I was recently given the Versatile Blogger award by Anxiety Adventures, as well as Tammy at Most Likely To Marry; about a month ago Allan of Simple Life Prattle sent me the One Lovely Blog award. These distinctions are unusual. It’s possible that a teacher once called me versatile, but I wouldn’t swear to it. I’m certain I’ve never been referred to as lovely. So to be described with both adjectives within a couple of months is something to celebrate. During that same period, I may have received a few other awards as well, but I can’t remember what they were or where they came from. This is partly because my mind has been rendered nearly useless by too many demands spread out over too little intelligence, and partly because any praise makes me feel self-conscious. If someone tells me they like my coat, I don’t know what to say, and end up wishing I knew the name of the person who actually made the coat, because that’s who deserves the compliment.
There are awards flying all over the place, and while on the surface it seems as though that fact should dilute the value of each, I don’t think it does. Awards help pollinate the blogging pool, enriching the number of possible interconnections. Okay, I just veered into unfamiliar territory there. I don’t understand pollination, or what flowers are up to with their pistils and stamens, and how the insects feel about being used that way. And I have no idea what the difference is between connections and interconnections. What I mean is, the awards help bloggers meet each other, when they might not have otherwise had the chance. And that’s good. Blogging is about relationships, which is a constantly evolving process. I’ve been lucky to meet writers from all over the world, and I now count some of them among my friends, all while seated at this desk in a tiny corner of North America. In order to acknowledge that good fortune, I’ve taken the two awards and made them even more versatile and lovely by creating my own: the Continental Blogging Award. This name is somewhat elegant and sophisticated, although that may be a deception, similar to the way “continental breakfast” sounds like something fabulous, even though it’s little more than lukewarm coffee in a styrofoam cup and a muffin that may have been edible three days ago. But the idea is, I believe, still worthwhile: to identify one notable blog from each continent. Worthwhile and difficult. I am astonished on a daily basis by the gifted writers and artists out there — people who continue to create beautiful work, sometimes with no discernible audience.
It’s easy to forget that there are seven continents. Antarctica slips the mind, because we tend to associate the south pole with penguins and ice and scientists studying minute fluctuations in the ozone layer. But what I’ve found is that there are excellent blogs written and published from all seven land masses.
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Most awards ask recipients to tell a few things about themselves. Here are eight useless things about me.
2. When someone gives me directions, I don’t listen. I should listen, because by the time I stop to ask for help, I don’t know what country I’m in. But there’s a part of my brain that thinks if I was dumb enough to get lost in the first place, there’s no sense believing I’ve suddenly smartened up to any appreciable degree. So when the person tells me to turn right at the fourth light, go three blocks, and then bear left where the road splits, I hear: “Turn somewhere and do something and then watch out for bears eating banana splits.” The really weird thing is, the more drawn out and repetitive the explanation is, the less likely I am to hear or remember any of it. Also, if I have to go through more than two sets of traffic lights, I lose all ability to count.
3. I’ve had about six hundred haircuts in my life. This seems like a surprisingly small total, and I wish I had kept a journal of them. At the same time, I hate haircuts and would rather punch myself in the face than get one. The thing I’ve noticed is that I always get the same haircut, no matter what I ask for. If I say, “Just a trim” or “A little off the sides” or “Shave my head and paint it green,” it makes no difference. I always leave looking exactly the same. I imagine if I went to a barbershop in Bulgaria and explained what I wanted in a made-up language, I would still get the identical haircut.
4. My mother used to tell me to pretend mashed potatoes were really ice cream. I had an above-average imagination, but this was too much for me. It required mentally changing the taste, texture, appearance, temperature, and density of the food. Plus, I almost never ate ice cream with a fork. I once asked my mother if I could have the mashed potatoes in a cone; I think she hit me with a wooden spatula.
5. When I see a bird walking across the road, I always have the same thought: If I could fly, I wouldn’t walk anywhere. I mean anywhere. I’d fly from one end of the nest to the other. Also, birds look amazing when they’re in the air, but kind of ridiculous when on foot. I’m surprised they haven’t noticed this and told each other.
6. As a child, I was terrified by a jack-in-the-box. The one I had looked like a tiny, white washing machine. When I turned the crank, it played “Pop Goes the Weasel.” I didn’t know what a weasel was, but at a precise point in the song, the lid would crash open and a hideous clown would come flying out of there. It scared the life out of me. Then a loving family member would push the clown back down, close the lid, and encourage me to do it again. On some level, even I recognized something perverse about the fact that I was the one turning the crank. I later moved on to sticking metal butter knives into electrical outlets, for no other reason than my father told me not to.
7. When I was fifteen, I applied for a part-time job as the Easter Bunny at the mall. The position involved wearing a head-to-toe costume, and hopping around and waving to little kids. I liked wearing disguises, and had a lot of experience at both hopping and waving, but they didn’t hire me because they wanted a girl. I was devastated. The mall is no longer there, but I’m still thinking of tracking those guys down and pursuing legal action. I must have suffered psychological damage or mental trauma. Who wouldn’t?
8. If I see a photograph of a grown man and a different photograph of that same man’s grandfather as a young boy, I get really confused.
Awards also suggest that you designate a number of other blogs, in order to pass along the honor. However, I’m not going to ask anyone to do anything. The self-imposed restriction of naming one blog from each continent has forced me to ignore the vast majority of my favorites. Nevertheless, here are seven I’d recommend. I hope you’ll visit them.
North America: Trask Avenue
South America: South America 2-up
Africa: Notes from Africa
Australia: Bruce Blogs Here
Asia: Bohemian Sentiments
Europe: Island Monkeys
Antarctica: Ethan’s Vivifying Adventures