Tag Archives: Writing

Feel free to soil yourself

When the kids were little, I used to be good at things. I was organized, talented, nurturing, patient, creative, hard-working, energetic, and my bust stuck out farther than my gut. I was a good Navy wife, homeroom mom, team mom, committee chair, and block captain. I gardened, made healthy meals, kept my checkbook balanced, exercised regularly, scrapbooked, sewed, and was generally a damned good housewife.

But after 10 or so years of that, I started getting kinda tired. Not only was my energy level diminishing with each passing year, but my enthusiasm for the mundane everyday details of homemaking was taking a major dive. Making the kids’ Halloween costumes just didn’t thrill me anymore. The lemony smell of a disinfected bathroom had lost it’s luster. I bought a box of Hamburger Helper for the first time in my life, and felt not a twinge of guilt.

To make matters worse, my once lovey-dovey cuddle bug kids were no longer running out of school with their arms open wide yelling, “Hi Mom!” No, they were getting older and had effectively demoted me from “Center of The Universe” to “That Lady Who Feeds Us.”

I found myself seeking out activities that gave me a feeling of self-worth. I leafed through an old High School Physics text book I found in my in laws’ basement, and became hell bent on reading Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and Brian Greene. But I soon realized that no one at Bunco or Book Club was interested in chatting about String Theory and Quantum Physics.

I tried to fulfill a life-long dream by signing up for sailing lessons at the base marina. However, I almost drowned when I took a Lazer out during a small craft advisory, capsized, and nearly ran the boat onto the rocks.

Finally, while my husband was on a year-long deployment, I tried my hand at writing funny essays. I entered a “Guest Columnist Competition” through the Virginian Pilot newspaper, and although my entries made the semi-finals, I didn’t make the final cut. Despite an editor’s critique which will be burned into my brain for all time (“too sociological and a bit preachy”), I found the process of writing columns strangely rewarding.

My husband returned from deployment, and while we should’ve been getting to know each other again, we were packing up and moving overseas. After settling in to our new life in Germany, I sent one of my columns out to a few newspapers just to see what might happen, and don’tcha know it, The Washington Post published it. Yup, outta the blue. Pretty cool…. but now what?

I started this blog and began submitting my columns to newspapers and magazines, in hopes that I might actually become a legitimate columnist. It seemed that, the more driven I became, the more bad news I learned about the industry. “Newspapers are dying, magazines aren’t taking humor submissions, no one will pay you, the industry is saturated with bloggers, you need to know HTML, social media, and SEO or you will never amount to anything.”  All signs were indicating, “Turn around, go back, save yourself.”  I soon had enough rejection letters to wallpaper the bathroom, but I kept at it.

Why?

No, it’s not the “love of writing.” I once heard a true story about a syndicated humor columnist who was in a bar having drinks with his agent. He was approached by a prostitute who said she would do anything for $100. The columnist took a $100 bill out of his wallet, held it up and shouted, “Thank you, Sweet Jesus!” He then turned to the prostitute and said, “Now, go write my Sunday column.” That pretty much sums it up for me.

What keeps me going is not the writing itself, but the effect my writing has on others. I just write sappy little humor columns, so it’s not like I’m changing the world here, but if I make someone laugh, it absolutely makes my day.

Some of my best reader comments have been things like, “I TOTALLY relate!”, “LOL!”, “Snorted coffee out of my nose!” and “Just peed a little!” So I guess you could say that I write to make other bored housewives laugh at themselves, wax nostalgic, and lose control of all bodily functions. Perhaps the readers’ reactions serve as a replacement for the genuine appreciation I used to get from my kids …. or perhaps I just think it’s funny that you sprayed Diet Coke all over your keyboard. Either way, I’ll keep writing as long as you keep laughing.

If my columns ever made you soil yourself, please vote for The Meat and Potatoes of Life as Top Military Mom Blog on CircleofMoms.com.  Just click the pretty pink circle below.

We’re number one!

Back on May 5th, I got a little e-mail that I nearly erased. It was from a marketing director at a website called “Circle of Moms.” I had never heard of the website before, but out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the words, “You’ve been nominated for the Top 25 Military Family Blogs ….”

After a bit of research, I found out that Circle of Moms has more than six million active users. Wow, that’s like a gazillion. So I gave it a go. Every day, I climbed up the list, and every day my blog statistics went up, until I was #1 on the list and my blog stats had grown nearly tenfold.

After a nail-biting last day of voting yesterday, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life” was officially crowned #1! WOOT, WOOT!

I am not only relieved that I can stop hounding my neighbors, fans, friends, family and people I dredged up from a defunct address book, being selected as the Top Military Family Blog has restored my determination to keep at this.

What I mean is, writing aint easy. There are thousands and thousands of writers out there trying to make it in this business. Be they bloggers, columnists, technical writers, novelists, essayists, copywriters, or freelancers, we are all swarming in a vast sea like invisible plankton waiting to be noticed.

I have been telling myself that I just need to learn, write well, keep high standards, and someday my time will come.  That was  my inexperience showing.

I soon realized that, to some extent, becoming a successful writer is all about the marketing. Ugh.

I took a mandatory Marketing class in college at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio back in 1985 in which  we had to come up with a feasable marketing campaign for the Yugo — that tiny Soviet bloc Yugoslavian tin can that took the automotive world  by storm, and then went out like a flash, eventually being dubbed one of the  industry’s worst lemons of all time. Pulitzer Prize winning automotive critic and syndicated columnist, Dan Neil, once wrote that the Yugo’s rear window defroster feature was to keep one’s hands warm while pushing the car.

Poster/Billboard for Yugo on US market
Image via Wikipedia

There are a lot of Yugos out there in the blogging world — relatively successful blogs who rely heavily on marketing but don’t offer substance. I don’t want to be a Yugo. I’d like to think of myself more like a Mercedes, well, I guess maybe a Volvo. Although I am so practical, so  OK, how ’bout a nice Toyota that you bought pretty cheap, but she runs like a top for years and years.

Point being: I would rather be a good writer lost in relative obscurity than a talentless writer with good marketing skills.

I must admit, however, that every once in a blue moon, I need a little affirmation. As a mother, as a wife, and lately, as a writer.

The Circle of Moms contest was very affirming, indeed. Not just because I came out on top, but because my fans,  friends and family went above and beyond the call to vote for me and spread the word.

They forwarded my links, they recommended my blog to coworkers, they hounded their friends on Facebook at the risk of being “unfriended,” they voted morning, noon and night to keep me on top.

Many made comments such as, “You deserve this!” and “Your blog is the best!” which I found touching and left me  a little verklempt.

So thank you everyone. You have charged my batteries and, for you, I will keep running like a top.

Oh, and in case you all thought the photo above is my husband Francis, think again. Don’t be silly, most of you know Francis is nothing like that guy. Sure there are similarities, but of course, Francis celebrates with wine, not beer! Cheers!

Don’t Pity This Fool

Something occurred to me tonight as I walked back up to my 4th floor base housing stairwell apartment from the neighborhood pavillion, where I had just completely humiliated myself by singing a ridiculous kareoke version of “Lady is a Tramp” at my neighbor’s 40th birthday party:

People like it when other people make total idiots out of themselves.

I guess on some level I always knew this was true, but it never really occured to me as a cogent realization. I have always just made a horses ass out of myself, but never really realized why and often regretted being such a fool.

But now, at 44, I figure I am who I am and I might as well embrace it.

This blog and my newspaper column, in some ways, is my way of turning my penchant for foolishness into something useful, entertaining, and at least mildly amusing. It is as if all the stupid things I have done in my life have all been for a reason — so I could tell you all about it in my writing. Not to mention the fact that I was about to go completely mad from 15 years of housewivery and needed something else to work on.

So don’t pity this fool. I am not only OK with it, I am proud. Let me catch you up on some of my finest moments:

Like the early days of this blog, when I revealed that my I shaved my husband’s back hair in the garage and used the leaf blower to clean it all up, in “True Marital Romance is a Gas.” A few months later, I wrote about my husband’s night time scratching habit in “War of the Roses.”

Or the time I reluctantly hit “publish” on a story involving me, my mini van, downtown Pittsburgh, a bag of Lay’s Potato Chips, a canister of Armor All Dashboard wipes, and a terrible case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, in “My Gut Reaction to IBS.”

Or, there was my description of stuffing my backfat and armpit chicken fat into a new bra in “The Agony of Dieting Defeat” and the comparison of my mammories to two dangling fried eggs in “Five Reasons I’d Never Win Survivor.”

Or the month I ticked off all my Facebook Friends by making fun of them in “Facebook Forensics.” I later provided their revenge by allowing them to vote for my new profile picture from the following seriously unflattering photos:

Point is, I think I’ve finally found something I’m pretty damned good at, and the beauty of it is that I hardly have to try. It comes naturally to me. So if you enjoy seeing someone else make a complete  idiot out of themselves, you have definitely come to the right place!  I’ve got lots more embarassing stories to tell, so  sit down, relax, put your feet up and stay a while.

[Don't forget to VOTE for my blog on the Top 25 Military Family Blogs list at Circle of Mom's website!! You have less than 24 hours left to vote, so please click here or on the pink medallion above and vote now! All it takes is one click on the thumbs up icon beside my blog listing which is at the top of the list, and you are done! Thank you readers, and please share with your friends!]

View My Milblogging.com Profile

I kinda suck, but will you vote for me anyway?

I am a flawed person.

No matter what I accomplish in life, my psyche hones in on the negative: the things I haven’t done, the mistakes I’ve made, the things I am not good at (like figuring out how to not end a sentence with a preposition without sounding snooty.)

I am constantly perseverating over my inadequacies. My laziness, my flubby gut, my lack of fashion sense, my bushy hair, my pathetic cries for attention, my slouched shoulders, my poor math skills, the dark circles under my eyes, my short attention span, my poor memory, my armpit chicken fat thingies that make me look unsightly in a tank top, my lack of social sophistication, my double chin, and my inferiority complex.

There are more, but due to my poor memory and laziness, I must stop there.

At a very young age, I learned that I could use my sense of humor and self-deprecating nature to overcome my lack of self-confidence and win a few friends. Much to my mother’s dismay, I was elected Class Clown in Junior High, and again in High School, and continued to do stupid, funny things throughout my adult life.

Before I was able to channel this trait into my writing, I was somewhat ashamed of my goofiness, seeing it as just another flaw. But now that I can call myself a self-syndicated humor columnist, I feel that I may have touched upon the one thing that I may actually do quite well.

Problem is, my inferiority complex is so ingrained, I suck at promotion and marketing, which are absolutely necessary to succeed in this business.

Today, there is a vast sea of mom bloggers out there writing about their every day lives and trying to be funny. Some are really good, some are just OK. Many have almost no writing ability and are just blathering away at their computers every day about everything from hangnails to chicken pot pies and every mundane, boring detail in between.

I am not sure where you think I fall in this spectrum, but rest assured, I think I am worse than you think I am. But, there is a tiny spark of realism in me that knows I am a decent writer and that I deserve to succeed at this.

OK, enough with the dramatic build up, I’ll get to the point.

I was just notified that my blog has been nominated as one of “The Top 25 Military Family Blogs” in the Circle of Moms Social Network. Circle of Moms is allowing the public to vote for their favorite military mom blog from now until May 25th, and in my pathetic, inferior way, I am asking you all to vote for me!! Whew, I said it! That wasn’t so bad!

You can vote once per day every day until May 25th, after which, Circle of Moms will announce the Top 25 Military Family Blogs and, hopefully, my blog will be shared with six million active viewers on all of Circle of Mom’s social media outlets.

Just click on the link at the top of this page, or here, and scroll down the list to find my blog. Click on the little yellow “thumbs up” icon on the right of the listing, and you are done! No registration or sign ups needed. Please vote as many days as you can between now and May 25th!

Thanks guys, I really appreciate it. I’m sorry if you are annoyed . . . I hope you still like me . . . although I’d understand if you didn’t . . . I am kind of annoying . . . and my clothes are frumpy . . . and I’ve got that weird mole . . . and . . . and . . . .

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