Happy Blogiversary To Me!

cheersToday marks my three-year blogiversary. Quite a milestone, if I may say so! I’d actually forgotten the exact date I took the plunge into the blogosphere until today when my WordPress account prompted to renew my expiring domain name (something I have to do annually).

Three years ago today, I bought my own Tweetupdomain name and started a blog so that I would have writing samples for potential employers. Little did I know that blogging would catapult me into a completely new career path and take me into the uncharted waters of tweet-ups and other social media/blogging-related meetups. Not to mention the countless people I’ve met virtually and in real life thanks to this medium.

I don’t think I ever thought about where blogging would lead me or what would actually become of this blog. I simply just wrote in hopes that someone, at least–if not solely–my parents, would read, enjoy, be entertained, and be challenged by what I wrote.

breakfast sandwichMy first blog post was about a sandwich. I’m a woman of many words when it comes to the foods I enjoy, so it’s no surprise that food posts have made many appearances on this blog. I’ve shared family cooking traditions, expounded upon my own food obsessions, and even passed along a recipe or two.

classroomAnother thing I’ve loved about having this blog is that it’s been a great forum for creating dialogue on social issues that are important to me such as education, health care, and the latest happenings in local government. Facebook and Twitter rants don’t quite do it for me.

I raise my glass to you, Prince William!

Then of course, there’s the lighter side. That’s the great thing about having a blog called Ramblings, I can write about whatever I want. Conversation starters for the socially challenged, gushing over my literary crushes, reflecting on an old celebrity crush, requesting to work for Saturday Night Live in a cheeky cover letter, lamenting the death of romance, ranting about Comic Sans. One of my greatest joys came from solving the age-old mystery from my youth about the disappearance of the other Cinnamon Toast Crunch bakers.

Perhaps the biggest laugh for me is in realizing that Snooki has provided my blog with the most traffic. Thanks to the post I wrote about her publishing a novel, there was always a spike in traffic to my blog on Thursdays just before Jersey Shore aired. Thank you, Google image search!

So, what’s next? What will the next three years bring? More of everything, I hope! For starters, it’s time to get back to a more frequent blogging schedule. Second, it’s time to get more personal. Perhaps throw in a bit more about my own life, only the interesting parts of course! Lastly, I really want to take a look at how I can engage foreign readers. Within the last year, WordPress started keeping stats on clicks by country. It’s really cool to look at the map of top views by country for my blog:

Screen shot 2013-01-25 at 9.47.56 PM

People from Myanmar have visited my blog? Not to mention Albania, Egypt, Mauritius, Australia, and India. It blows my mind! If only I could get this visitors to speak to me and share their stories. The possibilities would be endless. I would love to find a way to foster an international conversation.

We’ll see what’s happen. Here’s to the next three years and beyond!

Champagne toast!
Champagne toast!

“So…Do You Come Here Often?”: Conversation Starters for the Socially Challenged

In the middle of the kitchen at a recent party, my two girl friends and I found ourselves standing in the corner near the keg discussing awkward conversation starters. Awkward conversation starters usually fly from the mouths of people who are trying too hard.  We had many laughs trying to come up with the most awkward conversation starters, but the truth of the matter is there are people out there who cannot start a conversation to save their lives! In a recent episode of This American Life called “Say Anything” , author Neil Chesanow read excerpts from the once-popular-now-out-of-print book, Please Read This for Me: How to Tell the Man You Love Things You Can’t Put into Words. The book features scripted conversations, almost like monologues, for women to read aloud to the men in their lives, to help them say the things they were having trouble saying. Titles of these conversations were like, “Let’s be Husband and Wife” or “Time to Admit You Don’t Have a Drinking Problem, You’re an Alcoholic” and “You’d Probably Prefer if I were an Orphan” and even more serious ones such as “I’m Falling Out of Love.”

In the spirit of these scripted conversations and for those people who find themselves socially challenged in situations where they might have to start a conversation, I’d like to offer up a few of my own scripted conversations for both men and women who find it difficult to strike up a conversation in various social situations.  Here are several different scenarios accompanied by a script on how to respond:

Scenario #1: Someone new enters your established group of friends at a social gathering.
You: Hi, my name is [insert your name here]. shakes hand, looks the other person in the eye.
Person: I’m [whatever his or her name is].
You: Nice to meet you, [insert his or her name]. How do you know everyone here?
Person: I’m [insert their relationship with host of party or group members].
You: Oh great! I know [insert your relationship with someone at the party or in the group].
Person: [insert some sort of bland follow-up comment].
You: Awesome. Hey, I’m going to go get another drink. Can I get you one?
Person: Sure, thanks. I’ll have a [insert drink].
You: I’ll be back. Gracefully exit. Head to the bar or fridge and buy or pick out a drink for your new friend.

Scenario #2: You bring someone new to a social gathering filled with a group that is already close friends.
You: Hi, everyone! I’d like you to meet my [insert your relationship with your guest] [insert his or her name]. Point to said person. [Guest’s name] is a [insert profession] and enjoys [insert one of their hobbies].
Even better…pick out someone in the group that you think your guest will particularly like and enjoy chatting with in your absence. Specifically introduce your guest to this person. For example:
You: Hey, [insert your friend’s name]. I’d like you to meet [insert guest’s name]. [Guest’s name] is a [insert profession] just like you are!
Friend: That is wonderful! It’s always nice to meet someone who is a [insert profession] just like me.
Guest: The pleasure is all mine. I love meeting fellow [insert profession]s.
Friend: Say, what do you think of [insert the latest news in mutual profession].
Guest: Truly absurd!
Your work is done. Now you can go catch up with old friends while your guest makes new ones.

Scenario #3: You would like to strike up a conversation with a total stranger.
When talking to a total stranger, you have to start with an ice breaker; a comment on the weather, a joke, a comment on the local sports team, an observation about something going on in the room…ANYTHING. Don’t wait for him or her to talk to you because he or she probably lacks your stellar social skills. P.S. It’s helpful to start with a question because that forces the stranger to answer you.

Ice breaker#1: Observation
You: Hey, your necklace is totally cute. Where’d you buy it from?
Stranger: Ann Taylor Loft.
You: Love it. I want one.
Stranger: You should totally get one.
You: I will. I’m [insert your name] by the way. Raise your hand to start handshake.
Stranger: Nice to meet you, [your name]. I’m [stranger’s name].
You: It’s a pleasure to meet you.
You’re on the road to becoming best friends.

Icebreaker #2 Comment on the weather.
You: Wow, do you every think it will stop snowing? Sheesh!
Stranger: Probably not.
You: I can’t stand this weather. I hate having to plow my car out every morning. Don’t you?
Stranger: Totally.
You: It’s the worst, especially when you don’t have a scraper. You know what I mean?
Stranger: Totally.
You: Are you from this area originally?
Stranger: Yeah.
You: This is a great area to be from. I love [insert a local speciality] in this town.
Not everyone is a Chatty Cathy so you’ve done a good job. Now either introduce yourself or find another stranger and try another tactic.

Icebreaker #3: Comment on the local sports team.
You: Hey, how about those [insert local sports team name]?! Think they’ll make it to the [insert name of the respective sport’s final tournament].
Stranger: They better! I have a lot of money riding on this one.
You: No kidding?! That’s awesome. Do you bet a lot?
Stranger: I practically live in Vegas. It’s my life.
You: Wow, that’s some serious dedication. I’ve never been to Vegas before.
Stranger: You should totally go. You’d absolutely love it.
You: Really?
Stranger: Really. You have to do it.
You: Maybe I will. I’m [insert your name] by the way. Initiate handshake.
Stranger: I’m [insert his or her name].
Not only have you successfully navigated your way through a conversation, you’ve also made a new friend and secured yourself a bookie.

Icebreaker #4 Make a joke.
You: Say, do you know what pirates like to eat?
Stranger: Actually, I don’t.
You: Barrrrbecue.
Stranger: Laughs out loud. That’s hysterical.
You: Oh please. You’re making me blush. My name is [insert name], by the way. Initiate handshake.
Stranger: My name is [insert name]. It’s nice to meet you.
You: Nice to meet, you, too.
Since you are a master conversationalist, it is up to where you would like to lead the conversation from there. You continue getting to know the stranger or you could test your charms on another stranger.

See, now that wasn’t so hard, was it? Follow these simple scripts and you are on your way to becoming the next leader of your local Toastmasters chapter.