10 THINGS I LEARNED ON THE WAY TO 300,000

Sometime during the night between yesterday and today, my total views passed 300,000.

three hundred thousand

That is an incomprehensibly big number. I never imagined having this many people look at my site when I started blogging.

I began Serendipity without thought and no plan. Or objective. For all the hours I’ve spent working on it, I’ve yet to set a goal or decide on a direction. I began because I could. I continued because I like it and I’ve met such wonderful people.

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I need to do say something more than “gee, that’s a really big number,” so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with you. For what it’s worth and I admit, it’s not much.

1. The best (most active) days of the week are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Usually, but not always. You can have a terrible — or great day — any time for no apparent reason.

2. Summer is slower than winter. Holidays are always slow.

3. Real drama — by which I mean true life crises — bring out the best in people. They relate to you. All that heart surgery I had back in March 2014 doubled my traffic. (There must be an easier way.)

4. Sentiment sells. I don’t do “sentimental” well. It makes me uncomfortable. Garry does sentimental extremely well. His personal posts always “outsell” mine by a margin of better than two-to-one.

5. Celebrity sells. Garry’s stories about hanging out with the stars always get lots of hits. I love his stories as much as anyone and never get tired of them. Note to self: Encourage Garry to write more.

6. Quality counts as does a steady output.

7. Length (usually) counts against you. Long pieces — 900 words or more — are off-putting to a lot of people. Note: If you write long pieces and everyone reads you anyway? It means you very good. Better than me, for sure.

8. Short and pithy, especially with pictures, is a good formula.

9. The popularity of a post will be inversely proportional to the amount of work you put into writing it. It’s a Murphy’s Law.

10. Make’em laugh, make’em cry. But laughter wears better, long-term.

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If you were looking for something deep and analytical, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Mostly, what I’ve learned is I love blogging.

Writing, having a place to share photographs. If blogging had never been invented, I would have had to invent it myself. I love sharing the up side of my life with you. I try to keep the down side to a minimum.

I look forward to your comments and our conversations. They are the high point of my weeks. You inspire me, entertain me, touch my heart. You are my friends.

MY VERY BEST ADVICE

The other day, I had one of the increasingly rare moments alone with my granddaughter. She has been going through a prolonged siege of the teenage girl crazies, a ghastly combination of hormones, young men, job hunting, and high drama.

Clearly, she was in need of my best advice.

“If you are going to be crazy, be crazy,” I said. “I was a basket case at your age. It’s a girl thing. But trust me. You really can trust me on this. Everything gets better. Not very long from now, you’ll look back on this time and wonder why you were so upset.”

Then I gave her that best advice: “Be crazy. Just don’t publish it online. Your great-grandchildren will be finding your Facebook posts and laughing their asses off. Worse, your future employers will be finding them too, not to mention your potential life-partners, business associates, friends and co-workers. College professors. Have fun. Be wild and crazy, but don’t publish it.”

Life can be a bowl of cherries ... if you are discreet!

Life can be a bowl of cherries … if you are discreet!

Nothing vanishes once it’s “out there” in cyberspace. Everything is going to show up on someone’s Google search. I can find posts I wrote — supposedly private — from more than twenty years ago.

If you post it on any form of social media? It’s a land mine on which you will eventually step. Anything you do is just a rumor — if it remains unpublished. You retain plausible deniability. Hang onto that.

A NON-ANECDOTAL LIFE

I keep getting congratulated for taking the “less traveled road.” But it’s not true.

Sometimes, I took a back road because it was the shortest road to where I was going. More often, I traveled highways, because they offered the fastest, most direct routes.

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Always a pragmatist, I was goal-driven. I don’t remember thinking about if it was a more or less traveled path. Sometimes, I made a good choice. The rest of the time, I did the best I could with whatever mess I’d gotten myself into.

I’ve had an interesting life, but not as interesting as it probably sounds. I don’t talk about the boring parts because they’re boring. That’s the thing about blogging. You get to write your life and leave out the tedious stuff.

I don’t write about staying up late cleaning when I wanted desperately to go to bed. Because there was work in the morning. I had to make the kid’s lunch, get him on the bus. Make sure the dog didn’t eat his homework.

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All the parties I didn’t attend because I couldn’t find a babysitter … or was too tired to think about going anywhere. The nights I fell asleep in front of the television, unable to keep my eyes open past the opening credits.

I had good times. Exciting, weird, funny experiences. Tragedies and triumphs interspersed with long hours, short nights, and exploring the wonders of all-night supermarkets.

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Most of life isn’t memorable. It doesn’t bear retelling. My life was just like yours, whoever you are, whatever you did. Most lives are more alike than different.

I’ve had my share of crappy relationships, horrible bosses, and tedious jobs. I had a husband and child to raise, groceries to buy, a house to clean. I was lucky because I also had wonderful friends who were there for me when the going was tough.

Don’t be misled by anecdotes. Between the anecdotes is where life really happens.

STRANGE? WHO ARE YOU CALLING STRANGE?

Blogger in a Strange Land

Strange?

You men like Maine? Connecticut? Vermont? Virginia? Pennsylvania? New York? Maryland? New Hampshire? Amherst?

outer space

I doubt any of the lower 48 states would count as strange in anyone’s book. Of course, there’s that time I was abducted by aliens and posted from  a modest satellite planet in orbit about Betelgeuse, but that’s another story …

THEY FOLLOW ME EVERWHERE

I’M A SINGULAR SENSATION 

The news has been slow around here. Just regular stuff. Accidents, government stupidity and incompetence, scandals of the famous and wannabes. Changes in weather. Boston has a new mayor, too. So after all this ordinary stuff, I was thrilled to find this headline. From Dublin across the seas, this pops up on my browser:

Italian lodger tells police he is ‘guilty’ of cannibal murder

Saverio Bellante is remanded in custody after gruesome killing in Dublin

I bet our newscasters would be really happy to have a shot at something this juicy. Yum. Since the demise of Jeffrey Dahmer, there hasn’t been an incredibly disgusting, gory serial murderer to liven up the news cycle.

That got me wondering about today’s prompt which asks us who we would want — of all the possible readers and followers — to be reading our blog. This isn’t bragging, but I know a few of my favorite authors drop round here now and again, usually when I review one of their books or feature an interview with one of them. I know because they send me little thank you notes, probably advisable for any author that gets a really good review from any reviewer. We are prima donnas no less than they and we feed our hungry egos with the cast off kudos of the great and nearly great.

But how cool to be followed by a cannibal? It would be a coup. Definitely would come with bragging rights!

Garry Clean Harbors-SMALL

While Garry was a working reporter, we occasionally got phone calls late at night from convicted serial killers, sometimes critiquing his performance du jour. Turns out, they watched him on the telly. Who’d have guessed that serial killers have phone privileges? Icing on the cake?

Perpetrators of gruesome murders currently on trial would wave and wink at him in the courtroom. I’m sure all the other reporters were jealous. Aside from being intensely creepy, it always made me wonder if their fondness for my husband and his work would count for or against us if they were to get loose and drop by for a visit. They obviously knew how and where to track him down. Find Garry? Find me too.

Garry with Tip O'Neill

Garry with Tip O’Neill

On second thought, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover I’m a major hit in the prison system. It would explain the thousand or so followers who remain nameless and never leave comments or even a “like.”

Personally, I’d prefer to be followed (breathlessly, eagerly) by a power player in the literary world. An agent!

SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY PROMPT – I SHOULD STOP TRYING

SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY PROMPT –
WEDNESDAY – 2015 #5 – I SHOULD STOP TRYING

I’ve decided to do this once weekly. I will publish it out every Wednesday (because Wednesday is the middle of the week). Yes, that’s the real reason.

Please try to add your own ping back (links). If you aren’t sure how to do it, put your link in a comment. That works too.

Every Wednesday or until I throw in the towel, I’ll publish a picture and write something about it. You can use any of my pictures — or one of your own — as a prompt. If you find my subject interesting, by all means, extrapolate. Any length is acceptable from a couple of sentences, to a chapter from your upcoming novel.

Please link it back to this post (ping back) so other people can find it.

What do I mean by “story” and “pictures”?

Story. Words. Poetry, prose, fact, or fiction. A couple of lines, a fanciful tale.

Pictures. Video if that’s your thing. Scanned pictures from your scrap-book. Weird pictures from the internet. Cartoons. Pictures of your family vacation and how the bear stole your food. Any picture you ever took and would like to talk about.

SIMPLE

It sounds simple. It is simple. Every picture has a story or ought to. There are no rules. Follow my lead, ignore me, follow someone else’s idea. Any picture plus some text. Short or long, truth or fiction. Prose or poetry.

One final thing: If you want to get notices of these posts, you’ll have to subscribe to Serendipity. I’ll try to title relevant posts so you can easily recognize them.

My effort for this week follows.


 I SHOULD STOP TRYING
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Garry took the picture that first warm day of spring, the first warm day since winter. It was our first photo excursion, the first time anyone could go out in short sleeves. The snow was gone. Finally. No leaves yet, but you could see buds if you looked carefully.

Two weeks later , the leaves have exploded. Even the oaks are in full leaf, heavy with foliage. The lilacs are blooming, tulips are bright in the garden. The sun filters gently through the trees.

Garry is in New York, visiting one of his brothers. I am not invited. We will have been married 25 years this September and somehow, I have never managed to become part of the family. After all these years, you’d think it wouldn’t hurt so much, wouldn’t you?

It’s time for me to stop trying to fit in. Fit into what? I don’t even know what that means. I’m too old for this nonsense.

SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY PROMPT – 2015 #4 – ON MEDICAL ADVICE

SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY PROMPT –
WEDNESDAY – 2015 #4 – MEDICAL ADVICE

I’ve decided to do this once weekly. I will publish it out every Wednesday (because Wednesday is the middle of the week). Yes, that’s the real reason.

Please try to add your own ping back (links). If you aren’t sure how to do it, put your link in a comment. That works too.

Every Wednesday or until I throw in the towel, I’ll publish a picture and write something about it. You can use any of my pictures — or one of your own — as a prompt. If you find my subject interesting, by all means, extrapolate. Any length is acceptable from a couple of sentences, to a chapter from your upcoming novel.

Please link it back to this post (ping back) so other people can find it.

What do I mean by “story” and “pictures”?

Story. Words. Poetry, prose, fact, or fiction. A couple of lines, a fanciful tale.

Pictures. Video if that’s your thing. Scanned pictures from your scrap-book. Weird pictures from the internet. Cartoons. Pictures of your family vacation and how the bear stole your food. Any picture you ever took and would like to talk about.

SIMPLE

It sounds simple. It is simple. Every picture has a story or ought to. There are no rules. Follow my lead, ignore me, follow someone else’s idea. Any picture plus some text. Short or long, truth or fiction. Prose or poetry.

One final thing: If you want to get notices of these posts, you’ll have to subscribe to Serendipity. I’ll try to title relevant posts so you can easily recognize them.

My effort for this week follows.


MEDICAL ADVICE

I’ve had a hard decade and a half. The past 15 years have featured one life-and-death medical emergency after another. Just over a year ago, I went into Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston.

The cardiac surgeon replaced my mitral valve, performed a bypass and a cardio-myectomy, also known as a septal myectomy. For dessert, they installed a pacemaker because my heart has forgotten how to beat without an electronic reminder.

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I’m much better. My energy is coming back. I’m five-years post cancer — a big milestone for cancer patients. And my cardiologist says I’m doing great.

A week ago, my PCP demanded I show up and have a physical. Since he was holding my prescriptions hostage, I went.

Complaints aside, I’m a compliant patient. I have too many dangerous medical conditions to mess around with anything. So, I whine and bitch, but I take my medications on schedule and in the correct amounts. I am cautious about anything health-related.

I eat healthy. I don’t have much of a choice. Sugar free. No soft drinks. Don’t eat cake. Don’t have chocolate. I have complicated digestive issues after two bariatric surgeries, so there are a lot of things I can’t digest. I eat very little.

Imagine my dismay when my doctor sent me a letter informing me I have high blood sugar. I am “pre-diabetic.” Under other circumstances, I wouldn’t have been surprised. All 6 of m y father’s siblings were diabetic, so I knew it was a strong possibility it would strike me at some point. Having gotten this far, I thought … Well, maybe I just wasn’t thinking.

I’ve been hypoglycemic my entire life. “Low blood sugar” is not the opposite of “high blood sugar,” aka diabetes. Both conditions mean your body doesn’t properly manage sugar, which is why I eat like a diabetic. After all the shit I’ve been through, I thought I was entitled to — if not a pass — at least a respite. Time off for good behavior.

Somehow, I have to lose at least 10 pounds. It’s going to be an epic summer. I really know how to have fun.