Blog Roots

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“What was the point of writing a blog that nobody else could read?”

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I will never write about addiction.

clay mother sea of cortez

I will never write about addiction, even though I should. I do not visit its hard landscape easily.  I lived there once.  It consumed me.    The Addict dragged me to its jagged edge and left me there screaming as he plunged into its heart.   When I am forced to describe addiction to others, I use spare language.  I do not embellish.  There are no colors or smells or quirky characters we  met along the way.   There are nouns and verbs.  They are black and they are white.   This is very unusual for me.  When I am forced to remember addiction, however, it is vivid.  Like a slide show set too fast in HD.  Each lurid frame stands out, in Technicolor, then clicks to the next.  Continue reading

the 20 minute post

DSCN5322 It is the best time of the day to write. Inside the house heaves rhythmically with sleeping pets and people and its own 90-year-old creaks and cracks. The coffee is strong and black. The screen is white and bright. Outside the street sleeps and the lake licks the beach. At this hour time is suspended.

It is the end of another dramatic week for the world. Trust and innocence suffered new blows. Here, we stood vigil with good people everywhere and held our breath and hearts as we watched it unfold on too many screens at once, it seemed. Meanwhile, in the inner circle of our daily lives, it was business as usual: crowded and hurried and scattered. But this week, next to all of those other screens, “business as usual” took on a sweeter meaning.

Last week I wrote my personal menu of excuses not to write. By Saturday, to kickstart my posts, I came up with the idea of the 20 minute post. 1, 2, 3 …20, POST. That was 7 days ago! And still no post! Certainly I have 20 minutes before lunch packing, law practicing, and life scrambling to spill a corner of my heart onto the keyboard?

It is kind of like taking a deep breath before starting the day. And I just did it. Well, I just did it in 37 minutes, including the time it took to heat up the espresso machine + let the dogs out. 🙂

these things i ♥

DSC_0724friendships that last a life time  (even if they are new)

motherhood

pie

the Gulf Coast of Alabama

a July birthday

5000+ years of yoga teachers

thank you notes

black coffee

good grammar

men who love their wives

laundry dried outside

lunch

the sun

powder days

grandmothers

pineapple

the architecture of the olive tree

cities

most birds

all teenagers

front porches

Canadian roots

lacrosse

my children’s stories and dreams

running

words

in-laws

the sound the back door makes Continue reading

self performance review: blogging

phr keyboard December is a very hot month where I have worked for the past 20 Decembers.  While on the outside, winds, rains, and several months of chilly darkness blow into town, inside it is an overheated  pressure cooker.  The reasons why are unimportant (and idiosyncratic to the cult of personalities we call our firm).  Let’s just say that last December internal temperatures escalated even further when one of my partners ripped a page out of a business school text and suggested we should add performance reviews of ourselves to the mix.  The exercise was just as sweaty as we had feared.  However, after I finished, I had to admit – the self study had done me some good.  So recently I applied the same scrutiny to my blogging to uncover why I am so surprisingly horrible at it!   Nine posts since fall 2011 !?!  I am particularly embarrassed to admit that in one of my first posts I  even bragged:

I was born to blog.  Some  might say I have been blogging since long before “Al Gore Invented the Internet.”  Harriet the Spy was my childhood heroine.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_the_Spy  Yes, I was the one in the hoody, hunched over the notebook chronicling the late  1960s and the 1970s in Upstate New York and Ontario.  My family rolled eyes, cringed and made paranoid comments in stage whispers.  The compulsion continued and I have innumerable volumes tucked away in locked trunks and sealed envelopes on my property in An Unnamed West Coast City.

https://momdeguerre.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/if-a-mother-cries-out-in-cyberspace-does-it-make-a-sound/ I  blog in my head constantly, but seldom unleash the text onto the keyboard.  Why?  I am opinionated, nosy, and surrounded by people doing meaningful, kooky, sensitive, and absurd things – often all at the same time.  In other words, I live in a land deep in rich material.  So why don’t I write?  Why don’t I write HERE?  On WordPress ??  What are my excuses?  Thanks to my self review, I now know.

  1. No time.  Like nearly every other  citizen of the  modern world, I am very busy and “important.”  I do not have time for this self-indulgence (even if it would improve my mental health)! 
  2. WordPress is too confusing.  I believe this, but because I am so busy and “important,” I have not had time to find a good alternative.
  3. Perfection is the enemy of the good.  This one is probably self-explanatory.  In me, the condition can be acute.  It usually affects structure, language choice, and message.  I probably do not need to mention that I also hate typo’s and misspellings, especially my own.   Interestingly, I do a lot of writing in my everyday professional life and turn out a good work product without letting the pursuit of meaningless perfection rule my days.
  4. No theme!  This one is important.  I love other people’s blogs and follow them.  I read about writing.  I read about blogging.  One of the first rules about the latter is to have a theme.  My head is like a tossed salad; there is no organizing theme, not even the vinaigrette is reliable.  My family and friends and colleagues are similarly scattered.   I think this is a problem with my writing in general.  I am not exactly writing about any particular thing on a regular basis.  You know, like the pretty meals I have cooked, the books I have read, my travels, or even carpools I have known and loved (or hated), being a lacrosse mom, the emptying nest, or what it is like to have a child run away (even though you know exactly where he is).
  5. Fear of the ordinary.  I say I fear the ordinary, but at the same time, I believe in the ordinary – mine and everyone else’s.  That’s why I like following blogs and talking to people on buses.  I have even written about my belief in the ordinary.  https://momdeguerre.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/joy-v-08-19-12-the-long-good-bye-begins/
  6. Fear of being uncovered.   I really try not to write anything that would embarrass my people, but …..recently I wrote a barbed review of an evening at my home with a visiting relative.  I compared our kitchen that night to a saloon and mentioned that it was my first lap dance ever.  (It is well-known that  I am not leading a lap dance sort of life.  )  Then I emailed it to a few friends, but would be mortified if the kitchen island lap dancer, who is related to my husband, ever read it.
  7. Not sure I like my blog name and I do not like the subtitle.  Okay.  I love the name, mom de guerre, because of the play on words but it is grim to the point of being a mismatch with  my everyday life.  As for the subtitle (“musings from the dark side of parenting”), it spilled onto the screen during a black period of child raising.  I have had my nose pressed against the underbelly of parenting and it is ugly.  The child who takes me there has given me permission to be open about it, but at core I am upbeat and hopeful, as well as protective of his privacy.  Besides, I really do not want to wallow there even if I should.  I have entertained a new blog name and maybe for my mental health I should adopt it.
  8. The dogs need a walk, there is a load of laundry to be done, and I brought some work  home.  This relates to # 1.  There is always something more urgent to do.  I am a horrible relaxer and consider that a character flaw.  I also have a 20 year long guilt streak about being a mother who works hard outside the home.  Even as I write this, I am thinking about our federal taxes (due Monday), two cards I have to write, whether this is a productive way to spend an afternoon off of work, and, of course, the dishes in the sink.  Oh! And did I exercise yet today (not really).

The Power of The Finish : “You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

My good intentions to blog stumbled over my daily life.  My daily life this year, frankly, is often best symbolized by the word “tempest.”  I just looked it up in the dictionary I got from “Mommie” and “Daddie,” Christmas 1971, and have used virtually every single day ever since.  This source says “tempest” is a n. meaning (1) A violent windstorm, frequently accompanied by rain, snow, or hail; or (2) A furious agitation, commotion, or tumult; uproar.”  As in, “The tempest in my mind / doth from my senses take all feeling.”  [Wm. Shakespeare, King Lear]  Ah, yes, TEMPEST.   A year with a lot of rain, snow and hail, furious agitations and commotion – to the point I cannot write some days because I am afraid to see the year’s scorecard on the page.  Or because I cannot clear enough clutter from my head and my heart to find my voice.

boats          Amid the paralysis, however, I think I have found a couple of stepping stones this week. The first comes from Anne “Where Have You Been All of My Life” Lamott in Bird by Bird.  I love Lamott’s father’s advice:

 Do it everyday for a while,” my father kept saying.  “Do it as you would do scales on the piano.  Do it by prearrangement with yourself.  Do it as a debt of honor.  And make a commitment of finishing things. 

The second stepping stone came from a writer friend’s FB page, quoting Ira Glass:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

Basically, it is what I do whether anyone reads or listens or hears or understands.  It is what I would do even if no one ever did.

So, I will continue to fight my way through the tempest.