Confessions of a Former Humor Blogger

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“Remember when I used to be a humor blogger?” I say this occasionally to people who have known me or read my blog for a long time. Sometimes I say it with a wistful air and sometimes I say it to get a laugh but I always say it because evolution is weird. How did I get here? How did I become this? I bet platypuses wonder that all the time. They stare into placid water (because that’s the only mirror a platypus has) and take in their strange beak mouth and hold up their flipper paws and think, “Remember when I used to be a duck?”

I don’t think that’s actually accurate in terms of science but neither platypuses nor I are evolutionary biologists. We just want to make a point.

The other night, I went to a Listen To Your Mother Twin Cities reunion and someone said, “You are just so funny!” and I said, “Well, I used to be a humor blogger…” and she said, “That makes sense!” but another person said, “Really?” I nodded and then she said, “What happened?” I said, “People started telling me I was inspirational.”

I have always been sensitive to what people think about me and that has an impact over time. I can conjure immobilizing expectations from thin air. It’s a terrible super power, worse than being elastic which, let’s be real, is a ridiculous adaptation. I started blogging and was funny but then people started expecting me to be funny so I started writing serious, thoughtful things because the pressure to be funny was too much. Now people think I am wise or (at the very least) productively introspective, so I want to write crazy things because I don’t have everything about life and motherhood figured out. I am a rebel! But it’s all in my own head. It’s as ridiculous as Elastic Girl and platypuses.

So, what happens then? Well, I don’t blog and I sit around wallowing in existential angst and then friends call and ask what I’m doing and I say, “I don’t know! What am I doing with my life?” But they just meant, “Have you finished the third season of House of Cards?” or “Do you have plans for lunch?” or “Can I borrow your car?” They don’t want to join me in existential reflection. They don’t want to talk about the meaning of life at middle age. I fear that I am becoming that friend, the annoying one we all want to avoid because she is no fun. But remember when I used to be a humor blogger?!

So, what is the point of this post? There isn’t one.

Yesterday, my friend Anthony said, “You can write. You’re just constipated. Literary constipation.” He is right. Writing to live up to imagined expectations is like saying, “Fresh spinach? No, thanks. I’m just going to eat this wheel of Gouda with my bare hands.” The fresh spinach is the writing process and Gouda represents expectations and words are shit.

Wait. That is an awful analogy.

What I’m trying to say is that I need to eat my spinach and stop worrying about what comes out and this post has turned out very differently than planned. And I guess maybe that’s the point. You never know how things are going to evolve.

Listen To Your Mother: The Book

IMG_2878As a little girl, I would sit quietly at family gatherings and listen as my mother and her sisters told stories. I was never center stage, always the quiet observer taking everything thing in–the stories, the laughter, the cadence of their voices, even the lessons they probably didn’t know they were teaching me. Almost everything I know about storytelling I learned from them in those moments.

As I got older, this became my role. One time, sitting in my sister’s living room, I set up my camcorder and hit record and I remember my Aunt Wanda telling me, “You need to listen to these stories. You need to write them down.” I hope to do just that someday, to tell the stories of the strong women who brought me up to be the person I am, to tell the good and the bad and the hard and the funny.

It is through stories that we stake our claim in the world and make our experiences matter. It is through our stories that we know and understand each other. It is through our stories that we learn and change and do better.

At those family gatherings so long ago, as I watched my mother and aunts leg wrestle and play spoons and tell their stories, I didn’t know that I would someday call myself a writer but life is full of the unexpected.

In 2010, I sat with Deborah Goldstein in the front row of a panel at BlogHer and lovingly heckled Ann Imig while she presented. I had met Deborah online in 2009 but that was our first meeting in person and I didn’t know Ann at all before that panel. I had no way of knowing that Deborah and I would eventually become co-publishers of a site called VillageQ and that we would become friends with Ann, who had just started Listen To Your Mother in Madison.

In 2012, I returned to BlogHer to read my work in public for the first time as one of the Voices of the Year and the next day, Heather King approached me and said, “Hi! You don’t know me but I loved your reading and I think we should bring Listen To Your Mother to the Twin Cities.” I said, “Yes! We should!” I didn’t know then that we would, along with Tracy Morrison and Galit Breen who I did not yet know.

In 2013, I sat with Heather, Tracy and Galit in Galit’s dining room in Eagan as we cast our first Listen To Your Mother Twin Cities show and said, “I want to read.” The marriage equality fight was gearing up in Minnesota and I felt incredibly vulnerable but also believed I had something to say. They all supported me and said, “Then you should read.” It was strange to have the power to claim a spot in our show and I wanted to feel that I had earned it so I said I would write and submit two pieces to them and they could decide if either of them was a fit for the show. They chose my piece, “Not A Princess,” a story about my complex feelings about my daughter’s non-conforming gender expression.

I didn’t know then that the story would eventually be chosen to be part of a book, Listen To Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now. That book was released today and with that, I can now say I have been published in print for the very first time.

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I am grateful for the unexpected turns of the past few years, for the people in my life who support and encourage me, for all those times I sat back and listened to my mother and aunts. I am grateful for their stories and my own and the stories of others.

As my son said this morning, “Congratulations, mom! Now it’s time for your book.” And this does feel like a beginning.

You can buy the book at these booksellers and, if you are in the Twin Cities, you can come to Subext on 4/22/15 at 7 p.m. to hear me read along with Kate St. Vincent Vogl, Jennifer BallHaddayr Copley-Woods, and Mary Jo Pehl.

Tickets are also on sale for the third Listen To Your Mother Twin Cities show that will take place on 5/7/15 at 7 p.m. at the Riverview Theater. I hope you’ll join us in a celebration of motherhood and the power of storytelling.

 

 

The Peeple’s Choice Award for Best Movie

bestofThe votes are in and I just opened that fancy little briefcase the Easter Bunny accountant brought to my house this morning. I won’t keep you waiting with a boring monologue (in written form) about the contenders filled with jokes that fall flat–I’ll get right to it.

The Peeple’s Choice Award for Best Movie goes to…Peepeii.

Here are the movies as ranked by voters:

1. Peepeii

2. Bunniver’s Travels

3. Peepnado

4. Dance of the Peeps

5. JAWS and Peeparazzi (tied)

Without further ado, I present Peepeii!

Happy Peep Week!

The Best of Peep Week: The Best Taste Test

bestofThe annual tasting of all new peep products has become a hallmark of Peep Week and ushers in Spring in our household. My kids have been fearless in their taste-testing and have never been short on opinions. When I looked at all the videos from all the taste tests, this one was my favorite for many reasons.

1. We did this in the car on the way back from Kansas City, showing true dedication to Peep Week.

2. Miguel had shaved his head and been bitten in the face by a dog while in Kansas City and he looks completely wrecked. I can laugh at it now because we survived it.

3. Zeca is so adorable that I want to travel back in time and pinch her little cheeks.

2012 was the first year of Rainbow Peep Pops and the kids had a lot to say about them.