Tears Dry On Their Own

When you’re a blogger, most conversations with people outside of the computer go something like this:

Them: “So now that I’ve finished telling you about the luxury yacht I just bought with the interest from my accounts, what is it that you do again?

Me: “I’m a writer.”

Them: “Oh? That’s positively charming. Where do you write?”

Me: “Erms. It’s a blog.”

Them: “Pardon me?”

Me: “I write on the Internet.”

Them: “Are you like those dreadful people of Walmart?”

Me: “Heh-Heh. No. I write for a site of my own.”

Them: “I’m not certain I understand.”

Me: “It’s called Mommy Wants Vodka. I write drivel and dreck about my life.”

Them: “Oh, so (whispers) you have a drinking problem?”

Me: “Ha. No. It’s sarcastic. Mommy Wants Vodka: because Mommy Wants Vicodin Sounded Too Suburban.

Them: (blank stare) “I’m not certain I follow. How can writing a diary online be a ‘job?'”

Me: “Well, it’s not. I also freelance for The Stir and Nickelodean. One time I got fifty likes from The Facebook!”

Them: (blank stare): “So you sit around all day writing?”

Me: “On a good day, yeah. See lookit! I even have business cards. Do you want one?”

Them: “Oh, no dear. I wouldn’t put you out like that.”

Me: “It’s truly no trouble.”

Them: “I was being polite – whatever would I do with your card?”

Me: “It makes a good coaster, I guess.”

Them (titters): “Oh you’ve always been SO FUNNY.”

Me: (quizzically): “Um. Thanks?”

Them: “I’m afraid I still don’t understand what it is, exactly, that you do.”

Me: “Well, once I got named one of the top ten controversial bloggers by Babble.”

Them: “You’re not particularly controversial.”

Me: “I know. I should have more opinions about things.”

Them (twitters a bit): “So when are you going to grow up?”

Me: “I’m 32. I have three kids.”

Them: “No, I mean, you can’t simply write about your life forever. You’ll need a real job – with benefits!”

Me: *shrugs* “I like what I do.”

Them: “No, it’s really true – you need to grow up. That way we can go do pretentious things together.”

Me (sarcastically): “Wow. That sounds fun.”

Them: “Oh, it is, darling. It is.”

Me: “It’s been *uh* swell seeing you.”

Them: “Do call me when you grow up, darling.”

Me: “But.. I am a grown-up…”

And then you walk away feeling like total garbage because YOU HAVE BUSINESS CARDS, DAMMIT, and sometimes people leave you comments and you have FRIENDS! All over the world! How cool is that?

(answer: pretty fucking rad)

But then one day, you wake up, look around at your apartment, which you’ve carefully decorated, and realize, “shit, they were right – I DO need to grow up.”

I start Monday.

9284237 Steps To Be A Better Photoblogger

Now, I don’t know if you knew, but if you want to be a successful blogger, you’re supposed to have an advanced degree in photography. At least, that’s what blogs like the omniscient Dooce and the ever-present, always delightful, Pioneer Woman have taught me. Well, that and I should probably make some shit homemade or roll around in a tub of butter or something, but I stopped listening at “photoblogger.”

I grew up in a photogs household. No, not the kind trying to get beav shots of Brit-Brit as she gets out of the car, but the people who have darkrooms in their basement, the smell of darkroom chemicals wafting from their pores. Every holiday, every given Sunday, any day of the week found my father, brother and grandfather, all with dueling cameras, trying to snap pictures. I don’t know how many holiday dinners went (quite literally) to the dogs as we were forced to pose, then pose again, then repose because “the light’s not right.”

I was primed to grow up with a camera in my hands or convinced that, in my formative years, I was a child star.

You know which happened.

Back in Aught Five, I had The Daver buy me a Christmas present – a DSLR. I figured that it’d be like osmosis – I’d grown up with a lens in my face, there was NO reason I wouldn’t magically understand the 8274-niner dials and begin speaking about “apertures”and “light quality” and “winning at life.” Except that, well, even with Ashton Kutcher (who was not QUITE so douchebaggalicious back then) selling me the thing, I still wasn’t much of a photog.

I mean, I got the idea of what composed a good picture, but did you know, Pranksters, that DSLR’s weigh approximately 250 pounds? With cameras out there the size of a granola bar, who the shit wants to lug THAT around?

(answer: other people who are not me)

But, since I was stewed in the embryonic waters of photogs, I did learn a bit about photography along the way.

Without further ado, here is Aunt Becky’s Guide to Photo-blogging:

First, one must capture their subject. In doing so, it must be referred to “subject” possibly using the term “medium” just because it makes you sound like a fancy person.

While you may note that there is, in fact, a cat in this shot, the shot was not for the cat. Because that is NOT my fake-dead cat, Mr. Sprinkles, but my perfectly alive cat Chloe, who is both stupid and possibly brain damaged.

First things first. Watermarks. That’s YOUR way of saying, “don’t steal my shit, shitheal,” because obviously adding that to a photo means you KNOW what you’re doing. A lot of bloggers employ this technique:

While that’s all well and good (supposing you don’t think people will just cut that bit of useless blather off the oh-so-coveted picture of cat vom, I much prefer THIS approach:

It’s ugly. It obscures the photo. And it says, “DON’T STEAL MY STUFF, SHITBREAD.”

Anyway. Watermark aside the subject of this particular photo would have been unclear, would I not to do this, a technique I like to call the “Captain Obvious Technique:”

I iz a photoblogger

If I hadn’t done the Captain Obvious Technique, you may have erroneously believed that I was talking about my brain-damaged cat Chloe, her water bowl (which says, “Good Dog,” which I find hilarious), or, perhaps, my floor, which is in desperate need of replacement.

But no.

Using the Captain Obvious Technique, I left NO room for error. Not only did I inform you WHAT you were to be looking at, I was sure to POINT to it, so that you weren’t under the impression that the cat puke was anywhere but by the arrow. I find that really helps one appreciate fine art.

But why stop there?

There is so much more to be done.

For example, we could make my brain-dead cat Chloe talk!

Although I assume it’s more like this:

By rearranging thought bubbles, I was able to capture that Chloe might be a super-genius, while the pile of puke is an angsty teenager.

But WHY STOP THERE? There’s so much more to be done. If one wants to be a TRUE photoblogger, one must be willing to make it ARTSY.

We ALL know artsy = soft core porn.

And never, ever be afraid to mix mediums:

You’ll note that in this particular photograph, I decide that the cat barf could use a whimsical touch – like a birthday cap and Tom Cruise shades. I added, because one should never be afraid to mix mediums, a textured background. Why?

WHY HAVE “OR” WHEN YOU CAN HAVE “AND?”

Up next, 821,722, 018  steps to be a better blogger!

Blogging…With, um, Kids?

We Mommy Bloggers get a lot of shit.

Not just because we have a dumb name (I mean, MOMMY BLOGGERS? It sounds like some sort of weird disease or exotic insult), or because we’re all angling to get free shit, but because we’re talking about our KIDS! Online! Without their consent!

(all together now)

*wrings hands*

WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!?

/end hand wringing.

I get what they’re saying. I do.

If you spend all day, every day, discussing the most intimate details of your kids life, well, that’s maybe not okay. So we each do our best to write things that WILL be okay when our children stumble across them someday. I mean, as we’ve learned, the Internet is a small, small place and whatever you’ve written WILL be read eventually by the one person who you don’t want to read it.

That’s a no-brainer.

I’ve never kept what I “do” under wraps in my family. I don’t necessarily broadcast it to the small crotch parasites because they’d be just as likely to try and fart on me as they would be interested in it. But the Big One, Ben, well, he knows what I do. Sorta.

We’re doing a bullying carnival (much less cotton candy than you’d expect) on Saturday over on Band Back Together. Basically, this means we’re collecting as many bullying posts as we can find (join us, y’all!) to offer as many different perspectives on bullying as possible. This comes on the heels of the tragic suicides of a couple of kids after repeated, intense bullying.

I asked my son to write for us.

He’s been the victim of numerous bullies in his short ten years. If anyone knows how a bully makes them feel, it’s Ben.

Last night, I sat him down and asked him to write 5 paragraphs for us over at the Band about bullies.

He. Was. Thrilled.

And he did it.

What I got was one of the sweetest, awesomest things I’ve ever read. What I also got were questions about what it was, precisely, that Mom does. He knows I’m a “writer” and I have a “blog,” but I haven’t really discussed my other projects with him. I explained what Band Back Together was and how we ran things and the stigmas we were trying to combat.

He thought it was the coolest thing ever.

I, of course, was bowled over. I figured he’d think it was “lame” or “stupid” or something, but no. He thinks it’s great. I know. I KNOW. What. The. Fuck? I thought kids were supposed to hate whatever their parents did. Maybe I’m doing this parenting thing wrong – perhaps I need to become an assassin or something to fill the kid with angst.

When he was done with his bullying post, he told me, very sweetly, that any time I needed him to write a post, he’d be happy to help out.

I actually had to fight back tears. We all three (me, Ben, The Daver) did. What an awesome kid.

Hrms.

Guess that means all that hand-wringing was in vain.

Sighs.

Fill in the blank?

“WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE ______?”

Brave New World

We live in interesting times.

“There’s a study,” Ben said, “that shows that people who watch Fox News are less informed than those who watch no news at all.”

I laughed. Mostly because I can’t imagine why a DANGER FEAR SEGMENT story about escalators “STAIRWAY TO DANGER!” or a story about applesauce “AN APPLE A DAY MAKES THE CORONERS DAY!” would be considered news by anyone anywhere. But the world needs ditch-diggers too, so I try not to think about it.

I get my news primarily by The Twitter. Crowd-sourcing seems to be the best way to manage news that’s important to me. If that means it’s news about the hats at the Royal Wedding, so be it.

Last year, during The NotoriousSNOMG, I sat at my computer as the wind was a-howling and the snow was outrageous. Roads were blocked, the power threatened us, lights flickering, the occasionally brown-out making me wonder when we’d have to huddle in the basement for warmth. They shut down Lake Shore Drive (arguably my favorite road), The Twitter told me, and I realized how fucking serious the situation was.

My friends all over the Chicagoland area tweeted back and forth about what they were experiencing, which helped me see what I was in for. Also: made me shit myself, but that’s neither here nor there.

Months later, on September 11, we ran a blog carnival on Band Back Together to share stories about that day. I sat on Skype with various members of the board from the moment I dragged my sorry ass out of bed and onto the computer. I was on until well after midnight that day, editing, scheduling, and posting stories – our stories – about where we were that day.

We ended up with fifty different perspectives.

It was FASCINATING.

Not so much that people would want to share their “Where Were You” stories, but because we, as a community blog, we able to see perspectives from people who were actually there, people who lived overseas, people who lived nowhere near the Twin Towers, and those who were children (now adults) at the time.

Every other story I’d read, every magazine I’d poured through, they only posted a few random stories – and while they were interesting, they didn’t offer the variety of perspectives that The Band did. They weren’t glossed over, our stories, they weren’t edited to be more or less exciting, they simply WERE. Because we WERE.

When the Twin Towers were attacked in 2001, I was not a blogger. I had a single email address: sex_kitten23@hotmail.com and no chat service. I’d never figured out why I should go into a chat room, besides pretending to have fake cyber sex with someone, and barely used the computer for anything beyond writing research papers.

Now, I’ve been blogging for longer than I care to admit. If there’s a social media outlet, I’m probably on it. I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t.

Being able to use social media for things other than telling the world that, “Anxiety can eat a hot bag of dicks,” well, that’s incredible. And that’s what we saw when we ran our September 11 carnival. It’s the premise of Band Back Together – a group site where you can read a variety of stories about any one topic to feel less alone.

It’s why I trust the unfiltered tweets of my friends over Fox News. It’s why I believe you when you write on your blogs. It’s why what we do here, in this virtual space, is so much more than any one of us could have predicted. It is why we must continue to do what we do – whether we have five readers or fifty. What we do, it all matters.

It’s a brave new world out there, Pranksters.

And I, for one, am fucking proud to be a part of it.

But Words Will Never Hurt Me. Unless They Do.

A couple of weeks ago, Pranksters, I came here and dumped my thoughts all over your screen. In this case, my thoughts were not about SkyMall kitties or why John C. Mayer ruined my life, but about hate.

Specifically, hateful comments.

I took a comment I’d gotten in January of this year and explained that it had caused me to live a [redacted] life.

(sidebar: [redacted] means to edit out sensitive information)

It wasn’t a particularly good post, however, it was one of those things I had to write to get it out. By getting it out, I’d hoped to be able to move on to a non-[redacted] life. I don’t much appreciate having to shit rainbows and kittens when I’m in a shit ON rainbows and kittens kind of mood, and I knew it had impacted me. I also knew why.

But in the comments on that post, I was asked a question. A question that deserves more of an answer than a comment reply could offer. And a question that I’d welcome your opinion about.

The question was simple (pardon me for paraphrasing):

“Do you feel that the negative comments outweigh the positive?”

The answer? Not so simple.

While I haven’t been subject of numerous hateful comments from Internet Mole People (read: trolls), I have gotten a handful, although most about my dog, Auggie. Just FYI, Pranksters, the Internet is sensitive about dogs.

Most of the hateful comments have been of this ilk:

“You’re boring.”

“You’re not funny.”

“This was navel-grazing.”

“You have problems.”

“You should kill yourself.” (from The Twitter)

To which I would heartily agree with all but the last sentiment. After all, the world needs ditch-diggers too.

Not one of those bothered me, except for the “you’re not funny” bit. And that only bothered me because I never SAID I was funny. Funny LOOKING perhaps, but funny? Not so much.

(pointless sidebar too! Who SAYS “I’m funny” about themselves anyway? UN-funny people, that’s who.)(also: your mom)

Anyway. Those type of Internet Mole People comments are fine. Just because you leave them doesn’t mean I have to publish them and just because I publish them doesn’t mean I cry unicorn tears into my pillow at night. You are CERTAINLY welcome to your opinion. And we all know Anonymity + The Internet = Assjackets. The difference is, I don’t have to give you the platform to broadcast it. Sorry, ’bout that.

(also: I am NOT sorry)

But the comment in question, well, it called me an addict. That was not cool. Why? Well, if I didn’t have massive migraines or two alcoholic parents (note: I am not bashing my parents, simply stating the truth. They are recovering addicts)(see also: I am only as sick as my secrets), maybe I’d have laughed. After all, I was the dumbass who named my blog “Mommy Wants Vodka.” What can I expect?

However, it’s something I worry about. Becoming an addict myself, that is, not renaming my blog. I’m not sure how to avoid that one.

So to be called out like that by “someone who knows me, the REAL me,” well, ouch. Condescending + hitting a nerve = hurt. That sort of comment sticks with you.

Maybe it shouldn’t. Maybe I was in the wrong for allowing it to hurt me. Maybe I’ll get hit by a bus crossing the street. Who fucking knows?

The point is, though, that sometimes cruelish comments do hurt. I think, though, that they only hurt when they hit a little too close to home.

————–

So I hope that answers your question, oh wise commenter. And now it’s your turn, Pranksters. How would you answer this question?

Yet Another Way The Internet Makes You Feel Bad About Yourself

There’s no end to the way to the way people who write blogs, use The Facebook, Tumblr, and use The Twitter can judge themselves. Number of comments, number of blog hits, amount of “friends” on The Facebook, number of Tumblr followers, number of The Twitter followers. It never fucking ends.

Because, at the end of the day, Pranksters, we ALL know someone artificially better than ourselves.

The question, though, is DO WE GIVE A FUCK?

(let’s hear it for a resounding NO)

(see also: why let The Man keep us down?)

I was recently introduced to a new concept in Feel Bad About Yourself on the Internet:

Klout.

Klout is supposed to be a measure of your Twitter influence and blah-blah-blah, squirt, squirt. I stopped listening when I saw the shiny numbers.

Here, Pranksters, let me give you a tutorial about what Klout says about me.

klout-score

OOOOH! Snazzy!

There a big fat number next to my Twitter avatar and some other buttons, who-dillys and whatchamacallits right there! I’m just SURE this is going to be a GREAT representation of how I, Your Aunt Becky, behaves on The Internet. I am SURE I’m about to learn something!

So, what’s this about “topics?” Let’s see what topics I choose to impart my most important innermost thoughts and feelers about. After all, this is what I’m influential about!

influential-klout

You had me, Klout, until you told me I was influential about “tacos.” Because while I do routinely say, “I’d like to kick Martha Stewart in the taco,” I don’t think we have an understanding as to precisely what type of taco I’m referring to. Perhaps you’ll do better next time, Klout.

P.S. Why can’t I be influential about encased meats? #justsayin

klout-celeryIf there’s a single more useless vegetable in the planet than celery, I do know know what it is. Tacos, I can sorta understand, Klout, but CELERY? I hate celery with the fiery passions of a thousand burning suns, more vigorously than I hate John C. Mayer, and I’d be willing to bet that I’ve never, ever said anything about celery in my life.

BECAUSE CELERY DOESN’T MERIT CONVERSATIONS.

In fact, Pranksters, this may be the longest I’ve spoken about celery in my life.

Celery = bullshit. Let’s move on.

Lastly, let’s see my Klout style. Certainly this will give some insight into the crap I spew out in 140 characters or less…right? The celery thing has to be some sort of fucked-up glitch on Klout’s end. It simply must be.

klout-pundit…..

…..

…..

…..

……

So you’re saying I’m a pundit about celery, Klout? A CELERY PUNDIT? I MAKE THE MOTHERFUCKING NEWS ABOUT CELERY?

Ouch.

Just.

OUCH.

Why Being Non-Anonymous On The Internet Rules

I blog under my real name. For as long as I’ve written on Mommy Wants Vodka, I’ve used my real name: Aunt Motherfucking Becky. I WAS plain-old “Becky” until The Real Becky came and smashed my dreams to smithereens. Apparently, there is no room on The Internet for two people named Becky.

Anyway.

There’s a lot of babble about keeping anonymous on The Internet and I completely understand why someone would make that choice. This is not a slam against those who choose to use pseudonyms.

I use my real name: Becky Sherrick Harks, which rules, and not just because I happen to be a narcissistic ass-clown who likes the sound of her own name.

This is why:

0) You never worry about anyone finding out that you have a Super Sekret Blog. Because the moment you’re all, “WOAH THIS IS SO-AND-SO’S SEKRET BLOG,” people find it more alluring and therefore titillating to stalk it. Pop my name into a search engine and BAM! you’ve got me out in the open. Not so exciting for my ex-boyfriends to find if I’m just THERE.

1) It keeps you from talking shit. Sure, a good old fashioned rant feels fucking great, but it feels a hell of a lot less great when someone’s feelers get all hurty. The best way to keep your posts anonymous is to post them via a third-party website, like Band Back Together (for non-rants) and Mushroom Printing (for snarky rants).

1) It ensures you will NEVER have to work again. We ALL know how lazy I am, right? That’s a given. Going to work every day is bullshit. Thanks to using my real name, I’ll never have to work again! What employer wants to Google a prospective employee only to find out that she talks about her vagina on the Internet?

2) You get a whole new identity if you ever decide to be un-Googleable. It’s like entering the Witness Protection Program! I’d have to legally change my name and adopt a new identity, which means I could finally be “Princess Grace of Monaco.”

3) You never have to use those annoying cutesy code words for family members, which makes it easier for people like me, who have tiny brains, to understand your posts without requiring a key.

5) You never worry about slipping up and destroying your persona. Because your persona is YOU, baby. Warts and all.

8 ) People relate better to other people, not personas. Even if it means they’re stalking you on Myspace.

13) You waste a hell of a lot less time blurring out the faces of everyone in pictures like they do on COPS. Not, *ahem* that I watch that show.*

21) You can add your Twitter Feed into your LinkedIN profile, ensuring that alongside the professional updates like, “I recently acquired a multi-billion dollar company,” yours can say, “YOU SHUT YOUR WHORE MOUTH AND MAKE ME A PIE, WOMAN!”

being non anonymous on the internet

34) You realize that when world’s DO collide (online and offline) no one gives much of a shit.

55) People now expect when they meet you that you’ll probably hump their leg while eating a hot dog. That gets any awkwardness out of the way beforehand.

89) You can put your real name on any name badges, as opposed to “Sex Kitten23.” That’s especially helpful if you’re somewhere you want to be taken seriously**, rather than at Stardollars.

144) You know that no one ACTUALLY wants to track you down and make a lamp out of your boobs, because they would have done so already.

233) You know that – anonymous or not – if someone wants to find you, they will.

*MUCH.

**Shut your whore mouth.

————-

Your turn, Pranksters. What do you think about the internet and anonymity? Do you blog under your name or do you use a pseudonym? Why does that word look weird? Why does it smell like oranges in my house? Why does powdered gravy suck so badly?

Six Ways To A Better Blog

I find it incredibly odd that anyone asks me for blogging tips. Certainly I’ve been blogging a long time, that much is not debatable, but my first blog was a sarcastic anti-blog used primarily to elicit as much horror out of the readers (who were our friends) as we possibly could. If you think I’m profane now, you should’ve seen me back then.

this is me in front of a fucking tree

(this is me, in front of a fucking tree, assholes)

 

tree-cat-paint

(this is me with CATS with frickin’ LASER BEAMS under a tree, assholes)

Anyway, here’s my yearly list of ways to be a better blogger. (see also: Blogging for Dummies)(Blogging For Dummies Deux) and (Blogging For Dummies Part Number C)

Feel free to ignore them all.

1) Forget about the numbers. I know how tempting it is to obsess over your stats, painstakingly calculating your unique visitors every day, closely following your subscriber count and The Twitter followers. I’m not a numbers person (just like I’m not a geography person) so to me, ignoring them is Easy-Peasy, but I know others are. Every other Tweet in my stream seems to be begging for more followers.

But here’s the down-low on blog statistics: they’re only a guess. And? They change dramatically depending upon which blog statistics tracking program you use.

I happen to use some geeky program The Daver installed which allows me to occasionally track the odd search terms that bring people here (sweater kittens and boring things always at the top of the list). For awhile, I hosted my blog with some crappy company that ALSO gave me blog statistics. And? The two were COMPLETELY different numbers. It’s likely that if I started looking at blog stats with ALL the programs I could find, I could average them out and MAYBE THEN get a better picture.

But that sounds like a shit-ton of work. Work = bullshit.

2) Don’t get all hot and bothered if you get lumped into a group of people. If you have a vagina and a blog, you’re probably going to be called a “Mommy Blogger” whether or NOT you have crotch parasites gnawing on your legs.

When I first started Mommy Wants Vodka, I was infuriated that I’d been called a “Mommy Blogger!” How DARE they! I thought furiously to myself as I blogged, occasionally telling stories about my kids, occasionally not. Fuck that, I thought as I clacked out a post about my vagina, how DARE they insinuate I am nothing without my children! I am more than my children! I am a PERSON!

It took awhile, but I realized that people will always slap a label on you – sometimes good, sometimes bad – and my anger was unfounded and, quite frankly, kinda dumb. I can let my blog, not the label, speak for itself.

Which brought me to Number Three:

3) Don’t take everything so fucking seriously. Take your blogging seriously and write the shit out of whatever it is you’re going to write about, but stop making every little thing into an outrageously Big Fucking Deal.

Why?

It adds stress and will eventually alienate readers. It’s one thing to be mad some of the time; but outrage! at! everything! gets old.

Life’s not always such serious business. Relax and enjoy it.

4) Blogging is important. It’s really easy to minimize what you do with your blog. Hell, I’ve done it time and again. But at the end of the day, your words all matter. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday, people will stumble across your words and find whatever it is they are looking for in them.

In the past two years, I’ve met at least four families who have received the diagnosis of “encephalocele” (generally, prenatally) and have stumbled here to read about my daughter. Those words I hastily pecked out while writing Amelia’s Grace have provided a light in the darkness for them.

I can’t place a value on that.

So even if you’re writing a blog about knitting or cooking; know that what you do matters. All of it.

5) Blog because you enjoy it, not because you think it’s going to make you rich and famous. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing for an audience of 5 or 5,000, enjoy the time you spend blogging. I spend many, many, many hours every day writing, blogging, and working on my sites, and I couldn’t be happier.

Do I make a lot of money? Absolutely not. Thanks to my profane (whore) mouth, I scare off potential advertisers. But you know what? I’d rather write as Your Aunt Motherfucking Becky than as Aunt Becky Trying To Be A Famous Money-Making Blogger. I do a little freelancing, sell shirts and and ads on this blog in order to pay for servers and other boring things on my other blogs, one of which, Band Back Together, I intend to turn Non-Profit. Mostly, I run them at a loss. Which is fine with me.

Bloggers who do make it “big” are an unusual flash in the pan, not something that happens to everyone who gets a kicky URL and a great idea.

6) Be careful who you get into bed with. Your name, your blog, your unique voice and your audience all mean a lot. Be wary of those who want to take advantage of it.

You don’t have to be all distrustful or anything, just make sure to read the fine print.

————–

What are your suggestions for being a better blogger, Pranksters?

Unwritten

In the 7 years since I began Mushroom Printing, I’ve watched blogging evolve.

As blogging became well-known, there have been plenty of good changes; online friendships and online communities were formed among people who’d had little experience with The Internet, the unique opportunity for self-publishing has launched careers and the popularity of microblogs like The Twitter and The Tumblr soared.

There are, of course, plenty of downsides, too. Companies began to take note of these “blogs” and started their “The Word Of Mom” advertising campaigns, sending out freebies (rather than the actual dollars they’d pay a marketing firm) to bloggers in exchange for a review. Personal blogs began to feel a bit less, well, personal. The blogging community became a saturated market and it was hard for new bloggers to get their names out there.

What hasn’t changed is that I still love blogging. If I had an “I (HEART) BLOGGING*” shirt, I’d wear it, because that’s how much I love being a blogger. I also (HEART) all the “I (HEART) XXX” shirts. Writing here on Mommy Wants Vodka, being Your Aunt Becky, has been a constant in my life. I’ve pecked out over a thousand posts since I began my illustrious blogging “career.” Some good, some great, and a hell of a lot more mediocre.

In that time, I’ve pulled down exactly two posts. The first post was a Go Ask Aunt Becky question about a child recently diagnosed with autism. The post I’d written; the way I’d written it; it fueled a comment war that was more scary and hurtful than helpful to the person who had reached out for help. That was unfair to her.

Astute Pranksters may note that I pulled down the post I’d written yesterday. Not because it was bullshit, or because I hated it, or because I didn’t feel as though I could share it. I’d written my experiences as they happened to me while I paid tribute my cousin. I wanted to explain that those small acts of kindness can stick with you forever.

In the process of giving the back story; the reasons those kindnesses resonated so much, I upset a family member. The damage is probably irrevocable.

When I write, I write with an audience in mind, knowing anyone can read my words. For every post I do write, there are ten others that remain unwritten. I keep my written words and experiences as honest and true as I am able without hurting others. Sometimes, I gloss over bits especially when they make someone else look bad, sometimes I don’t.

Well before I pulled this post, I’d started writing for my friend’s site, which led me to think of all of the words I’ve never written. All of the words I’d wanted to string together but for one reason or another, didn’t. Sometimes, those words remained unwritten because they cut too close to home; because sometimes words, feelings, pain, reactions cannot be explained away by logic. The kind of criticism it would open up would pour salt into an already-festering wound. Others remained unwritten because I didn’t want to cause drama or pain.

Being told that my about my feelings; my experiences, written as I’d felt them as a child, were mostly fiction, I pulled the post; ashamed. I felt cowardly. I feel cowardly. Admitting all of those words; those feelings, to you took a lot for me. Living in denial as I did for many years, well, that is much harder.

I can’t give you a *fistpump* and tell you “I did the right thing” by pulling the post, nor can I say that “I did the wrong thing” by writing it.

There are so many nebulous areas in life, the kind that don’t have clear answers, no villain or victim; and all of my unwritten words, I realized, fall into that realm. Sometimes things just are.

I’m so sorry that my relationship, one I’ve desperately wanted for as long as I can remember, will (likely) forever be altered by those 700 carefully chosen words. They weren’t written in anger, never intended to hurt or accuse. I string words together as I remember them. As I experienced them.

And if that’s going too far, well, so fucking be it.

orchid-picture

*Hm, I’d prefer an “I (HEART) PRANKSTERS” shirt, now that I think of it.

 

Go Ask Aunt Becky

aunt-becky-whiny-babyDear Aunt Becky,

I’m a fan, a kindred spirit, and I have a question.  I enjoy writing and have been encouraged by friends and sisters to start a blog to document my take on my daughter’s life. So here’s my conundrum…when I’m not working and parenting (for better or worse), I am a community volunteer who is heavily involved in my very small southern town.

Hell, I was just named Woman of the Year!

The good god-fearin’ folks here do not know me as the foul-mouthed, non-domestic heathen that I really am. (Did I mention that I have a track or two from Ice T’s Body Count on my iPod?)

So I want to know what I should do.  I don’t think I can truly be myself without, well, being myself.  But I fear exposing the ol’ “man behind the curtain.”  Your advice is appreciated.

Well, Prankster, here’s my advice, which happens to be something I’ve been thinking about a lot (for separate reasons):

You are the one in charge of what you tell the world.

I understand why you don’t want to expose the Real You, and here’s the kicker, you don’t have to! The Daver has gone over the reasons anonymous on The Internet is never quite anonymous, (and in my opinion, a waste of time, energy and brain cells on your end), but that doesn’t mean you can’t simply not mention that you have a blog to the very good Southern God-Fearing Folks you know.

The best bloggers I know capture a moment in time, a feeling, bring you into their lives – their real lives – without having to show you everything, and that’s what makes them a cut above the rest; they’ve managed to find that elusive balance between sharing enough and sharing too much (I mean, the minute-by-minute play-by-play of your day doesn’t typically make exciting reading unless you’re a circus performer or something).

Pick a pseudonym, don’t pass out business cards with your blog URL at fundraisers, don’t link it to your Facebook Profile, rise above gossiping about your neighbors, bitching about anyone in particular, and, if it makes you feel more comfortable, make access to your blog invite-only. If someone you know stumbles across it, well, they do. At least you’re not complaining about how gross Mary Jo’s Super Spam Casserole is.

I wish you luck, Prankster. If you take the leap, I’m sure you’ll do it well.

(and, um I totally want to be named Woman Of The Year by someone other than myself)

Dear Aunt Becky,

What the fuck? I need you! You are my mentor and I need your advice and the advice of your Pranksters.

Here goes: I began a blog back in June. I have a set of haters who are making me think maybe I need to close the blog and make it for only those who truly appreciate my…um…sense of humor…self…love of sex…and, of course, foul language.

At any rate, I would not sweat it but these haters are my fucking sisters! They creep around blog, look for shit about themselves so they can complain to my mother. Again…WHAT THE FUCK! Oh, these women are in their 50’s! Can you fucking believe that?!

My mom tells them to stop reading, but it bugs me that they still do.

I look forward to your advice because your blog is not only open but it is honest which is what I love!

Am I ruining my chances of having Mark Wahlberg read my blog if i make it “private”??

What do you suggest?

P.S. I know my spelling sucks so feel free to correct. Love ya and hope you are on the road to recovery.

Knowing there are people out there who read your blog for the sole purpose of picking each post apart to mock, criticize and laugh about is one of the hardest things to get used to. Sure, the Internet Mole People (trolls) who pop up now and again to say, “U Sux Whor,” can hurt the old feelers, but the ones out there silently waiting for you to fuck up so they can gloat and cheer; those are worse.

I can’t tell you anything beyond what I tell myself (especially when I pretend that I’m Jack Bauer working the counter-terrorist unit, and then I run around the house yelling, “DAMMIT!”): “don’t let them win.”

If you stop blogging because a couple of assholes are sitting behind their computer, wishing you ill, well, maybe it’ll make you feel better in the short-term, but in the long run, how would that make you feel?

When I do stop blogging, it’ll be because I am done. Not because a couple of asswipes – even asswipes who used to be my friends – hate me.

Sure it bothers me sometimes, just like it bothers you, but I’ll be dipped in pig shit if I let it stop me.

My advice to you is this: decide how much blogging matters to you. Decide how much it matters knowing your sisters are trolling your blog, looking for shit on you. Can you blog happily knowing that your sisters are there? Will you be unhappy if you close your blog because they’re being assjackets?

Which matters more?

That should give you your answer right there, Prankster.

I wish you luck. I’ve been in your shoes and I do understand.

In the end, I’ve decided that I have to do what I love, and if people are out there rooting for me to fail, well, they’ll be rooting for my failure whether or not I’m blogging it.

——————

Pranksters, I think this a great discussion topic. I look forward to hearing your opinion on both of these blogging issues. So please, weigh in.

And, should you have a question that you want my worthless opinion about, please submit it to the Go Ask Aunt Becky button at the top of the screen.