On My Whirlwind Relationship with a Spammer.

As a blogger, I get hundreds of emails a day. Of those, approximately one is a real person emailing me to genuinely correspond.

If I’m lucky.

I adore emails from real people.

In the stack of emails, there are definite patterns that can be found.

PR Firms sending me press releases, hoping that I’ll write a glowing blog post about their newest product in exchange for hi-res images of said product!!

Because there’s nothing more exciting than the promise of hi-res images. I MEAN. I live my life to be able to zoom in on your product as tightly as I could possibly want, taking in every detail with wonder and excitement.

As do, I’m sure, my blog readers.

…Or PR firms offering me even more exciting perks in exchange for writing about their product.

“YOU will be honored to get an exclusive sneak peek at the ‘Our Stupid Movie 2’ MOVIE POSTER!!!”

Seriously?! A .jpeg of a movie poster?? And all I have to do is spend a couple of hours and all of my credibility hawking the inane sequel to your straight-to-DVD movie??

I. CAN’T. WAIT.

I get thrilling offers to share 25 cent off coupons with you guys, invitations to give away smocked clothing (marketers: why not try searching key phrases before attempting to sell – you might find you are hawking smock to the World’s Foremost smock mocker), and even press releases written entirely in Danish.

(Those are the closest to my heart because I can pretend they’re offering me a Lego Factory Tour and want to give me one of everything they make, when in reality it’s just about some new freakish punk rock band called Fhrztengäggich with a feral cat for a lead singer.)

After I sift through all of the PR Firm emails (which would take approximately three days per day to accomplish if it weren’t for the cute little trash can icon on my toolbar), I still have the strange and mysterious guest post requests to deal with.

I get emails at least weekly and sometimes daily from almost assuredly fake people with these not-at-all believable stories about why they want to guest post on my blog. They never tell me what the subject matter would be, and there’s always the tiny stipulation that they’re going to place an undisclosed link (or ten) somewhere within their blog post that points to their “client’s” site.

And if I don’t answer them promptly with a giant flashing NO, they email me back – to check in.

Sometimes they offer to pay me in exchange for this guest posting opportunity, and other times they simply explain that the benefit for me is the post in and of itself. Here’s a direct quote from one of my favorite spins on this strategy:

“I was wondering if you would let me write a post for you?  I am looking to get my work placed on high-end sites such as yours and would be happy to write a unique article just for you.  I can come up with a title – or if you have something that you would like me to cover I can work from a brief.  What’s in it for you, you are probably thinking?  I place a sponsor in the post, which could take the form of a linked word to a reputable client relevant to the article.  Your free article would be 500 words or more in length and completely unique to you.”

500 words that are all my own?? How could I ever resist such a priceless gift.

(I especially appreciated that his next sentence after what’s in it for me was actually what’s in it for him. But hey. Technicalities.)

However. Even my collection of Guest Post emails deliver me a special jewel every now and then, as was the case recently. Read carefully and slowly, out loud perhaps, savoring the beauty of this document.

Andy Steve 8

On my first read-through of this email I knew it was something fantastic.

On my second read, I caught the fact that he changed identity from Steve to Andy back to Steve again, and I giggled with glee, then shared it with you on Facebook.

After riding the beautiful wave of your responses all day long,

Facebook Comments

I finally responded back.

Steve Andy 2

The next morning, I had a response. I shook with excitement.

Steve Andy 3

“…sorry to use as Andy as because I generally use Andy which is my alias when writing blogs.”

But besides that gorgeous sentence and the fabulous use of unnecessary parentheses, the real present was that tiny little picture I got next to his name.

It just didn’t look like the mental image I had of the AndySteve I know and adore.

So I clicked through to his Google+ profile and then clicked on the picture.

BINGO.

Steve Andy Gmail Profile Picture

Oh AndySteve…don’t you know that when you steal a picture of an actor to claim as your own, you should at least change the file name?

Steve Andy Gmail Profile Picture b

Naturally, I continued my investigation by looking Ben Wright up on imdb.

Turns out, AndySteve is also a stunt guy! Who knew?? He is SO DANG TALENTED.

Ben Wright

So I responded to his email, hoping to sound interested enough in his project that he would answer me again, but also referencing his acting career.

Steven Andy 4 copy

And then I waited. Because of course AndySteve only emails me in the middle of the night, as it is obvious that he’s not exactly from around here.

But alas. I apparently went too far with my caustic attitude. AndySteve cut off our relationship, leaving me saddened and alone, and once again with an inbox full of nothing that made my heart pitter patter.

I miss AndySteve. Desperately. I have many regrets about the way I handled our relationship. I was clearly not ready for a commitment and sabotaged what we had together.

I keep going back to my draft that asks him to come back to my inbox, to open up and tell me who he really is. Not to leave me without a word. We meant more to each than that.

But I never can hit that send button.

And every morning, when I open my email and read my latest request to hijack my blog, I am reminded of the hole in my heart.

Katelyn

Every morning, their grammar is too perfect, their consistency of name too exact. They don’t overuse the word “as” or have eternal run-on sentences.

There will never be another AndySteve.

And I let him go.

A Call for Felinism.

A guest post, by Fred the Cat.

The time has come for a revolution.

We live in America – the land of the free, the land of equal opportunity, the land of respect.

But cats, my friends, are not getting these basic rights.

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Cats are humiliated on YouTube.

Villainized by Disney.

Ignored by Government.

Scoffed in Memes.

And, in general, are kept down by The Dog.

Don’t believe me?

Nashville has FIVE municipally supported dog parks.

Atlanta has dog water bowls and canine-specific-spigots all throughout midtown. In Piedmont Park, they have a special Dog Trail and park set aside just for these pampered creatures.

Sure, you say. Atlanta and Nashville are big cities. Big cities have benefits.

But no. It’s becoming rampant Birmingham, too.

We have dog parks, doggie day cares, doggie spas, and even mobile dog grooming services. Do cats get these amenities? Never.

But the true hammer dropped on The Feline Community when my owner’s favorite nature reserve, Red Mountain Park, posted this sign near the entrance.

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Small Dogs, Large Dogs, and Special Needs Dogs, all with their own parks. SIX ACRES of space. Just for dogs.

WHERE, pray tell, do Special Needs Cats get to play? HOW will they ever have the opportunity to socialize with others like them? WHO will make them feel normal?

My humans, this should not be so.

Sadly, the problem isn’t just in America – cats are being discriminated against internationally. Japan even has a Luxury Dog Retirement Home, providing them access to a gym, swimming pool, and round-the-clock veterinary care for around $1,000 a month.

Humans don’t live at this retirement home, to be clear – only dogs.

And certainly not cats.

I have discussed these grievances and sought the opinion of other neighborhood felines, particularly a wise ginger named Maggie who likes to refer to herself in the third person, as cats often do.

Maggie

Here’s what she had to add to this movement’s creed.

“Maggie agrees with Fred. While she is happy to remain ensconced in her palace, she fully supports the rights of all cats to seek companionship and recreation in community. As long as it’s not in her back yard.

Maggie Backyard
Dogs are wonderful companions, to be sure, but they don’t foster the same sense of independence in an owner that a cat does by being selectively attentive. Owners must learn to stand on their own, to have self-confidence, instead of the complete codependence of a human-dog friendship. Cats also don’t require their humans to venture into the elements, unless it is to buy more food or litter.

Perhaps this is the crux of the matter.

Maggie Wise
Cats CREATE the spaces they need; they don’t have to wait for humans to designate them. As doers instead of followers, they can turn any space into a party, from the public park to the Mario Brothers-like sewer system. While recognition of a cat’s need for community would be nice, we don’t esteem the human opinion enough to truly need this kind of external validation.”

Maggie makes good points.

But nevertheless I weep daily at the injustice.

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AND SO SHOULD YOU.

You say you care about freedom. You salute your flag as if it means something. You get teary-eyed during the national anthem.

Yet freedom doesn’t ring for felines. Who could bring a kitten into this world with a clear conscience?

The time is now. The place is here. Let’s join together and make the world a better place.

We must stand!

We must fight!

We must claw our way to equality!

We must be The Whiskers of Change!

We must join together, paw in paw, as Felinists.

Cherries Need New PR.

I spent 31 years of my life automatically assuming that I despised cherries.

There was the cherry cough syrup I was given against my will as a young child, shaping my first impressions of cherries as The Fruit That Tastes Like Gastric Acid.

Then there was cherry-flavored candy – it didn’t matter whether it was Skittles, Starburst, Now and Laters, Pop Rocks, Bonkers or DOTS, cherry was always last in my lineup to eat.

(Right after grape, which also needs new PR when it comes to its candy-flavoring counterpart.)

(Oh – and watermelon. WORST CANDY FLAVORING IN THE WORLD.)

But. Back to cherries. Because cherries, unlike grapes and watermelon, have a catastrophic issue.

After my introduction to cough syrup and candy flavorings, I met my Grandfather’s favorite treat, Chocolate Covered Cherries. Not the chocolate covered dried fruit of today, but the chocolate-covered-moist-maraschino-cherries.

I hated all candies that burst in one’s mouth (remember Gushers?), so Chocolate Covered Cherries were the Nicolas Cage of chocolates and the Sarah McLachlan singing over images of abused dogs of cherries. That nasty bloody liquid squirting into my mouth when I mistook my Granddad’s treats for a truffle….it was child cruelty. Sarah McLachlan should have been singing for ME.

Let’s not skip over the sins of maraschino cherries themselves. According to Wikipedia, they are…

first preserved in a brine solution usually containing sulfur dioxide and calcium chloride to bleach the fruit, then soaked in a suspension of food coloring (common red food dye, FD&C Red 40), sugar syrup, and other components.

Cherry’s PR: “Let’s take a red fruit, bleach it with frighteningly named chemicals, then re-color it red! While we’re at it, we’ll add ‘other components,’ since we haven’t disfigured them enough already.”

The only redeeming value that I could find in cherries as a child (and I’ll lose a friend or two over this admission) was that my favorite candy was Brach’s Red Licorice, which is loosely supposed to be cherry-flavored. But then when Brach’s broke my heart and discontinued my best friend in candy form, my breakup with cherries was solidified.

(Although I will still eat a Twizzler now and then. But it’s not the same.)

As I entered my adolescence, I learned the more euphemistic meanings of cherries, tacky cherry-covered clothing came in style, and then a few years later, Katy Perry made cherries forever synonymous with the taste of Chapstick.

I had literally never tasted a single real, live, unaltered cherry in my entire life until the summer of 2013.

My grocery store had them out in a sample tray.

(Which is smart on their part since my generation is never going to be like, “yeah, let’s try cherries for our fruit of the week.”)

On a whim, I reached in, popped one in my mouth, and scrunched up my face, just waiting for The Nasty to hit my taste buds.

But no!

It was fantastic.

Full of flavor but without juicy explosions, sweeter than I had imagined but without a cough-syrup aftertaste, and all around delightful!

And also, who knew that half of them were shaped like adorable little hearts?

Cherries Need New PR

I was shocked, I tell you. And for the last year, I’ve been addicted.

This fruit had been hiding in plain sight, incorrectly linked with the seediest of flavorings, keeping fruit-lovers everywhere away from their bounty, for at least three generations.

Because Cherries need new PR.