Category Archives: blogging

Tipsy

I do not drink alcohol when I am pregnant or breastfeeding.  Now, keep in mind that I have been trying to conceive, pregnant, or breastfeeding since 2003, with only a few months off here or there.  It seems that as soon as I regain custody of my tatas from one child, I relinquish rights to my womb to another.

What all this means is that – when I finally do wean Lilah – I am going to be a mighty cheap date.

I miss drinking.  I do.  Not in the I-need-a-drink-before-I-begin-ripping-of-my-fingernails-and-howling-at-the-moon kind of way.  More in the wouldn’t-a-glass-of-wine-every-now-and-then-be-lovely kind of way.  I was just never that heavy a drinker before, although I had my mid-twenties like everyone else.  By the time I was trying to get pregnant, I was largely over hard liquor.  I just didn’t need that nasty, bile-filled kind of feeling in my belly.

Beer?  I am just going to say it, even though it means Anheuser-Busch will probably pull my sponsorship.  Beer tastes disgusting.  I cannot believe anyone likes it.  I am to this day convinced it is an Emperor-has-new-clothes type of phenomenon, with people just faking a desire to drink that swill in order to impress others, who in turn are afraid to admit their uncool antipathy towards sharp, carbonated liquid that smells like piss.

But I like wine. Red wine, to be precise.  Shiraz.  Merlot.  Brunello.  I am no sommelier (that’s, like, a wine expert), but I know what I like.  Remember that my father did write the definitive book on building one’s own wine cellar.  I may think he’s an ass, but I obviously inherited something from him other than the dashing good looks and the propensity to over-think things.

When Lilah weans, I will clean out those dusty glasses that hang out on the top shelf of my cabinet and sometimes pour myself a small glass of wine while I make dinner.  Actually, it will be a big glass because I like the way the large glasses breathe, but there won’t be much wine in it.  I am taking care of three kids.  I am cooking.  I’m not an idiot.  But, I don’t think a few sips of wine when I am not driving anywhere will hurt anyone.

Nor do I think an occasional glass of wine at dinner sets a bad example.  To the contrary – I worry that my kids don’t get enough of an example of a responsible way to handle alcohol.  I am relieved my father-in-law does sometimes have a drink around the kids, so they can see that adults have a first glass now and then without needing to have a second glass.

Everything in moderation, folks.  Everything in moderation.  Show your kids that alcohol can be used responsibly – I’m all for that.  Enjoy an adult beverage, because, shit, you’re an adult.

Should you get behind the wheel of a car after drinking?  Hell, no.  We make a show of one adult asking the other, “Will you drive home?” before even ordering a drink.  Should you get sloshed in front of your kids?  Absolutely not, and if you are, then I think perhaps seeking some help is in order.  In fact, I sort of think that getting piss drunk and waking up with someone else’s panties on ought to be behavior reserved for weekends away from the children.  A drunk adult would be useless during a middle-of-the-night fire, and parents have to think about the safety of their kids.

I am thrilled that the blogosphere has given those who need it a safe place to admit they need help.  I am also angry that the Mommy Bloggers are being attacked for writing about drinking.  There is no shame in wanting a drink now and again.  There is nothing wrong with referencing alcohol in one’s writing as a way of bemoaning the stress of parenting and the wish that perhaps we were young and hip again.  Because we’re not.  We’re old farts with little screaming people to take care of.  And sometimes, we’re allowed to go out with our girlfriends for a drink.

Or, in my case, a quarter of a drink, since any more than that and I’m likely to start swinging from the light fixtures.

The pledge

It’s late at night, and I oughtn’t be writing.  I ought to be sleeping.  But I have something I need to say.  Please forgive a post written in haste and not in the least polished.

I was leaving the YMCA parking lot a few months ago, and I put my little token into the machine that lifts the barrier to let me out.  To my surprise, the machine returned my token AND lifted the barrier.  Score – one dollar saved.

But, then, I started to think about it, and I realized that I had taken a dollar from the coffers of the YMCA, and there is probably a special circle of hell reserved for those who do such things.  So, the next time I was in the Y, I gave the guy at the front desk a buck and explained the situation.  “Wow,” he said, “thanks for being honest.”

“Dude, when I sell out my integrity, it is going to be for a lot more than a dollar,” I replied.

Of course, I don’t really have a lot of offers to sell out for more cash.  I am sort of a nobody.  I am not a government official, a celebrity, or even particularly good-looking.  No one particularly wants my honor.

And, so, when someone commented on my last post, “Have you really taken the pledge? Because you are exactly and clearly the kind of person who doesn’t even need it,” I am forced to admit that she is right.  I would like to take it as a compliment, along the lines of: “You are so darned honorable that you don’t need to pledge to remain so.”  But the fact is, no one is offering me much to compromise my integrity in the first place.

I have, what, a few hundred readers?  Considerably fewer if you subtract my husband’s nine gazillion relatives who so supportively read my blog.  I am not the chick the marketers really care to get their hands on.  And, yes, that makes me sad, because I like to think my writing is good and people want to read it.  But the fact is that only so many people have found me, and most of those are people I read in return.

We are a community, and that part I do like.  But, I am wistful and wish that I could be one of those people who folks read just because they like my work.  I do wish I were reaching thousands, not hundreds.  I wish those thousands were flocking here because they like what they get.

And what they get is honesty.

Now and then, I am contacted to attend an event or get something free.  The problem is, when I go to an event, I feel obligated to write something positive about it.  I feel like it is part of the bargain, and I feel terrible about letting my side down.  But then, I also feel like a shit for selling something that I might not myself have purchased.

OK, so part of my problem is clearly that I have Jewish guilt.  My grandmothers would be proud.

The other part of my problem is that I want you all to know, as my kids know, that what you are getting here is pure honesty.  I am more or less a failed writer and a SAHM.  I have little to offer the world: I am not helping pay the bills, I am not feeding starving children, I am not solving the healthcare crisis.  I’m not even entertaining a large audience.  All I have to offer up to the world is my honesty and my honor.

And, so, yes, I did take the pledge.  Because yesterday’s post was hard for me to write.  I was grateful for the invitation to the event and I felt terrible being in any way negative.  But, the minute I start glossing over my thoughts and reactions, then this blog loses the only thing it has going for it.

That badge is there because, despite the fact that few people are approaching me with free stuff, I want to make it clear where I stand.  If I go to an event, if I accept something free, there is no commitment on my part to try to sell something to my friends and readers.  This may be why, by the way, I get so few offers…

When the time comes to sell out my integrity, I am going to ask a hell of a higher price than a free DVD or tickets to the circus.

I can’t believe it myself

            Yesterday was my two-year blogoversary, and if I have earned anything in the past 24 months, it is that one should not bother to post anything on Memorial Day, because there are only three people and a crocus reading blogs on the Monday of a holiday weekend.  Perforce, I have saved this post for today, when someone might actually see it.

            I think we can safely label this a mommy blog, given the amount of time I have devoted to writing about excrement – it won’t come, it won’t go in the toilet, it comes to one child while another is having a tantrum and I am feeding the third, and on and on and on.  Poop is a giant part of my life right now – Benjamin needs less fruit and more in the form of bananas; Lilah is not allowed to have any bananas and needs regular dosings of spinach and prune juice; how the hell does Zach manage to poop at all, given that he eats nothing but bread; and why is my husband always away from home when all three children do it at the same time?

            There is more to my mothering than wiping asses, of course.  I had to interrupt writing this post to go tend to the kidney beans I was cooking on the stove, because Benjamin loves them there kidney beans and I am trying to cut us back on canned goods (BPA), processed foods (too much soy), sugar (because it is crazy making), and salt (duh).  Oh, and meat.  Of course, considering the aforementioned poop, perhaps I should also be cutting Benjamin back on beans.

            However, the reason I blog is that, in addition to being very patient with my need to tell innumerable stories about my children, this is the place where people recognize me as a person beyond my kids.  A year ago, I posted that I was beginning to feel like a writer.  Now, I feel less like one.  The economy has tanked, and the book isn’t getting placed anytime soon.  I did have two articles accepted last week, a tiny start in the scaffolding I will need to construct to scale the side of the publishing world and drop my manuscript in from the top-story window.  Nonetheless, in most of my life, I feel like a sham claiming to be a writer.  Y’all help me retain a shred of that delusion, for which I should either thank you or send you a bill for the anti-hallucinatory drugs I clearly need.

            Twitter annoyed me, Facebook is a nice way to stay in touch with friends, my television sits dormant when my husband is out of town except for a daily episode of The Wonder Pets, I am still trying to figure out how to use my iphone for musical purposes, and my children have no toys that light up or make sounds. (We like to make the kids do the playing.)  Hell, I don’t even turn the lights on in my house or use the dryer (we love in Southern California; that’s what sunshine is for).  I’m just one sledgehammer away from being a Luddite.  But, blogging?  Blogging sustains me and helps me hold onto my identity.

            And so I thank you, once again, for bearing with me and sticking around, even though I never comment as much as I would like on your blogs.  I thank you for holding my hand through my excruciating parenting moments.  I thank you for reading my twelve gazillion posts on Proposition 8, even though you live in Massachusetts.  I thank you for seeing me as a person, not just a set of lactating mammary glands and a minivan.

            As my blogoversary gift, please leave a comment today, even if you never have or are not the commenting type.  Tell me something interesting about you: maybe the title of your favorite book, which baseball team you root for, the greatest television theme song, or the best use for five frozen jars of kidney beans.  Or just say “hi.”

            Let’s do it again next year.

Name that blog

Yesterday, I reached in my back pocket and pulled out a British coin.  That’s because I hadn’t worn those trousers since we lived in London.  Which is my way of saying I am fitting into clothes that I last wore before I got pregnant with Lilah.  Either the breastfeeding is starting to pay off or the flu I had two weeks ago had some side benefits.

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I am going to start a book review blog.  It’s going to be super cool because I will be writing about books in much the same way I write about everything else.  So, it might be just a little irreverent or edgy and certainly won’t be anything you’d find in the NY Times (sad to say, because I’d love to be found in the NY Times).  But, I need a name for this blog.  So, please, tell me what to call my book review blog.  Think of a kickin’ title, because I suck at titles (except for the article I wrote about Dreiser’s anxiety about the theater, which I titled “Performance Anxiety” — that was a good title.)

And I didn’t have to lift my shirt except to feed the baby

             It was a crappy day in a crappy week.  Granted, I have three kids, so most days are full of actual crap, but this one was also metaphorically a glistening pile of shit leaking out of a diaper onto my living room rug.  It was only Tuesday, and I was ready to throw in the towel.  Frankly, I am not sure why the day of the week ought to matter.  It’s not like my weekends are any different from my weekdays.  I wipe asses and clip nails and prepare meals and breastfeed and foster fine motor development and give each kid the 15 minutes a day of special time that assholes everywhere keep reminding me are so very important to making my kids feel special.

            (An aside: could someone please explain to me the merits of making my kids feel special?  Maybe they aren’t special.  Maybe they are totally ordinary.  Wouldn’t I be doing them some huge disservice by making them feel all unique?  Some ninth-grade teacher will give them a C, which means “average,” and the whole caravansary will dissolve into thin air.)

            The boys were climbing the walls.  I went to take out the trash and had that thought we’re not supposed to have but we all do: “I could just keep walking.”  Lilah is bizarrely angelic, making us wonder about mix-ups at the hospital, but even she was having a fussy day.  I was snapping at the kids even as I considered the distinct possibility that my behavior might not be helping any of our moods.

            I had to open the front door for something or another, although I am proud to report it was not to attempt an escape or to eject a child.  And there, on the front step, was a box that must have been left at some point in the afternoon while I was preoccupied with a runny nose or sending Zach to the Unkindness Chair.  And the return address was from New Orleans.

            So, although it is mucho, mucho belated, I would like to publicly thank Painted Maypole for the Mardi Gras beads she sent last month, especially the incredibly long string of giant pink ones, which my sons miraculously have been sharing nicely for nearly four weeks.  Those beads turned our afternoon around and entertained the boys for a good long time, allowing me to both nurse the baby and scrape Play Doh off of the underside of the kitchen table. 

            Of course, the next day sucked even worse.  But the beads rock.

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            If you have not already done so, I would like to IMPLORE you to click on the button at the right (or RIGHT HERE) and go vote for me at the Bloggers’ Choice Awards.  (And thanks to Vodka Mom for sending people to vote.)  You see, I am nominated for The Blogitzer, which is for way smart writing, and Dooce is beating me.  Now, I know she will win.  She wins all of these things.  But, if all of you go over there and register right now and vote for me, maybe for just one day I can surpass her.   And that will be my fifteen minutes of feeling special.

“only one in any number of generations can write what is written”

            The good news is that I think I have found a writing project I want to pursue.  While I did a chunk of the research in my past life as a doctoral graduate student, there is still a great deal of reading and thinking to be done before I begin to write.  Which brings us to the bad news.

            I’m going to back off from blogging for awhile.  I’ll post from time to time – maybe once a week – so do check in here.  But, I am like tofu: my writing takes on the flavor of what I am reading.  So, I need to stop reading blogs for the most part and concentrate on books.  I’ll be back, but if you don’t see me around your blogs, you know where I’ll be: neck high in Gertrude Stein.

            Yes, really.  I’m dumping you for Gertrude Stein.  Only, don’t think of it as dumping.  Think of it as “being on a break.”  Really, I’m just cheating on you with Gertrude Stein.

            I’m excited about this.  Lately, my writing has been about as dried and shriveled as my grandmother’s breasts.  Often, when I finish a long project, I flounder and wonder if I’ll ever find something else I want to write about.  I have come to realize that the subjects always present themselves. 

            Now, if you’ll excuse me, there is an egotistical lesbian expat genius awaiting my attention.  I just hope Alice Toklas doesn’t get too jealous.

Video killed the radio star

            When I first started blogging, almost two years ago, there was a vibrant community of bloggers waiting to welcome me with open arms.  They were intelligent women (mostly) and men (or at least a man) who wrote wittily and thought deeply about parenting, politics, and something else that begins with a P.

            Lately, however, I am starting to feel like Bette Midler in the phone booth at the end of The Rose.

            Some people have bid dramatic adieus, some have stopped posting with any regularity, and some stopped reading and then stopped writing.  Part of this is due to life’s craziness.  Hell, if you have a blog, you’ve probably noticed that I no longer use capital letters when I comment, if I comment at all.  That’s because I am breastfeeding with the other hand.  My comments are few and far between, but I promise, I am there reading.

            Where have all the bloggers gone? Pete Seeger famously asked.  As far as I can tell, most of them are on Twitter.  So, I went ahead and joined Twitter, and my reaction was much like my response to Tom Cruise: I just don’t get the appeal.  Facebook I like.  It allows me to get in touch with people from my past lives (how very Shirley MacLaine of me).  I also like the updates, which are often witty and usually not too plentiful.

            Twitter?  Call me old-fashioned, but I like full sentences sometimes.  Maybe it is just too casual for someone who likes the formality of the written word.  Maybe I am a curmudgeon who cannot accept that the times, they are a’changing.  Who knows?

            Back in my senior year of high school, when I was filling out financial aid forms, I got totally stressed out because my life was way too complicated for those little spaces on the form.  I couldn’t make my situation fit into those tiny boxes.  Life is not fill-in-the-blank.

            So, by all means, follow me on Twitter.  I’ll post every now and again.  But, if you want to really know what is going on in my life, you’re going to have to check in here, because my life is too complicated for 140 characters.  I have found wonderful new blogs to read, but I miss some of the folks who have moved on.  Maybe I am like the ghost on Grey’s Anatomy: I just won’t accept you are breaking up with me.