7 Quick Takes: Where’d the blog go?

SO. It’s been a bit quiet around here. Where have I been?

1. I decided early this summer that I needed to cut back on voluntary Internet commitments, since my web design work requires me to spend a good chunk of most days online. Online, or at least in front of a screen. I figured the kids needed to see me spending less time staring at a screen and more time being a human. And while I could explain to them the difference between “frivolous screen time” and “work screen time,” I’m not sure it makes much difference when the result is “please wait 15 minutes to ask me about multiplying fractions and move on to a different subject if you can’t figure it out, because I need to finish this one thing.”

2. I’m slowly clawing my way out from underneath a pile of work-related commitments, fearing that I am making nobody happy and everyone impatient with me because various constant changes in our family’s schedule, etc., have made it more difficult for me to do the things I said I’d do. I’m starting to feel human again but it’s been several weeks since I felt like I could take a break from working to do something non-productive, non-mom, non-house, and just relax for a bit. Which is dumb, because then I’m overtired and stressed and not effective at anything I’m doing, but there you have it.

3. We have had a lot going on; my husband has transitioned to a new job that he enjoys quite a bit and that I think will be a good fit for him, but will also put him perhaps a bit more in the public eye. Not, like, cameos in the Avengers movies, just – you know. I have an unusual name. If Googled, I worry that my online reputation as “wacky juggler of messes and mayhem” might reflect poorly on him. It could be argued that posting this on the Internet might also be problematic, but – well, whatevers.

4. So then I have switched into “observer mode” on almost all social media, not commenting, not Tweeting, not Facebooking, except checking those things when I need a quick break. It’s funny how it’s totally not rejuvenating in any way to check in on what everyone else is thinking. Because the thing is: everyone, at least everyone I imagine on the Internet, has extremely strong opinions about every aspect of my life. They just haven’t told me to my face, because they don’t know that I think (insert stance on controversial issue) or that I do (insert innocuous activity reflective of my tastes) or that I watch (insert every stupid police procedural or spy show on television, because it is good late-night company while working). But they’re expressing those opinions, all the time, on the computerwebs.

I’m not any better. I go around thinking I’m some ball of even-temperedness and light, and then someone tweets about watching Love Actually again and I feel it surging through me, the overwhelming desire to respond “oh, I just can’t stand that movie. UGH.” 

5. Also, when you go a long time without posting anything on, say, your blog, you start to worry that you need to post something that would be worth people’s wait, the two people still reading said blog. That can be stressful.

6. You know, like – you can’t even come up with a total of seven takes.

7. So, I’m going to try something even more dumb, which is to turn off comments and just write when I feel like it, and try not to care what people might think of me and whatever choices I’m making. That sounds ominous. Right? Really, I just mean that I want to be able to sort out my thoughts about things like:

  • being a working mom and owning a business
  • interacting with people as a business owner versus as a mom versus as a general human
  • being open to having more kids but it just hasn’t really worked out that way
  • being Catholic, like so super-Catholic, y’all
  • intrigue behind the scenes at the Vatican JUST KIDDING REALLY if I never read another speculative piece about what the Pope is signaling and where the world is going it will be too soon
  • ranking the top police procedurals and spy shows from the past five years
  • not my kids, because they’re getting old enough that I don’t think it’s right for me to be trotting out their lives onto the Internet, frankly

UGH see what I mean?! Every single statement on that list could make someone feel really super-offended, like my choices are a comment on their values. I need to stop trying to anticipate every possible reaction to what I might write and just…write stuff.

OR, and I don’t mean this as goodbye-cruel-world, but maybe I should just shut it down for a while and focus on writing, not blogging CRAP I JUST OFFENDED BLOGGERS THAT’S NOT WHAT I MEANT I JUST MEANT FOR ME NOT FOR YOU. YOU’RE TERRIFIC.


Feeling a little less share-y

I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately that start with “where are you, you seem really busy” and that makes me feel bad, but it’s also true. Like, right now, I feel a little guilty about posting anything, because I have people waiting on me to finish up stuff. And those people might notice I just spent 14 minutes writing this maudlin blog post.

Still, I’m vaguely committed to Jennifer’s Epic Seven Days of Blogging Challenge so I figure I should post something.

I have some pictures from our June beach trip that I really love and I thought about posting them, because of course my children are bursts of freckled joy, but then I think – I dunno. I dunno about all this sharing.

The kids are getting a little older and it feels more like an invasion of their privacy to be telling the Internet about the funny things they’ve said or the things weighing on my heart. I remember I always hated hearing my mom tell stories about me to her friends. She never got the details right, I thought, or painted me in the most flattering light.

I now realize that telling stories about your children is a genetic condition that presents itself in adulthood upon bearing said children, and you are powerless to avoid it. Still, when my daughter gives me a bit of side-eye as I spin another story about her, I think: maybe I shouldn’t be doing that so much.

Or maybe that’s just what moms do, I don’t know. (I’m pretty sure my mom had me sized up pretty accurately, in hindsight, and still does.)

I’ve mostly quit Facebook, as well, for many of the same reasons that Rachel touches on in her recent post. I tried deleting my account entirely, but of course that broke some stuff I’d done for clients (long, boring, technical story and yes, I tried that, and yeah, I need to try that other thing). So now I just check in every couple of weeks, sprinkle a round of “likes,” feel bad about losing touch with people, get irritated by a conversation, and get on my merry way.

Having said ALL of that, I do have things I’ve been pondering and it does seem to help me figure out what I actually think when I blog about them. Very much rethinking our approach to homeschooling and wanting to write more candidly about the challenges involved in this way of educating my children.

I mean, every way of educating a child has advantages and disadvantages. Homeschooling is no different. So that will probably be some of this week’s posting discussion. Thinking a lot about children and competition – athletic, academic, artistic, who-gives-the-loudest-zerberts-ic. And socialization, and – well, more to come. I hope. (Spoiler alert: if you are one of those homeschool proponents with a speech at the ready about how ridiculous it is to worry about socialization and a list of all the ways in which your children are better at socializing because of homeschooling, perhaps you should find a different place to set up your soapbox.)

I also had a vision from on high that I should never again announce I am launching a series or a linkup or a regular weekly feature because I will always. forget. to follow through.

Anyway, thanks for reading, n’stuff. I’m outta here, but hope to be back tomorrow with something more useful to say.


Seven Quick Takes: Posts I Haven’t Made Time to Write

I just have a few minutes because I need to make the cookie cake for the Little League party before I take the kids to swim team now that we’ve gotten back from the orthodontist and figured out which library books are the source of the “third strong reminder” notices. I believe this state in life is known as “limping across the finish line.”

As such, you may have noticed I didn’t put up this week’s promised PINISHERS: FAIL post yet. Because, be honest: are any of us getting all up in the Pinterest right now? No. No, we are not. I don’t care who you are, the end of May is not Peak Project Time.

Here are other posts I keep intending to write but by the time I have a moment to spare it’s way past a reasonable bedtime. And I’m trying to reform. Always about reform.

— 1 —

Five Favorites for Team Moms, detailing the things that saved my sanity during my maiden voyage as Little League Team Mom. I actually really enjoyed it, and it helped ease the transition for my son who hadn’t played before – because mom had a job and a reason to go around talking to everyone.

— 2 —

Grand Unifying Theory of Children’s Sports, using phrases like “the creeping professionalization of children’s athletic events” and “social anxiety” but not, perhaps, in the way that you would expect. Spoiler alert: I have now modified my stance on forcing a child to participate in sports. Additional spoiler: I used to be against it.

— 3 —

Even Grander Unifying Theory of How to Talk to Women At Social or Professional Events, mapping out your conversational routes with stay-at-home-moms, work-from-home-moms, stay-at-home-wives-who-are-not-moms, work-from-home-pet-owners, homeless-corporate-raiders, and other hyphenated-Americans.

— 4 —

Manifesto Against Self-Deprecatory Remarks, a treatise I will write for myself, then ignore.

— 5 —

My Opinion of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, based on the Amazon Kindle excerpt I read half of.

— 6 —

Good Gravy Crackers, What Have They Done to the American Girl Brand.

— 7 —

Something about one of those articles I keep bookmarking in the New Republic/New York Times/First Things/WSJ/America, except mostly I’m just thinking about my haircut some more and how I should probably go to a real salon now after my brief fling with self-coiffure.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

THE PINISHERS, Volume 3: Adventures

Hello again, Pinishers and Pinish-enablers! Nice to see you back, especially since I totally, totally did not forget until just now that today is Tuesday! You know, like for Pinishers!

Pinisher blog linkup
The theme of this week’s PINISHER linkup is “Adventures,” and have I got an adventure for you! Woo-hoo!

Yes, sir-ee-bob! This adventure, I’m telling you–it’s—well, it might be too much for you to handle in one sitting. Why don’t you go make a cup of tea and, you know, settle in, and I’ll just—look through my Pinterest bookmarks for a few minutes.

(frantic scrolling)

(sudden Photoshop crash)

(quick once-over of the recent cell phone pictures)

Aha! You’re back! That’s great, because this adventure is—going to be—about—THE TIME I CUT MY OWN HAIR! Yes! What an adventure that was. Fun for the whole family. Highly recommended.


Link to Original Project: This basic YouTube “Cut Your Own Hair” video, and this advanced YouTube “Create Sexy Waves or Curls or Something While Wielding Scissors on Your Own Hair, What Are You, a Glutton for Punishment?

Link to My Pins: The basic video and the advanced tutorial with the sassy lady who will show you how to “get that really pretty, sexy look that the Victoria’s Secret models use, and I just think it’s so adorable.” My outcome was…different.

Follow me on Pinterest here: http://pinterest.com/dorianspeed/

So, ha ha, here’s what happened.

It’s kind of a blur. One minute, I was fretting about my upcoming speaking engagement at WordCamp Austin and the next I was Googling “cut your own hair.” I emailed my star chamber and did some focus group testing via the Scrutinies Facebook page – you know, “should I cut my own hair?” “I’m thinking about cutting my own hair.” “When I say ‘cut my own hair,’ what pops into your head?” And while they were responding (consensus: “NO!”), I got out my scissors and went to town.


So…it’s not the WORST haircut in my lifetime—doesn’t hold a candle to the Fantastic Sam’s era, 1985-1987. (Photo not available)

It also was the gateway to my exploration of yet another Internet subculture: the Curly Girls. There’s a website, there’s a book which you can order INSTANTANEOUSLY on Kindle, if you for some reason you’re feeling a bit frazzled about your decision to lop off half a foot of hair.

There are rules, with this way of life. You identify the TYPE of curl, using the descriptors, and then you follow the regimen, even the part about how you don’t brush your hair. Understand? Brushes are right out. Brushing, uh, stresses out your hair, or something, and then it rebels in a cloud of frizz and you have to start from scratch. The first rule of Curl Club is Don’t Talk About Brushes.

I was along for that ride for a good four hours, the first day, but then I surrendered to the Call of Clairol. I couldn’t take it anymore, and my daughter was starting to ask Questions. I brushed. I brushed, and I’d do it again, 100 times in a row like Honey in the Trixie Belden books.

She’s still asking questions (my daughter, not Honey), but it’s been a few weeks of following most of the rules and I think it’s getting a bit curlier, maybe? Here’s a terrible selfie:
Curly hair attempt

At this point, it’s too late to get my hair cut again someplace decent before Saturday’s speaking gig, so if you check out wordpress.tv and are like “who is the frizzhead with the hipster glasses?” you’ll know you’re in the right place.

Okay! That was an adventure. Time for you to join in the fun! What adventures did you go on this week?

If you’d like to use a handy-dandy template for your post, here’s the basic template, or here’s a special version for this week’s adventure-themed badge. (And here’s how to use the templates.)

If you just want the snazzy adventure-flag badge, here’s the code to copy and paste. Make sure you’re in HTML mode (switch to the tab that says “Text” or “HTML” in your blogging editor) and not regular composition mode.

Seven Quick Takes: Wonderful Internet Things

Very excited to link up to Grace’s 7QT this week, and not just because she’s hip to the new trend of showing the LAST post in the linkup FIRST. I didn’t intend to be the absolute last one through the door, but now that it’s Sunday night and I’m just recovering from a post-parish-festival nap, I am counting the minutes left before the linkup ENDS. For ALL ETERNITY.

7 quick takes

By the way, as a precinct chair for Procrastinators International, I have to say that I think the last-post-first setup benefits everyone—everyone—because there’s always something fresh and new at the top of the list for readers to check out. See? It’s not just about enabling the latecomers.

Shoot shoot shoot. 19 minutes left and my computer is acting stubborn. I just spent three minutes waiting for it to finish typing “latecomers.”

Here are seven great things I found on the Internet this week:

1. Hagia Sophia Cat. Apparently, there’s a kitty cat who lives in the Hagia Sophia. I’m not embedding any of the photos because there’s no TIME people! I’m on a deadline! And it looks like most of the photographers who submitted photos reserved their rights. But I really liked this one in particular. Fun times.

2. The new Dappled Things issue is up, because I define “Candlemas” as “más candles have to be burned before I will find time to put up the content for Dappled Things on the website.” Bad joke. (14 minutes! The pressure!) Anyway, it includes a terrific interview with one of my favorite writers, Ron Hansen.

I’m particularly drawn to outlaws and outsiders, to characters who don’t fit into the general milieu or who have chosen lives that seem outrageous or strange. Hence, historical figures like Jesse James and Hitler’s niece, or a group of nuns, a mentally disturbed artist in Mexico, a couple who execute a murder in order to get rid of the nuisance of a husband. Each is “out there” in some way.

Enjoy the whole interview, conducted by my dear friend and Korrektiv Kompatriot Joseph O’ Brien.

3. Another fun tumblr, this one about a barista who creates works of art using only coffee, steamed milk, and various other acoutrements of cofeemaking. Barista Art, featuring the works of Mike Breach, International Barista of the Stars!

4. Also in this issue of Dappled Things, poetry by our own (“our own” meaning “the Internet’s own”) Sally Thomas:

I was never a believer

In resolutions. What's resolve 
	But another word for wish? 
Ask the fisherman's wife

	How far she got on wishes. 
Would I resolve, say, to let
	A third child choose

Itself? What can I 
	Say I wish for? Just now
My two already-wished-for

	Children, resolved into flesh,
Gallop down the hall,
	Speaking in whinnies. 

I wrench the door open 
	And shout, Inside feet! 
What are inside feet? 

	They'd be justified in asking. 
We have the same feet
	Wherever we go. Instead

They say, Okay. They wait
	for the door to close. Gallop
gallop, neigh neigh. Does control

	End at conception? Or
Only our belief in it?


That excerpt is a chunk out of the middle of the poem, which I probably wasn’t supposed to do, but I have NINE MINUTES LEFT and I’m making bad choices. Go read Sally’s whole poem “Cambridge, January 2001” and drink deeply of its imagery. (Yeah! That’s good! Keep typing, keep typing…)

5. Food on the Table appWe are trying to pass for normal around here and meal plan like proper grown-ups. This is week three of our using the Food on the Table website and app, and I am really enjoying it. I wrote our menu on the refrigerator like a real mom and everything. Now, did we stick to the menu? No. But did we end up having cereal after Little League practice yet again? No. Because we had options.


Oh, I know – I’ll show you the mourning dove who has taken up residence on our patio fan.

It’s weird how I generally think birds are disgusting poop-generators but have tremendous affection for this beautiful little mother.

Mourning dove nests above ceiling fan

7. NOOOOOOOO. ONE MINUTE LEFT. And I was just about to hint at an exciting new linkup that lies on the horizon, shrouded in the mists of procrastination, waiting for you and all the other heroes who have ever attempted to actually complete a project they saw on Pinterest…Pinisher

Ah, well…guess I’ll go not hit up Grace on Twitter and insinuate that I would appreciate her re-opening the linkup list for three minutes more, because that would be wrong, and I’m a professional. I have standards.

A Wallflower at the Opinion Dance

I just want to put it out there that I have nothing original or insightful to say about Pope Francis.

I had this post teed up that included an annoying SNL sketch and took a firm, but vague stance on the question of having opinions about popes, but after waiting for a few hours to let it simmer in my Drafts folder I decided it was pretty pointless.

I quite like our new pope, just as I quite liked our previous one, and I suppose I could go read a bunch of other people’s opinions in order to have an opinion of my own to blog about, but I think I’m happier over here by the punch bowl.

Maybe it’s because I threw my entire self at the computer (not as successful a tactic as you might imagine) for a few weeks in order to make the website*, promote the website, read all websites everywhere, live updates on Facebook, tweeting, typing, scanning. Now I keep reading but it somehow feels like when branches of the family are fighting and you’re just hoping it will all cool down. It’s not that I didn’t expect people would be instantly jumping to compare Francis with Benedict.  I did. But it still stresses me out. I jump when I hear the phrase “news cycle.” (I hear it in my head, not from my children, who are busy asking me about words they learned from Pearls Before Swine.)

Having shared this with the ether, I now give myself permission to blog about Failure to Gluten Free and other workaday, insignificant matters, or even to go on hiatus.

Here is a picture I took of a squirrel:


*ElectingThePope.net is going to morph into a more general “why Catholics do stuff” site, but not for a couple of weeks, as I’m super-behind on other projects.