Putting the "MO" in MOFO since 2004

www.flickr.com
This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from Meghantown. Make your own badge here.

My site was nominated for Hottest Mommy Blogger!

Monday, July 24, 2006

 

BlogHer Part Deux: The year of reckoning

I signed up for BlogHer last year on a whim, and 2 weeks later I decided (in my head) to back out of the conference and eat the entrance fee. Why? Because I didn’t know ANYONE, and as someone who had their 5th grade ass handed to them on the school bus on a regular basis by the popular girls, I was a bit leery to head into a conference full of women I didn’t know.

Then Elisa Camahort e-mailed me to ask if I would co-lead a break-out discussion for the mommyblogging panel. At first I thought that perhaps Elisa had confused me with someone else, or that maybe she was in the midst of some kind of week-long stress-induced booze bender. I had been blogging for all of about 4 weeks. Then I theorized that I was perhaps the only blogging mother who had registered (this was, in the end, my final theory, but I didn’t even care because I was so honored to be asked). I decided to put on a brave face and risk a weekend of social ostracization which was likely to include me, eating my lunch cowering alone in the ladies room. I bought my plane ticket.

I am so glad I took that risk. The weekend of BlogHer was amazing, and although I felt like an absolute neophyte, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I collaborated with Jenny and Jenn to co-host the mommyblogging panel, and discovered an amazing, whipsmart, thoughtful, talented and knowledgeable group of women. Many of whom not only acknowledged my existence, but were incredibly fun to talk with.

Were there groups that seemed a tad bit exclusive? Yes. But I also think that perception is strongly influenced by the way people often interpret shyness, or general shell-shock, as an insult. Particularly from people who are successful. The more well-known the person, the more likely people are to assume the worst of them in the snobbery department, and it’s not always justified. Some people are just shy, or tired, or wierded out.

Was it overwhelming? Yes. I discovered that people who blog love to talk about themselves and their blogs, naturally.

I found myself backing into corners and longing for a two-way conversation that had no mention of BLOG. I wanted to talk about anything non-blog related. That rash on your elbow? Tell me more! Food allergies? Fascinating! Good God I just needed a break. At one point Saturday evening, after several glasses of wine, I unceremoniously demanded that everyone at the table shut up about their blogs and talk about something else for a change. THAT went over well….. I think part of that reaction may have been due to my lack of understanding of the subject matter. “I’m not dumb, Mr. Einstein, it’s just that you’re boring! Let’s move on from Quantum physics and this “transport” nonsense to something more interesting. Do you like Outkast? Which baby is better, Suri or Shilo?”

Was it worth it? Hell Yes.


This year will be different because it’s HUGE. And I am again, extremely nervous. I worry that it will be so big that the magic of last year will be gone. Kind of like the blogger version of Woodstock 1999. But then I realize that the same crew who put it together last year are in charge again this year. And they learned their lesson about playing Shania Twain during the introductory gathering. So no worries!

I am also extremely excited to meet a whole slew of people who are going this year who weren’t there last year, and to re-connect with the superfreakmotherfuckingbitchasshomommybloggers I met (or didn’t meet) last year. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. We are going to crimey our roomie’s chonies! And then give them back! We will have zoo-zoos with our ace-deuces and give up the grapes! We will totally snap the chain. In fact, I may even bust me out with an ace. And I know a couple of people who might join me in that.

So get ready, San Jose. Here we come.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

 

Little House in the wolf-infested woods

You want the cabin? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE CABIN!

If you are brave enough to try, you can see photographs by clicking here.

Because for some lame-brained reason, I can't post pictures on Blogger. Dagnabbit.

Monday, July 17, 2006

 

Look

I recently noticed a strange phenomenon seemingly found only in Hollywood scripts. Since I first took note of it, I see it EVERYWHERE, all the time.

What is this phenomenon you may ask?

Characters in movies and on television starting their sentences with "Look...."

Do people actually start their sentences with "Look.." in real life?

It seems so....condescending to me. For instance, if someone says:

"Look, I have to be at the barber by 2:00."

It seems what they really mean is:

"Look, you blind, deaf and dumb nincompoop.... I have to be at the barber shop by 2:00. Can't you see that? Are you stupid? LOOK! It's right THERE! In front of you! LOOK! LOOK!"

It just seems rude. I personally can't think of a single occasion in which I have started a sentence in this manner.

Maybe it's my uber-polite Minnesota upbringing. This state runs amok with reserved Sandinavian people who consider any kind of confrontation to be the pinnacle of tabu. We prefer the more psychologically scarring passive-agressive, yet polite approach to conflict resolution. For example, if you cut in front of a Minnesotan in line at The Gap, the victim is likely to smile primly, wait until you leave the store, and then say something to the clerk at the cash register like "Some people's children Eh?" The translation of which, is understood by all parties to mean: "Did you get a load of that guy? What a freaking a-hole!" And then people nod their heads in agreement while going about their business.

On the other hand, perhaps the polite approach could be more accurately described as the cowardly and repressed approach. We want to say our piece, but do not want to suffer the consequences of our own disgust, or (gasp!) risk facing the ire we may draw with our (gasp!) opinions.

Maybe I just read too much into things (cue laugh track here). I am fluent in the language of the pasive-aggressive.

I tend to seek out negative hidden meanings in all manner of things. Is this a shame-based thing? Do I only notice this because I was raised Catholic, and because of this, I am acutely aware of any situation in which drowning in shame could be one possible outcome?

I am like the Quarterback of negative innuendo's. If there is a comment lofted from the 50 yard line, and if there is any way to interpret that comment in a shameful, negative way, however abstract, I will catch that ball, score the touchdown, and do a little dance in the end-zone. Then I will curl up in the fetal position, and cringe at my own inadequacy. Then I will berate myself for being negative and for lacking self-esteem. I am the MVP of self-flagellation.

Look... I am sorry I brought it up.

Look... I know this conversation is really something I should talk over with my therapist, and not in rambling incoherent stream-of-consciousness posts to the internets.

Look... it's just a theory.

But SERIOUSLY. Does anyone in real life really start their sentences with "Look..."?

Please tell me. I am really curious.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

 

The DAMN DOG and the STRANGERS!

My parents Shetland sheepdog, Ernie, wrecked my birthday.

How in the world, you may ask, can a dog wreck a persons birthday?

For starters, the dog can be pre-disposed to all forms of doggie wierdness. Somehwere in Ernie's walnut-sized brain is a list like this:

Things that are good:
Meat
Walks
His own balls
Other dogs and their butt-smells
Herding all categories of things. Animals, people... If it moves, RUN AROUND IT IN CIRCLES!
Cheese
Sandwiches
sniffing your own poop

Things that are bad:
Getting humped by other dogs
Loud noises made by FIREWORKS!
STRANGERS!
Being locked in a log cabin with STRANGERS!
Being touched by STRANGERS!
Being looked at by STRANGERS!

Things that are bad, but not even considered by Ernie's tiny walnut -sized brain:
WOLVES. The kind that roam around the U.P. and around our cabin.
The kind of WOLVES that killed a neighbors shelte. WOLVES who didn't just kill it, but tore it apart in tiny little pieces, leaving only the poor little guys HEAD which was collected and buried in a small ziplock bag by it's bereft owners.
TWO-LANE HIGHWAYS on which many local dogs have met their maker by way of automobiles hitting and crushing them.

This last part is what led to the disaster that was my birthday. We left the remote log cabin in the woods of the U.P. to dine at a restaruant called "The Root Cellar". Everyone except for my cousin Kerry and her son Zeke, my sister's dog and THAT DAMN DOG Ernie, went to dinner.

Dinner was good (Prime Rib) Service was "meh". Maggie was exhausted, and required constant entertainment in the form of seventeen trips outside to play in the large rambling estate on which "The Root Cellar" is located. Because it was my birthday, my sisters and cousins all did their best to appease the tyrannical toddler so that I could eat.

When we returned to the cabin for birthday cake, and presumably, some celebratory wine, we were alerted to a small problem. Ernie had left the premises. In his doggie panic that transpired shortly after we left because he was unfamiliar with the STRANGER! we left him with, he darted out the screen door the first chance he had. Our poor cousin Kerry called to him and called to him, trying to coax him back in. Ernie, in all his neuroses, refused to re-enter the cabin.

Cue in the FIREWORKS!

The dog, already in a panicky, agitated state, was further agitated by the ass-clowns blowing off fireworks in 2 minute intervals at the county park across the lake.

By the time we got home, the dog was nowhere to be found.

Search parties commenced. There was much worry and concern. Tears were shed. There was coaxing and luring, and shouted fruitless bribes of treats and walks. But there was no Ernie. It grew dark. The searching continued, and our cousin Shanna's fiance Bill sat up for hours in a small pup tent, hoping to catch a glimpse of him.

No Ernie.

All night, I startled awake, thinking I was hearing a small shetland sheepdog being torn apart by wolves. I trotted out to the outhouse at 3:00 a.m. and took my time, carefully peeking the shadows I normally race by, afraid of the dark and the critters hiding in it.

We awoke the next morning, and still no Ernie.

The searching continued. My sister inquired at the county park if anyone had seen our dog, and she could barely get the words out through her tears.

Neighbors were alerted to our situation.

I was certain that we had seen the last of Ernie. Ernie was a goner, and was somewhere herding sheep in doggie heaven, his earthly body torn to pieces on the forest floor of the U.P.

Regressing to my self-centered Id, I moped internally. My birthday would forever be ruined. People would weep every year as I blew out the candles on my birthday cake. And I would shake my fist in the air and shout "THAT DAMN DOG RUINED MY BIRTHDAY!", and then I would cower in shame at my own self-centeredness. And my friends and family would think to themselves "all she cares about is her birthday. She didn't love that DAMN DOG. We are writing her out of the will because she is selfish and small." and I would get no birthday presents at all. Ever.

One thing was for certain: I was NEVER GOING TO THE CABIN ON MY BIRTHDAY EVER, EVER AGAIN. My birthday, forever marred by the anniversary of the violent untimely death of Ernie the dog, at the hands of wild wolves.

The following day, my birthday cake sat, uneaten, on the counter.

Later that morning, a neighbor (perhpaps, now, my all-time favorite Upper Penisulan) pulled into the driveway. Ernie had been spotted by a STRANGER! He had made it through the night! The STRANGERS! called out his name, but because they were STRANGERS! Ernie ran away, just like he did every time a well-intentioned STRANGER! tried to help collect him. In my estimation, this scenario played itself out about four hundred times throughout the day. STRANGERS! shouting "Here Ernie! HERE BOY!" and Ernie pausing, cocking his head to the side, and running, terrified, right back into the woods from which he came.

The searching continued, but the atmosphere changed. Knowing the dog was alive, we started to criticize his stupidity for staying out all night. What kind of a wierd dog doesn't let people touch him after spending a long, lonely night in the scary wolf-infested woods with no food? Why was Ernie so stupid? Was it because he had been isolated in a garage with his also-neurotic shelte brother for the first 12 weeks of his neurotic life? Was it because he lacked human interaction as a puppy? Why was Ernie so dumb? Dumb, DUMB Dog.

My favorite neighbor returned throughout the day to tell us of the most recent Ernie sighting. The DAMN DOG continued to run away from well-intentioned STRANGERS! Well into the afternoon.

Eventually, we recovered the dog. I was out searching neighboring properties spanning about 4 miles when he was found. In the end I returned home while, with no small degree of irony, a search party had been dispatched to locate ME. Because THAT DAMN DOG! had been found, yet I was still, out searching for him. DAMN DOG.

Upon my return to the cabin, I walked over to the dog and kicked him as hard as I could in the ribs for ruining my birthday.

Allright. I didn't really do that. I looked at his scraggly furry face, gave him a scratch behind the ear and said "Ernie, I am glad you are back, and that you didn't get eaten by wolves. Oh. AND YOU RUINED MY BIRTHDAY YOU WORTHLESS FREAKING MONGREL!"

I did wish that we had ERNIE CAM footage so we could review all his adventures, but alas, we have only our imaginations.

I gave the DAMN DOG the cold shoulder the rest of the week. But secretly, I was glad that he had returned to us unharmed.

We had birthday cake that night, the day AFTER my birthday. Maggie helped me blow out the candles (which was really the only reason I was so insistent on having birthday cake. The child thinks birthday cake is mind-blowingly exciting).

I do love that DAMN DOG. In all my selfishness, I did secretly pray for his safe return with all my might, and seeing that DAMN DOG! again (alive, with his head attached to his body), was possibly the best birthday present of all. DAMN DOG.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

 

Mr. C.

Combine a few days off of work and also off of my usual, predictable routine; add some sad news, and my mind just goes funny. Today I am melancholy. And wistful. And I got stung by a bee on my inner left thigh while I was running. But it feels like it was my heart that got stung. It feels sore and swollen.

There once was a girl in her early twenties. She was sweet and mildly annoying with all of her loud talking about her opinions and idealism. She was laughably naïve. I suppose these are typical traits of people that age. She was also in love. She was hopeful and thoughtful, and painfully unsophisticated at times. She possessed the young confidence that only a person green enough to believe the world is fair and kind can have. Sometimes she tried a little too hard. She threw her entire being into this person and this relationship. She was so in love that she invested herself not only in this boy, but in this boy’s entire large family. He was the youngest son if a big Irish & French Catholic family. They were all tall, and full of life with all their height and long distinguished noses and masses of wavy dark hair. There were three older brothers and two older sisters all together. They were all married. The eldest brother was warm and loving and so open with his love, that it was mainly touching, but sometimes a tad bit uncomfortable. The next two brothers were smart, and full of swaggering attitude. The sisters were lovely and intelligent and goofy. The girl (the annoying twenty-something one)was tall and awkward and made fast, clumsy movements, and she felt downright diminutive among all the tall, dark haired Irish-French brothers and sisters.

She loved every member of this big, Catholic family. Especially the boy’s father, Mr. C. Mr. C was a big barrel-chested, handsome Irish man with broad rosy cheeks and a full head of gray waves that rendered him altogether dashing, even at his age. He had been in World War II. When he returned from the war, he met his wife at the Catholic University they both attended. He was older than the rest of the students due to his tour in the war, and when he came back, the buzz was that he was quite a catch for some lucky lady. That lucky lady was Mrs. C, who was tall and slender, and delicate and French. She was lovely and well-mannered and sophisticated, despite her small-town roots. They fell in love, married and had a family.

Mrs. C. had a dignified air about her. She was French. She was prone to making comments affectionately referred to as “zingers”. A zinger was an off-hand comment that was meant to be cutting, but her zingers were often so subtle, that an inattentive victim might not even know they were being criticized. Mr. C was happily oblivious to many of his wife’s zingers. Mr. C. loved a good steak dinner and a nice scotch, or three. Mr. C. was jovial, and always had a twinkle in his eye. He always made her feel a part of the family, and the girl (his youngest son’s girlfriend, the mildly annoying twenty-something) loved him from about the moment she first met him. There were many dinners and parties and trips to the cabin. There were passionate conversations with a lot of frantic hand movements, over many beers. She felt like a part of their family.

Mrs. C., the lovely French lady who threw a mean zinger, began to lose her battle with cancer. She died in June of 1995. After she died, Mr. C was inconsolable for a good while. For a long time, he smelled of stale grief and whiskey. He was badly shaken once by a neighbor who had seen a strange woman wandering the neighborhood, because he had been convinced it was the ghost of Mrs. C. The Irish have vivid fantasies tucked away in their imaginations. This made the girl adore Mr. C even more.

The fairy tale with the boy began to lose a little of its fairy dust. The girl made some crucial errors that cost her dearly. She had become so engrossed in another person, and another person’s family, that she lost her own footing. She forgot who she was, who she had been, and where she came from. She forgot that she had her own story. Or maybe it was not so much that she forgot, but more that she didn't think her story was worth much of anything. She hadn’t realized that she should never ever forget that she had her own story.

The relationship finally, officially ended, much in the manner of a small fuzzy kitten being run over by a bus. One could say that it was due to some bad behavior on the part of the boy. One could also say that it was due to the girl losing all sense of who she was, and who she had been. One could say the ending was inevitable just because it was young love, and young love is not meant to last.

When the ground began to crumble, it literally fell out from under her, and she was lost for a very, very long time. When she said goodbye to the boy, she had to say goodbye to all the handsome, tall, long-nosed, dark haired Irish-French brothers and sisters. She had already said goodbye to Mrs. C. and perhaps worst of all, she had to say goodbye to Mr. C., her barrel chested rosy cheeked, silver haired pal. This was possibly the most painful thing about ending the relationship. She was very sad for a long time.

The girl, now a bit older and wiser, sometimes misses that annoying naïve twenty-something girl who was so eager to please. She was fearless enough to leap wholeheartedly into another world altogether. It seems that small fuzzy kitten got replaced with a cranky old alley cat when it was squashed like a bug on the highway. Things are definitely different now. She is more suspicious of ulterior motives and is hesitant to let her guard down. She has seen the dark side, and it changed her. She wishes she still had some of that fearless, brave naiveté in her. She thinks it might be bouncing around in there somewhere. Because of this, she is thinking about getting another kitten. This time she will be sure to keep it out of harms way.

She misses Mr. C. to this very day, and she wonders if he knows how much she adores him, or how she still carries a little of him in her heart, and always will.

She just found out Mr. C is facing his own battle with cancer, and that it looks like it may get the better of him. And this makes her very sad. The alleycat in her wants to put all of the memories back in the box they came from, and tuck it back up in the attic. But the kitten part of her wants to look through the memories for a little while and just feel the melancholy.

She also realizes with no small degree of irony, that at some point all of this did in fact, become her own story.

Good luck Mr. C. You are in my thoughts, you sweet silver-haired, rosy cheeked, barrel-chested Irishman.