Rosie’s Adjustable Man

heads

Rosie knew what she wanted in a man. Trouble was, she wanted something different every day. The wealthier ladies could afford different models, but they had room to store them too.  She’d had to settle for a model with adjustable heads. The body stayed the same, but the personality changed. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.  Currently she had six different versions, but over thirty were available. Whenever she could afford it, she got a new head for her Adjustable Man.

Rosie’s house wasn’t tiny by any means. It was the standard allotment for Zeta-class citizens – three bedrooms and one large common area with dining/ kitchen/ living room, with movable panels to divide up the areas when necessary. This was a far cry from Gamma-class, with only two bedrooms and a living room but no kitchen. That was shared, communal style, with ten other Gammas.

Gammas tended to eat together in the common dining room. Slinking off to eat in their private apartments, hunched over a coffee table while sitting on a stiff sofa, was possible but frowned upon. Nobody would say anything about it to the citizen who did it, but then they simply wouldn’t say anything at all to them for a few days afterwards.

It wasn’t planned that way. It wasn’t a rule. It was more like a habit, or tradition. Not sharing time with your fellow citizens meant you wanted to be alone, so they gave each other space at those times. But, if a citizen was absent more than about four times a month and wasn’t on a scheduled trip for their task-group, then subtle and not-so-subtle inquiries were made. Some were to the citizen’s family. Some were to the Overseers. Perhaps s/he was ill? Perhaps therapy needed to be assigned? Perhaps s/he needed to be reclassified? Sometimes that particular area’s citizen class wasn’t a good fit for that citizen’s style of life. Never would they ask a Gamma-class citizen themselves if anything was wrong. That wasn’t thinkable, not for that class. It was only once you were promoted to Zeta-class that you were even considered to have enough spirit to have an opinion.

Rosie had opinions all the time, and felt that everyone needed to hear them. The Overseer channeled this into encouraging her to write an online blog, where she felt that she was being heard for a change. She thought she was making a difference. She was wrong. Nobody read her writing. The numbers on the statistics were a ruse from the Overseer to get her to keep writing and thus keep her out of the way. The comments were supplied by workers in his office.  It kept her placated and maintained order. It didn’t do to have citizens thinking too much. It upset the social fabric.

She was so opinionated that no man wanted to spend time with her, and so insecure that she didn’t want to spend time with herself. Fortunately for her, she was not alone in this. Plenty of women had been told “You think too much” by men, and rather than stop thinking, or at least out loud, they decided to get an Adjustable Man. He could be modified in any way imaginable, providing you had the resources.

It was easy these days to pick up a used version, have the memory wiped, and start from scratch. Or, you could custom build one online and have it shipped to you, ready to cook, mow the yard, and be pleasant to take on a visit with your friends. No more awkward times like when your man suddenly started talking about less-than-polite topics around your best friends or coworkers. No more attitude about doing housework or it being “woman’s work”. No, the days of men thinking their contribution to the family ended as soon as they left their workplace ended around the time women realized they didn’t have to have children, and thus didn’t have to stay home to raise them.

Adjustable Women were in the works for those women who wanted to work outside of the home after having children. There were never enough reliable or affordable childcare providers – never had been. Come to think of it, the same was true for eldercare. Nobody wanted to take care of the very young or the very old for very long, even if they weren’t related to them. Those that did wanted a lot of money for it, or they had less than honorable reasons for seeking those jobs. But Adjustable Women were proving to be harder to make than Adjustable Men.

Rosie was trying to decide who she wanted as her partner to the dance tonight. It was almost as important as determining what dress to wear. Too formal? Too casual? She wished there was a guideline on the RSVP, like “black tie” or “blue jeans” but for partners. She’d hate to take a stuffy, know-it-all partner to a casual gathering, the same as she’d hate to take a sci-fi geek, able to name all Star Trek captains in order (and delineate their flaws and charms) to a company luncheon. How did early-century escorts do it?

She opted for the boring “Bob” version.  He was cute, but he didn’t talk much.  Her friends would understand, and the new people she was there to meet wouldn’t care.

 

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Empty, but not gone.

Some of you may know that I have (had?) a mirror site to BetsyBeadhead. It is (was?) called Empty Cross Community. It has (had?) only my religious writings. It is (was?) a place where I could sort out what I want to put in my first book, and also is (was?) a place where I could direct people who might be interested in just that topic.

I’m not sure what verb tense to use, though. It is a bit like Schrodinger’s cat right now. Is it alive, or not? Does it exist, or not? I hadn’t put anything new in it in a while because I was working on the book. Mostly it is sorted out, and I didn’t have anything new to put in it. For that, I’m grateful. In a way, it has served its purpose.

Yesterday I went to put a new post into it and discovered I couldn’t. I discovered that my page had been shut down for a violation of the Terms of Service. There has been no warning and no explanation. I’ve written WordPress and not heard back so far. I’ve reread the Terms of Service and I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. I also think it is a bit severe for them to shut it down without a warning or a notification. There was no chance to correct whatever error they have found.

It is kind of like trying to go home and discovering that the bank has repossessed your house because they think you are doing something illegal in it.

Fortunately, it isn’t my house, but my “vacation home”, and I have copies of everything I’ve written. So nothing is lost but time. And some links. I have a website using the same name and it has a link to the blog which is broken now. I was using the blog to give more information than I could put on the website.

Possibly there is an issue with the name itself. There is a sculpture called the “Empty Cross”. The creator has trademarked the name. The idea of the cross is in harmony with the idea of my page. I’m not saying I’m part of them, but maybe they think I am – and because I’m not, they protested.

Maybe someone thought that the second page was stealing from the first page. Because there is nothing on the Empty Cross Community page that isn’t on the Betsy Beadhead page, perhaps they thought that someone on that page was stealing and reposting my blog.

Again, I don’t know. There was no warning, and no explanation.

Perhaps I need a new name for the second page. Perhaps I need to let it go and just focus on the book. But, I do like the idea of a focused blog page just for my religious writings. I don’t want to direct someone to my vision of a new church or a Bible study, only for them to get stuck in my rants about patriarchy, or wonder about my reading list for zombie fiction.

Or maybe that is the point. I am all those things.

I am a Jesus follower who reads zombie fiction, who has tattoos, who thinks that women are getting the short end of the stick, who works in a customer service job and gets annoyed at being treated like a servant, who tutors ESL and LD kindergartners… I am a lot of things, and some of them may seem to conflict with the idea of what defines a person who follows Jesus. Perhaps that is the issue. I want people to know that they can love Jesus and they don’t have to fit the mold of “Jesus freak”. That loving Jesus isn’t about wearing long dresses and homeschooling your kids and listening to “Christian” music and reading “Christian” books.

Well, it is about those things. But it isn’t JUST about those things. You can love Jesus and do none of those. Or all of them, and other things as well. Jesus’ arms are big enough to embrace us all. He was about turning the conventional way of thinking upside down back then too. He still is.

I certainly was having a problem with posting to both pages, using one browser. It is impossible to log into one WordPress site and then post on another one. It simply will only let me log into one at a time. So I can’t check the second one to see if I’ve already posted something from the first one in an easy way. I’d thought about installing another browser, in addition to Chrome, but now I’m thinking I need to use another blog platform.

And find another name. Anybody know a good name for what I’ve been writing about? I looked at ReVision – and that name is taken. I need something about how church isn’t what we think it is – it is less, and more at the same time. I need something that is easy to remember. I need something that embraces Orthodox and Pentecostal at the same time. I need something that goes back to the roots of what Jesus said and strips it all down. I need something that takes away all the pomp and puffery of two thousand years of humans getting in the way of God. We’ve put so much onto and into Jesus that we can’t see him anymore.

I need a name for that. I’m open to suggestions.

Doing WordPress

I’m pretty sure I’m doing WordPress wrong.

I’ve read that I’m supposed to put pictures in all my posts. I’ve read that I’m supposed to “follow” a lot of other similar blogs, and comment on them. I’ve read that I should post several times a day.

Well, I do that part, sometimes. And then I think that I’m overwhelming people.

But how am I supposed to follow other blogs when I barely have time to work on mine? How am I supposed to comment on them if I don’t read them? And how would that get me more followers?

I’m pretty sure that a lot of my followers don’t even follow my blog. I have nearly 200 followers and really only about 20 people manage to saunter over and look at what I’ve written every day. Are the rest those people who do blogging for money? They “followed” my blog with the hope that I’d “follow” theirs, and they’d get a percentage of a penny just because I clicked on their blog? Maybe.

As for pictures, I have pictures sometimes. But they are my own. I’m not going to take stock photos and paste them on my blog. That’s stealing. Well, it’s stealing unless you give proper credit. But then if a picture is worth a thousand words, how much more are worth actual words? A picture doesn’t mean anything without a context, and the viewer can make up whatever she wants. I’d rather write about what I see than show it, most of the time. I feel that it means more, and that the meaning is better expressed this way.

Mostly I write because I need to write. Setting up a goal of posting at least once a day makes it something I have to do. It makes me accountable to myself. It makes me take the time to put down my thoughts. I don’t need to post, but it seems to force me to think more clearly about what I say. And, if someone gets something useful out of it, all the better. But first and foremost, I write for myself.

I’ve learned things through writing that I never would have learned otherwise. Writing forces me to slow down and see the situation from many perspectives. Writing is an intentional, focused act. Writing keeps me conscious and alert.

I’ve got lots of things I want to write about, but not a lot of time. Plus, I think my recent sprained wrist is in part because I’ve been writing so much. So, I have to choose carefully what I write. Sometimes it may not seem like it. Sometimes I just need to “doodle” to get started. Sometimes I write about a fluffy thing in order to warm up to something bigger. Sometimes I avoid writing about something big and real and controversial and new because I’m afraid.

Sometimes I write because I want to confront my fears, and drag them out kicking and screaming into the light.

So I may not do WordPress the way I’m supposed to do it. But I do it the way I need to do it, and I think that is really the point of everything. It certainly is the point of my blog. Don’t do things the way everyone else does it if it doesn’t serve you.

Audience

Who is my audience? Who reads this? Who “gets” what I write? And does it affect what and how I write?
I am my first audience. I write to understand things. Writing helps me to clear my head. Writing is how I define myself – it is how I understand what I’m thinking, and it is a descriptive. I write in order to be me. But I don’t write about the same things all the time. I write poetry, “progressive” Christian commentary, what it is like to be an adult survivor of an abusive family, Bible study, and political pieces about modern culture and what it is like to be female. That is a pretty broad range, and there aren’t that many people that will like each thing. I write about whatever comes to my mind that I want to understand. I also write about things that I think are helpful to others, things that may give them a signpost in an often confusing world.
I feel that sometimes I have something really important to say. Sometimes I feel like I want to shout from the rooftops – hey – look at this, here’s a connection that has just come to me and it will make so many lives easier! I sometimes don’t feel like they are my words. I feel like I’ve found a treasure rather than created one. Writing is like that sometimes. It isn’t always a process of creation but discovery. Sometimes these discoveries are pretty amazing.
My audience is small. It is highly unlikely that the right person will get this information. My audience is varied – all over the world. I look at the profiles of every person who “follows” my blog. I give thanks for each person who has decided that what I have written is worthwhile enough to want to read it on a regular basis. I keep a list of every person that I personally have sold a book to for the same reason.
I don’t feel that what I write is “mine”. I feel that I am a receptacle. I feel that I am a channel. I feel that God uses me (and everyone else) to reveal things. Sometimes I’m not very good with conveying the information. That is why I write every day. I want to get better. Writing is just like any other exercise. You have to do it a lot to get good at it. What is the point of having information if you can’t convey it to others in a way they can understand it?
But I think that is part of faith and trust. I think that if God wants this information to get to others, God will make it happen. I think writing a blog is a great idea. You can write a book, but then you are dependent on a publisher accepting it and then printing it and then distributing it. You have to rely on people being able to get to a bookstore and being able to afford it, or having a library nearby. With a blog, whatever you produce is right there, available, no waiting, to anyone with an Internet connection.
Admittedly, that isn’t everyone. Not everyone has electricity. Not everyone has the infrastructure to have high-speed Internet. Not every government is OK with the free exchange of ideas. Just looking at the map of who has read my blog reminds me of this.
But I think that part of all of this is that I just have to do my part. I have to show up, and receive what I can, and offer it forth in the best way I can, and let it go. Just like casting bread upon the water I have to trust that it will get to where it needs to go.
Would it help if I had more followers? Would that encourage me, or hinder me? Would I get bolder, or more hesitant? Would it help if more people “liked” my posts? Would that mean I’d write more things like that, or less? Would it help if I posted some of my posts on larger sites? Would that change my audience, and then change how and what I wrote?
I think it is best to just write, a not worry about it. I don’t make any money on writing a blog, and in a way I think that keeps me honest. Nobody can “buy” my words. I don’t have to change what I write to suit anybody. While it would be nice to get a little money from this, I feel that isn’t fair in a way. I feel that I get the information for free, so I should give it out for free. But then, there is the time I take to write it – isn’t that worth something? But that too, was given to me by God.
Not everything I write is divinely inspired. Some of it just is rambling and wondering out loud. Perhaps it sounds strange to say that I feel that God inspires some of what I write. But to me it sounds humble – it is giving credit where credit is due. To take the credit for a connection that came to me out of the blue is to lie, in my opinion. I’m sure that some people will think it is vain to say that God inspires me (and others – I’m not alone) but to me it is the exact opposite.
I write all the time. I write every morning. I write while I’m walking at lunch. I write while I’m waiting in doctor’s offices. I write while I’m going somewhere if I’m the passenger. (Long road trips are great). I write if I’m on retreat. I write at work when it is a quiet time and I’m caught up. I keep a notepad with me all the time for ideas.
I pray to be a worthy receptacle, and that God is able to help people through me. I pray that I can help encourage others through my words, and to open doors for them to shed light on confusing ideas. I pray that I can let them know that they aren’t alone in their struggles, and to keep on working on it and through it.

Goal

I started my blog 12-29-12. I started writing “notes” on Facebook in February, 2012. They were the precursor to my blog. They were a way to get out ideas and share them with a (hopefully) friendly audience. I’d planned on staying with that way of posting my thoughts and then a couple of things happened.

Facebook changed again and made it harder to find the “notes”. And I discovered that I wanted to share certain posts with people who weren’t my “friends” on Facebook. It was either get them to be “friends” or open up my posts to the web. It seemed that starting a blog was the best answer. I was surprised when strangers started reading my blog, and started subscribing to it.

I am grateful for every person who subscribes, and I look at the profile of each one. I know that some will subscribe for one thing and then I’ll post something entirely different. I know that I can’t be everything to everyone. Some subscribe after I post a poem, some after I post a word of encouragement. Then I’ll post something about my abusive childhood and I’m sure it is hard to read. It is hard to write, but it is healing. Recently I’ve figured out how to create posts with a lot of pictures so I can have a little scrapbook of adventures I’ve gone on and things I’ve seen. I’m sure that some people want my posts to be the same as what they originally read.

The fact is that the blog isn’t for them, really. It is for me. It is nice if other people want to read along, but I’m not going to create it any one particular way for any one particular audience. It is an organic, evolving thing. There are repeating themes, certainly, but if it were the same all the time that would be a waste of my time.

I like to be surprised by life. I’m the kind of person that wonders why people read the same books over and over again. There are some books where it really is the same story but just different character names and different cities. I guess some people like the familiarity of it all. Perhaps it makes them feel safe.

That bores me. A lot. Sure, I like some things to stay the same, and in many ways I hate change. But I also like to learn new things and stretch my boundaries and experiences.

As of today, I have 480 posts. Currently I have 159 followers. I average about 20 visitors a day, and each one looks at an average of two things. There have been over 14,000 views of my posts. One particular one has been read over 5,000 times, and still is getting noticed. I’m constantly surprised at what people are finding and rereading.

I have a goal of having 500 posts by the time of my anniversary of creating this blog, and that seems really easy. I had thought that I started it sooner, but I have over a month before I get to that date. At the rate I’m going, I’ll be over it by then. I didn’t have a goal of any amount at all when I started. My goal when I stated was just to have a blog.

I’d started with the idea of posting at least three times a week. Ideally, I wanted to post at least once a day. I started small so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed. I know that if I put a huge goal in front of me I may never get there. If I break it up into manageable pieces I’m more likely to do it. I now post an average of two things a day, sometimes four or five.

I’ve learned how to write all the time. I’ve learned that I don’t have to have an hour to sit down and write. I can write a little something while I’m walking at lunch. I can write while waiting at a doctor’s office. I can write while I’m in line at the post office. My phone and my Kindle are both great tools, and I have a running list of idea “seeds” to pick from. Writing used to be all about handwriting, and it took a while to get used to the idea of typing it instead. It has changed how I write, certainly, but it means that I can post more. Is it better? Time will tell. Perhaps one day I’ll get an assistant who will type up my handwriting and I can go back to doing that.

I’d planned on writing at the computer every morning. Now, it is more often that I type up an idea during the day and I’ll email it to myself. Then I’ll edit it and post it in the morning. This seems to work better for me. It is hard to get away from the creative flow and snap back into the mundane nature of getting ready go to work. There is nothing more jarring that having to switch gears. Somehow this new way of doing it means I’m able to produce more posts.

I’m really proud of some of them. There are some posts that I think I was able to really get my idea across. Some posts I don’t even feel are mine. It is as if an idea came to me and I’m just passing it along. Those are the ones that I’m most amazed by, because the idea is so surprising to me.

Some posts are very personal and intimate. In some I’m working out my own salvation. In some I’m working my way out of my own holes. In some I come to an understanding that is very healing to me. In some I’m sharing my pain to let others know that they aren’t alone and there is hope.

I don’t really expect anybody to read my blog. I need to write it, though. Writing every day is keeping me awake. It is like a date with myself, where I’m honest with myself about where I’ve been and where I am, and where I want to go.

Thank you for being along for the journey.

Flashback – then and now (1)

(Originally written 12-4-12)

This writing is like creating my own beads.

I’ve written in a journal for years. But then I’d need to cull through my journals to find what I wanted to type up and put out.

By typing what I’m thinking instead of handwriting it, I’m saving a step. I have no idea if this will work, but it is journaling while typing. It isn’t as natural, because I have to remember to type. I have to remember how to type. Typing class was the most valuable class I took in high school. I’m thinking that more of high school needs to be how-to and hands-on.

When I bead, I go through what I’ve found. I’m limited by what is already there, what has been created. I may want to “say” something in bead, and I can’t do that easily because that bead doesn’t exist. But I still try. I’ve created a “Griffin and Sabine” necklace, a “DaVinci Code” one, and one that is for “Alice in Wonderland”. I’ve also created ones that remind me of a trip to Gulf Shores, and one for what it is like to swim in the pool at the YMCA. They are impressionistic.

But this is different. I’m creating the beads – the paragraphs. With this, I can string together these beads, these sections, to create something bigger. I just have to create them, and put them in a logical place. Perhaps then I’ll put the sections together in folders, and then they will make sense. I suspect I’ll have themes. There are ideas I return to again and again, because I still don’t have them figured out. I may never have them figured out, but the working with, the wrestling with them, is all part of it.

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(11-19-13)
I’m going through my older saved pieces, ones that I’ve not posted. This is from a year ago, when I started this blog. It is interesting to see how I’ve evolved in my process. I now dislike handwriting anything because it generally means that I won’t post it. Neil Gaiman has an assistant who will type up whatever he hands her. I don’t have anything like that, so I have to do it all. I now will type anywhere and anytime. I use my “notes” feature on my phone to write up ideas while I’m at a doctor’s office or standing in line at the post office. I’ll write while I’m walking at lunch. To the average person it looks like I’m texting. In a way, I am, but just to a larger audience. I’m glad I’ve gotten over feeling it was awkward to type instead of write. I still handwrite some things. Sometimes it is the only way to get ideas out. They still (generally) stay in the journal and don’t come here, but sometimes the main idea makes it out. I use my Kindle to write as well. Now, writing by typing seems natural.