Category Archives: blogging

Welcome back sweatpants.


Every once in awhile, a nice surprise comes your way from an unexpected corner. That is what happened to me a few days ago.

As I have mentioned before, I am a part of the group Unfundamentalist Christians,  and have been since the project started. The group, the brainchild of blogger turned author John Shore,  started out as a facebook page, with us adding original content, or content of others we’ve seen, or had been sent to us. For all of us, its been a labor of love. Several months ago, we launched a blog/article space on Patheos.

We cover a lot of topic that impact religion, and society, and often the discussions in our comments section gets lively. Its educational in so many ways. We see how others approach the topics, we hear some amazing, and sometimes heart wrenching stories, and mostly we approach faith in unconventional ways.

Not too long ago, John, posted something about yoga pants on his own blog page at Patheos. The piece was essentially a retelling of a short conversation between John and his very witty wife. For some reason it reminded me of something I had written here, and I posted a link in the comments along with a brief statement.

Shortly afterwards, John contacted me about using it on our UC page at Patheos. He liked my piece, and felt it a good fit, as well as something that would add depth, and a change of pace, following a run of more serious topics. Of course I said YES.  The original piece in question was titled “Dont Cry for me Argentina Pants”  John worked a little editing magic  Happily for me, he felt the need to change little, and this morning my work got a larger audience, along with a photo of Gary and I taken during a recent vacation, sitting behind  a huge platter of some of the best Fajita fixings east of El Paso.  The piece now has a second home here.

Who knew that a little tale about oversize, horrendously horrific loungewear could help my writing obtain a little recognition. I write because I love it, I share, because, I do hope that others will like what I write and relate to it. And I’d be lying if I said, I didn’t want to have milestones of success.

So You Think I’m Gullible?


I got a message in my Facebook messages the other day. It was from someone who had recently friended me.

Greetings in the name of the Lord..i am helen mathew , a widow to late John mark,i am 57 years of age, christian convert, but suffering from a longtime cancer of the breast..From all indication, my condition is really deteriorating and it is quite obvious that i will not live more than five months,according to what my doctor said..This is because the cancer stage has gotten to a very bad stage. My late husband was killed during the U.S raid against terrorism Afghanistan, and during the period of our marriage, we could not produce any child. My late husband was very wealthy and after his death, i inherited all he has gathered when he was alive. But how can i spend the money or drive what he has left now when i am on sick bed. The doctor has advised me that i may not live for more than six months,so i decided to let out my money to contribute to the churches of God in Europe, Africa, America and rest..i have already prayed over it and i am still praying to God to push the trustworthy soul that will help me carry out the mission to my way.I am from my hearth saying this that i am willing to donate the sum of $5,00,000,00 u.s.d to the less privileged. Please i want you to note that the money is lying in the bank in Swiss and upon my instruction, my attorney, who i currently in Africa distributing relief materials, will file in and application for the transfer of the money into whoever will stand as my next of kin. I am so sorry, please can you help me with this mission for the sake of our lord Jesus and for the sake of the less privilege souls out there that needs the money? What i fear from not allowing my husband brother to help me carry out this mission is fraud and scam,because he once told me my brother worked for the money, and he will be the one to spend it,not me..I honestly pray that this money when transferred, will be sure for the said purpose,because i have come to realize that wealth acquisition without Chris is vanity.. May the Grace of our lord Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you and your family.I sent you this message because i checked your profile and i saw you are a God fearing human being. I will want you to promise me that when you get the money from my bank account, you will share it among the charity home, and churches..Please get back to me on this address helenmathew@outlook.com… if you are interested or you can send me your email address because my doctor do go angry when ever he sees me using facebook but checking and replying email messages in more preferable..i look forward to your reply and please pray over it..MAY GOD BE WITH YOU.

I usually check any actual connections between myself and people I actually already know before clicking accept, but on this case, I was caught on a generous day. I have a list of people I’ve just never bothered adding, because, after checking their profiles, I’d realize that they were likely to have much different interests than I. I’ve deleted a few for the same reason.

So if you haven’t already guessed this is a variation of the infamous Nigerian scam. There are several tip-offs, which I will point out.

  1. there is a recently deceased and very wealthy family members and all this inheritance.

  2. There is a need to move a large sum of money, in a short amount of time.

  3. There is a plea to the good, generous nature of the recipient to the request.

  4. The sender is residing out of the country.

  5. The English, while fluent, reflects the non-native status of the person writing.

    6. there is usually a covert theme to the request.

    7. The funds are in a Swiss bank account

    I got a follow up message from this person this morning wondering why I hadn’t replied to their “ most important message”. I responded by reporting sender’s Facebook account, and then blocking it from access to mine. I’ve gotten such emails or message before. I know I’m not the smartest woman on the planet, but I’m hardly that gullible. What these yahoos don’t realize is that I consider any and all attempts at unasked solicitation as suspect. They don’t know that if they get as far as getting a message through to where I will notice it, that I will not be responding. In a case like this, I will be checking out the sender’s validity, and then reporting them.

    As much as the message appeals to my generous spirit and my kindness, I cannot feel any sympathy towards the tone or the theme of the message. I know it is all a lie, that the real purpose is for the person who sent this to gain access to my banking information from which they hope to extract as much funds as possible, or to steal my identification for the purposes of opening up credit cards for themselves. I have no plans on making that possible.

    That is why I am sharing this letter in its entirety. I know I am not the only person they are trying to shill, and if I am not going to fall for their line of bull, there are millions of Face-book users out there. They know that there are some who are gullible, and are playing the “throw shit to see what sticks” game They are also hoping that, if we don’t respond that we will also just stay quiet, so they can continue on their path of larceny unabated.

    What this scammer didn’t realize is that I am a blogger, and will write about all sort of things, including people who have the intention of bilking me. It is stuff like this that I have no qualms exposing, and take great delight in letting others know about. If I can help keep one person from getting ripped off, or if I can be a participant in shutting down one more thieving network, then I am glad to do so. So sorry, fake Helen Matthew, I reject your offer.

And the Nominations are…


I’ve been nominated for a blogging award.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around that idea, but its true. The writer of the blog http://funnyfornothingblog.wordpress.com/ decided that some of the people who also write blogs deserve an atta-girl or boy.  This is a blogger, who by the way writes stuff that makes me splatter coffee on my monitor thanks to sudden bouts of laughter prompted by her work.

I don’t know how doing such a thing like nominating a blog works, but I will be finding out. I want to return the favor, of course, plus there are some blogs I’d like to nominate myself. Plus, I am just curious about blog awards, not realizing such a thing existed. In the meantime, I’ve been asked to answer a few non-required questions, given to the nominees by http://funnyfornothingblog.wordpress.com/

(Update) One of the awards, and the reason for the questions is called The  Liebster Award. Its an award for bloggers with less than 200 followers. Being nominated gets you the right to display a nifty Icon, which I’ll do at my next posting…the one  where I nominate my own list.

Here goes…

1. If you had to think of another name for your blog, what would it be? This blog used to go by the name of Sylvie is a Blogger. If you think that name is boring and lacking creativity, then you would be correct. That it took me six years to think of something better, is something best left unsaid.

2. What’s your favourite quote/ saying? Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” Buddha.  This is my favorite, and aligns nicely with my philosophy for life, which is following that ageless golden rule.

3. What’s the worst joke you’ve made/ heard? The chances that I have reached the apex  of joke awfulness is pretty low. There are tons of horrible jokes that have yet to come to my consciousness…Ok. I’ll come clean. I don’t remember.

4. What’s your favourite television show? I watch television. There are television shows I find entertaining. But a favorite? Nope. The only reason I even have 150 channels is because I am married to someone who loves sports. Before he entered my life, I enjoyed a blissful 2 years of the tv set being turned off.

5. Describe yourself in one word. Clumsy

6. Do you have an object that you consider to be your lucky charm?  I am one of the least superstitious people on the planet. And even if I did possess an object of luck, I would have lost it long ago.

7. Which type of chocolate is best: white, milk or dark? As I get older, my life long passion for delicious….sweet…dark chocolate has begun to fade. Why such a horrific waning?  I have discovered that sweets, any sweets, offer the risk of triggering acid reflux. Now  coffee on the other hand. Strong, dark and perfectly blended with cream and a  just a bit of honey is my favorite consumption product. If coffee also starts triggering the same unhappy symptoms, I will be eternally pissed at the Bean Gods.

8. What’s the best non-fiction book you’ve read? I’ve read several great ones, as I am a bonafide book-aholic. Right now the book that comes to mind is Marley and Me. Any book that makes me laugh that much is worth the sore stomach muscles.

9. What’s your favourite word? Why?

10. Are you philosophical person? I think, I ponder, I wonder, I mull, I ask…therefore I am.

11. What’s the capital of Greenland? Nuuk (thank you google search!)

(Update) One of the awards, and the reason for the questions is called The  Liebster Award. Its an award for bloggers with less than 200 followers. Being nominated gets you the right to display a nifty Icon, which I’ll do at my next posting…the one  where I nominate my own list.

Words on the Page


typingSeven years ago, in a blog format far away, I started a project named Sylvie is a Blogger. It at first was an experiment to see if I could get back into writing, something I had found that found rewarding a few years prior,when given the opportunity to write for a small local print publications in the Western North Carolina mountains. That little experiment led me to a solid three year run writing a weekly column called Miss Mom, first for The Spartanburg Spark, then Flying Oskar, both web community sites. I learned so much as a writer, and what I enjoyed about the art of putting thoughts into words.

I’ve written pretty much whatever has sparked into my brain and has held me captive until I had to sit down at my desk and open up my word processing software. After taking a few quality courses on writing styles and format, I tried my hand at poetry, as well as fiction and essay styles. Fiction proved more difficult than I thought, although I am pleased with my few finished stories, two of which I’ve posted here. A third is featured at a literary website. The fourth is slated for a future date here. yet undetermined.

My favorite topics revolve around my life. I discovered I can tell a story about an event that has happened to me and make it funny enough that others laugh. I also have written about the more emotional, less happy times in my life, partially because its cheaper than therapy, and also in the hopes that others won’t feel alone in their troubles. Poetry is something I continue to experiment in sporadically. With each poem I write, I try something new in style or format.

And then I do the serious stuff. I keep returning over and over to the same topics, some of which I wish I didn’t have to, but am compelled to be a voice that tells anyone who listens that “this must stop. Don’t forget, Please let’s work together to change things.” When it comes to the treatment of others, the need for real social change for the disenfranchised, the abused, the hated, I just cannot be silent. That they are also the topics suite for both the political and religious spectrums I find quite interesting, especially, at least in the US, the line between the two too often becomes blurred.

I have begun the long overdue task of putting years of blog posts into categories. It is something I’ve wanted to do for awhile, but lacked the time, and the know how. Who’d’ve thought it was as easy as it has been? Doing the cataloging has allowed me to go back and review things I wrote years ago. I’ve seen how my writing has improved over time, and I’ve been surprised at how many times I’ve felt compelled to cover topics, topics mentioned in the paragraph before this one, topics I know I will be still writing about a year from now.

Its good to stop and see where you’ve been, to process it, to see where you’ve improved, and where you haven’t. Looking back at the history of Sylvie is a Blogger, now dubbed Its  Mis-fit has been illuminating. I’ve seen that I have yet to settle on just one type of writing, or topic or theme, but try them all. That of all the things I write, I enjoy humor based the most, but get the most satisfaction writing the serious social posts. Poetry has a way of keeping me up at night making sure each word, each line, and the placement of both is to an exacting standard that I’m never satisfied with. Yet I am always delighted when the first line of my next poem reveals its compelling self to me.

In the next few months, I hope to continue the task of improving the blog site. I have a free account and minimal skills in formatting. So any suggestions or tips are welcome. I’m not really satisfied with just putting things into categories or how one finds older topical posts, so I will be exploring options. I also hope to share two of the hardest pieces I’ve ever written. One is a longer short story about a man named Jack. Jack kept me up for three solid weeks before I was finished with his tale. The other is an  short memoir in a style that weaves several different topics together. I’ve only done that style once, for a creative  non-fiction writing course, and one day I’d like to try again. It too is lengthy. Both will likely be broken up into more easily digested parts. So stay tuned.

 

The Name Change


When I started my blog about seven years ago, I was new to the genre, and really just trying to get a bit more serious about writing. The title I named my blog, at a different location, was the best I could come up with at the time.

I have never liked it.

Regular readers, and thank you everyone, know that I tend to dabble in a variety of topics, and have never completely settled down into one set format. Partially because I get easily bored with the same thing over and over, but mostly because I tend to be spontaneous when I write. Often I mull over something for a few days, but often the inspiration hits, and I better write it before the colander that holds my thought processes together starts to do what colanders do.

So its time to change the name. I am getting more of an audience than before, and on occasion I get to branch out into other venues, which also helps add content here.

Hence the upgrade of the name of this place. I hope you like it. And keep reading.

And now for a spot of stew…polistew


You know, its a real boost to one’s creative ego, when you are asked to write about topics because someone thinks you can do it justice. That is what has been happening recently. Someone I know, who’s got a lot more street cred when it comes to writing about politics than I started a new blog and welcomes a variety of voices to the table. I get to be one of them

For me its a return, in part to what I did when I wrote the Miss Mom column for the former Spartanburg Spark. Thanks to Steve Shanafelt and Christopher George, I got to cut my creative writing teeth sharing weekly thoughts, misadventures and the odd newsworthy story. I learned a great deal during that tenure, along with the things I learned taking some creative writing courses at Converse. Maybe one day I can return and finished that durn degree.

This new outlet, other than right here, is at a place called Polistew

What I like about what Amy Lanzbury has done is that she often takes one of those hot button topics, often a state or regional one, and invites the reader to chime in with what they think. This open-ended format invites discourse and discussion. Of course I am sure there is the fair share of trolls who lumber by, but so far the comments have been really interesting as well as civil. Being a political minded place, the slant tends to lead a bit towards the left, of which I tend to be quite at home, and represents a side to socio/political points of view not often really given a fair light in this part of the US. Instead she takes what others are saying and asks us what we think on presentation, accuracy and what solutions could be suggested that aren’t already. Its refreshing.

So what do I do there? Well, so far I’m the religious voice. I’ve just completed my second piece, which was edited by Amy far better then I could ever do myself. The first piece I wrote covered the Hobby Lobby legal wranglings about contraceptives and all the insane debate/arguments over it. You’ll realize that not only do both these topics cover faith, they also cover women’s issues, something that deserves hearing all sides on. I enjoyed the research on both topics, as one of the reasons I write, is because I must, but also because I learn so much from it.

Writing about social topics from the point of view of one who is also Christian who is not only left handed, but also lists left socially, is a lot tougher than one assumes. My goal is to present a topic with dignity, to present facts and then share my views that information, all while trying to be eloquent and respectful. What I get to do at Polistew is not much different topically then some of the topics I’ve covered here, but with a new audience. Plus the topics are more serious there then my usual fare at Sylvie is a Blogger, a blog title I’ve been thinking of changing for some time. (suggestions welcome)

Please visit Polistew, Let Amy know what you think, let me know. Suggest topics. Get to see how others think about everything to who’s running for state or federal legislative seats, to what do you think about some residents to want to form their own county over a penny sales tax hike to the enacting of smoking bans in particular cities.

One of the things we don’t do enough of is sit down and simply talk about things as well as we should.  Speaking of which I have a book to recommend to you. Its a small book simply titled Civil Discourse,Speaking Strategies for a Democratic Society by Linda Powers. Its a short textbook, but its an easy read, containing simple tools on communication we can all use. The book has been quite helpful for me in navigating how to talk about difficult topics and still remembering to treat the topic as well as the other participants with dignity.

Change change change


Even though my Facebook profile is somewhat behind the times on the ongoings that is my life, there have been a heap o’ change going on in my life.

To start of with, I got married over the weekend. I’ve mentioned the man who had the mental fortitude to decide live with me for the rest of our natural lives briefly, but I tend to keep my private life more private then many realize. That is because I am the typical introvert. We introverts aren’t necessarily shy, we just don’t let on a whole lot of stuff about ourselves, preferring privacy over attention.

Yet I have been my favorite topic in my writings for years…

Irony aside, I figured I’d finally go public with the fact that I am back off the market, one that I wasn’t even interested in entering, other then a brief period of curiosity about what dating in the 21st century may be like. Meeting Gary was unexpected, and quickly satisfied that curiosity (I didn’t have to look long yay!!!) The connection was a surprise for both of us in fact, and before I realized it (about two weeks in) I knew we’d be shopping for Depends together one day  and looking forward to it! Gary is  more the romantic then I. He would sweep me into his arms and I’d find my self dancing to muzac in the personal care products line, then help me look for the adult diaper in my size. Yeah I’ll need them first.

A year ago, I had settled for what seemed to be a certain future as a crazy cat lady/hermit/writer. I still have cats, in fact Miko is plotting the demise of the drink on my desk as I type, I still write, but I have hung up the goal of hermit status for good.

Gary, as much as we have in common, is my opposite in several ways. He’s better organized and neater then my haphazard, get to it later style. He’s the ultimate extrovert having the ability to talk to anyone, I don’t do crowds or strangers unless necessary. He’s more conservative idealistically to my more liberal leanings. He likes mowing the grass, I like looking at fresh cut lawns. He likes horror movies, I like sleeping without the nightmares horror movies give me. The poor man is attempting to teach this left handed klutz with the athletic capability of a kiwi how to play golf…ok I admit golf is fun. You have all sorts of excuses to use profanity while attempting to whack the crap out of that little ball. He loves to watch sports, I love to read. He hates broccoli and I’m plotting to introduce him to quiche. Yet, we laugh all the time, talk about anything and everything and sing bad harmonies along with what’s playing on the radio. We seem to work seamlessly together, and delegate household duties without a problem.

There’s only one catch to this wonderful love match, and it’s one that utterly unfair. I have to change everything that has my name and status attached. He just has to add me to his payroll deductions and health insurance. My social security card, my driver’s license are just the starters of the paperwork laden identity change I need to undergo. Human resources has to get my marital status information done…pending the arrival of the actual SS card in 7 to 14 days. Also, two banks, retirement accounts, my library card, insurance, bills,  etc. that have my old name will have to undergo the process of upgrading my last name from Galloway to Parris.

When I got my new driver’s license this morning, the lady at the counter said “Well, I guess that it will take a whole day to get all that name change stuff done.”

Seriously? I still have to wait on all the final documentation to arrive, and then hope it only takes a week.

I’m trying to get used to writing my name with the new last name, and no I didn’t practice ahead of time.  The men rarely have the need to even consider such a thing. Gary did offer to take on my maiden name. He thought it would be cool to be known as Gary King Parris.

Its all worth it in the end. Of course nothing is “official” until I change my Facebook status. I guess I need to go do that. Our meeting, falling in love and deciding to spend the rest of our lives together happened quickly. Being overtly voyeuristic on a social media website about what was happening was just not a priority, and I am not apologetic about it. I probably should have clued more people in though…but…introvert-ness still sorta runs my psyche.

The biggest change is to me personally. I literally am not the same person I was a few years ago. I am used to putting my personal needs last, not letting others get too close, I am after all an introvert, and feeling more alone then I let on. I wasn’t content with who I was, or where I was in my life, plus I had a healthy dose of grief and anger to deal with, as well as not being so sure I could trust another person intimately. Gary has helped me more then he knows. We both had failed marriages and have had similar emotional fall-outs as a result. We made the firm decision early on to make communication a priority in our relationship having learned that sharing the good, and the bad goes a long way to keeping the ugly at bay.

Today I am happy. I’ve always used humor liberally and often, I’ve always strived to be in a positive frame of mind, even when I didn’t want to be, I’ve always tried to see the best in others, and help them feel better in some way, but I never gave myself permission to take the advise I gave out, to put myself first once in a while, and to let my guard down long enough to see that it was ok to actually get the concept of happiness. It is possible that I may have eventually learned how to do all that on my own, but having help by a man who goes out of his way for me hasn’t hurt.

Getting married again was most definitely not on my agenda prior to meeting the man who upended those plans. In fact it wasn’t in his either. I think someone who knows whats best for us, despite ourselves had better plans for us. If our meeting was divine intervention, which I suspect it was, I am eternally grateful.