because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

It’s My 1,101st Day in The Blogosphere

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Some of you may have missed that it was my blogoversary on Monday.

You know because it was buried under my Lilly Pulitzer handbag giveaway.

So yeah. I’m two days into my 4th year in the blogosphere.

And I wanted to thank everyone again for sticking with me through thick and thin.

And I wanted to share some random information.

MY FIRST CYBER-FRIEND

The very first cyber-friend I made was Carl D’agostino, a fantastic cartoonist and writer who writes at I Know I Made You Smile. From time to time, Carl and I send each other emails and he recently sent me this:

pencil-222

Carl knows my son used to have a thing for Ticonderoga pencils. I should probably report that Tech has graduated to mechanical pencils. We should have expected this, of course. I’ll worry when I see he’s ordered a pocket protector from Amazon.com.

MY BEST DAY IN BLOGGING

It happened on March 7, 2011. I got 3,42o visits to my blog when I wrote about How I Tricked My Book Club Into Writing. Yeah. I know, right? Whatever that was about? I’d like that to happen again. You know, like, everyday.

GOOGLE Search Terms THAT BROUGHT PEOPLE Here

intimidacion escolar. I had to Google that, but then I realized people were looking for information about bullying. In Spanish. They may have been looking for THIS or THIS or THIS.

i want to quit the flute. Yeah, so did I. Also, I think my mother is still pretty pissed about that. That said, I think these folks landed on Let ‘Em Quit or Make ‘Em Play, which is something we struggled with at one point.

teacher on her period. Yeah. That happened, Not to me! Omigosh! No no no! But to one of my teachers. It was ugly. You can read about it HERE.

meat truck scams. For those of you who have been here for a while, you know I have done some wicked stupid things. But this was really dumb. Yes, I did, in fact, purchase meat from a meat truck. And it was not at all delicious. But I’m pretty sure that Nigerian Prince stuff is legit, and I’m expecting that guy to pay me back any day now.

kitajska abeceda. I have no clue. Sorry, person. You’re on your own.

The Post That Receives The Most On-going Spam

Darla.

You wrote an amazing post (“Dear Diary: I Hate You”) where you cited stuff directly from your middle school diary. Apparently, you made so many references to now outdated items, every wholesaler and retailer wants to help you. They want you to buy their clothes, handbags, and wrinkle creams. Mostly, I think they’re concerned that you’ve still got that big comb hanging out of your back pocket. This is probably the most offensive outstanding piece of SPAM that I’ve ever received. Ever. Seriously, you HAVE to click on it.

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 8.43.36 PM

I’m holding onto this stuff for you, Dar. Let me know if you’d like me to forward the hundreds of pieces of SPAM that have come my way since you posted that doozie. How much do I want to make out with my Askimet SPAM filter right now?

I would like to thank the other talented writers who have posted in this year’s #SoWrong Series so far. They have set the bar pretty dang high. And I’m so grateful they’ve chosen to participate. Yeah, I’m talking to you Dan, Tori, Jules, Pegoleg, and —  get psyched — because Misty from Misty’s Laws is going to be here on Friday! Her piece: “To Bra or Not To Bra?” Divine.

The Regulars

Certain people show up regularly to say hello. And I need to thank them. Because there’s actually something reassuring about seeing those familiar avatars.

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Please don’t ever break up with me. You know, like Tad did.

Bless every one of you for making this blog so much fun for me over the last 3 years. I’ve said it before, but your comments really are like chocolates, and me likes the chocolates. Please know that I LOVE to read your words. You don’t have to agree with me (only my husband has to do that!), but never be afraid to leave a comment. I know a bunch of you prefer to lurk. That’s cool, too.

Did you know that Instagram is my new lover? It’s true. If you’d like to follow me there, please do.

Also, you have until Friday at noon to try to win that cool Lilly Pulitzer handbag. And, no, you don’t have to have girl parts to enter. Guys, be proactive. Win this handbag and that special someone in your life will love you forever! Or what do I care? Use it yourself!

LOVElove

xoRASJ

tweet me @rasjacobson

Are You Techno-Squeamish?

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I have issues when it comes to technology.

Sure, my computer ate my life.

But I’ve other issues, too.

My friend Jill recently brought to my attention that I’ve been sending out SPAMMY email.

She sent me the screen shot.

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Groupon. Hmm. I could use a keratin treatment. Wait. Whaaaaat?

I was like: Whaaaaat? I would never send Jill anything like that.

And then another friend told me she’d been getting SPAM from me about once a month for the last six months. But she’s just been deleting the messages.

Maybe you’ve even gotten SPAM from me!

{Have you? If you have, I am really sorry!}

Anyway, guess what I’m doing on Thursday night?

Besides DVRing the finale of Project Runway?

I’m taking a class called:

Who Wants To Know? Internet Privacy & Security

The instructor, Jay Donovan, will introduce techniques for safer web surfing, keeping your address & phone number offline, reducing the chances of your accounts being hacked, better ways to hide behind a pen name, and more.

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This is Jay. Doesn’t he have the cutest neck?

I’m prepared for Jay to wag his bony cyber-finger at me. I’m prepared to shudder in fear when he tells me how vulnerable I really am.

I mean, I have a bunch of email accounts and a blog. And like most bloggers, I have several ways to be reached online. I’ve got my Twitter and my Instagram and my two Facebook pages. I’m on Pinterest and LinkedIn and Behance. I could go on.

The point is, you see how wired I am, yes?

But I’m committed to learning about how to be safely social on the Internet while keeping my personal information private.

Jay has been helping me with a lot of stuff for a while now, and I really trust him. A geek since before geeks were cool, he’s done it all: from remotely debugging the Internet connection for a US aircraft carrier deployed to *somewhere classified* to being responsible for the servers and networks for one of the largest Internet sites in the world. He’s trained as a Certified Ethical Hacker (yes, really!) and always uses his geeky powers for good. When he’s not neck deep in wires and computer parts, you’ll find him hanging out on Twitter as @jaytechdad. 

For just $40, you can be part of the class and the conversation taking place this Thursday, April 25th from 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm, EST.

Click HERE for more information and to register!

Please consider joining me in class this Thursday.

Just don’t tap your cyber-pencil or snap your cyber gum.

Cuz that’s like cyber-fingernails on an invisible chalkboard.

Or something.

Seriously, come hang with me and a bunch of other geeky kids.

I’ll save you a seat. Like totally.

tweet us @rasjacobson & @jaytechdad

Change Is A Comin’!

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Still no word from Temple, Texas on the status of my hard-drive.

Maybe it might be deemed undead by Halloween?

But I’m not holding my breath.

In fact, I’m moving forward in the wake of my heinous computer crash.

As promised, change is a comin’.

First Things First.

You regulars may have noticed that I have changed the name of my blog.

I know, some of you are yawning.

Like big whoop.

But I had to make that decision before I could make other decisions.

When I was still deciding if I should keep the name Teachers & Twits, I asked TechSupport for his opinion.

Tech said:

“Mom, everyone knows you by Teachers & Twits. It’s your brand. You can’t change it now.”

(I swear, he said it just like that. He actually said “brand,” leading me to believe he has been reading Kristen Lamb’s blog?)

I understand what he means.

I’m definitely a firm believer that anyone can be a teacher (or a twit) on any given day.

I mean that was the premise of this blog in the first place.

But other folks suggested I blog under my own ridiculously long name.

Many bloggers do that: authors & writers I respect.

I’m trying to grow my freelance career.

Eventually, I will have a book.

(It is scheduled to be released moments before Hell freezes over. But still.)

No, seriously.

I want people to recognize my ridiculously long name.

So I hope you like the changes you are starting to see.

And writing under my own name doesn’t mean I can’t have a cool tagline.

Because life doesn’t fit in a file folder fits.

Now I can write about anything, which feels liberating.

Hopefully, you will continue to think of me as that hot girl with the sparkly glasses.

And the hair.

Who uses all those words.

Wait, you don’t think I’m hot?

Did you not see THIS?

Listen, I won’t always be in the classroom.

So it makes sense to drop the teacher part of things.

And while I may do some goofy things and enjoy a little naughty wordplay, I’m not a twit.

I never was.

Get psyched to be part of the changes.

A new header is a comin’.

Get ready to exercise your right to vote.

tweet this twit @rasjacobson

Ghosts Made Me Start This Blog

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People often ask me how I come up with my topics.
They ask if I ever suffer from writers’ block.
They ask if I will post naked pictures of myself.
But no one has ever asked me why I decided to start this blog.

Until Erin Margolin came along.

If you’d like to know the rest of the story and how ghosts are involved, follow me to Erin’s place.

And while you are there, check out her words. Girl has range.

Taste My Enthusiasm: a #LessonLearned by Amy Young

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Click on the teacher lady’s pointer to see other writers who have posted in this series.

Amy Young has made her home in China for more than 15 years and has not let the distance impede her passion for the Denver Broncos or the Kansas Jayhawks. She’s a consultant, trainer and writer and currently teaches junior school students on Friday mornings in Beijing. She blogs at The Messy Middle and tweets as @amyinbj.

• • •

Taste My Enthusiam

In high school I worked at Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers. Oh the thrill at age 16 of learning to use the fryers and put the topping in the right order (white, red, green, white, red, green, yellow. I still remember after all these years). Discovering the mysteries of stocking the salad bar, running the cash register, and cleaning the whole place after we closed.

Wendy's
Wendy’s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’d come home and gush about this aspect of working at Wendy’s or that particular customer, or my co-workers, or the walk-in fridge or the break room. The topics were endless. How could I not share with my parents and sisters? Yes, as my sisters pointed out, I smelled like fast food when I came home, but even that was a badge of honor from the magical land.

Over dinner as I waxed poetic, my sisters – age 14 and 15 at the time—rolled their eyes and mocked my enthusiasm. While I didn’t shut down completely, I certainly learned to curb my enthusiasm. Part of maturing is reading situations, so toning down wasn’t all bad. But I also got the message that me being me was a bit much, and I needed to kick it down a notch or seven.

Jumping to the present, I have a friend who encouraged me (her words)/badgered me (my take) to start a blog. Last October I was ready to take the plunge and after she helped me set up The Messy Middle, I was off and running.

It turns out blogging is the perfect combo of three of my great loves: words, ideas and numbers. Posting, commenting and tracking stats – to quote one of the most enthusiastic people I know: OH. MY. COW.

The friend who got me started down this path has more than once shaken her head and muttered, “I didn’t know what I was unleashing.” When I told my sister that my friend was experiencing the enthusiasm of Wendy’s, she chuckled a laugh of solidarity. She knows the taste of my enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm is precious. It is to be safeguarded, even fed. People will have a variety of responses to your enthusiasm, but if you look to others to maintain your enthusiasm, it most likely will die. It is yours to guard, protect and nurture.

Fads come and go, but true enthusiasm can be the glue that helps us stick things out for the long haul. Even though there will be occasional rolling of eyes, sighing and humoring head-tilts from those in relationship with me, I can’t help but bring you along for the ride!

What are you enthusiastic about these days?

I Thought About It…

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What to do? What to do?

I really did.

I did not mean to tease.

It was not a big media stunt to announce that I was going to post something big on 3/13 and then not follow through.

I’m not that kind of girl.

But.

I talked to a few people who advised me against doing it.

And then I talked to Kristen Lamb who wrote this blog in response to my dilemma.

Yeah, the thing I planned to write was something that was going to offend somebody.

And even though Kristen said “every word of my post” was “illuminated in excellence,” she also said it wouldn’t be smart to post it.

I have wrestled with this: how much of me to share, how much to keep private.

If you’ve been here for a while, you have seen me dance, heard me talk, read emails I have received, been with me when I fell down a flight of stairs. You’ve been stuck in elevators with me and seen me fret over students who cheat and students who bully. You’ve seen me meltdown. You have come to know me as a parent and a teacher. And, of course, a silly doofus.

This other piece of me — while it is decidedly me — isn’t right for the blog.

Kristen helped me understand that being mindful about what I put out to the world does not mean I am weak.

That choosing not to publish my piece is not an act of cowardice.

I can still write pieces like the one I had planned to post here today.

But.

It doesn’t mean that everything I write has to be published here.

What do you think? Is your life an open book? Will you write about anything? Or are these places that you are not willing to go? How do you determine your boundaries about what you share and what you keep to yourself?

If you feel cheated and would like to read one of my favorite old posts that got very little traffic back in the day, click here.

How Not To Study With Your Children

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I’m so excited to be at Jamie’s Rabbits today.

Jamie is so frickin’ cute I want to eat her up.

(Wait, maybe that’s chocolate…)

One thing I love about Jamie is that she is consistently hilarious.

In person, people tell me that I am funny, but I don’t think that I am a funny writer.

So I kind of freaked out when Jamie demanded requested that my post be funny.

Gah!

Like I’m so not funny.

Except when it happens to leak out accidentally, and even then, it isn’t always funny in a hahahahaha kind of way.

Anyway, if you head on over to Jamie’s Rabbits, you can read my piece “How Not To Study With Your Children” and decide for yourself.

I’m closing comments here today, but I promise I’ll respond to you from Alabama. 😉

Haters Gonna Hate: Twenty Months Later

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The other day I got this piece of fan mail:

Click here if you want to see the print better. You can hear the tone better, too.

It was written in response to a post that I wrote almost 2 years ago.

I don’t get a lot of hate mail, but it’s kind of exciting.

It means that I have said something powerful and controversial.

Or that I’m really famous.

You can check out that old post here.

Funny thing is, I feel the same way I did when I originally posted.

The only difference is that my son is now 12 and 1/2.

Oh, and he doesn’t like to be called Monkey anymore.

Now the question is should I respond to this person? And if so, what should I say?

How do you handle haters?

The Hybrid Accent

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Map depicting United States East Coast
Image via Wikipedia

So I was checking out Jessica Buttram‘s blog, per usual, and I realized she was participating in a funky experiment about accents, a prompt which she got from Jamie’s Rabbits who got it from someone else.

And so on… And so on… And so on…

Those of you over 40 are probably having flashback to the commercial for “Faberge Organic Shampoo”

Yeah, me too.

Anyhoo, I’ve spent most of my life above the Mason-Dixon line, but you would be amazed how five short years in N’awlins got all up in this East Coast girl’s upbringing and influenced my dialect!

This probably happened because I so wanted to be a Southerner!

Lord, I loved everything about the South. I loved etoufée and crawfish. I loved how the giant roots from the oak trees pushed up rebelliously through the cement walkways. I loved the scent of magnolia that wafted around. I love that men wore seersucker suits, and nobody laughed at them. And I loved that the women wore enormous hats. I loved eleventeen-bajillion other things, too.

And as a lover of language, I especially loved the way people in N’awlins pronounced certain words.

So it is with great excitement that I share my piece of this experiment.

Yup, I’m bustin’ in with some hybrid pronunciation. For real. This is what happens when you take a Northern gal to the deep south for a few years.

First a few quick things:

  • I’m Jewish. I talk with my hands.
  • Sorry I became a little distracted and ridiculously repetitious at a few points. My husband and son were making pasta and I could hear them whispering in the background. They were trying to find the marinara sauce. Just so you know, in case you are ever visiting my house, the marinara sauce is in the pantry — which is where all cans and jars live until they are opened. Once they found the jar of Prego, it was much easier to focus.
  • You will hear the microwave beeping.
  • Yes, I like throw pillows.

The Words: Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting Image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught, Insurance (added for Jamie).
• • •
The Questions:
  1. What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
  2. What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
  3. What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
  4. What do you call gym shoes?
  5. What do you say to address a group of people?
  6. What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body & extremely long legs?
  7. What do you call your grandparents?
  8. What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
  9. What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
  10. What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

What words do you think I pronounced “weird”?

When Writers Meltdown

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Not too long ago, I lost it.

I mean, I totally lost it.

Clay Morgan of Educlaytion posted a piece “3 Keys to Managing Your Life,” in which he wrote about how he works to achieve balance between his professional aspirations, his need for family time and sanity time, and how he squeezes works writing into his days.

And I felt my lip start to tremble because I had really been struggling with my juggling act. Balls and plates had been falling for days.

Clay instructed:

Get with someone who will both push and understand you, a big-hearted person with a pom-pom in one hand and metal ruler in the other.

I read his words and I went a little bit whacky-jacks. Because, sometimes, I don’t feel very supported. Sometimes, I feel like I am lost in The Sahara, caught in a sandstorm without a guide, alone with this writing thing. Here I am, working on a blog (alone) and a manuscript (alone) and a query letter (alone).

And I thought: Who do I have? Who’s my support person?

I posted a full blown vent, a rant – really – that ended with me wondering if I should just put down my pen and stop writing.

I said I felt like I was wandering around in the desert and that I was floundering.

Lord, I wrote, a little sign would be nice.

I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic.

In grad school, I did a little stint as a back-up singer and — later — as a dancer on a hydraulic lift. In college, I was in some obscure shows. In high school, I had speaking roles in Mame and Hello Dolly! In middle school, I had a bit part in Cheaper By the Dozen. One August, at summer camp, I landed the lead role as Peter Pan after I sang “Happy Birthday To You” to the Drama Director. Another summer, I sang a bunch of cabaret songs including “I’ve got Steam Heat.” I was in plenty of plays in middle and high school. If you you want to go back to elementary school, I was Flower #6, Bird #3, and eventually I worked my way up to Glinda from The Wizard of Oz.

Why am I giving you my acting resume?

I don’t know?

Where was I going?

Oh yes, to Best Buy.

The day I posted that horrible post, I needed to find a new camera because Monkey was taking my old almost totally non-functional one to summer camp. Buying a little camera should have been a job done in under 30 minutes. And it should be noted, the people at Best Buy tried to help me decide between the Canon and the Nikon; I just kept crying.

It was one helluva performance.

Except it wasn’t a performance.

It. Was. Ridiculous.

Later that same day, Leanne Shirtliffe a.k.a Ironic Mom alerted me that my comment had brought a lot of support at Clay’s place. So I went back to peek. And then I really started weeping.

Because I had asked for a sign, and all day I had been receiving cosmic signs.

I just didn’t know.

One sign from the universe came in from Kelly K at Dances With Chaos when she showed up with a post at Red Dress Society about that terrible inner voice that tells you that you are not good enough to be a writer. And I started wondering, “Did she just whip that off for me?”

And Carl D’Agostino just so happened to call me that night. And Leanne emailed and offered to Skype. And Chase McFadden emailed. And Eric Rumsey from I Swear We’re Not Crazy sent me one of those little invisible awards where he said, “Without Renée, I wouldn’t be blogging.” And TamaraOutLoud said something similar. And a new friend, Clay Watkins, from Making The Days Count told me he was inspired by a few of my posts to write two of his own: this and this. And then I saw Kathy English had run a post on Mom Crusades inspired by something I had written, and I figured, well, sheesh, if this many people are digging my stuff, I have to be doing something right. Right? And then Jeff Goins showed up with a manifesto which offered me some major piece of mind.

That day could best be summed up in a scene from “A Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Only I was playing Sissy Spacek playing Loretta Lynn in the scene when Loretta is on tour, running around everywhere, trying to be everything to everyone. And there is a part where Ms. Loretta Lynn kind of looks blankly out at the lights and calls for her husband: “Doo…” she says, “Doo… Things is happenin’ way too fast…” and then she collapses right there on the stage in her fancy blue dress.

That’s how I felt that day.

Only I looked out and I didn’t see any Doo. (Okay, I know that doesn’t sound right, but you know what I mean.)

I read Clay’s blog and realized I have been so focused on writing writing writing that I have lost my balance. I have been on red-alert, code-red, mayday-mayday, “we’re-going-down-with-the ship” mode. Which is not like me. I’m the cheerleader. I’m the happy one. I’m the shimmy and shine girl.

Except on that day.

That day I was an old piece of crap computer that had gone into severe meltdown mode.

And I really appreciated everyone’s kind words because they did help me to feel less alone.

I had asked for a sign, and my Blogosphere Inner Sanctum delivered. I was blessed to have:

8 cyber-friends on one blog offering support

4 different cyber-friends contacted me via email

1 phone call from Florida

1 phone call from Calgary

3 private messages on Facebook

A heckuva lot of tweets

And I would be remiss if I did not mention:

1 best friend in real life reminding me to breathe

1 Monkey who made me a homemade ICEE and let me use the rest of the blue-raspberry syrup, which everyone knows is the best flavor

1 Hubby who brought home an extra large pizza for dinner that night.

That day I learned there is a voice that a lot of us writers have that sometimes is still and sometimes cannot seem to be silenced. It’s a critical voice that whispers in our ears. It’s the voice of judgment and self-doubt. It’s the voice that makes us consider giving up.

But we won’t.

We can’t.

Writing is the closest thing I come to having an addiction.

I can’t not do it. And, as Monkey pointed out, “Even if you stopped blogging or stopped working on your book, you’d still keep scribbling in journals, so why not just keep the blog since you have met so many nice friends there?” (Monkey was careful to emphasize “friends” with air quotes.)

Since that day, I’ve had time to reboot myself. Resurrect myself.

Let me introduce you to the new and slightly improved rasjacobson 2.0.

I now come with state-of-the art anti-virus software that can better detect struggling-juggling and critical inner voices.

So the next time that voice starts tapping at my noggin, I will try to smoke it out. I know now how well-supported I am. Kelly K. was kind enough to let me borrow her duct tape so I can hog-tie The Terrible Voice and bury its dark, invisible carcass once and for all.

That’s one murder I wouldn’t fret about.

And I guess if a person is going to meltdown — at least — summer is the right time.

What do you do when you feel yourself melting down?