Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Delay Is About to Get Longer ...

Sorry about the weeks of absence! (Though I don't know to whom I am apologizing, since no one knows this blog exists but me.) Truth is, I've hit a rut. Five posts, and I've hit a facacta (sp?) rut already. Story of my writing life ...

Here's the deal: I don't know what direction to take this blog in. I came up with a clever name, wrote a profile, and promptly ran into a wall. I tried to fly without any wings, i.e., I tried to blog without a particular message.

And therein lies the conflict. I have a TON of messages I would love to share. I want to catalog what I'm learning about the craft of writing. I want to talk about my spiritual frustration, and how it feels to be a religious young adult Catholic. I want to talk about destiny, purpose, and how somebody young and poor can set about saving the world. I want to write a book of prayers with the blogosphere's input, particularly from other young adults. I want to write about joyful events as an antidote to all the terror and sorrow ballooning in our world right now.

Can you talk about all those in one blog? Do you need a targeted theme? Hello? :::tap tap::: is this thing on? Anybody knowledgable want to chime in?

I should probably start doing just that--talking about everything, seeing where it leads. I'm always so frightened of heading somewhere without a plan. Gotta stop that. Again, how can anybody care what's on this blog right now? NOBODY READS IT.

Sigh, grr, arrgghh. Ok. Get it together, Julia. I think what I must do is join the blogosphere. See what other people are doing. Check out other messages, formats, styles, approaches. Start posting, and directing people back here for additional conversation. And for the love of god, stop thinking ahead to getting advertising dollars or signing a book deal, like that lady who blogged all the recipes she tried out every day while she was unemployed, and it swept the world in popularity, and led to her own cookbook. That's not why I started this (though I certainly wouldn't say no, haha).

Good. That's all settled. I'm glad we had this talk. One cyber step at a time, steady as she goes, and watch what unfolds.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I Heart Guy Kawasaki

I've only read "The Macintosh Way." I am by no means an aficionado. But I am quickly becoming a Guy Kawasaki devotee, especially now that I found his blog.

Today's post on Interview Tips was particulary on-target. Basic fundamentals--doing company research, arriving early, bringing extra resumes--are often overlooked among today's job seekers. Would you believe I was hired over someone else for a freelance production manager job in Pittsburgh because my follow-up e-mails were typo-free? Sad but true.

In fact, when I was job-hunting again a mere 8 months ago myself, my preparation and attention to detail made me stand out among my peers. I'm not particularly brilliant or revolutionary. But I am honest, attentive, and self-aware.

That's why Guy is my guy. He has incredible situational awareness. He processes, distills, and disseminates the critical information. And he does it all with humor and cheerful spirits. I honestly believe when I read his work that I could meet him for lunch, having never met before, and participate in a friendly, genuine chat throughout the meal. His spirit translates to the page.

That's an important distinction for me to remember. I've been frustrated lately because I can't hit a snarky tone. Believe me, I've tried, especially since it seems to be du rigeur for many blogs. But Guy reminds me that the best writers are true to their temperament. Writing in your natural voice--however sarcastic, dry, or ebullient it may be--is the surest path to strong, resonating results.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Ministry of Me

There comes a point in a person's spiritual life when she doesn't want to provide ministry, but instead needs to receive it. I've been at that point for quite some time now, yet haven't gotten what I need from my varying churches over the past year.

I thought the MYAC (Ministry of Young Adult Catholics) group at church would do it. To my chapter's credit, they really do host a variety of spiritual and social activities. But turns out, I'm the youngest of the young adults, sometimes by 20 years. (Since when is 40 a young adult?) Plus, scheduling is such that I can't make it to most of the activities. Just the same, I have somehow ended up on their core team, and will be providing for the service ministry. Go fig.

Has the Roman Catholic church neglected its young people? I fear the worst. I have never blamed my peers--many friends among them--who no longer attend Mass, or bother with any other R.C. tenets. The void is painfully apparent. Even worse, they often seem to abandon any faith.

I could say this is entirely a product of the young adult age, but in my heart I don't believe it is. The Church claims to welcome and foster us, yet stands by as we fall through the cracks. Sure, there seem to be a lot of sites. But these orgs are often populated with the most conservative and dogmatic among us. Open discussion isn't always appreciated. Or it's the same 10 people attending YAM activities over and over and over again. It's theological and bureaucratic hypocrisy at its worst.

If the Church has any hope for an active and deeply-felt following in my generation, it better start tending to that constituency's spiritual health, or face a slow bleed from the pews.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Generation Digital

At yesterday's gigundo family function (one of, oh, all of them), I spent much of the day with cousins Annamarie and Gabriele. And in the course of this one day, spent mostly poolside with relatives and friends demading time and attention, we still managed to check out the girls' Facebook profiles, MySpace accounts, Apple Quicktime multimedia presentations, and cell phone capabilities.

Now, my cousins are only 5 and 7 years younger than me, respectively. Yet I feel like they're lightyears ahead in understanding all the excitement and connectivity that online and digital social networking provides.

I know this digital inertia is a result of my own (very) late adoption habits--unusual for a Generation Y-er. After all, I'm supposed to be where it's at right now, correct? It's the multi-tasking 18- to 26-year-olds who are ruling new media, and prompting marketers to clamor for their network savvy.

And then there's me huddled in the dark corner with my chisel and rock slab, tap-tap-tapping my way into technological obscurity.

The good news: I'm upgrading to papyrus next month.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I Put the 'Ma' Back in Cinema

Netflix is the greatest invention since sliced bread. And since I can't watch bread--well, I could, but it wouldn't be very entertaining--I daresay Netflix is ever better.

Case in point: The cheery red envelope delivered a strong dose of innocent exuberance this week when it unveiled the TV Disney movie High School Musical, which I immediately fell in love with. According to my best friend, I'm late to the party on this one. But then again, she's seen it 10 times, cries throughout the whole thing, and knows every dance move. She may be an outlier.

Sure, the acting is a tad wooden, the songs have catchy beats but forgettable lyrics, and the romantic tension is sanitized to the point of blandness. Regardless, this sunshiny flick featured sincere performers, energetic choreography, and an all-around, thumbs-up, apple-pie, ethnically diverse, zit-free dream universe of how high school should be (and never is).

Is it Spielberg? Of course not. But Spielberg is not one for making me giggle. Let's not underestimate the power of movies like this as popcorn for the brain: It feels like a guilty pleasure, but is actually healthy for you ... especially when stripped of extra saccharine or fat.

See the EW review for a professional opinion. Also, a look at the numbers.

Along more IMS lines, I also have Netflix to thank for Pane e tulipani (Bread and Tulips). Accordion lessons, galoshes, exotic flowers, and stick-on bindhis pile up the whimsy as the love story unfolds in the Venetian canals. A great pick for a steamy summer night when you don't feel like moving.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Origins of IMS

Italian Mother Syndrome, more commonly known as IMS. To my knowledge, I am one of the only young women out there afflicted with this rare, untreatable disease.

I was diagnosed with IMS as early as high school. Symptoms included doorway-wide hips, a moustache like my mother's, and my persistent clarion call of "Eat something!!!" My friends started to suspect something was amiss when I kept getting cast as mothers, old women, and tough broads in school theatrical productions. Thank God they were paying attention--I thought all young women with any sense acted this way. Turns out I was wrong.

In the years since, I've slowly come to accept my situation. True, I worry about everything and everybody constantly. I fawn over every baby that crosses my lap. I will prepare fresh, healthy food for anyone whose stomach makes so much as a peep. I adore hugging people, and then smacking them. I was recently cast as a 40-year-old woman in a community play. (The man who played my 18-year-old son was 10 years older than me in real life.) I would rather be married than date. And I will never be a size 2.

But when all is said and done, IMS isn't such a bad thing to have. It's made me passionate, earthy, loving, and dedicated. Nobody's complained about all the free meals and hugs. I'll take it.

Now for god's sakes, mangia. (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, what am I gonna do witchoo ...)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Comment Guidelines

Welcome to the wild, woolly world of blog commenting! This is a quick brief on Italian Mother Syndrome's commenting policy.

I moderate comments to ensure that conversations stay focused and friendly on the blog. My promise to you: to keep the conversation open and diverse. All pertinent, articulate, and appropriate comments will pass go, whether they agree with me, disagree, or raise a different point entirely.

Here's what will not pass go: anything that's waaaay off-topic, plagiarized, illegal, defamatory, threatening, obscene, profane, or considered hate speech.

By all means, let's debate the IDEAS till we're blue in the face. But any personal attack on me or other readers will not see the digital light of day. It's that simple.

A final note: If you have an issue, question, or topic that needs my undivided attention, please feel free to email me directly, and I'll respond prontissimo.

THANK YOU for helping keep Italian Mother Syndrome a welcoming place for all!