The Write Thing To Do For Bloggers

Very few of you have ever met me so you’ll have to take my word that shopping for clothes has always been a chore because of my size.

At 48 there is no hiding that I have filled out a little bit but you wouldn’t look at me and say that I am a giant fat man.

Nor would you say I am the tallest/shortest person you have ever met or seen.

No, you’d say I am broad and if you use a little imagination it would be easy to understand how once upon a time my shoulders made it impossible for me to buy shirts and suits that absolutely had to be altered.

Did I mention that my feet are wide? I wear a 12, triple E.

Even though I may have filled out a bit, right off the rack is still a challenge and part of why shopping is a process.

I rarely feel like my clothes fit the way I really want them to.

The Write Thing To Do For Bloggers

Sometimes blogging reminds me of clothes shopping.

There are no lack of ideas, sizes, colors and options but I wrestle with which ones I really like and can’t always get comfortable with the words I wrap around myself.

That is because I can’t write with the sort of reckless abandon and freedom I want to.

Well, I could but there are consequences there that I am not sure I want to deal with.

For example I don’t write about my kids the way I used to because they’re teens and I don’t want to create a situation that embarrasses them.

They and their friends Google each other and I don’t want to be the reason they get teased or messed with.

Sort of reminds me of an old suit I held onto. It is in good shape and it is one I loved wearing, always felt great and it brought me luck.

Well, I can’t get the pants to zip and the jacket sort of fits…sort of.

So I either have to force it or make some changes.

Drop some weight and I can get back in or give it away and move on.

Let’s say I get back into it, will I still feel the same way about it? Will I still love it and think it brings me luck?

Maybe, or maybe it is better not to try and turn back the clock that way.

Maybe it is just better to accept the change, but still work on getting into better shape because that provides other important benefits.

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That Virginia Woolf quote makes a lot of sense to me as all of my experiences inform my writing.

Hell, friends and family who read my material often ask me if a particular post or story is about them or something we did together.

Technically I can write about anything and everything that I have experienced and so there have been times that I have done that.

But the older my kids get and the more I see people Googling each other the more cautious I become about some of it.

Because it impacts others.

So the question I find myself asking is where are those lines.

If I tell you about the time a bear interrupted my girlfriend and I (true story) do I need to worry about her getting upset?

It is almost 30 years ago and as far as I know she has never read a thing I have written. I haven’t used her name and I use a pen name here so it is probably fine.

But the stuff with the kids, well that is different and that is going to be something more recent.

Lines are blurry in some places and clear in others.

Sometimes the words fit just fine and sometimes, not so much.

Things I Could Write About

Some of you ask why I dance around topics and wonder if I’ll do more than dip my toe.

I refer back to blurry lines and privacy as reasons why I don’t go deeper.

It is intentional.

And it is because I am concerned that I won’t provide the depth, feeling, clarity and nuance in my words that I want them to have.

It is because some conversations really need to happen in person and then maybe the words can be written because there is less opportunity for misunderstanding, but it is not a given.

The only given for me is that sometimes we are connected to and with others and it doesn’t matter whether we want to be or not.

The ties that bind keep us tethered and it is up to us to decide whether those tethers are metal chains or a soft feather like substance.

69 Bloggers Who Hate Saint Patrick’s Day

You might see the headline as linkbait but I see it as an entry to memories of being a kid in school.

Days long past when people would pinch you for not wearing green on Saint Patrick’s Day and your beloved author would punch those who pinched him.

Perhaps you think that is an overreaction to a child’s game but the rebel in me has always run deep and I didn’t want to have to wear green unless I chose to.

Doesn’t mean I didn’t or that I always responded with fists of fury because I did wear green and I didn’t always use my fists.

It was something that evolved over time and when I chose to stop wearing green I gave notice that pinching me would yield an unpleasant response.

Be nice to me and I’ll be nice to you.

69 Bloggers Who Hate Saint Patrick’s Day

If you are wondering if there is going to be a list of 69 bloggers here the answer is no, there is not.

I am not a fan of list posts for a host of reasons primary of which is because it is the province of lazy writers and or popularity contests.

Granted if you want to pull in eyeballs running a popularity contest can be an effective technique for doing so.

The Sneetches of the blogosphere are glad to wear stars or not wear stars if they think it will bring them more readers and opportunities to speak at conferences or brand ambassadorships.

Anyway, I haven’t any doubt that in giant world there has to be at least 69 bloggers who hate the day. And if you disagree, well I am just following the lead of our president who is never troubled by making statements of fact regardless of whether they are truthful or not.

A Time For Goodbyes

I am making a mental note to ask my daughter if her school experience still includes harassment by the green police.

It includes a separate thought about friendship in general.

Daughter is responsible for having prompted some of this by telling me about the shenanigans going on at school with some of her friends.

Many of those stories make me shake my head in part because I hear the women in my life share stories that don’t sound particularly different than what I hear from my not so little girl.

She is in 7th grade so I am not entirely surprised to hear some of it but when I hear this stuff about forty-somethings I shake my head.

Do people ever grow up?

It is not that men are perfect, because we aren’t but I don’t see the game playing and one-upsmanship that I keep being exposed to.

My issue with men is more focused on those who stay in touch and those who don’t.

That is ‘cuz there are guys who never write nor call and I wonder why I am connected to them on Facebook or anywhere else.

If we are not important enough to check in with, well maybe it is silly to be friends on Facebook because we aren’t acting like friends.

Might be time to say goodbye to some people, wonder if they’d even notice. Wonder if I would notice.

Maybe not wondering is the answer to whether I should let them go.

987 Silly Bloggers & Stupid Readers

Purple Rain is playing but the thunder from outside is the reason my windows are shaking.

The song set off a pinball inside my head and there is a memory from long ago floating around inside my head.

I am 14 or 15 years old and standing in the corner at a school dance watching the girl I want to dance with kiss some other boy.

She kissed me, not tonight, but maybe a week or two before and I am just learning about how quickly a girl’s fancy can move from one boy to the next.

That is not to say we don’t do it too, but I am too naive and inexperienced to have any idea how that works, let alone that it exists.

All I know is one moment she was pressed up against me, holding my hand and telling me things that I thought made me special and now I am just another guy.

987 Silly Bloggers & Stupid Readers

Saturday night finds me doing some early evening shopping at a local Trader Joe’s.

The store is almost empty which is part of why I have chosen to be there now. Parking is plentiful and I can fly down the aisles with reckless abandon.

Or so I think.

There is a guy standing in the middle with a woman and they are busy trying to snap the perfect shot of something for their joint food blog.

I know this because they have told me that if I can just wait they’ll be done and it is really important to give them the time because their blog is really important.

I look at them and tell them that in 2011 I was one of the sexiest dad bloggers and that if they looked at the list now I might even have moved up from number 4.

They just stared at me and I told them that I have been out here in the wild and wooly blogosphere for 13 years and followed it up by saying I started before they hit puberty.

It is fun being old.

And then I told them if we are all really lucky we can be among the 987 silly bloggers and stupid readers.

Don’t ask me where that came from, just accept that I tried to come up with some really cool line and failed miserably.

It happens.

Just Go For It

My teenage son and I are talking about life and I am telling him about how sometimes we have to ignore fear of failure and just go for it.

He wants me to give him an example and I share a couple of work stories but they don’t seem to be resonating with him.

I tell him how about a couple of presentations and a project that didn’t go as I wanted as well as one that did but I know I am not getting through.

So I tell him about a girl who made my heart pound and left me tongue tied.

I tell him about how every time I talked to her I felt stupid, awkward and couldn’t ever do the right thing.

He surprises me and asks for more details and I tell him about how one time I was so flummoxed that I had trouble looking her in the eyes.

“What happened dad?”

“She thought I was staring at her boobs.”

“Were you?”

“Yeah, but not really. I wasn’t focused on them. I just couldn’t look her in the eye and was sort of staring through her and she snapped at me.”

“What did she say?”

“I don’t kiss men who don’t look me in the eyes?”

“Does that mean she kissed you?”

“Nope, I told her she would be lucky if I kissed her and she got pissed off and walked away.”

He laughed and asked if I ever talked to her again and I told him we ended up dating but that was much later on.

“How did that happen?”

“Sometimes you have to just go for it. A long time later I ran into her at a fraternity party and she made sarcastic remark about me. I told her I’d make it up to her, but that she’d have to kiss me.”

And then my kid reminded me he wasn’t really interested in hearing that kind of thing. I get it, I wouldn’t want to hear those stories from my parents.

Funny thing is my daughter wants a complete dossier on every woman I ever dated, but girls are different than boys so…

The Stories We Share

I have been thinking about the stories we share and the things I can blog about.

Since the kids are getting older I have made a point to try and be more cautious about the stories I share about them, but my stories are different.

My stories are mine and the choice to share or not is my own.

Been playing around with sharing more, if for no other reason than I can use them to practice my writing.

It is one of those things bloggers do.

The Cost Of Blogging

Timing is a funny thing and not always in the “this makes me laugh so hard my sides hurt.”

I can tell you a story or two about how bad timing helped or hurt potential relationships but today I am more concerned about it for professional reasons.

Spent most of last week in meetings on the East Coast and came back with a mixed bag of nuts.

Could be more specific than that, but just in case the powers that be find this post I prefer they don’t hear me asking WTF they were thinking.

Prefer they not know many of us felt like they tried hard to refill our batteries while stealing our mojo at the same time.

I know that wasn’t their intention but sometimes it is just how it goes.

But the real point of my frustration is I came back with one hell of a nasty bug that and have been doing battle with it for days.

What You Can’t See

What you can’t see if me lying in the middle of the road having been run down at least twice by the horses and their mad rider.

All you know is that they beat me silly and I am too dumb and too stubborn to just lie down and take it.

Somehow I struggled to my feet, got knocked down again, got up again and got knocked down and somehow found myself lying in bed covered in muck.

It is not the heroic tale we wish to tell about ourselves but sometimes it is what happens. I’ll even admit I called out not for mom, but mommy.

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Anyhoo, here we are days later and I feel like a shadow of a person but a person nonetheless.

That is progress and I’ll take it while telling you that I am furious about the timing here because I have a big meeting next week and this illness has stolen a chunk of time.

Doesn’t mean that I won’t figure out a way to make things work but there are no guarantees and the hammer upon my skull makes it hard to focus.

The Cost Of Blogging

Your fearless author Old Jack Steiner teaches his children to remember there is a cost for everything.

It is not a lesson in negativity but a reminder for fiscal sensibility and awareness. It is important to pay attention to what we spend money on as well as how and where.

So I try to practice what I preach and remind myself that doing so means I ought to take time to look at the cost involved in some of my hobbies, such as blogging.

Certain things are easy to identify, such as the costs for hosting which reminds me I am not certain that I am getting enough out of Synthesis anymore.

Don’t take that to mean they don’t provide a solid service because they do but I am paying more for hosting two sites than I like.

Hosting doesn’t take into account the cost of themes which for me isn’t bad because although I use premium themes I tend to hold onto them for a while so the cost is amortized over time.

Time

Time is a cost which is why it gets its own subhead.

Our time is worth something and because it is finite I am always cognizant of it.

I pay more than I have to for hosting because I believe the service I get saves me time that I might otherwise spend elsewhere.

And let’s not forget to account for the time it takes to write and publish these posts because that is significant too.

I am faster at composing and publishing than most people but that doesn’t mean there is no cost centered around it.

None of that changes the cost tied into blogging or makes it easier to pretend it doesn’t exist, because it does.

Anyhoo, I have been thinking about how much time I have to invest here quite a bit and I keep coming back to the same place.

Not enough.

Or maybe it is more accurate to say, I still love blogging but not as much as I once did so I am going to have to get around to making some decisions about whether to combine blogs or keep both going.

Decisions, decisions.

The Great Google War of 2016-17 Is Over

I never thought it would happen but it did.

Google slapped me with a penalty claiming I had some funky links that didn’t meet their Terms of Service.

I didn’t expect it because I have done very few sponsored posts and those I did came from reputable companies whose names you know.

Nintendo, Subway, Kenmore and a few others.

I made a point to make sure I disclosed my relationship and went about my business but old man Google didn’t like it.

He/She/It told me about the penalty last October or maybe it was November and said that until I cleaned things up they would not crawl my site.

Since they didn’t tell me what was wrong it took a bit of time to cull through 10,000 posts and guess at what needed to be fixed.

Apparently, I figured it out and was reinstated.

The Great Google War of 2016-17 is over.

Push Forward

I was irritated by the penalty but it didn’t stop me from writing or trying to push forward.

My kids hear me talk about the importance of being relentless and of chasing down our dreams and I do my best to live it.

It is part of why I haven’t been as active here because I have been pushing forward in other places.

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I am a big fan of Teddy Roosevelt…quotes.

 

If you are among the long time readers you have seen me use a bunch of different ones on numerous occasions.

Ideally, they have done a good job of helping to illustrate a point and or add some depth and layers that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

That has been a part of the push, becoming a better writer/storyteller and I feel like I am making progress.

Stories To Share

Got a bunch of stories locked up inside my head that I want to share but I haven’t figured out the who, what, where and when.

Haven’t decided if I want to do it here or elsewhere.

Haven’t decided if I want to test things out here with my pseudonym or if I should do it under my real name.

There are bigger and more important decisions that occupy my days, but this one holds some weight.

Circle back to the quote about courage and you have my biggest issue.

The other stuff that is going on in my life is tiring me out and my reserves are low so my willingness to put some personal stuff out there is a bit lower.

It is not that I can’t handle criticism, but I kind of don’t want to right now.

That is not a good recipe for success but it is a good excuse for not doing anything right now.

So I am working on balancing things out by giving myself a little break. Doesn’t mean you won’t see anything new here, but it does mean that I might continue to wait to produce some new fiction.

We shall see, in the interim I am exhausted after a long day of Superbowl watching and other stuff so will end this now and say see you tomorrow.