Radio Silence



I got a new computer for Christmas. Why, you may ask, is this relevant almost three months later? Because when I searched for my blog file in Microsoft Word yesterday, I realized I had never transferred it from the laptop I no longer use. This forced me to acknowledge that I haven’t written, aside from work-related stuff, in months. I’m not saying I’m some masterful writer or anything, but I do enjoy putting pen to paper — well, fingertips to keyboard anyway. Sometimes I’m compelled to write; I have the yellowed journal pages filled with teen angst to prove it. But that hasn’t happened for a while, a long while. I got a new computer for Christmas, but I don’t have anything to say.

It makes me sad to think I have neglected this blog — which turned three on March 16, by the way — for so long. I tell myself it’s a good thing because I typically write when I’m sad or having trouble coping: If I’m not blogging, it must mean things are going well for me personally and professionally. I make lots of other excuses too. I’m not writing because: a) I’m burned out from working so much, b) I’m too busy with my kids’ crazy schedules, c) My “me time” is training for my next marathon or d) All of the above. But there are always extra hours in the day if we truly want to find them.

I may not be blogging about my life, but that doesn’t mean I’m not struggling, as we all do. I’m trying to be a dedicated worker, a supportive mother, a loving wife, a sympathetic friend (I fail miserably in the last department, I know, because the other three roles take up so much time). The worries occupying my mind the most, as always, are of my children. But now that they are teenagers, I don’t feel comfortable writing about them. Their stories are theirs to tell; maybe they always were.

Of course, that is yet another excuse. If I’m not writing because I can’t share my kids’ stories, maybe I’ve lost myself in motherhood again. Maybe my life is out of balance. Maybe I’m not writing to avoid delving into my own thoughts and feelings. Maybe something is missing. Maybe the something is me. Maybe I am not making time to write because I am afraid of what I might say.

Anyway, I know I’m rambling here. My apologies, but I am more than a little out of practice. I guess what I am trying to say is that writing and I are on a break. I’m not ready to end our relationship, but I definitely need some space. It’s not you, dear old blog, it’s me. There will be other Christmases and birthdays. Maybe I will write about them. Maybe I won’t. Please stand by.

When Your Past Comes Calling


Image by SharifahNor

When I started this blog almost two-and-a-half years ago, I thought of it as a place to share my thoughts and memories. I find writing therapeutic, and I often use this forum to work through feelings or experiences, both past and present. I also consider it somewhere I can record bits and pieces of myself for my children. If something happens to me, I want them to know who I was. I want them to understand that not only was I their mother, I was a wife, a daughter, a friend, an editor, a writer, a runner and a music lover. I was once a teenager who felt misunderstood and a young woman who struggled to find herself. I have experienced great love and joy as well as devastating loss. I have been many things in this lifetime; a mother is only one of them, although it is, to me, my most important role.

What I did not expect when I started this blog were the connections I would make to other bloggers, other mothers in my community, other people in general. It is not easy — and many would argue a little crazy — to expose your true emotions and imperfections on the Internet. But I have received only kind words and support from those who comment. I have had numerous people tell me that they related to one or more of my posts and that they found relief in knowing they were not alone. This blog has been a positive outlet for me, a source of healing and growth.

The thing is, when you share yourself online, everyone can see you. Why I never considered the full weight of that kind of exposure, I’m not sure. Obviously, “everyone” includes people you leave in the past and wish would stay there. I heard from someone like that this week. I am not sure how he found my blog, since we haven’t been in contact for a good 20 years. But he read through a few of my posts and sent me an email. He didn’t use a real name and never admitted his true identity, insisting that I knew who it was. He had much to say about my blog, about my life. I was left wondering why he felt entitled to comment, but I guess I gave him permission by clicking “publish” in the first place.

The rest of the story doesn’t matter. The experience left me to reassess the whole public blogging thing. Being the naive Pollyanna I am, I guess I never expected the negativity of the Internet to affect me. I want to keep writing, sharing and connecting, but not with everyone, especially not those who once knew me in the real world but never took the time to get to know who I am.

The Internet is a dark, dirty place. This isn’t news. But I don’t have to like it.

There’s a Place for Us


My favorite quote from Ally Sheedy’s character in “The Breakfast Club”: “When you grow up, your heart dies.”

Remember the basket case in “The Breakfast Club”? That was me in high school. I may not have been decorating my artwork with my dandruff, but I walked through the halls feeling lonely and disconnected. The academic part was easy. I took AP classes and earned mostly A’s with minimal effort, whipping out papers the night before they were due and barely studying. The social part was what killed me. I had a small group of close friends, and I don’t think I would have survived without them. I was adrift in high school, a nobody in a sea of kids who all seemed to belong somewhere.

Looking back, I recognize that I never found a niche in high school because I didn’t look for one. I didn’t join clubs or participate in sports. I didn’t audition for plays or musicals or learn to play an instrument. No one encouraged me to do any of those things. I’m not blaming my parents. My father worked the afternoon shift, and my stepmother was on days. Neither of them was around after school to drive me to auditions or practice even if I had thought to ask. I was a kid who preferred sitting alone in her room writing in her journal or reading a book, and it was the ’80s, an era of hands-off parenting not tiger mom hovering.

I’ve talked to a lot of moms who, like me, grew up in middle-class homes where music lessons and other activities were a luxury not an entitlement. And, like me, they have gone out of their way to ensure their own kids have the chance to participate in activities, hoping they will find something they love to do. Are we overcompensating for what we view as our parents’ slights against us? I don’t think so. We just happen to be lucky enough to be able to give our kids the opportunities we didn’t have.

Some of us, like me, do go a little overboard. My children (now 12 and 14) have begged to join — and eventually abandoned — a laundry list of sports and activities over the years, and I have almost always said yes. I do have one stipulation, however: They have to honor the commitments they make by finishing the class or season. I may have more disposable income than my parents did, but I’m not willing to shell out hundreds of dollars only to have them quit on a whim after one disappointing class or a particularly hard practice.

In my son’s case, music has been the only thing to stick. He found his true love, the piano, in fourth grade when we bought a used baby grand, and he started playing saxophone in the school band the following year. Music is something I hope will always be part of his life, but when he talked about joining the high school marching band, I had concerns. I worried about the grueling practice schedule, but not because I thought it would affect his scholastic performance. Like me, he is a kid for whom school comes easy. My fear was that he wouldn’t have time to make friends and have fun or, worse yet, that he would be labeled a “band kid” or “nerd” and ostracized.

What I could not have realized, because I knew nothing about marching band or the culture that surrounds it, is that he would find much more than his niche. All those practices, football games, parades, competitions and band camps (insert tired “American Pie” joke here) form unique, unbreakable bonds. My son doesn’t feel adrift when he walks through the halls of his high school because he knows he belongs somewhere. And that makes the countless hours my husband and I spent watching him participate in long forgotten sports and activities worth every second.

As an adult misfit who still feels like Ally Sheedy in “The Breakfast Club” much of the time socially, I wonder if things would have been different if I had tried a sport or learned to play an instrument, if I had made the effort to get involved in high school. But the feeling of not belonging is what pushed me to start a journal all those years ago. Writing helped me stay afloat during my high school years, and it’s been a beacon throughout my life. My love for it led me to major in English in college and become a magazine editor in Detroit. A potential newspaper job brought me to Chicago, which is where my life as a wife and mother began. And here I am, all these years later, writing this little blog, my online journal.

In the end, the goal is to be part of something bigger than yourself — whether it’s a marching band, a sports team or a family — and to find your place. It just takes some of us a little longer to get there.

Me circa 1985: "...each one of us is a brain... ...and an athlete... ...and a basket case... ...a princess... ...and a criminal."

Me circa 1985: “You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain… …and an athlete… …and a basket case… …a princess… …and a criminal.” –“The Breakfast Club”

We’re Turning One

Tomorrow is this blog’s first birthday, and I’m celebrating a little early due to the impending weekend insanity of my son’s confirmation, my husband’s band gig and St. Patrick’s Day. What better way to commemorate one whole year of getting my blog on than to recognize some of the incredible folks I have met along the way?

Thanks to my talented buddy Bee over at Living Off Script, who surprised me with a One Lovely Blog Award last month, I get to name five blogging lovelies of my own. Here they are:


Enjoy, ladies. I respect and admire each one of you and always look forward to reading your work. I am so happy to have found you and all the other talented folks over at Yeah Write just a few months after starting this blog. I have learned so much from reading your blogs during the past year, and your feedback on my own writing has been invaluable. Thanks to all of you, and to Bee, for making this weird and wacky online universe a whole lot lovelier.

In addition to recognizing five other bloggers, I am also supposed to list 15 random facts about myself as part of receiving the One Lovely Blog Award. Here goes:

  1. I am a terrible driver. I mean, really god awful. The local body shop created a frequent crasher card in my honor. (That last part may be an exaggeration.)
  2. I am not ashamed to admit that I cry at schmaltzy Hallmark commercials. But I am a little embarrassed by the fact that my children tease me about it.
  3. I didn’t receive my first real kiss till I was 15. No one in my high school ever asked me out. Not a single person. The only high school boys I dated (there were two) went to other schools.
  4. I was the first person in my family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. I love school and hope to go back for a master’s and doctorate someday. I’ll be the annoying old woman in the back of the class who constantly raises her hand and always turns her papers in early.
  5. I won the fifth grade spelling bee but lost the overall school contest on the word “guard.” The memory makes me cringe. And so does the fact that I still have to stop to think before I type it.
  6. I once took a personality test that revealed I am an introverted extrovert. I guess that’s why the whole blogging thing makes sense for me.
  7. My first trip to Europe was to Ireland in my 20s. For a freckly brunet like me who has been teased pretty much my whole life about being so pale, stepping off that plane into an ocean of people who looked like me was both eerie and comforting.
  8. If I could have one wish it would be to have a single memory of my mom. She died when I was 2½, and I can’t remember a thing about her.
  9. If I could have two wishes, I would also hope to stick around long enough to be a grandparent someday because, well, I think it would be fun.
  10. This is probably the most random fact of all, but I hate white gym shoes. When I started dating my husband, he not only owned a pair but also thought it was OK to wear them in public — when he wasn’t exercising. I corrected this fashion faux pas immediately.
  11. When I am done with someone or something, it’s forever. No second chances. No retakes. I’m basically a kind, fair person, but I’m also stubborn.
  12. I want to learn to ride a motorcycle. My husband, who knows what a klutz I am, thinks this is a terrible idea.
  13. Autumn is my favorite season. I love the fall colors, the cool temperatures and the smell of burning leaves. Halloween is my favorite holiday. Oh, and my birthday just happens to be Oct. 28.
  14. I was raised by a family of spiritualists. My grandfather and aunt were both psychics. (Man, why have I not blogged about this yet?)
  15. I was terrified to start this blog a year ago, absolutely terrified. I am super proud of myself for getting past the fear and taking a chance. It’s been a great year, and I’m looking forward to the next one. Thanks to all (nine) of you who keep coming back each week, reading and leaving your wonderfully supportive comments. I love you guys. And, yes, sappy old me is all choked up right now.

And the Liebster Goes To…


I received a lovely surprise earlier this week: Farrah from The Three Under presented me with my first ever Liebster Award. And what, you may ask, is a Liebster? I didn’t know either, so I Googled it. I found various translations for the German word “liebster,” but these were the most prevalent: sweetheart, dearest, darling. Apparently, the award originated in Germany, and the idea is to recognize your favorite bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers. To receive this award from Farrah, a super-talented blogging pro who helped me get the Michigan Left ball rolling (disclaimer: she also happens to be my younger cousin), is quite an honor. Thank you, Farrah, for making my week. I haven’t received an award since I won the fifth grade spelling bee, so this is a big deal to me.

On to the rules for the Liebster Award:

  1. Each blogger should post 11 random facts about herself or himself.
  2. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you, and then create 11 (Farrah changed it to 10; I’m cool with that) new questions for the bloggers to whom you pass the award.
  3. Choose 11 bloggers with fewer than 200 followers who you think deserve more attention and link them in your post.
  4. Go back to their pages and tell them about their awards.
  5. No tag backs.

My 11 random facts:

  1. I like to be on the water, but not in it and I don’t really know how to swim — unless doing a flailing doggy paddle counts.
  2. I hate spiders and am regularly tortured by my children, who enjoy hiding rubber arachnids in random spots around the house to scare the bejesus out of me.
  3. I am obsessed with capers and force try to encourage my husband to incorporate them whenever possible when he cooks.
  4. I’m a morning person (I know, I know; don’t hate).
  5. I love to crochet, although I haven’t done it for years. I think this means I’ll make a good old lady.
  6. I once attended a monster truck show…and liked it.
  7. I wanted to be a lawyer for about five minutes during my first year of college.
  8. In seventh grade, I got into an argument with a boy; he punched me in the mouth and knocked out my front tooth.
  9. I couldn’t run around the block until age 40. Five years later, I have a marathon, three half marathons and various other races under my belt.
  10. I flunked calculus twice, once in high school and again in college.
  11. My karaoke songs of choice are “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Jessie’s Girl.”

My 11 blogger picks (in alphabetical order because I’m a copy editor):

None of these bloggers is new, and I’m sure many, if not all, of them have more than 200 followers. But these are some of the folks whose blogs inspire me, make me laugh and/or cry, and keep me coming back for more. I tried to pick people who haven’t received a Liebster before — or at least didn’t have a badge for it on their blog. These are all bloggers I discovered through Yeah Write, a fabulously supportive community of writers who blog and bloggers who write that you should really check out if you haven’t already.

  1. Fifty Shades of Peach
  2. Hair of the Dogs
  3. Happiness Cubed
  4. Ice Scream Mama
  5. Jester Queen
  6. Larks Notes This
  7. Mayor Gia
  8. People Do Things With Their Lives
  9. Saalon Muyo
  10. A Teachable Mom
  11. Whoa! Susannah

My answers to Farrah’s questions:

  1. Sweet or savory? Savory
  2. Summer or winter? Winter
  3. Most irrational fear? The bogeyman under my bed
  4. A flaw you have accepted in yourself: I speak before I think.
  5. The last book you read: “Little Bee”
  6. How many hours of sleep you got last night: 7.5
  7. The drink you order in a restaurant: Sauvignon Blanc
  8. Cat, dog or fish? dog
  9. What would be the opening line of your eulogy? “This is a party, not a funeral; stop your crying and make a toast already.”
  10. What actor/actress would play your life story in a Lifetime mini series? Dana Delany

And, finally, my questions for my Liebster Award bloggers:

  1. Where would you live if you could pick any place in the world?
  2. What is your favorite CD and why?
  3. Why and when did you start blogging?
  4. Were you a jock or a nerd in high school?
  5. Who, besides your significant other, knows you better than anyone else?
  6. What book most influenced your life?
  7. What is your biggest fear?
  8. What is your dream profession?
  9. What attracts you most to someone?
  10. Beatles or Stones?

Congratulations to my Liebster picks, and thank you again to Farrah for choosing me.