Silly Bloggers Keep Wasting Your Time

Timewithpeople
You can call me one of those silly bloggers who has wasted time chasing traffic, worrying about comments, stats and whether I would be discovered as the next great writer.

It fits with a life where I have been both the hero and the fool and whatever lies in between.

****

Daughter snapped a picture of me and I wondered who the monster in the photo was, a middle-aged man who had no hair, huge hands and a dumb expression on his face.

Shook my head, told myself I ought to be kinder or willing to do the work it takes to change what I saw and snorted.

There are no shortcuts for making the big changes we seek to make in life or in blogging.

****

Traffic has been booming here, not because I was discovered but because a sponsored post I wrote has been promoted by the people that paid for the prose.

It has led to some noticeable increases in a few places but the book and movie deal haven’t materialized yet nor have I been pleasantly surprised by the support of a patron of the arts.

Yet hope springs eternal that said patron will appear with million dollar check in hand or agent with contract contact me.

In a world of instant gratification the improbable becomes possible.

****

Sometimes you have to look back at the past and write about it because it helps you make sense of who you are, what you are doing and where you want to go.

Dumb Bloggers, Teenagers & The Tales We Tell

Sometimes you read those posts and remember why you write and what your focus should be upon and use the words to identify your true thoughts and feelings.

That is how I recognized the real dichotomy of my life as it stands now.

In some ways it is far better than it has been in years, there are reasons why today is a 1000 times better than it was last year.

There are reasons why it lends ample hope to continued improvement and a better future but there is a piece of me that isn’t satisfied and unsettled.

It took some real introspection for me to figure out the source of that and why it made me angry.

The answer is that even though things are so much better than before I feel a bit like I am in a canoe with no oars and the current is leading me where it chooses to go and not where I want it to take me.

Could I just smile and be happy with what I have got?

Not this time, not like this.

If I did it would be like an addict swearing they are only going to take one sip this time.

When your ship sinks and you fight a raging sea to get to shore you spend time recovering from your fight and appreciating your life but you don’t forget that you are trapped thousands of miles from home.

Silly Bloggers Keep Wasting Your Time

I suppose I could get lost in chasing traffic and trying to get more than the next guy. I could focus my frustration on some people not being able to comment here and all of the other crap that bloggers go through.

But I am happiest when I ignore those feelings and stop chasing the Will O’ Wisp. I am at my best as a writer when I push myself to just let go and write.

I tell the kids all the time to not get caught measuring themselves against others because it is never a level playing field and it is never something that makes you feel good.

Some always have more, doesn’t matter whether it is deserved or not, they do and some have less.

The World Cup & My Daughter

Haven’t decided yet if I will make this a separate post or not, but damn did I have fun watching the World Cup with my daughter.

She has been playing since she was 4.5 (she’ll be 11) this month and she loves the game.

I love watching her play and when she made the All-Star team this last year I couldn’t have been more proud of her.

Don’t get me wrong, I would be proud of her regardless but she put in extra time and effort to make this happen and I was pleased to see her rewarded.

And I was thrilled to see how excited she got watching these women play their hearts out and to have her see the possibilities of the future.

To see that sports isn’t just the province of boys and to see people come together to cheer and celebrate for women as loudly as we do for the men.

Important Moments

Have Bloggers Changed The World?

blogging change
My daughter hasn’t been to Disneyland since she was a toddler. She says she is tired of hearing all of her friends talk about it and wants to know if I can take her so that she can participate in these discussions.

She also wants to know if I can take her to Hawaii, Europe and Israel because a bunch of her friends have been to all of these places too and she thinks it would not just be nice to talk about, but educational.

I smile at her and tell her I am working on it.

She smiles back and tells me she is going to be 11 in a few weeks and is curious about when I’ll move it from working on it to making it happen for real.

Let’s Talk About Your Uncle & The Supreme Court

I smile again and tell her I want to talk about Uncle Jimmy.

She says she doesn’t know why having a gay uncle is a big deal because her friend has two moms.

I tell her that I was older when I learned Uncle Jimmy was gay and ask her if she remembers we had another gay uncle.

She says no and we have a short conversation about them both. I tell her about how they were part of two different generations and explain how their lives were different from others because they had to hide parts and pieces of their lives.

We talk about how it must be hard to hide some things that are important to you and spend a few minutes going over what kind of secrets are ok and what aren’t.

It is a more sophisticated conversation than what I am sharing here, but there are boundaries in blogging and you don’t always need to see behind the curtain to understand the importance or value of certain things.

I tell her that sometimes you find your passion and that sometimes it finds you. The manner of discovery doesn’t always matter because either way changes your life and you find yourself walking paths you never expected to wander down.

“Daddy, how many times has the world changed in your lifetime?”

I tell her I am not entirely sure and that I have to think about it for a moment or two.

Have Bloggers Changed The World?

Long past midnight before the 98 ounces of coffee have lost their impact I sit outside and think about the question.

Certain events stand out because they impacted the entire world and some stand out because they are things that changed my world.

Do I focus on the events that had the biggest personal impact upon me? Do I talk about how blogging changed my life and relate how it also changed the life of my kids?

Is it more important to talk about change on a global scale because of the larger impact or is it more significant to talk about the impact of decisions upon US citizens?

That doesn’t negate the importance of people around the world, it just narrows the circle a bit so we can improve our focus.

The Scotch in my cup swirls in response to my playing with the glass but I don’t see any answers in the ripples inside.

“What is the point of this Jack? What are you trying to figure out?”

No one answers the question, which is a good thing because I am certain I didn’t say it out loud.

The Future Is Unwritten

Back inside the house my daughter is upstairs asleep in her bedroom, the smile on her face makes me smile too.

As I wander down the hall my son pops out of his room to ask a question.

“It must be nice to be a teenager and to have nothing but time to do nothing.”

He rolls his eyes at me, “you had your time to be a teen dad. I am hungry, can I make myself a sandwich.”

I shrug my shoulders at him and he laughs, “yeah, I know it is not really a question.”

“Don’t make a habit of eating now.”

He smiles at me and promises he won’t. I am not particularly worried, I remember being ravenous like him and how my metabolism didn’t care if I consumed a billion calories.

He is clearly growing, the pants he is wearing aren’t particularly old and they are already short. Skinny boy that he is, it just makes him look taller.

*****

I sit down at the table and we spend a few minutes talking about movies and he asks me if there is an update on moving.

“Nothing substantial yet, the future is unwritten.”

He tells me he’d feel better if I could give him more details and I laugh because I would too.

If I had my way I’d have made the major changes quite some time ago but things haven’t worked out that way so for now we wait and see.

“There is a real benefit in learning how to roll with whatever comes along. I don’t think I could have done it as well as you have, not when I was your age.”

What & Who You’ll Become

He asks a few questions about what life was like for me when I was his age and I do my best to answer them.

“How tall were you and how much did you weigh?”

When we exchange measurements he is surprised to find out I was almost twenty pounds heavier. I pull out an old album and show him a picture and he tells me that he can’t see the difference.

I tell him I was broader and I worked out.

“You’ll be at least as tall as me, if not taller. Your built a bit like your Uncle Jimmy and your great-great grandfather.”

He nods and smiles finishes his meal and heads off to bed.

The dog and I move into the living room.

“Life isn’t what I expected it would be like. Some of it has been a lot harder than I ever could have imagined. But damn, who would have thought that at this age I would be able to say I am becoming more like I thought I would be than ever before.”

The dog wags his tail at me and I thank him for listening.

“Guess I might as well catch some zzz too, tomorrow could be a big day.”

Should You Blog When You’re Angry?

angry blogging
The temperature inside my home is pushing 90, might be a bit below or a bit higher, all depends on how accurate the thermostat is.

I haven’t had it calibrated and since I don’t own the place I am living in I don’t particularly care to figure it out.

All I want is for my landlord to figure out that when your AC dies four times in 16 months it is time to do more than slap a bandage on it and hope the bleeding stops.

Had my plans gone as I initially expected them to we would have been out of here months ago but life happens and things don’t always go as you need or want them to.

If they did I wouldn’t be covered in sweat wondering about the relationship between weather and violence.

Granted we may still be on our way out in a short time so some of my concerns about bandages and real solutions to problems may not become the issue I hope not to see them become.

loved
If old Willie Shakespeare were to jump off of my screen and ask me about blogging I would explain it is about storytelling and say that if he really is the writer he is credited with being it should be a simple thing for him.

And then I’d ask him if he thought it prudent to let his anger bleed through his fingers and onto the page. I don’t know what he would say nor am I going to try to pepper this page with quotes that support or disprove my ideas.

Instead I’ll tell you that I am known for being the stereotypical Taurus, it takes some doing to really piss me off but if you manage to do so I will oblige your interest in a way that will likely make you wonder if inciting me was worth it.

That is not me trying to show off or display any sort of bravado. Its place is to remind me that a man who has torn down doors, destroyed walls and done his best to personify a tornado is not a mature man.

Its place is to remind me that a man who has torn down doors, destroyed walls and done his best to personify a tornado is not a mature man.

Been a long time since I did anything truly stupid because of anger, but the past 18 months or so have worn my patience down to the nub and there is a part of me that wonders what it would be like to just let go.

One of the best parts of being a father is being able to tell my children how to avoid getting embroiled in some of the stupid mistakes of my youth based upon experience.

But I confess to you dear reader that part of me still loves the surge of energy that comes with being pissed off. That shot of adrenaline is free of charge and when channeled properly has served me well.

broken heart
Yesterday I gave you 69 Reasons Why SCOTUS & LinkBait Will Make You Gay because some of those things needed to be said.

But I didn’t provide you with all the snark at my command. I didn’t give you my thoughts about how very dumb some of the arguments against marriage equality are.

Some of you have tried to tell me this is wrong because it is going to allow people to be ridiculous and do things like marry a goat or their dog.

You call it perverse and I’ll agree, that shtupping an animal is perverse and wrong.

But if you tell me marriage equality makes a mockery of marriage and that it somehow hurts yours I’ll ask you to look me in the eye and provide facts that prove your specious allegation to be true.

And then I’ll tell you I am thinking about marrying my left sock and cheating on it by making love to the black dress sock that seems to have lost its partner.

Is that dumb and ridiculous?

Hell yeah it is, but so is claiming that marriage between two people of the same sex will hurt yours.

Maybe it is because at heart I am a romantic and I believe that love is a special thing. You rarely if ever get to pick who you fall in love with and when it happens sometimes you just have to go with it.

Perhaps you should take a hard look at your life again and maybe take a look at The Last Lecture- Remarks of a Dying Man.

Or maybe you can’t handle the truth, maybe it is better to read something like Full Moon Rising- Murderers Unite and see if murder makes you..smile.

And if that doesn’t work and you need something else, well you can check out An Uncertain Certainty.

Should You Blog When You’re Angry?

The answer is…maybe.

If you can channel your energy and not write anything that you are going regret than maybe it is worth doing.

I often wonder about how honest we are in our posts and what would happen if we really let go. Or maybe it is better to say, what would happen if I really let go and wrote unfiltered and uncensored posts.

Some of the people who know me in real life have asked me some very pointed questions based upon the posts I have written.

It is fair to say some people have been upset by them.

Part of me doesn’t want to have to speak about what I blog about. Part of me wants to write and not worry about consequences because there is a freedom that comes with that.

But then again, if you really put your thoughts out there you cannot avoid potential issues and the consequences of sharing your thoughts.

You’ll never make everyone happy nor should you try but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the potential for issues either.

Just because you can isn’t always a good reason for doing something.

But if you want a push towards being in a place that makes you say fuck it, well kill your AC and let the house turn into a sauna.

I love the heat and always prefer hot weather to cool, but there is a time for sweating like you are in a sauna or exercising at the gym and this isn’t it.

Typing at the keyboard with sweat pouring down my head is not my idea of interesting.

Writers  are supposed to drink Scotch or beer, not the sweat from between their eyes.

Hell, I think I’ll take out a raft and sleep on the pool tonight. Been a long time since I had a waterbed.

Fathers & Fantasies

layersoflife

Midway through my Father’s Day the kids and I had a long conversation about what they want to do with their lives and how I figured out what I want to do with mine.

Somewhere in the midst of it all they both looked at me with wonder and asked questions about my dreams and why I haven’t lived them all…yet.

I tell them there are more than a few reasons why I have lived some and not managed to live others. There are moments in time and layers of life that change you and push you in directions you never thought to go in before.

Some of those are magical moments that fill your heart and soul with gratitude and make you throw your head back, eyes closed and lips peeled apart in a wide mouth grin.

Others are a different sort, the kind that leave you wondering how you turned into a punching bag and furious because you can’t take a swing at the demon that has been working you over.

And these are all part of the layers we experience.

The Layers Of Life


I play the video for the kids and tell them part of what I love about this song is hearing all of the different voices singing together.

Instead of one element there is an alloy, a melding of minds that lends itself to creating a different sort of musical mashup.

It is an experience you can’t have alone.

We go back and forth about this and that, sharing moments and memories and I talk about the importance of taking time for yourself to figure out what you want and how you intend to get it.

The point is to help them understand the value of good friends and companionship as well as recognizing that sometimes we need to take time for ourselves to learn who we are.

****

My going to be 11-years-old in a few weeks daughter is starting to talk about boys and making me wonder if she is going to be interested in them sooner than later.

Her older brother, the boy who enters high school in the Fall claims to have no interest in girls. He tells me he sees no reason to hang out with them because most are irritating.

I ask him if is sure about that and he says there are probably a few who might make decent friends, but the screaming, squealing and assorted other comments about middle school girls makes him wonder why he should take the time.

Besides, the few friends of his who have had girlfriends always end up complaining about being bossed around and or irritated in one way or another.

I assure him it doesn’t have to be like that and if you find the right girl she can be a good friend and fun to play with. He tells me he is not interested in learning what fun means and I tell him to relax, I am not pushing him.

What I don’t tell him is I am convinced he is paying far more attention than he claims, but that is ok, one day he’ll admit I am right. :)

Fathers & Fantasies

I look at the blog stats to see what the most popular posts here are and wonder if I should try to focus some of my writing around them.

The concept is give the people what they want and it is easier to build the blog faster than I have been. The theory that follows is it helps build exposure and it leads to more writing opportunities.

More opportunities mean more chances for Old Jack Steiner to try and live fantasies and not dream them.

So I grab a sample of the top 50 (based upon pageviews) and ask myself what I think I should do to leverage the strength of the posts I see in the list below.

  1. A Letter To My Children-2011
  2. Some Things I’ll Teach My Children (Updated)
  3. The Best Cover Letter….Ever
  4. One Slightly Used Pump For Sale
  5. Mean Girls Come From Mean Moms
  6. Why Steve Jobs Isn’t Important Now
  7. There Are No Coincidences
  8. Never Bet Against A Sicilian When Death Is On The Line
  9. Thank You Lewis Black- If It Weren’t For My Horse
  10. A Letter To The Universe
  11. 666 Devilish Ways To Become A Social Media Superstar
  12. How To Deal With Mean Girls & Mean Moms
  13. Why Your Post Sucks and Everyone Hates Your Blog
  14. A Letter To My Children-2012

It is mixture of topics and I see a variety of ways to attack it but what I don’t feel is a tremendous push to focus on these.

I prefer to continue to follow my own path. I prefer to look at the layers of life and write about them as they strike my fancy and not force the square into the circular hole.

In good conscience I ask myself if this is what I would advise my children to do and wonder if it’s the right path.

The gut response is immediate, “follow your gut” and let things grow as they will. Sustain your effort and good things will continue to come from that.

Fleetwood Mac is singing Gold Rush Woman and I look at the video to watch and listen to the layers and I think about how old the band is and how they have managed to stick around for so many years.

There is a more sophisticated answer than saying they just kept doing what they do, but “doing what they do” works for me.

It makes sense and sometimes the best way for father to live his dreams and turn fantasy into reality is to just do what he does.

So that is what I am going to do, keep writing about what I want, when I want and see where it takes me. There is joy in the journey.

It’s Another Blog Post No One Reads

breeding
If the sole measure of success in blogging is based upon traffic I am in the midst of one of the most successful periods I have ever had during my career.

There is a significant bump in unique users and page views that began last Thursday and has continued throughout the entire weekend.

That is the kind of sustained increase that every writer/blogger hopes to enjoy because it seems to provide evidence that your work resonates with others but if you are like me you want confirmation.

It is not for lack of faith in your own ability but because confirmation provides both personal satisfaction and metrics you can use to justify whatever rate you choose to charge for your services.

It’s Another Blog Post No One Reads

I set out to find that proof by looking at engagement but didn’t find much in the way of comments so I took a look at unique users, pageviews and time spent on page.

Those numbers provided more support and evidence that people didn’t just point-and-click their way through here but something about it left me feeling a bit uncertain.

I wasn’t sure why so I sat down and thought about what bothered me.

Something about it reminded me of The Radical Honesty of a Life I Don’t Love.

When you have high standards and are hard on yourself it is easy to be irritated if you haven’t accomplished as much as you think you should have.

Those feelings might be exacerbated by feeling like you have been let down or betrayed by people you trust, not so much because of their actions but because you feel like you should have known better.

What is funny to me about it all is I have had conversations with my children about the need to remember we can’t control people and that some will come and go in our lives.

Call that proof that I am not always good at following my own advice.

Do as I say and not as I do.

How Blogging Provides Perspective

One of the most significant and practical aspects of blogging is the way in which it provides and shapes our perspective.

If you are honest in your writing it offers you an opportunity to gain a thorough understanding of what you really think and feel.

That is significant because the opportunity afforded by this isn’t limited to a single moment in time. It is magnified by allowing you to compare what you think/feel/did during a particular period of time against another.

Or in regard to my situation when I compare where I was when I wrote the post about the life I didn’t love against my current circumstances it is clear I have made enormous progress.

The net result is I recognize I am being unnecessarily hard on myself about my accomplishments.

That doesn’t negate my desire to have done more but it does remind me that I should give myself more credit and to recognize that how we measure progress/success has a significant impact on whether we think we have or have not made our mark.

courage

The hardest part about Father’s Day 2015 is the uncertainty of my current circumstances.

A while back I decided one of the reasons I felt like I hadn’t accomplished enough was my failure to provide as many experiences for my children as I would like to.

It didn’t require any effort to recognize that money was the problem and solution.

I devised a fool proof plan for knocking over Fort Knox but decided against it because I didn’t want to be the fool whose  fool proof plan failed so I searched for alternatives.

The lottery people refuse to provide me with the numbers for winning the lotto and are unwilling to guarantee I will win so I can’t count on them to solve this financial conundrum.

There are no wealthy millionaires or billionaires in my family who plan on dying soon and are willing to name me as the recipient of their fortunes so inheritance is out.

For a short while I thought about making my fortune by buying property in cleveland and Detroit but no one with any sense wants to live there so I figured that would be a bust.

The net result of all this is the recognition I can either move to a place that has a lower cost of living or find a way to make more money where I am at.

Or even better is to take a job that pays more than I am currently earning in a place with a lower cost-of-living.

That would fall into the “work smarter, not harder” advice I give my children.

Take Control Of Your Life

The point of it all if you will is to remember that although we never have complete control of our lives we do have control over how we choose to respond.

We have the ability to use our blogs to understand our thoughts and to provide a more balanced perspective about whatever particular challenges we face.

And as I remind my children we should remember there will always be critics who tell us why we should or should not do something.

Don’t let people who don’t have to live with the consequences of your actions or lack thereof be the one who make important decisions for you.

Or at least, do your best not to.

Sometimes there is no way around it and you get stuck waiting for them to choose their path but that is a different situation altogether.

But what do I know, I am just another dad blogger trying to make a better life for his family.  I’d rather take a chance and fail than fail to take a chance.

You either try to live your dreams or just dream your life away.