writing

100k Twitter Followers and Caffeine Addiction

by D.J. Paris on January 28, 2014

I crossed over 100k Twitter followers today.

Yes, it’s a not-so-subtle brag. But, screw it.  I’m taking a victory lap.

The victory lap equates to a night of eating pizza until passout.

Before the carbs and fat sink my consciousness I’m going to attempt to eek out this post.

I’m not proud here, but I’m back on caffeine. I’ve written about swearing off the stuff a few times. For a month or so I’m off it and then I get back on. Lately, I’ve been using it like crazy.

Most of America is hooked on caffeine, so what’s the big deal? For me, it’s different than the average consumer. I use it as an escape – a way to change my state. A high, as it were. In short, I abuse it.

The problem isn’t that caffeine is ruining my life (it’s not). It’s that I am “on” it most days all day long. Over the past few months I’ve become habituated to the drug and its positive effects are almost nil.

I no longer receive energy from caffeine. Maybe a slight pick me up in the morning, but it fades quickly. I have to increase my dosage for continued alertness. Since a stimulant’s main job is to stimulate, and mine isn’t working, what am I left with?

Well, I’ll tell you because I’m on it right now. I had two Diet Pepsis tonight before writing. For some reason caffeine now makes me anxious and scared. I’m not a naturally fearful person and I’ve never had anxiety problems. Yet as I’m typing this I’m feeling a slight sense of impending doom. Also, caffeine depresses me. It reduces my humor to nothing and induces some less-than-pleasant feelings. It makes me dark and foreboding. It crushes my creativity. I don’t get the rush of ideas throughout the day that I get when off the stuff.

So, with limited upside and a whole bunch of downside, why do it at all?

That’s a darn good question. I guess I’m still hoping caffeine will work – that it will give me pleasure and make me feel good. It did this in the beginning. No longer.

Well, I’m obviously using it to escape – escape what?

I’m afraid of regular, daily life.

Somehow I have the misaligned belief that if I’m not having extreme experiences I’m missing out. Of course 99% of life is living in the middle and not on the edge.

This is what I’m running from. In an effort to avoid the discomfort of regular life I escape through caffeine.

I’ve been exploring this addiction (with me it’s a definite addiction) for a few weeks and I’m about ready to let go of it entirely. Well, first, it isn’t working anymore as I mentioned earlier. But second, I’m retarding my growth. I’m not feeling emotions that would naturally arise. I’m just feeling the effects of the drug.

Today I decided that I wouldn’t buy caffeine no matter how much I wanted it. I walked by a grocery store and didn’t go in. My inner addict yelled, “You’ll feel better on it! It’s going to be fun!” Then, another voice started listing all the ways in which it would harm my day. These two voices battled for a few seconds.

Tonight, however, the addict voice won and I finished off the last two cans I had in the refrigerator. And just as I suspected I am feeling the negative effects throughout my body. They’ll wear off soon, but I’ll have the urge to drink caffeine again tomorrow.

The answer is simple – I must learn how to stay present without escaping. This means sitting in normal day-to-day discomfort. Boredom. Tiredness. Natural states we all experience. The feelings that I am terrified of.

I’m excited to get off the stuff and back to regular life. I’m sure I’ll be battling it over the next few days, but it’ll pass and I’ll be back to my normal non-extreme self. This time I’ll try to stay there permanently.

caffeine addiction

18 comments

I Just Responded to 200 Blog Comments

by D.J. Paris on January 20, 2014

The last four hours have been a blur.

In my effort to show appreciation for everyone that comments, I have committed to responding to each in 2014. The process is a lot of fun and often what you write is funnier and more poignant than what’s in my post. I started tonight by responding to fresh comments from the past few days. Then I went back in time.

I found a ton of comments that had never been replied to over the years.

For fun I decided to pick posts at random.

I thought it would be hilarious to respond to readers from 2010-2012. My system is set up to send an email to the comment author immediately after I reply. Therefore two hundred emails went out from post comments that were several years old. I’m sure many of the people no longer read my blog and probably didn’t know what to make of the notification.

Can you imagine how you’d react if two years after writing a blog comment you got a response?

First you wouldn’t remember the post or maybe even the blog. Then you’d click the link to see what this was all about and the post might spark a faint memory. You’d see your words in the comment section but not remember writing them. You would then notice my reply underneath with today’s date. Next you might spend a few moments wondering about the mental well-being of an blogger going back this far to write his readers.

Let me tell you – replying to two hundred comments is not an easy task. I attempted to conjure up a decent retort to each response. So essentially I spent four hours writing jokes tonight. I’m exhausted.

I also found emails (some over a year old) where people had written in and never received a response. I responded.

There are still several thousand comments with no replies. I’m not sure if I can ever fully empty that inbox. But I’ll try. It’s fun to go back and read what people responded toe. For example – I missed this the first time around but somebody attacked me this fall when I called myself a professional blogger. I was simply referring to that I make some dough from my site. Anyway, this reader got offended and wrote a nasty comment about how I wasn’t successful at writing.

One of you came to my aid and ripped this person apart. It was awesome. I had completely missed the exchange the first time around.

In going back I found people that had been commenting frequently and then disappeared. Did they get fed up with never receiving a reply? Did they stop enjoying my posts? Did they plumb forget about me? Maybe they just stopped reading blogs in general?

Bloggers have a special relationship with their commenters. It’s a shared intimacy and develops over time. I’m sad that some people have stopped commenting and I find myself missing them. Then again, there are newer people who are writing in and I’m excited for that, too.

Okay, my fingers are woozy. Time to go soak them in a bowl of that stuff old people bathe in.

bath salts

Yes, these will do.

photo credit: dirtygirlsuds via photopin cc

26 comments

I Sometimes Publish Crap – A Confession

by D.J. Paris on January 17, 2014

Years ago I used to bother celebrities on Twitter and write about the interactions.

I called it CelebTweets. After a few posts went live a television producer contacted me with an idea. If I wrote fifty more of these she could pitch it to publishers and get a book made.

She cautioned me, however, to be very selective on what else I wrote on my blog. I did a lot of other styles of posts and she thought that might hurt my “brand.” If I wanted a book deal, I needed to decide if I would be the guy that bugs famous people on Twitter exclusively.

I decided against it. I wanted to do other things.

At the time I was separated and starting to go through a divorce which would become the most painful experience of my life. I had only, up until then, written silly posts. I was terrified to try anything unfunny. Looking back, I don’t know why this was such a scary proposition – I only had fifty readers. If nobody liked the serious stuff I could always go back to comedy.

By the way, my dad’s dick post is still the most popular story on this blog. Can you believe 154k visitors read that last year? Yes, that’s sad. And yes, I’m bragging.

I decided to change up my style. I started to chronicle feelings, thoughts, and perspectives around daily life. Sure I’d pepper in a joke or two, but the overarching theme was honesty and vulnerability. That was my mission.

In 2012 I ended up writing every day. I published 185k words that year. And let me tell you, not all of the posts were gold. Some were flat out stinkers.

The number one reason bloggers tell me they don’t write more often is that they want each post to be gold. I understand. I do, too. But I have way more singles and doubles in me than home runs. I also have strikeouts.

Yesterday I struck out. I sat at my computer for two hours trying to save a piece of shit. It wasn’t working no matter how many times I edited. But, in a way, I felt okay about it. The piece was as good as it was going to get. I had pride because even though the post didn’t turn out perfect, I had done all that I could. I hit publish.

According to stats 74% of my daily traffic comes from new visitors. Today many people were introduced to my blog with maybe the worst post I have ever written. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t return.

So, why do I publish strikeouts?

One, failure is part of human experience. We all put effort into projects that don’t pan out. People relate to mistakes. Two years ago I dropped the need for my posts to be perfect and the weirdest thing happened. My viewership increased. The comments from readers got longer and more frequent. I was connecting with people at a deeper level than that of just fart jokes.

Also, many kept coming back after a less-than-stellar post. People forgive. I found that the only time anyone got pissed was when I didn’t share something intimate or “real.” Like if I wrote a joke that for a quick laugh I would receive little engagement.

I believe part of respecting and honoring an audience is to show them the truth. The flubs. Times that it doesn’t come together. As long as the writing is honest and in my voice I push it through. Now, I accept the consequences of this behavior, too. I lose readers who expect better consistency.

I guess at the end of the day I just want to feel good. During that marathon session yesterday I put my heart and sweat into that piece. I just re-read it again and yes, it’s cringe worthy. It was also the best I could do. I feel good about it because I see all the hard work that went into the process.

The question is, however – should I subject the audience to a mediocre post?

I’m probably alone here, but I say yes. A resounding yes. I just want to try my hardest and let the chips fall where they may. Were there readers bummed out after reading yesterday? I don’t know – I’m sure some were unimpressed.

So, here’s my deal. I write a lot. I have a boring, normal life and sometimes my posts will suck. Usually they won’t. Thanks for understanding.

crap

Hey, at least when I publish crap, it’s free!

photo credit: Plutor via photopin cc

44 comments

A Dangerous Tweet

January 15, 2014

I sent out a dangerous tweet. It read, “I will write an entire blog post about whatever the first person to respond wants.” The first reply was a total misfire - @amoldkevin said, “me.” While I appreciate his tenacity, I can’t write about someone I don’t know. He graciously passed the torch to @brendasarg who asked, “How about […]

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My Daily Life Is Boring Except For All These Awesome Asides

January 13, 2014

I spend every day with you – your daily life is boring! This is what my co-worker said tonight as I was driving him home. He’s not a jerk, I promise. We were talking about my blog and he asked how it was going. I told him that this month I’m committed to writing a […]

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My Old App Developer Sucks Little Monkey Balls

January 6, 2014

I’ll get to the developer in a moment. I’ve never had huge aspirations for this blog. I still don’t. Here at the blog conference in Las Vegas there are a lot of speakers that talk about monetizing your readers and how to make a career out of your passion. I’ve been around long enough to […]

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I’m Going to Impress You With a Big Word

December 7, 2013

I always wanted to write a piece where I used the word “precipice.” Just wanted to say that. Great opener, yes? Let’s move on. We all need a council of people that will tell us the truth even when it hurts. If you don’t have such a group, you may want to build that into […]

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I’ve Never Written a Song – A Confession

October 18, 2013

I’ve been playing guitar for over twenty-five years and have never written a complete song. Not for lack of trying. I bet I’ve put more than a thousand hours into jamming with myself with the sole intention of writing an actual piece of music with a beginning, middle, and end. It just hasn’t happened. I […]

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My ThoughtsFromParis App Was Rejected by Apple For This Reason…

October 15, 2013

I was thinking on the subway this evening, “Why did I really build an app for my blog?” The easy and obvious answer is that it would make accessing my content easier. The app aggregates my podcasts, posts, and even videos, as well as my Twitter and Facebook feeds. It does, in fact, help people […]

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My First Bidet – #LetsTalkBums

September 23, 2013

Cottonelle asked me to write about my first bidet experience – I told them to screw off because D.J. only does bidet humor on video! Seriously, and they’re not paying me to say this (well, they are sponsoring the blog, but did not specifically ask me to say this), Cottonelle has the best damned toilet […]

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I Got Booted Out of a Men’s Support Group

September 17, 2013

You’re not supposed to get kicked out of a support group. I mean, if you’re a total dick and making fun of a person’s problems or you start telling everyone’s secrets on your personal humor blog (see what I did there?), then I can understand it. But I got booted for not showing up. Initially […]

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