The three of us had been daydreaming about a Maine get-together for ages. One December morning, I blurted, “Why wait? I’m not working [since my “separation” with Big Pharma], and Darla doesn’t have to go back to [Medical Assistant] school until late January! When will that ever happen again?”
Maine? In January? You’re probably thinking.
Sure, they’re having the harshest winter Darla’s ever seen, but I think I’ll be spending less time outdoors and more time doing this:
Besides, while most people fantasize about palm trees and white sand, I lust after evergreens, crisp air, mountains, and of course, an ocean view at every turn. I’ve been in love with Maine since my first visit [to Freeport, Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park] 16 years ago. It calls to me. It’s like my Paris.
I also realized I had a golden opportunity to woo several people at once with my homemade Tollhouse pie.
Because that’s how I roll.
I hope to return next week with some wacky and wonderful tales. In the meantime, stay warm – and don’t have too much fun without me!
Where’s your “Paris”? What part of the world calls to you?
I love blogging, and I love bacon. For some reason, I rarely talk about either.
One thing I love about both is their ability to bring people together. Run a contest on your blog, or put out a plate of bacon-wrapped appetizers, and the result is the same. Better yet, run a contest with a bacon-chocolate bar prize.
I love when other bloggers talk about blogging and/or bacon. Like Peg and JM. Yet I feel self-conscious doing so, like eating bacon and not having a napkin. You guys don’t mind if I make a mess though, right?
When I started this blog in February 2011, I had no idea what lurked behind the blogging curtain. I thought it might be scary. And not in the hey-girl-you’re-almost-out-of-bacon way, but more in the I-like-to-make-pictures-out-of-toenail-clippings way. I didn’t fully appreciate the prevalence of blogs; I never thought about the fact that some websites I frequented, like Perez Hilton, were really blogs.
My favorite bloggers inspire me to step up my game and invite me to participate in their dialogue. As a writer, this is such a gift. And it’s free! So, you know, you can still bring home the bacon.
To pay tribute to all of those who inspire me (and if you’re wondering who that is, my Blogroll page is a good start!), and to those who are new to this wacky and wonderful world of bloggy deliciousness, I thought I’d offer a few wise words.
Dang, Chipmunks. This is exciting.
Here are the 3 most important things I’ve learned from almost a year and a half of blogging. You may or may not be surprised to find the same principles apply in every day life.
1.) Sincerity – “enough about my bacon, let’s talk about yours”
There is no faster way to shoot yourself in the foot drop your bacon on the host’s white carpeting than to leave a comment that proves you didn’t read the post, or to leave comments plugging your own blog. Typically, if commenting on another blog, you should try to keep the focus on that blogger and their content.
I had no idea when I started a blog that it was a community, and a community that wants to TALK! I didn’t ask questions of my readers (not that I had many!), and I didn’t even realize I should respond to comments. Now I crave that dialogue, and try to answer every single comment I get. Often that’s far more rewarding than the writing itself.
2.) Generosity – Share those Tips Strips (of bacon)
One surefire way to increase readership is to read other blogs. Be generous with your time and support, and you’ll reap the rewards.
When I started blogging, I only read 2 or 3 other blogs. Now I follow almost 100. It’s not realistic to keep up with everyone, of course, but I genuinely enjoy all of the blogs I follow, and typically devote over an hour a day just to reading them. I also almost always comment. Leaving thoughtful comments is one of the only ways to get noticed in a world jam-packed with people vying for the same bacon.
If you’re intimidated by big name bloggers, like Kristen Lamb or The Bloggess, don’t be. Remember they feel the same as you do about getting comments. And probably bacon.
3.) Perserverance – Makin’ Bacon
We all experience writer’s block, have personal obligations that take our focus away from writing, or simply just don’t ‘feel like it.’ Even if you miss a week, or a month, don’t give up. Blogging can truly open doors.
When I started this blog, I had very few followers. My mom. My husband. I tried to post 2-4 times a week, but even after 6 months, I had posts that didn’t get a single comment. I kept at it, increased my engagement, and as of this year, I’ve had almost 100,000 hits on this blog. I’ve also gotten several paid writing jobs and opportunities to write for highly trafficked websites. I say this not to be a Braggy McBaconBoaster, but just to encourage you and let you know: You don’t have to be serious to take your blog seriously.
…Is anyone else hungry?
What are some lessons you’ve learned about blogging? Or a question to fellow bloggers? To non-bloggers: What keeps you coming back to your favorite blogs?
Whoever said bloggers were lame, basement-dwellers who lack the talent of ‘real’ writers has never met the awesome array of bloggers I have via WordPress. I’m continually amazed by the gifts and goodness they possess.
So I guess in some ways I wasn’t surprised to receive this text from JM Randolph (Accidental Stepmom) last Thursday morning:
Totally last minute. CC can’t come to my opening nite show. I only got 1 ticket- do you want it? 6:45 curtain.
The show JM was referring to was Jesus Christ Superstar, which opened on Broadway March 22nd. Thanks to JM’s gig doing sound for theater, I just scored an invite to opening night – on Broadway! I responded accordingly:
Hi JM! I just saw this! Is it too late to say hell yes!?
And so it was. We agreed to meet at 6:30 in front of the theater. I went to Kohl’s on my lunch break and picked up two new blazers because, of course, nothing in my closet was right. I settled on all black: black stretch pants, black calf-high boots, a black high-necked shirt with a sheer overlay on front, and a black blazer with similar sheer trim along the bottom.
I lightened things up with my wedding-day earrings, which are getting a lot of play lately:
I boarded the 4:23 NJ Transit train, excited as could be. JM and I met for the first time in January, before I saw another Broadway show, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. I was really looking forward to seeing her again. From reading JM’s blog, it’s obvious she’s smart, witty and completely badass. I expected to meet a tough, somewhat no-nonsense chick. Which intimidated the hell out of me. Oh, how wrong I was! JM is warm, welcoming and lovely. And gorgeous! Not I’m going to wear leather pants to kick your butt gorgeous, but Princess Bride gorgeous.
It was only on the train, nearly to Penn Station, that I saw an earlier text from JM (I’d been having battery issues with my phone all day):
oh and dress semi-fab. you will need a pic of yourself on the red carpet.
Red carpet?! Moi?! My honest-to-goodness first thought was: I think my stretch pants are see-through! I was willing to accept that any pictures of me would be less than flattering, but transparent pants was where I drew the line. It was akin to stepping out of a limo with no underwear.
I quickly texted JM:
Oh holy shoot. For some reason I just saw your text about the red carpet. I did buy a new cute blazer on my lunch break BC that’s how I roll LOL but I don’t think it qualifies as fab?!?!?!?!
JM assured me it was no big deal, and that at least one person would be in sweatpants. I couldn’t tell if I’d just gotten myself out of it.
It was a gorgeous day for March, 75 degrees and sunny, and Manhattan was absolutely packed. It took me 40 minutes to work my way through the throngs of people to Neil Simon Theatre (I always prefer to walk to the theater district versus taking the subway or a cab from Penn Station, even though it’s at least a mile). I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen Times Square so jammed up.
There was also a huge crowd in front of the theater, though I couldn’t see who was on the red carpet. Several skeletal women passed by me in bright, silk dresses; it was clear they’d spent the entire day getting ready. My heart was in my throat at the prospect of sharing any kind of floor space with Broadway elite. I didn’t know the names of these producers and directors. I wouldn’t know Edward Albee if I tripped over him (just to make this reference I had to Google ‘living playwrights’).
When JM met me outside and handed me a ticket, I followed her lead. Okay, good, we weren’t headed towards the flash bulbs and cheers. Instead, we walked in through a side door. Hallelujah, I was spared! Under different circumstances, I would have been disappointed. But not that night. Not in see-through pants.
JM showed me to her motherboard, which was on a platform at the back of the orchestra section. She introduced me to some of her colleagues and it was clear they all adored her (and vice versa). Being part of the in crowd really is all it’s cracked up to be, Chipmunks.
I told JM I was learning about the inner workings of Broadway from one of my new favorite shows, Smash. She said they do actually do workshops like the one currently depicted on the show, confirming my suspicion that I can learn everything I need to know from TV. She paused.
“You do have crazy eyes.”
I laughed. I recently wrote a post about my crazy eyes; in it I described my giant pupils. Being in a dark theater surely made them noteworthy.
“I know,” I replied. “Everyone thinks I’m high all the time. …I wish.”
“Do they even need to dilate your pupils when you go to the eye doctor?” she asked with a good-natured smile.
Because the show was soon starting, I bid a temporary goodbye to JM and found my seat in the center of the balcony section. I smiled to myself when I saw the skinny-minnie-silk-dress girls in seats right by me. Ah, opening night on Broadway, what a great equalizer you are! I felt smug until I realized my see-through-panted butt could still barely fit in the wee Broadway seats (despite, and let me pause to brag for the first time here, a significant weight loss in the past year).
The audience was extremely enthusiastic, and while I’d never seen the play before, I was blown away by the production value and, most of all, the voices of the cast. (I bet some of that can be attributed to JM!) Andrew Lloyd Webber came out during the curtain call, and the standing ovation was the longest I’d ever taken part in.
I didn’t linger because I had to catch my train home, but hoped I managed to convey my gratitude and enthusiasm to JM before dashing. (In the end, I missed my connecting train -for the first time in my life- because I was too busy texting about my fun night out!)
Hey, we can still pretend I shared the spotlight with the likes of Megan Hilty (from Smash) and Andrew Lloyd Webber:
Hey, wait a second, Lisa Lampanelli…
…That dress looks familiar…
I’m so ahead of my time*! Maybe see-through pants will be in four years from now! Damn. I guess I should have walked that carpet.
*I bought this dress for $25 from Target 4 years ago. I cannot believe it’s on the red carpet right now.
Photo credit (marquis and red carpet pictures): broadwayworld.com.
Yesterday Babs and I headed into Manhattan to see Second Husband, Darren Criss, in his Broadway debut: “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” To say I was looking forward to this day is like saying a Friendly’s Reese’s peanut butter cup sundae is ‘just okay.’ After weeks of preparing my Why Polygamy is the Right Choice For You presentation for Second Husband, the day had finally arrived.
I laid out my outfit. The guilty pleasure gods blessed me with an unseasonably warm, sunny Saturday, and I didn’t even need the gloves and jacket vest!
I took extra care doing my make-up, and debated waterproof vs. regular mascara. Would seeing Second Husband in the flesh reduce me to tears?
I then consulted Babs and put my hair in her favorite style.
Feeling spiffy, we headed in on the 2:42 train, with the goal of getting to the “How to Succeed” stage door by 4pm. This way, we could hopefully score an autograph from Second Husband after the 2pm matinée performance.
Once at the Al Hirschfeld theater stage door, we secured a decent spot on line, right against a barricade.
I chatted up the adorable girl next to me, Christie. She had seen the play the night before, and had come back to try to meet Darren. I told her I only had the Warblers CD for him to sign, and she gave me an extra Playbill! I was thrilled to reciprocate with the latest and greatest in cutting-edge fashion, a GoGuiltyPleasures slap bracelet.
We waited about 45 minutes, and the crowd thickened. Babs and I met another lovely mother-daughter duo, Anne and Molly, who definitely helped the time pass pleasantly. After quickly assessing their chipmunkitude, I covered them in slap bracelets. Interest in my bracelets grew, but I was running out. I had to save one for Second Husband, after all!
Beau Bridges and the female lead, Rose Hemingway, came out to sign autographs. They both graciously acknowledged my “Thank you SO much!” with sweet smiles and eye contact, solidifying my hunch that I could win Second Husband over as easily with my overdone undeniable charm.
An hour and a half into the wait, I started to get restless, especially because I was late meeting the glorious JM Randolph (of Accidental Stepmom fame) and her husband for dinner. I kept her updated with texts: “Sooo sorry! He’s still not out yet!” She was very understanding. It was Second Husband.
After two hours, my feet were starting to feel the burn and I was ready to do this thing. The jokester security guard suddenly said, “We’re shutting it down!” I thought he was kidding, but watched in disbelief as he started removing all of the barricades. “The cops are shutting it down,” he explained. “There are too many people on the sidewalk.”
Sure, there were probably about 150 of us waiting in a line down the sidewalk, but, but, but… c’mon!! Everyone was being very patient and calm. Sigh. No Second Husband, and me with extra room in my heart.
I may not have gotten to meet Second Husband, but I DID get to meet the gorgeous and charming JM Randolph and her HILARIOUS hub. We missed having dinner with them because they had to get back to work, but we had a nice chat and will hopefully get to cash in on a rain check soon.
Babs and I, starving, and more importantly, libation-less, headed down the block to 45th and 9th Ave. to try our luck at Justin Timberlake’s restaurant, Southern Hospitality (he might not be bringing sexy back, but I guess bringing baby back ribs will do for now). The wait time was 45 minutes, but the cute host caught a glimpse of my Playbill, and after I shared the details of my autograph fail, he told us we could eat in the downstairs lounge/bar, if we didn’t mind. We didn’t! We got to eat and drink on a luxurious leather couch, the service was quick (key when you have an 8 o’clock curtain) and the food was very good. The lounge was quickly overrun with twenty-somethings, and suddenly a guy walked in and the group whooped and hollered. We realized we were in the middle of a surprise party. Er….surprise!! We got the check and skidattled.
Everywhere we went, we heard the name ‘Darren Criss.’ New York City seemed to have traded in its cool indifference for superfandom. (I fit right in.) Back at the theater, we made our way to our right orchestra aisle seats and I spotted lots of folks from Darren’s theater company, StarKid.
When Darren descended from the ceiling as a window washer in the opening scene, the crowd went berserk. His StarKid friends/college mates were ecstatic. They grinned wildly and pointed to each other – their friend! On Broadway! It was a treat to witness.
Darren’s performance was hilarious, captivating and exuberant. (I’m being as objective as I can, I swear.) His enthusiasm, combined with the audience’s energy, made the two and a half hour show fly by. (If you read my lukewarm post about seeing the very same play back in April, when Daniel Radcliffe was the star, you know that I’m not always as easily won over.) Darren made the performance seem effortless, the way only great actors can. To think he only had two weeks to rehearse! And yeah, he looked drop-dead, too!
I should mention there’s a whole ‘fight song’ about a rivalry with a school whose mascot is a chipmunk. A chipmunk! I heard Second Husband say chipmunk!!! Babs nudged me so hard I almost landed at the peep show next door.
We didn’t have the stamina to try to get an autograph after the show, since we weren’t sure Darren would come out (he did…double sigh), but we made the 11:11 train, which was a miracle in and of itself. I lose at least two pounds every time I go into the city. (To see some great pictures of Darren from January 7th that Babs DIDN’T take, click here.)
The night ended with a text from Peppermeister: “How was it? Am I still your ONLY husband?”
I don’t know, guys. I mean, chipmunks. You’re probably thinking there’s not much I could do to top my last post.
Check out the guest post interview (click here) I did for JM Randolph’s (Accidental Stepmom) AWESOME weekly feature, Full-Assed Friday. I interviewed my good kick-butt friend, Jenn, about her work at the New Jersey-based animal shelter, 11th Hour Rescue. Don’t think I can make that topic funny? Ha! Wrong again!