They’re Coming to Take Me Away

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

I have to write this quick because I think they’re coming for me.

I’ll explain. See, I wrote a post for Blogger Idol his week, and the assignment was that we were supposed to reveal a secret. And since I have no secrets (come on, I’m a blogger for crap’s sake… it’s all out there, ya know?) I wrote a silly expose about myself and other mom bloggers. About how we are secretly more together than we portray ourselves to be, and how we tend to play up our ineptitude for laughs. Funny, right?

Except the judges didn’t get it. They thought it was funny, but didn’t see how it fit the criteria of the assignment. I think they were hoping that I’d reveal that I’m secretly a man, or sit around huffing Sharpie marker fumes when my kids are at school. Sorry, nothing to see here folks. Move along. And the most illicit thing I do when my kids are at school is watch The Chew. Anyway I’m pretty sure the judges are on their way to my house en masse to break my kneecaps or worse.

Sshhhh… did you hear something? Oh, okay, it was just the wind. Phew.

So here’s the thing. Given that I’m very very certain to have a judges score this week probably in the negatives if that’s even possible, simply for the crime of having no drama in my life, I’m going to need your help. The only thing that will save me is a decent number of votes. Seriously it only takes one minute. Click on this here fancy link, scroll down to the shaded voting box, check Notes from the Shallow End, and click “vote”.  I just… wait… what was that? Seriously. Outside. In the bushes. It was like a rustling. Ah. Never mind, just a bird.

It’s no secret that, as a smaller blogger, it’s harder to generate votes. I’ve been an underdog since day one in this competition. (And can I just say that without the help of my AOPi sisters, I wouldn’t have gotten through to this point. Thank you ladies. Mwah!)   But I want to be the one to show the world that you don’t have to be a mega-blogger to be considered successful. Can you imagine if a blog like mine, not even a year and a half old, could go the distance? Please vote for me. Or else the terrorists have won.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, someone’s at the door. (Whaaaa? Torches?! Aaaggghhhh! THUMP! KA-POW! OmmyGodsomebodyhelpmeeeee! (Sound of corpse being dragged)

Notes from the Shallow End

 

Week 6, and I’m Taking on Cyber Bullying

Blogger Idol

I’m still in it! It’s week 6 in the Blogger Idol competition, and in a surprise twist, no one was eliminated last week. I’m not going to lie to you; these past six weeks have been tough. But tough like writers’ boot camp… lots of hard work that toughens you up, and shapes you into something different. Something better.

I’ll give you an example. This week our assignment was “Hot Topics”. I’m a humor writer… I don’t do politics, and as ripe for ridicule as the Kardashians are, I won’t write about them either. (Eccchhh….they get enough exposure. Like the celebrity version of lice in a preschool.) But I stretched my blogger wings, so to speak, and I’m pretty proud of the post. It’s a pretty serious subject: cyber bullying.  Never mind that it took eating my weight in Reese’s Cups to write it. I learned a lot in researching it, and I hope you do too. Click here to check it out, and of course voting for me would be even better!

Seriously. Vote. You don’t want to be responsible for me ending up rocking in the corner, my face all covered in melted chocolate and tear stains, do you?  Didn’t think so.

 

Lessons for My Children

It’s that time again; time to vote for Blogger Idol. And by that I mean me. Vote for me.

This week’s topic was hard for me. The assignment was to write about a time you ended up doing something you didn’t want to do. Those of you who know me, know that I’m not prone to doing things I don’t want to do. I have had my share of difficult, painful life experiences, but I don’t look at those as choices so much as things that happened to me.

One experience stood out, though. One experience where I had to leave my comfort zone, and take a big risk. Or at least it felt that way to me at the time. Am I glad I did what I did? In the end, yes. But it was one of the hardest decisions as a parent I’ve ever had to make. I’d really appreciate it if you’d hop on over to Blogger Idol, read my post, and vote for me. My continued participation in the contest depends on every single vote. Seriously, last week the elimination came down to just a couple of votes.

There are lessons to be learned, both from the experience  I wrote about this week and from my participation in this contest.  Has my life turned upside down in the past few weeks? Yup. Have my kids eaten take-out Chinese and Indian food more than usual? You bet. Is my house in need of a cleaning? Yes.  Was it that way before I made Blogger Idol? Um, yes. But I’m pretending the cobwebs are festive Halloween decorations.  Overall, this had been really great for my family, and my kids in particular, and here’s why:

10 ways my Blogger Idol experience is great for my family:

  1. I’m showing my kids that they should go for their dreams. You never know where it might lead. And this year, for me, is all about shaking things up.
  2. I’m showing my kids that constructive criticism is a good thing, because every week I learn from it and use it.
  3. Taking a risk is sometimes necessary. My kids have seen me step out of my comfort zone by making my blog more public than ever before.
  4. My husband has stepped up to the plate beautifully, filling in for me with homework help and driving to soccer practices when I can’t. His support means the world to me, and the kids get to see a great example of true partnership in marriage.
  5. If I get eliminated, it’s okay… it won’t devastate me. I will be proud of what I accomplished. (But, see above. Vote anyway, please.)
  6. My kids are really taking an interest in their own writing now. One is working on a memoir and one has started her own “blog” (unpublished). I really hope they continue to write, especially into the teen years, because I know how cathartic it can be.
  7. Every week, there’s opportunity for improvement. They are seeing me excited about learning new things, even though I’m “old”. (Ahem. Their word, not mine.)
  8. My kids are seeing me look forward to the challenges, even if they’re out of my wheelhouse.
  9. My kids still come first, even if that means that I stay up until 2:00 in the morning to finish an assignment. Because even though this contest is a huge deal for me, I won’t write until they go to bed.
  10. I’m teaching my kids to work hard, do your best, and after that whatever happens, happens.

 

Thanks for reading!  Now please go vote, and make sure I get to the next round.  Happy Wednesday everyone!

Notes from the Shallow End

Paris 2012. And a hint as to my Blogger Idol post for this week.

 

Local Woman Damages Mall, Pelts Police with Pumpkin

The Blogger Idol challenge this week was to write a newspaper article about a fictitious crime we have committed. Despite my law-abiding nature (seriously, just thinking about getting arrested for something gives me hives) I took the opportunity to go deep, and find my inner criminal. Turns out I actually might have one after all! Note to the person at the Dunkin Donuts drive through: For the record, I DO NOT want a pumpkin flavored iced coffee.  Stop trying to make pumpkin iced coffee happen.

 

Cincinnati – A Cincinnati woman lead police on a high speed chase yesterday and caused extensive damage to several local businesses in a bizarre case of what police are calling “Pumpkin Rage.”

Lisa Packer, age 44, of West Chester, was arrested and charged with  aggravated fleeing, eluding, assault, destruction of property and un-American activity after going on a violent, destructive rampage on Wednesday night, apparently triggered by her hatred and mistrust of all things pumpkin.

Butler County Sheriffs deputies say the trouble started when, after becoming increasingly angry about seeing “pumpkin everything” in every store she went to, Ms. Packer apparently snapped upon arriving at a Starbucks and seeing seasonal pumpkin-spiced lattes on the menu. Witnesses say she started yelling that pumpkin is a “vile, disgusting fraud” before she leapt across the counter, knocked over some equipment, and used copious amounts of spit to wash the phrase “Pumpkin Spiced Latte” off the board. Several baristas attempted to apprehend her, but they were all too weak and flaccid.

“I… I tried to stop her, but my ironic glasses got all fogged up from the latte machine she kicked over,” said one traumatized barista, who wished only to be identified as Paul.

An eyewitness who preferred to remain anonymous said Ms. Packer then scooped up armfuls of baked goods and ran from the store before driving away. With police close behind, she began speeding down I-75 while flinging muffins out the window at pursuing law enforcement.

Notes from the Shallow End

Some of the innocent victims of the slaughter.

Interviewed at the scene, where the remnants of the walnut-studded carnage was still evident, one of the officers whose vehicle was struck said he feels lucky to be alive. “You can’t understand what it’s like to be targeted by projectile muffins until it happens to you,” reported Deputy Alan Kipps. He wiped his eyes and continued, “Nothing at the police academy could have prepared me for this. Nothing.”

Notes from the Shallow End

Local law enforcement was able to capture this photo of the perpetrator in the getaway vehicle.

Local law enforcement deployed stop-sticks to disable her wildly careening minivan, but Ms. Packer was able to escape on foot. After stealing an excavator from a construction site and driving it to a nearby mall, witnesses watched in horror as she used the claw to demolish an entire Yankee Candle store.  She was overheard shouting, “I’m tired of pumpkins getting all the credit! It’s a squash, dammit! Who wants a candle that smells like squash? Die, mother  f*^#ers!“  She then turned her attention to a Bath & Body Works, where thousands of dollars’ worth of pumpkin body butter, pumpkin shampoo, and pumpkin perfume fell victim to her wrath.

Twelve year old Brittany Shaunessy, shopping at the mall with her mother Eileen, was witness to the atrocities. “She was yelling something about pumpkin body lotion not even making any sense,” said Brittany. “Does it make sense? I’m so confused.”

Ms. Packer was eventually apprehended and taken into custody when the excavator got stuck in the doorway of Williams-Sonoma.

Notes from the Shallow End

When reached at home, family members declined comment. Neighbors, however say that this was a long time coming. Ms. Packer was known for angry diatribes against all things pumpkin flavored, and often professed a deep resentment that her favorites, apple and cranberry, weren’t given the special treatment enjoyed by the undeserving  squash cultivar. “Every year around this time she’d go a little nuts,” a neighbor said. “She just didn’t get how a vegetable that needed that many spices to be palatable got all that attention. And I guess it just built up until she blew.”

Calling Ms. Packer “deviant” “unpatriotic”, and “anti-squashite”, the Pumpkin Farmers of America quickly derided her actions. “Subversive behavior such as this simply cannot be tolerated, or the very foundation of this country is at stake,” said a spokesperson. The North American Nutmeg Foundation, however, was quick to counter. “Pumpkin has been stealing our thunder for way too long. Isn’t it time the real heroes, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger, be given their due?”

“She just really hated pumpkin. I’ve never seen anything like it before.” Said one sheriff’s department official. Choking back tears, he continued. “It’s the muffins who were the real victims here Let us never forget that.”

Interview with My Kids

Sadly, the bear's suggestion that the dancer take her shirt off, whip it around her head, and yell "Whoooo hooo!" was ignored by the director.

Sadly, the bear’s suggestion that the dancer take her shirt off, whip it around her head, and yell “Whoooo hooo!” was ignored by the director.

 

Okay, business first. It’s Blogger Idol voting time again. The assignment this week was to “write an article about a fictional crime you’ve committed”.  Let’s just say I went to town on a seasonal favorite. And possibly offended an entire segment of the agricultural population. Who knew I had such a dark heart?

The voting is now live, folks. Click here to get to the Blogger Idol page, read my submission, and cast your vote. I’m going to need your help to remain in the contest for another week, because your votes count heavily toward the overall score. If I don’t get enough votes, a trap door will pop open and I’ll slide down the chute to the incinerator just like Veruca Salt.  Do you really want to be responsible for depriving the contest, and the world, of my witticism and mirth? (surreptitiously checks the definition of “mirth”. Um, close enough.) I’ll wait here while you go vote. Take your time.

Okay, did you vote yet? Don’t worry, if you want to read this post first, I understand. I’ll helpfully provide the link again toward the end. I’m a giver.

Now, on to today’s post. Some of you may remember the job interview that I did with my son last year, which took some strange twists and turns. Don’t trust him with the good silver, is all I’m saying. And now, taking my inspiration from bloggers extraordinaire Jenn over at Something Clever , Meredith at From Meredith to Mommy, and Tracy at Crazy as Normal, I’m interviewing my kids about me. I kind of took the Vanity Fair “Proust Questionnaire” and turned it on its ear. The answers were… well, just read for yourself.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

Lucy, age 12: Um, probably like, a quiet room where there’s a big bed where you can nap forever.

The Boy, age 6: Me cleaning the whole house? (Based on my job interview post of last year? Not likely to happen.)

Magpie, age 9: Italian dinners. Clean rooms. Everyone not ignoring you when you say, “Clean your room”. And Flowers. And Sleeping.

What is my greatest fear?

Magpie: Spiders? Oh, and stepping in gooshy things.

The Boy: Being attacked by ninjas.

What living person do I most admire? 

Lucy: Me. (The child obviously has no self-esteem issues.)

Question: What is my greatest extravagance?

Kids: ….

What do I spend too much money on? 

Magpie:  Organic things! Fancy perfumes! Plates! (Okay, now you’re just swinging at anything.)

Lucy: Stuff at Whole Foods. (Guilty.)

The Boy: Makeup!

VP: Yes! She spends too much money on makeup! (Note to my husband: Hush. You’re not the one being interviewed, INTERVIEW STEALER!)

What trait do I most deplore in others?

The Boy: I don’t know what that means.

It means name something that other people do that I don’t like.

Lucy: Rudeness.

The Boy: You don’t like it when people take off their shirts and whip them around their head and yell “Whooooo hooo!”

Um, okay. What talent would I most like to have?

Magpie: Spinning plates on your fingers!

Lucy: Singing!

The Boy: Taking your shirt off and whipping it around your head and yelling, “Whooooo hoooo!” (Anyone sensing a theme here, or at least a frat boy in the making?)

Which words or phrases do I most overuse?

Lucy: Bad words.

Magpie: H-E double hockey sticks.

The Boy: Dog Nammit!

Okay, okay, forget that one. What is my most treasured possession?

Magpie: Me!

The Boy: Me.

Lucy: Me. No, your laptop! (Um, the first answer makes me look better, so we’re going with that one.)

What do I consider my greatest achievement?

The Boy: Growing tomatoes!

Lucy: Having children.

E. (family friend): I know, I know! Making  it into that contest thing or whatever it is.

 

Which brings us neatly back around to where we started. I totally didn’t fudge the order of the interview questions to make that happen, either. (Okay, I did. It’s all about flow, people.) If you haven’t already, please take a second to vote for me for Blogger Idol. Because spinning plates on my fingers is not a career option for me, as far as I know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blogger Idol

 

Blogger Idol

It’s here.

Today is the day. The day voting for Blogger Idol starts. The day I am going to have my work judged for the world to see. I’ll put the live link up at exactly 1:00 CST. Get ready.

This is no small feat for a person like me, who up until a few months ago wasn’t really even comfortable with telling people I had a blog, let alone putting myself out there for criticism. It was… a stealth blog. A double-secret blog.

Don’t get me wrong, I expected the internet trolls to sound off. Commenters, after all, can be the lowest form of life. No one listens to them anyway, though, and here’s a dirty little secret: behind the curtain in the blogging world we actually have a lot of fun with the trolls.

But I have stayed under the radar, in my safe little hidey hole, and really mostly associated to this point with other bloggers. Most of the people that comment on my blog are other bloggers, who by the way are the most supportive group of people on the planet. Does this give me a false sense of security, allowing me to frolic along, day after day, basking in positive comments and adoration? Abso-freakin’-lutely. But. There comes a point when you realize you can’t get anywhere by standing still. If you stay in the safety of your own backyard, all you’re going to see is… your own backyard.

So what did I do? I auditioned for Blogger Idol, to expand my horizons, blogging wise, and to sharpen my writing skills.  And I made the cut.

Did I mention that I don’t exactly have nerves of steel? My nerves are more of a wispy, cottony-fluff nature. Like dryer lint. I have nerves of dryer lint.

And now today, those nerves are being put to the test like never before. Help me be the Carrie Underwood of the blogging world, not one of those people they have to call security on because they’re trying to lick Mariah Carey.

Voting starts at exactly 12:00 CST, which for those of us on East Coast time means (let’s see… carry the 2, rationalize the denominator, blah blah, something something radicals…) 1:00 PM. For those of you in Hawaii, that will be 7:00 AM. “Waahh waahh, that’s too early!” you say? Hush. You live in Hawaii.  Suck it up. (And also send me your address and a plane ticket.)

(Shameless begging begins… NOW!)  Vote for me. Tell your friends to vote for me. Tell your grandma and her aqua-aerobics group to vote for me. If you don’t, that means the terrorists will have won, and the government might shut down or something. What’s that? Oh. Well, vote for me anyway, so I can stick around for another week.

Guess What? It’s My Blogiversary!

Blogiversary

First, an announcement. I am auditioning for Blogger Idol.  In which we bloggers can win prizes and a sparkly tiara probably. That’s more pleasant than saying it’s kinda like Hunger Games for bloggers, and that we’re all out for blood. Which we’re not. Um, I don’t think. Despite my terror, and the nagging little voice that tells me “Oh, come on! Your parents are your only readers some days!” I decided to go for it. I’d appreciate your support, but there’s something in it for you too. There are so many fabulous talented writers out there that you can read and discover just by following Blogger Idol on Facebook and Twitter, you too can fritter away an entire day getting lost in the interwebs! You’re welcome.

But seriously, go read. Go support. Go vote. Follow Blogger Idol on Facebook and Twitter. It’s time for bloggers, often toiling away day after day churning out content that they hope will be noticed, to have their day in the sun.

Next, It’s my one year blogiversary! Can I just say that holy moly, did this year fly by!

Full disclosure: the one year mark was actually a few weeks ago, but it neatly coincided with the crap tsunami that is my kids going back to school. So the day fell by the wayside. Anyhoo, I’m told that bloggers generally do something to mark the occasion. But what? Do I let my little blog smear cake all over its face, while I snap obligatory pictures and then post them to Facebook?  Do I throw a lavish theme party with ponies and a bouncy house? YES! Er, I mean, no. This? Oh, nothing. (Surreptitiously crumples paper with phone number for Vito’s Pony ‘n’ Bouncy Castle Emporium).

Giveaways seem to be the go-to for blogiversaries, but I’m not going to do that.

First of all, I don’t have anything to give away.  Not unless y’all are going to line up for the multiple open boxes of Cheerios in my pantry.  Also there are probably RULES and whatnot for giveaways, and I don’t know what those are. You know who’d know? Oprah. I’d have my people call Oprah’s people, except my people are still working on their “phone manners” i.e. not accidentally hanging up on people and not telling callers “Uh, Mom’s in the bathroom”.   So hard to find good help these days.

Instead, I’m going to talk about how far this pathetic, helpless, mewling little thing has come in the past year. Oh, and I’m also going to talk about the blog.  Heh.  See what I did there?

But seriously, my little blog and I have come a long way since a year ago.  I started off with a WordPress hosted blog, but a couple of months in I made the leap to self-hosted and got a whole re-design.(Here’s a tip: if you’re going to go that route, it’s probably best not to schedule the re-design and hosting switch over for when you are out of the country. Trust me on this.) Do I know what I’m doing? No. Do I pray every day that something technical doesn’t go wrong? You bet, since he sum total of my techie skill involves a.) tearful pleading to HostGator support, and b.) There is no b. Oh, sure, I look like I know what I’m doing. I assure you it’s trickery. The bloggy version of trompe-l’eoil. Or Spanx.  It’s an illoooosion, as the estimable Doug Henning used to say.

In the past year, I attended my first blogging conference. I’ve even guest posted! Real honest to goodness big time bloggers have actually agreed to let me play in their sandboxes for the day.  That, my friends, is something I couldn’t have imagined a year ago.

While this past year has been about getting my toes wet, this next year I’m jumping all the way in. It’s the year of no excuses. I’m going to put myself out there even more and start submitting pieces to bigger sites. The worst that can happen is a no, right? And since I just posted that pledge for the entire world to see, that means I have to do it.

First off, as I mentioned, I’m auditioning for Blogger Idol. While it would be nice to make the top 12, I’m proudest of the fact that I got up the courage to do it. Something I wouldn’t have done a year ago.

I’m also hoping to be able to attend the Erma Bombeck Writers Conference, even if I have to bus tables to do it.  Just to be in the presence of some of the greatest humor writers in the world would be a dream come true. And who knows, maybe I’ll get to go to BlogHer ’14.

The one thing that is missing in this amazing experience is that I haven’t been able to meet in person all of the fabulously supportive people in the blogging community. Seriously, I’m starting to get how people can form entire relationships over the interwebs. I mean, I am completely besotted with the people I’ve “met”. My fellow bloggers are hands down the most supportive community of people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

And now, because it’s my blog and I can, I offer you this:

Doug Henning and his tiny tiny pants say go vote for me for Blogger Idol.

Doug Henning and his tiny tiny pants say go vote for me for Blogger Idol.