Tag Archives: WordPress

How to Find the Classic WordPress Editor and Not Kill Yourself

peter griffin grinds my gears

(Author’s Note: Feel free to skip to the bottom of this post for help finding the old “Add New Post” page because most of this doesn’t matter. Also, I know most of you have already figured this out because you’re a bunch of smarties. This is for the people who haven’t and are possibly just one or two posts away from offing themselves to avoid having to use the new editor again. They deserve our support.)

Ohhh. THIS is what she was talking about!

A friend who blogs on WordPress asked me how I felt about the recent changes to the “Add New Post” page.

I think she said something like: “I don’t know how to feel about it. I’m not sure I like it,” but at the time I was still seeing the trusty, familiar WordPress editor page that doesn’t hate children and puppies when I went to post something.

It’s because she’s nice and not dramatic, unlike me who has a tendency to arm-flail and loudly express displeasure with more exuberance than is warranted. I’ve had to point this out more than usual lately: I am all about hyperbole and exaggeration and redundancy and saying things more times than necessary.

So, did I really want to kill myself after having WordPress’ updated “Add New Post” page thrust upon me like an uninvited, smelly penis?

Yes. Yes, I did.

Not All Change is Good

For anyone still reading who doesn’t publish on WordPress, you might be thinking: “Oh, Matt! You’re just being silly! EVERYONE resists change at first, but once you get used to it, you’ll see it’s actually better! You can’t stop progress!”

And if you are thinking that, you can go drink pee and like it.

I was in the newspaper business for a decade. We would infrequently make thoughtful design changes to the daily newspaper, and geriatric anal-retentives would lose their minds because we moved the crossword puzzle from the third page to the seventh and now their lives were ruined and they were cancelling their subscriptions just as soon as they finished their episode of Murder, She Wrote.

I’m not one of those All-Change-Is-Bad people.

So when I stumbled on the new-and-different WordPress editor, I embraced it as a fun new toy to play with.

But THEN, I played with it. I used it to publish five blog posts. And honestly? It was a little bit shitty and kind of sapped my will to live. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever seen. But it’s obviously not an improvement, and I’m always confused by “updates” in which regular users lose more than they gain.

The new interface is kind of like a Slinky that doesn’t slink. Or playing basketball with a half-deflated ball. Or playing music with an out-of-tune guitar that’s missing its B string.

Maybe I’m a Terrible User

I may just be doing it wrong.

For example, it’s not difficult to add tags to posts in the new editor. But I’ve posted three times now forgetting to add them because of how different and hidden the new tag box is.

The shittiest change for me was trying to link to old posts. In the classic editor, when I want to add a link, there’s a little search box where typing in a couple keywords will bring up titles of all related old posts, and it’s super-easy to click on them and add the link. But now it looks like this:

Sad Link screen

All the great, user-friendly functionality is gone. I have to open a new browser window and find the post I want, and then copy-and-paste the URL to create a link. And that’s fine! I can handle it, I guess. But why make it suckier and more difficult for no reason?

How to Use the Classic WordPress Editor Instead of the New One You Hate

If you want to use the old “New Post” window that you’re comfortable with, it’s relatively easy to do…

When you’re signed into your WordPress account and you click on “My Site” in the top left corner, it takes you to an Admin page where you can see stats and stuff.

If you choose “Add New” from that page, you’ll be doused in sadness when this pops up:

Booooooo WordPress

BUT. REJOICE!

If you look all the way to the bottom left, you’ll see “WP Admin,” in all its nearly hidden, understated glory:

WP Admin Click That

This is where you want to select “Add New” to create a new blog post:

That's your friend

And now, dear friends, life can suck a little less:

classic wordpress editor

Maybe WordPress will kill the classic editor entirely one day. But until then, keep on keepin’ on and stuff.

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How to Start a Blog

(Image/blog.ringcentral.com)

(Image/blog.ringcentral.com)

Feral Wife asked:

Hi Matt, I have truly enjoyed reading your blog. I found it shortly after asking my husband for a separation (we decided not to). Your words were a blessing, and long story short, you and the many commenters have inspired me to start my own blog. The premise of my blog is I am the wife of a shitty husband, a husband who was shocked when I asked for a separation. Now we are trying to work it out and stay married. So I want to share my journey in hopes of helping other wives and husbands. But I don’t really know where to start, I am assuming your blog didn’t start off as fabulous as it is now (if it has, more props to you!) so I am asking for tidbits/advice on where to start. I would like to remain anonymous, for a variety of reasons. Anyway, you said we could ask you stuff, for free, so I thought I’d ask: “How do I start my own blog?”

There are countless reasons to start blogging.

Some people love writing. Some people like telling stories. Some people dream big and hope people will like their writing and that it might create future writing and career opportunities. Some people process information and life events best when they get thoughts down on paper (or a computer screen). Some people want to help and be a resource for others.

If you ask me today why I write here, those are my reasons.

But that’s not why I started.

One night, less than three months into my marital separation, I was self-medicating with vodka before some friends were picking me up to go out.

I was feeling sorry for myself because my wife was seeing someone.

I was feeling sorry for myself because my son wasn’t home.

I was feeling sorry for myself because I was taking my first crack at online dating and it was a colossal failure by every measurable standard.

I was totally losing it. I called an 800 number off a card someone at work had given me for over-the-phone counseling.

I don’t remember anything about the conversation except for the part where the therapist lady told me I should start writing down my thoughts and feelings. Normal people keep journals. I thought: Maybe I’ll just write anonymously and publish it! That might be a fun experiment!

I thought Must Be This Tall To Ride was going to be a sarcastic, juvenile journey through my online-dating stumbles—the story of this bumbling, depressed, freaking-out newly single 30-something father trying to “date” for the first time in his life.

I started blogging because I’m a total spaz and as soon as any idea pops into my idiot little head, I rush off and do it until I get bored or distracted by something else and move on.

But then something happened I didn’t expect—some people gave a shit. People were reading. Not a lot. But some! Whoa.

Writing has some magic qualities for the people doing it. Something intangible that, no matter how many times people tell you, you can’t really understand it until it starts happening. That therapist lady knew it. But I didn’t. Not until, for the first time in my life, I took things from the inside of me and turned them into words.

It was a little scary. A little embarrassing. But, man. It worked. I really started feeling better.

And then something even crazier happened.

Some of the people reading said it helped them feel better, too.

I’ve written PLENTY of immature bullshit here. Sorry. I am immature and sometimes I make bad decisions that are bullshit.

But mostly? I started really caring about being someone who wasn’t adding to all the noise and negativity shrieking and clanging around out there.

Maybe this can matter. 

How to Start a Blog

1. Have a reason. A concept. A thing.

No matter how much I don’t want to be, I’ve sort of become this divorce/relationship blogger, which makes no sense, but whatever. Sometimes things don’t make sense.

2. Think of good blog names, and pick one with a sensible, AVAILABLE URL (or if you’re not hiding your identity, try to secure your name. Example: BobRodgers.com)

I picked Must Be This Tall To Ride because a week earlier I wrote to some 5’2” online dating chick one night who wouldn’t date guys under six feet, and I used it as the subject line. It made me laugh. She wrote back, but not because she wanted to go out. I’m glad the URL was available. That was lucky.

3. There are a variety of blogging platforms. I like WordPress for many reasons. Choose a non-sucky theme

I picked this theme (called “Chunk”) because it’s SUPER-clean, and I like clean. I like Google’s home page. I like Apple’s advertising. I like white space.

So I chose this because there aren’t any distractions.

I thought I would be able to customize it so that I could take some of the things that live WAY down at the bottom of these pages that most people never see, and move them up to the sidebars. But this theme doesn’t let you do that, AND I suck at HTML coding, so even if it did, I probably couldn’t have pulled it off.

My advice: Choose a theme that allows people to follow you via email up in the sidebar, and showcase other information they care about like recent posts, or popular posts, or how to follow you on social media, or whatever. When you bury it at the bottom of your blog like I do here, most people never see it because they’re busy and don’t care. You have to make it easy and obvious for them to follow you.

4. Use photos in your blog posts.

I usually stick with just one image up top. Credit the photographer or at least the source whenever possible in the caption. People like images.

5. Write as much as you want, but 800 words or less will help readers stay with you.

I usually write over a thousand because I’m wordy and don’t always do what I’m supposed to.

6. Write well.

This is subjective. I don’t think I’m a particularly great writer. But (usually after publishing a mistake or two every time) I’m pretty good about keeping the copy clean. Typos are bad. Using “their” instead of “there” is bad. Bad punctuation is bad. Bad everything is bad. Unfortunately, I do some things poorly. It’s because I’m only moderately intelligent AND because I rush through this stuff, never planning ahead, and hastily hitting Publish during my lunch hour at work. It’s a bad blogging and writing strategy.

7. Make it easy for people to share your work.

WordPress plugins make it easy to embed social media sharing on your blog. Twitter is the only social media I use to share posts and it generates very little traffic because I’m shitty at Twitter. Facebook is obviously the biggest and best place to share. Because I’m afraid of family members and people in my professional network reading about accidental vaginas or my grandmother hypothetically marrying a Liam Neeson movie character, I’ve always been too scared to share stuff on Facebook. But it’s still the place where my posts that do get shared, get shared most often.

8. Reply to comments.

I’m not always good at this, but I aspire to be.

9. Try to develop a regular posting schedule.

Posting every day only worked for about nine months for me. That was masochistic. I generally stick to Monday-Wednesday-Friday now and I find it more manageable. There’s no right or wrong way. But consistency is smart.

10. Tag and categorize your posts thoughtfully.

I just sort of guess. There’s a science to it, but I’m always in too big of a hurry. Tagging or categorizing my posts “Marriage” or “Divorce” or “Penis” allows people to find content that interests them and lets regular readers know what they’re getting into.

I’m probably leaving stuff out because I’m out of time and need to stop writing this.

In Conclusion

Feral Wife called my blog “fabulous.” Which is too kind because of all its structural deficiencies and sometimes-shitty writing.

If it is fabulous, I have a hard time believing it started out that way. Some people have read every post, and they would know better than me.

I’ve published close to 500 posts in just over two years here, and any time you do something hundreds of times, you get better at it, but that’s also subjective because some of you are reading this (or quit 700 words ago) and are thinking: Why the hell am I still reading this?

Fair question.

I have no idea.

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The Magical Power of Writing for Two Years (and a Bit About Marriage)

Magic-Book

The date came and went without me noticing.

June 21 was the two-year anniversary of my first post here. You can’t read it anymore because I privatized it. I privatized it because I said angry things about my ex-wife. She is my son’s mother and my relationship with her means more to me than having a published account of the worst thing that ever happened to me.

It won’t be long before I start publishing my last name. I will publish books. I want to write for larger publications. I’ll have to use my full name, and protecting people I care about matters to me. Even if they’re just someone that I used to know.

It took two years to get here.

The Advice Guy

I don’t want to be Advice Guy. That guy is usually an asshole. Plus, I don’t really know anything. If you forced me to offer the world life advice; that would be my contribution: Stop pretending you KNOW anything about anything. You don’t know. And there’s freedom in being honest about it.

Better to ask questions. Better to seek truth.

There is something about writing that gives you an aura of credibility that you don’t really deserve, but it doesn’t rid you of your responsibility to help when people want it.

I’ve published about 450,000 words here in the past two years. And for reasons that don’t fully make sense to me, some people think that means I know things.

I never know things. I just think things.

On Marriage

People ask me to advise them on marriage ALL THE TIME. Several times per week, wives email me asking for marriage advice or at least for suggestions on how they might get their husbands to understand the things they believe I do based on what they’ve read.

It happens so often now that I’ve actually looked into acquiring certification for marriage coaching. Because, you may recall, I’m nothing more than one divorced guy who failed at marriage in his only attempt.

I think every marriage reaches a breaking point. And the choices made by each (or either) spouse during that time determines the union’s fate.

I think, generally speaking, everyone gets married (the first time) LONG before they’re ready. Ironically, you’re never ready for marriage until you’re already married and THEN demonstrate good (read: unselfish) decision making.

I think we grow up seeing all these married people around us, so we’re all programmed from Day 1: When you get older and become an adult, you get married! It’s just what you do!

All we see from these marriages are the masks everyone wears. We’re kids! No one is going to tell us how it really is. That he NEVER says thank you or demonstrates appreciation for all her hard work cooking or cleaning or taking care of his laundry. That she constantly tears him down and never encourages him. That he’d rather jerk off thinking about her cousin or his old college fling than have sex with her. That she spends half her day swapping complaints with her girlfriend about what an inattentive asshole he is while both of them fantasize about one another’s husband.

We send our kids off to school to learn about the World Wars and the Periodic Table and The Old Man and the Sea and about our solar system and Algebra II. And that’s great. We should all be learning things.

But when the kids are 30, clinically depressed and fantasizing sexually or otherwise about other people and other lives because no one EVER was honest with them about what it takes to make marriage work, I have to ask: Are we really teaching people things that matter? How much good is Hemingway and knowing the atomic number for Boron really doing them? When they’re broken and sobbing on the floor?

I think men and women are biologically different to varying degrees, and that, because of a misplaced desire for political correctness, or because people are sexist and believe their gender is “correct” or “better,” very few people ever bother to learn about gender differences.

So guys walk around their entire lives thinking women are overly emotional and crazy.

And girls walk around their entire lives thinking men are dense and are only motivated by competition and sex (but mostly just sex).

Guys think that over time, women will come around and “get it.” Start thinking “the right way.” Like a man!

Women think that over time, their man will come around and “get it.” That he will finally start understanding her and seeing her for who she truly is. The he will start thinking and communicating and doing things “the right way.” Like a woman!

Usually, 5-10 years later, it’s all fucked and broken.

All because no one bothered to teach us important things about love and communication. Because no one ever really showed us what it looks like to give more than we take. And how by giving more than we take, we actually GET MORE, and create a life of love and abundance.

No, we all hurt too much from that mean thing he said.

We all hurt too much because she is so disrespectful and makes us feel like failures.

Resentment grows. Communication lessens. Sexual interest and attraction fades. You grow apart and die on the inside.

THIS IS THE SAME THING THAT HAPPENS TO EVERYONE. You’re not a freak. None of it’s good. But it is normal.

It happened to me. And now it’s happening to you. And I don’t know how to stop it. I don’t know how to make people care as much as they should. And I’m sorry.

I am so sorry that I don’t know how.

On Writing

People like to ask about writing sometimes, too.

My advice on writing is infinitely shorter.

1. Read writers who write how you want to write. Also read other things. Basically, just read. A lot.

2. Write often. Use fewer words than me.

3. Bleed when you write. (It’s a metaphor. Please don’t cut yourself.) Write about things that frighten and embarrass you. That sadden or anger you. Because you need to learn (and constantly be reminded of) something really important: We are all super-similar and you are never the only one. And you get to be the brave one that helps people realize that simple, but sometimes life-changing truth. Don’t take it for granted.

4. Take off the mask. You spend every second of your life trying to be who you think your parents, friends, boss, kids, lover, neighbors, or whoever, want you to be. It’s exhausting trying to be so many people and we always fail at it, because it’s hard enough just being one person. Always be you. It organically filters out all the people you don’t want in your life without exerting any energy. And it organically attracts all of the people you do want to be part of it. And it makes you come alive. This is hard to do in real life, even though we should try. But dammit, you better do it when you’re punching the keys. Make courageousness a habit.

Writing makes me see the world differently.

Writing allows me to see myself differently.

So that I can grow and change and think and love and share and be better today than I was yesterday.

All it takes is a willingness to leave a tiny imprint of your soul in the words. Bare and vulnerable.

Not everyone will care.

But someone will.

And that’s where the magic lives.

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My 15 Minutes

Let the countdown begin.

Let the countdown begin.

They say everyone gets theirs.

Fifteen minutes.

And near as I can tell, this is mine.

Today, WordPress has featured Must Be This Tall To Ride on Just Another WordPress Weblog.

I’m something well-beyond flattered.

But there’s also some anxiety.

What if thousands of people read about me? What if they think I’m a dipshit? What if I get a bunch of new followers? What if I don’t get any?

Maybe I have pantophobia.

THAT'S IT!!!

THAT’S IT!!!

Anyway, if you’re interested, I hope you’ll come be a part of it. I suspect I’ll be playing over there for a few days, digesting whatever feedback might come. That’s assuming I’m not curled up in the fetal position or self-medicating with tequila shots.

You’ll notice by the headline that Krista at WordPress clearly hasn’t been online dating.

You can read the profile here:

Single, Divorced, but Plenty Tall Enough to Ride:

A Blogger Profile

You might not realize it, but you’ve given me something to love when I needed it very much.

You’ll never know the depths of my gratitude.

Thank you.

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The Calm Before the Storm

Like this. Only infinitely less cool.

Like this. Only infinitely less cool.

“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already…” ‘Lose Yourself,’ Eminem 

Hundreds of thousands of people used to read my newspaper stories whenever they would get distributed nationally or globally by one of the news wire services.

My full name. First and last. There for a reader’s judgment.

But when you’re a newspaper reporter, most people don’t pay attention to the little byline.

All that matters is the masthead.

The Wall Street Journal. The Chicago Tribune. The Washington Post.

Or the papers I wrote for.

That’s who wrote all those stories in the minds of most readers.

The publications themselves.

I love when that little notification goes off on my phone letting me know that someone new is following the blog. Someone read something. It resonated with them. Then they hit the button.

Let’s see what else this guy’s got, they think.

Maybe they read some old stuff. Maybe they only read whatever happens next. I don’t know.

Slow, steady growth. That’s how business owners like to do it. It’s manageable. It’s sustainable.

It’s not scary.

But Sometimes it is Scary

I’m afraid almost every day.

I’m afraid of what you might think of me after I write something.

I’m afraid of what any friends I have reading this blog might think of me.

I’m afraid of what my ex-wife thinks of me.

Because now the masthead is me. I am the publication.

And even more?

My heart and soul lives in the words on the screen.

If people don’t like them, it means they don’t like me.

That always stings.

I Have No Idea What’s About to Happen

A WordPress editor contacted me last week.

She indicated she plans to shine a spotlight on the blog for a regular feature called Choosing the Perfect Blog Name. It’s something that was published at The Daily Post, and is the way I discovered a handful of really good bloggers.

She said she loved the name Must Be This Tall To Ride.

Choosing the Perfect Blog Name is such a popular feature, she said, that WordPress is going to start running it on its primary news blog in 2014 for a larger audience.

The number of people following that WordPress news blog as of right now?

13.4 million.

Holy. Shit.

I wrote about 500 words for a three-question Q&A. It’s scheduled to go live on Wednesday.

And then more people will read things I’ve written than ever before.

This blog has 500 and some followers and averages between 300-400 views a day.

I don’t have the first clue how many of those 13.4 million people might click through to the blog. And I don’t know how many of those might stick around to see what’s written next.

I just know that the unknown scares me. A lot.

But then something happened and I’ve felt better ever since.

A popular blogger—Opinionated Man at HarsH ReaLiTy (30,000-plus followers)—asked readers to, in less than 500 words, tell him what they would do with a larger audience.

“What would you promote or what are some of your goals in regards to blogging towards a larger portion of the world?” he asked.

I pondered that question for a minute.

Then I wrote him this…

What I Would Do With a Larger Audience

I didn’t start writing to help people.

I started writing to help myself.

But then, one comment at a time, the truth revealed itself to me.

When you tell honest, personal stories to people—to people who feel the same pains, the same fears, who have the same hopes and dreams—you help people by accident.

A selfish project turned unselfish overnight.

When your wife leaves you, son in one hand, suitcase in the other, your worldview is shattered.

She’ll always love me.

No, she won’t.

I’ll always be there for my son.

No, I won’t.

I have a bright future.

Do I?

When you have a wife and son, you have purpose. A reason for breathing. A reason for waking up every day and doing all the things we don’t necessarily want to do.

Go to work.

Pay the bills.

Run errands.

Maintain the house.

Without the family, you don’t have purpose anymore. It evaporates. Instantly.

You can’t make sense of it because she said “forever.” I’m sure I heard her right.

I never bought life-explosion insurance. So when the bomb went off, I didn’t know what to do.

I freaked out. Called a therapist. She found out I write. Encouraged me to journal.

Write for just me? Spew words onto the screen but don’t let anyone else see?

What’s the point?

I took her advice and started journaling. Only, dammit, it wasn’t going to live in the shadows.

THIS IS WHO I AM!, my writing would scream.

I’d cry the words. Scream the words. Bleed the words.

Because it has to matter. Or else, what’s the point?

I want people to know that I cry sometimes.

That I’m afraid.

That I’m insecure.

That I make mistakes.

That I sometimes get stuff right.

That I’m working harder every day to not be the kind of man another woman will leave. To be the kind of man a five-year-old boy can aspire to be.

I’m not courageous. I’m not.

But I’m not afraid to tell people who I am and who I want to be.

These are the things that move people. That stir their emotions. That light fires.

We connect.

And lift one another up.

One powerful word-inspired feeling at a time.

That’s how good spreads.

And despite my tendency to wander off into immature playfulness from time to time, at the end of the day, my writing exists to explore as much humanity as I can squeeze into a thousand-word post each day.

So, what would I do differently with a larger audience?

Absolutely nothing.

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How to Accept Gifts

I must learn to accept gifts.  So must we all.

I must learn to accept gifts. So must we all.

I am historically bad at accepting gifts from anyone who is not my mom or dad.

I get a little shy. I sometimes feel a little ashamed that I didn’t first give them a gift. I sometimes feel obligated to get them a gift after receiving theirs.

So, opposite of when I was a child, I often find myself wishing I wouldn’t receive gifts.

That’s a sad story.

And it really smacked me in the face how sad it was this morning when the wonderful writer at BulgingButtons—one of my newest readers—nominated MBTTTR for Blog of the Year 2013, not unlike my nominations about a month ago for Most Influential Blogger and Most Versatile Blogger.

And my initial reaction was to express my deepest gratitude, and leave it at that.

Because at first:

It felt egotistical to accept.

It will force me to nominate blogs for Blog of the Year, also. Which is not a problem. The problem is, I feel shitty thinking that people I care about might be wondering: Why doesn’t Matt think I deserve a nomination? Asshole!

The hard truth is, I don’t read a fraction of the great writing floating around WordPress and other corners of the Internet as much as I’d like to. I have a really hard time working 40+ hours per week, writing every day, being a single dad 50 percent of the time, and not letting every other facet of my life suffer. All that other stuff competes with my reading attention. Which is bad if you wish I’d spend more time reading your writing. And I’m so sorry. Because I feel deep within me the inequity that exists when many of you give more to me than you get in return.

Like a thousand micro-metaphors of the first seven years of my now-failed marriage.

I was going to thank BulgingButtons for the flattering nomination and simply leave well-enough alone.

And then I read something.

Accepting Gifts

I’m quoting this, word for word, from TheWannabeSaint.com from this morning.

“It was said of Abba Zeno, that from the outset he never wished to receive anything from anyone at all. Those who brought him something came away hurt that he had not accepted anything. Others came to him, wanting to receive some token from a great old man and he had nothing to give them so they too came away hurt.

The old man said, ‘What shall I do, since those who bring things are hurt just as much as those who wish to receive something? I know what seems right to me: when someone brings me something, I will accept it and I will give it to anyone who asks me for something.’ So he did that and was at peace and satisfied everyone.” 

The 180

So, I instantly recognized that me and Father Zeno suffer from the same illness—misplaced… I don’t know what… humility? Fake unselfishness? I’m not sure.

But I know this: We hurt people’s feelings when we don’t accept their gifts.

I love to give gifts.

And I’m often impatient about it, too. One of my favorite things about this time of year during my marriage was that we celebrated both my wife’s birthday and Christmas this month. Two opportunities to give her gifts.

She didn’t always love them. She hated an aftermarket car stereo I bought her one year. But mostly, she did like them. Tickets to live theater. Jewelry. Spa day gift certificates. Pretty, yet comfortable, things to wear around the house.

And those were some of my favorite moments. Buying her gifts. Giving them to her and seeing her smile. And mostly winning her approval afterward.

It’s not okay to deprive people who care about you of feeling the joy of giving.

They’re not giving because they want anything in return. Except one thing. You accepting their gift. Because that gift is a piece of them. Whether it’s a drink at a bar. A thoughtful card. An act of kindness. Or something much bigger.

I’m shitty at accepting gifts. One of the many accidental wounds I inflict with kindness efforts that miss the mark.

I’m always trying to be better.

Learning to accept gifts, compliments and love with graciousness is another leg on my journey.

Blog of the Year

I’m in the very early stages of learning to love myself again.

It’s laughable to me to have such a loftily titled award associated—even loosely—with what I’m doing here.

This still feels like a selfish exercise. Writing stories in the first person.

But in many respects, me giving myself to the keyboard is a bit like giving myself a gift. Present-day therapy. And long-term, perhaps my tiny little mark on this planet. My “I was here” sign stuck in the ground for wanderers—both hopeless and hopeful—to find.

In the end, I don’t get to decide how good or bad this stuff is. You do.

And instead of trying to discredit people who like my work, I should instead use their generosity to lift me up. To push me harder. To propel me further.

Thank you.

I don’t like nominating people for things for fear of offending the rest.

But if I’m going to be something like courageous, I’m going to have to be that here, too.

I’m also going to cheat.

1. Because I don’t always follow rules.

2. Because I care about truth (when it’s not too embarrassing for me to admit).

3. But mainly, because these are the blogs I don’t miss.

Only one of these is on WordPress, and I’m almost afraid to mention my blog crush on her because EVERYONE has a blog crush on her.

But, in my estimation, no one’s doing it better than Aussa right now.

1. Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy.

But Matt! You just like her because she’s a pretty redhead with piercing blue eyes!!! Typical male!,” followed by lots of eye rolling and judging.

Believe what you want. She’s good. Really good. I can’t even really pinpoint what’s so good about it. But I want to. Because I want to capture it, bottle it, drink it and incorporate it into what I do.

But that’s impossible.

Because she is as unique and authentic as they come.

Her writing is good-natured. Hilarious. Filled with gobs of humanity. Excellent storytelling. Adventure. And it has captured the hearts and minds of 17 trillion people after only being in existence for nine hours. (She seriously launched the blog less than three months ago, I think. It’s beyond remarkable.)

Aussa is kind. Smart. Courageous. Loyal. Loving.

I feel like I know her because she lets us in.

She’s immensely talented and entertaining and I can’t not read whatever she posts next.

Blog of the (quarter of a) Year, yo.

2. The Altucher Confidential

I don’t think the rules state that I’m allowed to nominate hugely successful bloggers and published authors outside of WordPress. But I don’t really care. Because James Altucher is the most-important thing to ever happen to my writing.

He helped me find my voice. I read everything he writes. And I’m a better person, and hopefully, a better writer, for doing so.

Subscribing to his posts via email is one of my favorite things I’ve ever done.

No one is more human than James.

I’ll always love him for that.

3. Seth Godin’s Blog

No one is less needing of blog traffic than Seth. He has one of the most-popular blogs in the entire world. He is probably the most-brilliant marketer on the planet today. He writes several posts a day. Sometimes, they’re only a few paragraphs.

This guy sees the world through a prism that I wish I could clone. Because he really knows how to ask the right questions.

Questions that can make us better professionals, but more importantly, better people.

These three brilliant writers wield a lot of power. Aussa, you’ll get there soon enough.

And they wield it for good. All in their own, unique way.

The reason we need to receive gifts is so that we can in turn give to others.

For those of you unfamiliar with these three writers, I’ve given you a gift.

And these writers? They are gifts.

People who give to the world.

Making us laugh.

Making us think.

Making us feel.

To paraphrase Cousin Eddie, they are gifts that keep on giving the whole year.

And you can open these before Christmas.

Thank you, Aussa. Thank you, James. Thank you, Seth.

You make me want to be better in every facet of life.

The perfect gift.

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Nothing is Sound

loud-silence

We were standing in the kitchen, drinking, but not yet buzzed.

There was a small party at our house, but most guests hadn’t yet arrived.

One of my favorite Switchfoot songs was playing.

“Happy is a Yuppie Word.”

Most of the time, I gravitate to music because of how it sounds. But more and more as I’ve aged, I’ve been drawn to music with lyrical meaning.

This song isn’t phenomenal musically. In fact, I don’t particularly like the chorus. But it’s lyrical perfection.

“Happy is a yuppie word? What does that even mean?” asked my buddy’s girlfriend and my wife, when they heard it playing.

They both made fun of the song. Then they made fun of me for liking it.

I didn’t bother defending it. It wasn’t the time or place.

And some people will never understand.

Back when my wife and I were still newlyweds, we were at a NASCAR speedway outside of Chicago. She had attended the Daytona 500 with me a couple times in Florida, but this was her first time at the only other track I’ve ever visited. The place where my motorsports-enthusiast father and many of his friends visit annually for three days of drinking, tailgating, laughing and watching cars drive nearly 200 miles per hour.

I’m not a huge NASCAR fan. But it’s fun to see in person. Mostly, it’s just fun gathering with loved ones and sharing laughs.

My dad looked over at my wife and I, and my stepsister and her husband who are just a couple years older than me.

“Hey there’s a band playing over by the track in a little bit. Switchfoot. You ever heard of them?” he said.

And I had. “Dare you to Move,” was huge. And a great song. I listened to it yesterday actually because that song has never been more relevant to my life than it is right now. There was also a new song “Stars.” It wasn’t amazing, but it got plenty of air time on American rock stations.

My wife and I, along with my stepsister and brother-in-law ventured over to the stage with a cooler full of beer.

I love live music.

Switchfoot, a band I knew very little about, took the stage.

I don’t often digest lyrics the first time I hear music.

But even in my half-drunken state, I knew what I was watching and listening to was something different.

Something meaningful.

Especially when I heard Jon Foreman sing “Happy is a Yuppie Word” for the first time. I’d never heard the song before.

And I’ve never been so moved by something I was hearing for the first time—especially considering I was hearing it during an extraordinarily happy time in my life with a bunch of fun-producing beer in me.

… I’m running down a life that won’t cash out

Happy is a yuppie word
Blessed is the man who’s lost it all
Happy is a yuppie word
word.

Looking for an orphanage
I’m looking for a bridge I can’t burn down
I don’t believe the emptiness
I’m looking for the kingdom coming down
Everything is meaningless
I want more than simple cash can buy
Happy is a yuppie word
Happy is a yuppie word
Happy is a yuppie word
Happy is a yuppie…

And then, surrounded by thousands of people in nearly 90-degree summer temperatures, I got a severe case of goose bumps and chills as Foreman started belting out:

Nothing is sound!
Nothing is sound!
Nothing is sound!
Nothing is sound!
Nothing is sound!
Nothing is sound!
Nothing is sound!

And I’ve been in love with the band ever since. Because they care about what I care about. Whether people get it or not.

Writing Makes Me Happy

I wrote a post titled “Clean Copy” once.

It was a typical Matt spaz-fest because I was feeling REALLY sensitive about all the typos you guys read when you’re reading this stuff via email. Because that initial email records whatever is live when I first hit Publish, with all the mistakes. I almost always find something to correct after hitting that blue button.

Traffic to the blog soared—relatively speaking—once that post was picked up and promoted by WordPress editors in Freshly Pressed.

In fact, about half of you started following this blog after reading that post.

Despite securing the URL mustbethistalltoride.com back when I first launched the blog on June 22, I hadn’t figured out how to point the servers to it because I’m a Grade-A moron when it comes to backend web stuff. But after digging around last week on WordPress and Google, I figured it out.

Despite being an internet marketing professional, I didn’t give much thought to what might happen to blog traffic after making the change.

I assumed—wrongly—that most people reading were those who had been following my story or fellow writers part of this wonderful WordPress blogging community.

But now, traffic is down 70-75 percent since dropping the .wordpress in the URL.

And at the risk of seeming vain and hypersensitive (I am certainly the latter), it has really made me sad. Because the one thing that’s not my five-year-old son that has made me happy in my life as a single adult is this.

This silly little chunk of the Internet. Because it’s mine. Because it’s me.

And people cared. Which surprised me. But I grew to love it. To need it. Because it’s the thing that has made me feel connected during the most-disconnected period of my life. It’s the thing that has made me feel the least alone during the most lonely period of my life. And because it has given me purpose after everything I was living for walked out the door on April Fool’s Day.

I didn’t set out to try and grow an audience. To try to make this into anything more than a misguided attempt at journaling.

But then it sort of became a thing all by itself. Not for everyone, certainly. Not even for a lot of people.

But for some.

People like me. People who hurt. People searching for light. For meaning. For purpose.

And the web helps us find each other.

And then I had purpose again.

To write. For me. But also for those other people. Those people on the same hunt for answers.

People who want to feel.

People who want to live for something more.

And it made me smile. And it made me feel like I mattered a little. And that motivates me to write more.

For the people who care.

But then, BAM. Traffic gets wrecked. Just, poof. Gone.

And it’s literally painful. Because a rare source of happiness is no longer providing it. In fact, it’s making me sad.

But, really? What is happiness?

It’s a Yuppie Word

It was 1991. Bob Dylan turned 50. And Rolling Stone magazine interviewed him about his life.

“Are you happy, Bob?” the interviewer asked.

“You know,” he said, “these are yuppie words—happiness and unhappiness. It’s not happiness or unhappiness. It’s either blessed or unblessed.”

Bob Dylan.

Dropping knowledge.

The lead singer and songwriter for Switchfoot wrote “Happy is a Yuppie Word,” based on that quote by Dylan.

Whenever I have heard Foreman screaming “Nothing is sound!” during my favorite part of this song, I always thought he was saying:

Nothing is okay.

Nothing is safe and sound.

Nothing is alright.

But then I heard the song on my morning commute today.

And it got to the bridge—the part I adore—and Foreman belted: “Nothing is sound! Nothing is sound! Nothing is sound!”

And for the first time in eight years of listening to this song, I questioned whether I was hearing him right.

Maybe he wasn’t saying what I thought he was.

Maybe he’s saying:

Nothing IS sound.

Silence is sound.

Emptiness is something.

Because silence can be loud.

When you’re used to the noise. The buzz. The movement. The life.

And then one day it’s just… gone.

It’s loud. The silence. It’s one of the reasons I listen to so much music now. Even more than I used to.

To replace the deafening silence. To push out negative thoughts. To feel.

Nothing is sound.

Happy doesn’t mean anything. It’s a word we associate with feeling good. A yuppie word, Bob Dylan said. And sadly, feelings are fleeting. They don’t last. It’s why so many people turn to sex and alcohol and drugs. To feel something. Something like happy. It doesn’t satisfy. So we just keep doing those things to prolong the fake happiness. Because it’s better than nothing. Right?

Maybe.

But I want more than fake happy.

I want more than simple cash can buy.

And I want that for you, too.

Which is I why I try to think, feel and pray each day. Chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

But there’s no pot of gold. We’re really just chasing an idea.

And when the weather changes again, there won’t even be a rainbow.

Because the weather always changes. Like feelings.

So maybe we shouldn’t try so hard to chase the pot of gold we know isn’t there anyway.

Maybe we should just slow down and breathe.

And maybe just try to enjoy the rainbow while it’s still here.

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Maybe I’m Dumb

What if the creator of this meme... meant to misspell "paid"?

What if the creator of this meme… meant to misspell “paid”?

I move the mouse to the Publish button and click.

Sometimes, my stomach hurts right then.

It hurt when I published the virginity post. It hurts whenever I admit to crying. It hurt when I told you I’m a liar.

Other times, I think I nailed it.

I liked my underdog post. I liked my Sure, Marriage Sucks; But Does it Have To? post. I liked my post about The Secret.

When I’m in love with a music album, I almost never agree with the singles the artists choose to release.

My favorite movies often don’t jibe with public opinion.

I don’t particularly enjoy Pablo Picasso’s work. But several of his paintings have sold for more than $100 million each.

Freshly Pressed

Yay me?

I don’t know.

A WordPress editor emailed me a couple days ago, notifying me that my Clean Copy post had been chosen as an Editors’ Pick for Freshly Pressed.

I have no idea what kind of traffic that will generate. Maybe a little. Maybe a lot.

But I do know how I feel about that Clean Copy post.

I think it’s a big, fat wanker festival.

I want to tell stories here. I want to explain to you who I am and why. I want to talk about my failings as a husband and father and human being so that others might benefit in some way by avoiding my sins.

I want to make you feel something, when possible. And God-willing, entertain you.

All the while, my neurosis remains. And more and more, I was seeing my mistakes and typos, and realizing that people were seeing them, each time thinking: What a suck-ass writer this guy is!

My old classmates see it and think: That’s why he was a B student!

My friends see it and think: That’s the Matt I know!

And strangers see it and think: What a stupid turd. Why would I read something this clown wrote ever again?

So, I felt the need to defend myself. I thought that maybe by telling you that I write this stuff in about an hour over my lunch period at work all while trying not to let co-workers see what I’m doing for fear of having to disclose my personal writing to them, that you might forgive my mistakes. That you might think I’m not a moron.

But what does any of that matter?

If you’re going to build a car, build one that doesn’t break.

If you’re going to make a sandwich, make it taste good.

If you’re going to write with the intention of sharing it with others? Make sure your shit is buttoned up. Not your shirt. Your shit.

It’s not that hard for me to take a little extra time to make sure you’re not reading stuff my kindergartener could write. (Just kidding. I’m soooo much better at writing than my five-year-old. We have contests and I always win and then I eat his cookies.)

A portion of everything I just typed is true.

First Impressions Matter

Right?

I think they do.

Who am I?

I’m a divorced guy working my shit out. Trying to raise a son. Trying to grow as a human being. Flailing about and being kind of a dork along the way.

Need proof?

Because I let my laundry pile up like an asshole, I didn’t have a lot of my preferred clothes available to wear this morning.

So today, I’m wearing pleated khaki pants and a shirt that’s too large and not cut properly so it blouses out a little at my waist. I look like a total dick.

I don’t really give a shit when I look like a dick at work. I don’t look unprofessional. I just look like I don’t have any fashion sense. Which may or may not be true.

The reason this matters is because a friend of mine really wants me to come to this business networking event after work today.

I have too many chores to do, but the main reason I didn’t want to go is because of my outfit.

For real. Like the time I almost didn’t go out because of that cut on my face.

So you know what I’m going to do?

I’m going to leave work early today. And I’m going to drive to my house. And I’m going to change my outfit before driving downtown for this networking event.

To quote myself: I may have serious issues.

The Real-Time Blogger

As I type, my post went live on Freshly Pressed. They update it on the hour. And they did so at 1 p.m. EST.

UGH.

This is EXACTLY like this bullshit outfit I’m wearing.

I’m really not an asshole everybody! I know how to dress myself! I just don’t respect my co-workers enough to dress nice for them on a regular basis!

I feel like I need to apologize for what is one of my least-favorite posts—and that it kind of misrepresents the types of stories I prefer to tell.

But that raises the question I started with: What if I’m the idiot with bad taste?

What if my high opinion of my opinions is totally unwarranted?

What if everything that looks white is black, and everything that looks black is white?

What if Conspiracy Keanu really isn’t as hilarious as I think it is?

I just picked up a handful of new followers. Within a few paragraphs here. Whoa.

All these new eyeballs and brains. Watching. Judging. Evaluating whether I warrant their precious time.

It’s a new thing to worry about, everyone. A new thing to trigger my neurosis.

You know what, though?

I don’t really think I have bad taste.

I think maybe these WordPress editors just make mistakes like the rest of us. Like when I let typos slip.

They’re only human, after all.

And I understand how debilitating that ailment can be.

If there’s one thing in this world I’m sure of? It’s that I recognize awesomeness when I see it.

It’s the Good Shit.

And this is good shit. This opportunity to connect with more people.

To exchange ideas.

To grow together.

To make this entire brutal exercise worth the effort.

Not the writing.

The living.

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