Category Archives: Blogging

How I’m Rolling Write Now: Breaks and Distractions

Somewhere between starting to write the first (of hopefully many) blog posts for my work’s website, reading and commenting on other blogger’s posts, and well, just the normal busyness of summer (please know I am not complaining here), I decided to take a week off from publishing a blog post.

Sorta like (ok, not really) the youths that had community service hours to complete at my food bank, who I found sipping lemonade in the staff break room a couple of weeks ago. These two pubescent boys had put in approximately 52 minutes of “work” (aka putting plastic grocery bags in their receptacles and a small bit of re-stocking shelves) and informed me they were “on break”.

I am not the supervisor so I chose not to tell them that this was not an “authorized” break and they needed to get back into the food bank and break down those damn boxes.

This is probably not the sort of anecdote to include on the work blog. Snark has no place there.

Okay, so back to the original point of this post. What did I do during this break?

Well, quite a bit of pondering. And writing in dribs and drabs. That’s kind of how I work with this blogging thing of mine. I sneak a few moments here and there and write a few words. I wish I had a whole day to do this though. I have this image of myself pounding away, fully bereft of a sense of time and possibly place, penning post after post after post. Banking them, if you will. Which is what my boss’s boss wants me to do with the work blog.

Wish me luck.

But I’m so prone to distraction. Radar is a major distraction for me. And it’s not because he’s continuously nudging my arms with his wet nose as I’m typing or that he’s ripping the house apart (though he’s fond of using the bath mat as a chew toy when I’m not paying attention). It’s because I want to be a great dog parent (I almost typed “owner” but that just seems wrong to me. He’s not my slave, after all. Not like I’m expecting him to make dinner for us or anything. Can you imagine?). But I digress. I did mention that I’m prone to distraction, correct? Bottom line-I believe he deserves as much care and attention as I can possibly give him, don’t you all agree?

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I will soon have a spate of days where I’ll be the only human in my house. Hubs has a work trip then shortly after that, he’ll be flying to Wisconsin to help his parents with home repairs. This will be my time. My time to 1) edit my blog’s draft folder (so much in the hopper, people!),  2) write like the fiend I am and 3) finally update my vision board.

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I will of course, during this time, catch up on my favorite shows (you know, the ones Hubs does not appreciate). Like finishing where I left off on the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Finally watching “Wine Country” on Netflix (highly recommended to me by Spawn #2 plus it’s an Amy Poehler creation!). Season 9 of Shameless (gotta keep up with the godforsaken Gallagher’s).

May my t.v. watching not become too big a distraction.

But writing during this time will be my #2 priority after Radar.

Wish me luck!

How I’m Rolling Write Now

I think I’m in this writing thing, or maybe I should say blogging thing, for the long haul. I’ve been at it for over 2 years now, and while I don’t have a ton of followers, I continue to gain them.

I have no intention of monetizing this blog. First off, I don’t have the time or energy for this. Or the interest. It just wouldn’t feel right to me. That’s not to say that I don’t fervently hope that at some point in the not-too-distant future, someone somewhere will stumble across this blog and be like “this woman needs to have her own column in our online magazine” or, “We need to make this woman a part of our writing team”,  or “I need to be this woman’s agent because she’s going to write a bestseller some day”.

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I think over time, I’ve honed in on the primary (but most certainly not only) topics I want to write about: food, music, travel, and pop culture. But I really want to write more posts about politics; however, experience has taught me that this does not result in many likes or comments; nor does it garner me new followers. On the flip side, however, if I were to flash forward 20 years into the future, do I want my spawn’s spawn or their spawn to uncover my writings and be disgusted by the fact that with all the turmoil and injustice that occurred on a daily basis due to the Trump presidency, I chose to write about frivolous things like my favorite playlists or the travel experiences/dreams I had, as opposed to using my voice to rail against the forces of evil? I wouldn’t want to be perceived in the future as being complicit in these tumultuous times.

This is such a huge conundrum for me as a human being and a writer. Perhaps I’m overthinking it. I am such a champ at that.

What I am most certainly not a champ at is the whole tech side of blogging. I joined another Facebook bloggers group a few months ago, which I haven’t been engaged in at all. Because the members are clearly in a different league than I. They are far more ambitious and I don’t understand their language. I feel like if I were to decide to become a fully participating member of this group, translating their lingo would eat up so much of my time and energy that I’d be tempted to throw my hands up and quit blogging altogether. So I don’t even know where to begin. What questions to ask of them or how to phrase them.

If only I had an intern for a few hours a week to do the behind-the-scenes techy stuff for me. I could pay them with home baked goodies and free wi-fi. Pimp Radar out for free puppy cuddles.

Then there’s the fiction I have been working on. Or, more to the point, wrote a bit of but got distracted by life and kind of forgot about. Will I ever actually share it? If I do, how might it be received? If it’s well-received, do I have it within me to continue the story and create something really special, entertaining, funny, relatable, and financially rewarding for me and Hubs down the road so we can have the most awesome early retirement life ever?

These are my honest-to-God struggles these days when it comes to this blogging thing.

How about you, my fellow bloggers? How are you all rolling “write” now? This curious mind would love to know.

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Let’s talk characters

When you think about it, all of our lives are filled with characters. Humans with personalities, opinions, and quirks. These characters can energize us, amuse us, and teach us things we otherwise would never have learned. 

To me, the best kind of entertainment, whether it be on the stage, the big screen in a dark movie theater, on the good old boob tube, or within the pages of a novel, incorporates interesting characters. Characters that intrigue us, make us laugh,  and make us wish they were real people in our own very real lives. 

As I ponder publishing the little bit of fiction I began a few months ago, I find it unavoidable to not consider characters I love or have loved, both in real life and in the media.

Those characters that speak to my heart and compel me to write about them. I just can’t imagine coming up with completely original fictional characters without infusing them with at least some pieces of the non-fictional characters I have known.

So let me tell you about a few characters I’ve known. Those who are long gone from this earth who impacted my life in ways they likely never knew.

For instance, the man who taught me how to swim. He was full of life and always had a good joke (some of them quite inappropriate) to tell us. He loved my mom’s cooking and I believe that is one of the main things that endeared him to her. I remember him leading a pack of kids (his grandkids, my nephews) in the “Macarena” dance at my parent’s cabin in the early 90’s. He was a husband, father, teacher, swim coach, and an artist. I have a beautiful piece of his artwork hanging in my guest bedroom in fact. In his spare time, which it doesn’t seem he could possibly had too much of, he did some clowning around with the Shriners. He lived for those times when he could don his wacky rainbow wig and cherry colored nose and delight the children (young and old) in small town parades in the summertime. His funeral was epic, as was the party for his closest family and friends that was held afterwards. He was my godfather.

Then there’s the woman who always had yellow cake, from a box, with chocolate frosting on top sitting in her pantry, waiting for us to devour it when we came to visit. She was terribly hard of hearing and once called Hubs “Cobb” because she thought he was my old boyfriend “Todd”. She loved playing cards and always had the latest National Enquirers and TV guide magazines sitting in racks next to her plastic covered “davenport”. She was a massive fan of wigs, as she found it fun to be able to change her look whenever she damn well pleased. She kept these wigs perched on styrofoam heads on the top shelves of her walk in closet. As a kid, that always scared the shit out of me. She enjoyed herself a cocktail or two and as a result, my cousins christened with the nickname “Pearl Pearl the Party Girl”. She was my grandma.

And finally, there was woman who always had a wonderful rapport with the children she loved, but for reasons only known to her always believed she would not make a good mother, so she remained childless. She had a silly sense of humor as well as a way with the wisecracks. She always said she would have made an excellent boy scout, which everyone who knew her agreed with. She was always prepared, often anticipating the needs of others. She made an awesome Pillsbury dough-boy costume she wore for Halloween. She was a take-charge-but-in-a-kind and loving way sort of person. She paid attention to people and had the very biggest heart. Some of her favorite songs were “Werewolves in London” by Warren Zevon and “Fancy” by Reba McIntire. Every time I hear either of those songs the corners of my mouth do an automatic upturn. She was my (non-biological) sister, my guardian angel, and my best friend.

Tell me, big-hearted readers, who are the characters in your life that have shaped you and informed you as a writer?

 

 

 

It can’t always be ABOUT ME

Clearly, I flat out suck at coming up with titles for my blog posts. Any suggestions you may have to address this particular shortcoming of mine are appreciated.

Though the title I chose is better than the original : “To all the Blogs I’ve loved before”. That might have sounded just a tad creepy, right?

My objective in this particular post is to lift up those blogs and bloggers that I have been following ever since I started my own blog (and a couple of these I discovered prior to starting this blog).

I’ve been very fortunate to have discovered each of these blogs and I think if you haven’t yet discovered them yourself, you’d be doing yourself a favor by checking them out now.

You see, these are the blogs that I feel I actually get something out of. Whether that be inspiration for my next blog post, a kick ass recipe, a new way of thinking about something, or a few hearty belly laughs, these are my “go-to’s”.

Elly @ http://ellylonon.com/:

I find Elly and her blog to be creative, talented, inspirational, hilarious, smart, and entertaining. And she plays a mean ukulele! If I had an opportunity to write with her, I’d take it in a hot second. Elly also wrote a hilarious book, complete with awesome illustrations, thanks to her cohort Joan Reilly, about a middle aged, liberal, educated, cat owning but not child owning (not like one owns their children of course), married couple traipsing across the country in an RV in an effort to make sense of what has become of our country in the wake of the Trump era.

She started her book as a regular feature in McSweeney’s. It’s titled “Amongst the Liberal Elite” and of course you can buy it on Amazon, like I did, or find it in your local bookstore.

CJ @ https://feedingonfolly.com/: She is a fantastic storyteller. A giver of wonderful recipes. She is smart, funny, and kind. She’s inspired and encouraged me throughout my blogging journey.

Because I am a giver too, here’s a post she penned that includes an awesome recipe that I have actually made: https://feedingonfolly.com/2018/09/19/on-apple-trees-cake-and-planning-ahead-for-panic-attacks/

Lorna @ https://ginlemonade.com/ Lorna is a very talented writer. Her tone is straightforward and her writing, through the lens of a mom/wife/American living in Scotland who gets around on wheels due to CP, is insightful. She is very hardworking and sincere in her writing. She also runs a great blogging group on Facebook which has been a pleasure for me to be a part of.

Then there’s Christine @ https://imsickandsoareyou.com/. She is the blogger who recommended Lorna’s blogging group on Facebook. She blogs from the viewpoint of a woman who was very sick for a good long time, due to a desmoid tumor, who has fairly recently regained her health. She is terribly witty, thoughtful, raw, and honest with her writing. She is imaginative and alternates between being laugh-out-loud funny with her writing and deeply personal and thoughtful.

Annie at https://givememeatloaf.com/ is a blogger I’ve been following I believe since before I started my own blog. She writes primarily about food and travel. She is a “living doll” as my mom used to say. She’s cute as a button and has a way of drawing you in with her beautiful pictures of delectable food (some she makes herself and some from dining out) and travel destinations. There is a sense of fun and adventure in all of her posts. And I owe her a thank you in advance for a recent post on her trip to Puerto Rico with her husband (aka Sir Dave). It helped me to talk Hubs into taking me to Puerto Rico for our next tropical vacation (ha ha! as if this is really a thing for us). But alas, we shall go there! Our 30th wedding anniversary is coming up in 2020, after all.

Now, there are of course several other blogs I regularly follow that I ought to mention. Because I respect your time, I will keep it simple-ish and drop links to a few of those.

https://butismileanyway.com/: Ritu writes, among other things, a regular feature “Chai and a Chat” in which she expresses her sweet, positive, effervescent personality. It’s a delight. Reading this always makes me wish I was sitting across from her, gabbing the day away in person.

Fatty McCupcakes (you’ll have to google it as I’m not much of a techie and couldn’t get the link to copy here) : Just trust me when I say that Katie is a great comedic writer. She tells the funniest stories and is very relatable.

https://debs-world.com/: Deb is inspirational. She is a world traveler who has lots of great stories to tell.

https://broadsideblog.wordpress.com/: Caitlin is a professional writer/journalist/photog who leads a fascinating life. Her posts are always interesting, thought provoking, and smart.

https://lutheranliar.com/: Alice is fiercely funny. She has the best pictures to illustrate her hilarious stories.

I hope you, smart and creative readers, will have an opportunity to check out these blogs that I dig so much.

Please share your favorite blogs in the comments too! Sharing is caring people 🙂

Hot Mess revisits an old post

I find it annoying when my Facebook friends post something vague that intimates there is some major shit going on in their lives. Examples: “I just can’t anymore”, or “FML”, or “I give up!”. Oh, the drama.

Right now, I legit could be one of these people, based on how I’m feeling about a couple of different, unrelated circumstances going on with people I love dearly. But I am not going to do it.

I am also not here writing this post wishing and hoping that one of you readers will take the bait and ask me to spill the beans. I don’t want to spill the beans. Truthfully, they are not my beans to spill. And there’s nothing more I can do or say to effect the outcomes for the loved ones I am referencing.

That’s where faith comes in. And the Indigo Girls. And some hard liquor.

Okay, enough of that.

Everything will be fine. Eventually. This is life. There are ups and there are downs, right? Dwelling on the downs is not going to get me anywhere.

In the process of starting (this is the key word folks) several new blog posts last week, when things were going along rather swimmingly for me, I stumbled upon an an older post of mine. One I published in my first year of blogging (side note: I just hit my 2 year anniversary with WordPress!).

Please bear with me, kind and gentle readers,  while I take a moment to reflect on this particular post.

I mentioned at the outset in that post that I was lacking focus. Well, what with the number of started and now paused posts in my draft folder (it is getting crowded in there!) from last week and the other stuff I alluded to earlier, I am once again unable to focus on just one topic, one opinion, area of concern.

I am still a work in progress. Especially as a writer. With each post I publish, I feel that I’m working out what kind of writer I am. Sorting out who I’m writing for and why.  Am I just an optimist who is occasionally humorous? Am I an advice giver? Am I a teacher? Or am I just a student of life with her hand up in the air, waiting to be called on to ask or answer a question?

It just might be that I am a little bit of all of those things and perhaps more (to be determined, but I’m hopeful). It depends on what the post is about, I suppose. It also depends on what kind of mood I’m in as I am writing a post.

Clearly, my mood right now is “reflective”.

In that vein, let me just say that since publishing that post back in 2017, I have determined the most important bits of wisdom, aka the things I know for sure, are that, as a writer, curiosity and imagination are my friends.

Curiosity, because I value learning and I don’t believe just because a person reaches a certain age they should stop learning. Curiosity pushes me forward and gives me energy and compels me to keep learning, keep growing.

Imagination, because it takes me out of my funky moods and makes writing so much darn fun. Using my imagination when writing, as opposed to spouting off my opinions or shelling out advice on this blog, brings me back mentally to moments as a pre-teen writing funny stories and terrible poetry in my bedroom. Essentially, my happy place.

Thanks for indulging me, folks. If you got through this entire post, you will understand why I labeled myself a “hot mess” in the title. Because it’s clearly true at this particular moment. I just wouldn’t be true to myself if I had chosen to publish a cheery, upbeat, quirky sorta post like I often do.

As I said, I am a work in progress.

Snow Days, Guilt, and my Birthday

For context, I penned this post on Monday morning.

To my surprise, today is a snow day. Meaning that instead of organizing my little food bank, answering phone calls and emails, and serving my senior clients, I am at home.

I don’t know what to make of this. I’m uncomfortable. I feel guilty, like someone who called in sick to work who wasn’t actually sick but really just wanted a day off to, I don’t know, binge-watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, or bake a cheesecake, or shop online for things they don’t need.

True confession: I have never called in sick when I wasn’t actually, truly, sick. Because guilt has been instilled in my soul since childhood. Because I know that if I did call in sick to work when I was in perfect health, that yucky, uneasy, unpleasant feeling of guilt would creep in and render me physically ill for real.

And I am a bonafide terrible liar. Here’s a recent example: I was at a work orientation with 4 new employees and 4 others (management/human resources/training folk). It was time for an ice breaker: “Two Truths and a Lie”. Of course, my neurotic brain is doing somersaults whilst the others are sharing their responses, so fortheloveofgod don’t ask me what any of them said. When it came to be my turn, I spouted out three things: I am a grandmother. I worked as a social worker for several years in Wisconsin. I was born and raised in Minnesota. Ha! The relief I felt after the words were spewn out of my mouth was glorious!

Then came the responses from my new colleagues: Well, you can’t possibly be a grandmother! I can tell from your accent that you are probably from Minnesota. Or maybe Wisconsin? You probably were a social worker.

Then it dawned on me: Every single thing I said was the actual freaking truth. Not one single lie. Uh-oh! Guess I didn’t understand the instructions? Nope, that wasn’t the case. I then had to admit two things to these people: 1) That I was so nervous trying to quickly come up with my responses that I forgot one was supposed to be a lie and 2) I apparently cannot tell a lie.

Hubs has been known to tell me that my work ethic is, essentially, unreasonable. He figured this out years ago, when I was pregnant with our first bundle of joy and the only spouse working full time (he was still a college student), and I insisted that despite the blizzard outside I. Was. Going. To. Work. Hubs reluctantly obliged and drove me in, but nearly got in an accident on the way due to the nasty road conditions.

It’s not like I didn’t try going to work today. The tires on our Honda CRV are not in good shape. They didn’t perform well on the snow packed roadways when Hubs was just trying to get me a few blocks away to meet my Uber driver (let’s just say there’s a very good chance that I will opt for Uber X going forward as opposed to Uber Pool), who didn’t show up (though understandable, given the road conditions).

I may go into work later, depending on if/when the snow stops and if/when the roads improve.

So in the meantime, what to do? Obviously, I’ve chosen to write. Perhaps if I get lost in this, my favorite all time activity, the guilt will subside and then I’ll have a fresh new post to publish come Wednesday morning.

At least then I can feel like I accomplished something today. That I used my time wisely.

In other news, things are really quite swell in my life at this moment. I’m doing my best to savor it. Hubs is no longer furloughed (he’s upstairs working in our home office as I type this on the new Chromebook he got me for my birthday-more on that later), thanks to Speaker Pelosi.

Spawn #1’s life is going better for her these days. She’s joined a church, is making new friends, and her first husband is currently MIA. Little guy is doing well in Pre-K and soon I will have the pleasure of reading “Wonky Donky” to him via video-chat (bought it online, shipped it to him and then copied the story down for myself in a notebook).

Spawn #2 is busying themselves in Indianapolis creating wearable art to sell online. And enjoying the single life amongst other creatives in the big city.

Later this week I will turn 52. I plan on celebrating with Hubs by going out to dinner, eating birthday cake guilt free (guilt is not invited to my party), drinking tasty adult beverages, and playing trivia (which I have been wanting to do since like forever) at a favorite local brew pub.

Over the weekend, Hubs and I will be flying out to Kansas City to visit our friends (AKA, Couple #1) and their kiddos. We got a sweet deal on airfare and figured we would massively enjoy the Super Bowl festivities with them. And word is, we’ll be attending a Roller Derby event (game, match, duel? not sure which noun to go with here), so I’m likely to acquire some blogging fodder while there.

Let me leave you with this, which for years now I believed was the #1 song on the day I was born (turns out the #1 song on that cold day in 1967 was the Monkee’s “I’m a Believer”) because well…I’m happy (with a little guilt mixed in for good measure of course)! This version is done by one of my favorite current bands, Weezer- who, I just so happened to recently learn, came out with a new album of covers-and ohmygoshimsoexcited-I just checked YouTube and found out this was one of them!

Happy Birthday to me!

Fiction Writing Angst

Sometimes I worry that I put things out there, in the blogosphere, prematurely. Things that I want to do, want to write about. I worry that I’m setting myself up for failure. For embarrassment.

If you haven’t yet figured it out yet: here’s the truth. I’m a bit of a spaz. AKA, overly enthusiastic/nervous. Especially when it comes to writing.

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Like how I voluntarily shared on my newest blogging group “Kick Ass Creators” (Sorry, Ritu, I’m a tad anal about spelling “creators” with a “K”) that I was going to start writing fiction.

Ever since I did that, I’m in this weird state of feeling overwhelmed, excited, and just flat out scared.

Sometimes I worry that if I start publishing stories on my blog about the fictional characters that have been in my head for years now, someone will steal my idea and make it an even better story than I could possibly imagine. Turn it into the next comedic blockbuster, leaving me frustrated and without recourse. Maybe I ought to trademark this shit? How do I even do that? Is it going to involve a lot of technical skills or legal knowledge that I don’t have? It is going to cost me actual money, which I don’t exactly have much of for extra expenditures, especially given the fact that Hubs is currently furloughed and not being paid?

Sometimes I worry that I will get started on this fictional story of mine, and I will learn that I do not possess the skills needed to write snappy dialogue. Or that I will start the storyline then get totally stuck after a little while and decide that’s it. Or that my characters will come off as cartoonish, annoying, or just unrelatable.  Or that I will be made aware of another show, or book, or movie, that is so similar to what is currently in my head that it would be pure folly for me to press on, because my characters, my story, is simply just not that original after all.

I’m such a freaking mess.

Maybe I should just concentrate on writing blog posts. Keep my eyes, ears, and mind open to the fodder that is around me in the day-to-day. Write about that shit.

But then my characters will be stuck inside my head forever. Never to see the light of day. Stuck as perpetually middle aged, empty-nested, marrieds from the midwest for all eternity (as you might surmise, the main characters are loosely based on me and dear Hubs). Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. Just stuck in my head along with my to-do lists, recipes I really need to try one day, worries about my loved ones, and concerns about the fate of the world.

If I write about these characters and their shenanigans, even if  it is only in my super top secret draft folder, they will not die the slow death caused by being smothered by all those other thoughts and plans in my head.

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And I might have some fun along the way.

On the other hand, when I shared with my blogger’s group that I was going to “try my hand at fiction”, I didn’t exactly say I was going to publish anything. So technically,  I could write stories to my heart’s content about my fictional characters and keep them all to myself. That way I’d still be expressing myself creatively and actually writing fiction, so these poor characters are no longer in pause mode, like Sims characters just waiting for direction. I’d be protected from humiliation and I wouldn’t have to live with the fear of being outed as a horrible fiction writer because no one would be reading my stories.

Or I might just keep writing blog posts about writing and publishing and all the anxiety that comes with it for the rest of time.

At this point it’s a bit of a toss up. Either way, my characters will at least be given a bit of a life in my draft folder. Maybe once they start blooming there, I will introduce them to you.

Excuse me, I’ve got some fiction to write.

And some research to do. Some inspiration to acquire. I’m starting to think I might be in this for the long haul.

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I went to the library! A writer needs to read, right? And FYI,  I’m not planning on writing chick lit. I grabbed that book for the main title. Make what you will of my other literary choices.