Monday, April 10, 2006

Blogging v. BigChiefing

Not that I really have any random readers - but for those of you that didn't go to my High School - a brief little explanation (for those of you that read my blog, you are thinking 'yeah right, brief' and rolling your eyes) of 'BigChiefing' - hereafter known as BC'g (or BC = Big Chief). So when we were in tenth grade, what a fantastic year really - and mostly because of the Starkeys - outstanding teachers, at least most of us thought so (sorry Mitch, you were wrong and we were right, they were wonderful teachers). Take a quick survey see if you can find another person that didn't major in 'English' or some derivative that thinks that their 10th Grade English Teacher made the entire year wonderful. The Starkeys also gave us the Big Chief - I know your thinking, no they didn't the big chief was around when my grandmother went to school - well yes that's true, and if you pay close enough attention the big chief was the preferred source of writing paper for John Boy Walton. But the Starkey's gave their students the Big Chief in a way that might have stemmed from some secret obsession with John Boy Walton – though if that was true, it would be both surprising and they never confessed it to me or anyone I knew of. We were required to journal 10 pages per week in our Big Chief – it could be any form of free write that we chose – it could be the same word over and over, and some kids did that – it could be very formal, few kids did that. Another fabulous thing, the Starkeys actually read them – unless you wrote “Do Not Read” at the top of the page, then they would respect your privacy and not read it – and I really do believe that they didn’t read those pages. I had Mr. Starkey, and he would write comments – so you know he was reading it. Not corrections, comments much like a blog can get. Things like ‘Wow, you really did that’ – or ‘I wish I knew someone like that’. It was awful when you had to hand in your big chief and do without it for a couple of days – you felt naked and alone without your outlet. Every day you could find at least 6 students writing in their Big Chiefs in some common area of the school – and some of those were upper classmen – after one whole year as sophomores of journaling, it stuck, and most of my friends still use some form of journaling to this day (and we are all either pushing 40 or 40-something – 25-30 years is a long time to carry on a Sophomore English assignment). They also published a portion of the High School writing samples called ‘Best of Big Chief’ – you could submit what you thought was some of your most profound Big Chief entries for consideration – I remember that I wrote several pages about the Daphnia that we were studying in Biology – and that was published in Best of BC.
So the point of my blog – a clever fellow alum found my blog, and was inspired to begin her own – in an attempt to replace her BC (you see they aren’t made anymore, some sort of terrorist plot I suspect, but exposing my strange political paranoia’s is all for another day) – and she laments some of the differences in her own recent post. Her lamentations (how often do you use that word outside of a bible discussion?) inspired me to note the benefits of a blog.
A. Now that I have children, I don’t feel I have the same level of privacy that I had with a BC in tenth grade, I knew my mother wasn’t reading it, I knew my teacher wouldn’t read anything I didn’t want him to, I could be ‘free’. With kids in the house I don’t feel like if my journal were sitting around they would be able to control the urge to peek – and well with kids in the house – an awful lot of what I want to free write about involves them, and isn’t necessarily thoughts I want them to know that I am having. I have managed thusfar to keep my blog a secret from my family, though I do confess that much of what I actually write doesn’t end up having the publish button pushed – ya know, just in case someone decides to read it.
B. No writer’s cramp
C. Comments – like I said, one nice thing, at least to my mind, was the random reactions of Mr. Starkey – I get that now (well sort of, there’s a possibility of it anyhow)
D. Better for the environment – okay to many of you this will be a stretch, but… less paper, fewer lost trees – and for the power argument, my computer is on all day anyhow, so it’s not like I’m using that power, it would be used anyhow – there could be something said to those who want to be hyper-particular about the power used because of the increased bandwidth used because it resides on some server somewhere – and yes a lot of my posts are quite long – but I don’t do a lot of things that use significantly more bandwidth so I’m not buying that either.
E. I can’t lose it, I lose things, lots of things, often, I suck at filing, I suck at cleaning, and I lose things – I can’t lose something that is filed away from my home.
F. I can access it from anywhere – well practically – might be hard if I decide to run the Iditarod to jump on the web from the middle of nowhere Alaska to post how funny it was when my lead dog farted in the next dog’s face – but how likely is it that I’m going to be in the Iditarod?
G. I type faster than I write – my hands can almost keep up with my thoughts, in fact sometimes my hands actually regurgitate my thoughts more truthfully on a keyboard.

Yes I miss the Indian, yes I miss the texture of the paper, yes I miss the smell, and the way the pages flip over the top, and how you can always flip right to the next blank page because after you write on that paper it changes it’s texture and how it lays together in the pad. I also miss getting to the back of the BC and flipping it over to begin again on the backsides of pages – I never did front then back, I went front front front to the end then back back back to the cover. It was some sort of milestone to flip it over. I have probably filled at least 100 big chiefs with doodles and journals and thoughts and lists in 30 years, and I miss them too.


moosema said...

So if you write "DO NOT READ" on the top of your blog, should I refrain (that is, if I can restrain myself)?

I forgot how much I liked the comments the Starkey's used to make in my BC. I remember once I wrote 2 or 3 pages describing my boyfriend's hands and how much I loved them (nothing kinky, you understand -- I was SOMEWHAT of a nice girl and he turned out to be gay later on so it was probably a good thing). Mr. Starkey underlined a bunch of it which made me read back and realize, "hey, maybe I am a pretty good writer, after all." Which reminds me, why weren't you in AP English? Or were you and my brain is just totally fried? You are a very talented writer. Not to kiss up or anything, I'm just saying...

And thanks for the gaming in place of doodling idea. I really should have thought of that myself as that's what I do when I'm trying to come up with an idea for a logo or something for some Joe-Blow who has no idea what he wants, he just knows he wants it to be "cool" I hate that. I prefer Alchemy to Solitare though. It's kinda a bad habit, actually. "Hmmm... I have no clue what I'm going to do for this guy... I know! I'll play a couple of games of alchemy!" Now you've just giving me a way to validate playing games instead of getting my work done!

momumo said...

Those rants that after I re-read become "Do Not Read" I simply don't post - I either save them off in some locked document that I can never remember the password to, or I delete them, only to have the outlet of having written it down - but never to be revisited (which does have some advantages). I was probably not in AP English because of my time at the "private school" - I did have that little issue with not attending class as often as my teachers and parents would have liked. I was gone for all of 11th and half of 12th, though few people actually knew that because I was still at GM all the time (it was even easier to miss class at the private school - you didn't even need a parent excuse to leave, you could just walk into the office and tell them you had an appointment). And I am not that talented of a writer, I have hideous construction/grammar/etc. mistakes, and I ramble - though Starkey tried and tried to get me to write 'tight' - I guess it just never really stuck.
Next time someone wants a 'cool' logo, give them a glacier!

moosema said...

I had no idea you left GM for that period of time. I guess I had my own issues back then. I suppose that answers, in part, why we didn't get to be better friends back then, which has been something I've been wondering about since I discovered your blog.

And my grammer sucks, too -- but that's not what makes you a good writer. Grammer, in my mind, is something you can always go back and fix. Getting the words down on paper (or on the screen) is what really counts. And you, my friend, have no problem with that!