Thursday, March 25, 2010

Recommended Reading: twenty(or)something

Susan Pogorzelski and I share two passions: words and sushi. We also share the fact that either of us would be hard-pressed to rank one above the other if required to do so. In her response to my invitation to be a part of the Recommended Reading series, she wrote, "'s a great idea and I'd love to be involved! And when are we getting that sushi tweetup together?" Yes, Susan is another of the local Lancaster Twitter crowd, and it has been through her tweets and getting to chat with her a few times in person at local tweetups, as well as through her blog, twenty(or)something, that I have come to admire her work.

twenty(or)something is almost an anachronism in the 2010 Blogosphere, in that it is exactly what a blog originally was before the days of "celebrity bloggers" and blog monetization: an online diary, or weblog, written as much for personal catharsis as for public consumption. You won't find the list-based posts or the "how to be the best 'you' you can be" advice or the nifty things to download that are the stuff of the modern blog. What you will find is some of the most honest, poignant, open writing out there; you will find poetically beautiful imagery delivered in conversational prose; you will find yourself invited along as Susan's guest on her personal journey to find the answers to the two most puzzling questions the human mind can ponder: Who am I and What am I Doing with My Life? (Questions, incidentally, that this particular forty(or)something still wrestles with...) She pulls no punches and hides no imperfections. It's all there: some posts are philosophical, some are whiny, some are jubilant, some are laugh-out-loud funny. Every one of them, though, is real and honest, and that is some of the toughest writing to be able to pull off well, as it can at times be weighty, self-indulgent stuff.

Susan knows how to ameliorate that weightiness with a fair dash of silliness, though. I personally find her to be at her best when she uses one of her favorite devices, her conversations with The Universe, which (who?) she often attempts to bribe with Tootsie Rolls to give her answers, give her direction, or just give her a pep talk. The Universe often responds with sarcasm, gently mocking her but eventually leading her to find her own answers or her own motivation, and then runs off with the Tootsie Rolls anyway. And isn't that how The Universe treats us all?

Susan's responses to the Five Questions I've asked all of the bloggers in this series follow:

What or who inspired you to begin blogging?

SP: It had been two years since I graduated from college, and two years since I'd really written anything substantial. I was feeling lost -- not knowing where I wanted to move, where I was going with my career, and struggling to rediscover and redefine myself. I wanted a place to get out those emotions, to have an outlet that could help me sort through situations, to just write again -- something that has always been such a huge part of my life. The blog grew and transformed into the story of my life -- the changes, the memories, the understanding and rediscovering of my introspective self and questioning the world.

Is there a story or meaning behind your blog or its name?
SP: twenty(or)something was meant to be kind of tongue-in-cheek. I'm an older twenty-something and thought that would be the basis for the blog -- navigating young adulthood. I was testing out some possible names and this came out a bit dryly -- a bit indicative of my sense of humor -- and it just stuck.

Which post would you choose from your archives if you had to provide only one that best represents what your blog is all about?
SP: "Apparently The Universe Has Hijacked This Post" from November 2009. I feel like this post was a reminder of where I've been, how far I've come, and where I'm going. I philosophize a lot, have questions, wonder what if, and hold fast to beliefs. This post has wrapped up my fears and my weaknesses and my strengths all in one. And it served as a good butt-kicking, too.

When you first log on to your computer each day, what is the first site you go to? Why?
SP: Twitter, of course! I absolutely love the community that has formed here. Smart and kind blogging friends from all over the world and fun, warm people from within the local community. It's amazing that something so simple can draw people together. I'm always fascinated by how quickly deep connections and strong friendships can form.

What one other blog would YOU recommend that you read regularly, and why?
SP: This is a toughie since there are so many fantastic blogs that I read on a regular basis. As a whole, I'd check out It used to be a blog network and still regularly features bloggers -- in fact, 90% of the members are bloggers. If you're looking for something fresh and new, definitely begin your search there.

Please take the time to visit twenty(or)something and share a little bit of Susan's world. You may just find yourself running out to buy a bag of Tootsie Rolls with which to bribe The Universe for your own answers...

My great thanks to Susan Pogorzelski for being so enthusiastic about taking part in this series. Don't worry, Susan, we'll get that sushi tweetup together very soon!

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  1. Really enjoyed this. Thanks for the interview post. Susan inspires me to take a look at this 30 (or) something's writing and why it has fizzled as of late.

  2. Bryan: Thanks so much for this beautiful write-up! I love having this blog as an outlet and a place to document my own story, my own thoughts. I believe that everyone is telling their own story in the best way that they know how -- some people pass down stories to their children and grandchildren, others write letters, and others still find that outlet in a simple blog.

    I've found that it's a place to learn, a place to at least begin to try to understand the self and the world around me, and a place to meet some incredibly kind and thoughtful people who offer insight from their own experiences. That kind of community is pretty incredible.

    I'm still learning, and I don't have a whole lot figured out. And yes, sometimes the posts are extremely self-indulgent and even tread into territory that's uncomfortable...But that kind of awareness is how I learn and how I get through it.

    Besides, when I need it, I always have the Universe to give me a swift boot to the behind. =P

    This series is such a great idea, Bryan -- I love that you're promoting others' works and I really do consider it a privilege to be a part of this. It's been a pleasure getting to know you online and off, and I'm very much looking forward to that next sushi tweet-up! Thanks again!

  3. @Amy - Isn't it remarkable you this young'n can connect with us older folk? (Well, I count as older're pretty much a young'n yourself!)

    @Susan - My pleasure to include you here. One of the things that I really admire about the blogging community is just that - the sense of community. This series is, I guess, my way of paying it forward a little (and, in some cases, paying it back) for those who have helped spread the word about my blog over the past year and a half.