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PR Package: The Duke Daily Newsletter

November 16, 2019

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019

Media Contact: Sonja Likness
(919) 668-6114 (o); (919) 452-3075 (c)
sonja.likness@duke.edu

DAILY DUKE NEWSLETTER TO LAUNCH THIS WEEK

DURHAM, N.C. — This week, Duke University will launch a newsletter called The Duke Daily, initially distributed to faculty and staff at the University and Health System. The newsletter will give a daily sampling of news from Duke with the intention of making the Duke community feel proud to be part of the Duke family.

“It’s the kind of thing that you could chat with a friend about at a cocktail party,” said Kristen Brown, associate vice president for news, communications and media at Duke. “Every day, we’ll give you little tidbits that are feel-good, fun and shareable.”

Each daily newsletter will contain a few story headlines and images with links to longer content, as well as highlighted events, and quotes from speakers and Duke experts on relevant subject matter.

“It’s a fun format,” said Geoffrey Mock, the Duke Daily newsletter editor. “We’ll be working hard to make the headlines and kickers fun and informative, and curate each day’s topics in interesting ways.”

The newsletter will launch using Emma software, in partnership with the Office of Information Technology at Duke. Duke has entered into an enterprise partnership with Emma for newsletter distribution, and the Duke Daily will be among the first mailings to use the new Emma functionality. Other departments and units will be granted access to Emma as OIT ramps up support for the platform.

People interested in receiving the Duke Daily who are not Duke faculty and staff can sign up to receive the newsletter on Duke Today or directly via the sign-up form. The first newsletter is planned for release the week of November 18.

About Duke University

Tracing its origins to 1838, Duke University has evolved into one of the world’s leading institutions for education, research and patient care. Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke is comprised of two major organizations: Duke University and Duke University Health System. Today, under the leadership of Vincent E. Price, tenth president of the university and fifteenth of the institution, Duke University enrolls approximately 7,000 undergraduate and 8,900 graduate students representing almost every state and many foreign countries.

###

FAQ

THE DUKE DAILY NEWSLETTER: YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

What is the Duke Daily?

The Duke Daily is a newsletter that will give a daily sampling of news from Duke. It’s short, it’s fun, and it’s quick to read. Subscribe here!

Who will be opted in to receive this newsletter?

During launch, all Duke faculty and staff will receive the Duke Daily. In the future, we may also add students and alumni.

Can I receive the newsletter if I am not Duke faculty or staff?

Yes! Sign up to receive the newsletter.

Can I opt out of receiving this newsletter?

Yes, although we hope you’ll find it short, fun, relevant and useful. To unsubscribe, click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.

What content will the newsletter contain?

The Duke Daily will keep you up-to-date on the most interesting news and events at Duke from across all campus and Health System units and departments.

How often will I receive the newsletter?

The Duke Daily, as the name suggests, is a daily newsletter, so you’ll find it in your inbox Monday-Friday except on University holidays.

When will the newsletter launch?

You’ll receive the first Duke Daily in your inbox during the week of Nov. 18, 2019.

Who is the editor of the Duke Daily?

Geoffrey Mock is the editor of the Duke Daily, with help from other University Communications colleagues.

How can I suggest content for the Duke Daily?

Send your ideas, suggestions and feedback to Geoffrey Mock, geoffrey.mock@duke.edu.

Sample Social Media Posts

Twitter:

Twitter post with email emoji and CTA to subscribe

Instagram Stories:

Duke Daily logo with Subscribe CTA

Multimedia Assets

In addition to the social media assets above (designed by Sam Huntley and Ashley Wolf), we will also do a short screen capture video like the example below, except using the Duke Daily newsletter instead of The Skimm. This will be used on Twitter as a short looping video and possibly also on Instagram Stories. (Video created by Ashley Wolf.)

Duke’s Central Campus Burns – With a Purpose

October 24, 2019

Sometimes the best thing you can do with an old building is burn it to the ground – especially if you’re assistant chief of training for the Durham Fire Department.

Chief Willie Hall will get that opportunity over the next two months. The Durham Fire Department is working with Duke University to burn the old Duke Central Campus apartments for training firefighters, the biggest training exercise the department has seen in decades.

construction on Duke's Central Campus
Construction of the Central Campus apartments began in 1972. Photo courtesy of Duke University Archives.

Duke acquired the land for Central Campus in 1964 from Erwin Mills, a hosiery factory, although it didn’t immediately settle on using the land for housing. The Central Campus apartments were built in the 1970s as one, two and three-bedroom spaces with their own kitchens and bathrooms for graduate students and their families. In the 80s, the apartments were used for undergraduates as well. Selective Living Groups (fraternity, sorority and social selective groups) were housed on Central Campus, and while it was close to the main areas of campus, it was separate and calmer. Undergraduates continued to live on Central Campus throughout the 90s and 2000s.

Now, though, the Central Campus apartment buildings are beyond their lifespan. The last students moved out of Central Campus in May 2019, and the new 700-bed Hollows buildings came online in the fall to accommodate Duke undergraduates.

While the apartments are no longer usable, Duke will retain the land. Some will be used to expand Duke Gardens and some as temporary employee parking. Administrators have not shared longer-term plans for the Central Campus land.

A task force studying the future of Central Campus said in its executive summary the property is “a valuable asset and should be reserved for future strategic and opportunistic uses supportive of and consistent with the university’s mission.”

Most buildings on Central Campus will be demolished. The Fire Prevention Division flagged the demolition as a training possibility, standard practice for any major demolition.

firefighter standing in front of a burning building
A Durham Fire Department firefighter watches as a Central Campus apartment building burns on Oct. 24. Photo courtesy of Duke Facilities Management Department.

Duke and the Durham Fire Department worked together to get the appropriate city and state permits. They thought through safety precautions, like making sure asbestos remediation was complete and ensuring sufficient water supply.

Kyle Cavanaugh, the vice president of administration at Duke, coordinated arrangements with the Durham Fire Department.

“This will provide unique and helpful training for those that are entrusted with protection and saving lives in our community,” Cavanaugh said.

A large apartment complex for this training exercise is a unique boon for the fire department, which usually trains using single-family residences. They rarely get to train in buildings with multiple floors, varied rooflines, shared attic space and multiple points of entry.

“This is a once-in-a-career opportunity to train a whole department,” Chief Hall said. “It will be the biggest magnitude training event in my 32 years on the force.”

From October through December, all of the 400-plus members of the Durham Fire Department will train in the buildings. They’ll light fires in the buildings and treat them just as they would in a real fire: pulling hoses, setting up ladders, forcing entry and conducting search and rescue.

People in the area surrounding Central Campus may see and smell smoke on the training days, and traffic will be limited in the area. The fire department says that access along Anderson Street, Alexander Avenue, and Oregon Street should not be affected. The first training burn is happening this week, Oct. 24-26, and future training burns may change depending on the weather but are tentatively set for:

  • Nov. 14-15
  • Nov. 20-23
  • Nov. 25-27

Jackson Steger, who lived on Central for two years and graduated from Duke in 2018, said the burning of Central Campus isn’t making him nostalgic.

“Honestly, I say good riddance,” he said. “I don’t have a problem getting rid of something old in order to make way for something new.”

A version of this post was published by Duke Today.

Headlines FTW

September 21, 2019

Find three examples of weak digital headlines and provide a new headline and a push notification for each. You may have up to 65 characters per headline and 50 characters per push notification. Be sure to include the source for each weak headline, including URL.

Headline/push notification: What’s going on with Trump and Biden and Ukraine
URL: https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/20/politics/trump-giuliani-biden-ukraine/index.html
Solutions:
“UPDATE: What we know about the whistleblower” (push) or “Whistleblower in Washington: What we know so far” (headline)

Headline/push notification: A Crackdown on Islam Is Spreading Across China
URL: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/21/world/asia/china-islam-crackdown.html
Solutions: “Chinese government destroying mosques” (push) or “Chinese government restricts Islamic traditions, closes mosques” (headline)

Headline/push notification: Flooded again: Climate change is making flooding more frequent in Southeast Texas
URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/20/flooded-again-climate-change-is-making-flooding-more-frequent-southeast-texasthanks-part-climate-change/
Solutions: “Texas flooding indicative of climate change” (push) or “Climate change causing increased flooding in Southeast Texas” (headline)

Wherein I Blame My Ex for a Good Thing – Web version

September 15, 2019

I blame my ex-husband for a lot of things in my life, like my severe aversion to the smell of appletinis and my heart palpitations when I see an errant pair of socks on the floor. In a way, though, he’s also responsible for one of the best things that’s happened in my life.

Here’s where you expect me to say, “my children,” but we never had kids. I’m thinking of my erstwhile humor blog, Pintester.

A Short History of Blogging

Sonja Likness, wearing a blue dress and holding flowers
Me, circa 2000, being weird

I’ve blogged since blogging was a new, shiny word. No one had cell phones back then. We were all still messaging each other with AIM and ICQ on our desktop computers. “Social media” wasn’t a term yet. A window into someone else’s life seemed novel and exciting.

In 1999, I started my very own Xanga blog. I remember hitting publish on my first post, which was more or less a diary entry, and feeling the thrill that a perfect stranger could now read what I’d written.

This sort of thing was reserved for the stars, in my mind: Authors and newspaper columnists and screenwriters—not freshman-in-college women with a flair for the weird. Yet now I could “publish” my work.

I tried different tones and voices on my blogs, which morphed from Xanga to Livejournal to Blogger to WordPress as the years went on. I wrote about my passions, like romance novels—reading them and writing them. I wrote about school and friends and family members. I wrote silly poems. I posted papers I’d written for my classes. I wrote a lot of college-era mushy posts about boyfriends.

After college, I got married, and the life I’d written about in blogs those years became entwined with another human’s life—my husband’s. So, I wrote about him, too.

Writing About My Ex

At first, I don’t think he minded. I mostly wrote about his good looks and his charm and our great life together. But, as anyone who’s been married knows, life wasn’t always funny and perfect and sweet. Sometimes it was messy. Sometimes it was sad. The weight of marriage and life and adulthood bore down on me, and I did the thing I’d always done. I wrote about it.

In my mind, of course, I wrote only the fair and balanced. I didn’t generally air grievances, and mostly my husband came out looking like the straight man against my weird neuroses in the stories I would tell. But he knew the back-story to everything I wrote. He knew what I had left out. He could read between the lines because he lived between the lines with me. And he didn’t appreciate it.

Sonja poses with a fancy dinner
Me, young and newly married

For a while, we navigated my addiction to writing about my life publicly with an agreement that he would read everything I’d written about him before I posted it. It chafed against my sense of editorial integrity, but I loved him, and I went with it. I would stand over his shoulder as he read, twirling a strand of hair and biting my lip as I waited for his proclamation.

Most of the time, he’d shrug and give me the go-ahead, but sometimes the color of his ears would darken just a shade and I would know he was about to tell me that there was no way in hell I could publish what I’d written. Occasionally a strategic word change or leaving out a sentence could fix the problem, but more often it sparked a fight about our differing perspectives, and who was the Wrong and Right between the two of us.

After one such discussion, I did a thing that I hope every married person has done at one point or another. I decided to make a proposal so ridiculous that I knew he’d apologize and let me do what I wanted. I said (probably louder than necessary), “Fine! Maybe I’ll just never write about you again!”

To me, it seemed like the worst possible insult to a person you loved. How could you live with someone and love someone and not write about them in your blog? I expected him to sigh and maybe hug me and say something like, “No, that’s not what I want at all,” and then realize that of course he wanted me to write about him because who wouldn’t want to be a star on the Internet?

Instead, he said, “Good. Please don’t write about me ever again.”

A New Blog is Born

I lived somewhere between crushed and infuriated for a day or two. How could this person whose life belonged to me almost as much as my life belonged to me refuse to let me write about him? How could he not see that if I couldn’t write about him, he would exist a little bit less in my world? It was insult heaped upon bruising insult.

When the hurt began to wear off, I wondered how I’d continue blogging. His life intermingled with mine such that a daily diary couldn’t work anymore. I couldn’t write about my life without his life. Would I stop writing? I considered the option, but not for long. No, writers could no sooner stop writing than stop breathing. That’s what all my writer friends said, anyway. With that option squashed, I began to think about what I could write that wouldn’t be a diary of my life.

That watershed “Fine!” blogging moment happened in December 2011. It had been the year of Nyan Cat, the poptart-shaped, rainbow-farting cat flying across the screen to an inane soundtrack. It had been the year of the honey badger declaring, “Honey badger don’t care!” It had been the year of Google+ (RIP).

2011 was also the year that some genius Internet hot-shot boy-child developer launched Pinterest into public beta. I regularly spent hours a day on Pinterest, virtually pinning recipes and crafts to my boards to try, and even actually trying some of them.

They were aspirational projects created by shiny, happy bloggers who stayed at home with their children and crafted skirts for their daughters and entry-way cubbies for their kids’ backpacks and cooked easy crockpot meals sure to please the whole family. I was a neurotic, stressed, fairly unhappily married person with no kids and no crafting skills who thought this shit couldn’t possibly be that hard. I was wrong. I failed regularly to create a craft or foodstuff that even slightly resembled the original shiny, happy blog post.

Thus, Pintester.com was born. The original tagline read, “Fucking up Pinterest pins so you don’t have to.” It was a blog for all the neurotic, stressed, perhaps unhappily married people out there who couldn’t quite get their lives to look like their Pinterest boards. It was anti-aspirational. And it had a lot of swear words in it.

It also had nothing to do with my husband.

Pintester, My Love

Sonja posing with an internet arrow
Me, in my advertising agency days

I started Pintester while I had a job at an advertising agency and worked on it in my spare time. For a couple of months, my family members and a few friends at work read it.

I used all of my marketing and advertising tricks. I right-sized the images for Pinterest and my target audience there. I worked on my tone consistency (which, for Pintester, was mostly just including as many f-bombs as possible). I took classes on photography and videography. I bought a camera. I put ads in the sidebar.

Eventually, in the perfect storm of blogging, Internet advertising and Pinterest that happened in the early months of 2012, Pintester caught on. When my job at the advertising agency ceased to exist, I replaced my income and then some with the advertising revenue from Pintester. I was a real-live writer, albeit one who used a lot of swears.

So much of blogging for my living was glorious. I stayed at home and worked in my pajamas most days. “Working” involved making myself laugh and trying stupid things that I sort of wanted to try anyway, like waxing my legs with a homemade microwaved sugar scrub and filming silly videos with my friends.

Blogging also became an escape from my real life. As Pintester got more popular and I got better at my craft (if not my crafts), my marriage crumbled. We drifted in and out of couples’ therapy. We had fights too heinous for me to relate to even my closest friends. We drank too much and yelled too much and resentment filtered through the smell of my latest burned Pinterest project.

The End

Eventually, the ad revenue slowed to a trickle and I went back to working a 9-to-5 job and writing Pintester on the side. I liked my job and I liked not paying quarterly taxes anymore and I liked having my own healthcare plan. I’d forgotten about the little freedoms in a 40-hour work week.

In my personal life, I gained little bits of freedom, too. I made more friends, joined clubs and organizations, learned new hobbies, all in a bid to find fulfillment outside of my marriage and my blog. It made me happier, but it didn’t make my husband happier. Our marriage suffered for it. More often than not, we were in crisis mode, just trying to make it to the next vacation or the next holiday or the next weekend.

Eventually, after months of discussions and arguments and fights about how or if we could fix things, my ex-husband and I split for good.

I stopped blogging.

Truthfully, I stopped writing. (And eating. And enjoying things that once gave me pleasure. Diagnose me.)

But I got better. I got stronger. I healed. I learned to accept some of the mistakes we’d both made in our marriage.

I moved on.

I told a friend once that I might never be able to forgive my ex-husband for what happened between us, and I imagine he feels the same. But I’ll also never forget that he was the reason Pintester ever existed. Pintester is not my child, and it won’t bring me everlasting joy, but it was my joy and my love for the years that I did it.

If I can’t thank my ex-husband for many things, I can at least thank him for that.

Critique for Laura Oleniacz

September 4, 2019

My writing partner is Laura Oleniacz and I’m doing a critique of her piece, “One night with unbearable guests: An adventure in the Shining Rock Wilderness.”

First of all, Laura, I’ll say I enjoyed reading this crazy story! You and Dan are braver than I’ll ever be. I often tell people, “I don’t camp without a toilet that flushes.” So there ya go. I’m maybe not your target audience– ha. With that said, here’s some of my advice!

LENGTH

I looked up the contributor guidelines for Our State magazine. From their site:

Our average feature article length is about 1,200 words. Departments run 500 to 800 words.

I did a rough count of your article in Microsoft Word and it comes in at about 2120 words, so I think if you were submitting to Our State, it would probably have to get cut some. I’d actually cut the section where you talk about bear facts and about how they’re losing the wilderness. I don’t think it fits as well with the narrative of the rest of your story.

That would probably mean that you’d need to re-work the conclusion a little bit and maybe pepper in some other in-the-moment feelings throughout the essay about how you feel about bears. Are you scared but also impressed with their ingenuity? Are you feeling threatened but then realize that the bears are also threatened in a way and this is how they survive? It feels a bit abrupt to talk about your feelings about the bears’ habitats way at the end without a set-up for it.

REPETITIVE WORDS AND SENTENCE STRUCTURE

I think a quick read-through to change up a couple of words and sentences will really improve the flow of this piece. For example, you use the phrase “laughed off” twice in fairly rapid succession near the beginning of the essay, and then the word “beautiful” twice in one paragraph.

You also have a lot of sentences with the same basic structure. These all appear next to each other in the essay:

But the rock fell, missing the branch.

“Let me try,” I said, taking the rock and moving farther back for a throw.

“One, two, three, ‘Steph Curry!” I said, trying to borrow some of the recent success of the Golden State Warriors, which had recently beaten LeBron’s team in the finals.

PASSIVE VOICE

Passive voice is one of those ones I have to work really hard to get out of my writing, and it usually happens on the 2nd or 3rd readthrough. My most helpful hint is to go back and find any “to be” verbs and see if you can make them more active. For example,

The rolling gray-blue mountains were visible in the distance.

could be rewritten:

We could see the rolling gray-blue mountains in the distance.

Sometimes you can also just take them out completely. Your sentence,

My dog was visibly excited.

isn’t actually necessary because you describe in the very next sentence the actions that show your dog is excited, rather than telling that your dog is excited. Your reader will still get that the dog is excited if you drop the first sentence of the paragraph.

A FEW OTHER LITTLE THINGS

You’ve got a word missing in this sentence:

My boyfriend tied a rock to [the] end of our rope.

Also, poor Dan doesn’t get a name until 2/3 of the way through the essay! I’d refer to him as your boyfriend Dan the first time and then switch to just Dan. That’s personal preference a bit, but I think it’s easier to read that way.

Again, I really enjoyed reading your piece and I’m so impressed with your adventurous spirit! Those doggies are some lucky fellas to be able to go adventuring with you.

Wherein I Blame My Ex for a Good Thing

August 30, 2019

For this assignment, my target audience is readers of Modern Love. (Maybe I’ll even submit it there!)

Abstract: Narrator reflects on her marriage, her ex-husband and the blog that was born out of one of their arguments.

Keywords: marriage, divorce, ex, ex-husband, ex-wife, blogs, blogging, blog, humor blog, Pinterest

I blame my ex-husband for a lot of things in my life, like my severe aversion to the smell of appletinis and my heart palpitations when I see an errant pair of socks on the floor, but in a way, he’s also responsible for one of the best things that’s happened in my life. Here’s where you expect me to say, “my children,” but we never had kids. I’m thinking of my erstwhile humor blog.

I’ve blogged since blogging was a word. In 1999 I started my very own Xanga blog. I remember hitting publish on my first post, which was more or less a diary entry, and feeling the thrill that a perfect stranger could now read what I’d written. This sort of thing was reserved for the stars, in my mind: Authors and newspaper columnists and screenwriters—not freshman-in-college women with a flair for the weird. Yet now I could publish my work.

I tried different tones and voices on my blogs, which morphed from Xanga to Livejournal to Blogger to WordPress as the years went on. I wrote about my passions, like romance novels—reading them and writing them. I wrote about school and friends and family members. I wrote silly poems. I posted papers I’d written for my classes. I wrote a lot of college-era mushy posts about boyfriends. After college I got married, and the life I’d written about in blogs those years became entwined with another human’s life—my husband’s. So, I wrote about him, too.

At first, I don’t think he minded. I mostly wrote about his good looks and his charm and our great life together. But, as anyone who’s been married knows, life wasn’t always funny and perfect and sweet. Sometimes it was messy. Sometimes it was sad. The weight of marriage and life and adulthood bore down on me, and I did the thing I’d always done. I wrote about it.

In my mind, of course, I wrote only the fair and balanced. I didn’t generally air grievances, and mostly my husband came out looking like the straight man against my weird neuroses in the stories I would tell. But he knew the back-story to everything I wrote. He knew what I had left out. He could read between the lines because he lived between the lines with me. And he didn’t appreciate it.

For a while, we navigated my addiction to writing about my life publicly with an agreement that he would read everything I’d written about him before I posted it. It chafed against my sense of editorial integrity, but I loved him, and I went with it. I would stand over his shoulder as he read, twirling a strand of hair and biting my lip as I waited for his proclamation. Most of the time, he’d shrug and give me the go-ahead, but sometimes the color of his ears would darken just a shade and I would know he was about to tell me that there was no way in hell I could publish what I’d written. Occasionally a strategic word change or leaving out a sentence could fix the problem, but more often it sparked a fight about our differing perspectives, and who was the Wrong and Right between the two of us.

After one such discussion, I did a thing that I hope every married person has done at one point or another. I decided to make a proposal so ridiculous that I knew he’d apologize and let me do what I wanted. I said (probably louder than necessary), “Fine! Maybe I’ll just never write about you again!”

To me, it seemed like the worst possible insult to a person you loved. How could you live with someone and love someone and not write about them in your blog? I expected him to sigh and maybe hug me and say something like, “No, that’s not what I want at all,” and then realize that of course he wanted me to write about him because who wouldn’t want to be a star on the Internet?

Instead, he said, “Good. Please don’t write about me ever again.”

I lived somewhere between crushed and infuriated for a day or two. How could this person whose life belonged to me almost as much as my life belonged to me refuse to let me write about him? How could he not see that if I couldn’t write about him, he would exist a little bit less in my world? It was insult heaped upon bruising insult.

When the hurt began to wear off, I wondered how I’d continue blogging. His life intermingled with mine such that a daily diary couldn’t work anymore. I couldn’t write about my life without his life. Would I stop writing? I considered the option, but not for long. No, writers could no sooner stop writing than stop breathing. That’s what all my writer friends said, anyway. With that option squashed, I began to think about what I could write that wouldn’t be a diary of my life.

That watershed “Fine!” blogging moment happened in December 2011. 2011 had been the year of Nyan Cat, the poptart-shaped, rainbow-farting cat flying across the screen to an inane soundtrack. It had been the year of the honey badger declaring, “Honey badger don’t care!” It had been the year of Google+ (RIP).

2011 was also the year that some genius Internet hot-shot boy-child developer launched Pinterest into public beta. I regularly spent hours a day on Pinterest, virtually pinning recipes and crafts to my boards to try, and even actually trying some of them. They were aspirational projects created by shiny, happy bloggers who stayed at home with their children and crafted skirts for their daughters and entry-way cubbies for their kids’ backpacks and cooked easy crockpot meals sure to please the whole family. I was a neurotic, stressed, fairly unhappily married person with no kids and no crafting skills who thought this shit couldn’t possibly be that hard. I was wrong. I failed regularly to create a craft or foodstuff that even slightly resembled the original shiny, happy blog post.

Thus, Pintester.com was born. The tagline read, “Fucking up Pinterest pins so you don’t have to.” It was a blog for all the neurotic, stressed, perhaps unhappily married people out there who couldn’t quite get their lives to look like their Pinterest boards. It was anti-aspirational. And it had a lot of swear words in it. It also had nothing to do with my husband.

I started Pintester while I had a job at an advertising agency and worked on it in my spare time. For a couple of months, my family members and a few friends at work read it. I used all of my marketing and advertising tricks. I right-sized the images for Pinterest and my target audience there. I worked on my tone consistency (which, for Pintester, was mostly just including as many f-bombs as possible). I took classes on photography and videography. I bought a camera. I put ads in the sidebar. Eventually, in the perfect storm of blogging, Internet advertising and Pinterest that happened in the early months of 2012, Pintester caught on. When my job at the advertising agency ceased to exist, I replaced my income and then some with the advertising revenue from Pintester. I was a real-live writer, albeit one who used a lot of swears.

So much of blogging for my living was glorious. I stayed at home and worked in my pajamas most days. “Working” involved making myself laugh and trying stupid things that I sort of wanted to try anyway, like waxing my legs with a homemade microwaved sugar scrub and filming silly videos with my friends.

Blogging also became an escape from my real life. As Pintester got more popular and I got better at my craft (if not my crafts), my marriage crumbled. We drifted in and out of couples’ therapy. We had fights too heinous for me to relate to even my closest friends. We drank too much and yelled too much and resentment filtered through the smell of my latest burned Pinterest project.

Eventually, the ad revenue slowed to a trickle and I went back to working a 9-to-5 job and writing Pintester on the side. I liked my job and I liked not paying quarterly taxes anymore and I liked having my own healthcare plan. I’d forgotten about the little freedoms in a 40-hour work week.

Not long after, my ex-husband and I split for good. I stopped blogging. Truthfully, I stopped writing. (And eating. And enjoying things that once gave me pleasure. Diagnose me.)

But I got better. I got stronger. I healed. I learned to accept some of the mistakes we’d both made in our marriage. I moved on.

I told a friend once that I might never be able to forgive my ex-husband for what happened between us, and I imagine he feels the same. But I’ll also never forget that he was the reason Pintester ever existed. Pintester is not my child, and it won’t bring me everlasting joy, but it was my joy and my love for the years that I did it. If I can’t thank my ex-husband for many things, I can at least thank him for that.

Who Can We Blame?

August 14, 2019

In raising the specter of clichés
The keen observer just well may
Blame the powers that be
And a ragtag army
For overusing words needless to say