The Revising Life

Mbot, doing his own shopping at The Phoenix Children’s Museum. Fortunately, he won’t be out on his own for many, many formative years.

Over the weekend, I read an article by author Matthew Salesses about revising, and how to know when a piece is done. In “Take the Horn Out of Your Mouth,” Salesses recommends that young writers submit to their best chances first (read: those with the lowest standards)–because once its out the door, they will keep revising and–quelle surprise (not his words)–it will get better.

He’s right. At least in my case.

A few days after I read the article, I faced a deadline for a local SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference registration. I filled out the forms, and then the manuscript evaluation forms, wrote the requisite checks, and confidently pulled “Magnolia Squeakyface and the Gloppy Bloppo” up on my screen to print two copies of the 780-word manuscript to include. I had not planned to revise it. It had been finished six weeks before.

I’d already sent it to eight carefully chosen agents, behind a carefully crafted query letter. I’d already gone through a months-long writing process: write, revise. Feel good. Let sit. Read aloud. Feel bad. Revise. Revise. Feel good. Let sit. Read aloud. Feel bad. Revise. Repeat. Etc., etc.

But rereading over the weekend, after a six-week roosting period and four polite rejections (I love how quickly agents respond these days), I found myself asking a few questions about my characters’ knowledge and motives. 1. How does the dad know what a gloppy bloppo is? 2. Why does Magnolia’s brother, Newton, call his baby sister “Squeakyface?” 3. And why does he play with her at the end, instead of try to kill her?

It turns out, the answer to all three questions can be answered in one question about my own motives: it was convenient.

Don’t get me wrong: the story worked. I’d already run the manuscript not only by the bots, but by several writers/mothers/friends, and it had gotten thumbs-up all ’round. But it wasn’t perfect. There were these pesky small issues that kept it from being 100% believable, 100% satisfying. And so I attacked each issue one at a time, eliminating anything that was present mostly because it was convenient.

The process was like–as I’ve found fiction writing always is like for me–putting together a puzzle, but a puzzle in which I was simultaneously creating the pieces and fitting them together, consulting the picture on the top of the box, an image I could not quite see clearly even when squinting.

By the time I printed it out in the coffee shop on the day of the deadline, it had slimmed down by fifty words. It had lost the word “Squeakyface.” It had gained another fun-to-say nonsense word. The dad didn’t, in fact, know what a gloppy bloppo was, and Newton had more incentive to play with his baby sister instead of kill her. Assonance, alliteration, internal rhyme, and rhythm had risen–and I have found, in many rereadings of many picture book classics–that these characteristics contribute to the magnetic force of a story–the invisible, often unpin-downable reason a set of seven hundred words isn’t just entertaining, but unforgettable.

I sent it out the door on Monday, feeling that if it wasn’t perfect, it was at least one degree of magnitude better than it had been three days before.

Incidentally, the same day, I found myself talking with another mother who was lamenting the fact that she hadn’t had her oldest, now in high school, repeat kindergarten. Not for the scholastic performance factor, but for all the other ones.

“Can I have a do-over?” she asked, laughing, repeating the famous Billy Crystal line from City Slickers.

The answer, of course, is no.

That afternoon, after a long day of revising, actually mailing, and momming, I received an email from a writer friend, which included a ridiculously timely quote from Kurt Vonnegut:

Artists are people who say I can’t fix my country or my state or my city, or even my marriage. But by golly, I can make this square of canvas, or this eight and a half by eleven piece of paper, or this lump of clay or these twelve bars of music, exactly what they ought to be.

I’m still not sure Magnolia’s exactly what she ought to be. But I’m sure I’ll get a second chance to make her that way. And a third, and a fourth, and a fifth, if that’s what it takes. That’s one reason I love her and need her. Because I can’t revise my children once I’ve sent them out the door.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: the 2012 Remake By Gbot

The upside: I now know what a hornworm is. (photo credit: classicalvalues.com)

It is fascinating to me that when I search Google Images for “tomatoes smashed on a door,” pictures of homemade bruschetta, a bowl of soup, a hornworm, and a mean-looking cartoon Viking come up on the first page, but no actual tomatoes smashed on a door.

After I purchase the memory chip to put in my phone to replace the one that disappeared from my desk last week, I will change all that. The appearance of tomatoes on my door and the disappearance of electronics from my desk help to explain where I’ve been for the past seven days, which is obviously not in front of my computer posting tips and tales from parenting, writing, and life, as my business card promises.

For the past seven days, I have been attempting to adapt to just-turned-four-year-old Mbot’s second week of his second year of preschool. For Mbot, it seems to be going very nicely. And for that I am thankful. For me and almost-three-year-old Gbot, some days are better than others. Some days, we build impressive MagnaRepTiles (I would show you a picture, but it’s stuck in my phone.) Some days, we go to the Y, where I am summoned off the treadmill prematurely because my younger half put his tooth through his lip under a table in the playroom. Some days, we play in the pool, where Gbot wants nothing to do with actual swimming, or even bobbing, but instead insists on playing catch with a SquiDiver for an hour from the cooling comfort of the steps. Other days, I try to work. Like today.

I had a lot to do. I was behind. Very behind. Husbot was in the bedroom getting dressed for a meeting. I let Gbot play by himself while I stared into my computer screen begging it to take me back.

Over the monitor, out of focus, I saw Gbot playing handball against the bedroom door with the half-deflated mini soccer ball I’d thought I’d left in the car. “How good he is at entertaining himself!” I thought, pleased. “And thank heavens, because I’m so behind.” I listened to the rhythmic, gently “Thump. Thump. Thump,” as he played. Every once in a while it would stop, and I’d see him race across the living room, out of sight because I didn’t bother turning my head, and then it would start again.

I was deep in mid-edit when Husbot opened the bedroom door. “Did you see this?” he asked in what seemed an overly alarmed tone.

“What?” I asked. “Gbot’s been playing ball against the door.”

“With tomatoes,” he replied.

If my floor had been cleaner, I could have turned it into this. (Photo courtesy of “Door to My Kitchen” at lemonca.wordpress.com)

I snapped to attention.

Had I already forgotten that earlier that morning while signing Mbot into school, and while all the other children had been milling around interacting with other humans, the Bots had gotten double time-outs for conducting a hands-on investigation of the office paper cutter?

I leapt to the scene of the present crime and yes! It was true! The vine-ripened tomatoes that had been on the high counter were now splattered up and down the bedroom door and across the floor. It looked like a murder scene.

The slipcover on the arm chair which he climbed and on whose arm he stood to reach the tomatoes will have to be removed and washed.

The velvet and beaded silk throw quilt responded surprisingly well to dabbing with water.

We will have pasta sauce with canned tomatoes.

I will have a glass of wine.

Probably two.

And I will continue working–and working toward serenity tomorrow. Thank goodness the tomatoes are gone.

Brrrrrr……A Cold Look at Myself

I, too, would be able to sneer at the cold from within DKNY’s new line of goosedown outerwear. But big questions remain: Will it keep her legs warm? Will she care?

In my nonblogging writing life, I’m writing an essay about being cold. Partly because I’m cold a lot. I won’t go into the details, but it’s through a combination of sheer will and clever dressing that I’ve spent a great deal of my life playing out in the snow.

The idea to write about what I am constantly teased about by warmer human beings occurred to me during a discussion in a graduate writing course last spring, when I explained, for reasons I no longer remember, what I have determined to be the three factors that contribute to “being cold.”

After my explanation, one of my classmates told me she’d love to read an essay on it, and I realized that I could probably pull one out of my frozen ass, but first I had to find out more about my frozen ass. I realized I had no idea if my theory had any basis in science, as my knowledge of physiology and brain chemistry have all been gleaned from The Human Body book that I read when I was twelve, Discover magazine, and The New Yorker, and so I went online to investigate.

It turns out there is an entire branch of science–along with its own worldwide symposium–dedicated to the field of thermal physiology and pharmacology. But before I say more, I’ll share (because I know you are dying to know), Betsy’s Trinity of Cold Determinants:

#1 Local pysiological phenomena resulting directly from a low environmental temperature. (Translation: The temperature of parts of me or all of me actually drop.)

#2 The sensory part of my brain seems to be very sensitive to #1. (Translation: If my hands are experiencing low blood circulation in a cold room, I feel it acutely.)

#3 The tolerance part of my brain seems to be intolerant of #2. (Translation: I hate being cold.)

I began perusing the literature (with an online dictionary at hand), and it seems that I’m basically right that feeling cold results from a combination of things happening in your body and brain. The details are quite fascinating. So I’m plodding through articles and will soon feel like I know enough to not be a complete idiot when I pick up the phone (or probably open my email) and contact a few of these thermal scientists to see if any of them will enlighten a writer who wants to explain to the world, in terms that do not involve using an online dictionary, just why the hell I’m cold, and why not to listen to the people who tell me, “It’s just because you’re skinny,” or are thinking, “But why? You’re so darned fat.” or exclaiming, “But you lived in Alaska for twenty years!” or saying with jocularity, “You’ll warm up in menopause!”

So wish me luck and lift a mug of hot chocolate to the two women in the study called “Subjective Perception of Cold Adaptation, Exertion, and Stress During a Two Woman Longitudinal Traverse of Antarctica.” Really really really glad it wasn’t me.

Food for Thought

(image via thehamiltonian.net)

Aren’t lives apples and stories oranges? What really goes on when you try to change one into the other?

– Joan Wickersham, “The Suicide Index”

I love these words, and I think a lot about their truth in relation to blogging. What is said, what is left unsaid; what is picked up and woven into a narrative; what is discarded because either it does not lend itself to brief essay form, or is too complicated, or too disturbing, or doesn’t fit the blog’s tone, or requires too much analysis?

I had come to think of lives as grapes, stories as wine, and blogs as grape juice. But the apples and oranges cliche–which is so unexpected in this context as to rise above cliche-dom–may be a truer description of the relation of the two. Food for thought.

Great Gender Expectations

Wrong is relative: If you’re two and wearing rented ski boots, I’m betting there’s just not much difference in the left and the right.

From the back seat:

Mbot: “I saw a girl that looked like Gbot.”

Me: “What made her look like Gbot, Bug?”

Mbot: “She had hair that was long and had curls like Gbot. (Giggle) She looked just like a boy!”

Just the day before, I’d been reading writer/teacher/blogger Kate Hopper’s new book, Use Your Words:  A Writing Guide for Mothers, in which the mother of two–one born dangerously early–dispenses practical, invaluable, and hardwon advice on the craft of writing and the art of balancing writing and mothering. She includes superb excerpts from her own writing and that of many (m)others–the bibliography reads like the guest list of my dream toddler group; I’d had no idea the genre outside the blogosphere was so rich.

But the one that came to mind after Mbot’s comment was “Pretty Baby,” in which memoirist Catherine Newman introduces her son, a boy whose favorite color is bright pink, and whose favorite outfit “involves a floral-printed t-shirt with fuchsia velour sleeves, and the pants…from the magenta-striped terry cloth that Ben picked out from Jo-Ann Fabrics.” The essay is the most articulate, funny, searing argument I’ve read for abolishing the expected gender-specific appearances and behaviors that have a stranglehold on the majority of our society–and abolishing them from Day One. Because Day One is when children start to learn. And they learn from us.

Mbot’s observation from the back seat is proof enough for me that I have taught him–however inadvertantly–that long, curly hair is for boys. And now it’s my responsibility to teach him tolerance: that we don’t laugh at girls who have long blond curls like a boy.

Dear Nora,

Nora Ephron. Photo by Elena Seibert on tumblr

I will miss you.

In today’s New York Times obit, Meryl Streep is quoted as calling you “stalwart.” Stalwart is something I’ve never been.

You weren’t a whiner.

I am.

I don’t like that about myself, but obviously not enough to make great inroads into changing. Husbot bears the brunt of it. But this is not a whiny post. This is about how you affected–and still affect–my life.

I remember when Mbot was six months old and I was feeling particularly sorry for myself, that I came upon a profile of you in The New Yorker. For a couple of months after reading the profile, I sucked it up. I kept my mouth shut when I wanted to whine. I looked on the bright side. I had more confidence in myself. I didn’t mind making enemies for the sake of saying something I believed. Yet at the same time I attempted to be more diplomatic.

Then we moved (down twenty-one stairs, without professional movers, in the summer in Pheonix, eight months pregnant with a fifteen month-old on my hip–sorry, am I whining?), and the article got buried in a pile of other New Yorker articles I’d ripped out and put in a folder to take with us, and I forgot about it. I gave birth again, lost sleep in a box-filled apartment to not only a hungry infant but to a howling one year-old; I forgot to not whine, to look on the bright side, to have confidence, to be diplomatic. I had my sense of humor, but it works better somehow in the company of those other things.

It is time–past time–to read that profile again.

But since it is not at my fingertips, and since quiet time in my house has failed to result in a nap for the two year-old (the almost four year-old finally fell asleep, in spite of the midget Cirque du Soleil on the next bed), my blogging time allowance may end at any moment, shifting you to stage left and the weebots to front and center. In fact I am right now typing to the chant, “Please give me a cookie,” which, however polite, is distracting. And so I will just briefly mention three points in the profile that stayed with me.

# 1

You were married three times, divorced twice. You obviously weren’t afraid to try, and fail. You turned your divorce into a best-selling novel (Heartburn)–and not only a best-seller but a funny, self-deprecating, insightful, vivid story about womanhood, marriage, pregnancy, professional life, and motherhood. You felt like a failure, as a woman, and as a wife, but you wrote about it, bravely and with humor. I am not planning a divorce, but there are things other than my husband that aren’t working out so well, that I would like to walk away from.

Like my whining. Some might say it’s a symptom: a symptom of my need to communicate honestly; of my children who no longer nap regularly; or of the fact that I am living in Phoenix in the summertime. But that symptom is f**cking with my life.

Honest communication is great, but so is strength of character. And if I were a character in my own book, would I admire me?

Not when I was whining.

#2

You were taught by your alcoholic screenwriter parents that everything in your life is material for your writing. I always felt that was true about mine, but often lacked the conviction to jot things down on the spot. Although I was the first junior high student in Juneau, Alaska, to wear legwarmers, a bandana around my head, and a cropped t-shirt, when it came to real life, I was afraid of doing the unexpected. My floor might as well have been cold, hard, Mexican ceramic tile for all the times I made love on it. Reading that you and your writer sisters embraced this way of seeing your lives–as material–strengthened my courage to do the unexpected, even if it was only ignoring snickers when I whipped out my notebook or took notes on my arm during events or conversations that others deemed unremarkable. Being true to my need to document the ordinary has a temporary effect of whine-quelling.

#3

You have two grown sons whose absence in the tabloids leads me to suspect they are fairly well adjusted. As a mother of two sons myself, I know this is part their doing, part yours. I would like my own sons to grow up with a mother who can lead by example in the nonwhining department. But it is too late to send them to you. And so I will just have to buck up.

In an essay of yours that appeared in The New Yorker not long after I read the profile, titled “My Life as an Heiress,” you wrote about how you were working on a screeplay at the time you received an inheritance from some long lost relative. You mentioned that you remember the screenplay was “‘really, really hard.'” The sum of the inheritance was debated among family members, and estimated to be quite large. You had some expensive landscaping done to your house in the Hamptons. You fantasized about retiring to a life of leisure.

When the money finally came, it was something like $5,000. I think it barely paid for the landscaping. You finished the screenplay because you suddenly really needed the money. You pointed out that it was a good thing you didn’t retire right then and there, because the screenplay you were working on–the one that was “‘really, really hard,'” was When Harry Met Sally. Which, in spite of its lack of Oscars wins, is probably–among women between forty and fifty–the most quoted and widely referenced movie I know. Still, today, over twenty years later.

I shouldn’t whine, even when things are really, really hard. You’re right. You’re right. I know you’re right.

I want to just suck it up and turn it into material. I want to have the confidence in myself to leave behind what isn’t working and try something new. I want to have the confidence in myself to believe I am trying hard enough. Or if, in fact, I’m not, to recognize and remedy it: read more, write more, seek a mentor, seek an audience, seek the quiet time I need. I want the longterm perspective to see past this tired day and draw strength from knowing that I will not always be this tired, this constantly needed, emotionally and physically. And also to appreciate that as long as I am needed, I’ve got job security.

I want to be braver, more confident, more persistent, and more stalwart. Even if it’s really, really hard.

I want what you’re having. But with the dead part on the side.

Mindball: Are You Calmer Than Your Three Year Old?

This cool hat will tell you if you think like a three year-old. Mbot does.

We celebrated Memorial Day by visiting The Stomach Center (Mbot renamed The Arizona Science Center) where, thanks to a game called Mindball, I proved that I can consciously calm my brain more effectively than Mbot can calm his (a fact I know Husbot would question).

Which was a remarkable feat, because, by the last day of a three-day weekend filled with fabulous fun family time (and no time to myself, except for two hours that morning during which I washed the dishes, did four loads of laundry, and cleaned a bathroom), I was feeling anything but calm. I was torn between feeling grateful and joyous at having such a wonderful family (and such good weather for zoo-going, bike-cruising, and water-parking) and feeling stressed and panicked at not having had any time to write. At all.

But here is the Mindball brain-activity read-out, which backs up my claims of my ability to calm myself, although at the moment the picture was taken, only Mbot’s brain activity was being charted, in the window at the left.

How do you play Mindball? See that long plexiglass tunnel on the table? Inside is a metal ball. A player sits at each end of a table, puts on a funky hat with a cord coming out the top, and tries to think calm thoughts. “I am sitting on a beach. I am listening to waves. I have a babysitter for the entire day.”  The ball rolls away from whoever is calmer and more focused. If the ball reaches your end of the tunnel, you lose.

Mbot lost four times in a row, but not for lack of trying, kind of. He switched chairs once, just to make sure I wasn’t sitting in the Magic Chair of Calm. (I wish!) Distractions abounded. All around us were people and other interactive exhibits, one of which replayed, about every three minutes, the sound of a car crashing. I finally had Mbot stare at the ball, place his fingers in his ears, and sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” softly to himself. It was really, really cute, but his brainwaves still went through the roof.

I was starting to worry that Mbot had ADD, and then calmed myself remembering that he’s supposed to be this way–he’s three. But it set me thinking, and on the Mindball website, I discovered that the same brainwave technology– EEG Feedback Training— is being used with great success to help children and adults with Attention Deficit Disorder.

It made me think, too, of the effect of writing on my brain. It must stimulate my alpha waves. Focusing on communication and self-expression through the written word must calm me, allowing me to focus more, which calms me more–a self-perpetuating zen state. I don’t have a Mindball machine to back up this theory, just years of experience. I wish refereeing disputes over who had the green water pistol and who had the red one had the same effect.

So, wonderful weekend memories, and a sigh of relief at sitting back down at my computer. What was your weekend like? The ball’s in your court.

Why I Feel Good About the Feathers in My Car’s Grill

Maybe I should have made a really ugly hat. (mainstylelist.com)

Or, to bastardize Emily Dickenson: Self-Forgiveness is the Car with Feathers in its Grill.

Doesn’t seem to make sense. That’s because sense has little or nothing to do with it. Sense is the thing that tries valiantly and in vain to override instinct, synapses, chemicals–namely, hormones.

Let me start again: Every May, drivers in Phoenix are treated to a feast of aviary roadkill. It is often found in pairs. Doves, I think. Of some kind. Rather small. Gray and feathery. In May, one will notice couples of these birds crossing the road, chasing one another from one lane to the other–blind to oncoming hazards much bigger, much harder, and with much more inertia than themselves.

For those of you who haven’t guessed it already, May is, for these birds, mating season.

Made me think of my own mating seasons. The strange, bad, funny, head-shakingly inappropriate choices I made in love on the road to Husbot. In disecting the intricacies of my intimacies, it is easy to not forgive myself some of the remarkable detours along the way. In my MFA Creative Nonfiction program, we were warned about this. Be kind, we were told. Be kind to your younger self. You were only a child. A teen. A young woman. Still a young woman. And be kind to yourself, now. I know everyone preaches that. But it begs the question: If I’m TOO kind, then how the hell will I EVER learn ANYTHING? Ah, that darned rationality stepping in again.

I recommend to everyone who can empathize to drive under the speed limit toward two birds walking in the road–one named Romeo, the other Juliet–expecting them to fly away at the last moment, thus miraculously avoiding contact with your car as birds always do–and then thwump, feeling the impact on your grill and watching a shower of small gray feathers wash across your windshield. It might make you realize that we need to forgive ourselves our mistakes in love. And consider ourselves lucky in all cases in which we don’t end up just a feather under the windshield wiper.

 

 

 

Gingerbread Cocktails and the Gloppy Bloppo

This is me, floating on a puff of whipped cream in an oasis of calm. (muchadoaboutfooding.com)

I have stepped out of the space-time continuum for sixty-eight hours and entered a world where the most madness occurs in a poorly-written knitting pattern and the most physical activity has been achieved by a monstrously fluffy kitty who murdered a bunny in the backyard.

No, I have not been institutionalized: my friend of thirty-seven years, Solveig, flew me to Colorado for an early forty-fifth birthday present. We have done little but sit and eat Pad See-Ewe and dark chocolate and she has knitted and plied me with cocktails, and I of course have been writing.

But it hasn’t been much fun. The writing part, I mean. I’m at a crossroads which is another way of saying I’m feeling a little lost. One thing I loved about writing for magazines was that I had a specific assignment. Another was that I had a deadline. Another was that I loved learning about the lives of the people I interviewed. I loved the certainty of publication, and that a large number of people would enjoy and/or learn from what I’d written. The downside was the small paycheck, which made it impossible for me to do full-time and also feed myself.

I am not currently writing for magazines or for anyone other than myself and my blogdience. I am considering a rewrite of the novel but must first weigh the value of the intensive time commitment. I am almost ready to pick up the thesis I completed last spring and turn it into a book–a memoir about fumbling my way through one bad relationship after another (The Gay Exfiance, The Sociopathic Candyman, The Congenial Excon, etc.

In the meantime, I have returned to my first literary love: picture books. In the nineties, I made several attempts, received several  extremely polite rejection letters and requests for more work, and then, due to youth and impatience, I think, quit trying. My early lack of persistence was astonishing.

But this blog reminded me of my love for combining words and images. And, I cleverly became a mother, thus creating my own captive audience–an audience that has no qualms about expressing boredom if a character is dull or a plotline is predictable or my verbal flourishes are self-indulgent. Really, it makes the learning curve MUCH shorter.

And so now I’ve recently finished a manuscript called Squeak and the Gloppy Bloppo. It’s eight hundred words, and with any luck, they are the right ones.

In the past two days, along with polishing off a gingerbread martini, an orange-jalapeno martini, and a pomegranate-elderflower martini, I polished my manuscript and the cover letter. According to Solveig’s handy breathalyzer, I was never legally drunk–when cocktails are stretched out over a twelve-hour period, you can have your drink and your relative sobriety, too. I would have renewed my efforts at researching agents, via the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, which provides a wonderful network of writers, illustrators, agents, and editors), except that when I opened my notebook with my list of twenty targets, I found I’d brought Mbot’s field journal, instead. The crayon drawings of angry birds, one-eyed robots, creekbugs, and monsters made me miss the bots terribly and reflect on the dichotomies of passions, careers, quiet time, and motherhood.

It made me think about how one of the easy things about motherhood is that I have an assignment, I have deadlines, I learn every day about interesting people and situations and things, and others appreciate what I’m doing. The downside of course is the low paycheck. Also of course that a bath can be undone in three minutes in the sandbox, and a book is slightly less easy to destroy.

But a children’s book manuscript, by an unknown author, in today’s publishing environment, is not a sure thing. And even if it ever does, it is not helping to pay the Amex bill today. It makes me question whether I’m being realistically hopeful or simply self-indulgent. These are some of the things mothers ask themselves, too, about motherhood. Both writing and motherhood are exercises in persistence, patience, and faith.

But people are enjoying the story. I first told it nearly two months ago, and every few days, Mbot mentions the gloppy bloppo, or Magnolia, the heroine. He asks what I’d do if he turned into the gloppy bloppo, and I pretend to have forgotten the trick to turning a gloppy bloppo back into a little boy.

So we’ll see. Uncertainly is uncomfortable. And there is nothing like being surrounded by peace and calm, kitties and knitting, to give me  a chance to think about the uncertainties. A gingerbread cocktail is comforting, but sadly, it’s only a temporary solution. Learning to live comfortably with uncertainty is the answer.

Working on it.

 

 

I Cheerfully Accept the Versatile Blogger Award as My Airspace Fills with Flying Dinosaurs

Six months into my blog-o-rama, I received this Versatile Blogger Award. Woohoo! Thanks for the nomination, iGameMom!

There are 3 rules for accepting this award:

1. Thank the award-givers and link back to them in your post: iGameMom

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

  • I am 5’10”.
  • I am 44.
  • My Bots are 3 3/4 and 2 1/2 (except for Husbot, who just turned 49, the dog, 12, and the antique cat, 16). The math shows that I’m tired.
  • Last week, while driving the Bots in my parents’ car on vacation in Idaho, I got pulled over for going my age in a 35-mph zone. We got off with a friendly warning and two golden Junior Sheriff stickers, which blew any chance I had of keeping my speeding a secret from Nanny and Poppy.
  • Conversation in my house at this moment: Mbot: “Mom, I’m saying ‘asparagus,’ and my brother is laughing.’ His brother is standing in his crib giggling and banging his head against the wall. It is Quiet Time here like ketchup is a vegetable. Mbot now has tossed Baxter, his stuffed moose, over the back of the sofa. “I can’t say ‘asparagus’ now cuz I lost my moose.’ In the background, “The Flower Duet” from Leo Delibes’ opera Lakme gives the false impression that there are people in the room who are calm.
  • I love discovering new blogs–there are so many fascinating and funny ones–but seriously, who has time to read them, especially new Mombots out there? I am flabbergasted and flattered that my readers are….reading.
  • Every time we drive anywhere now, Gbot says, “Mommy, you are dwiving toooo faaassst!” I would like to think this is the fault of the friendly if overzealous policewoman we met on Thursday, but maybe it is not.

3. Pass this award along to 15 other bloggers.

I am working on this one. It is a fun project, but also a big challenge, since it’s all I can do to find time to actually write my posts. I just visited The Good Greatsby (the daddy blogger of 230,187 hits), and he is seriously hilarious, but when I read that he’s at his computer sixteen hours a day, his bona-fide-ness as a daddy blogger kind of lost its bonafidity. At the computer sixteen hours a day? If I blew myself up for the Jihad, that’s where I would go instead of to the place with the seventy-two virgins. I’m overstating my point, of course, because the weeBots are my path to immortality and joy, but good god, is a one-hour quiet time without two potty emergencies, three unauthorized naked-butt incidents, four projectile-bombing of brothers with Magna-tiles, five crib escapes, six sofa mutinies, and an owie too much to ask?*

*The numbers in this account have been D’Agata-ed.**

**Dag-at-‘uhd (verb): from the noun “D’Agata,” the surname of editor and lyric essayist John D’Agata, whose tenuous grip on reality, ethics, and math has enjoyed much recent publicity.

And so I will nominate fellow Versatile Bloggers as I discover them; it’s my hope to add to the list weekly. I am happily able to name four today, while, now, a giant Tyrannasaurus Rex is flying through the airspace in my living room. If I stop to think of more, someone might get hurt.

Vivid Living “Life in full bloom, thorns and all”…Nancy Sharp’s articulate insights are always inspiring, often awe-inspiring.

Braided Brook Russ Beck and Dylan Klempner edit this wonderful site that features personal essays from a variety of talented authors. Submissions accepted.

The Middlest Sister Nicole Belanger Smeltzer has probably been nominated many times over for her fabulous cut-and-paste comics. She’s been Freshly Pressed (which doesn’t always mean greatness, but she is all the good things we imagine when we think of FP). I see she now has a contract with a literary agent, too–hooray!

Simplicity Mom Stephanie Green is one of those people who seem to defy the laws of time, space, and economics. She moms, wifes, gardens, sews, cooks, cans, disciplines, diets, reads, socializes (and must sleep somewhere in there), and writes about it. Now that I’ve thought about all that, I have to go take a nap. Apparently I am the only one in this household who needs one.