Do you know what I’ve discovered? People like me—they really like me, and I’m gonna do what Cool and the Gang have exhorted me to do: “Celebrate, Good Times!” As of this moment (more by the time this blog is posted), my blog has received 100,321 hits. 593 hits happened on my best day for the review of Skyfall in November (note to self: do more movie reviews), and I’ve been spammed 8,625 times. I am spam worthy, y’all!
Google 100,000 Meme
This 100,000 hits and counting is all so ironic because I never wanted to write a blog, had never read a blog before writing one of my own, and didn’t think I had anything to say that anyone wanted to hear. I got into this gig as so many others do because I wrote a book and arrogantly thought I’d get a literary agent on try #5 (actually I did get a nibble but she rejected me in the end) and a publisher at try #20. (I did get a nibble from a small imprint publisher who wanted to feature my book as part of their African–American section, but after months of holding my manuscript, he decided they were going in a different direction.) When I got my 236th rejection, various literary agents confirmed that it was generally due to the fact that I was a “nobody” with no followers (code for: “Nobody wants to read a ‘nobody memoir’—become notorious and we’ll talk.”) One of my published author friends counseled me to start a blog to get my style of writing and name out there, and when I balked and asked him what I should write about, he said: “Anything and everything—it doesn’t matter, just write.”
For weeks I pondered what a chubby-ass, post-menopausal black woman would post on a blog and in what format? I had recently gone rogue and had taken back my belief in God after thirty years from it being hijacked in the clutches of right-wing conservatism, and I had a lot to say about being duped in life. And then I got a revelation: make ‘em laugh, sista’—make ‘em laugh at you and them. I’ve always been a storyteller so I started writing stories about the absurdities in life because I’m old, and just about everything I’ve seen and done in the past can be laid waste by the magic wand of absurdity. I can be absurd, you can be absurd, our neighbors can be absurd, sex can be absurd, politics is definitely absurd, religions at their worst are absurd, and the world at large is absurd because we all take ourselves much too seriously and do great damage in the wake of that absurdity. I figured if I could make people laugh at themselves, maybe they (we) would take a look at the truth of the matter and change any of their (our) ways that were hurting themselves or our world.
At first the stories were low-hanging fruit and easy to come by because I am a pratfalling, Lucille Ball-type of character who tries to pretend that I’ve got my shit together in real life. But once those stories were all used up, I started looking to my family who immediately rushed forward to tell me what I could not write about:
ME: “Hey, Babe, can I write about our sex life?”
ME: “Why not? Sex is funny at any age and when you’re old, it’s hilarious. What about that time we were doing the ‘wild thing’ and I fell asleep?”
HUSBAND: (Total silence, which is how my husband responds to me when he has had enough of my shenanigans and doesn’t see the funny in what I see as funny.)
Then I started using stories about my kids when they were little or my grandson as he makes his way through life, but I’ve noticed over the last few family get-togethers that qualifiers are being placed on stories that my urchins share with me about their lives or the lives of their friends: “This is not blog fodder, Mother!”
Politics made for great blog ingredients for a while, but I was glad when the presidential campaign season ended. Tea Baggers, so-called Patriots, and folks who claim to be Born-again Christians dedicated to saving our country from Socialists and white-people-hating bloggers like me (one troll’s frothing response to my Black History piece) have absolutely no sense of humor. These folks can be quite rabid when you poke fun at them or their media darlings, and they come after you with guns a blazing—morphing into “trolls” that definitely made me realize that getting everyone’s approval is not what makes a successful blogger.
Mimi and Eunice |www.mimiandeunice.com
Pretty soon I couldn’t encounter a person or a situation without wondering whether they or it was a potential blog story. I never exist in the moment anymore (not that I ever did) because I’m either thinking about writing a blog, actually writing the blog, or I’m editing a blog. Like the time I went to a gorgeous spa for a quick get-away with my husband to have a romantic weekend and be rested enough so I didn’t repeat the faux pas of falling asleep (oops!), and while getting a quick mani-pedi, the nail technician began to regale me with her stories:
NAIL LADY: “So you’re a blogger, huh? What types of things do you blog about?”
ME: “Oh, anything and everything—whatever makes me laugh and has an underlying life-lesson.”
NAIL LADY: “People tell me that I should write a book or something because you won’t believe some of the stories I hear sitting in this chair. People tell me everything.”
ME: “I bet you have some juicy stories to tell. But I warn you, anything you tell me could and probably will be used in an upcoming blog.” (At this point, I woke up from my laid-back state of mind and turned on my inner tape recorder as I mentally took notes for what I could “smell” would be delicious comedic blog fodder for weeks to come.)
NAIL LADY: “No problem. Just don’t mention my name or the resort’s name and you can use anything you want. Anyway, the funniest thing I ever had happen sitting in this chair was when a really young woman with tons of money came into the salon to get a mani-pedi. You know the type: blond, fake triple D tits, spray tan, and an engagement ring the size of Mt. Rushmore. Miss “Got Rocks” immediately started telling me that she had recently married a man much, much older than herself, and they had come to the resort for a romantic weekend because, due to his age, they had been having trouble getting it on—or should I say, getting it up. I had just finished her manicure and put her feet in the pedicure bath to soak when her cell phone rang. At first she ignored it, mouthing (‘it’s my old man’), but he kept ringing her over and over until she picked up the phone. She immediately became agitated and started screaming at him: ‘I can’t come back to the room now—I’m just starting my pedicure. What? You took the pill already? But you knew I had this mani-pedi appointment, and I’d be here for a while. Why did you take the pill so early? Well, doesn’t the damn thing last for four hours? What do you mean, that’s if something goes wrong? Oh, fuck! All right, I’ll come back to the room now—oh, for God’s sake!’ I try to tune out to my customer’s phone calls, but there’s not much you can do when you’re squatting near the floor scrubbing somebody’s feet. Finally with a huge sigh of frustration, she told me that her ‘old man’ had taken his Cialis pill thirty minutes ago, and it looked as if his fun stick was beginning to droop at half-mast and he was in a panic. He needed her to get back to the room ASAP before he was left aimlessly swinging in the breeze like a mourning flag at half-mast.”
ME: “Well, what did you do?”
NAIL TECH: “The only thing I could do. I suggested we reschedule her pedicure because if I polished her toes they would surely be destroyed in the morning’s ‘aerobic exercise’ with her husband. She never returned.”
ME: “So I guess falling asleep while doing the wild thing isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a couple, right?”
NAIL LADY: “Huh, what?”
ME: “Ah, never mind!”
When I first started my blog, I could hardly wait to get comments. The first comments were from friends and family, but comments from other bloggers took a while until I established myself by consistently posting stories and leaving comments on their blogs. It was as though credible bloggers were waiting to see if I was worth their time. I learned to be patient, write quality pieces that would attract readers (make ‘em laugh, baby), and make as few mistakes as possible. (Apparently, spelling and grammatical errors can get you run out of blogosphere town on a rail.)
Soon people (usually ones that I wished had passed me by) started finding my blog through search lines in Google that were beyond bizarre. Some of them (they show up in the daily data script of the blog) I could read and laugh about, but some of them were just sick. (I’ve often wondered what I could have written that would link my blog to the sicko searches that show up in my stats until another blogger who just posts gorgeous pictures of flowers once wrote a blog on the perverse search lines that bring people to her artistic site.) Here are some of the searches that led people to my blog over the last year:
Tea Party fishing hats
Fat-ass chicks in flesh colored tights
WHEN DID THAT BITCH ELEANOR TOMCZYK LEAVE MY CHURCH?!
Little Ni**er Babies
Brother’s keeper tattoos designs
Who the fuck is Eleanor Tomczyk?
Amy farrah fowler
How the hell did steven
Fat girl on a zipline
Katie Holmes journey
(PLUS, UNMENTIONABLE GOOGLE SEARCHES THAT ARE NOT WORTHY OF REPRINTING—JUST KNOW THAT THEY WERE HORRIBLE AND DESPICABLE—I NEEDED SOAP TO WASH OUT MY BRAIN!)
I am discovering that blogging has strengthened my relationship with my family (my kids discovered I was cool and smart because their friends read my blog and like it), and it’s given me something I never expected: community. As my writing has more clearly defined who I really am—as I have become freer to be me—it has not been without consequences here and there in relationships that I thought would go the distance. My blog became a winnowing rod. People who thought they knew me, didn’t, and people who should have known me and journeyed with me in my growth, refused, even though I had walked similar journeys with them. But as some people from my past peeled away (“c’est la vie”), almost seamlessly, a community of amazing people wandered in from various walks of life (thanks Sondra, Maxine, Greg, Joanne, WW (my editor and husband), CDT and KLT and their multitudinous co-workers and friends, Kirsten, Deb, Peter, Sarah, Patty, Jean, Pam, Kathy, Lakeisha, Jeffrey, Susannah and a host of fans that I left behind at work) and the blogosphere. They all liked the “me” they saw, and stayed to lend encouragement and support.
I am also discovering that the bloggers who encouraged me are people I’d love to gather together for wine and cheese on my deck on any given Sunday afternoon and celebrate their generosity to me. I would keep my mouth shut and just listen to them talk amongst themselves as they spoke about what they most eloquently blog about—living, loving, beauty, and grace. I love their writings, photos, and music, and they have given me constant encouragement to keep on keepin’ on with my journey as a writer. I owe the following bloggers a great debt of gratitude for following, reading, linking to me, and in many cases listing me as one of their favorite blogs. The fact that they return week after week and leave such delicious comments is sweetness personified. Here’s a shout-out to some of the best bloggers in the sphere: TDashfield at http://imagesbytdashfield.wordpress.com/ , Elyse at http://fiftyfourandahalf.com/, Frank at http://afrankangle.wordpress.com/, Lynn Purse at http://composerinthegarden.com/ , Dawn G at http://talesfromthemotherland.me/ , Momsheib at http://momshieb.wordpress.com/ , Val at http://valentinelogar.com/ , Nonnie 9999 at http://mikk2.wordpress.com/ , Hudson Howl at www.beyondplumcreek.com, Karyn at http://anobservantmind.com/ , Miss Vixiev at http://eurobrat.wordpress.com/ , Tina at http://daysift.com/, Ronnie at http://morristownmemos.wordpress.com/ , Heather D at http://becomingcliche.wordpress.com/ , Nancy at http://notquiteold.wordpress.com/, George at http://georgefloreswrite.com/ , and Lindy Lee at http://poeticlicensee.wordpress.com/. Thank you, all! (If I forgot anyone, please don’t hate me—my brain is not what it used to be!)
“I don’t want to go viral, I want to set hearts on fire.”― Coco J. Ginger
“My blog is a collection of answers people don’t want to hear to questions they didn’t ask.”― Sebastyne Young
“If you’re going to fall out of love with public approval, something interesting will happen: people will be deeply attracted to your work.”― Jeff Goins
“I finished the [blog] post reflecting on the fact that, despite all the changes in my life, maybe I wasn’t so different after all. If I typed it, maybe I could believe it, too.”― Stephanie Nielson
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