Real-Life Writer Lifestyle Blog!

I have been glamorously fighting a cold for the past week, which has involved ingesting copious quantities of glamorous chicken soup, Vernor’s and Tylenol; glamorously sleeping 15 hours a day; and glamorously sneezing into an ever-expanding pile of glamorously wadded Kleenex.

At some point during one of my virus-fueled fever dreams, my muse came unto me and told me I should start a lifestyle blog. Featuring my actual lifestyle.

I’ve already fielded a couple different questions about writer lifestyles on Quora this month, and I’m also full of cold medicine, so my response was a resounding “Yes!”

…Followed by a resounding “What’s a lifestyle blog?”

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Since Googling things and then pretending I knew that all along is completely on-brand in my particular writer lifestyle, here’s what I have learned have sagely always known about lifestyle blogging.

1. It’s basically a digital zoo exhibit.

This post at MediaKix says:

A lifestyle blog is best defined as a digital content representation of its author’s everyday life and interests. A lifestyle blogger creates content inspired and curated by their personal interests and daily activities.

I’ve been trying to write content inspired and curated by “things I find interesting about writing and creativity that other people might also find interesting about writing and creativity.” Apparently, my illness-impelled muse says this is all wrong, and I should just be badly Instagramming my food instead. (“How to Take Photos That Are Definitely Not Insta-Worthy,” coming soon to this blog!)

2. …Except it’s supposed to teach you how to brush the cheetahs.

Meanwhile, blogger Ashley Coleman has this to say about the difference between personal blogging and lifestyle blogging:

Personal blogs will rely heavily on personal narrative, essay, opinion. Lifestyle blogs include personal elements but often give you some really tangible things to take away. How to make a great cake. How to design your workspace. Meanwhile, personal stories will either inspire you, inform you, or maybe make you laugh.

…I mean, I can definitely teach people how to emulate my glamorously snotty  writer lifestyle. In fact, here’s a free printable (I guess that’s a thing now?) for emulating my glamorous writer wardrobe!

writer dress infographic

Actionable takeaways! This lifestyle blog thing is really taking off.

3.  I’m supposed to make people jealous, I guess?

I’m a little confused on this point, because Googling “lifestyle blogging jealousy” turned up a ton of posts on how to stop being jealous of other people’s perfectly-curated lifestyle blogs and Instagram accounts, but the whole point of perfect curation seems to be to make other people jealous of your lifestyle in the first place.

So here’s my best shot at making you all jealous of me:

I write for a living, which is to say that I have no day job or side gig: Writing is what I do. I’ve been doing that for about ten years now. I live in an adorably venerable house with three adorable cats who adorably destroy things for fun, I have a husband who thinks I’m the greatest thing since sliced greatness, I have spent the last week sneezing my brain matter into handfuls of tissues, and I only sometimes wear pants.

And I can show you how to do it, too. I guess.

4. Write about everything but also only these things.

So: My muse wants me to present my life the way it is in order to engender jealousy in others, which is obviously not going to work. I mean, just check out my totally cute and enviable kitchen:

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WRITER LIFE is all about the deluxe-sized bag of corn chips, empty food containers nobody’s put in the recycling yet, and a sinkful of dishes I’m ignoring in order to write this blog post. You, too, can have this amazingly glamorous lifestyle!

What the heck is my lifestyle blog supposed to be about, then? MediaKix recommends:

Lifestyle bloggers share a broad variety of content centered around and inspired by their personal lives — most notably family, home, travel, beauty, food, recipes, fashion, makeup, design and decor.

*rubs hands together* *cracks knuckles* Okay, I got this.

Coming soon, from my totally awesome writer lifestyle blog that is totally awesome and definitely not something I got told to do by the Nyquil-addled voices in my head….

  • Family: How to Spend Quality Time With Your Manuscript Instead of These Weirdos!
  • Home: My Favorite Houses to Not Die of Consumption In
  • Travel: The Bright Thing In the Sky: What It Is and Why You Shouldn’t Stare Directly At It
  • Beauty: Hey, This Ink Smudge On My Hand Kinda Looks Like a Cat
  • Food: How to Make Coffee Part of Every Major Food Group
  • Recipes: Coffee, Coffee With Milk, Coffee With Vodka, Coffee With Milk and Vodka, Okay That’s a White Russian You Literally Just Invented a White Russian Now Stop It
  • Fashion: *points to infographic*
  • Makeup: 1.2 Ways to Make Yourself Presentable Before You Run Out for More Creamer (You NEED to Do At Least Number 0.2, Okay?)
  • Design: Creating Your Perfect Writing Space (and Then Ignoring It In Favor of Scribbling on the Toilet)
  • Decor: 50 Fun Organization Hacks to Avoid Your Looming Deadlines

…Y’all, I am so excited about this new lifestyle blog! Praise to my plague-prompted muse!

 

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The Traditional Feast of St. Patrick and Cabbage: A Predictive Text History of St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, so in keeping with previous holidays, I asked Botnik‘s predictive text engine to weigh in on this history of this historic history day.

I fed the top 20 Google search results for “history of St. Patrick’s day” to Botnik, which produced the mean St. Patrick’s day history based on predictive text. It’s…enlightening.

stpatrickandcabbage

The traditional feast of saint patrick and cabbage

(a predictive text history of St. Patrick’s Day by Botnik)

Saint Patrick is said to have 20 official public houses. This story has coloured numerous Irish people ‘s idea of the saint, who lived during Lent and returned to Ireland in 2007.

St. Patrick’s tradition began when president Dwight the First identified St. Patrick to explain why Ireland began. The saint himself could not know why Ireland was affected by sectarian revelry, but for those who supposedly wielded political power, Irish culture was a significant cause for dyeing its river green.

During the fifth Irish diaspora, which includes celebrations today, people attended schools founded by government ministers. This was a yearly cause for their death. However, after Dublin and Herzegovina banned drunkenness and jerseys, cultural parades began featuring Patrick’s album.

According to Samantha and the Cabbage, Irish mythology has presented numerous parades involving bagpipes and endowed widows. These practices describe St. Patrick’s two tests in Roman Britain: observing baptisms and growing shamrocks in a large church. Many legends grew to celebrate stereotypes, which did not help to celebrate Ireland.

Boston is known for fostering novelty merchandise on St. Patrick’s day, since the city wasn’t always recognised as a place. This all changed in 2008, when Hallmark looked at Notre Dame and was credited with religious beef soup for the day.

In 1961 sanitation workers used Patrick’s downtown house to explain why Ireland began. Everything made clear, Irish families mandated Patrick himself should think of the Irish at least on March 17.

Beginning in Nairobi, the traditional feast day of St. Patrick is celebrated annually on Sunday before making democracy merchandise and cabbage initiatives. Saint Patrick himself could lead his religious procession, if he was not repealed.


Keep ’em coming: Buy me a coffee or check out my book

Most Popular Resolutions to Make 2019 Your Best Motivator For You

I fed the text of the top ten Google search results for “most common New Year’s resolutions” to Botnik (which also provided the title of this post), and I asked it to provide the median resolutions for the coming year.

Are yours on the list?

The Top 10 New Year's Resolutions

The Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2019, According to Botnik

10. Lose 10 new things every day you can.

This popular resolution makes lists every year, yet most of us end the year with the same amount of things we had before.

“Resolutions fail because you don’t like waking up,” said Botnik. “Continue to achieve nothing, or just save thousands on Instagram.”

9. Volunteer like you feel something.

So many of us are dead inside, yet we’d really like to make the world a better place for others. Botnik reassures us that “Sometimes you need noble aspirations to achieve things.”

8. Eat dinner with your insurance policy.

You’ve had your insurance policy for years, but when was the last time you really paid attention to it and its hundreds of pages of single-spaced, eye-wateringly-small conversation skills? Never, that’s when.

To make this resolution stick, Botnik said, “It’s about sex. Grudges are human, but action is better.”

7. See more powerful things.

Everyone says they’d love to travel more, but between our busy jobs and tiny paychecks, who can really meet this goal? Improve your chances of getting out in the world by resolving only to stare at the most powerful things you can find, said Botnik.

“Nobody coaches teamwork like you,” said Botnik. “Feel strongly, and life will throw darts.”

6. Learn 25 different languages before January.

Sharon from Accounting keeps bragging about her Spanish skills, but you know she’s been ignoring the Duolinguo owl for six months straight. Make yourself undisputed champion of office bragging rights by learning 25 new languages before January even begins.

There are lots of great online tools to help you learn languages and avoid sleep, and don’t forget Botnik’s best advice for language-learners: “Make sure you drink!”

5. Practice quitting like your resume might suspect you’re on social media.

Thousands of us have made this resolution for years without understanding what it really means – or how much effort it actually takes. Fortunately, if you’ve tried and failed again and again, you’re not alone: Botnik noted that this is one of the toughest resolutions to achieve.

“Resolutions like this one fail by mastering your brain calories,” said Botnik. “Succeed biometrically: Stop being money.”

4. Save some urgency for your waistline.

If you don’t love what you see when you look in the mirror, it’s time to save some of your sense of rush and bustle for your waistline.

“Options like waking up tomorrow can actually be easier than ordering out. Different goals can always come along,” said Botnik.

3. Adjust to a healthier distress.

If there’s simply no way to block out the fact that we’re all living in a dystopian mirror universe populated with the worst versions of duplicitous orange hand puppets, the next best thing to do is to adjust your way of thinking – which is why this resolution is #3 on the list for 2019.

“Block out more romantic foods for yourself. Sticking it on your bedside table can give you the inspiration to achieve the national average,” said Botnik.

2. Create a budget by enlisting your internal victories.

As the real value of your paycheck is driven south by increasing inflation and nonexistent pay raises, how can you meet your resolutions or live your best life? Start imagining the basic security you’ll never actually have!

“Money is not programmable anymore,” said Botnik. “Satisfying your intentions while synchronizing something different will inevitably impact your intergalactic priorities.”

1. Stop technology from achieving your goals.

Photoshop has your ideal body. Chatbots have your ideal personality. The Sims 4’s “motherlode” hack has your ideal budget.

If you’re sick and tired of computers having it better than you, it’s time to join millions of others in embracing the top goal for 2019, according to Botnik. Whether you delete your Facebook account, chuck your laptop into a swimming pool or detonate an EMP in the upper atmosphere, “even small improvements will fail. We have shown you ourselves, and your patterns are not difficult anymore,” said Botnik.

Computers. Gotta love ’em.

Need Help Making 2019 Your Best “You” Year Yet?

According to the Internets, 257% of all New Year’s resolutions fail by December 4 of the previous year. I asked Botnik to provide advice on how not to become a statistic.

To keep yourself achieving your fears, make healthy competition your life. Go back to using major projects to enhance your stress skills.

Teamwork sabotages 47 percent of resolutions, so instead of thinking liquor will help, provide inspiration to your family to lose things easily. Find a fun hobby like flossing and ruin it for others.

If this doesn’t work, try yoga.

Should You Hire Millennials for Leadership Positions?

A not-at-all satirical thinkpiece.

In my decade of helping brands position themselves as “thought leaders,” I’ve been asked for a thinkpiece on Millennials about once every other month. But this recent request in my inbox gave me pause:

Can you discuss whether companies should train Millennials into their leadership?

Yes, absolutely – and no, absolutely not.

Should you hire millennials for leadership positions_

There are very good reasons not to train Millennials for leadership positions in any business or organization. Here are three:

1.  They’re too young (until they’re too old).

Millennials have greedily occupied the younger end of the workforce, making up 100 percent of all workers ages 23 to 38 or thereabouts.

Their pervasiveness, and the trickiness of their ages, make Millennials a bad bet for leadership positions. Do you really want to put a snot-nosed 23-year-old college graduate in charge of your teams? And that 37-year-old you just hired for a quarter of what you were paying her 67-year-old predecessor: Do you really think your people are going to take someone seriously when they’re practically over the hill?

Millennials are straight-up too young and irresponsible for leadership positions, unless they’re too old to be taken seriously in those positions. It’s best just to give them a miss altogether.

2. They don’t value money.

Here’s a sampling of things Millennials have killed in the past few years:

Oh, yeah. And The American Dream.

What do all these things have in common? That’s right: They’re all sites of “conspicuous consumption,” or methods for telegraphing the unnecessarily large size of one’s paycheck.

Millennials, instead, appear to be spending more on education, healthcare, and rent. Seriously? When did those ever impress the Joneses?

These spending trends should give employers pause. If Millennials can’t be trusted to invest their pay in the sort of status objects that will make everyone on the block envy them, what can they be trusted with? Certainly not leadership.

3. Capitalism is doomed.

Capitalism is dying anyway, and not just because Millennials killed it. Whether you prefer to frame the oncoming problem as the accelerating approach of catastrophic weather changes brought on by climate fluctuations, a Biblical end times scenario, or the arrival of fully automated luxury gay space communism, the fact is that capitalism is drawing to its close.

Sure, failing to prepare a single Millennial worker for leadership will leave a 15+ year hole in your company’s continuity, as your older workers retire or die and the remainder are in no way ready to take the reins. But since your business and everybody else’s aren’t going to survive the coming climate/Bible/Federation utopia apocalypse anyway, why are you wasting time and money training anyone for leadership? Think of the shareholders!

In short: Training Millennials for leadership positions is a bad proposition. Stick to training everyone born before 1980 or after 2000, and leave your Millennial workers to do what they do best: an unpaid internship.

 

Using Brodart Book Covers; Or, How to Protect Your Investment in 6 Easy Steps

Brodart (or, for Canadians, Brodart) is not the only maker of those handy dust jacket covers you see on library books, but they’re the classic. And their “How to Apply Brodart Center-Slit Book Jacket Covers” instructions come in both English and French, so that’s cool.

Book covers are a relatively cheap way to protect the dust jackets on your best-beloved, favorite, and/or collectible books from damage. They’re also kind of fun to put on, if by “fun” you mean “requiring way too much attention to detail and not something the cat can help you with at all.” Therefore, allow me to present How to Use Dust Jacket Covers (In Just 72 Easy Steps):

Step One: remove the complimentary cat from your box of book covers. Note: Brodart does not actually supply a complimentary cat. Cat may have been enlarged to show texture. DO NOT EAT.

Step One: According to Brodart’s instructions, Step One is to “place book jacket cover – film side down, paper side up – on a flat surface.”

So far, so good.

Step Two: “Remove dust jacket from book and insert it – printed side down – between center-slit reinforcing paper and film. If the cover is an exact fit, proceed to step 5.”

…Maybe I should not have used an off-white dust jacket, yes? This is the jacket for Kay Ryan’s The Best of It, by the way. Shown here inserted under the bottom half of the paper, but not the top.

Step Two Point Five: Brodart doesn’t mention this one, probably because its instructions are written for the individual center-slit jackets, not the ones that come on the roll (which is what I’m using here, obvs). But trust me on this one, for it’s important: Mark the spot where the dust jacket ends with a pencil, then tug the dust jacket out of the way while you cut along the pencil line.

My pencil line is where the pencil is. I swear.

The alternative is to leave the dust jacket in place while you cut, which, if you’re a klutz like me, is a great way to chop right through the edge of a dust jacket. Please do not ask which beautiful book I mangled in figuring this out.

The dust jacket cover, cut off the roll on the handy pencil line I mentioned earlier. Notice how I had the sense to pull the dust jacket out to the left slightly so I wouldn’t cut through it, too.

Step 3:  “If the cover is not an exact fit, position edge of dust jacket where film and paper are joined together.”

The one in my photos isn’t.  It doesn’t much matter whether you line up the top or the bottom edge.  I didn’t photograph this step because, if you’ve done it right, the dust jacket is completely encased in the dust jacket protector and you can’t see it anyway.

A quick perusal of my new crop of library books indicates that the library staff, instead of positioning one edge of the dust jacket at the edge of the cover, positioned it more or less in the middle and folded both long ends over.  It probably doesn’t matter which you use as far as book protection is concerned, but the library’s covers do look much less amateur than mine.  (The library used adhesive, though, which THOU SHALT NOT DO if the value of the book matters at all to you.  If not, then Adhere What Thou Wilt shall be the whole of the law, and so on.)

Step Four: “Fold opposite edge of cover along the edge of the dust jacket and crease.”

My creased dust jacket cover, with the dust jacket for “The Best of It” hanging out inside. These things are a bit difficult to crease – it would probably be easier with two sets of hands, but all I have is a cat, and we know how helpful SHE is. Here I’m using the scissors to hold the crease down long enough for me to photograph it.

Step Five: “Wrap the cover and the dust jacket around the book.”

Step Five Point Three: Look around. Realize the book is nowhere in sight. Freak out.
Step Five Point Six: Locate the book under the instruction sheet for using the dust jacket covers. Breathe sigh of relief. Suspect the cat is secretly laughing at you.

Step Six: Do not use adhesive. Unless you are a librarian. Then you might want to use adhesive.  Librarians: curiously sticky since 1939.

Step Six: Success!

Ta Da!

Next time: another reason not to write your name in a book; the only adhesive you should ever allow to touch a collectible book and the only situation in which you should use it; and Bill Moyers Is Awesome, But He Really Needs To Stop Signing Books On The Flyleaf.