Tag Archives: blogging

Cookie lookers

When I was a teenage girl in the 1980s, teachers, local news producers and general do-gooders were keen on showing my kind what a woman entrepreneur looked like. I remember at least two times when I was pulled into an assembly hall of some sort where someone brought Cheryl Krueger before us. I remember her feathery blond hair and red blazer with power-lady shoulder pads as she would grip the podium with one hand, big index cards in the other and tell us what it was like to be the woman who turned her grandma’s cookie recipes into wildly expanding financial success.

One of my dearest high school friends had a part-time job at a Cheryl’s Cookies the summer that my brother and I had a car accident and his hand was badly injured. He was waylaid on our couch for weeks. She stopped by nearly every night with new video rentals and however many cookies destined for the garbage bin that she could rescue. She was one of the champions of my universe that summer, and the cookies added to that comfort.

Cheryl sold the company this year, so it was interesting to be invited to an event last week to see what this Columbus institution looks like under new management. Witnessing mountains of cookie dough move along conveyor belts and frosting machines splurting out buttercream elicited oohs and aahs and squeals of “how Willy Wonka!” And it was. There are clearly nice people working there who care about cookies and frosting and how things taste. They taught us how to do some cookie decorating, which I have never done before in my life, so that was actually kind of fun, as it was just to be among some of my fellow bloggers.

Thankfully, the lunch they served us was healthy and light, because we all went home with more wrapped cookies and brownies as well as more cookies and brownies with frosting for decorating than we could possibly eat. When I got home, my son and I squirted a bunch of frosting on the ones they gave us for decorating, then sent them off to be enjoyed at an AA meeting. My friend Rachel won a year’s supply.

I’ve usually gone to such events as a reporter, so I’m well acquainted with many of the ways that companies vie for attention. The position of a blogger – especially a mother who blogs – is decidedly different. I’ve never been to BlogHer and experienced the notorious swag insanity, so this was new for me. There’s an air about this kind of event that makes you feel like Tuffy Ryan’s mom in “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio” or a contestant on the before-my-time TV show Queen for a Day… like this is another strange chapter in American history when corporations and moms are at the roller skating party together again, trying to figure out who should be asking who to hold hands on the moonlight skate.

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The Great Interview Experiment

Neil of Citizen of the Month has created the ultimate mixer for bloggers. By dropping a line into the busy comment section of his blog, dozens of us made a promise to interview one person and be interviewed by another, whoever that person may be.

I got some surprising and fun questions from the completely divine Princess of the Universe, whose diaries reflective and funny and worth your time to visit.

Meanwhile, I explored the archives and links over at wenchwire in order to learn all that I could about dk, or wench. She puts out her perspectives in short missives, digestible rants and extremely cool pictures of spaghetti squash jack-o-lanterns. An inspiring woman, fellow communicator and seeker, here are the words she gave me. Enjoy.

Q: Going through your archives, I find that you started your blog in 2006 as “a real-ease from my corporate tongue in cheek,” “a work in progress” and “a rant forest,” among other things. In these 3 years, has blogging served the purpose you expected it to? How has it surprised you?

A: You know I don’t think I have ever revisited my reasons for blogging. Definitely it is a real-ease from my workaday paradigm which is quite static, formal and not creative at all. I can generally let my hair down and my fingers dance along the keys without too much worry. After going back and taking a look there doesn’t appear to be as much ranting as I thought there would be, but that is also influenced by the fact that some coworkers and family members have since happened along. I try and stick to the anonymous and the “powers that be” in those particular cases.

I’m not really happy about my recent bloglessness – a lot of chaff there. Lots of twisty turny happenings in the nondigital life have been taking up my time. It surprises me that I feel guilty about that.

Q: You talk about recasting the word “wench” in a positive light. What is the mental image that you wish people would conjure when they heard it?

A: Wench is never a single image. It is an understanding that an independent woman is and can be many things at many different times. It’s like a superfast slide show that ends with the current evocation of that woman at that time. Never less than a man, subject to her own honour code, capable of looking after herself while still enjoying the sharing of life through relationships.

Q; I gather that you make at least part of your living writing (as I do). What are some of the other ways (apart from blogging) that you’ve tried to break away from the conventions of your work?

A: I do some journaling off line with old fashioned paper and pen. It’s a different flow and a fair bit more personal than what’s available for public consumption. I’ve been working on some poetry and some character ideas for a novella perhaps. It will probably end up being a few short stories. I’ve been expanding my foundation of literature lately as well, new authours and subject matter, We are all works in progress.

Q: Is there a relationship between writing and wellness/spirituality for you?

A: Writing is a means to speak to myself, helps tap me on the shoulder when I’m slipping off my path. Often it’s when I proof what I’ve written that I realize there are things bothering me that I’m not consciously aware of – or that I am once again purposefully deluding myself about. So yes, it definitely assists in balancing my mental health at the very least;)

Q: What should people who have never been to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan know about Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan?

A: Moose Jaw: Has a wonderful mineral spa – and underground tunnels dating back from Prohibition and the days of Al Capone. A fair chunk of the proscribed hooch was shipped from Canada. Once the tunnels were found, they gussied ’em up all purty like and additions continue, and made a wonderful little tour out of it all. A nice way to spend an afternoon.

Q: What else should we know about wench?

A: As for more about me – I’m 48 yet always 8 years old with the wonder an 8 year old has for all things new and the curiosity to enjoy change. And I am ecstatic about my 1st out of country vacation ever – Jamaica in January. Whoo hoo!

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Declan is upstairs, singing along to an extended disco remix of Donna Summer’s “I Will Live for Love” that someone has set to a video parade of stellar objects on YouTube. It’s the sweetest thing, hearing him croon those words in his creaky little falsetto, declaring his affection for love, especially the love of pulsars and nebulas and globular clusters.

I’ve just finished a proposal for a copywriting gig because it’s really about time for me to do more copywriting gigs. A few people have written me some truly lovely recommendations on LinkedIn which has forced a little perspective for me about what I know how to do versus what I actually do. Times are weird, but I’ve had some interest in my work that’s surprised me, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that at least some of it pans out. I also need to return some favors.

And I’m still recovering from a weekend trip up to my brother’s farm. It was overwhelmingly lovely, especially watching Dec connect with his cousins so deeply, spending so much time with them unsupervised. All three of his cousins seemed happy to turn their family room into every planet in the solar system to help propel him into hours and hours of play. Legos became the international space station, the television stayed tuned to the NASA channel and everyone was sucked into a black hole. They put a chair in front of the door and told the adults to keep out, so we did.

I’m thinking about this blog, about treating my professional web site more like a blog because as I unearth family photos at my mother’s house, I’ve also unearthed several printed pieces of mine that she and my grandparents clipped from newspapers and magazines and tucked into folders for posterity. I’m reminded of the kinds of stories I’ve done, some adventures I’ve had and the context of the media industry at that time. Here I mostly write about motherhood with dashes of sprituality and politics and self-help, but I’m dealing with some issues that I feel too vulnerable to process in this space, so I’m working on essays instead.

I’m mad at the “Blue Dogs” about health care reform.

Every week, I find that I enjoy running a little more.

I’m resentful of marketing-driven editorial policies to the degree that writing straight-up marketing materials is beginning to feel more honest.

I feel invisible on the Internet lately, maybe just in the wake of BlogHer, where so many people clearly make their connections real. I’m feeling left out because I didn’t get to go, but kind of annoyed by the lack of gravity in the subsequent discussions about swag and stuff. Everyone is so quiet and lurky, although my friend Linda very kindly recommended this blog last week. (She writes about the ins and outs of and rhymes and reasons for publishing a children’s book at her blog, so check it out.)

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There are a couple of things that I’ve been meaning to mention.

First, Dawn let me know a while back that a book called Mothering and Blogging: The Radical Act of the Mommyblog quoted this blog in its introduction. (Dawn contributed a chapter to the book.) They used a couple of lines from the end of this post, which I wrote as I was beginning to discover the wealth of blogging moms online. Being a small part of the activist and academic discourse about this kind of writing is no small validation for me. Like so many other mom bloggers I read, I’ve thought about shutting this place down in recent months and creating something else… maybe something more anonymous where I can let it all hang out, or something more commercial. For now, I feel there are still possibilities here, as long as I keep myself from getting mired in feelings of obligation.

Second, speaking of other ventures, I have been putting some new energy into my Auction Chronicles experiment. I originally opened it because I wanted to experiment with manipulating templates and managing content in WordPress. And because many, many moons ago, in my early career as an alternative weekly staff member, I was one of the writers of a weekly crime blotter of the weird called The Naked City and I wanted to take a stab at writing potentially funny armchair anthropological stuff again. Not to mention a little pop culture stuff, because I have a kabillion clips of that order, but I’ve been in the education and fine arts corner for a while.

Third, I need work. My husband needs work. None of our projects are quite where they should be time-wise, a couple of my spring gigs have yet to actually pay me (which has me thinking that they might not, in fact, pay me), and things are, frankly, kind of scary. I am bursting with some ideas and while I’ve had more than a few middle of the night panics, I am hopeful. I know how to do lots of stuff online. Even, like, editing photos and cross-testing them for different gamma settings because I am more of a geek than you will ever know.


P.S. I am approaching my 500 post milestone. Any ideas about how to observe it?

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I watched the news move in waves through Twitter and blog feeds last night and this morning, that this spirited little girl with wide, silent movie star eyes didn’t make it through yesterday. And with every word of condolence, every prayer, every request for a donation in her name, I can’t escape the feeling that nothing can possibly be enough.

Rest in peace Madeline Alice Spohr. Although, like so many of us, connected through cyberspace, I only knew you in pixels as a visitor of your mother’s blog, your short life was clearly celebrated tenderly, daily by your loving family.

The family is asking for donations to the March of Dimes in her name. There is also a Paypal account set up for the family for any further expenses. Visit here to find out more.

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I’m stuck

Tangled up in pillows and blankets, I think “I’m stuck” was the first sentence my son ever uttered.

I’m feeling that way lately with this blog. I’m editing posts in my mind to the point that when I’ve opened the browser and started to write, they’ve been whittled to a sentence. When that’s all I’ve got, I tweet instead. Other posts are unprocessed, deemed too long or too personal before I’ve even typed the first letter.

I’m going to try to kick myself back into shape with a little NaBloPoMo.

This month’s theme is “Giving up.” Hopefully, I’ll be able to give up my internal editor and get myself writing again.

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No justice, no peach

An artist friend of ours sent out an email saying that he had taken down the handmade “Impeach Bush” sign from his front porch, and replaced it with a new one that says, simply: “PEACH!”

I think that’s the right disposition for this time. In between every cataclysmic financial headline I read, there is another about the way our country will change in January that fills me with hope and relief. Today I see plans for the closing of Guantanamo being made. What wrongs will we begin to right tomorrow? And what will we begin to aim for that is about building anew, not just fixing broken things?

I am honored to be among those included in the October Just Posts today. In a time of real change, the nurturing of these ideas becomes more important than ever. Go on over and click on a few of the inspiring posts. You won’t regret it.

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A story experiment

I’m one of those people who has an emotional attachment to nearly everything in my house. I have inherited a lot of items once held by grandparents or great-grandparents, kept physical reminders of my own childhood and saved many reminders of moments during and before my marriage, of other people who have passed, of times and travels I want to remember. Much of my house is a map of myself and my family, filled with landmarks.

This makes me pretty annoying to live with, because there are things that look like garbage to my husband, which are decidedly not garbage to me. He’s failed me more than once on this count – and some piece of my history has rumbled off to the landfills.

It also makes me not a very good Buddhist, since it doesn’t exactly help me accept impermanence.

But I do find that there are a lot of objects out there with an interesting story. So, I’m examining some of the items people have put up for auction that have little material value, but rich stories behind them at auctionchronicles.com, a sort of blotter of items that are for sale with an unusual narrative. I’m not looking for things that necessarily have a bizarre element, so much as a personal story behind them. So if you have a couple of minutes, give the site a visit and let me know what you think.

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Great Google-y moogly: An alternative “about me”

So, she recommended that whether we’re headed for BlogHer or not, women bloggers consider introducing themselves to the wider community by posting about the perverse-sounding act of Googling ourselves.

This isn’t, by any means, my first time at this. As a freelance writer, it’s something you do semi-regularly to find out who might be republishing your work without permission. The biggest offenders are music fan sites, and sometimes the musician’s site itself, although it’s hard to be offended when someone has taken the trouble to translate your review of Cher’s farewell tour into Spanish. And it’s a little confusing when Josh Groban fans reproduce your concert review and flank it with little flashing tulips, in spite of the fact that you refer to their vanilla heartthrob as “Donny Osmond Giovanni.” But this is the kind of stuff that happens.

Nowadays, the first thing that appears (beyond the links to that you can already find in the margins of this page) is a piece of my past persona as an alternative weekly staff writer, including the listing of an award I won with my colleagues for best local political story many years ago. We addressed the rise of hate groups in Ohio. My piece was an interview with Floyd Cochran, an ex-Aryan Nations recruiter who turned his life around to become a vocal advocate of social justice. This was a shining moment in my 20s, as the story was reprinted in alternative weeklies in Detroit, Los Angeles and many smaller cities in between. It was also picked up by PBS’s Not in Our Town campaign against American hate crimes and included in their education materials for years.

I wasn’t a journalism major in college. In fact, I went to a college that had “concentrations,” not majors, and mine was an amalgam of American history, American literature and creative writing. My work study job was student activist. I fell into journalism because I always knew that first and foremost, I wanted to write, and the close second was that I wanted to make a difference. So these pages of links, this life happened (at least a little) by accident.

Once upon a time, I went to a mall and asked a bunch of teenage girls what they thought feminism was. (I miss doing stories like this.) The article I wrote, “Feminism by Osmosis,” has been used in custom published women’s studies courses for several years since. No matter how much I have written in between, this is one of those pieces that keeps coming back high up in my Google image.

Another bit of feminist history that has followed me online (I think because I reprinted one on my first web site back in 1997) were two stories I wrote about the first woman to run for president, Victoria Woodhull – who was all the rage in historical non-fiction a few years ago.

I know more about Columbus, Ohio than you do. I spent two years as the senior editor of columbus.citysearch.com, therefore I wrote or edited a kabillion restaurant, hotel, attraction, bar, club, retail store, gallery, coffee shop, movie theater, park, weekend destination and other miscellaneous screen-length profiles that still live online.

Strangely, the work I’ve been doing as a Storyteller for the KnowledgeWorks Foundation for the past four years doesn’t appear until the bottom of the third page of my Google results.

There are also an endless number of artists’ web sites that list my stories about them on their resumés. You might already know who some of them are.

I am linked to a piece of my husband’s ignominious past by some obsessive Judge Judy fan site that tracked down a bunch of info about him after his appearance on that completely absurd show. (I didn’t go on the set with him. I knew he was going to lose. Declan — who wasn’t yet six months old — and I spent the day wandering around Hollywood instead. )

Without the Zollinger, my name is pretty common. Common enough that I was once in a video store and someone yelled for me from the front desk saying I had a phone call, and when I answered, the woman on the other line said “you’re not my sister-in-law.” I handed the phone back to the clerk, who then yelled: “Is there another Tracy Turner here?”

It’s almost enough to make me want to change my name to my husband’s.

I am routinely asked about business stories I have not written for the Columbus Dispatch, because another Tracy Turner wrote them.

Googling my shorthand name reveals that I also share it with an established artist, a BMW salesperson, a Texan OB/GYN, someone who takes still photos on horror movie sets and a guy from Kentucky who wrote a book of railroad tales and a biography of his brother, who died in a tragic car crash.

What happens when you Google you?

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