Who’s Keeping You Honest?

by Jan Geronimo on June 10, 2009

Isabelle Adjani as Marya Zelli
Image via Wikipedia

A very good friend of many years has found my blog. And she told me so in instant messaging.  Uh – oh -  my jig is up.  I have now to be more careful dispensing BS around here.  My ombudsman has arrived.

Let’s call her Marya

“Jan, are you there?”

Oh, I’m here all right. Wassup?

“Why are you invisible on YM?”

Ah, I don’t want to be bothered.  But you can IM me anytime though.

“Jan, are you famous now?”

Hell no.  Are you kidding me?  Why do you ask that?

“Why are you making yourself inaccessible?”

“Because I need to get things done, that’s why.  What’s up?”

That’s me talking with Marya a very close friend of nearly 30 years.  She’s found me at last. And my blog.  She read a few posts, looked at the comments, and chatted with me on YM.

So what’s the verdict?

She’s a mean writer back in college. Back then, we both wrote for the college paper. Today, she has a great career in the government,  a junior executive specializing in creating reports to make the top brass look smart.  Intelligent, funny, and compassionate, that’s my friend.

But Marya did not leave a comment. She noted though that I have been replying to every comment made on this blog.

Shorthand of friendship

Translation:  I‘ve not been too accessible in email and text messaging, but I make myself accessible to every Tom, Dick and Jane in the blogosphere.


Asked her to write a blog of her own.  Her young daughter has one – why can’t she?  And she said about not having the courage to put herself out there for everybody to see.  “I’d feel like I’m naked.”

Translation: I’m just here curious to see what has become of you all these years you made yourself inaccessible to us.  And whether you’d have the guts to make a fool of yourself here in your blog.


More than anybody else, it’s Marya’s vote of confidence I’d live for.  She knows me like the back of her hand.  She knows when I’m full of BS.  She knows how to coax me out of the doldrums.  She knows me full well.

OMG.  What if she had read my blog is in the running for the top 10 influential blogs of 2009?  She’d slap her knees and laugh out loud.  I will not hear the end of it.

This is bad timing.  Why can’t she postpone her visitation until September when this brouhaha will have been over.

Tell me I’m not a sucky blogger

Her initial reaction about my blog?  Nothing.  Except for the cryptic, “Your writing style has not changed at all.”  Do I make sense?  Do my posts need a rewrite?.  Silence.  She changed the topic.

Well, I know what she will do: she’d visit me here every now and then, hold  a post against the light for closer inspection. She’d do that – she’s that methodical – until she has sufficient facts to extol my efforts or enough evidence to hang me.

And what’s crazy about having great friends is that they have that power to tell me anything.

Yeah – including how my blog sucks.

High Priestess of common sense

But here’s the good part:  she has that strange way making it sound trivial, a minor hiccup, a temporary displacement in the cosmos.  Why?  Well, my dear,  Marya is  the High Priestess of common sense and she’s quite adept at screwing back my head squarely on my shoulders.

That she might find me guilty of suckiness will not change the dynamics of our friendship.  That’s how it works with us.  A sucky blog will not undo 30 years of friendship for sure.

How about you, guys?  Who’s keeping  you honest when it comes to blogging?  Have you found your own ombudsman yet?

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  • Roy
    so, any word from Marya yet Jan?
  • Ahahaha. You have so much time in your hands, Roy. Grabe. lols. She's busy
    right now. Must be work. She's high up the totem pole in a government
    agency eh.
  • Roy
    not really too much time Jan... just trying to find some excuse not to work lol

  • Roy
    oh! i have my 'lifelines' hehe...

    there's Eric of BlogdeManila for one, and others who I met when I was active in online forums

  • Yeah, Eric. What will we be without our very supportive friends? Friends
    are one of the greatest inventions! :)
  • Roy
    Yeah, I'm reading his tweets... unfortunately, I can't reply because I don't know anything about it....

    and I can't think of a punchline to tweet, about his problem :)

  • Ganun? How come? So who's helping you with technical aspects of your blog?
    Who's your guru?
  • Hey, do you know that Doc Z is transferring his blog to WP? He's having
    problems with his comments. They made a test blog in Wordpress.com then he
    and his friend Lyle did the transfer. There are no comments to be found.
    lol. Now, Holly is helping Z with the transfer.
  • I think Edna from Holly's book would be a good ombudsman. :)
    .-= Luke´s last blog ..The Seven Ancient Sciences =-.
  • sometimes, i 'force' my friends to read my posts, but these friends have to be superfriends who would not criticize my thoughts or my grammar. hehehe... i am so insecure about my writing that i would not want to be read by some people i consider 'gods' or 'goddesses' in writing or the topic i am discussing in the posts. that was why i was relieved when you told me to encourage my friend in writing her blog as if she's telling a story to a friend over a cup of coffee. i do not mind criticisms especially those from people that i respect. but i still get the jitters about being read by someone close to me.
    .-= fifi´s last blog ..winning a freebie online for the first time =-.
  • Jan Geronimo
    Fifi, be flattered if you're being read by Gods and Goddesses of writing. Whatever their reaction will be great for you. Just remember they started too from somewhere. They maybe great writers now, but just think how nasty their writing demons are now. I bet they haven't lost them all. Those demons grew up too in step with these writers' stature. Just my suspicion though. :)
  • this is your first post which appears to me as you being too cautious.
    .-= fifi´s last blog ..winning a freebie online for the first time =-.
  • Jan Geronimo
    When you feel someone is breathing down your neck you’d feel cautious, too. :) No, I had to fudge her identity because first – I don’t have her permission to write about our friendship. Second, she’s a very private person. Third, she’s a good writer.
  • Jan,

    Ang haba na naman ng comment ko. You are able to motivate me to express my opinion and I don't want to apologize again for it. It denotes you're a very effective writer. lol...magtatago na ako...he he he...baka sibakin mo lahat ng comments ko.
    .-= Jena Isle´s last blog .."Missing the Bus" - 21st Story for the Inspirational Book =-.
  • Jan Geronimo
    When I moved to WP I had lost hundreds of comments in several posts, remember? Well, I will not let that happen again. I'm backing up my blog everyday, including the comments. They are all precious to me. It's hard to put thoughts down on the page. It takes time to make a coherent comment. That's why they are as important as the post itself.

    Oh, that's a lovely. Thanks, Jena. :)
  • I mean:

    "...it is about being able to reach out to his readers’ hearts no matter what economic strata they BELONG to."

    Sab i ko na eh. I have to buy new keypads.
    .-= Jena Isle´s last blog .."Missing the Bus" - 21st Story for the Inspirational Book =-.
  • Jan Geronimo
    Oh, don't worry, it's all right. I can straighten out the typos anyway. There's an edit button, you see. And what will you be without your clunky, uncooperative keyboard? Right, Roy? Ahahaha.
  • My first comment didn't register so I'm typing this again.

    I really do not have a Sith Lord who is ready to pounce on me the moment I commit errors. Perhaps my wards at work, could serve as my " pilot readers" when they say : "Is that you?" " You're not serious about this..."

    Sometimes I ask good friends online to critique my work, and they would oblige and send me PMs or emails. But only when I was not able to spot the error/s after several days of publication.

    I'm not really a journalism graduate but I'm glad that generous people recognize my passion for writing -even at work.

    They usually kept their peace when I was humble enough to ask them. Maybe because I am much older than most of them? Lol

    Proof-reading is a luxury for me, so there were times that I typed directly into the template (just like what I'm doing now) and I would not notice the errors not until I have already published it. (shame!)

    I believe that writing is dynamic, and it involves life-long learning. Writing also must have a soul.

    A truly gifted writer is not someone who is so "full" of himself - pompous and arrogant (because of his mastery of the English language), but someone who could make that distinctive and tenable connection to the "hearts" and souls of his readers.

    It's not about how eloquent he uses highfalutin words or not even about his perfect style, spotless grammar and syntax; it is about being able to reach out to his readers' hearts no matter what economic strata they belong to.
    .-= Jena Isle´s last blog .."Missing the Bus" - 21st Story for the Inspirational Book =-.
  • Jan Geronimo
    Well, for sure you're not talking about my pompous ass. It used to be that with me. But I'm a recovering pompous writer now. Well, am I? What do you think?

    I'm careful about my grammar and spelling. But I'm just human. I have to thank Doc Z for alerting me to my glaring errors in my post. He's using Twitter's direct messaging - he's quite the gentleman, Jena. And how can I forget Dee? Or that lady blogger who got offended with my stimulus package - well, to be fair, she's lost it with every Tom, Dick and Harry's stimulus package.

    Sure, I have now moved to self-hosted blog with a nice theme, but just the same my heart beats as lustily for the time I get to talk with my readers. It has always been that way with me.
  • Jan,
    Are you trying to convince me that Doc Z is a gentleman? because you don' have to. Baby pa lang iyan, kilala ko na...he he he...and he's ...ehem....mmmmm....sige na nga gentleman na. You might not serve my favorite milkshake. Kidding aside - he is , I agree.
    .-= Jena Isle´s last blog .."Missing the Bus" - 21st Story for the Inspirational Book =-.
  • Jan Geronimo
    Uh-oh, that's interesting trivia, Jena. Well, I don't have the goods on Doc Z - yet he's gracious and generous. And he really knows how to listen huh. That's very rare quality. Of course, he's an energetic bumblebee forever in search of OMG cute flowers, but that's an entirely different story altogether. ",)
  • when i posted my short stories at a friendster blog, a friend commented, "Wow! I didn't know you write short stories". Oh well, now she knows. As a matter of fact, we wrote poems and short stories in high school. Not one got published in the school paper because there was no space then for fiction. I think we were probably influenced by the Dead Poets Society. Had problems holding our tears when it was shown in class.

    As to blogging, i still kept separate sites for friends and for my online connections. Only 4 or 5 buddies knows all (or at least majority) of my sites. But whereever it is, those who really knew me will see that it is still me.
    .-= ceblogger´s last blog ..Not In My Blogroll =-.
  • Jan Geronimo
    That's great, Novz. You're still doing creative writing. I used to in college. But I have no more time pursuing creative writing. Maybe when I have a more sane blogging rhythm I'd retrace my roots.

    I have no fears being read by my friends old and new ones. My thing is I want them to discover me online on their own. I'm a bit leery pushing my blog into their lap. If they like what they see, fine. I'd be very happy. At least, they will have no obligation to praise my work. I don't require them to do so anyway. If they find anything that's sucky, well and good, I'd take it well as a matter of course. :)
  • i will have another blog soon, wherein it will be available to my friends, whether online or offline. my name will be in the url (nov.....com). i purchased the domain name year ago but have not really launched it. i already feel naked thinking about it. haha.
    .-= ceblogger´s last blog ..Not In My Blogroll =-.
  • When my blog was not out in the public and was purely personal I can write everything I want and throw BS at everyone but now it's out on the public I am careful with my words. I don't let personal stuff or too personal things get out in the open because everyone can read it.

    When my ex of 11 years ago found my blog and began stalking I was arggggg so I blocked him. Lol that's why I have to write that go away post.

    It's good you have an ombudsman I think I need one my writing sucks and nobody dare tell me because I'm the queen of outburst LOL! They just love how I entertain them with my writing in spite of the grammatical errors and whatevers LOL! But if I were you in that situation I think I'd melt with embarrassment .

    I am also invisible to everyone in my YM except for my sister and hunny who are both out of the country.
    .-= earthlingorgeous´s last blog ..What Philippine Independence Day Are You Talking About? =-.
  • Jan Geronimo
    Yeah, I had read that post when you had to literally shoo him away. Some people just don't know how to let go, do they?

    My friend though doesn't know I regard her as my ombudsman. She's busy in her career. But I want to get on her good side when it comes to my blog.

    That's a funny title - queen of outburst. That's what makes you a good read. You're unpredictable and you speak your mind. :)
  • Reena
    well first, i can understand her when she said that she feels naked if she blogged about her life. i think i had the same feeling before. and i still do now, so as much as possible i keep many things private, even from my own family and my friends.

    but...i have such a resourceful sister, she eventually found me and linked me to her own blog. So now, even my relatives abroad can read my blog! so to answer your last question, my ombudsMEN are definitely my sis and cousins. I just hope none of my friends find my blog. haha.

    i still keep a diary/journal though so more sensitive topics are off limits to everyone's eyes. :) see you around!
  • Jan Geronimo
    Indeed you're a stickler for privacy. Can't even find a link to your blog. And your Twitter bio profile has N/A in it. :)

    Nice touch - it's your own family that's keeping you honest. Don't get too comfy about your friends not finding out about your blog though... Anyway, can I take a peek at your blog? Promise, it will be only for three minutes. ",)
  • Jan Geronimo
    @Roy: Wala na. Naunahan na kayo ng US Library of Congress. Or CDC yata un? You know - Center for Disease Control. Kasi daw baka maka-influence pa ng mga budding young writers kawawa naman ang sining ng pagsulat. Ahahaha... Roy, let bygones be bygones - sabi nga nila. ",)
  • Roy
    medyo nawala yata ako dito Jan, hehe...

    I'm tracing this, pero di ko mapinpoint... but the blue carpet is very tempting to reply at :)
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  • Jan Geronimo
    That's my reply to your suggestion I cough up samples of my college articles. :) There's no more thread upstairs so I put it down here.
  • Roy
    I see, kaya pala di ko nasundan. para dun sa taas na rely pala hehe...
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  • Roy
    lol heto pala yun!

    you know jan, when I wrote that, there were just symbols and number there. you know like '/53_/index.html'

    kaya napatanong ako... ngayon 'Roy's last blog' nang nakalabas

    hehe... nagulat ako sa e-mail mo hehe...
    .-= Roy´s last blog ..Warning: Blogging is dangerous to your self-esteem =-.
  • Roy
    lol what's [rq=2777,0,blog][/rq]?

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  • Personally, I feel uneasy when my friends read my blogs. I don't know why. Fortunately, only 2 or 3 of my friends know my blogs' addresses. :D

    I'm always honest with my post; although there are some things that I take into consideration so that if ever my friends do read my posts, they won't get offended unintentionally. Sometimes they tease me that I'm a "career blogger" now (to which I know they tell me that in order to tease me and exaggerate things). Being teased like that gives me the goosebumps, I don't know why.

    I think I'm more comfortable when my online friends read my blogs compared to my friends in real life :D
  • Jan Geronimo
    Friends in real life know a great deal about us. Perhaps this is where the bit of discomfort comes from. In my experience, I have kept my blogging from my friends. Even my family - they just discovered it lately.

    I received a WordCamp tshirt from abroad. Something I won in a Top Commentator blog contest. They were quite surprised there are prizes to be won in the internet - they're big on telenovela at home. And that there was even prize money - $15 - that went with the tshirt. So I had to explain what's a top commentator contest. And naturally what's a blog. And why do I have one. Even if I had explained it, I am still not sure if they will recognize one even if this hits them in the face. Ahahaha. Kidding.

    My experience is that I had a lot of practice with online friends. The good and not so good. Nothing will surprise me anymore - or I'd like to think that nothing will surprise me anymore. Friends may have the goods on me, yes. But hey, I have a blog. They had better be good friends. Or they will never hear the end of it from my bully pulpit. Ahahahaha. No, I will never do that. I'm just fantasizing. :) Thanks for sharing, Carlo.
  • ahahha! i was pretty sure that we will survive that episode during that time. i guess i have to roll up my tongue now, having suggested that one to spice up a blog? ehehhe.
    [rq=1673,0,blog][/rq]Dont' Vote on May 2010!!! No To Con-A** Holes!
  • Jan Geronimo
    Thanks. Feel free to drop the bomb anytime. This blog comes equipped with bomb shelter anyway.
  • thesis theme is therefore the best theme in the world! it comes equipped with a bomb shelter...i guess you need to share this feature to some of our blogger friends who are being bombed *winnk*
    .-= elmot´s last blog ..The Quickieblogger.com or the Superveryhandsomeblogger.com? =-.
  • Jan Geronimo
    I bet di alam ni Chris Pearson (developer ng Thesis) na may bomb shelter functionality un theme nya. Ahahaha. Di ko pa lang maayos ito ng husto eh. Yaan mo mamamaster ko rin features nito, saka na ako magyayabang, pre. Ahahaha
  • magandang pagkakitaan yang feature na yan...for sure mabili yan, ehhehe! malaki kikitain mo dun *wink* ahem ahem...

    pang hosting din yan ehhhee
    .-= elmot´s last blog ..The Quickieblogger.com or the Superveryhandsomeblogger.com? =-.
  • Roy
    thanks for the invitation!

    (ay! di pala para sa akin yun)
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  • Jan Geronimo
    Well, I can use some friendly fire every now and then, Roy. :)
  • ahahha! this is one hell of a dramatic post big bro! ow, i found my ombudsman obviously, at ikaw yun, ahhaha! remember? and that is the beauty as roy said, of having good true friends, they can tell you that your blog sucks!!! and just laugh out loud about it, ehehe!
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  • Jan Geronimo
    It's you who suggested we somewhat go for each others throat in a manner of speaking. It's your idea - to spice things up. I agreed. But you kept putting it off. So when the opportunity presented itself, I pounced on it.

    I'm glad we have survived that episode and that you're far more mature than I initially thought you were. And now, the downside is that I have no more surprises up my sleeve. I think you've a fairly good idea now how I operate. Darn! Ahahaha.
  • Ahhh reminds me of my mentors who up to this day slaps my shadow and send a devastating email with the first line saying "You're kidding right?". Friends are awesome and receiving comments from them is great. I believe this is the ROI of relationships.

    <abbr>Rob Angeles’s last blog post..How To Track Your Expenses Using A Twitter Tool</abbr>
  • Jan Geronimo
    Ah mentors. But which ones are you referring to? The ones we have outgrown or the ones we strive the hardest to surpass but cannot simply because they have the biggest shoes to fill. Ahahaha. But friends are great. We can relax with them. We can pull of the strangest buffoonery there is and yet at the end of the day we are still forgiven. We still rock in their eyes, but of course only after having been served and eaten our humble pies. ",)
  • LOL! The hardest to surpass grrrrrrrrrrr. They're like moms, still treat you like a kid even if you already counted achievements.
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  • Jan Geronimo
    Some of us are still kids. Only the price of our toys have changed. :)
  • AD
    “Your writing style has not changed at all.” ---

    haha! is it true?

    <abbr>AD’s last blog post..What I am on on Film Studies?</abbr>
  • Jan Geronimo
    Hi Ad,

    Well, buddy. Maybe that's good news for me. If she meant I deteriorated I would have an earful by now, that's for sure. But that phrase is so typical of her. She has this talent of keeping me on my toes.

    Personally, I don't know. It has changed in look, I'm sure. I write with lots of sub-headings nowadays. And my writing has become scannable as per requirement by the blogging gurus. Ahahaha. And the serial comma I have little use of these days compared when I was writing for the college paper. You know - numbered and bulleted points.

    Maybe she's referring to the voice or the tone. Or maybe she's just biding her time before she delivers her verdict.
  • AD
    Can you post some of your college newspaper articles? ;-) just kidding, i'm just curious! hehe!

    <abbr>AD’s last blog post..What I am on on Film Studies?</abbr>
  • Jan Geronimo
    Two words: que barbaridad. It's hard enough to build a readership, Ad. Bringing those articles back is the height of folly. lols
  • Roy
    I would like to second Ad's suggestion ;)
    [rq=2151,0,blog][/rq]Complaints are gifts from customers
  • Of course, your writing style won't change---because that's YOU. My husband motivated me to start my blog, he's also my editor (sometimes when he's available to do it), and my most honest critique . But he never criticizes , instead he makes suggestions to improve. My best friend is my husband. I have a very good friend (although not best ) and she's a very famous columnist /writer in the Philippines--she reads my blog but does not comment on my posts. But she sends me messages that she loves my writing and the content. HInt: She is a lawyer, book editor and columnist /writer for Philippine Times.
    So when real "professional writers (not flash-in-the-pan book authors or self-acclaimed "writers") compliment me, I feel good. Although I still don't think I am good , the feeling of being praised by someone who really is an authority of the craft is really something great.

    <abbr>bingkee’s last blog post..LET'S TAKE A RIDE IN SUBURBIA</abbr>
  • Jan Geronimo
    Yeah, one thing about friends - they prefer to be in the background, choosing to make their presence felt only every so often. That's a wonderful friend you've got there, Bingkee.
  • Ay mali---error--Philippine Star pala not Philippine Times. She was my classmate in UP who graduated cum laude and got her law degree in UP and finished masters from Sorbonne U. in France. She's really a darling. Her writing style is actually a little bit similar to mine. We both love Jessica Zafra.
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  • Agree! They're like Sith Lords, agree?

    <abbr>Rob Angeles’s last blog post..How To Track Your Expenses Using A Twitter Tool</abbr>
  • Jan Geronimo
    Indeed - some of them are Sith Lords. :)
  • I got my bestfriend who's interested in computers and techy stuff but he's not into blogging. If he'll read my blog he will definitely praise my work. He has difficulty in expressing himself. but still he's one of the best

    <abbr>JDSalinger’s last blog post..Top Things that a Blogger needs</abbr>
  • Jan Geronimo
    That's cool. If he finally gets to read you, then you can perhaps seek his help in the other aspects of blogging: tweaking under the hood. Or perhaps he can help you spread the word out about your cool blog among his other friends. Every little thing helps. What are friends for, right?
  • Roy

    that's the problem of having friends... they can tell you anything!

    but that's the beauty of it too!

    no hiding, no pretentions... it is nice to have a real friend... I suppose

    the only friend who really knows me vanished into thin air years ago

    as for the question of what's keeping me honest... aside from the fictions and other made-up stories and jokes, I can say that I am 99% honest in my posts.

    the 1%? that's for the exaggerations :)

    <abbr>Roy’s last blog post..Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs - The Final List!</abbr>
  • Jan Geronimo
    She's watching over you, Roy - looking over your shoulders. When we chuckle over your one-liners, trust me, she's there crinkling up her nose in pleasure... Oh, darn! Your top 10 is already complete. You did not tell me. Well, checking out now if there's a surprise in your lineup.
  • Roy
    I don't think it's me who's being watched... of course, I could be a part of it, the main focus I guess would still be you... your reactions, response, rebuttal, etc. :)

    <abbr>Roy’s last blog post..Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs - The Final List!</abbr>
  • Jan Geronimo
    Keep forgetting that. Ahahaha. Got to be on my best behaviour nga pala. :)
  • Correction.

    that is not my last blog.

    unchecked the box.

    Lets see what happened.
  • to be honest, after three or four nested replies, I tend to forget what we were discussing in the first place

    But the beauty is you can still go back and read the main part about "Maria" the best friend.. then the threaded replies.

    What about just be yourself...anyway there is somebody who can make us honest...

    Waaz up!
    .-= darbs´s last blog ..Father’s Day: June 21, 2009 =-.
  • Hmmm, sometimes guys...
    It's kind of fascinating to read your discussions! :D
  • Roy
    to be honest, after three or four nested replies, I tend to forget what we were discussing in the first place :)
    [rq=1772,0,blog][/rq]Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs - The Final List!
  • Jan Geronimo
    Yeah, and it doesn't take lots of brain power to figure us out, I am sure. Even with candle power you girls can have a crack at us, Snow. :) With lots to spare.
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