The first rule.

Blogging should be like Fight Club, where the first rule is you don’t talk about it.

But I’ll go ahead and talk about it, mostly to say that you should never believe me when I say I’m going to blog a lot.

Oh, I had good intentions.


You know what they say about good intentions. (Image: Shutterstock)

But life got in the way. I’ll spare you the details of how a long-standing health mystery was finally diagnosed and instead dispense only the good news that I appear to have found a nifty job of the 40-hour-per-week variety, so that has taken much of my time. It has been a bit of an adjustment, too, being that I was used to hitting the hay whenever I felt like it and now I’m on a schedule.

I’ve also rediscovered the joys of being out among the living, namely a series of respiratory bugs the likes of which I have not had in 7 or 8 years. I’m recovering from one right now.

Only 180 left.

Only 180 cough drops left. I hope I make it.


I still have plans to write a trashy novel under a pseudonym, slap it up on Amazon, and travel the world on the proceeds. It could happen! I might only get as far as Baltimore, but it could definitely happen.

I’m not sure what it will be about, but this much I know: I shan’t debase myself far enough to write monster erotica. A few years ago, there was much ado about the Virginia housewife who made $30,000 a month writing Yeti porn, and I’ve since learned that if you pick a beastie, any beastie, someone, somewhere, has written a series of “erotic” novels about it: minotaurs, centaurs, mermen, cyclops, kraken, gargoyles, leprechauns (that one might be about an ex of mine), orcs, dinosaurs, even aliens posing as jungle tentacle plants.

Just, no.

It does get me thinking, however. Clearly there’s an audience for that stuff. Someone reads it. Someone pays to read it. Maybe not much, three bucks max, but they spend real money on it, so it has some value beyond curiosity. People even review it and give it five stars. How hard can it be?

Except, see, I know myself. I know that once I start writing, I’ll get hung up on setting, character development, symbolism, and plot. I’ll want it to work, with no inconsistencies, no gaps, no place where a reader can say, “Wait, how did this character know that?” or “No, that couldn’t be possible because two chapters ago that character was somewhere else.” Then before you know it I’ll be writing a novel I’d want my name on that just happened to have a few sexy scenes. I’d be all literary and stuff, and it would take a year of research, three years of writing, another year of editing, and another year or two of overcoming crippling self-doubt before I even consider publishing it.

Even worse, people would know what I was doing throughout the process because such self-torture does not go without notice or discussion. They’d ask me how it’s going because they would want to read it, and then of course I’d never finish it because I’d hate to disappoint anyone—and that defeats the purpose entirely.

So maybe the first rule of writing trash should be the same as the first rule of blogging, which should be the same as the first rule of Fight Club.

Don’t talk about it.

Cupid can wait.

A friend of mine posted the photo below the other day with the caption “Seriously?” and the hashtags #toosoon and #valentinesday.

Seriously? #toosoon #valentinesday

A post shared by Peggy Shanks (@julep67) on


I have to say I agree. The holidays have been encroaching on each other for years now, particularly Christmas. Back in the days of yore (meaning when I was a kid), the Christmas season didn’t officially start until Santa made his appearance at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. These days Christmas decorations appear alongside Halloween candy in drugstores, and I’ve seen Christmas displays in retail outlets as early as August. North America barely finishes paying off the previous Christmas when the next one appears on the horizon.

Now we have Valentine’s Day encroaching on New Year’s Day. I started seeing Valentine candy the day after Christmas. This simultaneously bewilders and annoys me. First, how on earth can anyone keep chocolate around the house for six weeks without eating it? Are they not human? Do they not bleed?

GET in mah BELLEH! (Image: Public domain)

GET in mah BELLEH! (Image: Public domain)

Second, it feeds into what I call the Holidates Phenomenon, wherein single people feel they simply must have a partner to share the holidays with, as evidenced by a crunch in online dating sites between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, followed immediately by another surge right after New Year’s Day.

Call me an ice queen, but I don’t partake. I don’t do online dating regardless, but I also wouldn’t start dating someone I met in the wild during the holidays, either. Although it could be considered romantic to meet someone at that time of year, I’d wonder how much of the romance was based on genuine affection and how much of it was loneliness-avoidance owing to pressure from society, including the constant barrage from the retail sector about “gifts for that special someone.” It seems we move right from mistletoe to roses, without a break from pressure to pair off. Thing is, if I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it 100 times where people get together during the holidays and then break up in early March, so my policy is to just say no between November 1 and February 15.

I much prefer this spin on the tradition.

I much prefer this spin on the tradition. (Image: It’s around.)

At the risk of sounding bitter or rancorous, I haven’t been into Valentine’s Day for at least 25 years, anyway. I think I was 19 the last time it truly thrilled me. Even when I was married or in a relationship, it just seemed to be a manufactured holiday, something to fill the gap between Christmas and Easter. At the very worst, it’s an opportunity for florists and restaurants to price-gouge, and what you get for your money is often lower in quality than what you would have gotten the week before or the week after. I think it’s much better to celebrate personally meaningful dates, like an anniversary or a birthday, and more fun to share an experience together, like going away for a weekend.

So don’t mind me while I sit this one out. You’ll find me in the chocolate aisle the day after Valentine’s. Everything tastes better on clearance.

Far-flung friends.

A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?

–Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)

Last year was my Year of Letting Go, in which I slowly but surely let go of friendships and work relationships that were bringing more stress and negativity into my life than joy or mutual support, or that had simply run their course. It’s not always easy to let go or fade out, but time and energy that you devote to relationships that aren’t working are time and energy you could be devoting to relationships that will. In some ways, the heart is like a hard drive: It has only so much space, and you need to watch out for resource hogs.

While looking for a suitable quote to post with a photo of the Kahlil Gibran Memorial on my Instagram, I came upon the snippet above, and it got me thinking of how I let a few local friendships go in favor of friendships with people who live far away. Part of this is because a few friends in distant places have had access to my personal, private online journal for many years (some going back to 2003), and vice versa. We’ve been with each other through births, deaths, marriages, divorces, remarriages, trauma, illness, healing, job loss, moves, natural disasters, you name it. I’ve met many of them in person, spoken to quite a few of them on the phone, and have had visits and taken trips with several of them. Getting to know each other was effortless, and we get along so well because we had something solid in common from the start—values, life experiences, politics, how we see the world and handle what life throws at us, etc. Hey, if you don’t take a shine to what you read in someone’s journal, there’s no sense in sticking around and forging a rapport.

This is one reason why I pretty much never post photos of myself on the Internet or social media. I prefer to have a meeting of the minds because that’s what’s most important to me in any friendship I form, and for better or worse, pictures lead to presumptions. I’d rather not introduce a prejudice if I don’t have to. Then there are the guys who see a photo of a woman and decide to say something inappropriate. Yeah, no thanks.

Part of the Kahlil Gibran Memorial in Washington, D.C. He would not approve of lewd comments.

Kahlil Gibran wouldn’t post lewd comments. Be like Kahlil Gibran.

But anyway, finding that quote made me think of my faraway friends who know me better than some who lived in a 5-mile radius of me, and better than anyone in my own family ever did. That’s the wonder of the Internet. It has its risks and its flaws, but it enables you to find your people if you use it right. I firmly believe you get two families: The one you’re born with and the one you craft for yourself by filling your sphere with people you love simply because they are who they are, and who love you in return simply because you are you. Distance, like DNA, is a matter of chance.

So here’s to my blog buddies and my fellow MySpace survivors from back in the day, and here’s to my more recent acquaintances and all the possibilities. Now if someone would just invent a teleporter, we could raise a glass.

P.S. Speaking of the Internet, for the love of all that is holy, it’s Kahlil, not “Khalil.”