Monday, February 28, 2011

The Secret Emotional Life of Bloggers

My brilliant privacy solution: I was thinking about starting an email digest of posts. In other words, I would email posts that I worry about having WWW exposure to a select list of email addresses (that you readers must provide me) in lieu of attempting password-protected posts or starting a new blog. I like the idea of having some sort of reader transparency….if I have an email address then I know who’s reading, and can somewhat control exposure. Right? I don’t know. Jury is still out.

I will lament again how I wish I blogs could be more personal and detailed and truthful. Some people like to use blogs as a sort of Trapper Keeper of daily thoughts and events, and that’s fine. It’s their prerogative, after all. I now some bloggers in real life, whose lives are much much more layered and complex than the one they reflect on computer paper. I guess I just want more sometimes, for myself.

There are several blogs that I read that have recently just dropped bombshells: Everything is fine, fine, fine; the typical ruminations of a woman in her mid 30s or 40s. A collection of the normal ups and downs of life, spliced with witty insights and funny commentary. Then, all of the sudden, there is a break in posting, followed in due course by the Final Post. The “I’m shutting this blog down” with a quick explanation that usually involves some awful blindside of a reason that was never written about, never hinted at, never discussed. I hate reading a book and not being able to finish the ending.

Blogs used to be so interesting because they were so honest, raw, and exposing of truths that were for so long forum-less. Finally there was a place for women to talk about, say, the horrors of infertility in detail. Or the difficulties of being an alcoholic mom who is trying to get sober. And the whole mommy blogger revolution, where moms were exposed as people who—horror of horrors—were sometimes annoyed, overwhelmed, horrified or left unsatisfied by the process of raising children. Who doesn’t like to read a blog from a person who is telling it like it is?

If I can’t discuss in detail my relationship with, say, my mother, then what good is a blog, other than to record some daily events? Yet, I can understand why we all self-edit, why we all hide what we hide. I do see how one-sided blogging is, and how unfair it might be to paint a portrait of another person without their portrait of me. But, hey, they can start their own blog, right?!

Anyway, I didn’t mean to get into all this again. I was going to write this post about the duality of the verb “to settle.” But that will have to be for tomorrow.

Pictured above: Haircut Number Two.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nobody knows where you're going; nobody cares where you've been

I grew up on Long Island, and knew even in those formative years that I wanted to go to a college in a city. Not just any city; New York City. I applied to tons of schools located in bucolic settings, with squares and quads and trees and woodsy paths. And I applied to NYU. When I got into NYU, I knew without hesitation or equivocation that that is exactly where I wanted to go. That is where I belonged. I promptly started playing “You Belong In the City” on the car radio (had to rewind it to listen on repeat!) and tried to make sense of the tangled colored spaghetti lines of a subway map, even though I was initially afraid to take the subway. I bought black jeans and black turtlenecks, because my only role model for NYC Cool was the Sprockets on Saturday Night Live. I was so sure that I made the right decision and couldn’t wait for my “real” life to begin. See ya, one-horse town, I’m off to the Big City! But that wouldn't be the first time my "instinct" was wrong.

Well, not wrong. Life is one big experiment, so to look at decisions as bad or wrong seems to undermine the whole point of life. Everything is an experience, right? We learn from the good decisions and the bad. But, looking back, I think I would have been much happier in a much smaller college setting. In a leafy place in a small town with a tight-knit community. A place where I might have bumped into my professors walking across a Quad. Where connections might have been forged by the seemingly insignificant events like getting coffee at the same time every day and the same place.

NYU is very, very big and very, very easy to get lost in. And that is exactly what I did. I sort of disappeared into the chaos of the city and a giant university, and ran away from childhood issues and all that, and let the city shape me. Passive maturation at its best, and most expensive.

While most of my friends have a cadre of friends from their college days, I have just one. It’s easy to see how that happens: While my high school friends were in their dorms in their non-city schools, making friends and finding the one bar in town that served the underaged, I was roaming aimlessly around an entire city. Dorms at NYU were mainly places you slept, not places to bond with floormates. There were no campus hangouts. No one spent time in the Student Center. And, sealing my fate in the friend department, at NYU I roomed with one of my best friends from high school. I don’t regret that, but I do see how that makes it harder to find new friends.

But this city. What a love affair. I love New York, and always have. I have lived here 21 years. I feel like it is more my home than Long Island ever was. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Until recently, that is. This morning, on the treadmill, I was thinking about life in the city vs. life in Massachusetts. I was thinking how in just over a year in Mass, I have carved out a social life there that I never had in New York. When we are there, the girls have active, fun-filled days. We go to the play group every day. They have Store School. A backyard accessed through a door, and not from a stroller walk to a park. We are starting to make friends, which will certainly lead to play dates in our future. I have never managed to do that in NYC. Here, the girls’ play dates are with my group of high school friends. (I am, if nothing, a loyal person. In fact, today I will head to Long Island to visit with one and her three little girls.)

So it all has me thinking, is this another case of thinking NYC is the best place for me, the only place for me, but it really isn’t? Am I still blinded by the lights of the Big City? Am I still fooled into thinking this is the only place to make a happy, fulfilling life? Would my life be more rounded living full time in Massachusetts? The poignant part is, it’s not about me anymore. Now we need to make decision based on what’s best for the girls, and what makes sense for Nicole’s career. I take solace in knowing that I love both places. But there is a part of me that really wants to see how this story ends.

Right now, we have the best of both worlds. The truth is, I love New York and Massachusetts. And I am working on finding that ever elusive balance between the two. I don’t like spending too much time alone with the girls in Massachusetts, with Nicole in NYC working, because that fritters away the connections of our little family of four. Next year, the girls will most likely go to preschool, but the big question is, where? We are looking into some Mass schools, and will be applying to some in the city. And then there is kindergarten. Same thing: Where will they go? Where will our primary residence be? I feel so in control of this, and not.

Yeah, I can’t stop this blog. I just can’t. Thanks for your comments and emails. I will always need a forum to work through my thoughts and I truly do like feedback and other perspectives. Oh, except for the homophobic perspective. The big dilemma: How to be truthful without infringing on other’s privacy.

I'm being beckoned to a ball. Princess is encoded in Avery's DNA.

Pictured above, Valentine’s cupcakes.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Maybe I am Over Thinking It

There seems to be an epidemic of “I’m not going to blog anymore,” and bloggers who are blogging less and less. I am swirling in it too. And there is part of me that thinks I may stop soon. There are multiple reasons for this:

1. I’ll admit it, the homophobic comment freaked me a bit. I posted about it on facebook: Someone left a nasty comment here that basically said I had issues because of my sexuality and that my children will suffer in a gay family. Nice, right? I deleted it, so I doubt anyone saw it. But it really bothered me. I get that my family is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am not thrilled when people feel like they have the right to tell that to my face, via blog comment, that is. It made me feel very exposed, and very exposed for my children.

2. Time is at a premium: In fact as I sit here, Avery is squirting leave-in conditioner in my hair and brushing it, as Madeline builds magnet boxes next to us. Taking the time to write seems like a luxury. I feel guilty, like I should be engaged with the girls instead of engaged with my own thoughts. I don’t want to take away from their time. 18 months till Kindergarten. Yes, I’m counting.

3. Not full disclosure: One of the reasons I write is because it helps me sort out my thoughts and issues. And I really value other people’s thoughtful comments. But I am having a hard time writing about certain relationships with certain people. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you will know most likely of who I speak. There are things in my head that I am trying to sort out. For example, how awful I feel about my niece and nephew’s move to China. How I feel like my relationship with them is forever cracked, due to the distance. How upset I am that they were in the US at Christmas but I didn’t see them. However, I feel like I can write about all that in detail. “I miss Leif and Skye” isn’t exactly encompassing. It’s ok for me to expose my life, but I just don’t feel like it is my right/place to expose other people’s lives and/or issues.

4. Privacy: My girls are getting older, and I feel like I need to protect their privacy more. Down the road, they might not be thrilled with the stories and anecdotes I share. There could be a lot of retro bitterness. And more of that exposure word. Or, overexposure.

There you have it. I’m still trying to figure out what to do. I sit down and write and what I write is to personal to post. Or is it? I can’t figure it out. All I know is, I will be lost if I don’t write. It is the last thread of me, who defines who I think I am. So I need to figure it out.

Something I can post about is this: Parenthood, the television show, makes me cry every episode. Every single one. I find it to be a very realistic and well written show. I did have one issue with it, though. A few weeks ago, I saw an episode (I think from the first season) that included a story line of how the teenage daughter was so impressed with her aunt’s fancy career, but she seemed not so impressed with her stay-at-home mom. I thought it was great that a television show was addressing this. This resonates with so many moms. Every single close friend mom friend I know has expressed to me at one time or another how they feel like they aren’t contributing anything/doing anything/etc. if they stay at home. So I was thrilled when I saw this very issue on television! But then, not so much. This is what happened next: The father took the daughter to a beautiful park and said, essentially, “See this great park? This park wouldn’t be here if your mom didn’t petition some people and raise $200,000.” The message that that sends is, it’s ok to be a stay at home mom, as long as you, you know, do something important, like raise 200K to build a freaking park. Maybe I am over thinking it.

Earlier this week, my friend Jen made Chicken Lo Mein for dinner. As what usually happens with us, her cravings become my cravings, and vice versa, so naturally I had to make it. The next day, she tells me how it took her two and a half hours to make and how her kids didn’t even eat it, though she and her husband loved it, even though it was too salty. (Mental note: Chinese five spice + soy sauce + Hoisin sauce + oyster sauce = seltzer all night long.). She lamented how she spent so much time —time that she COULD have spent with her kids — and to what gain? This didn’t deter me, and I subsequently spent two and a half hours doing the same thing, and ending up with the exact same result: good, but salty; kids won’t eat it; and was it worth it? Wouldn’t that time have been better spent with the girls? Should I be cutting slivers of cabbage or reading with the girls? Maybe I am over thinking it.

On an exciting note, I won a one-hour session with a psychic, and my appointment is tomorrow. I want to be a believer, I really do, but there is a giant skeptic that lives in me. I am looking for some hard-core evidence of an after-life. Which I guess proves that I suffer from a crisis of faith. Isn’t faith, after all, believing in what can’t be proven? And yet I need proof? Maybe I am over thinking it.

Pictured above, winter and scribbled art. And Avery, at the dentist, because how cute is that?