What? Who, Me? Dogged?

 

Over the course of 15 months and 99 WordPress entries, I’ve managed to avoid dependence on two staples of the blogging life: quizzes and memes.  The quizzes, popularly drawn from sites like BlogThings, can be amusing but seem a colossal waste of time.  What season do I feel like?  Am I high maintenance? What’s my pop star name?  I don’t know, and frankly, my dear…   Let’s just say I don’t care.

Memes are more interesting because they’re more open-ended.  Some are transparent invitations to embroider the truth  ~ “Share Ten Interesting Things About Yourself No One Knows!”  Others, a bit more substantive, ask for those lists we all live with (“Name Ten Books You Intend to Read This Year”) or demand more information than we really want to provide about our lives or preferences (“Which of Your Relatives Do You Wish Belonged to a Different Family?”)   

Despite my inclination to approach these diversions with the same enthusiasm I feel when faced with a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles, this past week I took a quiz and agreed to participate in a meme.  I was surprised to discover myself enjoying both, and even more surprised to find them related to one another.

I bumped up against the quiz on another site.  “What breed of dog are you?” was the question of the day.  Since I enjoy PenguinLover, who posted it,  like dogs in general and had time to dally a bit, I began answering questions.  The results were interesting.  As it turns out, I’m  a German Shepherd, and the profile provided by the author of the quiz is apt.

Doggedly dedicated to getting the job done, you don’t let silly little distractions get in the way of putting in a full day’s work. And after you come home, chowing down on a little grub and taking a little catnap is all it takes to get you up and at ’em for round two, whatever that may entail.
Your dogma emphasizes the importance of hard work, and you swim laps around your dog-paddling, time-wasting co-workers. Your cleverness leads to you often being entrusted with some pretty important tasks, which you are always more than happy to sink your canines into. You really dig being outdoors and love a bit of exercise, but you draw the line at the ridiculous stuff, choosing a game of beach volleyball over Pilates in the park any day. 

Anyone who knows me at all, even through my blog, can spot the similarities.  My daily routine – work on the docks, care for Mom, sit at the computer until all hours – is there in plain sight.  I’m sometimes clever, I do love the outdoors and I don’t care much for what I see as common time-wasters: shopping-for-shopping’s sake, “reality” television or texting-and-twitter.  Starting my own business, I soon realized nothing would happen unless I made it happen, and the need for focus, patience and perseverance began to seep into my life.  My dogma emphasized not just hard work, but smart work, the kind of work I describe with words a friend and former teacher kept posted in her classroom.  

Enter this room with an open mind. Discipline yourself to listen carefully. Structure your work to show your thinking clearly. Remember it takes effort to learn and make progress.

Not long after I discovered my German Shepherd-hood, Arti of Ripple Effects tagged me with a meme, asking me to share seven traits I felt described my personality.   I have some secondary traits (a lazy streak, a willingness to procrastinate, a tendency to over-commit) that can raise their ugly little heads from time to time, but when I first sat down with paper and pen, I produced this list of traits with almost no thought at all:

 1. Curiosity ~ about anything and everything…

2. Thoughtfulness ~ that  is, enjoying the process of thinking about things…

3. Generosity and a willingness to share ~ If you need it and I have it, why not?  If I have it and you’d enjoy it, even better…

4. Trusting ~ Yes, I’m also gullible, but never mind.  When I discover I’ve been duped again, I deal with it…

5.  Not given to worry ~ Which causes my Mother no end of worry, since she has to worry for two…

6.  Easily bored ~ particularly by negative, passive or nasty individuals…

7. Obsessive ~ terrifically useful for someone with lots of repetitive tasks to accomplish, like sanding hundreds of board feet of wood…

Some of these traits have been with me since childhood, particularly curiosity, generosity and a willingness to trust.  Tested by life, they’ve managed to endure and form the bedrock of my life.  Others began as more negative traits but have been re-shaped to my benefit. Too much introspection and an unfortunate tendency to analyze everything to death slowly has matured into thoughtfulness.   Often consumed by worry in my younger years, I’ve learned to temper anxiety with the knowledge that not everything in the world can be controlled, and my task is to deal with what is rather than with what might be.

The final two qualities – my tendencies to be easily bored and slightly obsessive – actually are  related. With twenty or thirty good years left on this earth, I’m not about to spend hours being bored by pursuits I find uninteresting or people who seem dedicated to demeaning or denigrating others.  On the other hand, with twenty or thirty good years left on this earth, I’m more than willing to spend hours obsessively collecting, storing and preserving memories and words like the acorns I used to gather and freeze for my pet squirrel’s wintertime pleasure.  It’s just what I like to do, and I’ll do it as long as I can.

The giggle, of course, is that the personal qualities I listed for the meme are rather like the characteristics of a good German Shepherd.  I can’t really speak to the thoughtfulness of dogs, but there’s no doubting their curiosity about the world, their trust in and generous affection for their humans, their utter boredom when deprived of companionship or their ability to obsess over their favorite games.  Trained to a task, they’ll work as hard as any human, with no apparent concern but the pleasure of a job well done.

Reflecting on PenguinLover’s quiz and Arti’s meme, it occurs to me:  a German Shepherd might make one fine model for a writer.  After all, it’s curiosity and trust that  smooths the paper and moves the pen.  It’s creative obsession that gnaws on thought like a favorite bone and fetches insight with the playfulness of a pup.   Never bored by the game, always willing to share  joy with others, a Shepherd-like writer wouldn’t worry about conclusions that land in unexpected places or lose sleep because of critical onlookers.  Trained and disciplined, he’d simply move on, happy and focused on the task at hand.

 

Thanks to Penguin Lover and Arti for serving as the inspiration for this post.  Click their links above, or click here to see them on the Team Muse page, where I honor readers who have helped inspire new work.
Comments are welcome.  To leave a comment or respond, please click below.

17 thoughts on “What? Who, Me? Dogged?

  1. If only you could see the big smile I have upon my face!

    My old English teacher would be proud of you, Linda. She always told us that our writing should be thoughtful, thought-provoking, sensitive but not sentimental, contain touches of humour, and wind up with a conclusion that brings the reader back to “the point of the story”. (Yes, I can still hear her saying that, whilst tapping the side of her nose!)

    On Saturday I met up with some Flickr friends. One of them wrote after our meeting, “I expected Sandi, who has a knack of coming up with some fantastic photography, to be bubbly and joyful – she is! ” Perhaps I am more like the Labrador than I thought!!

    Sandi

    Sandi,

    I can’t see that smile, but I can imagine it. And I can imagine your English teacher, too. I like her approach better than that of my first, 8th grade writing teacher. She was a great believer in outlines, and we had to produce a detailed outline before we wrote a word. We soon learned if we produced a beautifully complex outline, it didn’t make a bit of difference what we fleshed it out with. The poor lady would be appalled with my first drafts today!

    Your flickr friend was exactly right. You couldn’t produce the photography you do without that joyfulness – it shines through, and helps to give “life” to your photos. How nice that you got to meet and get that kind of affirmation!

    Linda

  2. The funny thing about this entire post, Linda, is that I thought you were writing about ME! :)

    I like to read what other people write about themselves in memes but think they’d be quite bored with mine. I, too, am curious, which is why I HAVE played the quizzes…but haven’t posted them on my blog. And if I were a dog, I know I’d be the German Shepherd (and had one years ago). I have, after all, a wolf as my Spirit Guide, which is very similar…a Teacher. Maybe we were sisters/friends in a past life. I wonder. I think I’ve known you a long time….

    Ginnie,

    Isn’t it fun when we read something that seems to be so truly “ours”? We’re so attuned to differences we sometimes miss the deep commonalities that run through life until they surface, like an underground stream become visible.

    Why not pop over to PenguinLover’s and take the quiz – you’ll find it there. It would be interesting to see if your suspicion about your German-Shepherd-ness is right, or if the years have turned you into a poodle! ;-) (Not likely, I suspect.)

    I don’t know about past lives – I confess to not really believing in such a thing – but one thing I know for certain is that sisterhood is powerful, and is worth nourishing.

    Linda

  3. This is a rollicking funny good write!
    Author of the above comment? A Chihuahua.

    Proserpina,

    Oh, my gosh! A Chihuahua? I’ve not read the description yet, but it does make sense, even on even a surface level. After all, the Chihuahua is a tiny little thing with a feisty personality and determination far beyond its size. Dare I say it reminds me just a bit of…. a red ant? ;-)

    So glad you enjoyed the piece and noted the sense of humor. My humor can be subtle, but it’s there. I need to allow it out to play a bit more often.

    Now. Go bite somebody’s ankle!

    Linda

  4. Hey Linda,

    After 15 months and having read 99 posts, I feel like I’ve known you already. Of course… a German Shepherd, how natural! A ‘work dog’, alert, active, quick, and faithful. But here, you’ve added the icing, the self-revealing part is most interesting. And again, how natural it is to see the connections. But wait, that’s not all, you’ve tied them all up to the writer’s trade. Seamless!

    You know, I’ve never thought I’d do a meme. I’ve been tagged before but just passed. This is the first and maybe the last one I do. And it turned out not so bad after all… I’m glad you’ve enjoyed doing yours too.

    And what an honor to be given the Team Muse Virtual T! I never expected that… nor that you’re one worry-free soul dashing about on docks and shores. But one quality particularly stands out, for me, and that’s trusting. But then again, of course! You’ve spelt it out where I’ve only felt implicitly from your writing.

    Ready to celebrate your 100th!

    Arti,

    For me, the most interesting part of this experience is how easy it was. When I began blogging, there were so many basic questions that had to be answered – the technical ones, yes, but also the more human ones. What did I want to write about? What did I want the “tone” of my blog to be? How would I treat visitors? How open would I allow myself to be? In the process of answering such questions, I also clarified for myself some of my most basic values and assumptions about life. All that was left was for you to show up and say, “Hey! Put it in words!” I really did enjoy it.

    And, it led me to make one more change. You know I made a slight change in my tagline at the one year mark, but I’ve changed it again. Instead of “A New Writer’s Struggle to Find the Right Words”, we now have, “A Writer’s On-Going Search For Just the Right Word”. Looks like I’ve settled in for the long haul, doesn’t it?

    If I could find a decent airbrush artist around here I’d think about actual tees. The virtual are nice, but what fun it would be to have REAL ones! I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more – you have been around since I’ve been a pup!

    As for worry – of course I do worry about this or that, from time to time. But one of my favorites, dear old Martin Luther, had some wise words to say on that subject. “We can’t keep the birds from flying over our head,” he said. “But we can prevent them from building a nest in our hair.”
    Exactly.

    Linda

  5. Great post and sense of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed your writing, in particular, the pic of the German Shepherd Writer.

    I’d like you to meet Holly, my four-legged friend, he (yes, Holly is a he.) Do visit his blog:

    http://hollyontherun.wordpress.com

    Thanks again for sharing.

    Mavis,

    What a sweetie your Holly is. Now, I have to ask ~ is there a connection between the names Holly and Molly? Is there a Dolly around, too, or Folly? I know this – the fun saying, “When I die, I want to come back as your dog” sounds pretty good! And the photographs are wonderful.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the read. As I told Arti, above, it was great fun to do. I’m looking forward to enjoying more of your own tales in the future.

    Linda

  6. Very nicely done! I, too, have avoided memes and quizzes, but largely because they feel forced (to me) and I can’t come up with anything interesting. The confluence here of the two trains of thought is humorous but not simply clever – and, I think, a nice self-portrait of the writer.

    Hi, Mary Ellen,

    Ha! Self-Portrait of the Writer as a Quirky, Middle-Aged Woman ~ I think I like it (even as I offer apologies to the good Mr. Joyce).

    Humor’s becoming more interesting to me – not slapstick or the cheap shots of late-night monologues, but a gentler, self-deprecating humor that brings smiles of recognition. This might be the year to tackle this city gal’s introduction to South Texas rural life. Plenty to laugh at there!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, and for the kind words.

    Linda

  7. Your version of the meme/quiz is no less than I would expect here. Reflecting and integrating are strengths of your writing – so rare in blogland.

    I subscribe to Practicing Writing, and I don’t always pay much attention to its little tips (which are helpful for anyone who wants to get published), but the other day I read this:

    Wise words from Lisa Romeo: “I constantly try to remind myself that people don’t read creative nonfiction because they care about what happened to me, but because they care about whether what happened to me might have some meaning for them.”

    The blogs/bloggers I am most intrigued by are the ones that do that – find a way to connect their experiences with the reader. I happily come here to read what you write about – not necessarily because I am like you or have the same life experiences, but because I will always find something to connect with. I never thought I would be interested in reading about blues musicians! But you have shared their stories in human terms, expressing your own feelings.

    Have you ever taught a writing class?

    Ruth,

    Lisa Romel’s words resonate. Someone asked once, “Who do you write for?” It took only a second for me to say, “I write for my readers”. Nothing fascinates me more than the way in which a dozen comments can appear, each plucking at a different thread woven into the story. And nothing is more satisfying than hearing someone say, “I never thought about it in that way”, or, “That’s the way I experience it, too.”

    I’m the world’s biggest fan of sugar in all its forms. Left to my own devices I’ll spend entirely too much time with ice cream, cookies and cake. But eventually the day comes when I feel an overwhelming desire for broccoli, pot roast, spinach salad… That’s what I try to provide here, even when the topic is lighter. There’s enough sugary fluff in the world, and I truly believe people hunger for meaning and substance.

    As for your question ~ have I ever taught a writing class? I’ve never even enrolled in a writing class! Everything I know about writing I’ve learned by writing and I have recorded some of it here. I think my favorite of my “writing blogs” is Practice Makes Human. Someday I might pull out my various musings on writing and do something with them, but it’s too soon for that.

    If you happen by to read this, I’m certain you won’t be back for a while. Enjoy the wedding, and all of its pleasures. I did note you’re handing the photography chores over to someone else – you’re a wise woman, indeed.

    Linda

  8. Linda,

    One clarification on my last comment. The quality of trusting that I find in your writing has nothing to do with being gullible. Rather, it is a sense of openness, acceptance, hence a positive view of the world… love your humor just the same.

    Arti,

    Of course ~ I understood. I just tucked them in together because in this world, if you’re going to run loose with a trusting nature and a positive view of humanity, you’re going to learn about gullibility pretty darned quickly. I’ve always been the wide-eyed one saying, “REALLY???”, while everyone in the room howls with laughter. It’s my lot in life ;-)

    Linda

  9. Linda,

    Like yourself, I have avoided memes and quizzes along with a multitude of other blogging essentials that I didn’t understand. As you most likely noticed – I have no problem populating my blog with useless drivel without relying on recycled games.

    You are a fantastic writer. I enjoyed this particular read… and hope to enjoy more in the future! I feel lucky to have found this place.

    Also, thank you very much for stopping by!

    Hi, Ryan,

    Pleasure’s all mine. I really enjoyed your blog and your links. Your cammo shirt reminded me of my exploits with the flounder decoy. I need to write about that, and when I do I’ll drop you a note. You’ll laugh.

    Thanks for the kind words – glad you enjoyed the read. I seem to have gotten into this, so there’ll be plenty more to read in the future. You’re always welcome, not to mention your wife and kids ;-)

    Linda

  10. That last photo breaks me up! I know what you mean about the meme/quiz thing. I try to steer clear, though now and then one gets to me, I’m looking for a post and it’s sort of fun. But I confess, I just LOVE reading them about other bloggers whose lives I enter when I read their blogs! So, I’m glad you took the challenge and shared!

    I don’t know if creativity is exactly a trait — probably not. But I put you high on that list, too. Your way with words simply dazzles me. As a writer you are giving — sharing so much of yourself, your vast knowledge and journeying through your thoughts is truly something that helps me grow. So I say “thank you!”

    jeanie,

    Just thinking about it… Memes are a kind of shorthand, a way for groups of people who’ve never met to get a sense of one another. In that way, they’re perfectly suited to blog-communities. Of course, content counts, too. Arti’s request for seven personality traits was appealing. Naming my seven favorite childhood toys? Not so much!

    As for creativity, I’ve always loved this, from Matisse: “There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose. Before he can do so he has to forget all the roses that ever were painted.” I suspect the same dynamic holds true for a writer.

    In any event, I’m just flat happy you like reading what I write. I’m really nothing more than that five-year-old running into the house with the handful of gravel saying, “LOOK!”

    Linda

  11. Linda,
    You are a German Shepherd. You most certainly are. What a fun post. I’m not one for quizzes and memes either, but leave it to you to find a “clever” way to make them thought provoking.

    I appreciate your take on how you want or don’t want to spend your remaining twenty or thirty years. I’ve given this some thought, too.

    You and I have a couple of traits in common, but please know that if the need arises, I will be happy do your worrying for you. I’m a master.

    Bella

    Bella,

    There’s nothing like an out-loud laugh in the middle of the night to startle the cat and get the juices flowing again. I’m pretty much a cross between Alfred (“What? Me Worry?) Neumann and Scarlett (“I’ll think about that tomorrow”) O’Hara. Throw in a little c’est la vie and que sera, sera, and I’m ready for anything. But as you know, life can trip us up, so I’ll keep your kind offer in mind ;-)

    As for those 20 or 30 good years… the purpose of a good memento mori always has been to help keep things in perspective. It can be a little unnerving to consider that 3/4 of my life is over, but those are the facts, ma’am, and it makes today’s decision-making even more important.

    It surely is nice to have you back. Have a great weekend!

    Linda

  12. I think it was you who said something about the camera changing how the person with it participates. It was that precise comment that convinced me I would not carry mine that day – well maybe I will up until a certain predetermined time. The prep is a fun thing to remember. Knowing we have complete rights to the photos of the photographer helps me relinquish it too.

    I rise very early, in the dark. It’s my time for solitude, and usually I am online. So I plan to be snooping around throughout the next week, in spite of preparations. Also – and this relates to thoughts about writing – I realized last week how essential creative expression is to my equilibrium. Not sure how that will play out in this particular week because writing is hard with such a big distraction. And just this morning I opened an email from my daughter asking would I please read a poem during the ceremony, one of mine or someone else’s! They just thought of it. Of course I would like to write something, but will I have the space I need!

    Ruth,

    Yes, I did make that comment about the camera changing us from participants to observers. It’s something I’m very aware of, and probably why I noticed your mention of it in your comments section.

    When I read your latest post, the first thing that struck me is how poetic it is. You may be halfway to that poem already. I must say ~ there are deadlines, and then there are deadlines ;-) Bless your daughter for asking a week ahead of time, rather than two days, and for allowing you the option to read someone else’s poem. In either case, it will only add to the joy of the day.

    Wishing you enough solitude, silence and space for creativity to flourish!

    Linda

  13. Well it says I’m a German Shepherd too. I’m not sure why or how, but that’s the result.

    Woof!

    ellaella,

    It does seem appropriate. German shepherds herd, police and lead the blind, after all. You herd together some great recipes, police the food manufacturers and lead all of us who’ve been blinded by advertising gimmicks through the food thickets… I like Llasa Apsos and Bichon Frises ok, but I can’t see them doing that!

    I’ll share my tennis ball with you ;-)

    Linda

  14. Memes and quizzes are difficult in terms of blogging – I do enjoy memes when I don’t have anything overly substantive to say and I really enjoy reading when other people participate. This was especially fun to read because of your lovely writing!

    Hi, Courtney,

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the read. I had fun with it, particularly since the quiz and meme knitted together nicely. It occurred to me last night another fun meme project might be putting together a list of memes I’d like to participate in. There could be some fun involved with that, too!

    Linda

  15. This one is fun! The picture of the shepherd using the laptop cracked me up! Imagine.
    But can shepherds write? You surely can. I guess they’re pretty expressive, though. Our old Bear was half shepherd and though rarely vocal, he was darned expressive.

    Now, how do German shepherds feel about boats?

    Hi, oh,

    From what you’ve said about Bear, I suspect “darned expressive” may be an understatement. The only Shepherd I’ve really “known” used to visit a nursing home on a regular basis. I swear that dog was carrying on real conversations with some of the residents.

    This one was fun, all the way around. I’m not sure a Shepherd would have much fun on a boat, though – at least not a smaller one. Put one on a cruise ship and give it the task of herding passengers around – that might be a different deal!

    Linda

  16. I don’t often do the quizzes or memes but I do find many of the memes to be great fun. More often than not they give me a chance to do what I already enjoy doing: talking about the books and characters in books that I love, hobbies and interests, etc. I also really enjoying seeing what others have to say on these memes and often discover new books, music, etc. while also learning just a bit more about the person. To be really worthwhile to me I have to do them few and far between, however, so they don’t become episodes of self-advertisement and instead can be moments of intimate sharing.

    Carl,

    You’re making that important distinction again – between the memes that are just space fillers and those that actually provide a framework for self-disclosure. It’s a big difference. A friend sent me an especially interesting one the other day. It asked participants to name their five favorite childhood foods, and the memories they evoked. The first thing that popped into my mind was the oyster stew we used to have on Christmas eve – and only on that night. I haven’t thought of that in years, but there it was. Another virtue of the meme – reviving memories!

    Thanks so much for stopping by ~ always a pleasure.

    Linda

  17. Linda – how did this blog get by me? I went to your Team Muse page and read all the contributors and saw this one and thought…hmmmmm…where did I go? Must have been the weekend we went camping!

    I hope you remember that we are both German Shepards, but your traits are scarily similar to mine too! Matter of fact, just this evening, as my husband and I were priming the wood of our new stairs, he commented how I was taking the more tedious job – doing the small 2″x2″ pieces of wood, using the smaller brush, doing the more detailed work. In general, I’m a go-getter, like to tackle a job and get it done, yet at the same time there are times when I like slow and easy, time consuming and intricate. Hubby said, maybe I like the way it makes me slow down. Could be…..

    Just loved this piece! Now back to Blog in a Bottle!

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