You’re on your third week of having a sinus infection (you know your mom’s right, you should go to the doctor) and the most soul-crushing and hurtful thing you have to go through is dealing with the last few tissues in a box of Kleenex. You wonder what heartless individual working at Kleenex had the sick idea to wad up the last ten tissues in the box and make it impossible to retrieve just one in a civilized fashion.
“Oh, but just pull one out slowly,” they say. “You know they do that because it’s supposed to let you know that the box is almost empty and it will soon be time to replace it,” they tell you.
But you can’t pull it out slowly when you have a newborn-baby-mustard-poop-like substance Niagara Falls-ing out of your nostrils. You’re ripping those tissues out of the box like your grabbing cash in a fan-flurried money booth. And since you can’t pull it out slowly, in one quick movement you’ve managed to fling the box across the bathroom as you watch the bottom wad of Kleenex descend like white-winged angels upon the back of your toilet seat. You look at the fallen tissues, your nose tingles and your eyes water. You can’t use them. Wait, when was the last time you cleaned the toilet? It wasn’t that long ago. But you did pee recently. You’re aim is decent but the last time you went you sneezed, causing your line to stray from its intended trajectory (if you were standing), or causing increased pressure to create the possibility of too much splashing that you can’t say for certain doesn’t exist (if you were sitting). You can’t use those tissues. They are trash now; wasted opportunities at breathing freely. Try not to cry as you throw them away, it will just make your nose run more.
So now you look down at your hand, and oh look, what’s that you’re holding? One tissue! It’s the one you ripped out of the box so violently. Good for you, you hung on to it. But yeah, that is, in fact, the last one. I guess you are aware now that it’s time for a new box of Kleenex; their plan worked!
You open a new box, if you’re lucky enough to have another, and you realize that the Kleenex packaging engineer did the same thing to the first tissue in the box. If you take your time with it, you’ll be able to pull out the top one without ripping it and cram the rest of the opening wad back into the box at the same time snot uses your philtrum as an irrigation ditch to get to your mouth.
So yeah, it’s time to call the doctor and get that antibiotic.
Product parties. At some point in your life you’ve sat through a demo of Avon, tried on some Color Street nails, wondered how many people fondled the sex toy you held in your hands, tasted a Tastefully Simple cheese dip, stuck different candles to your nose to sniff them and wondered how many people had fondled them before you, or breathed in the fragrant air of a Scentsy wax and were glad you didn’t have to touch anything.
And you hated it. You hated all of it. You hated the cheap crackers and the plastic cheese the host served. You hated the chocolate cake you made and brought to share because you could tell everyone just thought it was fine and you knew they all forgot about it by the next day. You hated the mixing of the smells from all the products. You hated the fact that you could no longer distinguish one smell from one another after sniffing only the first three of the forty. You hated that you had to pretend you had preferences. You hated the people there for saying that they liked one scent more than another even though you knew they, too, could not distinguish the smells. You hated the host who invited you. You hated the product.
But you bought some anyway. You spent money on an item you were certain was overpriced, an item you never even dreamed you’d purchase in all of your life. You bought those candles that sit unburned in a drawer somewhere in your house; those containers that have only ever contained the air they were packaged with; that sex toy that has never left the trunk of your car, because at the time you bought it you weren’t aware that it came with a free bonus order of shame and embarrassment.
Even after making your guilty and regrettable purchases, and knowing that you hated the whole product party experience, you went to another. And another. Heck, you might have even hosted one of your own.
And don’t tell me you haven’t done this. You have. You do it at least once a year. Your parties are called many things: Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, or simply “The Holidays.” Jeff Bezos is the host and he kindly invites everyone, including you.
It’s a new shower curtain from Amazon* today, because you know you’re not cleaning that thing before people come over, and a turkey from Whole Foods tomorrow. It’s an unnecessary purchase of a Nespresso machine only because it was on sale. Forty-two percent off is a good deal, I won’t argue with that, mathematically speaking. It all happens so fast while you stand around uncomfortably in your dress-up close, holding in your farts. It’s just like that Pampered Chef party you went to years ago. You know, the one where Janice shot you that disapproving look after you took the last helping of the only edible dip they let you try. Only this time it’s not Janice. This time it’s Aunt Betty because the girlfriend you brought this year gave her opinion about the green bean casserole, simply saying it was “fine.”
You don’t want to be at these Bezos product parties either. You’d rather be home in your comfy clothes while your uncontrollable children climb on you and add stains to your sweatpants that are slowly becoming their abstract artwork. Instead, you’re at the Holiday Product Party and your children do the same, except now it’s to your nice sweater, you know, the one you bought specifically for these kinds of product parties, and now your kids’ filthy hands are ruining it. And it’s so hot. You wish you could take it off, but you can’t, that is even if you can get your kids off of you first.
You’ll tough it out though. What else can you do? You’ve spent so much time making regrettable and guilty purchases in the days and weeks leading up to the party that you can’t go home yet. You have to stay for the dessert you made. You know, the green Jell-O salad that will make you sick to your stomach as you watch everyone around you force it down because they’re so full of food but you brought it and they have to at least try it, only if it’s just a little bit. “Oh no, a little less than that, please. Oh, well, that’s okay, I’ll share it with Bill.” Yikes, now Bill has been roped into eating some. Doesn’t Bill have diabetes?
You’ll certainly look forward to the silent and dark days of January and you’ll be glad when it’s all over. But you’ll do it all again the next time there’s a product party. Whether it’s because of some innate guilt or a desire to punish yourself, you’ll be back next year with the same sweater, the same gift cards, and the same green Jell-O salad. You know it’s all a scam and you are aware that the only people that truly benefit are the hosts like Jeff Bezos. But next year he’ll figure out a way to sell you that new Roomba you missed this time around.
*Disclaimer: I do understand the dichotomy I have presented between this post and the fact that I will be self-publishing my first book using Amazon’s services real soon, so there’s no need to call me out on that. Instead, stay tuned for more posts with hyperlinks to products on Amazon and be sure to use them to buy the book for your next holiday product party!
If you write and have a Twitter account (I know that my one reader–hi, mom!–does not have a Twitter account so I have to briefly explain), you’ve probably seen tweets by others in the writing community like “post a gif (or picture) of your ideal writing space.” I’ll save my writer-gif criticism for a different blog post, but the comments of those tweets are usually filled with gifs and pictures of impossibly perfect cafes and beautiful landscapes that are similar to the one below.
That’s Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, for those of you who skipped the picture caption. It’s beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. Stunning. Inspiring. A description using all of those words and their thesaurus results couldn’t do the view justice. But is it my ideal place to write? Heck no. If you look at that picture and think, “Wow, I gotta get a pen and a notebook out there and create a story,” then you’re not being honest with yourself.
It took a 1.8 mile hike up a mountain to an elevation of 10,110 feet (I googled that) to get that view. And I was with my family, i.e. my wife, our two daughters (ages 6 and 3), my parents (hi again, mom!), and my brother and his wife. The air was thin; it was hard to breathe. I was exhausted, a little dizzy, and probably not thinking straight. I loved the view and the hike was worth it. But there was no way I was stopping to say to the rest of my group, “Do you all mind waiting for me to sit on this hard rock so I can selfishly write a piece of flash fiction that I’ll eventually scrap because I’m just really inspired from this view right now? Oh, I know I’m just going to be staring at a blank page for the next 30 minutes instead of the view of the mountains directly in front of me but this is something I really need to do. Also, that lake water is as cold as the Rockies because, of course, this is the Rockies, so do your best to keep my kids from going in the lake, because that’s what they will naturally want to do, without any help from me for I will be gasping for air on this uncomfortable boulder, trying to write something while constantly being interrupted by my body’s natural reflex to swat at mosquitoes. Okay? Thanks.”
No, my ideal writing space is a terrible, but safe, place. It’s my desk at work at lunch time. A place surrounded by windowless walls and the absence of any motivating decor. It’s a dark, uninspiring basement. It’s somewhere my internal voice screams, “Oh my gosh, this place is awful and/or boring. You have to get out of here. But you can’t right now because you are working or you’re stuck at home while your kids are in bed. You’ve got to think of something creative; you’ve got to pretend you’re not here; you’ve got to get lost in another world.”
The picture below is also not an ideal place to work on a manuscript. It’s an ideal place to have a coffee or drink some water or a beer or whatever liquid you prefer. It’s a place to take in the beauty of the natural surrounding and listen to the water as it flows through rocks down the mountainside while you contemplate your insignificance with the world. A place like the one below is a spot to think about how you are here in this world, how you don’t really matter in the big scheme of the universe but at the same time you do matter because you get to be at that spot, you get to be here on this planet and you get to have this life and move through these experiences. Keep the pen and notebook in your backpack and let your body, mind, and being soak it all in while you can.
So now that I’m back home and riding the same boring routine again (instead of a horse), it’s time to get back to work and escape my surroundings with some creative thought and writing. And I’m not going to show you my ideal writing place in pictures and gifs. Rather, I’ll show you pictures from my awesome trip to Rocky Mountain National Park so you feel jealous and angry that you didn’t get to see the fantastic views that I saw. Then perhaps you’ll use that jealousy and anger to inspire you to write your way out of those feelings. Then you’ll send me what you wrote to share it and thank me for giving you the inspiration to put an impressive piece of work together. You’re welcome.
Starting a blog can be daunting. I know this to be true because I just started one. As a new blogger, one thing I tend to do is check other blogs and websites for inspiration on what I could post. There are so many longstanding, reputable blogs out there with excellent advice and posts about blog topic suggestions. Most of them have even been written in list form to make reading easy and fun. So I figured, why not use that as inspiration and give it a try! I present to you, ten blog post ideas you should be blogging:
Share photos from your recent travels.
Did you travel somewhere recently? I bet it was nice. Show everyone a picture. Tell them how crisp the mountain air was and how the smell of pine trees reminded you of Christmastime even though it was August. And of course the weather was a perfect sunny day in the high 60s, right? Your readers want to see this stuff. It’s a good break for them from staring at a blank page trying to write and create their own work. They’ll appreciate knowing that someone else went outside and took in some fresh air for a change. If you haven’t traveled anywhere recently, simply Google Image Search “mountains” and look for a photo that doesn’t have copyright protection. Post and make things up about it. Don’t worry, you won’t have enough readers to call you out on stealing a photo. And if you ever do, you make sure to stick with telling them that you were the original taker of that photo. Practice saying, “Well, yeah, of course I knew those were mountains in Nepal because I took that photo when I was in Nepal.” You don’t want to clam up if that problem ever presents itself.
Share your political views in the most controversial way possible. This is great because it finds your readers and builds a base fast. And don’t worry about offending anyone. Keep in mind, if you’ve turned someone away from your writing, they’re the problem, not you. And you didn’t want them reading your words anyway. You’ve got a better fan base for it, and now it’s only filled with people who agree with you that the existence of animals is purely for human consumption and how extinction is just nature’s way of running out of something on the menu. You’ve found your niche and you’re looking good. Please your crowd. Stick to your convictions and make no apologies!
Post a picture of your food and share just how amazing it was with everyone.
Food is amazing. You can have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! People love food. Show people what you just ate and tell them about it. “That curried cauliflower wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be. Boy, that fennel sure did taste good on the zucchini. And the meatballs! Oh, I wish I would have had enough to share before I ate it all.”
Tell your readers about a dream you had. Everyone will love reading about your dreams. Oh, especially the one about how Ian McShane tricked you into staying at the restaurant after it closed by purposely screwing up your bill because he knew you would complain about it. Then you both grew wings and turned into giants and flew all over the lake with the Las Vegas skyline in the background. You then battled each other to the death but you’re not sure who won because you woke up. This type of post works well if your blog is still a baby. Readers can expect, or at least hope, that any other future post you publish makes more sense than that one about your dream.
My [insert body part here] smells like [insert smell here] after I [insert action here]. This is an excellent one for beginning writers for two reasons. One, it gives you some practice at working within the beautiful and strange realm of similes and metaphors. For example, a simile would go something like this: “My feet smell like Doritos after I pick up cheese with my toes and feed it to my puppy.” That can even be followed up with a metaphor, like this: “I like when my puppy licks my Dorito feet clean.” The second reason for this kind of post being good for beginners is that it introduces you to your readers in a fun and unique way. Readers want to know about your hobbies so they can judge you better.
Tell your readers about your pet. Just like food, people love pets, but for different reasons (you may pet your food but don’t eat your pets, please). And just like your dreams, people love hearing about your pets. Of course they want to know about your puppy and how he ever-so-gently removes cheese from between your toes with his cute puppy teeth. Oh how it tickles! Post a picture of that crazy nonsense, sicko. Your readers will eat it up. No, not your feet cheese. I just mean that your readers will enjoy the post about your pet.
Who is your favorite character from the 1982 cult classic, The Beastmaster, and why? Spoiler alert: it’s the ferrets because they’re so stinkin’ cute! They’re cuter than your puppy, even.
Give up and post a bunch of gifs. People overuse and abuse gifs. You know how you’re annoyed when people say “Yeah, baby” in that Austin Powers accent or repeat decades-old quotes from Jim Carrey movies? Well, those are the audible versions of gifs. But people love gifs. So make sure to use them often.
And if none of those ideas that I’ve listed inspire you, post a Top 10 list of something helpful and informative! But double check your list to make sure you included all ten suggestions. I mean, how embarrassing would it be if you don’t have the right amount of things listed, am I right?
This is the official Author Page of Baxter B. Bramatti created by Baxter B. Bramatti. Baxter B. Bramatti’s creative writing spans across, and mixes, many genres. Wait, I’m Baxter B. Bramatti. Why am I referring to myself in 3rd person narrative? No one else but me would make an author page about me. I have to stop looking at other people’s author pages and taking their format without thinking about it. Let’s try this again…
This is my official author page that I created to finally get a piece of internet real estate and settle down. Now I can welcome visitors, show off this beautiful purple orchid I’ve been taking care of, and promote my work. But most importantly, it’s another special space where I can interact with you!
As for me, I’m a (about to be) self-published writer, dabbling in and mixing many genres. The good thing about self-publishing is that you can cross platforms, you can write what you want to write, you can write for you or for your grandma or for your dog or for those ants that somehow keep finding a way to get into your kitchen and climb into the bowl of blueberries that you leave out on the counter. I mean, sure, you could put it in the fridge but for some reason you like your blueberries at room temperature even though that’s not even the point anymore. You just want to win the battle of the blueberries between you and the ants because you bought those blueberries for crying out loud. You are the one that went to the store and picked them out, checking them for any signs of mold and judging them on their freshness. Then you paid for them with your hard earned money. It surely wasn’t those sneaky, thieving ants that did all of that! I can destroy you in hundreds of different ways within my stories, ants. Don’t think that I won’t.
I live in Michigan with my beautiful and lovely wife, two fantastic-mean-the-world-to-me daughters, and a dog that is more like a piece of furniture that is also a trip hazard than a dog.
Welcome to my Author Page. I’m so glad you made it. Come on in. There’s not much happening around here yet because I just moved into this place. Give me a chance to unpack some of these boxes over here and I’m sure I’ll find something exciting for you soon. Oh, please don’t touch them. I have them stacked carefully and I don’t want…Hey! No peeking either! I gotta get organized first. No, I’m not mad at you. I could never be mad at you. Why, my heart would turn into peanut brittle and crack into a million pieces before I was mad at you. No, I don’t have any peanut brittle. I think there’s some leftover pizza and a bottle of most-likely-expired-mustard in the fridge, though, if you’re hungry. No, I’m not suggesting you put mustard on the pizza. You can if you want. I’m just letting you know what’s available if you’re hungry. Yes, I’m aware that sounds disgusting. Well, do you know of any other author page that offers food? Stephen King’s page gave you tacos? Well, go on over to Stephen King’s page then. No, I’m not mad at you. I already told you that I could never be mad at you, remember? I’m just saying, why not go on over to Stephen King’s page if you’re hungry, grab some tacos, and then head back here and we’ll hang out some more? And bring me some Stephen-King-author-page tacos, won’t you? We’ll both feel better with some food in our bellies. But please, do come back. I’m hopeful there will be some cool stuff going on around here once I start getting some of these boxes unpacked. Also, I’m hungry and I’m looking forward to those tacos. I’d probably get sick if I squirt some old mustard on that leftover pizza I have in the fridge. Then it’d just take me longer to get to these boxes. It’s hard to unpack when you’re tethered to a toilet or stuck at urgent care. Alright, tacos first and then it’s time to get to work.
See you soon! Oh, and make sure to get extra guac. And something to drink, too. Or else we will be washing down those tacos with that old mustard. I don’t think WordPress has turned on my water yet.