So, Seemingly, Google Thinks I’m Dead
If you recall the TV sitcom Seinfeld, you might remember that their tagline was “the show about nothing.”
Life is nothing, it seemed to say.
I always thought that was a boring tagline. But aren’t all those experiences we feel are too dull to tackle in a blog post what life is really about? And wasn’t that part of what made that show so popular?
This is why I am taken with the concept of pure blogging.
Pure Blogging At Its Heart
To me, pure blogging is all about creative freedom. The freedom to write about the things that make me wonder, laugh out loud—cry, even.
Something happens and we think it’s sad. Or funny. Or infuriating. But it isn’t meaty enough to write about.
No one would be interested in that, we say. There are no instructions, there is no lesson, no boulder of a point to drop on the reader’s head .
It may be nothing in the whole scheme of things, but, still, we want to write about it.
We want to release our true stories, to reveal ourselves, warts and all.
In the end, we blog to tell our truths. And if readers take something away that adds meaning to their lives, that’s just icing on the cake.
Now if that doesn’t free you up to write your best stuff, nothing will.
Pure blogging doesn’t always mean pondering the big stuff (although it can). Sometimes you will find a glimmer of a truth in something as mundane as a death notice with your name on it.
When that happens, if you are a ‘normal’ person, you might find it mildly amusing and then just as quickly dismiss the whole thought.
If you are a blogger or a writer at heart, you toy around with it and find a story of your own.
The Day I Died
I don’t use Google Alerts anymore but a few years back, every day, around about 2pm, it would pop into my inbox. It was my free, easy and automated web search tool that gave me real-time information on the appearance of my name online.
With Google Alerts, I got links to some of the stuff I had said and, sometimes, the scoop on what someone else had said about me.
Through these alerts, I also came to know some of my name-alikes (because Google isn’t smart enough to tell us apart, we all appear in the same report).
The other Judy Dunns held a strange fascination for me. Sometimes I thought what it would be like to live their life instead of mine.
Take Judy Dunn, distinguished professor of psychology, author, and expert on sibling relationships who lives in the UK. She wrote a paper on “A cross-study of prosodic modifications in mothers’ and fathers’ speech in pre-verbal infants.” Not sure what that even means, but I’m impressed.
I might have been tempted to spend my life wandering the walkways of an ivy-covered campus like this Judy. I could imagine myself sitting at my desk, reading freshman research papers, my name etched in brass on my office door. Dr. Judy Dunn. Sounds safe, protected—comforting in a way.
Then there is Judy Dunn, writer of kids’ books: The Little Duck, The Little Pig, The Little Puppy, and others.
She appears to have a franchise going, this animal woman. Still, I might get bored and decide to write a book called Mean Old Mr. Stingray. That would surely frighten the toddler crowd…
Or Judy Dunn, polymer clay artist. Necklaces! Origami clay cranes! Sparkly stuff! This Judy Dunn sounds like she has way too much fun. Maybe I should trade places with her.
There was even a Judy Dunn in Canada who thought her condo management was spending too much money on carpet cleaning and she said so at a homeowners’ association meeting. In a strange way, I bonded with her on that.
But Then One Day I Died
Sometimes a Google Alert comes in that makes you sit straight up. Like that Wednesday when I found out I had died. I wasn’t really expecting it, wasn’t even feeling sick or anything. I was just reading along and, bam. There it was.
In the days before Google Alerts, Paul, Jamie’s husband on the old TV sit-com Mad About You, had his credit card gobbled up by the ATM machine. When he went into the bank to complain, they checked his account and said he couldn’t have his card back because he was dead.
Sounds about right for a bank.
He spent the rest of the episode trying to prove he was alive. The woman at the bank just wasn’t buying it.
At the end of the show, he attended the other Paul’s funeral. It was that morbid fascination some of us have about death.
What will my funeral be like? Who will show up for it? What will people say? A touchy topic played funny?
In the post-Mad About You days, we didn’t have to attend the service. We could read about it in Google Alerts. The link took me right to my obituary. It was all there in black and white.
According to my death notice, I was born in Birmingham, Alabama. I stayed a hometown girl. I was a banker (how frightening) and had worked at six different branches over the years.
I had a husband, a son and a granddaughter. It said that I will ‘intern’—not sure that word meant what they thought it meant—in Austin, Texas, to be close to her husband and son.
Wait. Why was my funeral in a church in a little Alabama town, but I would be buried in Texas, near my husband and son, who were evidently still living? Why were they in Texas? Was there going to be two funerals?
What happens when Google tells you you're dead? Why, you blog about it of course!
Since I was the one who died, I felt I deserved answers.
Being a solopreneur, branded by my name only, I continued to monitor my name mentions on the web.
Because, though I may not have actually expired, one of my name-alikes might have done something truly dreadful, like embezzling the company receipts or breaking into a neighbor’s house and drinking all his Scotch.
Dying Can Shake Up Your Life
You are left with questions. What was life about, anyway?
Whether I believed that there was a higher purpose in life and the promise of a Great Beyond, or I was convinced that I lived a bunch of pieces of nothing strung together and then I died, wasn’t the most important thing I could have done was to live in the moment, do what I love and screw the rest?
Was the Judy Dunn who died that day happy with the life she had lived? Did she always want to be a banker?
Or was there something else? Like that that book shop that she dreamed of having since she was in third grade?
I originally changed my social media and online presence name to Judy Lee Dunn. There was already an author out there publishing by the name of Judy Dunn (the above mentioned children’s writer).
But subconsciously, I wonder if I was also trying to separate myself from the other Judy Dunns. To carve out a life and identity of my own. To plant my own flag.
I left a comfortable classroom and a steady paycheck to try this writing thing.
I pondered this decision, but not terribly long.
I asked myself just one question.
If I stayed in teaching would I have wondered, as I sat in that assisted living center making fake pieces of jewelry and watching reruns of Family Ties, if I could have been a writer?
Why didn’t I at least try?
How did all the time go by so fast and I never got one story written?
My days have been filled with random moments. When I string them all together, it’s called a life. Some days I struggle to find meaning in it all. Some days I don’t.
But I get to write about all that stuff.
Sometimes I am even lucky enough to write on wonderful new sites like Pure Blogging, where nothing is off-limits, all ideas are on the table, and I can pick them up like jewels, holding each one up to the light until I find that one that is the shiniest.
Or most intriguing. Or the downright silliest.
Like the time I died.