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Here I am again with nothing to say

I’ve been staring at the screen for five full minutes, zoning out to such an extent I may have actually fallen asleep. But my new goal is to write something once a week until it clicks and starts to come naturally again. Unfortunately, that’s not happening yet, so right now I just need to sit here and suffer through this exercise and take all ten of you poor readers with me.

My thoughts are random and jumping from one topic to another… should I write about the end of school year crazy, my revelation that no matter how much I pretend it won’t happen, I will probably be having a party for my son on his bar mitzvah, or the fact that my son’s kitten has now matured to a teen cat with a rebellious streak, and even though I bought the jumbo litter box and the expensive litter, enjoys nothing more than taking a good poop behind the printer in my office.  After successfully potty training three boys, I take this failing personally.

Maybe I should just shower. None of these topics seem remotely interesting and I am rank from the exercise class I powered through on zero energy this morning. I barely slept last night but forced myself to go because I was feeling pretty good about my body in the morning and made the mistake of getting on the scale. Immediately, I realized that I had no right to feel good about myself, which is amazing since if the number would have registered 3 pounds lower I would have been strutting around. I hate the freaking scale.

So there would be no riding on coattails today. Thankfully, the class was a good one and I occupied my brain by looking around at a room full of the women I see on a regular basis. They are varying sizes but all fit and committed. No matter what the scales say, or our brains say or how we slept (or didn’t sleep) the night before, we all keep on showing up. I am proud to be among them. Happier to be done and leave them, of course, but tomorrow we will sweat each other again. Same bat time. Same bat channel. Welcome to the hamster wheel. Come sit with me and fold some laundry.

Now food is on my mind. Why not, since nothing else seems to be. I’m trying to be good but that always works against me. Trying to be good almost automatically results in being bad. Evidence A – a cleaned out jar of peanut butter in the trash. Evidence B –  a ripped open bag of semi-sweet Ghiradelli chocolate chips. Don’t judge me. It will only send me straight to the freezer.

I might as well shower. This is clearly just rambling down to nowhere. Still, I sat here again and pretended to write something. Hopefully soon I’ll get into it. Creative productivity is just a click click click away! Until then I’ll just keep stinking up the page. And the room.

But I’ll check behind the printer just in case.

 

IMG_5897

Nope. It’s me.

Take This Blog and Love It

Today a friend called me a name and I was insulted.

She dropped it casually into conversation, tossing it out like a flick of a cigarette and even over the phone I jumped back singed.

She called me a… Blogger.

A blogger. Can you believe it? Every day I slave at this computer writing essays and editing manuscripts. I am a contributor to Huff Post and What to Expect. I’ve been on the NYTimes Motherlode for crap’s sake. Every day I’m grinding my teeth and squeezing my eyes shut as I press send on submissions to Slate, Brain, Child and Modern Love.

A blogger? I felt categorized and marginalized. I felt defensive.  She may as well have stepped on my face in a pile of mud.

Wait. I am a blogger. And I love not only blogging but the essays that I write.

Why did I have such an immediate and negative reaction?

Could it be because my friend is a ‘legitimate’ author and I’m a bit competitive and sensitive? Probably.

Was she being a little condescending? Probably.

It’s like the article by the debate editor of Brain, Child Magazine, Lauren Apfel that I just read in Time, I’m a Mommy Blogger and Proud of it about the old negative stereotypes associated with mom bloggers as overly confessional, full rants and vents, grumbles and gripes. And a bunch of us are, and a bunch of us aren’t. Either way, most of the bloggers that I know are damn good writers who are at their craft daily. If we rant or overshare, you can bet it will be a well written and well-structured essay.

These days, many mommy bloggers use their words and their blogging platforms to reach a larger audience, to open doors that otherwise might remain closed and to network. We are freelance writers, aspiring novelists, bloggers who strategize and monetize.

Back a hundred years ago, I wanted to be a writer and I wrote essays, short stories and manuscripts that I placed lovingly under my bed. Yet I didn’t push hard enough for what I wanted. I let it go, accepting a career in advertising that I ultimately let go of as well to stay home with my children.

Now that they have grown just enough that I can tell them to go play in the basement and they do, I am re-discovering myself and my passion. On my blog I have written hundreds of essays, most of which I am extremely proud. Yes I write about being a mother. That’s who I am. I also write about being a daughter, a friend, a human; the heartbreak and the heartfelt; the ridiculous and the pain of the every day.

I don’t want to be in any way embarrassed or perpetuate a negative perception about something that has offered me so much personal and professional, if not exactly financial, satisfaction. I want to own it – strut my blog around the block in stilettos shouting “I’m a blogger!” instead of holding back and hedging, “I want to be writer and I have a blog.”

Actually what I want to say is that I am a writer and a blogger and I’d like to be appreciated as both.

icescreammama

Writing Wrongs

For my whole life, writing  has been part of who I am.

I wrote poetry in my youth; yearning, emotional verses mostly about boys, but also about my feelings. Genius like,

Why
only troubled souls become writers.
Laughter.
Those who can’t deal with the real.
Deep, despondent hermits
Why didn’t my mother like me
Why didn’t my father listen
Laughter.
One face
two face
my kidney on my face
my heart in my fingers
Laughter.
All the world’s a stage
so put on a happy face.

Yep, I wrote that, decades ago. I know you’re amazed by my depth, right? Can’t you just feel the kidney on your face? Bahaha!

Sadly for the world of poetry, I moved on to  sexy, fun novels with a bit a danger and mystery. Think Sydney Sheldon mixed with Danielle Steele. In one, the main character was stunning and incredibly smart with a striking, yet highly glorified, resemblance to the person who wrote her. I took those rejections quite personally.

For my short, undistinguished yet entertaining career, I worked as an advertising copywriter selling glamorous commodities like moisturizer and headache medicine. But the children took me away from all that, and now I work for me, my name is Ice Scream Mama.*

Sorry, Charlie. Got carried away there. (Extra scoops if you picked up the reference.)

Anyway, after having lost all ambition related to something other than a solid night’s sleep and a making it out of the house without pancake in my hair, I finally rediscovered myself with this blog. Blog. What does blog stand for anyway? Big Love Or Go? Bring Lots Of Goodies?  Beings Letting Out Garbage? Ideas, anyone?

Now what was I talking about? Hmm. Give me a minute. Right. The blog. I love it. There’s pressure, there’s feedback, there’s structure and networking. There’s satisfaction, and it feels good.

I still have a brain! Hallelujah!!

So when two (Double yay!) of my essays were chosen for the most recent Life Well Blogged book, rainbow sprinkles filled my sky. I could barely control my excitement when I pulled it up on my Kindle.

There it was! An essay by me!

Wait, that’s not me. Crap. My name is spelled wrong. Wrong! I’m finally in print and it’s not me!!

yep, not my name

yep, not my name

I tried to have it fixed, of course, but was told that it probably couldn’t be corrected on Kindle. Still, they assured me that it was correct in the print version.

By the time my copy arrived, I was foaming at the mouth and practically ripped the envelope open with my teeth. Ohhh. It looked nice. I pet the cover lovingly.

life well blogged

Quickly, I flipped around and found one of my essays, “If you stop trying to touch my books, I’ll give you a cookie.” One of my favorite essay titles. Wait!

BOOBS!! BOOBS!!

BOOBS!! BOOBS!!

Books? What?!

It’s supposed to be BOOBS!!

Crap again!!

I quickly flipped to my other essay, “Daddy, what’s a boner?” This was the one on Kindle that had my name spelled incorrectly. Here it was fine.  So, we were one for one going into the ‘About the Authors’ section.  And my name is… correct! I start to read. “Alisa is a SAHM to three boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man.” Yes! “When not burning cupcakes or schlepping kids, she can be found hiding in her closet with a tub of ice cream.” Yes!“I promise you’ll be back for seconds.” Wait… I think something was missing there. “She is a married mother of one.” No! NO! NO!

life well blogged booboo

Where did that come from? That doesn’t even make sense.  Sigh.

The puff of publication pride  sufficiently deflated, all I can say is, it’s still better than having a kidney on my face.

Tragic, really.

Tragic, really.

*Reference from the opening of Charlie’s Angels, of course.

My Writing Process. But first, I Need to Flip the Laundry.

I’ve been meaning to write this essay about how I write my essays. You know, the ‘process’. All writers have their own individual approach to writing. Some just sit down and bang it out. Some bang and then sit down and write. We all have our own way. No judgment.

So I had the idea, but I couldn’t figure out how to best structure it. I mulled it over a bit, and then put it on the back burner. A few days later, I picked it back up and tossed it around. Then I did what I usually do at this point, which is, to continue dragging my feet, literally, and go for a run.

Often, I come up with a lot of my ideas while running. With nothing but time to kill, it’s the perfect opportunity to brainstorm. So I plod along plotting my stories, constructing brilliant first lines and clever turns of phrase.

When I mercifully stagger back to my door, I head straight for my dining room chair, aka my work seat, where, with sweat dripping on the keypad, I quickly get down my thoughts, before they are incinerated by my awesome calorie burn. After this initial burst, I go up for a shower, and let my ideas stew in the hot water for at least 10 solid steaming minutes.

Back at the computer, the screen and I stare each other down. Where am I going with this idea? I wonder. Will this work? I write another sentence or two, then feel an overwhelming urge to check my emails. When I come up with nothing, I move on to Facebook and Twitter.

Back to the essay. I re-read. Delete a line and rewrite. Add another line. I sit back and assess. It’s not bad.

I feel the urge for a snack.

No. I need to focus. Write another line. Hmm… should I get some frozen yogurt? Or maybe an apple with peanut butter? Focus! Soup?

I can’t stand it. I’ll be right back.

I go for chocolate and peanut butter yogurt with a medley of toppings. I’m making cones and dipping them as I type. I’m in such a happy, satisfied place. I write a few more lines.

Oh, I’m in the groove now and knock out a whole paragraph. It’s good. Woo. I’m exhausted, I need a break.

Check email.

Check Facebook.

Check Twitter.

Make a phone call.

Go back and re-read what I’ve written. Decent open. Entertaining middle. Tweak. Tweak.

Get up for more sprinkles. What? I need more sprinkles. It’s part of my process.

Just a few more lines and I’m done.

I’m antsy. I need to pee.

I’m almost finished. So close. Tweak. Tweak. Twitter.

I just need the right ending.

Check email.

Re-read.

Make another cone.

Oh, I’ve got it!

Check Facebook.

It’s perfect.

Hang on. I’ll be right back…

Busy, busy, busy.

Quiet. I’m working.

I Get Schooled By Social Media

Lately, I’ve been trying to learn a thing or two about blogging – how to increase readership, when and how to post things on FB for the most views. Stuff like that. I got most of my info perusing Jeff Bullas’ blog. I started off reading, Signs I Wasn’t a Good Blogger and continued from there. It was good stuff, unless you consider that according to his seven steps, I wasn’t a good blogger.

The last bit of information that my brain absorbed before my 5  year-old started crying for cocoa puffs for dinner, was that to increase FB interaction and encourage comments on your blog, you should ask a question.

Why?

Glad you asked. I wondered that as well, especially since so many of the blogs I read seemed to end in a question. I saw it in action on Facebook pages as well. According to my research, uh Jeff, it’s simple. Ask a question… get an answer. Genius, right? (You don’t need to answer that.)

I figured I’d put my new wisdom into action. I had just written a bittersweet post about my grandmother, who died young and how I regretted our lost relationship. I figured I’d ask an intriguing question on my FB page to encourage people to click the link and read the essay. It was a perfect opportunity. Now I just needed the bait.

After some fiddling, here’s the question I came up with – Has someone you loved, died too soon?

Provocative, I thought with satisfaction.

Within seconds, responses poured in. Wow. That question bit really works. Happily, I began reading comments. Someone had lost grandparents, someone lost a parent. I grimaced a bit, and apprehensively wrote my condolences. More comments. More condolences. The uneasy feeling inflated to a balloon the size of Snoopy in the Macy’s day parade. What have I done?

That’s when the last comment came in. A reader shared her husband’s passing only a month before at age 53. I stared at the screen. Oh my God. I panicked. What could I say to her? What was there to say? How could I put a question like that out there? What the farfignewton was I thinking?!

I shook my head with dismay. I fretted. I worried. I responded with my sympathies. It felt completely inadequate. I felt like a total ass. I needed to stop this immediately. I wrote a general comment about my insensitivity and stupidity and then deleted the whole bit.

I let out a big puff of relief. It was gone. I worried that the people who had opened up and shared would think I was discounting their feelings by deleting the post. I really hoped I didn’t offend them. Jeez, that was some learning experience.

I walked into the living room, the sweat still wet on my brow, needing to confess my thoughtlessness. My husband listened to me go on about people I didn’t really know, who were so open to sharing their sadness, especially the woman who lost her husband.

Do you know what my husband’s response was? Of course you don’t. But it wasn’t, “That’s terrible,” or “Wow, you screwed up.”

He asked, “You know where we keep the important papers, right?”

Uh, what are talking about here? “The important papers?” I repeated hesitantly.

“Yeah, you know, the insurance and our financials and all that.”

I looked at him mutely. How did we get here? I refused to answer. I would not discuss even the possibility.

“Well, do you know where they are?”

LALALALALA. I wanted to scream and cover my ears. No no no!  Instead, I spat at him, “Yeah! I know! I know! Sheesh!”

He smiled and went back to whatever he was doing on his iPAD.

I sat across from him distressed and annoyed and confused, but wiser. I had definitely learned something today.

No question about it.

Are there any questions you wished you never asked?

(Better, right? 😉 )

 

Read here for a (blogging) good time! #pay it forward

*This was last week’s Blogger Idol assignment – to give a shout out to to some great blogs you love. Read below, if you don’t already know them, you should check them out…

And if you’re feeling like giving back a little, go to www.writersarethenewrocks.blogspot.com and vote ice scream mama. I would so appreciate. 🙂

************

I never understood the whole internet dating thing. I mean, fall in love with someone you never met? How bizarre. How in the hell? And then I did. Multiple times. Sometimes at the same time. Often, I go back and forth between them all.

This wasn’t me at all. I married the first boyfriend I had, and now here I was slutting around the internet with people I didn’t really know. But they made me laugh, and sometimes they made me cry. So I didn’t get dinner and a movie, they brought out serious, real emotion in me, stuff that lay buried under massive loads of laundry. I didn’t expect any of it. I didn’t mean for it to happen. It just did.

I hear my husband calling me. “Are you still on the computer?” or “The kids are hungry and playing with scissors!” But I’m in love. And when you’re in love, everything else takes a back seat, right?  

My cynical husband will roll his eyes. He believes there is nothing genuine out there on the internet. But now, having immersed myself into this world for the past four months, I am floored by the people I have found. People who put their hearts and souls out there every day. People who struggle. People who live wild, crazy lives. Mommies. Lots of mommies.

So whether they know it or not, I am in love and stalking, I mean following, so many rocking blogs. Here are a few that bring a little extra something something to my days.

Ask Outlawmama why her skirt smells like pee, or how she and her husband get their sexy on – and she’ll tell you a story. A real, funny, generally embarrassing story that will have you nodding your head with glee. Maybe that’s why she’s constantly at the top of the charts at YeahWrite, an amazing weekly writing competition for bloggers and writers. Outlawmama knows just how to capture a moment. It doesn’t matter whether she’s talking about her bad bangs or her bad self, she makes me laugh at life and all its crazy.

When I want to hang out with my best friend, I turn to Ateachablemom. She’s in the trenches with snot on her shirt and insecurity in her eyes. She right in the thick of that wild jungle called mommyland, just trying to do better and doing the best she can. She’s constantly learning and teaching. When you’re with her, you know you’re not alone. She’s me. She’s you. She’s fabulous.

Watch The Landy climb big snowy mountains. Watch the Landy work out! Watch the Landy race in mud! I never thought I’d be into this blog about an Aussie guy on a mission to climb a mountain. But dag nabbit, he rocks! He is a real man, with a sensitive side who waxes poetic while jumping from planes, roaring through rapids, lifting small buildings in a single bound! Every time I read his posts, I want to cheer – GO LANDY GO!!! I swear you won’t be able to help yourself.

I met Pile of Babies here on Idol and got to know her and her blog a little better through our interview assignment. All I can say is – Awe.

First with her, because we were in different time zones and at 7:30 pm her time, 10:30 pm mine – she had a quiet house with her twins already asleep while my three boys were running in circles in their underwear.

And then there’s her blog.

I simply loved every single thing I read. Meredith takes all the stuff in life that makes you want to pull your hair out, and instead has you peeing your pants. You will be both amazed and amused by her bravery to tell it like it is, and do it with insight, humor and a ton of snark. Mostly, you’ll be laughing your ass off. Not many people could write hilarious posts like, “Your threats do not scare me small person.” and “Having twins is not adorable but thanks.”  If those titles alone don’t make you check out her blog, well than you must be, “Drunk, or 4 years-old“.

So forget the dishes, the kids and whatever other mishegoss you have going on, and go hang out with these guys. I promise, you’ll be totally entertained while you laugh, cheer and virtually fall in love.

It’s a beautiful thing. Just don’t ask my husband.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buzzy gives me, “Two cones up!”

Today is my blogging anniversary. For one full month, my ass has been rooted to this chair. The boys tolerate it, except when they want something. Howard is happy for me, except when he wants something. My most solid supporter in the house is Buzz.

He sits next to the computer, rubbing his head on the keyboard or against my hand.

He’s here now as I write. He rarely leaves my side. Sometimes, he leaves me gifts.

A gift from Fuzz.

Buzzy – I know I seem annoyed when you accidentally push keys with your nuzzling head, or lay all over my papers, or get hairs up my nose, but I appreciate you standing, uh, laying, by me. We’re in this together, at least for another month.

So thank you Buzz and everyone (special shout out to Juicy Pear Colorado), for reading and supporting me.

Please forward www.icescreammama.com around and ask your friends to “Follow”. Yes, that was shameless. I’m okay with shameless. Do it for Buzz.