every Friday.

I loved this idea. But that’s not what amazed me.

That day I happened to be struggling with finding something to write about for an upcoming post. I turned to my “works-in-progress” file and, to my amazement, realized that I had already started a “love list.” I guess like minds really do think alike!

While I plan to share my progress with this list on Kristin’s blog, I realized that the list I currently have would not fit in her comment box :~) So, I decided to share my love list with you today.

My Love List

My kids
The evening sun shining through the leaves of a tree
People who make me laugh
My boyfriend and his cooking
People who make me think
The wonderfully creative people I’ve met while blogging
The sound of the wind as it blows winter leaves
My family of friends, especially those recently found
The feeling I get when I hit “publish”
Strawberry shortcake with ice cream
Watching birds frolic in the bird bath
People who say hello to me when I’m out walking
The sound of waves at the beach
Taking photographs that surprise me
Watching horses running loose in a field
People who never give up
Dolphins playing in the Gulf
Hawks flying high in the sky
Putting my feet in cool water on a hot summer’s day
People who like to laugh
The first bite of chocolate
Moss swinging from an oak tree
A wildflower beginning to bloom
The sound of wind chimes
Candlelight creating flickering shadows around a room
Looking at the stars on a dark winter’s night

When I read over this list, each item evokes a memory and makes me feel happy. I encourage you to develop your own list and watch it grow.

You don’t have to develop a long list. Just start out with one or two items and keep adding more. Once a week on Friday pull out a few of your favorites and pop over to Kristin’s blog to share them. By the way, the illustration I’ve used for this post was created by Kristin’s husband. Isn’t that cool:~)

Have fun with this list. I think writing it will rapidly become one of the things you love!

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Mark your calendar for next Thursday, October 22, 2009!

You’re invited to the unveiling of the new header for my blog. I love it and hope you will also. It’s different, funky, and lighthearted and fun :~)

Is the term Lurkers a bad word?


Another name for lurker

I’ve been noticing a lot of bloggers encouraging their “lurkers” to come out of the closet and leave comments.

For those of you who may not know, lurkers are defined as people who visit blogs and don’t interact by leaving comments.

I don’t like this term.

Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but I still remember when a lurker was described as a person who waited and watched from a hidden place. It conveys the idea of a person watching someone through a window at night. It’s a scary term for me.

I prefer to call these people “visitors.”

Post a comment – it’s your choice

I hope the visitors who stop by my blog will enjoy what they read and then choose whether or not they want to leave their calling card by posting a comment. If they choose not to, that’s okay with me. I still welcome them…as Visitors.

I can’t help but wonder why some bloggers push their visitors to leave comments. What’s wrong with someone just visiting, without commenting?

Don’t get me wrong, I love getting comments on my blog and responding to them. I understand why bloggers enjoy receiving comments. It’s an opportunity to connect with their readers and get a sense of what they are thinking and how the post impacted them.

But I also believe that readers should have a choice of leaving a comment or remaining invisible. If a reader wants to use a service offered by a blogger, there are other ways to make contact. Comment sections provide an option for readers to express their thoughts about a post, if they choose to.

Therefore, I challenge bloggers to consider these questions:

What are we saying about our “visitors” when we use the term “lurkers?”

What are our reasons for wanting our “visitors” to leave comments?

What role do blog stats play into our need for our “visitors” to leave comments?