My Award-Winning Blog

Can one blog about blogging or is that too meta?  Of course, I already did once, but that was my first time and I was trying to be all introductory and everything.  But since then (and it has been sooooo long, after all) I’ve avoided the self-referential look back.  Actually, that’s not true at all given that I’ve written about nothing but myself at some level but writing about writing is fraught with danger.

I tried to write an article for a journalism class in my sophomore year at Boston University.  I had recently done a local version of riding the rails in that I bought a T pass and made it from one end to the other of each of the four subway lines in Boston.  At the end of one branch of the Green Line is apparently where trolleys (why is it not trollies?) go to die.  These dead train cars, some of which were really quite old, fascinated me.  I decided I was going to write about them.

Not surprisingly, the administration at the MBTA didn’t really want to waste much time talking to a student.  It didn’t help much that the student simply presented himself at their front desk and expected to have an interview subject ready and raring to go.  I spent one whole day on this project before I declared that this was a helpless bureaucracy and wrote about trying to get an interview instead.

My story had only the quotes of the front desk people I encountered on my six hours of “effort” and lacked decidedly in substance.  I was, nonetheless, sure that I had created something wonderful right down to the title (“Bureaucracy To A T” and I put the little circle around the T like the logo:  get it?).  I had these visions of this wonderful piece being picked up by a real paper and all those people I spoke with ruing the day they blew me off.  Shockingly, this wasn’t how it turned out.

My professor rightly called me on what I had done: took the easy way out.  Rather than trying harder to write the story I wanted or, failing that, finding a new story, I wrote a story about trying to write a story.  That, my friends, is boring.  It was lazy and it was a cop-out.

With that in the back of my mind, here I am again about to do the same.  This time though, Mr. Professor guy whoever you were, I have some solid reasoning behind the decision:

  1. I have been truly honored by the number of people who have said such nice things to me about the blog.  People from the various worlds I move about in (though there aren’t really that many at present) have weighed in with some very solid positive reinforcement.  This has also been a bit strange knowing that some people I don’t know really well (and others I don’t know at all) have learned some very personal details about my life.  That, I suppose, comes with the territory.
  2. This blog has made me keep to some sort of a schedule.  I started out posting every third day and then moved to Mondays and Thursdays when I realized no one reads on the weekend.  I haven’t missed my self-imposed deadline yet and this has proven surprisingly important to me.  Having never really been in this unemployed position before, I can now see how easy it would be to just let one day blend into the next.  Having a goal is, as it turns out important.
  3. Finally, as this is the real impetus, I was given an assignment.  That has been in even rarer supply these days.  Even my dear wife, who was surely hoping I would have done some more work around the house in the past five weeks or so, has mostly refrained from giving me out and out tasks to do.  She is more patient than I.

So, if not Amy, who has assigned me this task?  That honor falls to dear college friend Larisa Myles Spillman.

Larisa is one of those magical people who Facebook brought back into my life and for which I am grateful.  Fact of the matter is that I haven’t seen or, for that matter, even spoken to Larisa in a decade.  Last we saw each other was either at her wedding or mine.  I don’t recall who got married first; I’m almost completely sure it was she by a few years.  Larisa moved to Chicago straight out of school and I haven’t left Boston yet.  We managed to stay in touch in the world before social networking for a little while but, as happens, that eventually petered out.

Once Facebook came along, these connections started getting made again like a hundred little washed out bridges being rebuilt.  By the time we were in touch again, Larisa had managed to add a few kids to her family, as had I.  I’ve enjoyed her little updates, photos, flotsam, and jetsam along the way and she apparently mine.  We would occasionally promise to actually get on the phone, but this plan has yet to be realized.

Larisa and her family recently pulled up stakes; she left her successful PR career and shipped from Chicago to her home state of North Carolina.  When she did this, she also started a blog and it is a terrific one.

Point of fact, I personally feel that it is Laverne & Shirley to my Happy Days.  It’s not a perfect analogy in that hers came first and, of course, neither of us has anything really approximating the Fonz.  I would say she is Laverne & Shirley and I’m Joanie Loves Chachi but, really, who wants to be Joanie Loves Chachi?

I’m Scott Baio in this scenario

Okay, let’s forget the analogy, let’s just look at the reality.  We’re both people that spent every day from the day we graduated Boston University working in our communications careers while simultaneously getting married and starting families.  Now, we’re at home and coming to terms with all that it means.  Of course, she got there by choice, me not so much.  Of course, I still live in the same house, she up and moved from bustling Chicago to the more serene and, perhaps, ruralish North Carolina.

We’re writing about a lot of the same stuff but I have fewer chickens.  We are, I believe, kindred blog spirits.  I read about her toddler napping in his high chair while one of mine did the same.  We both felt mildly guilty about it but not so much to move them.

As for how this was an assignment, well, there was a reward involved as well.  Excuse me a moment while I dig up the specifics.


While I find this, take a moment to think about this question:  how many people really thought they were going to get rich collecting Beanie Babies?  Where are all those stupid stuffed bean bags now?


Here it is!

So how it apparently works, and excuse me if I get this wrong but I am a new blogger, a blogger friend/fan of hers highlighted her site,, as one of her favorites.  This friend/fan blogger had had her own site similarly highlighted previously.  It is, in short, like a game of tag or the blogger equivalent of a chain letter.  The name of the game (or award, as it is) is The Liebster.  Here’s the description of that:

“Liebster” is a German word meaning dearest and the award is given to up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers, Awww…feel the love people, feel the love!

This is how it works:

Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.

Reveal your Top 5 blogs (with under 200 followers) and let them know by leaving comments on their blogs

Post the award on your blog.

Enjoy the love of some of the most supportive people in the internet.

I like almost everything about this idea except:

  1. It should read “the award is given to…bloggers with FEWER than 200 followers” not LESS.  I am driven insane by people who don’t know the difference between less and fewer.  To be clear, Larisa cut-and-pasted.  I’m sure she knows the difference and simply doesn’t feel the need to prove as much by writing about it.  I’m wicked smart and want everyone to know it.  More than that, I want people to use fewer when they mean fewer.  If you don’t know the difference, feel free to ask.  I will explain it to you in detail using fish and water as examples.
  2. I will not be selecting five blogs to give the award myself.

The reason for (B) is simply that I am still new to this blogging thing, both from the writing and reading aspect.  The blogs I have read and enjoyed have huge followings and certainly don’t need my help.  I’m pretty sure will do okay without my gracing a Liebster on her.

That said I love that TheFourFather got the honor and an honor it is.  I have, I think, 12 followers so I certainly qualify on the numbers game.  I hope to have fifteen by the end of the year because I love things to be in multiples of five whenever possible.

But in the interest of, at least, trying to live up to the spirit of the award, I will now give you a list of every blog produced by anyone I know personally (that I can think of):

1.  The Momma Hen, we covered this one.

2.  Eat Boutique, college friend Maggie Battista’s self-described blog and market for food enthusiasts

3.  The Fizz Bizz, Parke Fisler (real name) is an ad guy and this is his thing.

4.  Danielle Murr claimed to have a blog but I can’t find one

5.  California And Back, my brother Ted briefly wrote a blog when he did a cross country round trip.  He hasn’t posted since July of 2010 when his last words were: “I’ll report back to you, gentle reader, one final time.”  Promises, promises.

6.  Red Shutters, another college friend, Kimberly Hensle Lowrance.  It’s a “mommy blog” and more.

7.  Sea Nation TV, I have a lot of college friends.  Megan McCormick took off, with her family, on a sailboat (or a series of them.)  They filmed it and wrote about it.  She’d probably give you a better description than me.

8.  Keep Talking, former co-worker Neil Hedley’s blog.  He’s also apparently writing two books at once.  Be warned, though, he’s a Canadian, so I can’t really vouch for him.

9. An American Girl’s Adventures In Denmark, Ruby Thaler, another former co-worker.  She’s getting married and moving to Denmark in a year or so, but don’t tell her new boss.

10.  Swayspace, my cousin Willy Schwenzfeier is an awesome designer and much, much smarter than I am.

11. Love And Victory, his wife Megan Moorhouse is also much smarter, and infinitely cooler, than I could hope to be.

12. The Dating Adventures of Withers Larue, someone who wishes to remain anonymous but both wanted her blog included while simultaneously telling me she couldn’t make it through this post because it was, in her words, “too boring.”

13.  Pilot, Sweet Lou Venezia is a guy I first met in junior high school and he, later, gave an extremely memorable toast at my wedding.  His actually isn’t a blog, but he deserves your attention anyway.  I don’t know whether he’s read me or not but I know that if he likes what I write, then it’s good.  He’s the best writer I know personally.

If you got a blog and I know you but forsook (great word!) you, please feel free to let me know and I’ll happily add you to the list.  Unless, of course (and this is a real possibility), you don’t want to be associated with me.

In the end, there are many things I am learning about staying at home during the day when most other people go somewhere and talk to adults about adult things.  There some of these things that even surprise me.

For instance, when I talk about my unemployed state, I frequently joke that I have been sitting on my couch for five weeks.  In actuality, I have spent the vast majority of the time sitting at my little desk in the living room.  Very little time has been spent on said couch despite the fact that it is literally right in front of me.  I do have a very nice desk chair (!) so that’s worth something.

So clean. So organized.

Any time I spend doing anything like just watching television trigger some big time guilt feelings that I’m not actively looking for work (the TV is on almost all the time, but the same was true when I had an actual office.  I have college degree in television for goodness sake, how can it not be on?)  I know it isn’t actually possible, or even healthy, to ALWAYS be looking, e-mailing, LinkedIn-ing, but if I’m at the desk, then at least I can feel like I’m being productive.  Nothing productive happens on a couch.  (Reproductive, perhaps, but not productive.)

I haven’t gotten out of the house nearly as much as I thought I would and have accomplished only about 1% of the chores I assigned myself back when I learned I was being designated for assignment.  I think this mostly goes to the last point but also because many trips out frequently end with me wandering aimlessly about the north shore either looking at houses I will never be able to afford or realizing everyone else is working while I’m not.

And, lastly, I have started blogging and I enjoy it.  That others do as well is gratifying, in fact, very much so.  This Liebster Award is supposed to connect me with, as they put it, “some of the most supportive people on the internet.”  Thank you very much but, as far as I am concerned, that has already happened.


14 thoughts on “My Award-Winning Blog

  1. I love that you introduced me to Maggie on FB, and thus, EatBoutique.

    I do not love that you left Ruby’s blog off the list. Ass.

  2. Marshall, I really appreciate you mentioning my little blog. I’m really enjoying yours, by the way. You’ve always been a great writer, and your blog is a terrific way for people to appreciate your skill. Keep writing!

  3. Very well done, Marshall. I think you proved to that “professor” that it can be done. Also, I love your metaphoric description of Facebook…may just have to steal it and post it there.

  4. Pingback: My Top Ten List Of Worry « The Four Father

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