Here Lies Dina, She Was Rarely At a Loss for Words

So there it was, at the top of my stats page, the number of posts which have appeared on Wine and Cheese (Doodles). The last one, about my son’s extreme origami frustration was number 499.

Which makes this one…500.

That’s a lot of posts. Like, seriously a lot of posts. Now, full disclosure, some of those have been re-blogs of old posts, especially during the summer months when everything slows down to a hot climate pace. One was a post I ran from a source who wished to remain anonymous, but we’re still looking at a hell of a lot of ideas, passionate pleas, complaints…and words–some of them four letter.

My posts average about 800 words. That means that, even conservatively, we’re looking at between 350 and 400 THOUSAND words.


For comparison:

The word count of The Hobbit is 95, 356
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix? 257,045
A Game of Thrones: 298,000
Even 500 posts later, I’m still well under Infinite Jest at 483,994. Which is just fine by me.
Consider also: The average first time novel is around 80,000 words.
That means there are nearly four novels worth of words about parenting, living abroad, sex, marriage, kids, feminism, politics floating around here.**

I have, beyond my wildest intentions, achieved my objective. I’ve amassed a body of work. It’s a body which sometimes resembles Frankenstein’s monster, stitched together higgeldy-piggeldy, but it’s my monster. Some of it has even been pretty damn popular.

Nine Expats You’ll Meet Abroad has been viewed about 75K times
Four Expats and a Funeral, approximately 30K times
The Revolution will be Uterized a little over 20K times

Plenty of others have been viewed (and hopefully read) between five and ten thousand times. Not bad for a middle-aged woman sitting behind a desk who doesn’t like to shill her stuff too much.

Some posts have been singled out by the powers-that-be at WordPress over the years. When Freshly Pressed was still a thing, three of my posts were chosen by editors.

Ladies Who Lunch
The Elephant in the Room, and
Love Poems are a Dime a Dozen

Since then WordPress has switched over to their Discover feature and the blog’s been singled out twice:

A Proportional Response, and
Sorry I’ve Been a Shitty Friend: A Multiple Choice Letter

WordPress claims it has 75 million blogs.
Not bad.
Not bad at all.

After five years and 500 posts, I’m still none the wiser. I can never tell which posts will resonate. There have been some I’ve loved that have sunk faster than a stone, like If You Told Me I’d Be Quoting Kenny Rogers and the more recent The War on Christmas. There have been others, personal favorites, like What It Feels Like For a Girl or Nine Expats You’ll Meet in a Galaxy Far Far Away or which, for whatever reason, haven’t done as well as I would have thought.

I’ve done poetic, I’ve done heart-felt, I’ve done satire. I’ve done funny, serious, sad. I’ve done marriage, parenting, siblings, sex, politics, women, men, rage, writing, feminism, race, history, movies, obituaries. There aren’t too many questions I see posed these days where I feel I don’t have a blog post which addresses or answers it. There are times I don’t even comment anymore, but just leave a link to an old blog post. Those posts usually capture my feelings about any given subject with more nuance than I can manage in a comment box or a 140 character tweet.

I’ve had a multitude of pieces run on other sites like Bust Magazine and Scary Mommy…(really, there have been too many to list here, but hey, there’s this: Publications)

Basically, I’ve done what I set out to do. Actually, I’ve probably tripled what I set out to do. And I’ve done it all on my own terms, organically, without advertising, or following just for follow backs. I have a limited amount of time on this mortal coil. If I follow your blog, it’s because I like what you have to say. If I interact with you, it means it’s because I appreciate you. If you’ve reached out to me and I haven’t gotten back, it means it’s gotten lost in the shuffle of a middle-aged mind.

I’m pretty proud of this body of work, the heart that’s gone into most of it, the calloused fingers, the numb ass.

So here we are:
5 years.
500 posts.
400,000 words.

What the hell do I do now???

All suggestions welcome.


**Fwiw, this isn’t including the number of words in the actual novel I wrote. Or the one I’m writing now. Or the even higher number of words edited out.

I suppose then if, upon my headstone, it read: Here Lies Dina, She Was Rarely At a Loss For Words, I’d be just fine with that.




The Evolution of a Blog (Happy Birthday)


If you have a child, know a child, or have ever met a child; if you’ve read a book or watched a movie that included one, you will recognize how much changes in that first year of life.  That soft pile of flesh, so pliable and yielding at first, changes into a walking, talking being with its own ideas.  That floppy, sloppy, glorious smelling baby, the one you checked on six times a night to assure yourself of the rise and fall of breath, the one you cradled so carefully and swaddled so tightly and fed ten times nightly, changes into something almost unrecognizable.  Over those 365 nights and days, they fill out and lengthen, they learn to smile and roll and swat, to sit and crawl and pull up, to recognize a parent’s voice, to respond to their own name, to walk and play with language, to emote joy and frustration and love; to experience life.  It is 365 days of amazement and exhaustion and worry and joy and a fearsome pride.

I’m not going to (seriously) compare blogging to parenthood, but I am overly fond of metaphor and hyperbole.  Today marks one year of Wine and Cheese (Doodles).  And like a child that grows and learns, this blog has grown and learned along this last trip around the sun.  There have been bumps and bruises along the way, a few scrapped knees and abraded palms, but I like to think what has emerged has enough confidence to toddle off a little bit, to start exploring a little further afield, to stretch those Icarus wings and learn to fly.

What started off as a small project to keep track of keeping myself busy, has, like so many other things, morphed into its own entity. I did learn to knit, but writing about that quickly fell to the wayside.  Writing became about writing, about the news stories that made my heart ache, about personal experiences that felt worth sharing, about bits and pieces of my own journey through life.  No one is more surprised than I am with what I end up writing about.  Sometimes what starts off in one direction veers off sharply in another.  Sometimes I am feeling a bit punchy, sometimes maudlin, sometimes I have those “A-HA!” moments, but I am forever grateful that over the past 365 days, there has remained a spark of something that keeps it going.


I’ve met my own personal milestones along the way.  From my husband and mother and sister being the first three people I shyly asked to ‘follow’ me, to a growing number of other bloggers, other ex-pats, other parents and grandparents who have taken the time to read and comment and share.   Thank you all.  I recently hit the 20,000 view mark, which for a non-specialized blog that tends to be a bit wordy, is pretty damn good, at least to me.  I’ve learned to promote myself in a way that’s comfortable.  And most important, I’ve kept the blog going, and growing, on my own terms.  I still can’t understand the whole hashtag twitter thing properly, but hey, you can’t have everything.

I was hoping, neurotic, control freak that I am, to have the 100th post and the lay-out revamp and the year mark all coincide.   It didn’t work out that way, mostly because there were a few posts in there that were screaming to get out when they did.  And—deep breath on my end— that’s ok.  As much as I like even numbers and tidy edges, when everything is said and done, it’s more important to get it said and done.

MY kind of birthday hat...
MY kind of birthday hat…

Everyone should have something new on their birthday; a card or a flower or just a perfectly timed turn of phrase.  So I’ve given the blog a new look.  It was sad to say good-bye, but when I sneak a peek at the new, I like the way it’s turning out.  It should be easier to leave comments now, and I sincerely hope that you do.  I wish I could say I have the next ten posts lined up and ready to go, but I’ve found the best ones, the ones that resonate the most, seem to be the ones that are written off the cuff.  So I will trust in those muses a little while longer and see where the next few take me.

When my first son turned a year old, my husband and I celebrated, not only for him, but for ourselves.  We had done it, survived the first year, kept him alive and thriving.  And while much more muted and subdued, I feel the same kind of satisfaction today.  I didn’t kill the blog, it kept on, despite me at times.  It learned to walk and to make noises and most of all, let its own personality start to shine through.

Onward toward the terrible twos.

**The cheesy, tap-dancing, musical loving geek in me couldn’t resist: