I keep thinking of used car salesmen

when I watch the news these days

how we turn  our cars over to them, the ones we don’t want or the ones causing us problems, it’s easier to take a loss than fix a broken car

salesmen shine things up for us…make things appear what they aren’t…kind of like Roy Kroch’s McDonald’s milkshake (his corporate version)

it looks like a milkshake, tastes like a milkshake, feels like a milkshake, but it’s not…its some packaged material designed to make somebody money

the used car salesmen smile brighter than the light bouncing off their shiny cars.               they have you at the door, they invite you in, you take the bait

not because you are stupid                                                                                                             but because you don’t know anything about cars                                                                       you didn’t go to school and learn about engines and their demise and you don’t know what questions to ask

but you need a car, you need to go to work, drive your kids to the doctor                             so you buy one, a car, it looks good enough, its all you’ve got money and time for

you sign the dotted line, the warranty is a 100 days, or something like that, you don’t care, you need the car

and then on the 101st day, the day after the first 100, the car stops working for you

it dies in the middle of an intersection, you can’t revive it

you lost in the end, not just your money, but your hope

your hope that this time would be different, that the gleaming smile from your used car salesman meant something

but there is no free lunch …you got what you paid for not its glittering marketing campaign

and sadly you can’t ask the questions you need to because you don’t know what they are.




my lessons in blogging and social media, a tiny journey in a sea of many

Some folks in my writers’ group at Lansing Community Library have asked me about my blogging process.  I thought I’d write-up a few things as my count nears 14,000 hits.

1. People do not want to read long paragraphs online so I work to keep my work spaced out…this was pointed out to me by Dan Veneer at the Lansing Star when he did an article on my blog about rural broadband.

2. Readers and search engines like content and they like consistent posts…during my rural broadband series, my site visits went up by over 100 percent. At the end of 2010, when I started this blog, there had been 804 hits. One year later, after writing about my #rural broadband journey, the hits had increased to 3619.  Below is a link to some of the cumulative knowledge I gained and recorded in my rural broadband series.


3. International people are reading my blog, this surprised me and it is only through the WordPress statistics that I discovered this fact. I am still waiting for the tool to discern between readers and search engines.  In the meantime, it gives me pause and reminds me of what a bubble I am in here in the US, I need to look for and read more international blogs.  Special shout out to my friend in Greece, I think those 18 hits are real:-)

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4. Connecting to Twitter and Facebook and other social media does spread my blog, I have had many Facebook friends share my blog, a big compliment!  Also, a fellow blogger, Simon at Living in Dryden, graciously talked about and linked my blog to his, note this has led to many referrals.

Referrals to my blog
Referrals to my blog

5. People like visuals, my photo essay on a fall walk with our dogs was my biggest single day hit with 110 hits.https://itsaboutthestory.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/2329/

dog investigation under way
dog investigation under way

6. I enjoy the challenge of search engine optimization. By using links and titles with key words in them, I have found my blog posts showing up on the first few pages of goggle searches.  Below is a screen shot of a blog that showed up on page 2, at number 15 of 107,000 results, not too shabby.

Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization

7. Tags also work, I received a nice e-mail note from a sports writer in Vegas after writing a post about the movie 42 and Branch Rickey. This was especially fun because a gentleman in my writing group has commented on my audacity to write about sports, as a non-athletic woman:-)

In an unrelated situation, a WSKG reporter, Matt Richmond from the Innovation Trail, found my blog and requested an interview with me on rural broadband.  I was especially complemented because also interviewed for that segment were two thought leaders, Pat Pryor, a Tompkins County Legislator, and David Salway, Director of the NY Broadband Program Office.

8. There are some very good books about social media and much of what I learned, I read in…The New Rules of Marketing and PR.  Also, big shout out to my strategic communications professor at Ithaca College, Steve Seidman who supported my first blogging, social media efforts.  He blogs on Posters and Election Propaganda with interesting content and great visuals.

9. I really enjoy reading my friends’ blogs. One friend is from my writers’ group and posts about her life in this area, my adopted home for 20 years: LansingIthaca. Another friend lives in Jamaica and writes an elegant blog about fashion. It is deliberate and focuses on one aspect per post. http://sweetofstyle.wordpress.com/

10. WordPress.com allows me to write in an uninhibited way, sure I get criticisms but I get compliments too. The more I write, the more resilient I become and the more I learn. I have read quotes similar to this one by Taylor Swift, I agree with it:

I write songs to help me understand life a little more. I write songs to get past things that cause me pain. And I write songs because sometimes life makes more sense to me when it’s being sung in a chorus, and when I can write it in a verse.”
Taylor Swift, http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=I+write+to+understand

11.  Perspective, for every positive about blogging, I do keep in mind that there are always better bloggers and more popular  social media artists out there.  One day when I was talking to a friend, he told me about someone who had over a million hits to her Parkour YouTube.
12.  I blog because it is fun and it gives me a venue for my writing and photography, something I really enjoy. Which as my first reader, Radames Perez, tells me is at the heart of all creative efforts.  He also bought me a book in 2004, way before my blogging career began, Midnight Disease, The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain by Alice Weaver Flaherty.  This is about hypergraphia and I think my husband’s diagnosis was correct.


play-ball: painter and information can be found by play-ball 

play-ball  “it is the bottom of the ninth the bases are loaded and …”

 the music would play, the action would begin, in the 1960s on the black and white TV.  I am reading the book Underworld by Don DeLillo and the first section took me to a 1950s baseball game.  They were there, the adults of my 60s childhood:  Frank Sinatra, J. Edgar Hoover, and Jackie Gleason, at that one game.

The crowd moves with the action of the game as does the city, the nation, recorded in real-time, live on the radio, live in those pages.  There is no internet, there is no buzz, there is no one in the seats watching on the big screen overhead or on their iPhone, there is no one twittering about the beer that Jackie’s guzzling.

Real time, one pitch, one ball at a time.  And the movement, the movement of the players as they work for the goal mirrored by the movement of a young man through the streets of NY gliding through the concrete, dodging people to save his baseball, the winning baseball, the baseball that landed in his section of the stadium.  The baseball of possibility and hope.

Its warm and cold now, this week in 2012, a normal September feeling.  Driving past Cornell Wednesday, I decided to get out by the polo ring and take a walk.  You can still park in that area and not get a ticket.  I needed to stretch my legs and open my mind…4 hours on the computer, too much.  Walking past the polo building, then past the tennis building, I thought I saw it, a baseball field.  So I took a walk down…sure enough there is a baseball field with a big no trespassing sign.  No one around, and  maybe  one place left without a  video camera, besides, what were they going to do, shoot me? I walked the bases, not once, but twice.

My Dad loved the Yankees and he loved complaining about their leaders, especially Joe Torre.  I have no idea why.  No idea, he never told me and died soon after baseball season was over 7 years ago.  He took my brothers to Yankee games, I guess because that was the guy thing to do.  My friend Bev’s parents took three of us in 1973 to see the Mets in Shea Stadium.  I don’t remember anything about the game except that I fell in love with New York City and that my friend Bev loved Tom Seaver.

The only time I played baseball wasn’t really baseball, it was softball, and I played fifth and final substitute in 6th grade.  One day feeling all confident in my shortest person in the Class of 1979 status body, I said something cocky as I played outfield behind the second basegirl.  As if to show the team by showing me, Coach Russ  shot the ball right at me.  I tried to catch it but it hit my nose first, ouch! And then he said “See who is laughing now.”

So that is pretty much my history with baseball.  I enjoyed my walk around those bases yesterday. I felt the sanded grit under my feet and the possibility of a slide into 2nd or 3rd or the ball throw from 1st to 2nd and the runner out.

“Its Perez on base 3, batter up.”

“And Perez gets it to the 2nd baseman, just in time, ladies and gentlemen, he is out.”

I ended my walk, went to the Cornell Orchard, came home and took my dog Moby for a walk, a good walk.  The commentator could be heard

“And it’s Perez, trying to pull the dog off the deer scent.”

  “It’s Perez holding her own as the dog pulls her toward his destination and she pulls him back.”

At midnight, I opened my book, Underworld. I am way past the baseball game, the quiet of life without electronics: I have written a blog; corrected a student paper on line; placed a cell phone call; land line call; and posted to twitter twice.

Yep, way past the world where the ball has left the street kid’s hands…

copyright claireaperez@gmail.com

Memorial Day: Remembering my Aunt, a WAC & American Legion Post 746 Commander, Corning, NY

my Aunt Madeline in the army…a WAC during World War II, Women’s Army Corp

this is a lighter with the etching Past Commander on it; I photoshopped it to make the writing stand out

Memorial Day

Today is a day my Aunt Madeline was always busy. She was at the cemetery, a parade, or veteran’s event and arrived late to our holiday barbecues. I never went with her to these events and that is sad for me now, she is gone almost 20 years.

My aunt served in WW2, she was a WAC in Rome, mNY. A WAC was a member of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.

My aunt, Madeline Austin Castellino, was very involved in the Corning American Legion and I did go there with her. Once a year, at hunting season, she made a large venison dinner for the men at the legion. My sister and I went and helped her a few times. It was, from what I can see now, through a kaleidoscope of pots, pans, lettuce heads and napkins, a huge undertaking for one woman to orchestrate, but she seemed to enjoy doing it.

The most significant thing to me is that my aunt became the first woman Commander of the American Legion in Corning NY. Go Aunt Madeline, wherever you are. My Aunt was a doer and she honored the people who served, suffered, and died to live here and keep it, the US.

There is a line that Tom Hanks, playing Captain Miller, says at the end of saving private ryan that I find haunts me occasionally because of the things I take for granted. Hank’s character is dying, he is one of many that went into Europe to find and send home the only son left of an American mother named Mrs. Ryan. Hanks last words to Private Ryan: EARN THIS RYAN, EARN THIS!

It’s late Aunt Madeline, but I’m beginning to get it.


Rebranding at will

Imagine you are walking down the streets of New York City and you have not been branded yet. There is no story tagged to you, like a piece of tobacco rolled up in thin white paper without a name, you no longer have a label or a story. Gone is your award for class clown, bully, or friend, along with your tag lines: the family hero, writer, artist, black sheep, and on and on.

You, like the pieces of tobacco rolled in thin white paper have no brand. You are free to create your own brand. You can shake off what defined you and write your own story. Like the Virginia Slim, you can ‘go a long way baby.’ The projections of you can be wiped out like your fb account. This is what happened when I rebranded my dog Mu.

Mu was our first puppy. I fell in love with her from the beginning; failing to tell my husband she was not a pure bred til we were half way home. Five months into our relationship, things went bad. Mu grew powerful and started yanking at my shirt sleeve at the end of our walk. The louder I yelled, the more she tugged.

We went for walks or rather she did, with me almost achieving lift off as she dragged me down the path. What to do with this mutt, we should have bought a pure bred?

I told so many stories about my bad, bad dog, that people who knew me then, often ask now, “what ever happened with your crazy dog?”

Then one day, I picked Mu up from an overnight at the vet. I could hardly believe my eyes; there she stood, straight and still with the vet. I asked how she behaved: “Great, she is a sweetheart.”

On my way home I realized Mu was not crazy after all. I needed owner training. With the help of a kind friend, Cathy, I took control of the leash.

I then changed the story. Mu truly was a sweet dog and I started telling people that. In a few short conversations, my little Mu, became branded as the best little boxer this side of the Atlantic.

Now, back in New York City, as you walk through those streets smelling the car fumes and seeing the lights of possibility, you can take that energy and mold yourself into the creature you want to be ~ the one that lives on your own terms and sits like The Thinker, real or metaphorical, its own divine creation, living just once in a burst of beautiful light.

Like Don Draper of Mad Men, you can write your soul, for better or for worse. And as Don did, and I did for Mu you can take a story that condemns you, rewrite it, start spreading it, and change it.


It remains a mystery…

It remains a mystery…

I am not really sure when it happened, it is still a mystery.  I closed and locked the office door, took a gulp of my soda, put it in my bag and proceeded to my car.  Same old routine, just another day.   I walked past a colleague and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  My coat was still red and I was feeling like I wished I was wearing my black pea coat.

Nothing unusual seemed to happen in the elevator or on the walk past the customer service center, out the door, and past the pedestrians waiting for the bus.  I did not receive any funny looks and nothing felt any different.  I was thinking more about the red coat and how I just do not like it…it makes me feel like I put on bubble wrap.  I was sure that if it was not for the bubbles, I could almost past muster for an In Style check. 

I walked a couple of rows in the parking lot and still no clues.  The sun was shining, my car was clear of snow.  I looked forward to getting into the warm, sun-baked front seat on this cold winter day. 

 I unlocked the door and that is when I saw it.  The dribbles…brown dribbles, down my coat, streaming out of control.  ‘Oh my god, it is my soda and its leaking out of my black bag.’ I thought about the 12 ounces in my bag with all the work materials I had shoved in there and OMG (oh my God), my iPhone and $80 book.

I looked in the bag, sure enough, the stupid soda bottle turned upside down and the cap, loosened from my last gulp, was not able to hold back gravity.  Worse yet, on its way out of my black carry tote, the brown sugary soda pooled in the bottom, giving everything a good soak as it dripped out.

 Just so my friends can rest easy, the iPhone was safe.  I immediately fished it out of a bag inside the bag.  Everything else, however, needed a lot of remediation…drying in front of the wood stove and wiping down the sugar coating various parts of my car and person.

But the mystery remains…at what point did everything go bad…I thought I had sealed the bottle, even if I had not, why did it tip upside down, or had I been multi-tasking and placed it upside down?  and when and why did it take me so long to figure it out; that while I sat on the elevator, walked through the building and to my car, a disaster of my own making brewed silently along side me. 

 The tipping point…we must stay alert to prevent it, be vigilant to watch for it, and hope that we can mitigate its impact once it is in full tilt.  My electronic data was saved but damage wrought to a few things, which took time to fix, and cannot be completely repaired.

Today show hosts announce: June 17, 2011 will be the best day of the year.

Today, as they thumbed through a  magazine like The National Enquirer,  Kathy Lee and Hoda, the NBC talk show hosts,  declared that according to  what they were reading,  January 17 will be the worst day of the year and June 17 will  be the best  day of the year, that is the day I turn 5000000000000000.

I just finished Nora Ephron’s book entitled I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections and this is what my parody of her sounds like about the age of Fifty.  Fifty, I’m not suppose to turn 50, 50 is for old people.  Fifty is for my Mother and all the people wearing Alfred Dunner and elastic waist band pants.   Fifty is for people with severe chicken neck and a lot of grey hairs.  Fifty is for church suppers and the Friday night fish fry.  Hey wasn’t it just yesterday that I was 28 and my younger sister taunted me with the words:  “YOU WILL BE THIRTY, THIRTY.”   Nope, fifty is not for me. 

Molly  isn’t  turning 50, a few years younger, she fought a horrible cancer and died in her mid 20s.  Jim, my brother’s  friend and a gentle, fun, outgoing soul, he isn’t turning 50.  Somewhere in his 30s the lottery of life gave him a seizure  condition which caused an early death.  I thought of   these two as I drove to the dentist today.  It’s cold out, my lungs hurt from a recent bronchitis and I’m sure both, with their  enormous zest for life, would wish to be here and have a little lung pain and the gift of being 49.

Nora Ephron also points out in her book that she did not really get it until she was fifty.  “In fact looking back I was clueless until I was about fifty years old.”  The most ironic thing about aging is that as we get  it  more and more with each year, our bodies and minds let go of it.  It would make more sense if we got it when we were young and full of the energy needed to do something with it.    But then again, maybe we tried that and through time, realized certain truths that would have stymied us in our youth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~here is a poem I wrote on New Year’s Eve, sad things happen but good things do to