Dear Oh Dear– Blog of the Year!

While away on vacation, I received a most splendimonious accolade! Expat Alien- writer, blogger, world traveler and All Around Brilliant Person- has gifted me with a Blog of the Year award! Question: How cool is that? Answer: Very. I’ve been experiencing a lot of blog anxiety these days, afraid of boring you with the trials and tribs of my journey into self-publishing hell, and the subsequent promotion of the resulting e-book. It’s all made me extraordinarily grumpy, dazzlingly unfunny and at times, just plain awful. Despite my descent into yawndom, Expat’s seen fit to honor me, and I’m as grateful as the ghost of Jerry Garcia.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have issues with awards. Not receiving them– that part’s fun and easy. It’s the passing them on part that ruts my tires. In the Days of Yore, one of my greatest joys was Sherlock Holmes-ing around for new blogs to follow, new treasure troves of rich, sparkly words to delve into. I love blog stalking. I still do it now and then, but lately, I’m writing as though my keyboard is wired to an incendiary device, like the one Dennis Hopper rigged up in the movie Speed. If I slow down, my bus will blow. Also, my brain is very small, and when I’m in full-throttle writing mode, it’s hard to cram anything else into such a tight space, not even the nutrition labels on cereal boxes. My schedule leaves little time or energy for reading (or anything else). I lose track of my favorite bloggers, which consumes me with Godzilla-sized guilt. I take a catch-up day every one in a while, but still, it often leaves me feeling neglectful of my end of the blogging seesaw.

Another issue– many of the blogs I follow have a “no awards” policy, which I understand and respect. In the past, I’ve given them out anyway, because I really don’t care what someone does with these colorful little rectangles of love. I just think that it’s nice to let people know that I appreciate and enjoy their efforts. I also like to promote talented bloggers and share their work with you. Eventually though, I stopped this practice, because it often seemed to put both the honoree and me in a weird position, each of us feeling the need to apologize and explain:

Fabulous Blogger: I’m sorry, but I just don’t accept blog awards.

Me: I know– I just wanted to give you a shout out, and encourage readers to check out your blog.

Fabulous Blogger: Okay, well thank you. But I just can’t pass it on. It always leaves someone feeling left out. Besides, the award clashes with my color scheme.

Me: I know. It sucks. But please don’t worry about it. I don’t want you to feel obligated– I just think you deserve recognition.

Fabulous Blogger: Okay, well, thanks anyway.

Me: You’re welcome.

(Awkward blog silence)

Despite all of these concerns, this is one award I’m handing out. It isn’t small potatoes– it’s big, genetically modified, mutated potatoes with butter and sour cream on top. It’s the Blog of the Year, ya’ll. Of course, every blog award comes with a set of rules, and here they are for this one:

The Rules:

  • Select the blogs you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012 Award’.
  • Write a post and tell about the blogs you have chosen and present them with their award.
  • Please include a link back to this page and include these rules (do not alter the rules or the badges).
  • Let the blogs you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the rules with them.
  • You can now also join our Facebook page – click the link here Blog of the Year 2012 Award and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience.
  • As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

As that last bullet states, this award’s different than others in that a blogger can win it over and over again– six times to be exact. Each award brings with it another star. My first order of business is to return it to Expat Alien, whose blog is just swell. She tells tales of her travels in a down-to-earth, oh-so-charming way, and manages to educate in the process. She’s written a book of her exploits as well, entitled Expat Alien: My Global Adventures. You can discover all of her fabulosity yourself by clicking here. 

And now the hard part. Arrgh. There are so many blogs I love. Years’ worth. Often, I form an emotional attachment– there are just so many talented, smarty-pants people out there. I don’t just mean that they can write. I mean that they have a way of relating in a genuine way that reels me in and makes me feel connected. It gives me a bad case of Happy Heart. If you’re not mentioned here, it doesn’t imply that you’re not one of those writers. In fact, if I’m following your blog, you probably are. Cary Grant never won an Oscar or a Blog of the Year Award, but people adored him.

With all of these disclaimers out of the way, I’m going to attempt to pass this award on to five other  deserving bloggers. Please don’t feel beholden if you don’t want to do anything with it– even if Cary Grant had won an Oscar, he’d probably have just used it as a doorstop.

So here goes:

Miss Snarky Pants: Because I love her, even though she’s tall and thin and gorgeous and smart. So funny she makes me tinkle, and I’m not talking about the lovely sound of my laughter. Also, she bought my book. Hmmm…maybe there should be some sort of special award for that. 

Rendezvous with Renee: Because her posts are warm and funny, open and honest. Plus, she flashes her husband in public. 

Chime: Because of the way that Phil Canon strings words together and bends them into the most beautiful shapes. 

Broadside: Because Caitlin Kelley is prolific, productive, inspirational and funny. A consistently excellent blog for writers and readers.

Kylling Sara: Although she’s moved to a new location, I have to give an award to Sara for this blog. A survivor of horrific childhood abuse, she’s documenting her journey, past and present. A brave and honest soul.  

So there you have it. I’m fighting the urge to list about seventeen other deserving blogs, but I’m going to stop now. I’ve got writing to do, and I don’t want this laptop to explode.

The Most Beautiful Woman in All of Spring Valley: A Guide to Romance

In case you were wondering who the most beautiful woman in Spring Valley, Ohio is, the answer is “Crystal Patterson.” I Googled this for verification, and though I couldn’t find any documentation supporting this claim, I know it’s true, because it’s spray painted in huge blue letters on the wall of an underpass on one of the bike trails I ride. The opposite wall proclaims the spray painter’s love for Crystal Patterson in an equally huge scrawl. It’s such a romantic gesture of adoration (or psychotic obsession) that it completely cancels out the vandalism. The police could never make such a charge stick. It’s like Dennis the Menace scrawling “I love Mom” all over the walls. How can you spank someone for that?

About a month ago, Tom and I were cycling on a trail that runs beside the Little Miami River. As we rode, I suddenly became aware of the sounds of music coming from the direction of the water. It was so lovely that I stopped my bike and peered through the foliage to see where it was coming from. Down in the water was this perfect looking guy: his teeth were snowy white against his tanned complexion and he had such perfect chin stubble that I could see it from a hundred yards away. He was wearing a cool straw hat and cut off shorts, and was sitting in a canoe with a beautiful woman in a flouncy hat and a colorful, flowing wrap. She was coolly doing needlework while he serenaded her from the opposite end of the boat with a violin that he’d conveniently brought for the occassion.

Tom said something like, “Yeesh,” but I was transfixed by this beautiful scene. It was like a painting, a concert, and a romantic movie all at once. At the end of each song, all of the other canoeists on the water applauded, then Gorgeous deftly moved on to the next selection in his repertoire, effortlessly gliding from classical to Cajun to bluegrass to contemporary. Cary Grant couldn’t have orchestrated it better.

“I’m getting you a violin,” I told Tom. “And we need a canoe.”

“Yeesh,” he replied.

I would like to offer a few tips to those men who, like my boyfriend, may be slightly romantically impaired. NOTE: I am not a paid professional. Please try this at home.

1: If your partner asks, “Do I look fat?” Do not say, “We work with what we have.”

2: My ex-husband’s motto was, “Romance is a clean kitchen.” If this is yours, don’t be surprised if the little woman gives you a broom and some Platex Living Gloves for Valentine’s day. I suggest a different motto. “Romance is a Merry Maid,” for example.

3: Lie. Lie through your teeth. Not about the important stuff, like fidelity and love, but about the really shallow stuff, like beauty and sexiness and how PMS and pre-menopause are intriguing and only add to the hotness of your relationship. And about how small her butt looks in those jeans.

4: Death Wish XXVI: not romantic. Under the Tuscan Sun: romantic. Try not to roll your eyes, sigh, or say, “Oh brother,” while viewing.

5: If you screw up and drool on your menu when the cute waitress takes your order, or if your head involuntarily turns 90 degrees each time a hot young thang is in your vicinity, immediately turn to your woman, pat her hand or thigh and say, “Thank God for you.” Or something equally as grovelling.

6: If your mind is far away, and you’re fondly reminiscing about some past lover, have an answer at the ready when your partner asks what you’re thinking about. “I was just wondering how Barney sees in that big giant costume,” or “Was Jacques Cousteau’s middle name really Yves?” for example. This will keep you from getting a meat platter embedded in your head.

7: Camo is not a good pattern for lingerie. Buy solids.

8: Sharing a combo meal on the tailgate of a pickup is not a romantic dinner for two, even if there are stars in the sky.

9: “Cat Scratch Fever” is not a love song.

10: A Hershey bar and a box of truffles are two entirely different things.

Please, oh please don’t think that I’m man-bashing here. I just think sometimes guys need a little gentle guidance in the romance department. At least mine does. But take heart– we women have long memories. Long memories for the bad stuff, like what you said when you saw that awful new haircut fifteen years ago, but long memories for the good stuff too.

Several months after Tom and I had been dating, he and I were sitting on my porch on a dusky evening. “Oh, I brought you something. I almost forgot,” he said, and went to his truck to retrieve it. I was expecting a book he’d been talking about, or a garden shovel he was going to loan me. Instead, he came back and sat down beside me.

“About a year ago, I discovered this little shop on one of my bike rides,” he told me. “I saw this Celtic knot ring that I really liked, and I wanted to buy it for myself.” He held out his hand and showed me the ring that he always wore. “Then I started thinking, You know, one day, I’m going to meet someone that I want to spend the rest of my life with. So I bought two rings– one for myself, and one for that woman I would one day meet.” Then he reached in his pocket and handed me a box. Inside was a perfect silver ring, identical to the one he had on his hand. I haven’t taken it off since.

So, no matter how unromantic things may get at times, or how often the wrong thing seems to pop out of his mouth (or mine) at just the wrong time, he’ll always be my Dennis the Menace, scrawling “I love you” in crayon on the walls. And I’ll always feel like his Crystal Patterson.

Sometimes, you guys do things soooo right.