The Empress of Good Day Regular People Tickles Me Pink!

Today I'm collaborating with Holly of 504 Main. I'm highlighting one of my favorite bloggers, The Empress. Her blog, Good Day, Regular People, Tickles Me Pink. You can find her on Twitter via @GDRPempress. Alexandra has blown me away most recently with her hysterical three-part series on "When Someone You Love Has a Blog," which you can read here, here, & here. I identify with her so much it's rather scary. She is brilliant, kind, and an incredible writer. Because she Tickles Me Pink, I asked her if she would do me the honor of guest posting, and she kindly agreed. So without further adieu, I give to you The Empress! I'm certain you'll love her as much as I do!

Commisery Loves Company  by The Empress at Good Day Regular People

Commiseration. Yes, sometimes commiseration can be the best solution.

I have been thinking about the blogs I frequent often, the ones I jump up to check on each day. What keeps me returning there? Why do I like them and look forward to their posting? It's what I find there: moods that match my own on some days, other days it's a place where "they get it." I don't want answers to my problems, I just want to be somewhere where it's OK to be who I am. With no feelings of needing to impress, or pretend to be something I'm really not.

I've read that "water seeks its own level" and "water seeks the path of least resistance." And that is what a "blogfriend" does. They're easy, they get you, they know what you like. When we find ourselves complaining, or feeling short ended on this life gig sometimes (we're only human, right?) it's strangely and curiously uplifting to find someone muddling through, too. There is something about the "safety" you feel at a favorite blog. You can be comfortable in your reaction and your response, and what you say in the little square box, because you know that there can be a difference in opinion, and you're still good.

Sometimes, we just want to be understood. Sometimes, we don't want a solution. We just want to nod "yes, yes, yes" and let that be all there is to it. And laughing along in recognition of it all lightens the load. So does tearing up at a post they may write that cuts right to your heart.

You can't really describe chemistry, or put a formula to why you feel drawn to a specific blogger and their site. If we could, we could all buy the book and begin blogs and sell them later for mega grande dollars, or at least a few thousand.

You can't really figure out how you find your "tribe," your group of women that make up your daily life as much as your family and co workers, and physical friends do.

You begin blogging one day, and then little by little, and one by one, you meet people that bring joy to your life, people who make you smile excitedly when you see it's them on comments, or in an email, or a tweet, or the sweetest of all: "a direct message to you from..." on twitter.

I think we all just want to belong to a part of something larger than what we have just physically around us, we want to be accepted, and be the larger collective of what we are like, what is important to us. Finding our values and sharing what is dear to us, tethers and binds us to others. We no longer feel alone, and misunderstood, a stranger in a strange land.

There are times, yes, when we truly want a fix, a solution, resources, help, ideas...but there are, more often than not, just times when we only want to hear, "me, too!" Times when we want to know that someone misses our presence in their life that day. We want to know that we matter, and that someone likes us being part of their world. It's nice to know that someone is thinking of us when they wrote a post. It's nice to know that we, also, have somewhere to go with feelings we have inside, or news we want to share, or when we need someone to listen at 1:00 a.m.

Commiseration, sometimes just the sweet balm we need, and no more.


This Girl Just Wants to Write

My mom saved this first "story" of mine. It's hardcore evidence that even at a young age I wanted to be a writer. Fortunately my spelling has come a long way. It also demonstrates that my love for animals and all living things began early on. We were still living in the bayou (Houma, LA) when I wrote it, and I believe the turtle's poor sense of direction led him into our yard. Mom had enough to deal with and ultimately Yertle the Turtle and the risk of salmonella completely sent her over the edge. We released him back into the bayou where he hopefully found a friend.

I'm not here for the followers, which isn't to say that I don't adore you, because I do! I'm not here to play games. I'm here for me because I love to write. I need to write like I need air, water, and donuts food. When I don't write, I start to suffocate and feel like the walls are closing in on me. It really is that simple.

I have a difficult time trusting people. I loathe drama and confrontation; I run the other way, fast. Unlike my life, My blog is drama free. This is my space to share my thoughts as I travel the road to my writer-y roots.

In first and second grade, I was bullied by a girl a year older than I whose name was Melanie. She had straight, dark hair atop a stocky body, a mean grin on her face, and dirty scuffed-up shoes. Every day at lunch she came over to casually peruse the contents of my Strawberry Shortcake lunch box. I remember I looked down at the rocks on the playground as she approached. I couldn't look at her face. Her shoes announced her. She took what she pleased. I didn't stand up for myself. I just let her.

When I was in sixth grade, there was a close-knit group of girls who weren't very nice to me. They had their own little clique and I wasn't really allowed to be a part of it. They bullied me not by stealing my lunch, but by saying nasty things to my face and behind my back. This time I tried to stand up for myself, but wasn't successful. I was relieved to graduate high school and start over at college where no one knew me.

This pattern has repeated itself throughout my life in various circumstances, but I'm not going to stand for it anymore, especially when it comes to me and my blog. Blogging to me is not about gossip, mud-slinging and nasty comments; it's about reading, writing, sharing ideas, giving constructive criticism, and letting my writer- self out of her shell where she can dare to share her innermost thoughts and stories.

I am standing up. I am not shutting it down. I will continue to write for me. As I have always done.

I'm just gonna write on.


Guest Post via My Brother Mark: Katrina + 5

On the night of Sunday, August 22, 2010, I tucked my four-and-a-half year old daughter in her bed, kissed her forehead and turned out the lights. About 20 minutes later, a thunderstorm blew through the area. The intense lightning put on quite a show. When a bolt struck close by, and the powerful KA-BOOOOOOM rattled the windows a half-second later, my wife and I were not surprised when the little one's voice called "Daddy! Mommy!"

We spoke to her softly and calmly.

"It's just a little lightning and thunder, honey. The bright lights and the loud noises aren't going to hurt you. It's kind of fun, actually, to count the seconds between the flash and the boom. You're safe and sound here in the house with us. We're right down the hall, and we'll come check on you in a little while." We gave a few more hugs and kisses before making our way back down the hall.

"Daddy?" she called again.

We poked our heads back around the doorway.

"What if the storm gets soooooo big?" she asked.

My wife and I exchanged glances.

"This is just a little storm, honey. It's not a big one."

"But what if it's like the big storm that hit Ne-worlins?"

My heart sank. You should never, ever, know what that is like, I thought.

As a parent, you do your best to ease your child's fears. "There are no such things as monsters." "It was just a movie; it was just pretend." "Don't be scared, I'm going to catch you." But what do you say when it comes to the worst natural disaster in the nation's history? If a small child really knows about Katrina, how could she ever really feel safe in a storm?

If she'd seen the people on the rooftops screaming for help, surrounded by rising water, could I tell her that something like that will never happen to us? If she'd heard about the hundreds of family pets left to drown, would I really be able to reassure her that our dog will be okay in the house by himself during a storm while she is at school?

What if she'd seen the video of Lee Ann Bemboom, the woman at the Convention Center holding her lethargic, overheated baby boy slumped over her arm: "Look how hot he is; he's not waking up very easy!" After seeing that, would my daughter believe me if I told her she'll always be safe in my arms?

What if she'd seen all of her belongings...ALL of her stuffed animals, blankets, shirts, skirts, shorts, shoes, dresses, hats, hair-ties, books, games, paints, crayons, easels, movies and dollies...covered in mold, and mud...and diesel fuel...and feces.

Or worse.

What if she'd returned to the place where her house and all of her things had once been? What if she'd stood on the concrete steps that just recently had ended at a familiar front porch? What if all she could see from the top step was mud and weeds? What if she had turned and asked, "Daddy, where is my room? I want our house back!"

Make no mistake, in late 2005 little ones all over the Gulf Coast tearfully pleaded with their mommies and daddies in just that way. And I'm sure every single parent choked back a levee breach of tears, put on their most stoic face, held their child close and said:

"Baby, it's okay. Everything is fine. You're going to have a new room with new toys really soon. I promise."

Not one of them said, "Storms are nothing to be scared of."

At Katrina +5, New Orleanians look at the numbers: the population, the number of blighted houses remaining, number of reopened schools, number of hospitals, recovery dollars remaining. We look at the calendar: the weeks left until hurricane season is over, the upcoming anniversary of the day we moved into our new homes, and for the unlucky, remembrance of the day fathers, mothers, and children took their last breaths.

At Katrina +5, for those of us with young children, we keep the numbers and the dates to ourselves. For our kids, August 29, 2010 just means beignets for breakfast and one last trip to the store for school supplies. The little ones aren't going to notice the extra church bells ringing to mark the moment of each of the levee breaches. They aren't going to watch the TV specials. They aren't going to read the section in the Times Picayune dedicated to storm stories. And if we can help it, they aren't going to see us crying.

I try to tell myself that I'll explain everything to our little girl when she's old enough to understand it all. I say that I'll tell her when she's able to hear about it without being traumatized. But then I remember.

I still don't understand. And I still get scared.

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