Now I’m A Twit With A Face

If you’ve been following the saga of my twice-disabled Facebook account, because The Empire Facebook thought I was impersonating myself, you know I’ve been questioning the value of going through this frustration just to try to pick up a few more followers and broaden my community of readers.

I said if they disabled me again I’d give up, but I’m not the type to admit defeat so easily.

This time I think I’ve got it, and I can get back to the purpose of the blog: writing.

I’m not going to tell you how I did it because I don’t want to provoke Soulless Algorithm again. I just behaved in the ways Soulless Algorithm seemed to want me to behave, and took it slow, and followed some suggestions I Google-found about what to do and what not to do.

So fingers crossed, my next post (Soulless Algorithm knows all, don’t poke it) which will be a real post that is actually about something human, should end up shared on both Twitter and Facebook. The Facebook page should be found by searching for Ridiculouswomanblogger. The Twitter account is @Ridiculouswidow.

Sheesh!

Your slowly becoming slightly less socially impaired, I hope,

Ridiculouswoman

TweetFace

Resistance is futile. I’m required to twitface.

Alright, already! I did it – connected this blog to a Twitter account (@ridiculouswidow, because someone already had ridiculouswoman) and Facebook, where I recreated a page for it, which was no small feat, because Facebook’s soulless algorithm didn’t believe I was me.

It thought using my logo as the profile picture on my personal page, which I have to have to have a Page page, which is the only way WordPress can be connected to Facebook to automatically post your posts on a Page, was “suspicious.” It said the first post I added, which said I created the account so I could have a Page, violated “community standards.”  It seemed to think I was impersonating myself and locked the new account. It asked me for a photo that looked like me, and I sent one, and it still didn’t believe me, and disabled the new account, thereby destroying two hours work in setting up the page.

Facebook, dear, I am not some Russian bot loosed upon your bandwidth to wreak havoc across the land. I’m a short, stout, suburban widow who writes a blog. Is that so hard to believe? I almost decided not to bother trying again.

But resistance is futile.  I must have a “platform,” that virtual thing you stand on to convince literary agents and small publications that you’ve got something people might want and your writing is worth a look. Ergo, I must have a social media “presence.”

Things haven’t been going well on the job front or the query front, so I figured I’d better get serious about building the “platform” –

I’m working to overcome my social impairment enough to think of something to tweet and people to follow, and to gather some new readers, commenters, and “likers.” I hope to build a larger community of wonderfully,  um…eclectic people (that’s enough italics for today, old girl) out there who actually enjoy reading what I write, even if the subject matter is a little all over the place.

Because in addition to the problem I identified with my book (no grand social themes, except cancer and autism, which affect more and more people every day, and love and death, which affect everyone), I’m not the “marginalized voice” they all seem to want (except for my age).  I have also belligerently deliberately avoided strictly confining myself to a “niche” like all those “how to succeed in blogging without really writing” pundits demand – I want my “niche” to be 800 words of something worth reading. Oh, and a few published books, so I can legitimately add “author of…” to my bio (and someone will add it to my obit, when the time comes).

I decided when I started this blog that, although I would write about grief and life as a widow, I didn’t want to be a “professional widow” – I want to be a writer – an engaging, entertaining, occasionally heartstring-plucking and often, I hope, funny, writer.

So, the “Twitterverse” and the Empire Facebook will now have the benefit of my blatherings, or links thereto, at least.

Starting with my next post (I thought we decided enough!)

Because I’m pretty sure if I post this to Facebook, their soulless algorithm will shut me down again, just for saying I don’t like Facebook. Today as I was setting it back up, it thought it found “suspicious activity” in my account again, and made me prove who I was two more ways before it let me back in. So I put the actual photograph I cartoonified to make my logo on there as my profile picture. See, Facebook? That IS me! (oh, all CAPS now?) Take that, Facebook!

There are a lot of not-nice people on social media. But by avoiding politics and “niches”  I hope to interest a few of the nicer people – people who like words, reading, gardening, stargazing, redecorating, failing and trying again, laughing, crying, loving their kids, remembering their lost loved ones, and being gentle in the face of human foibles and frailty.

I hope we can learn something, or share something, or just commiserate along the way.

So, welcome, Tweetie birds, and hello, again, Facebook friends, if you manage to find me.

After my next post (well, the CAPS were too shouty!)

But this one is just for you guys – current followers of this blog, some of whom have been with me since the first few posts – it’s a comfort (and a bit of a thrill) to know you’re on the receiving end of this, and, I hope, actually reading it and enjoying it from time to time. And liking, commenting, sharing with others who might.

Stepping reluctantly, tentatively and fretfully into, or back into, the social media morass, I remain,

Your skeptical, resistant, but biting-the-bullet and getting it done,

Ridiculouswoman

Image by ijmaki from Pixabay

Big News

Nothing like a little external validation – for my writing.

A piece of mine was featured yesterday on wowblog.me; “wow” stands for “Women’s Older Wisdom.”

Here’s a direct link:

http://wowblog.me/this-isnt-exactly-what-we-had-planned/

I will be paid for it.

Let’s let that land for a minute.

I have been writing since I was a pre-schooler. This is the first time I can remember where I will be paid for writing something that wasn’t to serve or promote an organization I worked for as an employee, or to win a prize in school by writing about someone else’s writing.

This is me getting paid for writing as me, A WRITER.

Hot damn.

Validation, thy name is “the check’s in the mail.”

And delightfully, validation out of serendipity: this opportunity came about because my cousin forwarded a link to “On Dying Heroically” to Pat Taub, who runs wowblog.me. An invitation to submit a guest post resulted. So thanks, Cos! And thanks, Pat, for the opportunity.

I chose an image of fireworks against a dark sky for this announcement, because this accomplishment is a bit bittersweet: I was asked to produce a piece on widowhood in middle age. But that’s what I’m living and writing about, so that was fine with me.

For those of you looking for guest post opportunities, Wowblog.me is interested: the blog wants to reflect diverse opinions and experiences. If you want to submit, your piece should be 550-650 words and you should include a short bio (100 words or less) and a thumbnail head shot. Take a look at the blog to get an idea of the kinds of articles published there.

When I looked at my stats, I realized that readers who came over from wowblog.me to check out Ridiculouswoman were looking at pages I hadn’t updated in a while, like my about page, and my books and music page. So that gave me a nudge to tidy those up a bit.

I did recently add a few new entries to the Snark Tank – check out “Whipped,” “Meat is Gluten Free!” and a new, top entry under “Shit Doctors Say.”

That this happened, getting published on somebody else’s blog and getting paid for it,  finally pushed me to add “freelance blogger” to my resume and even to my LinkedIn profile. Not that I’d quit a day job, if I had one! Still looking, there. But I’m looking for a day job (or a part-time job or any kind of a job that will bring in some money to pay for silly things like health insurance and electricity) to support my brand new, long-postponed, writing “career” and related (hoped-for) speaking engagements.

If you’re new here, please sign up to follow either through WordPress or by email (there are links on the right) and do share your comments – you don’t have to have an account to do that. (If you run into any snags trying to post a comment, please let me know and I’ll look into it.)

Thanks for reading and for your support. Readers of and commenters on this blog are my online community, and I love you. I really do. Curses, no tissues handy, again…

Sore from newly adopted devotion to working out spurred by alarming weight gain, and trying to get up the gumption to paint another room, I remain,

Your actually published by someone other than myself,

Ridiculouswoman

By “Traffic” I Meant Cars, Not Clicks

I thought blogging was about writing – silly me.

Yesterday, I used the word “traffic” as a tag in a blog post.

Big mistake.

(The post existed only to send readers over to the Snark Tank, where I had added content. Snarky content. I’m not proud. But that’s why the Snark Tank is over there on a separate page).

What I didn’t realize was what a loaded “tag” the word “traffic” was.

I meant road traffic – you know, cars on concrete or asphalt?

Not blog traffic.

It took me an hour or two to figure out why my home page was getting such a spike in views – near record number of views, and several “likes,” which was odd, because the stats indicated that less than half the people who viewed the blog post actually clicked through to the Snark Tank, which was the whole purpose of the (one-line) post.

One guy somehow managed to “like” the post three times.

Several of the new “likers” and a few new followers have blogs that appear to be about – well,  how to get more traffic on your blog. I always try to check out new “likers” and “followers” to see what might have drawn them here, and to see if their “like” or “follow” might lead me to a blog I’d love to read.

In this case, for the most part, no such luck.

Look,  I was very late to the blogging party and, as it turns out, quite naive about the blogging enterprise when I created this blog in October of 2017.

I though blogs were for writing. And reading. And reading other people’s writing.

It hadn’t occurred to me that there was a universe of blogs that existed seemingly only to promote their existence (“Here’s a blog! Like my blog!”) without really offering much else, except additional promotion of  an underlying business enterprise.

In this instance, the “likers” and new followers seemed to be marketers marketing their ability to market things, including blogs. SEO and all that.

Look, I understand the need to “monetize:” I’ve got a store, I’ve got a “donate” button, but they’re mostly just to try to make a little scratch so I don’t have to interrupt the flow of the blog with ads. So far, zippo on that front anyway.

But my goal with this blog is not to simply pile up a big number of “followers” who don’t actually read or interact with anything I write.

My goal was to contribute something, some small thing, that entertains, or might brighten a day, share an emotion, validate an experience or just help me as a writer (and a person) and you as a reader (and a person) to not feel so alone. “Learning from loss to live with love and laughter,” right? And gratitude.

So I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but I’m going to let go of followers who appear to have chosen to follow my blog only to draw my attention to some thing, or some service, they want to sell me. Hey, grab me with with your writing, and I might buy your book – but I’m not going to buy your ten or twelve or whatever secrets to SEO success, OK?

I’m positive the folks I let go of won’t notice that they aren’t seeing Ridiculouswoman in their feed. Because I’m positive they just clicked “like” or “follow” because of the tag “traffic” and didn’t actually read a word of the post itself.

Not even that one-line post.

They might come back. OK.

If they actually are following and read all the way to here (yeah, and over in the Snark Tank, I’m sayin’ “fat chance”) I think owe it to them to repeat that I don’t trade likes for likes or follows for follows. I’m looking for community here – and I’m so grateful that I’ve found it, even if it is smaller than what these marketing experts define as successful for a blog.

So good luck to all, and I wish all you marketers who market your ability to market things much success. I just define success differently. As in the rare comment that let’s me know you actually read my writing and it touched you, impressed you, amused you or inspired you. Sumpin’ like that.

Thanks for your attention. We now return to our regularly (ok, irregularly) scheduled blogging, already in progress.

Off to weed the garden, I remain,

Your naive, hoping-to-find-your-great-writing-on-your-amazing-blog,

Ridiculouswoman

How Not To Assemble A Chair

If you can cover it up with black electrical tape, it’s not a mistake. Right?

Feeling virtuous after dropping a Subaru-full of styrofoam packing and cardboard at recycling center, regard parts list. All present and accounted for.

Hmm, two different lengths of bolts. Odd. Shrug and rely on vast experience assembling cheap furniture ordered online.

Allen wrenches. Smile, contemplating adding six more, all the same size, to collection, as thoughtful manufacturer includes one for every chair, even when chairs come boxed in sets of two.

Hmm, diagrammatic instructions. Yeah, yeah, bolt, spring washer, flat washer. Got it.

Attach seat frame to chair back with bolts.

Seems tight. Shouldn’t be so hard to screw in, with handy Allen wrench.

Take firmer grip on seat frame.

Feel bolts coming through the other side.

Recall two sizes of bolts.

Commence swearing. Those bastards! They didn’t say which bolts go where!

Uh, no, wait.

They did.

Accept failure to sufficiently review diagrammatic instructions. Realize used bolt 4’s where bolt 3’s were supposed to go.

Remove too-long bolts.

Examine seat frame back, now exuding small, but potentially injurious, spiky shards of wood-that-was-forced-out-with-too-long-bolts. Whack with rubber handle of screwdriver.

Recall existence of wood glue, supplied.

Apply wood glue, replace spiky pieces of seat frame back damaged by too-long bolts.  Whack with screwdriver again.

Sigh.

That’ll have to do, for now.

Use shorter bolts to attach seat frame. Realize longer bolts go in corners of same.

Done.

Proceed with assembly.

Chair legs, on.

Now side stretchers.

Wait, wha?

Those bastards! Holes facing wrong direction! Can’t insert side stretcher!

Oh, wait.

In view of short-bolt-long-bolt mishap, consider possibility of erroneous chair leg installation.

Remove chair leg bolts.

Switch sides.

Observe side-stretcher holes now in correct orientation.

Well, it was sorta their fault! They put “R” for right and “L” for left – was it so wrong to assume that this meant right and left from the chair’s point of view?

Breathe.

Magnanimously accept this as a learning experience. Anticipate smooth assembly of five other chairs.

Proceed.

Dollop of glue, side stretcher inserted, requiring only mild force. Secure with screws.

Repeat dollop of glue on other side

Wait, wha?

Those bastards! They cut the side stretcher too long! No way can it be forced into that now-correctly-oriented hole!

Oh, wait.

Consider that tightening screws on other side before inserting both side stretchers restricted ability to force remaining side stretcher into holes.

Loosen screws.

Smile indulgently, appreciating ability to observe, analyze and solve side stretcher problem. Force in side stretcher.

Tighten, both sides.

On to the chair seat.

Hmm, no pre-drilled holes.

Whatever.

Smugly select correct wood screws, and marvel at softness of chair seat wood. Screws go in easily, even with small, mildly arthritic hands.

Voila! Chair!

Oh, wait.  Shouldn’t the seat be flush against the back?

Ah. Notice chair-back shaped notches.

Sigh.

Remove wood screws.

Re-orient seat to fit back into very obvious notches.

Acknowledge failure of attention to detail.

Smile proudly at zen-like attitude of calm self-acceptance.

Tighten wood screws, satisfied that no one will notice extra holes in underside of chair seat.

Now, voila. Chair.

Check glue on damaged part of back of seat frame.

Dry enough.

Eureka. Idea. Genius, actually.

Where’s that black electrical tape?

Not in the storage box marked, “tape?”

Sigh.

Shopping excursion.

Obtain black electrical tape at grocery store, along with lunch for Angelic Daughter, and a bunch of frozen dinners just because of coupon. Smile, knowing frozen dinners will come in handy sometime between Monday night and never. Smart shopping.

Eat leftovers while Angelic Daughter eats healthy salad selected from choices offered of 1) healthy salad from grocery store or 3) healthy salad and cup of soup from grocery store (because, electrical tape).

Lunch consumed, experience flash of inspiration – take before and after pictures of ingenious black electrical tape self-help remedy (a/k/a patchy fix for lack of attention to detail that caused damage to new chair) for blog post!

“Before” picture taken. Apply black electrical tape.

Realize can’t tear this kind of tape. Need scissors. But box cutter within reach. That’ll do.

Cut tape with “safety” box cutter, leaving lumpy ball of tape all stuck to itself.

Sigh.

Retrieve scissors from kitchen. Trim tape.

IMG_20190504_144038032.jpg

Admire results. No one will notice while also not noticing extra screw holes on bottom of  seat. Take “after picture.”

Test chair.  Sturdy. Reasonably comfortable. Looks great. Smile with satisfaction at prescient design sense deployed via cheap furniture purchased online.

Elapsed time of first chair assembly (before electrical tape lunch excursion): one hour, forty- five minutes.

Elapsed time of second chair assembly: ten minutes.

Indulge in a moment of smug self-satisfaction at ability to learn from mistakes.

And to disguise them with black electrical tape.

Flagrantly avoiding pending-interview-induced wardrobe-crisis (those bastards! Whaddya mean no in store pick-up available today? AUGH!), I remain

Your confident-four-more-chairs-can-now-be-assembled-in-less-than-an-hour-and-sale-rack-scavenging-skills-will-resolve-wardrobe-crisis-in-less-than-two-days,

Ridiculouswoman

We Interrupt This Blog for a Brief Paroxysm of Panic

When blogging, work and OCD collide…

The lower the wage, the longer the employer spends explaining all the ways I could die on the job.

They spend even more time explaining all the things I’m not supposed to say. A bunch of rules that are perilously easy for a speak-before-I-think-trained-to-be-uncensored-in-the-moment-who-likes-to-make-people-laugh improvisor to violate, in our increasingly no-sense-of-humor-allowed workplaces.

So, within the first week, I’ve been confronted with a litany of ways to screw up and lose the new low-paying job I’m starting to wonder why I accepted in the first place.

After watching one of the innumerable terrifying training videos I am required to watch to preserve the privilege of awakening at 4 a.m. to work 4 to 8 hours less per week than I thought I was promised, I took down my immediate past post, “Survivor,” because I panicked that I might have said something I shouldn’t have, according to all those rules I was exposed to in all those videos.

Right after I trashed that post, the manager walked by.

Opportunity! Confess!

Seizing upon a policy I had just learned about open communication (I think? I was having an anxiety attack, ok?) I told him that I had a blog and that I was worried about something I had written, and that I took the post down. I mentioned how many followers I have (he thinks 129 is a lot – how sweet!) and got the “oh, that’s OK, that’s not a problem.”

Never one to quit while I’m ahead, I also blurted out that while I had never been formally diagnosed, I worry a lot and I’m definitely in the (mild) OCD ballpark. (A doctor did once tell me that, actually. Right before she mentioned Prozac, and I left.)

I was not required to, and didn’t, disclose this little, um, personality difference, during the hiring process, which process I described with gratitude in the blog post I took down because of the panic attack about saying too much about the hiring process.

Round and round she goes! Where the anxiety stops, nobody knows!

But wait, there’s MORE!

I also blurted out that I had written a book that I am now shopping around to literary agents, in which my employer (for how much longer I’m not sure) plays a minor role as the setting for a scene intended to make fun primarily of me.

The net effect of which was that a manager I had just met, who had been very welcoming, after telling me that it was all OK (and, God forbid, that he’d like to read my blog – “Oh, it’s just chick stuff, really!” meaning “please don’t read my blog, manager dude”) was looking at me strangely and, I’m sure, planning to review his own multiple scary training videos about how to deal with employees who have over-shared.

I always feel a lot better after dumping my irrational fears on unwitting colleagues sharing with a coworker, even though this manager was obviously in a big hurry to get the hell away from me back to work.

So, long story long, I panicked about something I didn’t need to panic about, overshared to a manager who really didn’t need to hear it, and was reminded of why I am Obviously Completely Displaced in corporate environments.

Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about corporate environments, it’s that they can’t handle my personality.

Primarily because I have one.

Why did I do this to myself? And for so little money?

Just because it was easy?

Maybe.

Also probably because I knew there might be a few good stories in it. If I can overcome my panic about telling them.

And because of the probability of proximity to Men Who Know How To Do Stuff that comes with the job.

What could possibly go wrong?

I’d get fired from a job that pays too little and wreaks havoc with my sleep pattern? For being a little too attentive to Men Who Know How to Do Stuff the customer? Or because my probable OCD irritating tendency to overthink and worry about everything drives everyone nuts?

But I’m the Queen of Worst Case Scenarios! I can take it way beyond just getting fired.

Let’s hold off on that for the time being.

I’m going to revise “Survivor” and re-publish it. The part about the hiring process was incidental, anyway.

I got up at 4 am today and had an OK time at work. Stayed in my lane and didn’t go looking for other stuff to worry about. Got got some fresh air and exercise. Yay me.

So, preferring chamomile tea (or other forms of legal self-medication, which I couldn’t have last night, because I HAD TO GET UP AT 4 AM) to Prozac or CBD or whatever the latest anti-obsessive/anxiety balm may be, I remain,

Your panicky, oversharing, life’s-too-short-for-this-crap-but-running-out-of-money-fast-oh-shit-I-actually-need-this-job,

Ridiculouswoman