Aren’t Children Supposed to Be a Comfort in Old Age?

IMG_4199Miguel started school this week but Zeca doesn’t start until next Tuesday, so, we’ve had a lot of time together. On Wednesday, we spent the afternoon shopping for school clothes which was actually fun except for one teeny, tiny, incident in the dressing room at Old Navy.

As she was trying on clothes, she said, “Oh my god, mom! What’s on your face?” I knew exactly what she was talking about because I had noticed a red bump on my face when I woke up that morning. I think I’ve mentioned once or twice before that I am incredibly vain so waking up with that bump on my face had already caused some anxiety for me, anxiety that I had been able to control only through sheer will.

The strange bump was not the typical gift of middle-aged hormones which meant that I immediately assumed that I had been bitten by a spider that had then laid eggs in my face. Obviously, I was emotionally scarred by some weird video I saw on Facebook one time. That morning, standing in front of the mirror examining the bump, I had courageously beaten back the idea of the spider eggs in face situation and was feeling confident that the bump would eventually go away without me having to call a pest control company.

So, it was with practiced nonchalance that I said, “Yeah, I have a little bump.”

Zeca: Well, it’s not exactly “little.”

Me: It’s not really that noticeable and I’m sure it will go away soon.

Zeca: Is is a giant pimple?

She then leaned in close to my face and ran her hand over the bump lightly.

Zeca: Actually, I think it’s a bite. Maybe a spider.

Me: That sweater looks really cute on  you!

Zeca: You can die from spider bites. What if you die?

She did not say this in a tone that suggested that she was worried about me but in a tone that suggested fascination at the thought.

Me: Even if it’s a spider bite, I’m not going to die. Most spiders in Minnesota aren’t poisonous. It doesn’t even hurt!

Zeca: It probably doesn’t hurt because your face has gone numb. If it’s numb, your face will probably rot off.

I had no idea that spider eggs under my skin was actually the best case scenario while becoming a faceless zombie was the worst. So, I would like to thank my daughter for providing such comfort to me during this difficult time.

Do People Still Read Blogs?

IMG_4208Do people still read blogs? This is a question that I’ve thought about a lot lately and not just because I’m a blogger.

I used to read blogs daily but, now, I only read when a friend posts or something particular catches my eye via social media and I suspect that’s typical for many people. I know, for me, part of the change in my reading habits was related to shifting focus to my own blogging and writing but there are additional things that contributed as well.

Too Much of a Good Thing

As more people read my blog and I met more bloggers, I became overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of blogs. There was no way that I could read everything and support everyone, so, I think I shut down in some ways. At some point, my brain decided that if I couldn’t read everything, I’d read nothing at all. I am not saying that was a positive adaptive response, just that my brain works in mysterious ways.

The Rise of Lists

The stories of everyday life are what drew me to blogs in the first place. I loved peeking into lives different than mine and finding shared experiences that made me think and laugh. It was the humanity of it all that hooked me but it seems that many (not all) of the storytellers have moved on to other things and we are now inundated with lists. I’ve written lists–I even wrote a modified list last week about coping with Miguel going to high school. Such quick and easy posts have always been a part of blogging but the key word in that sentence is “part” and, increasingly, it feels that lists are the bulk of online content and the stories are getting lost. And yes, I realize that I am making a list in this very post that criticizes lists. I live in complexity.

The Pressure to Promote

I hate self-promotion. It’s not something that comes naturally to me so I know that the pressure to promote my work online has definitely had an impact on my own blogging but I also believe the pressure to promote has eroded some of the genuine connections that we used to make online. Seeing the same blog post promoted in my Twitter and Facebook feeds seven times a day is a real turnoff. I no longer read blogs that promote to that extent and I am sure that I miss out on some great writing from time to time but I can’t take that level of promotion because it feels disingenuous. I no longer trust that posts are promoted because they are good and wonder if there are other forces at work which brings me to…

The Cult of Personality

I am not naive enough to think that this hasn’t always been an issue online but I have been around long enough now to recognize it more often. Things that are shared most often seem to be coming from the same voices and it gets old after awhile.

Cynicism

Have you watched the Netflix series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? It’s a comedy about a woman who moves to New York City after spending 15 years in a cult and living in an underground bunker. Kimmy is naive and innocent and earnest and completely out of place in the big city. In my early days, I was the Kimmy Schmidt of blogging. I loved everyone and everything and every day was a great new adventure! But, I eventually realized that not everything is as it appears. I pride myself on being a positive person and I am all about living that high road life so I hesitate to even say this but…sometimes people write things online that aren’t true. Can you believe that?! I couldn’t and now I can and I miss my underground bunker.

All of that said, I still believe in blogging and I still love bloggers. Blogging has been very, very good to me. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been paid for my writing which is an amazing thing. Do I make a living wage as a writer? No. Do I get paid to write? Yes, and that’s something for which I am grateful.

But I do miss the days of yore, the good ol’ days, ye olde blogge shoppes. I miss writing for the sake of writing. I miss putting words in lines and paragraphs without worrying if anyone would read them or read them but get angry and leave mean comments or cite the words in an angry Facebook post. I miss writing to entertain myself and writing to think through things. I miss stories that do nothing more than entertain or engage, stories that don’t have a message beyond “This happened and I’m telling you about it.”  I miss my blogging innocence and long for a time before page views and social shares and influence and sponsored content. And though my writing has improved dramatically in the 9 years I have been doing this, sometimes I miss being a blogger rather than an essayist. I miss reading blogs that are personal and reflective and stories that are funny. I miss the lift that reading blogs used to give me. I miss it all.

So, do people still read blogs? That is the question.

10 Summer Arguments as Haiku

IMG_3753I work from home and my kids are home for the summer because school does not run all year around like it should. That means that I spend my days trying to write and edit while also preparing meals, doing dishes, mediating disputes and wishing my kids would do something useful like weed the garden.

In addition to the basics, I must also solve mysteries like I’m some modern day Jessica Fletcher, though I would never get my own show because I rarely figure out who did the thing.

Summer is winding down now and I could give you the highlights of the trips we’ve taken and the fun things we’ve done but I’d rather recap the summer’s recurring arguments in haiku because everything is more beautiful when expressed as a haiku.

Let my summer frustrations wash over you as art!

 

1.

You must get dressed and
I don’t care if it’s summer
PJs aren’t day wear

2.

There is chocolate
Smeared across the kitchen floor
Who did that? No one.

3.

Have you washed it yet?
The sleeping bag! SLEEPING BAG!
Have you washed it yet?

4.

What I did this summer:
Washed glasses and more glasses
Can’t they use just one?

5.

What is in this cup?
It is an experiment
Stop freezing weird things!

6.

It is twelve o’clock
Get up! Get up! Please get up
Because it’s now two

7.

Get out of the house
Go outside or to the park
Please leave me alone

8.

You cannot punch him
Do not Axe bomb his pillow
Do not lock him out

9.

I took your iPhone
And your iPad and iPod
But forgot the Wii

10.

Give me those matches!
Yes, they will strike anywhere
No need to test them!

Why Can’t I Sleep?

IMG_4137

INT. VIKKI’S BEDROOM – 10:00 PM

Vikki nestles into bed and calls out to the children.

VIKKI
I’m going to bed! Please be quiet and try not to slam the doors when you go in and out of your rooms!

MIGUEL AND ZECA
We won’t! Goodnight!

INT. VIKKI’S BEDROOM – 10:30 PM

Vikki hears someone watching videos loudly.

VIKKI
Miguel! Turn the volume down on your phone or use headphones!

VIKKI
Miguel!

Vikki, reluctant to get out of bed because she still hopes to sleep, texts her son.

VIKKI
Please turn down your phone.

MIGUEL
k

INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE VIKKI’S BEDROOM – 11:00 PM

There is the sound of multiple doors slamming.

MIGUEL
Zeca! I was in the bathroom first!

ZECA
You take too long in the bathroom!

MIGUEL
I do not!

ZECA
You do too!

VIKKI
I am still trying to sleep! Stop arguing and slamming doors!

MIGUEL AND ZECA
Sorry, mom. Goodnight.

 INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE VIKKI’S BEDROOM – 12:30 AM

Once again, there is the sound of multiple doors slamming.

MIGUEL
Hey, Zeca. What are you doing up?

ZECA
I’m not tired yet. What about you?

MIGUEL
Same.

VIKKI
You know who is tired? ME. I want to sleep.

MIGUEL AND ZECA
Sorry, mom. Goodnight!

INT. VIKKI’S BEDROOM – 1:00 AM

Vikki is lying in bed and hears a noise outside.

 VIKKI
(voiceover of internal thoughts)
What is that noise? It sounds like a container being dragged under the window. Is the neighbor doing yard work? Oh god. Is it a body? Is someone dragging a body? Wait–what if someone is breaking into the garage? I should get up and look but if I get up to look, I may not be able to fall asleep. If I don’t get up to look and someone is burying a body in the neighbor’s back yard or stealing our bikes, I will feel bad about it when I’m eventually interviewed by the police or the media. “Miss Reich, did you hear anything on the night in question?” “Well, I did but I didn’t get up to see what it was.” “While the woman was buried alive in the neighbor’s back yard, you chose to roll over and fluff your pillows and try to sleep.” “Yes, yes. That’s what I did.”

INT. VIKKI’S BEDROOM – 1:30 AM

Vikki gets up and goes to the window and looks down to the patio below and sees a cat.

VIKKI
(aloud)
Hey! Cat! Pssst!

VIKKI
(voiceover of internal thoughts)
Why isn’t the cat moving? Did someone drag a cat sculpture onto the patio? Jesus, Vikki! Why would anyone do that? What is wrong with you?

VIKKI
(aloud)
Cat! Here kitty, kitty!

VIKKI
(voiceover of internal thoughts)
Why won’t the cat move? Is it dead? Great. Just what I need–a dead cat on the patio. Whatever. I’ll deal it in the morning.

INT. VIKKI’S BEDROOM – 2:00 AM

Vikki is lying in bed, eyes open.

VIKKI
(voiceover of internal thoughts)
Is that Momo on the patio? Did one of the kids let Momo out of the house and now she’s on the patio and she is probably scared because she’s never been outside? No, it can’t be Momo, right? No. Momo is somewhere in the house. But why isn’t she in the bedroom with me like usual. Damn it! How did Momo get outside?!

VIKKI
(aloud)
Momo! Where are you, Momo! Come here, Momo!

The End

I live this every night though the versions vary. No wonder I’m tired all the time.