Pusillanimous

IMG_0054Today’s Daily Post writing prompt asks us to write about a time we used a word incorrectly. Well, I may not have done this much in real life, but I’ve done it in my dreams.

If you are a reader, you know I write a lot about dreams – anxiety dreams, dreams about my kids, dreams about a destination I never reach. I dream so much that sometimes I don’t even know whether I am awake or asleep.

And once, I dreamed all night long about the word pusillanimous, a word that does not sound at all like its meaning. Which I didn’t know until I looked it up in the morning.

In my dreams, I was using the word, others used the word – it had suddenly become the most common word on the face of the earth. And when I used it, I experienced the vaguely uncomfortable feeling one has when they use a word of whose meaning they are not quite certain.

By the way, it means, more or less, timid. I was really hoping for something more spectacular than that.

This episode is memorable for another reason. When I relayed it to a couple of close colleagues, I learned that pusillanimous fell into a category they called “Sarah Day words.” It seems said colleagues had coined this term to describe the not-so-widely known words I used in meetings that they had to look up afterwards in order to understand what I was trying to convey.

Huh. Well, I guess we all have to be known for something. Might as well be for others’ amusement around the water cooler.

Asleep or awake?

IMG_0351Last night I dreamed I had insomnia, all night long. (Well, that’s not entirely true – I did have one dream in which I showed up somewhere wearing only half my clothing, but I think that’s for another post. I’m embarrassed even thinking about it.)

Anyhoo, I woke up wondering if I had actually had insomnia, or whether I, in fact, just dreamed about it. Was I waking up all night and, in a half-asleep stupor, ascribing my insomnia to a dream state? The details of the dream aren’t clear enough for me to separate the conscious from the unconscious. And I am a little groggy this morning, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

I may find out, later today, when an actual lack of sleep catches up with me and I doze off into my food over a planned lunch with a friend. Or fail to string any coherent words together when my kids arrive home from school. But, honestly, that’s not all that out of the ordinary either.

It’s not unlike some other early morning thoughts I’ve had, of the guilty variety. If you do something in a dream that you would not normally do, are you acting out a real impulse, or is it just, like many passing thoughts, completely impossible?

And if someone does something to you in a dream, are they guilty or innocent? I’ve started many days angry with my spouse or children for something they inflicted on me in a dream. I know that’s not rational, but it is what it is.

I can’t quite make this out, so I pose the question to you, readers: If you’re dreaming about insomnia are you awake or are you asleep?

This is a Daily Post writing prompt – ten minutes of writing, no more, no less. Which explains why it leaves a little something to be desired.

Twice as much or twice as long?

IMG_0590Because I am a small, aging woman, it falls upon me to do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to the chores around the house. (See why here.) Thus it was I found myself power washing the deck on a beautiful afternoon in a last-gasp attempt to refinish it before the snow flies.

In some Minnesota households, this is like a hobby. You spend the period from May to October scanning the weather forecast for three nice, warm, consecutive days. When the planets align, you put your plan into action:

  • Day #1: Power wash deck
  • Day #2: Let it dry thoroughly and prep it for stain
  • Day #3: Watch unexpected storm cover deck with dirt and debris
  • Repeat

You get the idea. If you’re lucky, you finish the project in time to host an outdoor party that requires only a light jacket, and not a parka.

My companion in this task is a well with a pump that pre-dates the Mad Men era. The pump’s a plucky old gal whose primary attribute (providing free outdoor water) outweighs the fact that she’s a little arthritic, and requires frequent breaks to recharge herself.

When you’re lazily watering a garden plot this is no obstacle. The water trickles to a halt, you pull a few weeds, and when it hisses back on you continue. But it’s not so tolerable when you’re washing a large deck whose condition I’ve likened in previous posts to a shipwreck that someone pulled up from the bottom of a freshwater lake and deposited on our lawn, barnacles and all.  While some around these parts are fanatical about keeping a clean deck, I’m pretty sure ours hasn’t been washed since our youngest was still eating his Cheerios in front of Elmo’s World (he’s 10).

So this large, filthy endeavor was made worse by my unreliable partner. The old gal would work diligently for a few minutes, then stop to catch her breath, and after a brief set-down, would get going again. (Lest there be confusion, the old gal in this instance is the pump, not me.)

I tried to make the most of the interruptions. I made myself a snack. I had a cup of coffee. I had another cup of coffee. But how much coffee does one really need? I’m not a patient person, and wasting all this time was getting on my nerves. The caffeine was not helpful.

So I decided to do what any reasonable person would do when faced with too many chores and too few nice days – weed in between washing. My garden’s a disaster, and the weeds, at this point, were mocking my efforts, so I decided to dispose of a few of the little suckers just to make myself feel better.

And so it went. Power wash for 2-3 minutes. Hear water sputter off. Set hose down. Descend deck stairs. Weed for 5 minutes. Hear water sputter back on. Climb deck stairs. Restart washer. Continue ad nauseum.

I grew frustrated. And my glutes were getting a little sore. The work was taking twice as long as it should have. But then, again, I was doing two tasks simultaneously. So maybe it was taking half the time. Or maybe I was doing twice as much work in the same time. Or maybe none of this was true.

It made my head hurt.

So I gave up the reasonable person’s plan, and instead opted for what an unreasonable person would do. I decided to blog about washing the deck in my downtime. In fits and starts. 2 to 3 minutes at a time. All afternoon.

Anything for a little time to write.

My post has a virus, uh…

detritusWent viral. Viral-ish. And it’s strangely demotivating. Plus Andre is getting on my nerves. He’s my…well, you’ll just have to read on to see.

It’s been two months since I innocently published a post that had the same title as a porn video. My first notice was a little like spiking a fever – a sudden realization that I had way more traffic than usual something was just, well, off.

After my initial panic, I decided to laugh, enjoy the traffic, and wait for it to die down.

But it never did.

In the days following my post, my traffic doubled. Then it doubled again. Now, it’s running about five times what it was in the days P2PR (Prior to Porn Reference). Sounds great, right? But I’ve no illusions that these visitors are all reading. P2PR, I could see from my metrics that most people who stopped by read two or three posts each visit. Now they just hit and run. It really dampens my urge to write.

“Ignore your metrics,” my sage blogging buddy, Cristina at Filling My Prayer Closet, advised. But I can’t. I’m a numbers girl. It’s sort of like telling me not to cough. *coughs* See, I coughed right there, just thinking about it!

I’m even getting to know this traffic a little. It’s highly skewed toward international visitors, many from former Eastern bloc countries. I know when they visit, what days and what times. Weekends are a big draw.

I even know some of them think they’ve landed on the right page because they click on the picture associated with the post. (Yes, they click on the image looking for the video. Sigh. Those former Soviet countries apparently aren’t churning out the rocket scientists they used to.)

While I can’t shake the vision of a room full of frat boys huddled around a screen trying to access a get-ready-for-the-weekend video, and their utter disappointment when they instead find someone who looks like their mom staring out at them, I’ve developed a profile of who I think my average porn-seeking visitor is, and how he differs from the traffic I’m accustomed to.

Being a marketer, I like to think in terms of reader profiles. Yes, I know reader profiles are gross generalizations. But given the chance, we marketers prefer to deal in gross generalizations.

Here is the profile I’ve developed for my average reader three months ago:
She’s a mom we’ll call Jenny. Jenny is a professional woman who used to work full-time, but left her job to stay home with her kids, age 4, 7, and 9. Jenny is smart. Jenny is witty. She blogs. She struggles to find balance in her everyday life. She is into fitness and nutrition. She likes to commiserate with me, and is glad to read a humorous take on parenting now and then. I like Jenny.

Here is the profile I’ve developed for my average visitor now:
We’ll call him Andre. Andre lives in (your Eastern European country of choice.) He is a computer programmer. When he needs a break, he doesn’t get up from his computer and wander down the hall – he surfs porn. And when he finds a great video, he tells all his friends who, unlike Andre, do not have the liberty to surf during the day. They search sometime between Friday morning and Sunday evening, hitting my blog by accident, and not at all amused to find a humorous take on parenting. Unlike Jenny, I don’t like Andre. I think I dated him once, and I learned my lesson.

Dealing with Andre has given me a massive case of writer’s block/torpor/disinterest. He doesn’t care what I write. He isn’t even going to read it. Unfortunately, writing is like exercise. You have to keep at it or you lose the muscle. I feel like I’m starting to develop the not-writing version of a beer gut. I’m not sure what that would look like, but I’m guessing “b”.

I’m even starting to resent Andre. On a slowish traffic day, I find myself angry at him for NOT showing up. “What’s your problem?” I hear myself mutter, “Video porn not good enough for you anymore?”

So I need to move beyond my dinner with Andre. Get back on the horse. Turn over a new leaf. Get my blogging groove back. (Ugh, see what I mean? I can’t write without using cliches.) It’s time to elevate the conversation a little. I even have my next post prepped. It’s called Road Kill.

Yes, well, that’s how bad it’s gotten. Obviously, my recovery isn’t going to happen overnight.

When Suzie speaks, people listen

questions

Blogger Suzie at Suzie81Speaks is surveying bloggers this week. She’s asked us to answer seven questions in a linked post of our own, or in the comment section of her post. She plans to compile all the answers, and include examples in a follow up post.

Thanks for the nudge to participate, Suzie. Here goes…

1. How did you create the title for your blog? When I started blogging, I was struggling to find a balance between raising a family and running my own business – and I knew others were, too. The blog originally drew parallels between the two, but has devolved into a humor blog. Go figure.

2. What’s the one bit of blogging advice you would give to new bloggers? Don’t be afraid to grow with your blog. Change is OK, and this is a very forgiving medium.

3. What is the strangest experience you’ve ever had? In my whole life? Wow, that’s a big question.There have been a few but the one that comes to mind occurred while I was traveling overseas with some family members. I woke them up on our first morning in London after what felt like a good, restful night’s sleep, and we all trooped down to breakfast. When we got there, we realized, after an embarrassing exchange with hotel personnel, that it was still evening and while I thought we’d slept the whole night, it had actually been less than an hour. (My family was not amused.)

4. What is the best thing that anybody has ever said to you? Once, while talking in his sleep, my husband said to me, “That’s very impressive, honey – to be the first woman to land on Mars like that.”

5. When presented with a time machine, which one place and time would you visit? It would be fascinating to be at the Battle of Little Bighorn, the site of Custer’s last stand. But I’d want to be able to beam myself back out of there pretty quick.

6. If you had to pick a new first name, what would you choose? Probably the name of some literary character given that I named my daughter after the heroine in Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.

7. If you were a B Movie, what would it be called? Ha! I’ve got this one covered in my recent post about what movies would be like if they reflected my life – The Slightly Hungry Games.

You can participate, or see the answers from other bloggers, at Suzie81Speaks.

Summer touring, blog-style

untitledA big virtual hug and many thanks to the fabulous Susan at Pecked to Death by Chickens for inviting me to join this blog tour.

The tour requires me to respond to the following questions. My answers are, of course, utterly fascinating.

1. What am I working on? In addition to blogging I have started two books. One is a small business management handbook; the other is a novel. Neither is close to finished. I’m also working on raising three wonderful children. None of them are finished either. Nor are any of the numerous projects around my house. Do we see a pattern here?

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? I try to bring a wry humor to everything I write, even if it is instructional. And I try to write the way people talk. Or at least the way I talk when I am chatting to myself.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?I live by the principle that when you meet adversity, you can either laugh or cry. I choose to laugh. I hope others will, too.

4. How does your writing/creating process work? I throw everything up in the air and see what comes down. I take notes constantly – on paper, on my phone, on my iPad – and then pull out the bits and pieces when I have time to construct something. It’s amazing how much content you can pull together from that. My most creative ideas seem to come at inopportune moments (in the middle of the night, in the car, in the shower, during meditation) so I try very hard to record things as they come to me.

As part of this blog tour, I get to introduce you to three of the fabulous members of my blogging tribe.

Mary is a stay-at-home, work-at-home mom to two beautiful girls, ages 4 and 6. Her husband works full-time for the military. She runs her own direct sales business as well as two blogs, Living a Sunshine Life and Homeschool Antics. In addition to writing, Mary enjoys casual photography, painting, needlework, reading and spending time with her family.

Charity has four young children who inspire her to be a #GoodEnoughMom. It wasn’t until she discovered her husband’s affair and her life fell apart, that a lifetime of fear, depression, and anxiety was revealed to her. Her marriage was restored, but she spent an entire year walking through hell, and it wasn’t until she got to the other side that she realized she was actually walking the road to freedom. She shares her story on The Wounded Dove.

Sharon who writes at MommyVerbs, is a working Momma, 41 years old and newly tattooed for the first time, who enjoys writing about life with X and Y while playing fast and loose with punctuation. She spends many, many hours sitting on bleachers by ball fields and she’s on a mission. To be intentional. To pay attention to the action of her world. To engage and encourage others to do the same…especially when it comes to health and wellness.

These lovely ladies will post on July 20th, but feel free to stop by to visit them before that.

And thanks again, Susan!

Why my husband should read my blog

IMG_0349Never one to pass up an opportunity, I’m using a situation that occurred yesterday to get a little familial love. Not that kind of familial love! Seriously. I mean spousal support and validation.

It seems my husband’s phone lit up yesterday after I published my post about cleaning out the garage. He asked me what I’d written when he returned home.

Asked me, because he doesn’t read my blog. He subscribes by email, but he doesn’t read past the blurb.

“It’s too much trouble to log in and everything,” he said.

“Click,” I responded. “All you have to do is click.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened, and let me say, I’m really flattered that so many of his friends are readers. But he should be reading it, too, if for no other reason than to know why the rolling pin is coming at him when he walks in the door.

So I’m giving him one more chance to see what I’ve disclosed to countless others. Here, in one easy list, are all the recent blog posts in which he figures prominently, so he will know that his friends know:

So there you are, dearest. Now you can catch up. All you have to do is click. See you tonight.

Search terms of the sad and desperate

sosIt seems the search terms used to hit my blog are written by people so desperate for advice or supporting evidence, they’ll craft long, elaborate phrases searching for answers. The poor souls get no help from me. Until now.

Some background: A few weeks ago the blogger at Idiot-prufs published a hilarious post about the funny search terms people use to hit his site. It sent me off to look at my search terms, which it turns out are not funny at all.

Other than the only mildly amusing “will i am wears black sweater” and “can I own a cannon“, mine are populated with what I’ve taken to calling Search Terms of the Sad and Desperate.

Clearly these people have nowhere to turn if they are seeking out my blog for help and advice. So I thought I should take some action.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to respond to a few of these issues with the type of unqualified, largely useless advice one might expect from a random blog. Stay tuned for the first installment: Anxiety dreams involving my kids.

A letter to someone’s son

I found the envelope when I returned to the parking lot, blown up against my left front tire. There was no address, no name even. Just two words on the front: “Hey, Buddy.”

I don’t know why I read it. I told myself I was trying to find the owner. But really, I was curious, in the way one is when you get a glimpse of someone else’s life.

You’re probably too old to want a letter from your mom on the last day of school, but you’re getting one anyway. I hope you read this and don’t just throw it out with your lunch. I know this year wasn’t always great, and we argued over grades and homework way too much, but it’s only because I care about you and your future. You are so smart, and I want the whole world to know it, not just me. Anyway, have a great day and let’s relax this summer and just have some fun.

Love,

Mom

A nice letter. But a moment lost. I hope she speaks out to him when he comes home today. Perhaps she will. Or perhaps they’ll go through their evening in a silence not to be breached by a few, simple words.

This post is part of the Blogging University Writing 101 series.

Lost and found

Some people will go to great lengths to avoid change. Not me. For me, it’s a way to regain what I’ve lost.

I made a change not long ago because I’d lost some things. Important things, like:

  • My patience
  • My motivation
  • My humor
  • My interest
  • My energy

And my resolve. I really need that. There’s nothing like barreling through life with a big dose of resolve.

I try to make a major life change every couple of years just to keep myself interested. Some might say I’m an underachiever, but I prefer to think of myself as bold and adventurous.

We’re all busy, and change can seem really daunting when you’re buried in details. But when you think about it, what is change but just swapping that really crappy to-do list for one with better stuff on it?

My energy is back. I’m even feeling a little patient. Seems like this change is for the better, but if this doesn’t work, I’ll just make another change.

See how that works? It’s a beautiful thing.

This post is part of the Blogging University Writing 101 series.