Sometimes I receive emails from newbie bloggers asking me stuff like:
“Hey, Darla! How in the hell did your blog get to be sort-of-but-not-really popular? Why on earth do you have as many followers as Danny Bonaduce’s Twitter account*? You ain’t no big thang! Please explain.”
As I’m sure Danny “The Dooch Man” Bonaduce would tell you — it takes pure luck plus the perfect amount of narcissism mixed with self-loathing to become this mediocre.
If I had to pick one thing that helped skyrocket this blog into “eh-dom”, it would be the day my post about getting my hair cut was picked by a WordPress editor for Freshly Pressed back in the days of bloggy yore, circa 2010. Soon people all over this great land of ours were leaving me comments like, “Nice post” and “Please visit my blog at buttmunch.com!” It was a magical time. My stats climbed (then plummeted) and my ego exploded (then imploded). Messy.
Still I was convinced my little post was picked at random and that’s because it was. Random. It had to be because what good writer ends their sentences with the word ‘was’? Or even worse, I’m thinking a WordPress editor was in the middle of cleaning her keyboard of doughnut dust and accidently typed in the words “bad hair Darla” to find me.
Then for some odd reason WordPress put me under “recommended family”. This led many family-oriented people to my blog. Yet I had this burning desire to occasionally swear and write about broken asses. Write what you know and all that bull. I followed my bloggy dreams and never looked back. Over the years I’ve dropped hints for WP to switch me to humor but they insist I’m never funny. Fine, I’ll be a friggin “mommy blogger”. But I’ll be damned if I blog in torn yoga pants and a shirt covered in mac-n-cheese with my hair all a mess and oh yeah, right … I guess I am a mommy blogger. Damn it all to hell.
So it was a bit of luck that got this blog going. But then I took that luck and ran with it. And ran and ran and ran. Then I sat down again because I was winded and by golly, I blogged and blogged and churned out endless heaps of ridiculous posts, up to and including this one. To be honest, it does take a fair amount of blood, sweat and wine for me to crank out this shit. I don’t just sit down and spew words onto my laptop. (current post excluded)
So, you also want to be a “famous-in-your-own-mind” blogger?
Here’s what I’ve learned in my five years at WordPress:
Less is more. (Danny Bonaduce, I’m talking to you)
Wrong is right. (Danny Bonaduce, I’m not talking to you)
Just write. Who cares what a reader might think?
Always care what a reader might think.
If it makes you laugh or cry, it’s good enough to post.
People will get offended. They’ll think you’re being serious. Holding up a sign might help.
Bullet point lists are the key to any good post.
Self-deprecating humor usually works because it sounds like “self-defecating” and who doesn’t want to see someone else shit all over themselves? Fun.
Find your voice.
Keep your voice even if you have to break all the rules. We’re not writing for The New York Times. Yet.
When your voice is hoarse, rest. Don’t force it. It’ll come back again.
“You’ve been what now? Is this that evil computer thingamabob? You really should pick up a phone more and call me. I could be lying here dead in my rocking chair after having a heart attack while knitting your afghan. You know the one I’ve been working on for months in spite of my arthritic fingers. Oh how they hurt so! And this is all you care about? Freshly Pressed! I’ll give you Freshly Pressed! Jeezum crow! Where’s my friggin’ coffee?”
Forgive me for writing a post about how I was Freshly Pressed, but I couldn’t help myself. It’s been an eternity since my last FP. Why, I can’t even remember how long ago! (2 years, 3 months, 4 days)
And to know a post about my cranky 80-year-old mother and her dark cutting edge humor would be featured up there on the front page is somehow fitting. After all, I got my obnoxious sense of humor straight from her. While my late father had the dry slow-burn wit, she has always embodied the brutally honest, in-your-face Mainah charm.
So I’d like to take this moment to thank her for letting me know life’s way too short to worry so much and almost everything in life can be funny, even death.
As we all know:
Tragedy + Time = Comedy
Or in my mom’s case:
Tragedy + Time – Sanka = Endless Blog Fodder
Love you Mom! Thanks for giving my blog so much material. I know you will never read this but I’ll be sure to tell you about it tomorrow while I’m “fixing” your remote again so you won’t miss the upcoming Dr. Oz Show on colonoscopies.
I’m still on my summer bloggy break and hopefully will be back to posting more once the hellions are back in school. In the meantime, here are a few more “Mom” post gems if you’re interested and like to take frequent guilt trips:
Well, all these answers and more can be found by visiting the hilarious blog, The Good Greatsby.
If you’ve been searching for a blogger who’s always witty and entertaining, then Paul is your man. If you’ve been searching for someone to give all your extra cash to — Paul is definitely your man. (He’ll also accept gift cards but please, no personal checks.)
He’s been Freshly Pressed numerous times, he’s a WordPress Recommended Humor blogger and he’s a humor blogger for The Huffington Post.
I know. I’ll have what he’s having. My guess is that’s not really tobacco in his pipe.
I’m not definite I’ve ever been in love. I used to think I fell in love a lot but I once described love to a doctor and he said what I was experiencing was remarkably similar to the symptoms of car sickness. He suggested I stop taking first dates on high-speed drives through winding canyons, and after following his advice I never fell in love again. I also used to think women fell in love with me a lot, but it turns out they were just frightened to death at my driving, and that their trembling hands, wide eyes, pale faces and shrieks were more likely symptoms of terror and not love. Love is complicated.
For some reason I don’t remember the exact moment of being born, but I do remember my parents arguing with the hospital staff about the bill and thinking, Uh-oh, Mom and Dad are cheap. Looks like I’ll be going to a state college.
Moment I met my significant other:
I was sitting on a bus with a bag of groceries on my lap. The bag broke and an avocado rolled down the aisle until finally resting against a woman’s black high heel. Prada. Spring collection. The woman reached down to pick up the avocado and when she turned back to look at me I found myself locking eyes with the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I stood and slowly made my way across the bus, never breaking eye contact. I put out my hand. “I believe you have my avocado.” She smiled, raised the avocado up to her face, gave it a squeeze and said, “You’ve picked a ripe one.” As if on cue the bus jerked to the side, and in one smooth motion she fell into my arms, my lips brushed her ear, and I whispered, “I always pick the ripest produce.” She shivered. And then she shivered again. And then I realized it was actually my cell phone vibrating. Embarrassed, I turned my back as I took the call, which was my brother asking if he could set me up with his wife’s cousin. That wife’s cousin turned out to be my future wife and I first met her the following Friday after I pulled up in my car and she came out the front door of her grandparents’ house.
Possession I would take my house were on fire:
The vortex invasion pod in my basement, because the aliens were very clear that the vortex invasion pod should never catch on fire or the universe would implode. Also that it shouldn’t get wet. Also that I should stop hanging laundry on it.
Job I had:
Loose change collector. Every day, starting when I was about five, I would search under couch cushions or in the pockets of coats hanging in the closet or under the seat of my dad’s car. The pay wasn’t great, the benefits were non-existent, but the hours were flexible.
Time I got pulled over by a cop:
I’ve only been pulled over once. The police officer said I’d entered the turning lane too early, but my very reasonable explanation fell on deaf ears. I grew suspicious of his motives when he saw my driver’s license and failed to compliment my photo. And that’s when I realized what I was up against: handsomeness discrimination. Sometimes cops see a handsome man passing and think, That looks like a guy who needs to be taken down a notch. This is why I gave up driving, because I wasn’t willing to give up being handsome.
Thing I think God will say to me at the pearly gates:
“Don’t tell me who won the Super Bowl. I’ve got it on DVR but I’ve been absolutely swamped. Also, why is Kim Kardashian famous?”
Pad Thai. I make this pretty regularly and it’s usually good, but I tried something new and the result was too spicy. As we sat down for dinner and our eyes watered and throats burned, I told my sons if they learn one lesson from this meal it’s that you should never, ever try anything new in life. Find a bunch of comfortable behaviors, ideas, and habits at a young age and spend the rest of your life angrily refusing to see life from any other perspective.
Movie I saw:
Doctor Zhivago—the 2002 British edition with Keira Knightley. You should see this. But not with anyone who hates Keira Knightley. Why do so many women dislike Keira Knightley?
Song I listened to:
We Are the People by Empire of the Sun. I’ve heard this song hundreds of times just this year. You could walk up to me at any moment and ask what was the last song I listened to and there’s a good chance the last song was We Are the People.
Book I read:
Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Reality TV show I watched:
We don’t get American TV here in China so I don’t have regular access to reality shows. But a friend’s laptop was stolen from his apartment and he asked me to translate as he spoke to the security guards, and when we viewed the CCTV footage of the previous 24 hours and all the comings and goings of his apartment complex, and watched most of it in fast forward, it was the most compelling reality show I’d ever seen. Seriously. I’d watch that show again.
Person I kissed:
This answer has changed so many times in the last couple weeks. I kept putting off finishing this interview until the last person I kissed was really impressive. Unfortunately the only celebrity I met in the past few weeks was Joe Montana, and although he was definitely giving me signals, the timing never felt quite right.
Time I cried:
At the end of Doctor Zhivago—the 2002 British edition with Keira Knightley. If you didn’t cry, what’s wrong with you?
Time I laughed hysterically:
Yesterday. I was doing a voice recording for a hospitality training manual. The script made multiple references to “duties” and “the duties of a duty manager” and that “the duty manager has to be attentive to his employees’ duties.” I know it’s juvenile but I giggled like a schoolgirl. I never giggle. I hate to even write the word giggle. But I giggled every single time.
Time I told a little white lie:
Once I gave away the children’s puppy. I was taking him for a walk and a man stopped his bike and said, “I like your puppy.” And I said, “Take him. He’s yours,” and placed Mr. Lunch in the bike basket. When I returned home I told my sons that Mr. Lunch was on vacation. Almost nine years later and they still look out the window and ask when Mr. Lunch will be back from vacation. Hilarious.
Time I swore like a sailor:
A couple days ago when I argued with my cell phone provider. International coverage in my plan had somehow expired without my knowledge and I was charged about $200 for 3 calls to the US at a rate of about $1.75 a minute. The conversation was in Chinese but the swear words were in English. (Note: Initially I misread the question as “Time I swore at a sailor”. That would be a great question. A lot of my favorite comedy ideas come from misreading things.)
Good deed I did:
I flirt with a lot of married women right in front of their husbands. This might not seem like charity in the biblical sense, but when your husband sees me write my number on your hand, his jealousy is going to make him treat you right for at least two weeks. You’re welcome. (And don’t worry, I didn’t write my real number. It’s the number of a marriage counselor. I get a small referral commission.)
I bought myself really expensive skinny jeans, so skinny they couldn’t even be seen with the naked eye.
Thanks for playing along, Greatsby! The 50 cent coupon for a single serving size of Totino’s Party Pizza is in the mail. (unless it gets “lost” on the way to China)
It’s November! This means I get the honor of spotlighting Nicole — a warm, witty blogger and inventor of ridiculously clever comic strips she painstakingly crafts using mere scrap paper and scissors.
Perhaps you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t visited her popular blog, The Middlest Sister, where she details what it was like to grow up with four sisters. Not only has it been Freshly Pressednumerous times, but it holds a coveted top spot on the Recommended Blog list as one of the WordPress Staff Picks. And with good reason. She. Is. Amazing.
Now time for the interview! After you’re done, be sure to drop by her blog. You’ll be so glad you did.
My first blog post, “The Refrigerator” is one of my favorite “Chrissy” memories. I came home from school one day and saw all these good report cards on the fridge for the rest of the sisters, awards and ribbons… and then there was this note for Chrissy:
First Kiss It was awful. I was in second grade on an overcrowded bus. The kiss was stolen, and I was so angry about it for years and years afterwards because I had wanted my first kiss to be “special.” I decided it didn’t count, but then my next first kiss was also awful and unspecial. And the one after that. AND the one after that. If none of the firsts were going to be special, might as well count the real first one!
First Thing I Think God Will Say To Me at the Pearly Gates
I don’t know the exact circumstances that will lead to it, of course, but I really feel like it’s going to be something a little condescending and petty. LAST
Last Blog Post
The Hands-Down Tree[editor’s note: very cool-n-creepy story, the lightning panel she created is fantastic]
Last Thing I cooked My favorite, a peanut butter and chocolate chip sandwich! That counts as cooking right?
Last Book I ReadLast Person I kissed
My beardy, mysterious husband (I have never seen his face)
Time I Swore Like a Sailor
It’s a hazard of having a house-rabbit. I like to say that “Faye” is short for “Faaaaaavorite pet!” but sometimes, it really, really isn’t.
Thanks so much for playing along, Nicole (I think fuzzy bunny Faye is my new fave…) and for being my November Blogger of the Month!
Hey, kids! It’s time once again for me to interview myself!
Y’know….(ahem) because no one else wanted to.
The last time I sat down with myself for an exclusive interview, things got cray-cray up in Darla’s hizzle when an enraged Maineiac toppled the kitchen table à la Desperate Housewife Teresa “The Feds Are Only Jealz of My Fame” Guidice.
Let’s see if this time around I crack a chair on my own forehead Jerry Springer-style.
Me: Good morning. Today we are going to discuss something that is on every WordPress blogger’s mind.
She’s a Maineiac: Butt implants?
Me: Yes. (tilting head) Have you considered those?
SaM: Well, of course I have. But I thought we were going to discuss the Freshly Pressed phenomena?
Me: Oh, I suppose. God. (rolling eyes) So, Freshly Pressed–I mean, seriously. What’s the deal? What gives?
SaM: It’s like winning the lottery. Except there’s no money involved.
Me: I don’t understand.
SaM: It’s like being struck by lightning. Except there’s no lightning involved.
Me: You’ve lost me.
SaM: It’s like winning a pretend medal in an imaginary world that only exists in your mind.
Me: Mmkay. Now I’m getting it.
SaM: It’s like finding out everyone in WordPress World thinks your parents are away for the weekend, so they drop by your crib to trash the joint. Maybe drink all your Pabst Blue Ribbon or paint their blog’s URL in ketchup on your bathroom ceiling before they peel out of your driveway in their jacked-up pickup while blaring Crazy Train out the windows and leaving empty Slim-Jim wrappers in their wake, never to return again.
Me: So you didn’t like this Freshly Pressed experience?
SaM: Oh no! I really enjoyed it! (sighing) Best days of my life!
Me: What’s it like? How did you find out you were first Freshly Pressed?
SaM: I woke up, took a long drag off my cigar, opened up my email and Boom — 150 pending emails from WordPress.
Me: You smoke?
Me: What did you do next?
SaM: I ran around in circles screaming, “What the frack? How in the hell do I delete all this email?” I honestly had no clue what had happened. I certainly didn’t realize Freshly Pressed was a ‘thing’ back then in 2010. I thought I was picked completely at random.
Me: You were picked at random.
SaM (glaring): Anyway. So I clicked on the front page of WordPress and saw my first FP post up there, right next to a post featuring brownies. I knew right then, I had made it. My husband certainly didn’t think so.
Me: How so?
SaM: When I told him, he just scratched himself, yawned and said, “Gee, that’s nice, honey. What’s for breakfast?”
Me; You threw scrambled eggs at him, didn’t you.
SaM: Well, I had to make sure I spent the next 24 hours glued to my laptop, approving comments like, “Great post!” and “Please visit my blog!” And they were fried eggs.
Me: Are there any drawbacks to being FP?
SaM: Oh sure! Like trying in vain to find that one single breathing non-blogging person on the planet that gives two shits you were Freshly Pressed.
Me: Anything else?
SaM: Nothing prepares you for the inevitable fall from the top, that death spiral of stats when FP fades in a few days. Once the party’s over, you’re left standing on your toilet-papered front lawn, clutching an empty punch bowl and crying, “Come back! Please!”
Me: Do they come back?
SaM: If you’re lucky a few stragglers are left behind who decide to stick around, mainly because they’ve passed out on your couch in their underwear. After three years of blogging, I can honestly say I much prefer the genuine relationship I have with my loyal readers and commenters over being briefly in the spotlight.
Me: Aw, c’mon! You sure there’s not a teeny-tiny part of you, somewhere back in your equally teeny-tiny mind that would love to be Freshly Pressed again?
SaM: Hell yeah! Of course! We all want it but we all act like we don’t want it — unless we get it. If we do get it, we’re happy — but only briefly. And it’s not cool to brag about getting it, so we act like we don’t care we got it, even though inside we’re thrilled. But only briefly.
SaM: And this Freshly Pressed high is fleeting because things tend to slide back down to normal pretty damn quickly.
Me: So it’s like getting butt implants?
And so concludes Part 2 of my Q&A with myself. No chairs or tables or butts were harmed during the interview.
Sometimes you meet someone on WordPress and things immediately connect in a mystical way. You simply ‘get’ that person in ways you can’t quite explain and a strong friendship is formed.
Peg from the spectacularly entertaining blog, Peg-o-leg’s Ramblings, is one of those people I am blessed to have met in my bloggy world.
What was it about her? Maybe it was her gravatar that screamed: Yeah, so what? I’m whimsical and cool, and I like to chill on playground equipment — deal with it.
Or perhaps it was when we first traded barbs in our many epic captioning battles over at The Good Greatsby’s contests (which he has since sadly retired and I still haven’t forgiven him yet).
But mainly, it’s her personality that shines through her stellar writing: she’s warm, welcoming, witty and I’m big time jealous of her in ways I won’t go into here. And she’s the Queen of Microsoft’s Paint program. Check out this Pegcasso masterpiece: Climbing the WordPress Reader.
I know you all love some good blogging tips. Here’s one:
Just put the words SEX and FRESHLY PRESSEDin the title, sit back and watch the stats soar!
Sure, you might attract the wrong kind of hits, but such is life in this crazy mixed-up bloggy shizz-bizz we all groove in, ya dig? (I have no idea what I just said.)
All of this sexy and Freshly Pressed excitement is due to one person; a certain Wordsmith/Bloggess Extraordinaire over at one of the funniest blogs on WordPress: Peg-o-leg’s Ramblings. She is so good at the writing craft, (her own blog Freshly Pressed more times than I can count) I’m busting out semicolons to impress her; I don’t think I’m succeeding.
Peg is currently running a brilliant guest blogger series, a spin-off on Freshly Pressed, called THIS One Should Have Been Freshly Pressed. It spotlights those posts some of us thought were blog gold the FP Gods would smile down on–only to be cruelly ignored by the O Mighty Smiters of WordPress. Well, you guys can smote me no more, my post is now featured as Freshly Pegged!
My post was all about sex. Yeah, I actually wrote about my own personal, sometimes pathetic, always hilarious sexual experiences. I know. Why it wasn’t Freshly Pressed, I’ve no idea. (I suspect my husband bribed them.)
So click here —-> on Peg’s Freshly Pegged–She’s A Maineiac post and read “A Brief History of Sex (According to Me)” and leave a comment.Please, keep it PG-13 tops. Thanks! And I do believe I’ve broken a world record for mentioning the words Freshly Pressed the most times in one post.
I have been trying to write all week and nothing is working. Something is telling me the words aren’t jelling, my spelling is… hell-ing. I’m resorting to making up words just so I can rhyme, and my punctuation is, (just); not: “making, sense”. I want to use only smiley faces and explanation points to communicate. Gah! Did I just say, gah? Yikes, I’m getting all curmudgeonly in this post. Blogging is all too much thinking. I give up. I can’t write. I want to, I need to, but it’s not happening. I can barely form a complete sentence and
Normally, when I write, I love to visit dictionary.com because it helps to expand my limited…uh…what’s the word I’m thinking of…oh yeah, vocabulary (and it reminds me that my brain is so pliable, it’s practically silly putty). But lately, my mind is so zapped, I found myself staring at a common word and questioning if it was really spelled that way. The word was awkward. It just didn’t look right to me. Nope, still doesn’t, no matter how much I stare at it. Too many Ws or something. Maybe it’s time to pack it in and give this writing thing a rest.
With my mind being in a semi-permanent (I can only hope) state of “stand by” mode, I’ve decided to give you a filler post. Fluff. A post about nothing. I was making my son his lunch this morning when I realized I had about three seconds to slap something together before the bus pulled up. I reached for a jar of strawberry Fluff, added a little PB and voila! a delectable sugar-bomb of a lunch the teacher will be sure to write me an angry note about later. So what. It’s not like he eats it every single day. What’s the harm? I love fluffy stuff. Comfort food. I’m all for soft and cozy things. Enjoy life a little! Don’t worry! It’s fine. Let it all go. Indulge yourself for once. No thinking or guilt required. Go ahead and wrap yourself up in a warm quilt, sip some tea and enjoy the guilty pleasure of watching Survivor while munching on a fluffernutter sandwich. C’mon, try it. Feels good, doesn’t it? Ahhh! I really should write more posts like this one.
Also, I have to tell you all about a dream I had early this morning. It was so vivid. I was logging onto WordPress and blinked in surprise to see a post of mine all Freshly Pressed. My mouth dropped open and I frantically clicked on it and a video clip popped up on my screen. To my horror, there I was: hair all matted, a long indentation of my pillow case running down my cheek, more bags under my eyes than at JFK airport, shuffling into my kitchen wearing a baggy Nirvana t-shirt and Homer Simpson slippers yelling, “COFFEE! NOW! OR! I! KILL! YOU!” Then I burped so loud the windows rattled. Below the post the current hits were at 1,000,000 and climbing. My husband appeared and said, “See, I told you blogging is evil.” Then his voice morphed into the devil shouting “Blogging’s evil! EVIL EVIL EVIL!” over and over and I woke up in a panic, drenched in sweat. I think this is a sign I need to: a) take a blogging break (again) or b) get a life or c) do away with the vlog thing.
Before I sign off, I have a quick new video for you. Don’t worry, I won’t make this a weekly thing. Y’know that old wives’ tale, if you see cows laying down, rain is on the way? What is on the way if you see an entire herd of cows running full tilt across a field? Have you ever seen a cow run? Well, you are in luck today. Keep your eyes on the left top of the house.
I apologize for the poor video quality. You might need your glasses or just squint a lot like I do. The window screen was in the way, but trust me, those black dots you saw running are of the bovine persuasion (damn you, dictionary.com!) The pungent aroma of cow that fills my nostrils every morning can attest to that fact.
So this was the scene from my bedroom window off and on for most of the day. They’d run like crazy to one end of the field, then clump together, maybe to discuss politics, until one of the cows said something offensive and they all started angrily chasing each other. Maybe the cows were playing a raucous game of Freeze Tag or incredibly bored. It may also be a warning. We usually can tell what season it is by the location of where the cows have their little pow-wow. When they are grazing at the top of the hill to the left, it’s spring. The middle means it’s summer. When they are clumped over to the right of the pasture, fall is in the air. When they suddenly and inexplicably start galloping across the field? Armageddon. Or maybe just a cold harsh winter.