Friday, November 21, 2008

Blogger Appreciation: Observant Bystander

When I wonder whether contemplation has any role left in this world, a post from Observant Bystander appears and knocks my socks off.

Just as in life, it's easier to keep the conversation light and moving quickly. If you want to make a blog popular, keep your posts to one paragraph, sound a clear note, include a link, and move on. And, most importantly, post every day, several times during the day. Also, pick a theme - local news, state politics, Chiefs football, something like that. Make it yours, and you are on the way to blog success.

Observant Bystander breaks all the rules. She treats us to infrequent, thoughtful essays on topics that have her attention. She took a 5 month break, but now she is offering us a post every week or so. They are like a wonderful fruit that only appears in stores once in a while - grab them and savor them while you can, and hope they keep on showing up. For all I know, Observant Bystander will disappear for another season.

I don't love her work because it is like mine, or even because she writes about topics that fascinate me. Usually, they aren't really my issues. I don't struggle to accept a braggadocious father, I socialize easily with suburbanites, and my crises are generally far more mild than hers. But she's compelling, and astoundingly honest. She lets us in past all the gates and guard dogs we keep around ourselves, and shares her pain, joy and puzzlement at the world. Her post on recapturing the feelings of youth while dancing with a younger guy is a masterpiece.

Good bloggers comment on other blogs, as thanks and as a way of offering encouragement and letting people know that someone is out there. But I never comment on Observant Bystander's posts - it would be kind of like standing up after a Gospel reading in church and saying, "Yeah, that was really good, and I like to get my feet washed, too!" I don't comment because it almost feels disrespectful to the depth and completeness of what she has written.

Observant Bystander's posts are some of the best writing you will find, on blogs, books or literary journals. They sweep you up into her world and her perspectives, while treating you to sparkles of language: "heads safely encased in fiberglass helmets", "dollop of wine", "Sadness sank into my brain and enveloped me in its sticky web of deceit", "my limbs loosened with liquor", "Miles Davis played in the background, the perfect soundtrack for thought comas". I love great writing, and her posts are sprinkled with perfect phrasing.

Observant Bystander offers no fresh perspective on the latest kerfluffle at City Hall, and you can't find a great new restaurant by reading her work. But, 10 years from now, when today's political outrage has been entirely forgotten and the bikini models on Tony's pages are middle-aged, Observant Bystander's work will still be timely and important, because she has the courage and insight to write movingly about human truths.



Blogger I Travel for JOOLS said...

I don't know what's more beautifully written, her post or your critique.

I have a new bookmark.

11/21/2008 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Kingsfield said...

Good post about a good blog, Dan, but I notice that she doesn't even have a link to Gone Mild in her blogroll, and yet you gush all over her.

Mighty big of you.

11/21/2008 12:30 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Kingsfield - not particularly big of me - I'd rather see great original writing than a link to my blog.

11/21/2008 7:28 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Sorry to delete your comment, Rey Rey, but TIF discussion doesn't belong here.

11/22/2008 12:19 PM  
Anonymous TTSoWW said...

Thanks for posting that. I also have a new bookmark.

11/22/2008 2:28 PM  
Anonymous Karen said...

Oh my gosh - I'm speechless. Never have I read (or even heard) such a beautiful response to my writing. Thank you so much for making my day one of the best in a very long time. I bow down to you, Dan.

I'm terribly lazy about my blogroll (I'm sure most of the links are broken by now) and I feel remiss at not having yours on mine. That will be remedied shortly.

Again, I'm stunned (smiles brightly and makes many copies of your post to hand out to friends, strangers, etc).

11/24/2008 10:24 AM  
Anonymous kindofblue said...

I've appreciated OB for some time now, Dan. She's a uniquely gifted spirit and a magnificent writer.
Her writing pulls you in and you can't wait to read the next line. You're sorry when the last sentence is finished.
She's the speck of gold that makes the entire day of panning worth it.

11/24/2008 11:09 AM  

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