Thursday, February 25, 2010

Farewell Sweet Maiden

Pin It One thing I like to ponder is my own death. I have very specific ideas about how to achieve the funeral of my dreams. In our religion we're supposed to have these funerals that are uplifting, focusing on the fact that we'll be together again someday and making sure everyone knows all about that good news, leaving everyone feeling good.

And I know other people want their friends and family to have a big party, celebrating their life. That's so nice, I think.

But I don't want that. I want everyone to cry over me, a LOT. Because I'm DEAD. I'm FREAKING DEAD. I mean, come on. Party on your own time, this is my FUNERAL we're talking about. Show some respect, and by respect I mean, show everyone how you just cannot picture the world without my bright shining light of awesome lightness and how it will pain you to go on for even ONE MORE SECOND. Geez.

Unfortunately, when I tell my husband my final wishes, his response is usually to roll his eyes or laugh at me, or start muttering some more, so I thought I should post my final requests in a more public forum so that if I kick the bucket anytime soon he will have no choice but to obey my wishes. Accordingly, here are my FINAL WISHES:

1. I would like to give the eulogy, via a pre-recorded video. I think that would be really touching. Believe me, nobody will be more broken up over my death than me, you know? I can really lend it that air of gravitas and reverence, what with all of the incoherent sobbing I will do on the video. And also it might really freak a lot of people out which amuses me.

2. If that won't work because I die before I get around to making the video, I would like either my brother Mark or my sister Diana to give the eulogy, mostly because I'm pretty sure they would both fall apart and start crying on stage, which is always good for getting the audience going. Diana would probably get REALLY upset and fall into unflattering snorfle type crying (such is the sisterly love we share) which would be ugly but also super touching. Alternatively, my sister Wendy is an actress AND also kind of a wuss, and my sister-in-law Holly is an ultra-dependable public cryer.

3. If they give the eulogy, I'm at least WRITING IT. I mean gosh. How else will they know how to narrarate the powerpoint presentation I put together with highlights of my life? Besides, I've already spent a lot of time writing the dang thing.

4. I would also like to give the musical number, because hey, how touching would that be, having the dead girl sing at her own funeral. Not a dry eye in the house, that's how touching. I'm thinking I could sing something subtle and understated like My Immortal by Evanescence or Fantine's Death from Les Mis, something like that.

5. If I am in a bad accident, and there is some question about whether or not I am brain dead, I say leave the machines on. Because you never know. I might come back.

6. But if I do appear to be pretty much deadish, please give someone my organs. And then, after they have my organs, please send them a little picture of me to keep on a shelf somewhere, so that when they wake up in the night and look around with their donated eyeballs, they'll see me staring RIGHT at them, kind of like I'm haunting them, but in a nice way. Like that.

7. I hope my husband will remarry quickly. He's an affectionate sort and he would get far too melancholy without someone around to hug him a lot, plus the children would need a mother. Therefore, I think he should marry an old spinster type - someone completely unattractive but with a sweet spirit. If that won't work, he should at least (as I've mentioned before) not marry anyone younger than 25, or smaller than a size eight. (Seriously hon, a 19 year old might be hot, but she'd be REALLY annoying. She'd probably make faces at you if you decided to bake and eat a can of cinnamon rolls at ten o'clock on a Sunday night. ME? I don't judge. In fact, I care so much about your feelings that you can always count on me to sacrifice and eat them WITH you. I'm a giver.)

I think that's it. That's all I can think of right now at least. How about you?


Monday, February 15, 2010

This Is Me, Taking Back All Of That Stuff I Said About Twitter

Pin It (This is part of a new series I'm doing called Sometimes on Wednesdays I Like To Talk About Blogging.)

I was dragged into Twitter kicking and screaming.  KICKING AND SCREAMING, y'all.

(When I'm kicking and screaming I'm from Texas.)

I protested that it was a waste of time.

I was already doing too much online.

And besides it was {{stage whisper}} - Just Kind Of Dumb.

I emailed back and forth with a fellow Twitter hater, saying "it's nothing more than name dropping and virtual social climbing."  "140 characters of insipid nothing."


After about a month-and-a-half of ACTIVE participation I now have to admit that I was wrong.

Not just wrong, but OH SO VERY WRONG.

(Somewhere out in internet land Azucar is smirking, because SHE TOLD ME SO.)

I'm here to tell you that if you are trying to grow a platform because you're an aspiring author or life coach or a singer or dinosaur trainer or WHATEVER, or (probably far more likely) if you're a blogger who is serious about blogging and growing your readership - you might want to check into Twitter.

(If you're above things like traffic and readership then feel free to happily ignore me.)

Here is why you need Twitter...

Twitter is a great way to get to know other bloggers
This is the beauty of Twitter - you get a chance to talk to folks who are not already in your blogging circle (and who might not even be on your radar), and it can help you to get better acquainted with bloggers who you already know and love. I'd never read Natalie or Loralee until I met them on Twitter (tragic oversights in both cases), but now they are both must reads.  I read Kristy's blog for years, but had never had an actual conversation with her until I found her on Twitter and we bonded over babies and blog conferences. And where else can I have random conversations with Finslippy about easter candy and hero worship?


Twitter can help drive traffic to your blog
After only a month or two of active participation, Twitter is now my fourth highest source of blog traffic.  Kind of remarkable when you consider that I've been blogging since 2007.

Of course, you won't get traffic if you just sign up and lurk around.  You have to actually SAY STUFF and TALK TO PEOPLE and you have to have followers - because followers are the people who will click on the bright shiny links you post and who might share those links with others.

So how do you get followers?


Here are a few tried and true methods (and by tried and true I mean that over the ginormous period of time I've been on Twitter these methods appear to be working well enough):
  • Friend of a Friend: People notice when someone they follow has a fun conversation with you.  Of course, since they aren't following you yet, they can only see half of the conversation.  Sometimes they'll take the leap and decide to follow you so that they can read the whole thing. (Twitter is eavesdropping HEAVEN.)
  • Retweets: If you post a link to your fantastically clever blog post, one of your tweeps (twitter friends) might retweet it (basically reposting it for THEIR followers).  If some of those folks find it useful/funny/interesting, they might follow you.
  • Introducing Yourself: You can have a conversation with someone you don't know.  If they enjoy the conversation, they might follow you.
  • The Power of Suggestion: On Follow Friday (#ff) your existing tweeps might suggest that others follow you. 
  • Following: If you follow someone, they just might follow you back. Or they might not.  Don't be offended either way, some people (AHEM) are just a little scattered and forgetful. 
    The end result is that more people have a chance to get to know you, and to get to know your writing and your blog.  All good stuff.

    Twitter gives you access to information you won't get anywhere else
    Twitter is all about information - whether it's information you read on a link someone tweets, or information gained just by BEING IN THE ROOM when people are busy planning/plotting/organizing/befriending.

    A few things to keep in mind:

    YES, Twitter can be a massive waste of time
    Just like blogging, Twitter CAN BE a massive time suck. You have to find a balance that works for you. I tend to keep a twitter window open while I'm working in the mornings, and will tweet sporadically throughout the morning - especially if someone like Beck or Stephanie is online. But when I'm done working, I usually try to TURN OFF THE LAPTOP and leave Twitter (and blogging) behind until my kids are in bed.

    Twitter can be confusing at first
    You log on and look around and think - um, what in the what what?  Nobody you know is automatically there.  It's just a list of strangers saying really bizarre things.


    That's why you have to find people to follow. 

    Then Twitter looks more like this:


    There are lots of free applications that can help you to make sense of what's going on. 

    I like HootSuite. There's a column on the left where I can see what all of the people who I follow are saying, a column in the middle where I can see what people are saying to or about ME, and a third column for private (direct) messages 'specially for me.   


    So there you have it.

    Mea culpa Twitter.

    Please to forgive.

    Next week, unless I forget/get too tired/run off and join the circus, I'll post my suggestions for how to get started on Twitter without making a fool of yourself (LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES, PEOPLE. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES).

    Now get out there and tweet your brains out.

    You can find me on Twitter at @suelikestoblog, overusing capital letters and emoticons.


    Saturday, February 06, 2010

    I Have a Confession To Make

    Pin It You guys.

    I tried the HCG diet.

    (I KNOW, I know, I know.  "Crash dieting never works."  "You have to make lifestyle changes."  "Moderation in all things."  I KNOW.  You don't have to tell me.)

    But if I'm going to have to meet a bunch of people in February, I would prefer to be - not in the largest pants size I've ever owned.  That would be my preference.

    If you haven't heard of the HCG diet before, it is basically - complete insanity.  Basically, you starve yourself  and you take HCG hormone shots, you can't use lotion or oily make-up or cook anything that would require you to even momentarily touch something fatty, and you - I don't know - spin around three times in the dark and whisper "please make me beautiful" until it all works together to make you lose weight. (Or else, as I suspect, it's just the fact that you are STARVING YOURSELF that is effective and the rest is all complete BS.)

    You can't exercise, which means my running program went on a temporary hiatus.  The official reason for this has something to do with burning calories from the "wrong" fat stores, but really, I think it is because they know you would KEEL OVER AND DIE, and they don't want to be responsible for it.

    The diet has phases - Phase 1, where you eat like a crazed hippopotamus for two days (this is called "Fat Loading" and it was my Very Favorite Phase); Phase 2, where you eat 500 calories per day for 23 or 43 days, depending upon how clinically insane your doctor is; Phase 3, which they call "Stabilization" and where you basically eat no carbs; and Phase 4, the maintenance phase, where you ease in a few carbs, gain everything back, and start all over again.

    (Listen.  I know how crazy it sounds. I have read billions of nutrition/diet/fitness/healthy lifestyle books. I am very good about READING about how to get and stay fit, just not so good at the actual implementation. I know all about how crash dieting effects your metabolism, your muscle mass, etc., etc., etc.  I know about all of it.  I'm not fat because I don't understand these things.  But desperate people do desperate things.   And after viewing Certain Christmas Pictures That Have Been DESTROYED, DESTROYED, DESTROYED, I would say that desperate just about sums it up for me.)

    I started reading The Literature (from back in the 1950s - so - Highly Credible), and it sounded vaguely convincing, if you squinted and really WANTED it to be convincing and were willing to ignore all of the other things you knew about nutrition, fitness and metabolism.  And I know a lot of people who have done this diet, who have done WELL on this diet - people who are NOT actually clinically insane, but rather rational, intelligent people.  So I thought - what do I have to lose (besides, as it turns out, large clumps of my hair)? 

    I tried it.  For the two fat loading days, and then for eight days of starvation.

    The Pros:
    • I lost 14 pounds in 8 days. (I suspect 80% of that loss is water, since I look not a smidgeon different.)
    • My carb and sugar cravings are completely gone.
    • I am completely off the sauce (Diet Dr. Pepper)
    • I wasn't hungry, strangely enough.
    The Cons:
    • The aforementioned hair loss
    • Overwhelming fatigue
    • Skin like an alligator
    • The inability to form complete sentences
    • Migraines and vomiting (A HA!)
    • Lost work time (due to staring at my computer wondering what the little buttons with letters on them were for)
    • Irritability (if by irritability you mean completely losing my nut twenty times each day) (my children LOVED this diet)

    Yesterday I started blacking out, so - as of yesterday, I switched to a sensible low carb plan that will allow me to - not starve. OH, SWEET FOOD. SWEET EGGS AND SALAD AND CHICKEN.  SWEET NOT DYING OF STARVATION. SWEET BRAIN CLARITY.

    So now here I am, 14 pounds lighter but still having vertigo today.  I'm going to jump back into my running / weights program tomorrow (or as soon as the constant dizziness goes away).

    And THAT is My HCG story.

    Please folks, don't try this at home.

    (Do I win for the craziest crash diet story ever?)