Category Archives: Writing

When Introductions Go Wrong

The second day of  the February Tumblr challenge poses the question: How do you introduce yourself to people? While I wish I could say that I float into a room of strangers on a cloud illuminated by my sheer awesomeness, the reality isn’t all that special. When I introduce myself to people, I begin with a genuine smile and a handshake followed by “Nice to meet you,” or something to that effect. Pretty standard stuff, ya know?

But in an effort to keep things interesting, I decided to compile a list of some of the strangest/most humiliating/annoying introductions I’ve ever experienced. Typically, I’m pretty lax on the “first impressions are everything” mantra, but when introductions go wrong, I’m forced to reconsider that stance.

THE WIMPY HANDSHAKE

I. HATE. THIS.  But before I go too hard on those who begrudgingly dole out wimpy ass handshakes, perhaps they have legitimate concerns about catching germs or they have a hand phobia or something. Or maybe they’re just not into handshakes, but there has GOT to be a better way.

Maybe that was the case with one of my distant cousins, who I recently met for the first time. I offered my standard greeting and extended my hand but she stood there and glared at my hand like it was smallpox-infested. I was on the east coast, so maybe my Texas twang caught her off guard? Maybe the gesture was too formal (She didn’t strike me as a hugger)? I still don’t know but eventually she moved past whatever rendered her temporarily speechless and paralyzed. Then it happened. The weak ass handshake that consists of extending two fingers (most often, the index and the middle finger) accompanied by an under-eyed glare.  If you don’t wanna shake my hand, then I’d rather you didn’t than offer me two fingers to shake. It’s just… awkward, and halfway tempted me to swear off handshakes altogether.

THE STRANGER  WHO LETS YOU KNOW THEY’VE ALREADY BEEN BRIEFED ON YOU BY A MUTUAL ACQUAINTANCE

No matter what I think I know about a person prior to meeting the, that supposed knowledge will NEVER have an impact on the way I treat you, especially during an initial introduction. But some people simply cannot hide the fact that they’ve heard all about you from a relative, co-worker, friend or mutual associate before meeting you.

I once met a friend of a friend whose first words to me were, “Oh so you’re the one who worked with her,” referencing our mutual buddy. She then proceeded to side-eye me for the rest of the evening. Since I don’t have the most sordid past (in fact, it’s pretty damn boring), all I could think was what the HELL did this mutual friend tell her?!

THE NON-INTRODUCTION 

Ugh, so this next incident took place at least six years ago, but it pisses me off til this day.  I traveled with my husband (boyfriend at the time) to NYC. While there, we attended a church event with his family and I was reminded of how disgustingly patriarchal certain religions are, although it took me a while to recognize it for what it was. A male member of the church came around to greet the out-of-town family  but when he reached me, instead of shaking my extended hand, he shot me cursory glance, then leaned over me and shook my boyfriend’s hand. I guess I was supposed to just sit there like an obedient little woman, but it made me feel like a cheap accessory. And to make sure I got the point, he looked back at me as if to say, yeah, I saw you…and?! All I could do was shake my head and send up a silent prayer for this ceremony to be over ASAP before I got to cussin’ up in these strange folks’ church event.

THE HUMILIATING INTRODUCTION

When I was in high school, I had a class with my crush, but other than small talk, we really didn’t socialize because I was super awkward around guys. My “best” friend, however, secretly took it upon herself to introduce me to him, not knowing or caring that I already knew him. She lured me out of the cafeteria by pretending someone had found one of my textbooks. Before I knew it, I was being shoved in his direction by her and her cousin. Interrupting the conversation he had going with another girl, they awkwardly introduced us to one another. He was gracious enough to go along with it, but I was completely mortified. Worst introduction EVER.

Bottom line is introductions should never be this damn complicated.

What are some of the strangest, best/worst, funniest introductions you’ve ever experienced?

Images: Giphy

10 Questions Tag

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My blogger friend Drea from The Drea Daily was kind enough to nominate me to participate in the 10 Questions Tag, which gives me the chance to answer 10 random questions she posed. I’m super excited that she tagged me because it’s a fun and quick way to discover a little more about bloggers outside of normal posts and to give other bloggers a little shine.

Here are my responses to Drea’s questions below:

1.  Favorite TV series?

A Different World. Pretty much any episode of that show can boost my mood. I’ve been known to walk around my house wailing at the top of my lungs, trying to emulate the operatic singing in this clip that begins at 2:43:

2.  Least favorite aspect of blogging?
I suppose what I enjoy least about it applies to writing in general and that is the process of creating. I’m SUPER slow at writing my posts. Sometimes I’ll start an idea and before I know it’s 2 am and I’m nowhere near finished.

3.  Favorite phone app?

It’s not necessarily my favorite, but Twitter is the one I use most. My smartphone is so underutilized.

4. Your worst/most embarrassing habit?

Allowing my anxiety to consume me.
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Did Your Vision Board Work? 2014 in Review

vision boardAnnual assessments have always been routine for me. The only issue is they typically leave me bemoaning the days I wasted and wishing for a time-machine to put the past 365 days to better use. However, there was a major shift this year in my attitude that propelled me to make a vision board in January.

I’d heard people discussing vision boards before, and while I’ve always been one of those people who make new year’s resolutions, it still sounded like some pseudo-spiritual propaganda. Like, really? All I gotta do is tack my goals to a board and they’ll magically manifest? Mkay.

After giving it a little more thought, I realized that a vision board simply reinforces the fact that people tend to be drawn to things they want.  If a late-night Wendy’s commercial can lure folks to the drive-thru, why can’t a board that advertises personal dreams and goals essentially do the same thing?

HAS IT WORKED FOR ME?

Well, the better question is whether I’ve allowed it to work for me. 2013 ended on sort of a high note professionally, but personally it was one of the darkest, lowest moments of my life.  Therefore, I decided that 2014 had to be better.

I had a ton of stuff on my board, but here a few successes I had this year that really stood out for me:
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6 Reasons To Read Your Published Articles

During a conversation with my pitch partner Andrea from Be-Quoted a few months ago, we were discussing an article she’d successfully pitched when she revealed that she rarely reads her published pieces. As a result, I told her that I could build a case for my opinion that writers (new writers, in particular) should make a regular practice of reading their published articles. Now, while I will admit that I haven’t read every single one of my live articles, I still think writers can benefit from regularly reading the final, edited versions of their work.

Scrolling Twitter one evening, I came across some tweets from Julia Beverly, formerly of Ozone Magazine. She’s currently writing a book about the life of the late UGK rapper Pimp-C and has been discussing the process online.

As enthusiastic as she seems about her upcoming project, in the same breath Beverly candidly admitted that she more than likely would not be reading this book upon its completion. Merely revising articles can sometimes feel like a mild form of mental torture, so I can’t say I necessarily blame her for already planning to pass on reading her own book before she’s even written the last word.

The reality is Beverly is a certified OG in the writing/publishing industry, so she can totally afford to give her published work the cold shoulder. But for less established writers, I feel there are good reasons to read those published articles:

It allows you to learn from your mistakes.

Based on the changes I’ve seen from my editors, I’ve been able to identify problem areas and even managed to make some improvement without having my weaknesses explicitly highlighted.

Once, I received a group email from editors who advised the writers on the correct way of citing images. I realized I hadn’t been doing it the right way, but that could’ve been avoided if I took the time to at least skim over some of my previously published pieces, or better yet, pay more attention to my style guide! In that situation, I got two lessons in one.

Learn your editors’ style.

Not all editors are created equal. That means that depending on who you write for, there may be little to no difference between the piece you submitted and the published article. Other times, the final article may not resemble anything in your original piece. It’s a delicate balance because you don’t want to lose your voice while trying to do the piece justice, but unless it’s your blog, an op-ed or a pub that  has extremely lax guidelines, the publication’s voice and style ultimately trump yours.

This is why I think it’s best to try and pay attention to the editors’ changes to see what you can pick up on.  That may mean writing “stuff” when you really want to write “shit,” or leaving out something you think is hilarious and clever (more on that later).
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Becoming a Better Writer in 2015

Writing Tools

This year I’ve made leaps and bounds when it comes to writing, but I still have many miles to go before I arrive at what I’ll call my optimum writer status. Truth be told, I have no interest in being the perfect scribe (whatever that may be), but I definitely have some room for improvement.

Here’s how I plan to be a better writer in 2015:

SUPPORT OTHER WRITERS MORE

I get so caught up in the stresses of creating that a lot of times when I’m done filing articles, I haphazardly tweet the links and log the hell off my computer. In those moments, I don’t want to read another headline, blog post, or article because I’ve been fully immersed in them for hours at a time and my eyes and brain just can’t take anymore. But beginning now and throughout 2015, I plan to devote more time to reading, sharing and commenting on other writers’ work, especially those who are just starting out, or those whose work I truly admire.

ENGAGE MORE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Someone one posed the question, “What does your social media presence say about you?” I’ll be the first to admit that mine isn’t very reflective of who I am.  In reality, I thrive in social settings and am at my best when I have some food, drink and good company. However, I’m old school and social media is just so…OPEN. I can’t properly convey what I’m feeling, but I haven’t gotten comfortable with putting my fleeting, uncensored thoughts and beliefs out there for the masses to consume and share. Whenever I do, it’s followed by so much self-scrutiny and anxiety that sometimes I’m tempted to delete my account altogether. Anyway, it sounds insane but it’s the truth.  But the fact is,  I need to be more engaging online. While it’s still awkward for me, it feels much better to actually interact with people instead of simply seeing their tweets float by on your timeline daily without having a clue what they’re about outside of some random tweets or blog links.  I joined to put myself out there (plus, there are work requirements), but I realize I’m doing myself and other writers who look for support a major disservice by being a hermit online.
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The 8 Most Common Excuses I Use Not to Blog

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Well, this is embarrassing—and that statement has absolutely nothing to do with Firefox failing to load all my tabs. I hate that it’s come to this, but if I have to put myself on front street just to get shit done, then so be it. Within the past hour, I’ve created two drafts (three if you count this post) in which I began a blog but didn’t see either of them through to completion.

This process of creating a bunch of possible blog posts and then leaving them to rot in draft hell isn’t a new pattern for me. It’s a bad habit I formed and haven’t quite been able to shake. The reasoning behind this pesky tendency can’t be narrowed down into one word, but I figure if I just write it down in a list, perhaps it can help me avoid my addiction to creating drafts and encourage me to write, edit and hit publish already!  Furthermore, I hope it’ll encourage any other bloggers who, like myself, can come up with 99 reasons why they shouldn’t post a blog.

So here it is, in all its unfiltered, shameless glory. The 8 most common excuses I use not to blog:

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My First #AskAwayFriday with Mrs. Tee of LoveLifeLaughter

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OK, so I promise myself and the world that now that I’m freelancing full-time, I will dedicate as much time to my blog as I do to the rough and tumble world of pitching and networking and finding people who wanna pay me to write and edit stuff. So with that, here’s my attempt to dedicate myself (again) to routine posts.

#AskAwayFriday! I met Mrs. Tee of  LoveLifeLaughter through a #SITSSharefest on Twitter and I thought participating in this exchange with an established blogger could help me familiarize myself with how things go in this here blogging world. I’m trying to get my feet wet and put myself out there in a way I’ve been afraid to do so far. But bloggers like Mrs. Tee give me hope and encouragement! She’s an AWESOME blogger who’s found great success in a short period of time. Reading through her blog, I learned about her family, her interests and that we have a lot in common! Her dedication to blogging despite a HUGE (and lovely) family shows me that it’s possible to do something you love and be really good at it if you stay disciplined and dedicated!

 

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She asked me some off-the-cuff questions that had me LOL’ing, which I tend to do a lot. Check them out, along with my responses below:

 1. What is your favorite hot day lunch? Sandwich, Salad or Smoothie?

Um, when I say I’m a HUGE eater…none of these would cut it for me LOL! But if I had to choose, I’d go with a sandwich.

2. Are you sarcastic or straight forward?

I’m sarcastic, but not in a jerky kinda way. I can be straight forward depending on my mood and the subject. I really loathe when I ask someone a question and they beat around the bush. In that situation, yes I’m straightforward. And I frequently sprinkle my writing with sarcasm.

3. Has either you sarcasm or bluntness ever gotten you in trouble?

In person, it has been known to piss off my husband, but that’s mostly when he doesn’t get it, which unfortunately happened when we first met. Now, I know better. I try to get to know the person before unleashing my sarcasm.  I’m wondering what you read on my site that makes you ask me this…LOL.

4. Shoes tied or untied when you take them off?

OMG, I used to be so concerned about this! But I don’t have time, so I kick ‘em off without even thinking…Come to think of, where are my shoes…

5. How many keychains do you have?

I have a few that I collected from traveling,  but I don’t really use them. I had a friend in high school whose keychain was so ridiculous and loud and that changed my entire outlook on keychains haha…

6. On a hot day do you still drink hot (coffee or tea) or only cold (shakes water iced tea/coffee)?

Well, I will but if you’ve experienced any form of Texas heat (which can strike at a moment’s notice, even if it snowed yesterday), you will run for the first cold beverage. So typically I gulp down anything that’s cold and stay away from stuff that makes me sweat even more than the sweltering heat and humidity.

7. Do you prefer poolside or sitting in the sand?

Without a doubt, the SAND!!! I was just on the beach in the Dominican Republic a few weeks ago. Ahhh, how I miss the sound of the ocean waves…I’m convinced that in a former life,  I was a beach bum. I’m trying to get back there, but the whole bum thing isn’t working out that well for me…I got bills, ya know.

 

On the beach in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

On the beach in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

8. What did you eat so far today?

Uhhh, *hides face* See, what had happened was…Let’s just say it wasn’t healthy lol.

9.  What’s is the last song you heard?

I’m not ashamed (well, just a little bit) to say it was New Edition’s “If It Isn’t Love.” I had a lot of writing to do today, and for some reason old R & B sparks my creativity.

10.  I am in love with your story of finding your ‘niche’. What advice would you give to someone else searching for their place?

Whew, I feel like a hypocrite answering this because I still don’t feel like I know my place. I’m still trying to find my way. So far, that’s involved trusting my gut, which is a bit of a struggle for me. But yeah, that’s my answer and I’m sticking to it. Do what feels right for you. Do what you would do if no one else was watching.

 

 

 

Advice To My 2013 Self

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I’m a little bit behind on this 28-day Imperfect Blogging Challenge–three days to be exact. But it’s better late than never. That’s what I think about when I recall where I was this time last year and match it up to where I am now. There have definitely been some major changes, some scary changes, but I am confident those changes were necessary, even if they seem foolish and risky.

WHERE WAS I THIS TIME LAST YEAR?

I’d been working at my job for two years, had graduated to a new position that previous fall and I was already thinking of what would be next. Bored. Unmotivated. And wishing my life away by the day, trying to convince Friday to come early every week. I remember that I was always planning to do something. I planned to get serious about writing professionally. After purchasing a domain and joining Twitter, I planned to start posting blogs. I planned to submit a short story I wrote and enter it into a writing contest. I planned to resume writing a book. But I did very little of what I set out to do.

I spent a lot of time saying I didn’t have time and the rest of that time worrying about what would happen if tried to do what I wanted.  I saw the blogs of more established, successful bloggers whose sites were more visually appealing than mine. I had no idea what I was doing while they seemed really comfortable forging a digital footprint that clearly displayed who they were. Frankly, I was intimidated and my progress was snail-slow. Continue reading

The Benefits of Having an Alter Ego

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Quite often the sheer act of existing feels downright overwhelming. Sometimes I wake up and before my eyes adjust to the morning light, a never-ending to-do list sidles into my mind and sprints off towards a mirage of a finish line. If you ask me, that’s just too much pressure before breakfast. At that point, I want to do nothing more than drift back into a peaceful sleep where deadlines, bills, emotions or any other concern that’s popular amongst the living mean about as much to me as a crack in a sidewalk.

But life beckons, and I eventually roll out of bed, sometimes sliding down the side of it, other times sitting up with an attitude and a curse word forming on my lips. It is then that I realize how badly I need a stunt double. Since Texas is a day’s drive from Hollywood and my house isn’t a movie set, I’ve decided to settle for the next best thing: an alter ego.

Nicki Minaj has Roman Zolanski. Garth Brooks had Chris Gaines. Eminem has the maniacal Slim Shady. And Lady Gaga has Jo Calderone. Now, I’m not sure what in the hell she needs with an alter ego because she seems to be quite the handful all by herself/selves, but that only confirms that having a little spare personality buddy can’t hurt.  And finally, if Beyoncé has an alter ego on her payroll, then goshdarnit, so can I. I’m far from a member of the Beyhive, but there’s no doubting the benefits that the Sasha Fierce transformation hath wrought upon her life.
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Reasons To Smile

 

Me...smiling.

Me…smiling.

Far too often we focus on the things that make us upset or piss us off. Thanks to a SITS writing prompt recommended by my fabulous pitch partner and fellow blogger, this post is dedicated to the things that made me smile this week. I must admit that I had to give significant thought to this question as I’m accustomed to having a dreadful glass half-empty viewpoint on most situations. Sadly, I can fire off a list of stuff that angers me with little to no contemplation. But the good thing is I’m in the process of changing that, starting with this post! That said, here are a few things that happened this week to turn my frown upside down:

1. Making progress at a new writing gig: Twice a week, I’m responsible for posting at least three entertainment related articles. Usually, I pitch to my editor, then post, lather, rinse and repeat until I have three write-ups. But this week, I finally managed to simultaneously pitch all three article ideas and have them accepted at once. Sounds like a small feat, but hey, it made me smile and relieved some pressure. Also, yesterday was the first time since I started this gig that I felt completely in a groove where my writing is concerned. I feel like I’m recognizing and developing my unique writer’s voice and constantly creating is a true testament to the mantra, “Practice makes perfect.” Continue reading