Monday, December 10, 2012

Women Aren't Funny?

*Warning - excessive, angry use of the F-bomb*
I've been listening to Tina Fey's book "Bossypants" on Audible lately. Like a lot of other people (massive understatement), I watched Ms. Fey on "Saturday Night Live" and thought she was great. Personally, I loved her even more when I discovered she was a writer on the show primarily. Then Ms. Fey (calling her Tina seems so impersonal, even though in my mind, we are already the best of friends and we laugh at our own inside jokes. Hey, Tina, remember that one time - right, sorry.) made several movies, created "30 Rock" and wrote "Bossypants." I found out she recorded it herself, instead of an established voice actor, and knew I'd have to check it out. TinaFeyBossyPants
Maybe it's naive of me, but listening to the chapter on how tough it was for Ms. Fey at Second City, not to mention some of the critical backlash she received at SNL, I was surprised. Aren't we in the 21st century? Is there still that tired argument that "Women Aren't Funny?" I honestly don't get it. Do guys think Women Aren’t Funny because they can’t relate to women? If that’s the deal, then I say too bad. Because women have had to sit through comedy from men’s perspective since cavemen were making fart jokes.
Tina Fey is one of my favorite actresses mostly because she's a writer, but also because she is far from perfect. I love how unique and yet how "EveryWoman" she is - not the most beautiful, thinnest, Greatest Role Model Ever (looking at you, Gwyneth Paltrow), but a snarky, funny, unafraid college girl from Pennsylvania who pursued what she wanted and worked hard. Talented, absolutely, but as far as I know, she didn't sleep her way onto SNL's writing staff (if she had, I'm sure she would have found a hilarious way to both comment on it and write a guide for the rest of us on How To Get Ahead at Work Through Sex).
I've noticed the same thing happen recently to Lena Dunham, an up-and-coming writer/director/actress of an indie film and of "Girls," a show on HBO. Dunham (we are not yet the best of friends in my head) receives more criticism for her weight and various tattoos than her show.
*Disclaimer - I've never seen "Girls", so I don't know if its good or crap or anywhere inbetween. I've wanted to check it out, but I'm not an HBO subscriber (I know, the shame). The previews I saw seemed interesting, though, and I was excited to see another woman writer break out (Woo, Girl Power! Spice Girls, it's all coming true!)
The most recent controversy I saw in regards to Dunham was over a remark in an essay she wrote - she commented "writing for money is weird." Apparently this offended people, especially in the (hushed deathbed voice) current economy. Why is this offensive? No clue. From what I read, it seemed like an offhand comment and she didn't expand further, so people are just taking this and assuming like crazy. If that's how she really feels, who cares? Maybe Ms. Dunham has wanted to write movies all her life and she still can't believe she's getting paid for it? Maybe she's in shock that someone would pay her over $3 million dollars for something that isn't even done yet? (Ms. Dunham wrote a book proposal that netted her 3.7 mil. Not too shabby for the fat, unattractive girl, internet snarks). For people to get their panties in a twist over a comment shows more about them than about Ms. Dunham - and since most of the articles giving her crap about it are written by other women, I think we can come to a conclusion. Bitches be jealous. Hey, girls, go ahead, be jealous. But don’t tear down another woman because of it – give her crap for poor writing or uncreative, awkward sex scenes. You know that shit could be so much worse and hilarious.
Criticism about a show itself (writing, plot, lack of diverse characters or character development) - sure. You can't be in the business and avoid criticism. But criticism in the guise of sexism (Fey and Dunham aren't funny because they're women, fat, ugly, blah, blah) - not cool.
My point wasn't to proclaim Fey and Dunham the Funniest Women Ever or declare Women Are Funnier Than Men. Hell, Tina and Lena (New comedy team!) are smart and funny enough to defend themselves and they have in various ways. I'm sure they couldn't give a shit and that further makes them awesome. No, the point is, Yes, women are allowed to be funny. No, not Allowed, even. Women ARE funny. Women are Fucking Funny. Its time for this to be acknowledged and for there to be different roles for all kinds of women. It's been time - we're so overdue, we're on a block table at the local butcher, cutting out our own comedy babies because we're sick of the idiot male doctor telling us, "The Baby will come out when its ready." Fuck you, doctor and fuck you, casting couches, producers, directors and studio heads. Bitches be Funny as Hell and, as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler proclaim, We Don't Fucking Care What You Think.
I'm exhaustified of the put-upon, gorgeous, stay-at-home wife/mother, married to a stupid schlub on a "family" sitcom. I'm tired of the put-upon, go-getter, anxiety-riddled single career girl who really wants to get married and have a family, but is let down over and over again by a guy who cheats/chooses a career instead/doesn't want to get married stereotype. We are more than a sidekick, we are more than a vagina dreaming about fertilized embryos - just because I'm a married mother of two, that doesn't mean I want to watch a show about a woman stressing over the same crap I do everyday. I liked "Sex and the City" because of its escapist nature. But I also didn't secretly want to leave my husband and kids and run away to New York, buy a laptop, and start dating a 18-year-old while wearing clothes 10 years too young for me. I'm a fucking grownup (whatever that’s worth these days – thank you, reality television).
But I'm ready to enjoy more great shows, movies and books from awesome, funny WOMEN – not as a new Wave or Era of comedy. That implies that Women in Comedy is a fad and will be over eventually. No, this needs to be the beginning of a new normal – funny People making funny entertainment. If there's criticism about what they create, cool. But reading crap about who they are and why that sucks doesn't contribute a damn thing to comedy or entertainment or even humanity.
Now, back to my audiobook and checking my phone for imaginary texts from Tina and Lena (new comedy team! I'm telling you - call me, NBC!).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Keep the "Christmas" in December

I love the holidays. Who doesn’t love extra stress about buying stuff you don’t need, planning for an extra-complicated meal that everyone disagrees on and the eventual disappointment in your in-laws, when you get another crappy sweater that’s two sizes too small? (I’m not vain in that way – I don’t care about the crappiness of the sweater. It sucks that she thinks I need to be two sizes smaller).

What I don’t love about the holidays? The retail world trying to convince me to begin celebrating a good 3 months earlier. Not just Christmas, either: the grocery stores are putting out Halloween candy at the end of August (You just know that's last year’s candy, trying to get pushed out the door for the new stuff). There are sales on kitchenware, ingredients and fancy paper supplies in September for Thanksgiving. In October, the malls are putting up their fake Christmas trees and turning their background speaker music to horrible Christmas Muzak. In freaking October! I know we’re in the midst of an economic downturn or whatever finance-speak is for a horribly managed government budget, but come on. Does business really go up if you start celebrating in June?

I refuse. For me, Christmas doesn’t start until after Thanksgiving and I keep it that way, no matter what my kids think (though, when they call me the Christmas Grinch, it does break my heart a little). What about Halloween? There is so much more than trick-or-treating on one day. There are scary movie marathons to be watched - pumpkin patches to visit, where you go on scary hayrides and pick out a pumpkin to carve - scary stories to tell before bed - elaborate costumes to put together to freak out the small children of your neighborhood.

Why are we giving Thanksgiving short shrift? I love Thanksgiving – spending time with my family in a confined space, while I yell at the Lions playing on TV and the house smells like turkey and gravy – awesomeness. It really makes me miss my family in Michigan, but I like to think that we are yelling at the Lions and being disappointed together, despite the miles apart. We participate in food drives and donate clothing to shelters for the upcoming cold months. We talk about being thankful - Baz is usually thankful for trains, Tom is currently thankful for the Redskins.

I do not participate in Black Friday. I was an unwilling retail drone who had to sell and take returns for far too long to EVER even consider shopping within a crowd of insane women at 1am on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Plus (and again, I’m Mean Mommy to other mommies who will Do Anything For the Fruit of Their Womb), there isn’t anything my kids want that I would wake up at 1am, go wait in line and fist-fight with other women for. The only thing I would consider would be food. If we were living in some post-apocalyptic future, where Black Friday shopping has turned into a reality show for families and the Moms are the stars, because we have to fist-fight for tv ratings and food for our families - then yes, I would fight in the middle of the night for food. But thankfully, we are not reality-tv ready and we also can afford food.

The husband and I have agreed on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for our Christmas-decorating time. We get in a full month of holiday revelry and then we take the decorations down the Saturday after New Year’s. This way, we can fully appreciate the Christmas letdown and bitter resentment of no holidays or celebrations in January.

On Saturday, we unload all of our boxes from the attic and take them down to the basement. Baz’s interest is primarily the train we set up around the tree – Belle loves the ornaments and finding just the right place to put them on the tree. I make hot chocolate and we put on a great Christmas movie – this year, we started off with “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” (I forgot how much cussing there is in that movie. WOW.) Tom gets the tree set up and the lights hooked up – Belle and I get all the ornaments out and make sure nothing is broken or missing a hook, etc. Baz pretends to help and shoots covetous looks at the train in its box. We hang up our stockings on the mantel over the fireplace and add all of our Christmas snow globes and stuffed animals and nutcracker figures.

The kids and I trim the tree – I take a couple of breaks in the middle to take pictures for our calendar/Christmas cards (Tom thinks our camera hates him – I’ll expand on that later). After all the ornaments and the star are on the tree, Tom and Baz set up the train on the floor, around the tree. When the tree is done and the train’s set up, we sit back and admire the view. We drink our hot chocolate and finish watching the movie, all together in the basement. We usually have something special for dinner (Takeout, oh yea!) and that’s our Saturday After Thanksgiving. One of my favorite Christmas traditions.

Another favorite tradition? Giving gifts to friends and family. This is not the same as shopping. I don’t like shopping. It begins so nice and ends in a guilt-ridden shamefest. I love GIFT-GIVING. I get excited about how much Baz would love this really cool Lego set to build and how he will play with it for hours and I’ll break my ankles stepping on them. I found several different craft sets for Belle and I can’t wait to see what she will come up with – hopefully it won’t involve drawing on the walls or furniture (yes, she’s 9 and still wants to draw on walls and furniture). Tom is more difficult – not that he’s not into anything; he is just particular in his choices. He’s what my friend Red calls a “spoiled, only-child of divorce.” Tom knows specifically what he wants and has specific plans for those things - if what you find is off by just a small detail, the whole thing still Does Not Work. But I can usually come up with something and, if anything, I like the challenge. Investigating new techy things or puzzle books or other stuff he’s into – it’s kind of like a mystery.

We’ll spend the weeks leading up to Christmas doing our favorite things: watching our favorite specials together, listening to Christmas music, going to the concert at the kids’ school, thinking up gifts we would like to get for friends (usually involving something baked or special hot chocolate mix), baking Christmas cookies and reading our favorite Christmas stories. I like to take the kids’ ice-skating – Tom refuses to join in, claiming he can’t skate. But they can’t skate, either, so his argument is worthless. I take turns helping them around the ice and when we get home, I tell him I can’t make dinner while lying down on a heating pad. We keep coming up with weird little traditions and I love it because I had no traditions growing up and now – I have traditions with my family. Excellent.

So why would I want to hurry things up? Make Christmas start earlier and last longer? People, we’re talking about quality, not quantity here. I can only take 1 month of Christmas. I have nothing more to give – I can’t be festive and cheery nonstop for 4 freakin’ months! I can only love and appreciate human existence on a regular basis for so long. The entire month of December nonstop is enough. So, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – I wish you and your family a happy holiday of whatever you celebrate. Christianity, Judaism, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Retailism, Genericaa – I hope its fun and tradition-y. Just keep it in December, so I don’t shoot anyone.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

You're a Hooker, I'm a Slut and We're All Drug Addicts

Welcome to the end of the world and it's all women's fault. Moms are staying out late, going out with other moms to have drinks. Our magical lady parts that have the power to control men's thoughts (or so I'm told) are to blame. Instead of being at home, cleaning something, we are out of the house, dressed nicely and drinking alcoholic drinks. After bedtime! On a school night! What is our country coming to?
The 40-Year-Old Reversion by Amy Sohn,
But according to one writer, some mothers in a New York suburb are taking this one step further and ruining it for everyone else. Amy Sohn, a writer looking for publicity for her new book, wrote a titillating article about her adult social activities, written as though it was no big deal:
"Once a month I get together with half a dozen moms from Park Slope and Carroll Gardens. We call ourselves Hookers, Sluts and Drug Addicts."
“Why do moms in my generation regress, whether by drugging, cheating, or going out too late and too often? Because everything our children thrive on—stability, routine, lack of flux, love, well-paired parents—feels like death to those entrusted with their care… In flux, jaded by parenthood, confused about work and life, mothers are bored. So we rebel, just like bored adolescents—except adolescents, at least, can say they are acting their age.”
Is this not what they signed up for, with marriage and parenthood? Am I supposed to believe that they have no control over their lives? I call BS - forgive me if I don't understand the controversy over this piece. Because this article (and the response written on is just another excuse to exploit women.
(Full disclosure: I'm a mother of 2 children under 10, married for 9 years to the same guy; we live in the suburbs of a large city and I have a full-time job.)
I don't understand  because, whether or not the "article" by Ms. Sohn is based in fact, it reads like the first draft of a pilot TV episode. It would be called "Bored Parents of the New Millennium.” No topic would remain untouched - wives cheating on husbands because they feel unappreciated, husbands soliciting women online because their wives are too tired for sex. Everyone going to the neighborhood block party - while the teenagers try to hide behind someone's house and make out, the adults are in the neighbor's driveway, smoking pot and thinking about switching spouses for the night. Maybe their teenage daughter can have the same pot dealer - it’s her teacher! It’s so wacky but so - real!
Notice an important part: while the article is called "The 40-Year Reversion", its focus is on the mothers in the article, despite the presence of more than a handful of jaded dads. Why are we shaking our fingers at the moms and just barely noticing the dads behaving badly? Women are scolded for “trying to act like men” but the guys are just relegated to being ignored for “acting like cavemen.” Oh, but that’s what men do. It’s a miracle when a man acts like a decent guy and a moral travesty when a woman isn’t a saint.
Moms gone wild: '40-year-old reversion' By Shanon Cook, CNN, Sat July 28, 2012
The response article on by Shanon Cook was fairly level-headed. While speculating whether or not Ms. Sohn's article was fact or fiction, she agreed to disagree with the stance that "all parents" are just like this. Everyone is looking for an escape from their unhappy marriage, nonstop parenting schedule and dirty dishes? Not so much. But for those that are unhappy, this behavior is nothing new. Shocking - people have been making poor choices since Adam and Eve. Cook makes the reasonable case that you can be in a committed relationship, be a responsible parent and still be yourself.
Being yourself means you still need time to do your own things - to write, to see friends, to see a band, to run 5ks, whatever you like to do. Yes, marriage and kids are a responsibility - there is more selflessness required than selfishness allowed. They go hand-in-hand. But that doesn't mean you can't still be who you are. If you're chained to the grindstone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in Mommy mode, I would entirely expect that you to be desperate for something, anything that gives you a release.
Again, this article zeroes in on the moms - "Moms Gone Wild", it's called. Not "Parents Gone Wild." It’s again a given that the dads could act this way, but it’s against everything that mothers are supposed to be - innocent, incorruptible teachers and caregivers of our children. Being a parent isn’t “really” Dad’s job – it’s primarily Mom’s. Dads of the world, you should be offended by this article just as much as the moms.
But the people described in the "article" written by Ms. Sohn come across as simply impulse driven. I would wonder why Ms. Sohn would choose to hang out with them (if they exist), but considering she is likely making money off their caricatures, maybe she thinks they have a lot in common. Every time I go back to read, they fade more and more, because they seem so fake. In that little world, all of their actions seem reasonable because no common sense exists there. Or maybe we should consider occam's razor – (from Wikipedia) “other things being equal, a simpler explanation is better than a more complex one” – that these people just don’t like their kids, their spouses or themselves (yea, I went there). If that’s true, I’ve got to say – that makes me really sad.
I love my children - they are sweet and quirky. My son cuddles a mechanical train next to his stuffed dog at bedtime. My daughter writes letters to a fairy she believes lives in our backyard. I don't just love them, I like them. My husband and I, we drive them to school, we watch them spar or practice weapons (Yes, weapons!) at martial arts class. We spend time together as a family; we go out to dinner with other families, we have play dates with friends; we play board games together. We work on homework together and I still read to them before bed (and I write the fairy letters to my daughter).
I also like going on dates with my husband alone or we go out to see a band with friends while the kids spend the night at Grandma's. Or my husband and I take turns - I go out with friends to a movie and drinks while he stays in one night. Another night, my husband goes out to see one of his best friends play guitar at a club and the kids and I are having pizza night at home. He has to have a life, too.
Bottom line: We are far from perfect. But I love my children and my husband; they always come first. But I am also still me - I am allowed to have my own pursuits. Having a life makes me a better mother and wife. I am giving my kids, especially my daughter, a great example - how to be a functional adult woman who can choose to be who she wants, who doesn't need drugs, sex with strangers or any other shocking jolts of stimulation to get through the day. I don't need an impulse thrill because I'm happy. And that scares the shit out of the unhappy people.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Glen Arbor, MI, from the article Sand, Salt and Summer -
I love summer. The weather, the sun, being outside with friends. My summers are a lot different now than they've ever been - in some ways better and others not so much. Working an 8 hour job, for instance, cuts into my beach time. But I've also been able to take my kids to the ocean since they were young and watch the delight they have in the waves. No matter what, it's still summer.
Tom grew up going to the Outer Banks in North Carolina every summer - though he would be quick to say, not just GOING to the OBX. But staying OCEANFRONT. House - yard - beach. Sometimes his family would share a house with another family or Tom would bring a friend. But it was very laidback - they made meals in the house (no constant restaurant meals), there was no TV and there were always card games.
Trips to the beach were different when I was growing up. We lived in Michigan and going to the beach was driving to Lake Michigan. It's not a dinky little pond either - you can't see across the lake from the beach, it's so big. The water is fresh and its a bit warmer in August - but there are definitely no ocean-size waves. I still loved it. We would swim, build sandcastles, take tubing trips on boats and go fishing. I can remember scaling fish when I was younger in my pajamas and watching my dad gut it with a long knife.
There were other lakes we could go to - but that was "going to the lake", not "the beach". The only other lake that was almost up to par with Lake Michigan was Gull Lake, about half an hour away from my house. It was where the swanky people had summer houses or belonged to the country club, so they could have their boat stored there. My grandparents belonged - several times during the summer, we would have Sunday brunch at the club (best meals growing up!) and then stay the afternoon to swim and picnic on the grass. The water in that lake was (and still is), so clear, so clean, you could bottle it and sell it next to Deer Park at the store.
Tom also grew up belonging to the local pool, so he was in the water all the time. My family did not - we were connoisseurs of the sprinkler, water balloon fights and the local creek. Everyone had a bike to ride wherever they wanted, which was usually to the little league grounds and elementary playground to play games. Pick up baseball games and home run derby - hide and seek or tag around the playground - bike races around the circular parking lot. We would ride afterward to the Dairy Queen for ice cream cones or sundaes - turn in cans for the 10 cent return and hit the penny candy aisle - have lunch at the Root Beer Stand with huge mugs of root beer and cheese dogs.
Walkway to the Beach
Outer Banks, NC
My summers are different now, being married and a mother and a (gulp) grownup. But I'm grateful that Tom and I have been able to kind of merge them with the summers of our childhoods. We go to the Outer Banks every summer - sometimes with another family and sometimes just us. This has been a wonderful new ritual for me - the ocean is so much more extreme than Lake Michigan - and I love sharing the new experiences with our kids. It even makes jaded beach goer Tom seem younger. We plan our own crab feast with food from the local seafood deli and have lunch at Kill Devil's - the Outer Banks' answer to my Root Beer stand. Greasy burgers and fries, crazy chili dogs and the best ice cream on the beach.
We try to visit Michigan as much as possible - I still have yet to take the kids to Lake Michigan. I hope they will enjoy it as much as I did when I was a kid. But since they've regularly been to the ocean since they were infants, it might not be that impressive. We belong to our local pool, just up the road from the pool Tom belonged to as a kid. Both Belle and Baz have been on the swim team and this past summer, Belle was on the dive team for the first time. There are family dinners, outdoor movie nights and campouts - family games and races on July 4th, Memorial and Labor Day. You can always count on at least one other family to barbecue with on a lazy Sunday at the pool.
Our local pool dubbed "The Country Club"
I drive my family crazy with the pictures - I have almost no pictures of my childhood anymore, so anything I can take a photo of is precious to me. Pictures of the kids playing in the waves, burying Tom in the sand, building sand castles, diving off the diving board, eating ice cream with most of it on their faces, swimming in a swim meet, jumping in the deep end hand-in-hand with their friends, sleeping peacefully after a long day playing. Pictures of Tom and his mother, Mary, playing cards, cooking our crab feast or barbecuing burgers - pictures of Tom in the water with the kids or of him boogie-boarding in the waves like a big kid, or just sleeping on a beach blanket in the sand.
These are summer experiences I always wanted to have with my parents and sister growing up. For all these different reasons, we just didn't get to have them. But I still adore summer and I cherish the memories I have of my summers growing up in Michigan. Most of all, I love the summers now and the opportunities I have for all these new memories with my family now and in the future.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The 2012 Olympics or a Meditation on How Inflexible I Am


If you own a tv, read a newspaper or have access to a computer, then you’ll have noticed that the Olympics are going on right now. Yay, pride for your country. Yay, look at all the hot bodies – whoops. Yay, nationalism! (drooooool, swimmers and gymnasts). Go USA! (don’t think inappropriate thoughts about people younger than you! *smack*)

I love watching the different events, especially with my kids. We talk about the different things the athletes might do to prepare. Baz and Belle wonder if they can learn to do any of the gymnastics moves in their martial arts classes (they can both do the splits already). We cheer on the swimmers(no matter that the race happened a good six hours ago). The kids want me to try doing the splits. Yikes, look how out of shape I am. This is in no way attractive.

I have always been a fairly active person. I grew up in a neighborhood full of boys and my mother ran a day care out of our house – nice, quiet moments to myself were hard to find when I was younger. I didn’t care – it was great. It’s a childhood setting I wish for my own kids. We lived in a small but expansive neighborhood where I could ride my bike all over without worry – no one offered me candy to get into a van. I walked to school from kindergarten to senior year – not once kidnapped. I played sports all throughout middle and high school and continued to take gym class – never propositioned by a coach. I worked out in the school’s weight room with the other boys and random girls who also liked to exercise – never asked out by a lesbian. It’s a world only a Republican can dream of – except with multi-national people. Whoops.

Then I graduated high school and started college, moved out on my own and started really working (and really drinking/partying). Full-time job with full-time college hours, late nights studying and hanging out with friends completely took away any exercise time. I eventually moved away and while adjusting to a new city, I was working two jobs and taking a half schedule of classes. Marriage and kids and work and before I know it, not only have I not exercised on a regular basis for a good ten years, I have the forty pounds or so to prove it. Not to mention a false feeling of thinking my body is still 18. Yea, it’s not.

Funny story – when my daughter was 9 months old, I was invited to play a game on my company softball team. I was so excited – I grabbed all of my equipment that I’d kept and laced up my cleats. I felt fine during a light practice and warming up, but on my first at-bat, I pulled a muscle running to first. In my mind, I was shocked. “F*ck, I’m old,” I thought to myself. Well, oldER anyway. Out of shape as well.

The Olympics have been like a wonderful daydream. Watching all of these awesome athletes push their bodies to the limit doing something they love. They make it look so easy, I can just imagine doing it myself. It takes me away from the realism of how I can hardly swim one lap in a competition-size pool or how I mostly walked my first 5K. Ah, reality. The bitter slap in the face we all need sometimes.

Best of all, the Olympics can be motivating, too. Where are my running shoes? This fatty’s on the move.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Its a Tuesday, What Do You Want From Me?

Ok, I've been attempting to post something for the past half hour to hour now. Anything that I come up with comes out formal and stiff (this is where someone would throw in a That's What She Said joke). I am an idiot to think this would just come back to me like I'd never stopped. Writing is hard. This sucks.

I don't know why I'm surprised - aside from life getting busier, this is why I stopped. I didn't have the energy, the time, the dedication to take my writing further. Or that was the excuse I threw out. Yet I know a handful of people who do everything I do in my daily life (not exactly, but the same routines such as a job, family, house, cleaning, etc) and MORE and still devote time to writing or painting or playing/writing music. In some cases, they have busier lives but still make time for speaking engagements or a regular band schedule all across the area, their weekends ending when some of us are getting up for work.

So why do I let this excuse hold me back? Duh. It's been easier to just give up than to be scared and go somewhere unknown. The biggest fear? Just plain sucking at something I love(?) to do and having it amount to nothing. So I didn't even try. And here I am years later, still having flashes of inspiration here and there, only to get stuck at some point and stop. Overthinking, not enough doing.

I came to a conclusion the other day that I'm tired of being scared. My dream isn't to write for a national magazine or write The Great American Novel that will be published in 22 countries and in different languages and eventually be the subject of a TMZ article. My dream has always been to just write. To create stories, to capture a moment or a feeling in a poem, to be able to remember things for the future through writing. But I let myself get intimidated and think, "Hey. None of this is permanent. None of it will matter in the long run." How do I know? Maybe whatever I leave behind will inspire someone in the future. Or maybe my family will read what I had to say at certain times and they will be excited to know what our family was like at this time.

So I contacted a friend of mine, Jenny - we were classmates in high school in an online writing class - and we decided to be writing partners. Support for writer's block, easygoing but honest criticism for stories, someone to sound off with for ideas. We are on Day 3. This has been great so far - feeling like I have an outlet, really thinking about what I want to write. It's been great to see someone else have the same struggles and want to work on something they enjoy, too. Our current goal - to make it on a regular schedule for a month to start. I think we're making good progress so far. Thanks for reading my beginner, rambling crap and wish us luck. Smiley face.


The 8-year-old and The Cell Phone

The other day, we bought our daughter her first cell phone. Belle is 8 1/2 - she's becoming more independent. Yes, I hear the various grumblings - I got them from my MIL as well. "She's too young! What 8-year-old needs a cell phone?"

Look, we discussed and bemoaned the entire thing. Neither Tom nor I really wanted her to have one. We drive her practically everywhere - she's with her grandmother when we're at work, not a day care - if she's with friends or the dive team, we know she is with trustworthy people. But we also have to be realistic - Belle is growing up. She's learning more responsibility and we are learning to give her more trust as she earns it. We also live in an area where you can't reasonably walk to a lot of places. If she's at a dive meet and her ride needs to leave for whatever reason and she can't get another person we know to bring her home, I want her to be able to contact us. I will be the first to admit it - I am anxious and overprotective. So, while I'm trying my best to loosen up, I still have my limits.

So, despite AT&T's best attempts to buy our daughter a smartphone (she wanted an iPhone - my husband and I just laughed), we found the most basic phone possible. It makes calls - it can send text messages (no phone out there is without that) and we can limit who can call her. We've set up basic boundaries - she can call or text myself, Tom or Grandma - and that's all its for. No games, no internet and definitely no Facebook (of which she doesn't have an account). Also, don't lose it. Unfortunately, Belle has inherited my absent-mindedness. Sad face.

Guess who has become a texting fiend? Wow. I get the appeal and its cute - remember when walkie-talkies were the coolest thing? You wished they could reach as far as the next block or down the street, so your best best friend and you could talk to each other when you were supposed to be asleep? Same thrill. Belle sends me messages at work and in the evening, she checks up on her grandmother.

I realize I've created the monster - I realize that this is the decision we made - but underneath the grumbling, I just can't help but laugh. Belle is so cute - she's growing up way too quickly. I already asked her to slow down - she grew two shoe sizes in response. Little butthead.