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Friday, May 22, 2009

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Thursdays With Athena


The circle widens, contracts, and rotates from week to week, but the axis coordinates are more or less fixed: five o'clock sharp, my front porch, kids welcome, no husbands, no regrets. The drinks are fancy, the snack is simple. The children are encouraged to play video games and forage from the pantry. This is our time. The Ladies have convened.

Our conversation is a pool with sunlit shallows and sudden depths. We talk about hair and make up, sex, clothes, religion, music, food, and the riddle of being wives and mothers, and still ourselves--the invisible handiwork in our laps that needs untangling over and over again. We hold it up for each other to help tease out the strands.

The laughter becomes deep and earthy. The second round is shaken and poured. Someone puts chicken nuggets in the microwave for the children. The husbands are called, soothed, cajoled, notified. A little while longer. This is our time.

Patrick stays discreetly in the background, steering the boys toward baths and homework. On a trip inside to refill the ice bucket, I tease him, "We are talking about our vaginas. You don't want to go out there!" He raises his eyebrows in mock horror, smiles. The kids slip outside, hovering near the porch like moths around lamplight. I wonder if I should shoo them back inside, if our conversation is too strong for them. They are wound up with excitement. Patrick herds them into the house, but they keep escaping, dancing on the lawn in the twilight, pagans around a mighty bonfire.
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Friday, May 15, 2009

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I've Loved You For So Long


I've wanted one of these hand-stamped metal charms by local artisan Joella Peck for so long. I finally went and got myself one.

I was out with friends the other night when someone asked about it. "Everybody gets their children's names," I said, "but I wanted my husband's."

My friend sighed. "No one's in love anymore."

We are.


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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

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The Half-Assed Hitch Knot Post


Remember the hermit crabs? It's okay if you don't, because I myself go days, sometimes weeks, forgetting we have them. Then I remember, and pick up the shells one by one to see if any are still alive. Incredibly, we still have three of them (one didn't make it through our 2007 trip to Ireland, but that was on my Mom's watch). They are the most long-lived hermit crabs of anyone I know, who is not living in their parents' basement, running websites about hermit crabs. As you can see by the above pictured specimen, they are doing just fine (uh, dude, that wouldn't be a piece of someone's claw you're about to eat there, would it? ).

"I don't know what it says about us that we are able to create perfect living conditions for something that apparently thrives on neglect," I said to Patrick.

"I don't know what you mean," he said from behind his computer, as a half-naked child walked by carrying a box of Froot Loops.

Posting to my blog these days is like lifting the screen of the hermit crab tank and turning over shells. I think none of you will still be here, and yet, there you are, all cute and shiny-eyed (and hopefully not eating each other—does that crab look guilty to you?).

Book writing is seriously cramping my blog. When I signed the deal, I briefly entertained the notion of taking a blog sabbatical. But I just can't do it. I'd miss it, and I'd miss you. I miss your comments so much in the book writing process, I've had to start sending my editor single chapters as I complete them, just so I can feel like the words are going out to someone. My deadline is this fall. I hope you all can just thrive on the neglect a few months longer.

In the meantime, things are just going to continue be a little half-assed around here (books, as it turns out, require one's whole ass). I am finding it easy to keep up my Noteworthy blog, because over there, I can blog about cupcakes and fluffy bath towels without shame.

Maybe I can learn to live with posting "lite" here at Notes. In addition to the final installment of Blogging 101, I'm aware of some other story lines left hanging. I'll do a proper on the Blog tutorial, but in unapologetic half-assed fashion, here's a gathering of the other loose threads:

  • True Moms Book Event: Rained. But still well attended. Thanks!
  • Mom: Rained most of the time. Gone home to May snow.
  • Bunny: Still here. Getting bold. Likes carrots.
  • Clothes Dryer: Still broken. Clothesline alternative less charming with record consecutive days of rain. New dryer on order.
  • Tortoise: Released into backyard. "Slow and steady" motto revised to "sink or swim."

Thanks for hanging around.

(Hey, what's that in your mouth? Drop it! DROP IT!)


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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Blogging 101: Session IV

Yours, Mine, Ours: Blogging Kids

Things evolve so quickly in new media. Hearkening back to the "early" days of blogging (about five years ago) makes me feel like adding "consarnit," and "whippersnapper" to the end of every sentence. Back in the dawn of time, young whippersnappers, there was a lot of controversy over the safety of publishing stories and photographs of kids on the internet. Some believed that predators would flip through blogs like the Sears Roebuck catalog of victims and simply pick out the ones they wanted.

There are still those who think social media was sent by the devil to destroy newspapers, spread aids, and eat children, but prevailing wisdom has come to conclude that children are no more vulnerable being seen online than in any other public place: the mall, the playground, the baseball park, their school newsletter, or the city paper's coverage of the spelling bee (when kids are actively engaged in online activities, that's another issue).

Which is to say, children are vulnerable. Anywhere. If you have some, you need to watch them.

Go check on them now. I'll wait.

It might surprise you to know that I am actually a lunatic when it comes to protecting my kids' privacy (ask our PTA or their babysitter). But security concerns are a very small part of it. It has more to do with trying to balance the public aspect of our family's life. It's important to me, as a writer, to tell the stories of this big, little life I love. It's important to me, as a mother, to preserve private space for my children to grow. Reconciling those two interests is a continuous improvisation, not a uniform policy. The borders around the territory where mine and their stories intersect is a shifting one as they, and I, grow.

To date, I've kept the boys' names out of the blog. Not so much because I worry someone could use that information for nefarious purposes--anyone on the playground can hear me bellowing first, middle and last names, loud and clear. And follow us up to our front door, for that matter (where our rottschund will eat them). I've written around the boys names' as a signal to me and my readers that the central focus here isn't my children, though they run through it, tracking mud and sweetness, leaving the front door open and slamming the back.

Notes to Self isn't a title I put a whole lot of thought into. But it's been a good one. This a journal of my experience, my identity. The context right now happens to be family life. But I don't have to worry about "rebranding" myself when my children are grown. My writing includes them, but it's not about them.

That's where I am with it today, anyway. Other blogging parents have arrived at different decisions. Know what? They probably have different bedtimes for their kids, too. Like every other judgement call you make as a parent, do whatever works for you and yours, within the bounds of safety, love and respect.

Note I said you and yours. Nothing will get you in hot water faster than blogging about other people's kids, a common newbie mistake. My recommendation is not to post any identifiable content about a child online, anywhere, without checking with the parents first. By identifiable content, I mean photos and names. If someone else's child has a supporting role in a blog post, read Blogging 101: Session II and proceed with caution.

I'm going to talk a little more about photos and and copyright trespass in the final session of this series. What have I left out that you'd like to discuss? Include a question in the comments section below, and we'll tack a little Q&A on the end of the next installment.

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