Not An(other) Author Blog

Yesterday I wrote a blog post that was focused on something I was currently thinking about. Friends had a baby and I wrote all the rambling little thoughts in my head. And it felt good, which is a breakthrough for me because I’ve really been struggling with my blog for quite a while.

As a writer, there are a lot of things you’re told you should do. Having a blog is one of them. I’ve had a blog since long before I considered myself a writer. I wrote about all the weird little observations I had about life and parenting, sometimes just blogged about nothing particular, I simply relocated my bizarre, irrational train of thought from my brain to the digital world and hit “Publish.”

But as a writer there’s the belief (and so many people will tell you!–so, SO many people) that you really have to focus on your platform, your social media presence, and ensuring that you have great, focused content. So I worked on making my blog more reflective of me as an author.

I visited the blogs of other authors (you should really check them out, they have amazingly helpful articles!) and worked hard to cultivate the content I thought would offer something from me…an (*ahem*) published author (I hope you read that with a thick, thick tone of ironic self-importance).

I obsessed about the kind of content I should offer in my blog, what kind of relevant, focused topics could I cover that would make my blog stand out, or even just keep people from sharing it as an example of what not to do. Periodically I came up with (and even wrote!) a few writing related blogs, sharing what I know about submissions, finding inspiration and craft. It didn’t take long for my posts to slow down to a slow crawl as I struggled with finding the inspiration to write more content.

I did an entire series of author interviews (which I love and will continue periodically because I firmly believe indie authors & their books don’t get enough exposure), and I’ve been continuously posting book reviews (which I’ll also do because *insert previous reason and include all authors/books*). But I could not find the motivation to come up with new, focused content.

And yesterday, I was more excited about a blog post than I have been in a very long time, and it wasn’t because of the topic. It’s because I was doing what I started blogging to accomplish: just regurgitating the thoughts in my head out into the world! There was no pressure, no need to make a point, no “audience” that I was trying reach. It was just me and my words, and it was then that I had my great blogging epiphany: I can’t do focused!!! My mind really isn’t focused, why should my blog be?

So, I’ve entirely reconsidered my “platform” as a writer and here’s what I’ve decided: I can’t construct a presence. The only way to be authentic as both an author–and a human–is to put my most authentic self out into the world. I can’t construct myself as a well-polished, poised and articulate writing professional online because there’s no way I can carry that off in real life. I’m real, and I’m flawed, and I can’t help what sparks my passion from day to day. One day I might be really interested in sharing something I’ve learned about the writing or publishing industry, but the next day I’m obsessively contemplating the binding properties of Cheeto’s dust. And that’s the shit I’m gonna blog about (oh, yeah, I’m also gonna cuss–and use the word “gonna”–as much as I damn well see fit!)

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Don’t Be Afraid of Spiders. There Are So Many More Terrible Things.

Here is one of those conversations that, when you’re in the middle of it, it seems like you are leading it into a good and positive place. And then you get to the end and realize how terribly wrong it all went and that you may be single-handedly responsible for further damaging your child’s psyche (if you really want to).

I was watching The Middle and The Baby through the window. The Middle had a Tee set up and was teaching The Baby how to hit the ball. It was one of those moments that you just know you have to get on film but you also know that if you are seen they will stop and the moment will be lost forever. I grabbed my video camera and headed to the one window that I knew had both a great view and a screen that had detached from the corner of the frame. I slid the window open and recorded for a minute or two before being detected. Both boys came over to the window and The Baby reached his pudgy little hand up into the window frame. The Middle jumped back a foot, a mortified look on his face.
“He’s touching a spider web,” he yelled.
“It’s not a spider web,” I said, trying to quell the rising panic and future trauma of having witnessed someone actually touch a spider web.
“What is it then?”
I thought fast, looking for an answer that would seem less threatening. “It’s just a cobweb.” (That’s right, I have ripped screens and cobwebs….judge me)
“What’s a cobweb?”
“It’s nothing, “ I tried to brush it off, “just a dusty…thing.” (Really, the kid is 6 and has lived in my house every year since his birth, he should know what a cobweb is by now!).

A while later he asks, “What’s a cob?”
“What?” (By then I had forgotten about that whole conversation)
“What’s a cob?”
As I realized what he was talking about, I saw a golden opportunity to create my own legacy. A child-hood memory that my children could pass on to their children detailing the little known fable of the great and evil Cob. A creature so hideous, with yellow eyes and pointed teeth, that he is forced to hide in the corners of rooms and windows and under beds awaiting the nights when he is finally free to wander, feeding on anything left laying in his path. His one hope is that some night a child will have left a pile of clothing, toys or books high enough so that he can reach the bedding and pull himself up to the top of the bed. Once there he only needs to feed off the finger of a sleeping child and he will grow to the size of an elephant and will then rule the world. Just one finger is all he needs…

The story grew quickly in my head and tickled my tongue, wanting to be verbalized. And my mind, just as quickly began weighing the pros and cons of what I was about to say. A mental slide show raced through my head with images of me soothing The Middle from nightmares night after night after night. My mind also factored in the distribution of information, meaning that The Oldest would inevitably hear the story of the great and terrible Cob and he would also be up with nightmares every night. And that kid doesn’t need any more to fuel to fire his fears.

I‘m not proud to admit that I wrestled with my decision, and that both choices were equally tempting and I could imagine either decision warming my heart a little.

“Mom. What’s a cob?”
“There is no such thing as a cob, son.” There, I’d done it. I made the right choice. I was free from the temptation. No more stories growing in my mind, begging to be verbailized.
“Then, what makes a cobweb?”

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I’ll Always Blame the Monkey

It’s that time of year again. The flowers are blooming, summer is just days away, and somewhere in America, some asinine music teacher decides that one more program has to be thrust onto every unsuspecting parent who has a second grader within her grasp. Oh yes the Spring Musical. We gather with our smartly dressed families, charge the batteries of our cameras and check to be sure that we have plenty of memory/film/tape to record every excruciating screech sweet melody. Mostly though, we are hoping that our camera is running when that one asshole parent does something humiliating. Well, ladies and gentlemen, this year, I was the asshole.

This year’s performance was scheduled for a Thursday evening. Now, since The Hubbin’ works out of town, he not only misses all of these mBrody with the monkeyemorable events, he’s also absolved of any guilt when things go terribly wrong, as they so often do when I take my wretched cherubs out in public. Since I didn’t have my second-string available, I called in my support troops (mommy, S-I-L, and da’Niece). The Middle had a baseball game and was firmly entrusted to another family member. So, there I sit, in the elementary school cafeteria, with my ass drooping over the sides of a really, really…really tiny chair (I mean really, with the obesity problem in America it isn’t more economical for a school on a shoe-string budget to buy some big-kid chairs for the times when all the fat-ass families are invited, rather than to keep replacing the really, really, really tiny chairs?). I’m feeling pretty good; the numbers are on my side. One kid on the stage (and he’s really the music teacher’s responsibility at this point) and one little 19-month-old in the audience, surrounded by three adults and a teenager; Yep, all my bases are covered. For those who know the story about the death of rule #37 I even have The Baby in his distance-limiting apparatus (because saying “leash” just sounds white-trash).

The starThe Three Piggy Opera was fairly well received. The kids are doing their best to carry a tune be mindful of both the tone and composition of each piece. The Oldest, who seems to know on a cellular level any time a camera is pointed in his direction, has his smile-sing-wave-repeat routine down to a science. The parents and grandparents are being very courteous to each other, taking turns crouching in the aisle of the first row to get those blessed snapshots while squatting amid the collection of toddlers and pre-K siblings who are sitting on the floor. My second row seat is the best in the house to see my pride and joy, and also to serve as the scene of what’s about to go down.

The son of one my mommy friends joins the crowd of kids in the first row. The Baby sees his friend and wants to join him. I have the tail of his monkey “backpack” and plenty room so I let him join the group. He was literally an arms length away. No worries.

Here is where the universe began to unfold its diabolical plot to humiliate me in front of all those judgmental parental units who were there to worship at the alter of their offspring (I’m not casting stones, just saying…if it hadn’t been me, I would’ve been JUST as judgmental!).

So, within nanoseconds, a grandpa steps over the monkey tail with his first leg, almost tripping. I let the tail fall to the ground because The Baby is sitting and I don’t want to be known as the deranged mom who broke a grandpa’s hip. As the tail hits the ground and grandpa kneels over the pre-K brigade in the aisle to get his precious snapshot, The Baby, sensing a new degree of freedom, stands. I lunge for the monkey tail as he takes his first unrestrained steps towards the stage. Grandpa shifts back off of his arthritic knee onto the other, blocking my path. I will my arms to stretch like Mr. Fantastic, just enough to grab the tail of my eloping toddler. I’m balanced on one leg, reaching desperately forward with my gigantic ass in the face of the second row (and all the rows behind them) and my saggy, post-breast feeding jugs hanging over a traumatized 4th grader in the first row. Finally (and I think just to get my breasts off of her cheek) the girl in the first row reaches out and grabs the tail of the escaping monkey. And she just holds it, still completely out of my reach. “Just give it a little pull,” I tell her (hopefully that’s the last time she’ll comply with a request phrased just that way). She hesitantly pulls against the rabid monkey who is lunging toward house of straw where the little piggies are holed up and the wolf is preparing to huff and puff. I manage to slip my fingers into the loop of the tail as he lunges again. I give a back and up yank and pull him off his feet and up into my grasp. He is writhing, of course and the instant I get him pulled to my body, I loose my balance and bump into grandpa, right as I hear the click of his camera. Or, more accurately the click of that perfectly composed photo going to crap.

At this point there is nothing left to do but to take my writhing, screeching toddler and leave the room. And I will always blame that damn monkey!

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An Ultimatum, a Challenge and a Tough Decision

I have found myself in quite a quandary. Do I relent and take the “boys-will-be-boys” approach and fail to follow through on a threat that I made? Or, do I prove what a cold, callous bitch I can be? Tough call!

This whole dilemma came about because of a very big event that has been brewing in our family. It is something that has been talked about and planned for the past year. This monumental event will be taking place tomorrow. It will be the sixth annual celebration of The Middle’s birth. That’s right, it is a little boy’s birthday and there is drama in the air.

Now, I have to tell you that for the past several weeks said child has been pretty full of himself. You see, he’s going to be six now. That means that he is nearly a man. And, as a man it is his duty to assert himself, speak his mind, claim his territory—oh, and leave his fucking underwear on the floor. This man has failed to remember that he’s had a birthday approaching and that I am the one person who is solely responsible for how glorious– or miserable– that celebration is. (And, yes I have The Hubbin’ who I always confer with, but let’s be honest, I ask his opinion in a way that is more a statement of how things will be with a complimentary question mark at the end)

As the compassionate and loving mommy I am (yeah, I know, I could barely type that without laughing myself) I pay very close attention, throughout the year to the things that my children are excited about and have added to their “I Want It” list. After I discard all of the items, which I deem to be crap, I file the appropriate gift ideas away in my little mental mommy file, to be recalled at the next gift-giving holiday. Let me assure you, I have some great ideas in that file and sadly, many of them are nowhere near being earned by my heathen offspring. This year, I chose some items, which I knew, were both perfect for the interests of my darling son and congruent with his behavior over the past year. OK, that’s bullshit; I just bought him the shit I knew would rock his world!

This afternoon, in the car, The Middle tells The Oldest, “I’m gonna go home and find my birthday presents.” At that point I was both panicked and pissed. Panicked because I have this pattern: I buy the presents in advance and hide them really well; then I bring them in the house and hide them in my bedroom closet until I get around to wrapping them (always at the last minute!). I was pissed because I’ve outdone myself this year. These gifts are the shit and this cockey little asshole can’t even wait 15 hours until his birthday and he’s gonna ruin my glory? “If you do go looking for them,” I told him (and here’s where the Ultimatum comes into play…) “ I will take them back to the store and you won’t get them.” The conversation ended there and was forgotten by all. Or so I thought.

I arrived home exhausted, hungry and carrying a baby in a crap-loaded diaper into the house. While I was in pig wrestling The Baby to get him cleaned and re-diapered, The Middle apparently let himself into my bedroom, and the closet, dug through the “camouflage” pile of clothes, opened the bag and saw his present. He then made a very serious mistake. He ran straight into the dining room and told his brother, the town crier, what he was getting for his birthday.  Such a rookie move! Within 25 seconds I knew what happened. And, as I looked into the eyes of that devious spawn from my loins, he gave me a very confidant, and smug sneer (and, that would be the Challenge!). It was then that I knew I had to crush him.
“It’s an awesome present isn’t it?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said nodding enthusiastically.
“It’s too bad I have to take it back to the store.”
And…cue the crying.

So, now I’m conflicted. Asshole or Princess? Which do I want to be remembered as? Which suits me best?

It’s a tough call.

A Tough Decision.

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