FollowFriday

The third assignment in Blogging University’s Blogging 101 – September 2014 workshop was titled Say “Hi!” to the Neighbors.  Participants were encouraged to discover and follow five new to them blogs here on WordPress.com’s corner of the blogosphere.

I posted my results and findings here.  This exercise was fun.  Reading the posts of my fellow bloggers, and making some new blogging friends helped to build a sense of community.  Since I posted my response to the assignment I’ve been thinking that WordPress should find more ways to encourage this sense of community on a consistent basis.  I thought about whether there was a way I could use my blog to call out other bloggers that I had discovered and enjoyed.

One of my newest blogging friends Grasshopper Girls posted her response to the exercise today and it hit me.  #FF! Follow Friday! Borrow the popular twitter trend #FollowFriday and adapt it to WordPress.

Twitter_logo_blue

From now on, every Friday I am going to feature a #FollowFriday post on my blog.  My goal will be to feature three blogs I enjoy.  On Twitter, where there are no rules regarding #FF tweets just common practices.  It is common practice on twitter to either favorite or retweet or both a #FF tweet when you are mentioned.  I think that the same common practice would work here on WordPress.  So  if I am mentioned in a #FF post I will either like or reblog or both  the #FF post.   Grasshopper Girls is going to run a similar feature on her blog.  Together we may start a WordPress trend; so feel free to join us.

My inaugural #FF blog shout out goes to Molly B and Me

Molly B and Me, coauthored by a mom and her teenage daughter, was one of the first bloggers to like something I wrote and the first blog I followed.  We both love sports, although she roots for all the wrong teams: Black Hawks not the Bruins, Packers not the Patriots.  I forgive her sports faux pas as she supports storied franchises in solid sports towns.

One of the first posts I read on Molly B and Me  dealt with our shared affliction procrastination with such humor and creativity that I can’t help but idolize Laura and her entire family for embracing and celebrating their procrastination instead of fighting it.

We also both blog about family.  Although she actually had children and I just borrow other people’s children (mainly those of my sisters) from time to time.  Her delightful daughter Molly B writes about cooking and her life as a teenager.

Check out this mother and daughter team, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

I know that was only one #FF blog shout out but there are no rules and I need more time to write about the two other blogs I had picked out for today.

Until next Friday.

 

 

 

Blogging 101: Dream Reader

Blogging 101: Dream Reader

Today’s Assignment: publish a post for your dream reader, and include a new-to-you element in it.

Time to put your writing caps back on, and start honing your blogging focus.

We often create posts hoping that someone in particular will see (and appreciate) our work. Today, publish a post for that person — whether they’re a real-life figure or not — and stretch your blogging chops as you do.

Today’s Assignment: publish a post for your dream reader, and include a new-to-you element in it.


It’s funny; you weren’t my target audience when I started this blog. When I responded to the question: who would I love to connect with via my blog during the first Blogging 101 assignment you didn’t even cross my mind.  But here I am writing to you my Dream Reader.

Let’s be honest with each other; you and I don’t really know each other. We had a chance encounter that lasted all of thirty seconds over twenty years ago.  Yet, I can still see your face and oftentimes think of you when I am in the tunnel where we first met, and believe I would recognize you if our paths were ever to cross again.

But, really we know nothing about each other except what we were able to assess in a snap thirty seconds over twenty years ago.

It was late on a Friday night, nearing 1 a.m. and the subway was going to stop running soon. I wanted to make sure I made my connection for the last Mattapan trolley that would take me home.

I was young and had been working in the City for only a couple of years at the first job I landed in commercial real estate after graduating from college. I was heading home after a night out with my girlfriends.  I had a few drinks too many that night and I was very aware that my intoxicated state made me vulnerable.  Intoxication also heightened my defenses.

Our paths crossed in the T walkway at State Street, a long, cold corridor connecting several different subway platforms.

You did not know that even during the daytime that corridor and the one that connects Downtown Crossing and Park Street stations creep me out. They make me feel vulnerable as a woman walking through them alone when they are not filled with other commuters.  How could you know?

You did not know that sense of vulnerability did not stop me from using either of these corridors. I just walked through them with intentness and purpose and with an attitude which proclaimed I belonged there challenging someone to dare say anything to the contrary.  How could you know?

I was half-running, half-walking that empty corridor, veering towards my right so that the wall would hold me up if I lost control as I raced towards the Forest Hills platform. Periodically, I adjusted the skirt my junior high teacher, Mrs. Proctor, would’ve sent me to the principal’s office for wearing because the hemline was too short.

You heard the sounds of my high heels clicking and clanking on the cement floor of the hallway before your eyes caught mine.

I heard the sound of your footsteps, a man’s footsteps coming down the hall towards me.

Our eyes met as I tried to somewhat gracefully bolt by you onto the subway platform. I nodded and smiled but refused to stop.

I noticed you were 10 – 15 years older than me, a touch of gray scattered throughout your hair and facial hair adorning your light mocha colored face.

You wanted me to converse with you.

I wanted to get to the subway platform before my train arrived.

You sensed my fear.

You did not know that my adrenaline coursed faster and my defenses heightened the moment I heard the footsteps of a man approaching me. How could you?

I did not know you simply wanted to tell me to slow down, there was still time before my train arrived. How could I?

You did not know that I found the scent of your cologne breathtaking and that I was struck by your handsomeness. How could you?

I did not know you just wanted to say hello. How could I?

You did not know that my fear that you sensed had nothing to do with your blackness but everything to do with you being a man, a stranger and I an inebriated young woman. You did not know it was not my whiteness that feared the man approaching me, it was my womanhood.  How could you?

I did not know that you were going to react to me from a history of being treated with fear because of the color of your skin. How could I?

I could hear the anger rising in your voice as you yelled out “You won’t talk to me because I’m black.”

You did not hear me say, “No, it’s because you are a man.”

You did not know that it was not your blackness that made me continue to dart to the subway. How could you?

I did not know you wanted to compliment the sparkle of my eyes. How could I?

You did not know that before I moved into the City, I spent nearly every Saturday for three months visiting different neighborhoods looking for a racially diverse neighborhood; not wanting to be the only white face in the neighborhood while also not wanting to see only white faces in my neighborhood. How could you?

I did not know that you had endured a lifetime of being treated as the villain – labeled and viewed as the criminal since you were a black boy growing into the feared black man. How could I?

You did not know that I was rushing home to my boyfriend, his skin the same light mocha as yours, the son of a black-American father and Trinidadian mother. How could you?

I did not know that you were going to tell me to stop adjusting my skirt because it looked fine the way it was without me trying to stretch the material down. How could I?

You did not know that it was your footsteps coming towards me that frightened me. How could you?

I did not know you were so accustomed to being viewed as the problem and not part of the solution that even you sometimes forgot that you could be the latter. How could I?

You did not know that at times it seemed, because it was so, that I felt more comfortable, safer in city neighborhoods that were traditionally black than I did in city neighborhoods that were traditionally white where history showed us outsiders weren’t welcome. And, I was an outsider in spite of my whiteness and shared ethnic heritage.  How could you?

I did not know that you were one of the countless black men stopped by the Boston Police Department in the Fall of 1989 after Charles Stuart killed his pregnant wife and unborn son, blaming it on the non-existent black male assailant. How could I?

You did not know that when I heard the strong sounding footsteps of a man coming towards me I did not care whether he was white, black, brown or yellow. How could you?

I did not know that you had noticed I was a bit tipsy and just wanted to make sure I got to where I was going. How could I?

You did not know that I had never been judged by the color of my skin before. How could you?

I did not know that you had lived a life constantly being judged by the shade of your skin – too black in the white community and often not black enough in the black community. How could I?

I cringed as you yelled at me. I wanted to sink under the subway floor, embarrassed and hurt because I wasn’t that kind of girl.  The kind who was raised to fear and even hate someone based on skin pigmentation.

Seconds later, annoyed that you mistook me for that type of girl based on my whiteness, I turned to explain to you that wasn’t who I was. You were already gone. You angry, I annoyed.

We did not know had we just met each other an hour before the last subway train or under other circumstances we could have been friends.  How could we?

Our brief encounter took place before there was a Missed Connections feature on Boston.com or Craigslist. Otherwise, I would have written: W4M Mocha skinned brother who yelled at me in the State Street Corridor on Friday night after midnight, let’s meet for breakfast at the Silver Slipper on Sunday morning.  And, I know you would have met me there.

We did not know we could’ve been friends. How could we?

So instead, I periodically think of you when I hurriedly pass the spot where our eyes first met.  And, when after the killing of an Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, or Mike Brown our nation’s attention turns momentarily to the dastardly way black boys and black men are treated in this country and so many in white America still do not get it or believe it, I think of you.  And, I get it.

Blogging 101: Say “Hi!” to the Neighbors

Blogging 101: Say “Hi!” to the Neighbors

Today’s assignment: follow five new topics in the Reader and five new blogs. A blog is just a diary unless there’s a community — start building yours.

Blogging is a communal experience; if you didn’t want anyone to read your posts, you’d keep a private diary. Today, begin engaging with the blogging community, the first step in building an audience.


When I saw the assignment for today, the lyrics to Mr. Rogers’ Won’t You Be My Neighbor popped into my head.  Crazy I know, but periodically throughout the day I have heard echoing in my head as I thought about this assignment:

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, A beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?…

Managing to put Mr. Rogers and his neighborhood out of my mind, I thought it would take me 30 minutes, maximum. I already make it a habit of reading, commenting and following other blogs. In reality it took me hours.  I got lost in reading the posts of my fellow bloggers.

I learned how to use the reader properly. As much as a geek I am, I still surprise myself when I am technologically challenged from time to time.  When I first opened my WordPress account I selected two tags in my reader – Family and Red Sox, and never gave it much thought when I scrolled my reader.  As I was adding tags, I learned that the reader filters by tags and does not display all the posts together.  I have to click on the drop down box and my feed on my reader changes by topic/tag.  Who knew?  Apparently not me.  It sounds very silly; hopefully I am not the only who ever made that mistake.  I am usually pretty tech savvy; I am chalking this up to a brain freeze or a blonde moment.

I reviewed my tag cloud on from the sticks to the bricks and back again and added the followings topics to my reader:  Racism in America, Writing 101, Loss, Procrastination, and Blogging 101.  I also added Baseball (there were no posts tagged baseball which seemed wrong to me) and Softball (there were only two posts).

I decided to add my own twist in that I would follow one blog from each of the five topics I followed today. I connected with each of these bloggers on some level, sense of humor, similar interests or the like.  The blogs I followed today are:

Blogging 101 – I enjoyed the sense of humor in Running Away to Booktopia, that we both like The Walking Dead and she had my interest when she stated in her first assignment:  “My middle daughter was 3 years old before I finally finished the blanket I had started when I was 4 months pregnant with her.” Tugs at the strings of my procrastinating heart.

Loss – I was touched by the beauty and power of the words used by I Had It Here A Minute Ago in the post about her mother’s death.  I could visualize her mother’s last ride.

Procrastination – Reading A Scheltered Life, I immediately appreciated her sense of humor and loved her post Procrastination.  Guilty as charged, I can relate.

Racism in America – I found 20/20 Hines Sight to be totally candid and honest.  She calls for a much needed discussion of racism in America and starts one on her blog.  I am thrilled I found her blog and look forward to reading more.

Writing 101 – I found Grasshopper Girls to be delightful and whimsical.  I loved in her Writing 101 post on three songs she included  Disney’s Frozen on her list and not just because she’s the mother of two little girls.  I was impressed by her use of social media – no matter which platform you are on her brand is recognizable.  And in the true spirit of this exercise, she has already followed me back.

If you get a chance, check out my new neighbors on WordPress, their blogs are definitely worth a visit.

Blogging 101: Say Your Name

Blogging 101: Say Your Name

Today’s assignment: edit your title and tagline. Make your readers’ first impression a good one!

You set your blog’s address when you registered at WordPress.com, but your blog’s title — what readers see on your site when they visit — can be changed at any time. Today, let’s make sure you love yours.

Today’s assignment: edit your title and tagline.

If you’re already thrilled with your title or you want to do more, feel free to publish a post, too! Let readers know what inspired your title and tagline, or, If you need want writing inspiration, take a look at today’s prompt.


Last night when I saw today’s Say Your Name assignment arrive in my inbox, my first instinct was just to keep my blog’s current title – from the sticks to the bricks and back again.  I’ve grown attached to it over the last year.

When my friend Sam challenged me to start my own blog, I surprised her when I said if you can come up with a title, I will do it. I explained that during two years of journalism classes what I hated the most was coming up with a title for articles. I actually loved the classes, the interviewing, and the writing.  It was the succinctness the title required that challenged me – ironically most days I can say on twitter what I need to say in 140 characters or less.

Throughout the day Sam and I emailed titles and comments back and forth first just between the two of us and then I included two friends who worked in the marketing department of the firm I was working for at the time. When someone came up with an idea we would poll the others.  By the end of the day, the four of us (Sam, Jennie, Linda and I) had settled on from the sticks to the bricks and back again.

Had I known, I would need a tagline that would have been part of my negotiations, come up with a title and tag line and I will start writing a blog. So for the last thirteen months, my tagline has been – A fine WordPress.com site.

For a moment I considered changing the title since I would be changing my tagline. It is not like I have developed a large following for my blog in the last year – not complaining just stating the obvious.  I decided to mull it over and not rush into anything.  Again, I’m just stating the obvious because rushing into a decision is just not part of my procrastinator’s mindset.  Then a fellow blogger enrolled in Blogging 101 with me commented on my first day’s post – they liked my blog’s title and found it intriguing.  That reaffirmed my first instinct to stick with the original title.

The title from the sticks to the bricks and back again is a reference to my life’s journey – growing up in the sticks, moving to the city and then back to the sticks.  To be more accurate it probably should be back again and again.

So what should my tag line be?

  • cautionary tales of a work-in-progress
  • musings of a work-in-progress
  • amazing, amusing musings of a work-in-progress
  • amusings of a work-in-progress
  • amuzings of a work-in-progress (a play on amazing and amusing musings)
  • CAUTION: work-in-progress

 For now, I am going with: musings of a work-in-progress. I may change my tagline every day to see what it feels like.   At the end of the week, I will make a final decision.  Share your thoughts on my tagline in the comments and help me decide.

Work-in-progress

Today’s Task: Introduce Yourself

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click “New Post,” and tell us why you’re here.

Today’s assignment: write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

“Who I am and why I’m here”

I write because I am a writer.  I love words, playing with them, putting them together randomly or not so randomly to express my thoughts.  Writing is like breathing to me – essential to my being.

I am generally more comfortable with the written word than the spoken word.  Although, I have at times been known to rise to the occasion.  It was me who at a government affairs conference at Copley Place in Boston took to the microphone during a panel’s Q & A session to tell a rather high ranking member of Bush 41’s campaign staff that he needed to remember that when he got off the plane that night he was in Boston not Austin – if he would credit our senior liberal Senator with at least half of the good things he had accomplished in Congress, we would acknowledge his mistakes.  For a second the room went quiet, before thunderous applause.  Yeah me!  Still, I am much more comfortable being the speech writer than the orator.

Also, in spite of being a wordsmith, I spun records as a deejay on my college radio station 3 hours a week for an entire year.  I ended each show with “London Calling” by the Clash.

My blog, like me is a work-in-progress.  And, thanks to my American Lit and Women’s Lit professor Eleanor Hope-McCarthy, I am perfectly comfortable with that.  Ellie was chic, exuberant, exuded confidence, an awesomely pulled together woman, professor, activist, wife, mother, mentor, and role-model.  One day in class totally off topic, my friend Nancy asked our professor how she came to be so perfectly put together,  Ellie’s response was perfect that 25 years later, I remember (and have long adopted) her response: “I am a work-in-progress, we are all works-in-progress.”

Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?

Blogging publicly holds me accountable to an audience of readers instead of just to myself to write. If I state I am going to post according to a schedule, then I am accountable to my audience for that schedule.  I can alter the schedule as needed; it is mine to adapt and change.

My hope is that by blogging publicly I will simply write more.

What topics do you think you’ll write about?

On my About page, I state: “My life is a case study in procrastination. I’m the favorite aunt, a Citizen Teacher, a kick-ass baker, and a political junkie who earns a living in commercial real estate. My musings run the gamut from social commentary, the Red Sox, Boston, New England, #CRE, the state of education in our country and anything else that flies across my radar.”

So don’t be surprised if one day I post about procrastination, the next day family and yet another day my commentary on current affairs. If I ever decide to blog about commercial real estate (#CRE), it will likely be in a different blog.

I view WordPress as Twitter for those of us who can’t always say it in 140 characters or less.

Who would you love to connect with via your blog?

I immediately think Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou … so many people who first come to mind are no longer alive.

So who would I love to connect with via my blog?

  • Other writers.
  • Other procrastinators.
  • Other sports fans.
  • Other favorite aunts.
  • Others passionate about public education.
  • Eric Schwarz.
  • David Johns.
  • Other social commentators.
  • Javon Johnson.
  • Oprah Winfrey.
  • Any of the Clintons – Hillary, Bill or Chelsea.
  • Other political junkies.
  • Other foodies.
  • Ree Drummond.
  • Buddy Valastro.
  • Gordon Ramsey.
  • Innovators and visionaries.
  • Warren Buffet.
  • The next Steve Jobs.

If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

I will have written 5 out of every 7 days, whether or not I hit the publish button. I will have published 75 – 150 posts and reached 200 followers on my blog.