Dec 31 2017

The Stuff You Actually Wanted to Know, 2017 Edition

It’s that time again: the post where I smuggle you behind the scenes of my blog so you can peek at the stuff other people are Googling.

I’m always fascinated by the search terms that bring traffic to this site, and they seem to get more interesting — and more extensive — every year. In 2017, almost every single one had to do with teaching, which sort of baffles me: I’ve only published two posts (maybe three, if you count this one) that are teaching-specific. But this post from last April continues to generate the most visits by far, with somewhere between 500 and 1000 unique views each week.

Usually I share the top 10 searches, but this year I’ll show you the ones I found most captivating.

1. “when we don’t contemplate people anymore”: No real idea what that means, but I like to imagine this person sitting pensively on a park bench, staring off into the distance, yearning for DEFINITIVE ANSWERS about why our kindness and humanity sometimes seem to be crumbling. Anyone who cares about compassion has a fan in me.

2. “why nervous breakdown on stage”: BECAUSE STAGE FRIGHT IS A BEAST, dude. I so get this (but am still unsure about how that particular search led someone to my site). Standing in front of 150 teenagers a day for twelve years eradicated that panic for me, but after such a lengthy hiatus I often wonder if I’d be able to form a single coherent sentence before an audience of — well, anyone other than my 2-year-old.

3. “in memory of Melissa Bowers”: Um, I know we all have to die sometime — and the website How Many of Me says there are 180 Melissa Bowerses in the United States, so statistics (and logic) will tell you this search is not about me — but it was a little unnerving to see this just casually appear under Top Searches.

4. “my husband made me a call girl”: Please tell me this person was merely looking up information about the plot of some terrible one-star movie from 1987. Otherwise, I’m praying she has long since escaped that “marriage” — yes, in quotes. Because sister, that’s a captor, not a husband.

All searches come through anonymously, so I can’t even follow up; but if this is real life, we desperately wish the best for you, whoever and wherever you are.

5. Things About Teaching. So. Many. Things. SO many. These are only a few, and I’ll let them speak for themselves — though I can’t wait to hear what you think, friends.

“how to help high school students who don’t want to work hard”
“how do teachers feel if students don’t talk anymore”
“my boss thinks Type B teachers aren’t good”
“starting to hate my students”
“I’m done with teaching”
“tired of teaching I want to be a full time writer”

“what can I do with a teaching degree if I don’t want to teach?”
“if I taught somewhere for 13 years is it wise to leave”
“I think be[ing] a teacher is not my passion”
“good teachers don’t have to like teaching”
“how would you reach the teachers who do not want to learn any more about computers”

“I am a college professor and can’t take my students anymore. What do I do?”
“after tomorrow I will miss my students & colleagues”

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These searches — some of them pretty disheartening — were part of what inspired the post “Teachers, You Should Watch What You’re Doing.” Please read it if you haven’t. You, teachers, are doing wonderful, important work.

And so are you, mamas. And you too, friends. I’m grateful for each one of you — thank you for being here, for sharing your stories and for stubbornly shining your light. May it ease us into a kinder, more beautiful 2018.

About Melissa

Melissa is a SAG-AFTRA actress and former high school teacher from Michigan who (reluctantly) moved across the country when she was six months pregnant. She is the winner of the SmokeLong Quarterly Grand Micro Contest and a past winner of the Breakwater Review Fiction Prize (selected by Susanna Kaysen, author of Girl, Interrupted), the F(r)iction flash fiction competition, and The Writer's inaugural personal essay contest, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, The Greensboro Review, New Ohio Review, HuffPost, Scary Mommy, and The Boston Globe Magazine, among others. She has been shortlisted for both the Bridport Prize and the Bath Flash Fiction Award and was recently selected for The Best Small Fictions and the Wigleaf Top 50. Melissa is represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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