Hey, what happened to my garden?

By Mozzercork via Creative Commons

I’m reading quite a bit online lately from other bloggers about the state of blogging. They ask: What’s next? Why am I still doing this? Should I be making money and growing my following?

Some have closed their blogs. Others have renamed and relocated under new identities. Some have cut back on their posting frequency. Some have changed the focus of their sites.

Lately I’m regarding this site as I do my seasonal garden. It goes through cycles, from birth and the early excitement of new growth, to the steady maintenance of its peak season, to the realization that the peak is followed by a slide toward dormancy. I don’t know what I’m going to do next. What I do know is that my life today is nothing compared with what it was when I started this blog in May 2007. Back then I had hours to burn. I was lonely and bored.

Today, I am more like a sweating and exhausted gerbil on a squeaky treadmill. My blog always seems to be on the other side of the glass enclosure. I start a post and something else comes up. I hit save and click away or close the lid of the laptop.

My blog is not the only thing that suffers.

Last week? I  almost missed Girl from the West’s road test due to a misguided attempt to multi-task on a rainy Saturday.

And then, later on after she passed the road test, I could not take her to get her first, official driver’s license because I could not find her Social Security card.

After that, I took her shopping for her homecoming dress and accessories. When we came home, being the neurotic that I am, I quickly gathered up all the plastic bags and boxes and broke them all down and placed them in the recycling bin and trash can. I used one of the plastic bags to empty the cat litter pans.

A day later, Girl from the West notices that one of the items is not working properly and should be returned to the store. Except … the box is cut into pieces the bag is filled with cat poop and the receipt is buried under the aforementioned cat waste. Furthermore, the garbage and recycling trucks have already made their rounds. All of it is gone.

Needless to say, she is more than angry with me. I’m angry with me, too.

Does it sound lame to say I once was an organized person? I was. I had to be. It was part of my job to be an organized multi-tasker.  I was organized enough to complete the tiring, complicated paperwork process of international adoption.

When we crossed the threshold into our home as a family of four, my organization fell to the floor along with the sour-smelling clothes from that 13-hour flight. I have not been able to get that mojo back.

What I’ve learned is that being the mother of two children, including one whose work and school are 25 miles from my house,  has proved to be my breaking point.  What I’ve learned is that in my hope of finding my place in the world, which I thought was not the workplace but maybe at home, is now up in the air. I cannot go back to the cubicle world. Being a stay at home mom has not been a highly successful endeavor for me, either. I’m hoping to find a balance somewhere.

I’m not sure what has happened. Is it mid-life brain rot? Is it the stress of the economy?  Is it because I can’t accept the reality of my situation and I keep thinking if I do this, sign up for that, join this group, I’ll find the glue I need to bind it all together?

I’ll keep you posted.

It might be a while.

Enhanced by Zemanta

My first time

Now that I have your attention, I’m sorry to say this won’t be about the loss of my virginity.

*ahem*

I’ve been tagged by the eloquent writer and educator known as TeacherMommy who runs things over at Diapers and Dragons.

Her oh-so-easy challenge to me on this sleepy Monday? Cut and paste my first blog post.

This is so appropriate since May is my blogging anniversary month. Three years I’ve been doing this crazy thing called blogging. In light of that, I’ll treat you to the first three blog posts. The first one hardly counts.

HELLO WORLD!

twogirlz2.jpg Welcome to WordPress.com. What the heck am I doing?

Have you recovered from the weight of that post? Here’s the second one:

NEWBIE’S FIRST KEYSTROKES

OK. Here goes. This forty-something quasi-technophobe is starting a blog.

The adventure began one week ago when my husband prodded me to start one. Not so much because the so-called blogosphere needed another, but because he thought this on-hiatus career woman needed an incentive to keep writing and learning about modern technology.

Turns out, he was right! Darn him.This is a perfect example of how our marriage works. I know where everything is in the house, remember that he has a dentist appointment today at 3:35 p.m.; he knows what’s best for my soul.

I’m content to operate in an analog world. He gently nudges me toward the digital domain. I like my paper and pen journaling process. I like to write letters. I enjoy the tactile sensation of leafing though a magazine, the daily newspaper. I like used book stores.

It was he who has delicately suggested over the years that I open an e-mail account, set up a Web page, get a cell phone.

So, a week ago I began a blog in another location, because it looked simple. Wrong.Turns out the whole platform was incompatible with my Mac. Bye-bye first blog, hello current incarnation. Newbie has her wings. Now it’s time for some flying lessons.

And here’s the third:

DO HOMEMAKERS HAVE W-2S?

This is the rhetorical question posed to our accountant, after I quickly thumbed through our late-but-we-bought-time tax returns: “Why the $@#% am I listed as a homemaker for 2006 when I worked the majority of the year??”

There is a form — listing my earnings outside the home — clearly attached to the document. Nowhere on that form from my former employer does it say “homemaker.”
I’ve worked full-time since the late 1980s, with one six-week maternity leave in the early ’90s. I left the workforce in November 2006. Yet, it doesn’t matter to accountants and the IRS. I’m no longer a “wage earner” and “income producer.”
Twenty years of work and nothing to show for it. Not even a final shout-out on the tax form.
That’s sad.
In the seven months that I’ve lived the life of a homemaker, housewife, “housefrau” or domestic goddess, however you spin it, I’ve realized not much has changed in terms of the public’s perception. Like it or not, this is the official label affixed to my backside.
It deeply disturbs me that I am deeply disturbed by the title homemaker next to my name. Why?
It discredits all the women out there who are honored by the title. It belittles our mothers and grandmothers, many of whom didn’t have “the choice” that I had to pursue a career and have a family.
Still, I’m bothered.
I didn’t walk away from a career to be a homemaker, although I did want to be home. It hasn’t been easy, the letting go of the working life, the mindset.
I came home for my daughters.
One, a newly hatched teenager, hit a rough patch this past year. My nights/weekends/holidays shift was adding a lot of potholes to her bumpy road. Simply put, I just wasn’t there for her when she needed me.
My other daughter is a toddler, recently adopted from China, and in need of a lot of love and attention. I made a minimum one-year commitment to dedicate the time and attention I once devoted to my career, to her so that she could get the good start in life she deserves.
I’ve never worked harder in my life than I have in the last few months.
Try fitting all that on a tax form.

Have I changed? Well, we all do in one way or another. Blogging probably has not helped me with my health and fitness goals. But, it has helped me understand the Internet and social networks. I’ve connected with so many wonderful, talented, funny and helpful people online. I’ve even met a few in real life, too.  In ways they may not know (or maybe they do a little bit) some of my online connections have had a great impact on where I am today both in the virtual sphere and in real life. Right off the top, thanks go to MamaMary, Dharma Bum, Teacher Mommy, Melissa of Rock and Drool, JD at I Do Things, and Laurie at Foolery.

Next week I get to meet Ms. Bossy as her (No)Book Tour wends its way eastward and pauses in a suburb of Detroit. Not only that, it will be a live broadcast somewhere on the Internet. Huh. Better get my camera face ready.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

'I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together'

happy

Photo by MZ

I’m not sure what Christmas means to me anymore.
To my children it’s a wonderful time of year filled with wishes and cookies and Santa Claus and sparkly things.
To me, it’s a Dickensian mix of shadows cloaked in chains, bacchanalia, sprigs of holly and Tiny Tim’s enduring hope. Christmas music, particularly Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite” and Vince Guaraldi’s  “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” wet my eyes and stir memories of childhood innocence.

In my mind’s eye, Christmas is a room aglow with flickering candles, a crackling log burning in the fireplace and a sparkling tree. It’s waking up to sunlight bouncing off a fresh layer of snow.
In reality, it’s a time when triggers of past hurts and traumas lay ahead of me like a minefield. Tonight, as my family baked cookies and wrapped gifts, I recalled my own family’s Christmas Eve tradition: Midnight Mass. After a heavy meal, gift opening and merry-making brought about largely by excessive alcohol intake, we’d while away the hours until it was time to slip on coats, step into boots and stumble in the station wagon for a quick, dicey ride to St. Something or Other. You had to stay awake for Midnight Mass but there was no rule about staying sober. Just ask the fence.
And thats where the happy memories fade and shape-shift into darker times. That’s where the shadows live.

I don’t want to give up Christmas. My inner world has shifted away from these early constructs. But I need to live in the outer world, too. I just need to make peace with those ghosts of the past.
In spite of my efforts to simplify the present, to make the holiday something meaningful on my terms, much of it really is beyond my control. Whether or not I embrace the religious aspect of the day, it’s a cultural institution and a seasonal rite.

With that in mind, to all of my wonderful blog friends, thank you for this community.

Thank you for making me laugh and making me cry.
Thank you for sharing a slice of your life with me. Thank you for taking an interest in my world.

Some of you are local and maybe I’ve met you a time or two or we’ve become friends.
Some of you are far away and I hope to someday meet you in real life.
Some of you have had a tough year. I wish you well in 2010 and will continue to follow along on your journey.
Some of you lead lives I’ll never know but am fascinated to observe from afar.
Some of you I’ve followed from the beginning. Some of you I’ve just discovered.
No matter what we celebrate or how we choose to do it, we have something in common.
I am he as you are he and you are me and we are all together ….(Lennon and McCartney)

Jolly ChristmaKwanzaHanukkah!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Postcards of justification

postcard

By Howieluvzu via Creative Commons

To: Sibling in town for the holidays

From: Your stressed-out sister

Re: Our lack of any quality time together other than over pre-Thanksgiving dinner cocktails and post-dinner mumblings between pie and coffee

Relationships are a two-way street. While you are the out-of-towner, remember it is your vacation time and not mine. You happened to visit during a time of absolute chaos. Not only did I face a huge project deadline, but also a major holiday, two family get-togethers for which I had to cook food,  and ongoing volunteer commitments. I know this is hard for you to understand, that you accuse me of having “excuses.”  I don’t think of work, a home and a family as “excuses.” But, seeing as you choose to keep your life as commitment-free as possible, at least allow for the possibility that the world does not revolve around you. Perhaps some advance notice of your visit would have allowed me to carve out time, schedule a babysitter or at least warn you of my crazybusy life right now.  So, stop with the damned guilt trip. It’s so ’70s.

To: My dear, sweet daughters

From: Your well-meaning mother

Re: My lack of attention

There is nothing more cutting to the bone than mommy guilt. It was my painful awareness of your various needs that drove me to take on work that now keeps me from paying the attention to which you have grown accustomed. I’ve slacked on nightly bedtime reading sessions, have left you unattended with scissors (Spunky’s whiskers will grow back), forgotten to pick you up from school, and let the Halloween pumpkins blacken and implode on the front porch. In my effort to be everything to everyone I ended up being nothing to anyone. In the future, when you are speaking of me to your therapist, please refrain from using too much profanity.

To: My adoring husband of almost 10 years who somehow still loves me

From: Ice machine with frayed cord

Re: Our poor, neglected relationship

When a stay-at-home mom feels guilty for not contributing to the household bottom line, when she feels it is partly her fault for the bottom line’s disintegration due to the fact that she outright quit a job that most certainly would have dumped her butt on the unemployment line within a year anyway, but then at least she would have collected unemployment rather than be told repeatedly that “quitting a job does not qualify you for any sort of sympathy or assistance” and could feel less guilty about not helping out. (I don’t think that was a sentence.) When she decided to try to restore that contribution she realized the only job she knew how to do was housed in a shack built on stilts over quicksand and –hello! it’s gone forever. So she came up with a different way that maybe helps out a little but now she’s the one needing help because she gets no sleep and is an irrational witch half the time and deliriously distracted the other half.

To: My two faithful readers

From: Determined-but-frustrated blogger

Re: Lack of posts

Thank you for sticking around, stopping by once in a while and commenting. It is greatly appreciated. I wish I could be the wind beneath your wings, the fire in your furnace, the hot knife to slice your butter. As much as it would seem the logical thing to do, I won’t quit this blog. I maintain it now for the same reasons I started it. I’m stubborn like that.

Blogging rules

with apologies to Jack Handy:
showoff

I think there should be rules for blogging. Like, if I read on your blog that every once in a while you slip into a wet suit, recline on a chaise longue and listen to “Madama Butterfly” while your Irish Setter licks your bare feet, I won’t mention it when I meet you in person. I think stuff like that should be kept to the Internet only, where it’s private.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No problems here

 

from gapingvoid.com

gapingvoid.com

 

“At what point do our interests, passions and pastimes cross over into that shadowy zone that separates normal and pathological?” *

 This is the question I ask myself after reading this article on the Psychology Today Web site. I found it through a link on Twitter. I was on Twitter after a quick check of e-mail and Facebook. All this when I was supposed to be doing something else.

But it’s a good thing I avoided responsibility and took this very important quiz. Apparently, I’m sliding on the slippery slope toward blogaholism. 

I’m not a blogaholic. But I may have a friend who is one, because she has way more of these symptoms than I do. 

I’m not a blogaholic. If I were, I’d be packing my suitcase for BlogHer, right? I’d have a Facebook fan page for my  blog, OK?

I’m not there. Yet.

It’s a greased pole to rock bottom. A few more signs listed in the article help me understand how the mighty fall:

 Recurrent blog use resulting in failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school or home.

 I’m a little ashamed of what has happened to some of my gardens this year. And the lawn? Can we just get one of those Arizona type gardens with all the rocks and cactuses and stuff that you can ignore for a year or two? 

Recurrent blog usage in situations in which it is physically (or emotionally) hazardous (driving and/or making love).

So, writing a blog post while making love while driving is crossing the line. Got it. I’m OK on that one. Although I do occasionally write dirty prose in longhand while driving. My husband just bought a new touch phone so I’ve felt a little left out of that party.

Continued blogging use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused by or exacerbated by the effects of blogging.

Well, this is a tricky one here. You know, I send my husband messages on Facebook and DM him on Twitter when dinner is ready or when I need him to go to the store for me, but we don’t always connect. Sometimes he doesn’t get the Tweet until an hour after dinner. He arrives home to a meal that has gone cold. Or burned. Or cooked without a key ingredient.

 I just found out he was mad at me last Thursday. The e-mail somehow ended up in the Spam folder. I’m hoping we can work it out somehow.

Honey, leave me a comment, would you please?

 

* Blogaholism-Is It In You? — Psychology Today

Blogger meet-up in the D

detroit

Most of my readers are not from Detroit.

They’re from Russia. They’re robots. They leave me long, detailed comments about things like Viagra and practices that are illegal in this country. Their comments often don’t correspond with what I’ve posted, but that’s OK. They love me.

But a few readers are real people and they live in nice places with beaches or mountains or other panoramic views. They’ve not once mentioned erectile dysfunction to me in a comment. These real people living by these nice views also have blogger get-togethers on occasion, which I’ve always envied. I wondered: Could we have one here in the D?

I’m not sure how to arrange a Spam party. Do you actually serve slices of SPAM? And, is sharing drinks with robots considered infidelity?

Thanks to Twitter, which is a nice little bird and not a robot, I don’t have to worry any more. I’ve connected with some real people here in Detroit. One thing led to another and now we have our first official blogger meet-up in July.

Ours will be a small affair. Just a handful of us willing to meet on a weeknight, have a drink or two and chat.

Knowing me, I’ll want to ask a lot of questions. I’ll want to take pictures.And I’ll want to write about it. Chances are, they will do the same. 

I’m sure the robots will have something to say about it, too.

Hey, maybe I'll start a blog

grandma

Traffic: I owe it all to these babies

If I had a dime for every time someone said to me, “Hey, you should start a blog,” I’d have a bunch of dimes.

They say to me: “I saw on Oprah/The Today Show/The View this woman who left her job/was fired /suffered from post-partum depression/chewed off her right arm and started writing about it on the Internet. Now she makes like $100,000 a month just blogging,  using the good arm, of course. I wish I could write. I would totally do that. You should do that.”

As I’m listening to these kind suggestions, offered to me because I am formerly of the newspaper business (which hardly exists anymore outside of Hollywood movies) I’m thinking of my humble home on the Net, how it’s remained largely a secret and doesn’t pay me a dime.

Then I explain that I know of whom they speak, the SuperBlogger Queens of the Universe. It’s probably too late in the game to dethrone these tiara wearers, but that’s no reason to shut down my little cobbler shop situated in the back alley of the kingdom.

In spite of a recession of rich ideas, a scarcity of traffic leading to generous ad revenue, this week I observe two years of blogging.

What I’ve learned in two years:

  • Writing and maintaining a blog is work. The more you work it, the bigger the returns. It’s a high-maintenance relationship. Have flowers, chocolates and wine at the ready.
  • Even though I call myself a Zombie , I have no affinity for the flesh-eating undead. I did like “Shaun of the Dead,” but on the whole I don’t care for zombie movies. This does not stop the zombies from  stalking me. In fact, there’s one knocking at my window right now … 
  • My readers all seem to be West of the Rockies, South of the Mason-Dixon Line or East of the Allegheny Mountains. Why? Don’t know. Just glad to have all 10 of you. 
  • Believe it or not, the name MomZombie is a compromise between two earlier titles: Fluffy Chicks in a Basket and the totally emo Bleeding Soul on Edge of Jagged Razor Blade. It all has to do with too little sleep and too much caffeine.
  •  You like it when I humiliate myself. Boy, those stats really skyrocket when I take one for the team. 
  • For more than a year, Grandma Cleavage (see above), was the top search term for my blog. I’ve since purchased an underwire for this site.
  • Latest searches: Zombie yogurt, Zombie Killer Moms, Big Asses in Bathing Suits, Wooden Picnic Table, Herman Munster  in a bathing suit.
  •  

     

    munster

    Sorry, I could not find Herman Munster in a bathing suit.

     If you are reading this, thank you.

Yin and yang of motherhood

fun

Mary, who runs the whole operation over at the Mama Mary  Show tagged me on this one. It’s the brainchild of another blogger, Her Bad Mother,who is trying to fly this one around the globe. So, I’ll do my part and then pass it on.

Five things I love about motherhood:

  • The bond of love between mother and child (The privilege of being both a biological and adoptive mother makes me appreciate this one immensely. This connection is taken for granted with a child born to you. I had to earn it with Girl from the East, who came to me at 10-1/2 months of age.)
  • Built-in excuse to play like a child (Think: swings, slides, running through the sprinklers)
  • The awesome responsibility of leading by example and leaving a legacy
  • Holidays are so much more fun with children involved.
  • Getting a fresh take on the world around me through my child’s eyes
  • Five things I don’t love about motherhood:

  • Lack of sleep (I don’t call myself a MomZombie because I like movies about the undead.)
  • The stereotypical mom look: overgrown hair, baggy clothes, practical shoes (Despite my best efforts to fight it, often I’m too tired or busy to look my best.)
  • Pregnancy was an interesting experience, but it didn’t clean up after itself. (I’ll never wear a bikini again.)
  • The disconnect of parental bonding during the teenage years.
  • Expectations of perfection: There is so much pressure on mothers from society, from extended family, from the media, from ourselves to do it all perfectly every day.
  • Since I’ve only connected with two bloggers — who are also mothers — in other countries, I’ll tag them and get on with my day.

    In New Zealand: I Love Retro Things

    In Canada: Tanya at I Should Be Napping

    Oh, and by the way, I’m from the United States, specifically, the soon-to-be Third World State of Michigan.

    Sploggers, plagiarists and story swipers

    steal

    This fake blog once carried several of my posts. It has since deleted all content except this lone entry.

    I was annoyed recently to discover some faux Web sites, called splogs, have stolen my content for the purpose of marketing and moneymaking. These content scrapers and spinning spammers have plucked my words without a sound, a credit or a link. The bastards.

    Maybe you already know about all this. If not, there are steps you can take to protect your work.
    Before I go any further, I’ll be the first to admit I’ve made many amateur mistakes with content usage and linking. But, I’m not here to make money. You may quibble over details with me and you may win, but I maintain that there’s a difference between innocent mistakes and intentional plagiarism for profit.

    This sort of Internets tackiness annoys me the way story swipers do: You know, those people on the periphery of your life who listen in on your life stories and then steal them. They snatch your one-liners and snappy comebacks out of the air and stuff them in their pockets. Reminds me of a neighbor who told me she had a sculpture stolen from her front yard. She found it days later on the front porch of a house down the street. When she confronted the homeowner she was told: Prove it.
    She couldn’t, but my neighbor learned a valuable lesson: Do not place original artwork on your front lawn unless you have a security system.

    swiped from www.nickjr.com

    swiped from www.nickjr.com

    There are no security systems for story swipers — only vigilante justice — if you’re into that sort of thing. Today I’m wising up. I’m going to install a digital fingerprint plug-in on my blog and go after these sploggers when I catch them in the act.

    When I worked in the newspaper business, mostly for local papers, occasionally one of my articles would reappear under a new byline in another, smaller publication. Our editors would wave it off as small-time plagiarism not worth the bother. Corporate doubletalk translation: We cut the media lawyer expense, among other things, so we could keep our 30 percent profit margin.
    But it was worth the bother to me. Often I’d call the offending paper or write a letter of complaint. Sometimes I’d post both copies of the story on a public bulletin board just to let people know what was going on.

    Protect your work.