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The Most [Neurotic] Blogger

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A fellow writer has nominated me along with nine others for “Most Influential Blogger.”

I don’t fully understand it. But it’s flattering just the same. And I appreciate it, despite it not being particularly truthful.

I don’t know how one measures influence.

I suppose that’s for each of us to decide on our own.

And I don’t know that I consider anything I’ve written here to be particularly influential. If anything has passed that sniff test, I hope people have considered it positively influential, because I couldn’t stand myself if the opposite were true.

Influential? Nah.

But this is an opportunity. An opportunity to figure out what I think I am. What I think this place is after four and a half months of punching these keys. Here are a few possibilities:

The Worst-Dater-Ever Blogger

This is unquestionably my championship belt to wear. I am the undisputed king of being horrible at dating.

I gave one girl at a bar my number once (and she actually called!), but it turned out she lives in North Carolina and now I’ll probably never see her again.

I tried online dating but everyone hated me except for a couple platonic friends I made and a few women I hope I never see again.

The Biggest-Whiner Blogger

I challenge ANY of you to find a bigger whiner than me.

Everyone has problems. Every single person on Earth. I have a nice house. A nice car. Relative health. A decent job. I have food and the means to buy more.

And yet I whine. I whine and whine and whine and whine some more. I’m surprised so many of you put up with it.

Seriously. I’m throwing down the gauntlet. Find one blogger who whines more than me and drop a link in the comments so we can all go read it and laugh.

The Most Self-Deprecating Blogger

There is a teeny-tiny part of my whining that exists because my sense of humor includes the ability to laugh at myself. So I make jokes about never getting laid, when we all know I could TOTALLY get laid if I was only willing to pay for it or could get all my friends to throw money in a pile for another charity bone.

The Biggest Short-Man Complex Blogger

Right?

I take the 5’9” thing a little too far, eh?

You can say it.

I’m more self-aware than I might let on.

The Most-Schizophrenic Blogger

I’m so self-aware, in fact, that I’m fully aware of my schizophrenia and imbalance in terms of my day-to-day topics.

One day I’m writing about my completely ridiculous and unsubstantiated estimates regarding my chances of getting laid in states I’ve never visited.

The next day, I’ll scream and cry like a little girl because my life isn’t what I want it to be.

And then the next day, I’ll write some Sappy McSapfestival about hope and optimism and blah blibiddy blah blah.

You guys are probably like: What a freaking spaz, this guy is.

And you’re totally right.

The Most-Spazzy Blogger

Hey! If the shoe fits.

I’m a spaz. It’s probably my mom’s fault.

I spaz at work.

I spaz at my son, even though he’s totally five and is just trying to figure life out one little lesson at a time, doing exactly the same shit I used to do.

I spaz at everything.

I’m the mayor of Spazville.

Maybe I’m influencing people to not be like me.

That could totally be it.

The Most Influential Blogger Award

Firstly, thank you to Bryan at Can Bryan Write? for including me among the nominees. It’s impossible to evaluate one’s own work objectively. I do get an awful lot of praise and positive feedback here. It’s also impossible for me to know how much of that is warranted. After all, my mom and grandma think I’m Mark freaking Twain, and they haven’t even seen my best work, which is presumably here. Let’s pray they never do, otherwise I’ll lose even more family. I’m not even kidding. If my grandmother ever reads me writing about bondage or magic mushrooms or using the phrase “fuckity fuckness,” there’s a better-than-average chance she never speaks to me again. And she may seriously love me more than Jesus does right now. In fact, I can almost guarantee that’s true.

Pssst. Hey Matt. You’re being a spaz again.

Oh, shit. About influential blogging…

most-influential-blogger

While it’s super-flattering to have someone nominate you for such an unworthy title, it also means you have a job to do.

Unless I want to be Break-the-Chain-of-Goodness Guy, and I don’t, I must answer some questions and nominate other bloggers for this award.

Instructions I’ve Been Given:

1. Display the Award on your Blog. (No. It’s a lie.)
2. Announce your win with a post and thank the Blogger who awarded you. (That’s what I’m doing!)
3. Present 10 deserving Bloggers with the Award. (“Influential” is an interesting word. I LOVE many bloggers, but I don’t know that “influential” is the word I’d choose to describe their work, nor do I believe they’re trying to be influential. They’re just writing. Like me.)
4. Link your awardees in the post and let them know of their being awarded with a comment. (I HATE having to give people another chore. Everyone’s busy and recovering from divorce or alcoholism or Chlamydia or unemployment or just a shitty day at work. But I’ll try to do this.)
5. Answer each of the 10 questions that your awarder asked, and then write 10 for your awardees (or use the same ones; up to you!) (I’m going to use the same questions because I’m lazy!)

Okay.

So, here are some blogs I follow that I might call “influential,” at least to me. There are SO MANY deserving writers out there, many of whom I haven’t had time to read through and digest because I’m so self-centered and crying and feeling sorry for myself at home all the time. And I’m so sorry to all of you. You deserve so much more of my attention than you get.

Lessons From the End of a Marriage

Lisa, the author, has been to hell and back and tells the story here. She’s smart, funny, wise, an outstanding writer, and I’m so blessed that she reads my stuff and offers her wisdom. And I’m so blessed to read her lessons and apply her experiences to mine. She’s brilliant and worthy of your time.

Dysfunctional Literacy

This dude. Jimmy. So funny. If nothing else, just read through his Literary Girlfriend series. It’s beyond awesome. He influences me to try humor in my writing, with “try” being the operative word.

Gotta Find a Home

This guy’s name is Dennis. Changing the world. He’s influential in the most-fundamental and important kind of way. 

Too Many Spiders

This lady is ridiculously awesome. She writes about stuff that’s intellectually over my head much of the time. But other times, she’ll just tell some simple human story about her family. The Spider Lady is a mother of like 79 kids in a New York City borough. She keeps her blog secret from her husband, for reasons unbeknownst to me, and which I’m not inclined to press her on. I just know she’s a good human being who loves her family and occasionally charms me with her funny take on the world.

Twenty-Three & Fancy Free

This young lady from Australia makes me laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. She influences me to tell personal stories. To not be afraid to use a little rough language when the situation calls for it. She doesn’t write often enough for my taste, but when she does, I always smile. She’s wonderful.

Reflections Upon My Reality

This is a photo blog. She writes personal stories also on a separate blog, and she’s a fine writer. But I particularly enjoy her photo work. She’s kind of obsessed with cemeteries and she has a habit of wandering into abandoned houses and buildings to capture the ghosts. But, it’s compelling work. She influences me to think about the world differently. To find beauty in things that may not be conventionally beautiful.

LizardoMD

This young medical doctor is in New York. Ramon’s been so supportive of the work I’ve done here. He influences me in the real world. With kindness. A zest for life. Optimism. He’s always looking for that silver lining. Always pushing himself and others to be more than they are through his writing. To seize life. To make the most of it. He’s a new digital friend. I’m lucky to eKnow him.

Knowingly Undersold

Everything he writes is smart and hilarious. If I could be anything as a writer, I’d want people to say I was smart and hilarious. His name’s Joe. He’s pretty awesome. Read him.

Match dot… come on already!

Like LizardoMD, this young lady in Los Angeles has been remarkably sweet and supportive of me since getting to know one another electronically. She’s a biased fan of my writing and has shared my work in the past. She’s kind and smart and funny, and if she ever gets around to dating again, the stories will be entertaining, like the author herself.

HACKER. NINJA. HOOKER. SPY.

This woman is ridiculous. Ridiculously awesome, I mean. She’s been writing for one month. One. And she already has this epically entertaining and engaging blog. I’m beyond jealous. She’s kind of a rock star. And I’m hoping she’ll push me to be better. Because that’s always what I want to be. Better.

Questions I’m Supposed to Answer

1. What is your favorite season?

Summer, duh.

2. Who is your favorite singer?

Singer? How about musician? This isn’t right. I can’t pick just one. I don’t have just one.

3. What is your favorite kind of music?

I dabble in awesome. Sometimes awesome is indie rock. Sometimes it’s classical. Sometimes it’s blues or jazz or hip-hop or classic rock or electronic or even country, if I’ve been drinking a lot. The criteria is simply: Must be awesome.

4. Who is your favorite author?

My favorite writer is James Altucher. My favorite novelist is Michael Connelly.

5. If you had enough money, what charity would you donate to?

There is no amount of money too small to donate to charity. I donate to my church, to a shelter at which I’ve neglected to volunteer for seven months because I’m a whiny self-absorbed douchebag, and I donate to all of the little kids who come around the neighborhood, but only when they saw me through the window and totally know I’m home, OR when my five-year-old hollers: “DAD!!! There’s someone at the door!!!”

Dammit, kid! I was trying to pretend I wasn’t home!

“Dad! Did you hear me!?!? There are kids at the door!”

6. If you had enough money, what room in your home would you renovate?

My kitchen could use a little refresher. Like this list of questions, Bryan. Let’s hope not everyone is as lazy as us.

7. What is your favorite television show?

A month ago, I would have said Breaking Bad. Right now, The Walking Dead has my attention. It’s awesome.

8. Which of these is your most favorite drink: Pepsi – Coke – Ice Tea – Water?

Are you shitting me? Question fail! It’s invalid because none of these are alcoholic.

9. Do you own a desktop PC or laptop… or both?

I have an iMac. I like it. I don’t have a laptop because I’m poor. But I want one. I want to go write in a coffee shop and look awesome. I’m not even kidding. Dear Santa, please bring me a laptop so I can go look artsy in coffee shops on Saturday mornings and maybe talk to a girl for once in my life. Thank you!

10. What would you rather do for relaxation, read a book or watch television?

I do NOT approve of these questions. And I just don’t have time to write and answer 10 more. There are 29 other things I’d rather do for relaxation than read or watch TV. I respect that most of us only do those two things, though. I’d RATHER read. But I’m lazy. So, I often watch TV.

In conclusion, I’m about as “influential” as Question 8 is relevant and allowed to be asked for the rest of humanity’s existence.

I’m still kind of pissed about it.

Psssst. It’s tequila. My favorite drink. Because it’s amazing.

Arriba, you crazy vatos. And thanks for the nom, Bryan. I really do appreciate it.

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The Write Stuff: Lessons From the End of a Marriage

Lessons From the End of a Marriage is important work. It's a must-read for anyone going through divorce, and a should-read for everyone else.

Lessons From the End of a Marriage is important work. It’s a must-read for anyone going through divorce, and a should-read for everyone else.

Their 10-year marriage ended with a text message.

A marriage she believed to be wonderful.

Then, one day, one week, one month at a time, she learned that she’d been unknowingly living a lie as all of the pieces of the twisted puzzle came together.

If you’re anything like me…

  1. Divorced
  2. Searching for answers and healing
  3. Moved by compelling stories
  4. Inspired by courage…

… then you NEED to read Lessons From the End of a Marriage.

Even if you’re none of these things, you owe it to yourself to read this made-for-Hollywood story.

I pray that by praising the drama and intensity of the story itself, I’m not doing a disservice to its heroic author.

In my darkest days of divorce recovery, no writer has had a more positive impact on me than she has.

The way her marriage ended is no less dramatic than Neo waking up in The Matrix. To discover that nothing she had believed—for 16 (SIXTEEN!!!) years was real.

My admiration for this woman knows no bounds.

She, in this writer’s occasionally not-so-humble opinion, sets the standard for how to be courageous in a post-divorce world.

From her post I Was Married to a Con Man:

“My husband was a brilliant and talented man whose skills included creating and maintaining a separate existence. He had two cameras. Two bicycles. Two wallets. Two wives. Two distinct lives. When the financial mess he created in his life with me became too great to keep hidden, he broke up with me via text and vanished. That was when I learned that my husband… was a con man. My life was a virtual reality—my home a movie set consisting of false fronts.

He was an expert lie crafter; he always knew the exact proportion of truth to weave into the falsehoods to make a story believable. He always had an answer; he never hesitated. His office must have been like a busy air traffic control tower as he directed emails, texts, and phone calls to support his various tales. The extent of his deceptions was made clear when I sat with an auto insurance card in my hand—my name had been digitally removed—while I pulled up the file from the insurance company and verified that both names were present on the actual document. He thought he could erase me as easily as he could my name using Photoshop.

While my husband was in jail after being arrested for felony bigamy, I talked with his other wife, who was as stunned by the situation as I was. No woman should ever have to have a conversation about “our husband,” even if it is a cordial and informative discussion. I learned that when he was pulled in for questioning, his lies became increasingly absurd as he struggled to maintain his façade. My favorite? He claimed that he and I had divorced years earlier and I had since married a chiropractor named Mark Mercer. Mark, if you’re out there, I’m sorry that I have no recollection of our marriage and that I have never recognized our fictitious anniversaries.”

About the Author

Her name is Lisa Arends.

She is a magnificent writer. One of those writers who occasionally strings words together that make me think: Damn. I wish I could do that.

She is a school teacher.

A wellness coach.

And now, because of an UNIMAGINABLE con job by a husband of 10 years, she has an incredible story to tell. And she has.

It must be read.

About the Blog

It documents everything.

You can read the CliffsNotes version of her story here.

The content is straightforward and self-explanatory.

Lisa got screwed in ways human beings aren’t equipped to handle.

And maybe she didn’t. Maybe she completely fell apart four years ago.

I know I came apart when my marriage ended, and I didn’t have to endure an epic shock-and-awe campaign that dismantled my entire life as Lisa did.

If she did fall apart, she got back up again.

And now, Lisa’s mission is to help people.

People like me.

People like you.

And I think she succeeds. She has for me.

Why It Matters

Because Lisa’s life came undone in unimaginable ways. And yet she lives.

And I don’t just mean she breathes and moves around.

I mean, she lives.

Her spirit endures.

She pours energy into helping others. Into friends and family. Into continuing to grow and evolve as a person.

It would have been so easy to quit.

But she didn’t.

She just kept breathing.

Asking questions.

Exploring.

Thinking.

Writing.

And today, her story continues.

And now there’s a new guy. A new love. And a new wedding date.

After everything Lisa’s been through.

She perseveres.

Hope endures.

Love remains.

And it reminds all of us to be courageous, to be hopeful, to never quit, even if our hearts are telling us opposite.

The story is amazing.

The blog is amazing.

The author is amazing.

And she invites us all to be a part of it.

We should take advantage.

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The Write Stuff: Gotta Find a Home

We have choices. All I'm asking you to do is consider them. Well, AND to read "Gotta Find a Home." Because it's awesome. Photo by Kenneth Reitz

We have choices. I’m only asking you to consider them. And to read “Gotta Find a Home.” Because it’s awesome. Photo by Kenneth Reitz

The world started changing with a breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee.

He was walking to work.

She was panhandling for money on the sidewalk.

“Thank you so much, sir. You’re so kind. Bless you,” the woman said to him after receiving the gift.

That was a few years ago. Today, the man and the woman are close friends.

His name is Dennis.

Her name might be Joy. Dennis protects identities.

And now we have Gotta Find a Home.

Dennis is just a guy. I don’t mean that as an insult. He’s most certainly MUCH MORE than “just a guy.”

But he’s just a guy who works in an office building and took the time to pause and show consideration to a homeless woman.

To see her as a human being. No different than him. And not as the blight of society as so many people—even me—have felt before.

He lives in Ottawa, Canada. All of his stories take place there.

He has delivered food and coffee to Joy on many mornings. And now, after spending several months talking with Joy and meeting her companions, Dennis is tapped into the homeless network in his city.

There is violence. And sadness. Addiction. And frustration. Fear. But also laughter. And hope.

Dennis has no agenda but kindness. To shine light on some of the things most of us try not to think about when we’re at dinner parties on the weekends or taking our children to shopping malls.

The writing is mostly dispassionate. Like a newspaper report.

It’s perfect. Because it’s just so… human.

The idea is so brilliant, so simple, so good, that it makes you want to hug yourself.

About the Author

His name is Dennis Cardiff.

He doesn’t think what he’s doing is particularly special. He’s too humble for that.

But he clearly recognizes its importance. Its value.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

You’ll see that peppered throughout Gotta Find a Home.

About the Blog

Gotta Find a Home is an account of the daily lives of this particular group of homeless people and everything they have to face.

The goal is to eventually publish a book.

Here’s a taste, from the blog’s Introduction post:

“Antonio slept on a park bench and was beaten, had his teeth kicked out, for no other reason than his choice to sleep outdoors. He is a small, gentle man who has a phobia about enclosed spaces.

“Craig slept on the sidewalk in the freezing cold. I see him every morning and am never sure if, when I lift the corner of his sleeping bag, I will find him dead or alive. Sometimes, he confided, he would prefer never to awake.

“Joy is a friend who fell on hard times. She slept behind a dumpster in back of Starbucks. I have seen her with blackened eyes, bruised legs, cracked ribs, cut and swollen lips. I usually see her sitting on the sidewalk ‘panning’ for change.

“I can’t do much for these people except to show them love, compassion, an ear to listen, perhaps a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. I would like to do more. To know them is to love them. What has been seen cannot be unseen.”

Why It Matters

Hopefully, this is obvious to you.

Most people aren’t brave enough, unselfish enough, loving enough, humble enough, awesome enough to do what Dennis is doing.

He has immersed himself with the homeless community. “Street people,” he calls them.

They are his friends. They have become the people he is closest to in the world along with his immediate family.

What can one man do to help change the world?

THIS.

Because this absolutely will help these people. Dennis already is, simply by loving them and being kind to them and respecting them and displaying compassion.

He’s not judging. He’s not turning up his nose. He’s giving what he can and asking for nothing in return.

I believe strongly this Gotta Find a Home project has the opportunity to get some legs and earn the kind of attention—and by extension, funding—that can really make a difference for a lot of people.

But it’s also going to help the rest of us, too. In deep and meaningful ways.

It’s good to feel a little uncomfortable.

You have no reason to feel guilty about having houses and cars. A fridge full of food. A nice television to watch football. Plenty of cash to order pizza and throw the leftovers away.

But you have EVERY reason in the world to feel a little itch, a little pull, to spend more time being considerate of other people, to give a little more time volunteering for a good cause, or a little more money to the have-nots.

I’ll never stop saying it. Because I don’t know if I believe in an idea more than this one:

We must give more than we take.

Let’s not all fight over the table scraps.

Let’s just all keep giving to those around us.

I’m going to get something back. You’re going to get something back. We’re all going to have enough this way.

Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually.

I think you will find that what you receive is much more satisfying than table scraps.

Thank you, Dennis Cardiff.

For walking the walk.

For doing it right.

For buying that breakfast sandwich and cup of coffee.

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