Archive for September, 2006

In Which Her Bad Mother Faces Total Defeat

September 28, 2006

I haven’t done the math yet, but I’m pretty certain that about one-quarter of the posts on this blog are about me being sick, WonderBaby being sick, or the both of us being sick and/or about how the Husband never seems to get sick and the cosmic injustice of the fact that he gets to avoid both being sick and doing the laundry.

So, if you are sick of reading about how much it sucks to be sick, maybe skip this particular post.

Our household seems to have become a very efficient virus transmission facility. WonderBaby acquires a nasty bug from somewhere – from, oh, say, licking another baby at the park or at playgroup – and for a very brief period of time becomes snotty and sniffly and cranky and then passes it on to me. I become snotty and sniffly and cranky and take every conceivable measure to avoid passing the virus back to WonderBaby but always manage to fail, so that at the precise moment I am starting to feel a little bit better, WonderBaby gets snotty and cranky again and so on and so forth.

This has being going on for about a week now, and I am, to say the least, sick and tired of it.

It would be easier to bear were it not for the fact that WonderBaby is not slowed down by the common cold. WonderBaby, it seems, is not slowed down by anything. A cold makes her snottier and crankier, but it does not make her more inclined to sleep during the day, nor does it impede her ability to move about at high speeds. She thrashes about the house, toddling and climbing and grabbing and pulling, with her usual force and little bit of Bad Temper thrown in for flair. And leaving a slug-like trail of snot behind her as she goes.

(I can, at least, thank the gods that I no longer face the grim task of sucking the snot out for her. She does just fine on her own now, thank you very much.)

What I had been hoping for, today, was a tranquil, if sniffly, afternoon of the kind that I used to spend as a child when confined to bed with a bad cold: snugly wrapped in blankets, warm drinks and digestive biscuits at hand, cathode rays beaming Family Feud from the television set into an otherwise darkened room. That kind of afternoon, adapted for me and WonderBaby, is what I wanted: the two of us, curled up together on the sofa, tea for me, a bottle for her, and old episodes of the Muppet Show running on DVD. Cozy and happy, our sniffles an afterthought.

What we have instead is me and WonderBaby, both in pajamas at 3 in the afternoon, neither of us cozy, only one of us happy. Me bleary-eyed and miserable and huddled on the floor in a blanket, damp tissues shoved down the front of my pajama top; WonderBaby toddling about in circles, emitting high-pitched shrieks and hoots in celebration of having sucessfully jammed a two-headed doll into the DVD carousel, slowing down only to wipe snotty nose on ultrasuede ottoman. It’s just one junkie and a pool of vomit away from looking like a scene from Trainspotting.

(Oh, wait! THERE’S the pool of vomit!)

(You think I’m making that up? It’s not exactly vomit – more like goopy spit-up – but still. I’d take a picture, but this blog is just not that raw.)

I’m this close to just chugging the Nyquil and spending the rest of the afternoon in a Dextromethorpan fog, just to make the picture complete…

… except that I fear that she would overpower me in my incapacitated state and take over rule of the household.

If you don’t hear from me within a few days, send help.


September 26, 2006

Edited. Yes, already.

It’s been a challenging few days. The Husband has been working non-stop, which leaves WonderBaby and I in a sort of single-parent family condition, wherein I get very, very tired and sometimes cranky. (How real single-parent families do it, I do not know, I really, really don’t. I would be dead from exhaustion by now were it not for the presence, however erratic, of my husband as a parenting partner.) Also, we couldn’t celebrate our anniversary, because he was working, which was sad. And, I got sick this weekend and had to spend much of Sunday afternoon laying on the floor on a sniffly haze while a hyper-mobile WonderBaby stomped on my head (which, because numb, did not suffer much damage.)

These things, however, are all manageable. What I’m really struggling with is a sort of identity crisis.

I am no longer a full-time stay-at-home-mom. Nor, however, am I full-time working mom. I am something in between. I have gone back to teaching at the university part-time, because they made me a nice offer and because they said please. And because I like teaching, and because I want to keep my foot in that particular academic door.

So, on Mondays and Wednesdays I leave the house and leave WonderBaby and head out to one of the suburban campuses of the University of Toronto and I teach political philosophy.

I like doing this. I’ve long been ambivalent about seriously pursuing a career in the academy, but not for lack of love for teaching. I love teaching. I love turning students on to these dusty old books, these fusty old ideas, bringing these to life in the same way that my teachers brought them to life for me. I love seeing students get excited about the puzzles of philosophy. I love it when Plato and Machiavelli and Rousseau and Nietzsche seduce them and transport them and inspire them to talk, to argue, about philosophy and politics and life.

I love this. But it’s not motherhood. At the university, I am ‘professor,’ or even, sometimes, ‘Ms.’ (and, once, Mrs… which completely blew my mind.) But I am never recognized as a mother, as somebody’s mom. Never.

Which, although understandable, feels strange, because I have come to so fully identify with my identity as mother that to be anywhere and to not be wearing my ‘mother’ hat feels awkward. Awkward, in part, because I had never, ever thought of this identity as a ‘hat,’ as an identity that could be removed and set aside. Nearly every breath that I have taken, nearly every word spoken, since November 14, 2005, has been as a mother. Even when I went back to teaching, briefly, one evening each week for 6 weeks in the spring, I still felt every inch a mother. I walked and talked as mother; I wore my motherhood as a badge. I announced to my class at the very first lecture, I just had a baby. I had spit-up stains on my clothes. I wore LilyPadz inside my nursing bra. My body felt WonderBaby’s absence, every minute of that absence.

Once, during the break in the lecture, while standing at the lectern, fussing with my notes, I burst into song:

I love you
A bushel and a peck
You bet your pretty neck
I doooooo!!!

My head was full of motherhood. I did not, could not, leave my motherhood behind.

Now, I can, and I do. I can and do leave it behind.

And it feels strange, so strange. It feels strange because I both love it, and hate it. I love the feeling of freedom, of being unencumbered by stroller and diaper bag and the random paraphernalia that attends babycare. I love the silence of my office. I love that my head is filled with the words and ideas of dead poets and philosophers, that I can concentrate, think, that the flow of ideas between head and page or head and mouth is not interrupted by Raffi or the Johnny Cash Children’s Album. It is freedom from motherhood. It is exhilarating.

But it hurts my heart. In the moments that I pause, and think of WonderBaby – and there are many such moments – my heart contracts and I very nearly gasp for my next breath. I miss her, I am missing her, I am missing seconds, minutes, hours with her. It takes all of my power to keep from running for the bus and heading for home, in those moments.

How can I choose to be apart from her, I ask myself. How can I choose this? But I do choose it. I must choose it.

I must choose to be both mother and myself, these other selves. But it feels, sometimes, like my identity has become fragmented, torn. Will it always feel this way? Or will I, gradually, knit these selves together? Come to terms with all of those missed moments of motherhood?

Or will I, one day, just run for the bus?

If you’re going to make a break for it, Mommy, take a cab.


Call to Action posts are still being added to the Changing the World, One Blog at a Time list. I’ve gotten a bit slow on adding the links, but they are still coming, so keep checking back and keep sending them in.


Because you all keep asking: yes, the Johnny Cash Children’s Album is real. How have you been living without it?

The Magi

September 26, 2006
For orchestrating, executing and participating in the too-wonderful-to-be-believed Auction (to benefit Muscular Dystrophy research, in honour of Tanner)…. THANK YOU ALL.*

Her Bad Auction

Fairy Godmothers

Motherhood Uncensored
Sunshine Scribe

Internet Aunties and Uncles
A Mommy Story
Adventure Dad
Art Gallery of Ontario
Art by Lori Portka
Baby in the City
Ben and Bennie
Bloor West Mama
Bub and Pie
Cheaper Than Therapy
Cheaty Monkey
Chicky Chicky Baby
City Lizzy
Cool Mom Picks
Crazy Mumma Says
Crunchy Carpets
Dad Gone Mad
Day Care Daze
Drool Street
Embellished Designs
Ewe Are Here
Girl’s Gone Child
Graceful Kate
Growing A Life
Hot Moms Club
If It Wasn’t This…
i obsess
Issa’s World
Lady M
Lean Forward Media
Mad Hatter Momma
Making Other Plans
Melanie in Orygun
Mamacita Online
Mama Tulip
Mayberry Mom
Metro Mama
Mom to the Screaming Masses

Mommy Blogs Toronto
Mommy Diary Tales
Mommy Off The Record
Mommy With Attitude
Mother May I
Mrs. Fortune
Much More Than A Mom
Mystical Spiral Studio
No Mother Earth
Not So Sage
Our Gaggle of Girls
Our Little Funny Bunny
Penelope & Bumblebee
Pundit Mom
Queen of Spain
Quita Alfred: InQb8 Quilts
Rebecca Eckler
Redneck Mommy
Sarah and the Goon Squad
Something Baby Blue
Soul Gardening
Sunshine Scribe
The Avery Lane Experience
The Journey
Toddler Planet
The Dana Files
The Silent K
Troll Baby
Tumble Dry
Urban Mummy

Wonder Mom
You Da Mom
*If I have forgotten or overlooked you, or anybody that you know, please drop me a comment or an e-mail. And accept my apologies – I was really overwhelmed by all this love, and had trouble keeping track. And – steal this Magi button! E-mail me for the code…


September 23, 2006
September 22, 1996

Ten years, married. Ten months, parents. Eternities, filled with love.

Taking Action (The Posterior View)

September 20, 2006
I don’t know how to write this post without sounding like a total cheesemeister, but I’m going to make my best effort. Feel free to gag a little bit if I get too sappy. But don’t stop reading…

I spend lot of time just sitting around on my ass.

Sure, there’s a lot (a LOT) of time spent running around after WonderBaby. There’s also a fair amount of time spent pushing her around in a stroller or carting her about in a carrier or – more frequently, now – hovering a step or two behind her in the park while she toddles toward the slide that has the bad manners to beg that she climb it. And then, too, there’s the couple of hours each week that I spend standing behind a lectern or pacing back and forth in front of that lectern, and the time spent walking to and from the subway to get to that lectern. And the time spend going up and down the stairs in my house with a baby or basket of laundry in my arms.

So, okay, maybe I don’t actually spend all that much time on my ass. But I’d like to.

If I could have my way, I’d spend a lot more time on my ass. A lot more time with books and paper and pens and my laptop, of course. (Ideally, that time would come from the alleviation of laundry duty, and the addition of eight hours to the twenty-four clock.)

Reading and writing and reflecting. I could devote infinite amounts of time to it, and I would love every minute of that time. On my ass.

When you love anything that much, you worry that you might get lost in it. I love WonderBaby that much. I love my husband that much. I love these so much that sometimes the desire to just totally retreat, escape, into these things is visceral. I can feel that desire squeezing my heart, I can taste its sweet tang in my mouth.

(A cabin! The woods! Long days and nights curled up with Husband and baby and books and laptop!)

(In this dream, wireless access is everywhere!)

Escape, away from the real world of real activity. Away from mess and pain and politics and noise and stress and Bad Things.

But I can’t do that. We can’t do that. In part, because it is simply impossible: life follows you wherever you go. You can’t escape mess and stress and politics and pain simply by turning your back on them. You can’t escape them, period.

And, we can’t escape them because in escaping them we would lose our humanity. The challenges of life shape us, obviously. Any Hallmark Card or Learning-Annex-Deepak-Chopra-wannabe will tell you that. But what makes us really human is facing challenges together, and taking on challenges for each other. What really makes us human is acting as members of a community. Building community. Protecting community. Taking responsibility for community.

These past two weeks, as the ‘Call to Action’ posts have rolled in, I’ve seen so much humanity. I see it all the time, of course, out here in our corner of the blogosphere, where we write again and again and again our love for our families. But these posts, they showed me so much more. You’re all so much more than mothers, fathers, parents, friends. You are all so human, in the best possible sense.

(I know, I know… getting SAPPIER.)

(Did I mention my ass, and how I sit on it, yet?)

Here’s what we do, what we can do, how we can and do exercise our humanity, even from the comfort of the perch of our butts…

Changing the World, One Blog at a Time

(Please. Do go visit these. I tried to organize them all by issue, but it was just too difficult and this post just never would have gone up if I’d kept at it. So you need to wade through the list, but please take a stab at it. Every single one of these posts is an inspiration.)

(Yes. You MUST KEEP READING. To the very bottom of this post, and then back up through the links. Yes, it will make you dizzy. But you will be a better person for it.)

Her Bad Mother – A Place Called Hell

Her Bad Mother – Things You Can’t Tell Just By Looking At Her

Making Other Plans (Just Another Tool of the Patriarchy) – Action!

The Silent ‘I’ – A Great Man’s Passing

The Silent ‘I’ – Community Love

Izzy – Just What Your First-Grader Needs

CrazyMumma – Live Life Love

Momish – ‘Cause I Care

Lala -Livin’ Large in the First World

Jozet – Lactivists Anonymous

Breadcrumbs in the Butter – Passion

SlackerMommy – Friends of Kids With Cancer

Radioactive Girl – Forever and Always… and Even Some More

Radioactive Girl – Lonely No More: Forever and Always, con’t

My Silly Sausage – Getting Active

Sunshine Scribe – Breaking the Silence

Blog Antagonist – Mission Bad Mother

Metro Mama – Sleeping Children

Ruth Dynamite – Feminism: The Dynamite Perspective

Mama Tulip – ‘Cause Happy Babies Mean Happy Mommies

Something Blue – Utopia

24/7 – Just Say It

Troll Baby – The Motherless (new blog)

Troll Baby – Left With a Legacy

Chicken and Cheese – Save a Life

Petra’s Shadow – My Cause, My Life

The Mouse’s Nest – Protecting My Family

The Ravin’ Picture Maven – Passive Activists Rock!

Snickerdoodles – Baylie Belewe

Baylie’s Site

Mommy Off The Record – Food For Thought

Mamalooper – Social Activism, or What Gets Me Up in the Morning

Baby in the Cty – Quiet Revolution

Mama Drama – A Can of Chicken Soup

Kittenpie – Little Causes

Dirty Laundry – Call to Action

Rose DesRochers – Giving Sick Kids a Reason to Smile

Mad Hatter Mommy – It Is What It Is

Toyfoto – Look Both Ways But Cross the Street

Non-Linear Girl – For My Grandmother

One Plus Two – Not So Very Ordinary

MotherBumper – Dooooo it… come on now

Life, The Universe and Everything – Warning: Social Justice Post Follows

Homesick Home – How I Give All My Google Ad Revenue to My Grandmother

Irreverent Antisocial Intellectual – Sometimes You Need a Kick in the Ass

The Lovely Mrs. Davis – Whoever tells the story defines the culture

nomotherearth – The Play’s the Thing

Writing in the Mountains – Don’t be Such a Brat

What Was I Thinking – Helping Unusual Children with Schooling

Frankly Pregnant – Lucia’s Angels

My Own Circle of Confusion – Banned Book Week

Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown – Do A Body Good

If It Wasn’t This It Would be Something Else – Call to Action

The Ravin’ Picture Maven – Meet My Brother

Rose DesRochers – Safer Internet Day

RocRebelGranny – St. Judes

Write About Here – Lawn Bowling and Native Plants

Parenthacks – Spread the Word (Toys to Iraq)

The Mad Momma – The Gift of Life

Mother-Woman – Raise a Reader OR Not

Mamaritaville – Helping Others

Stupid Grin – Too Many Happy Meal Pets Laying Around? (Toys to Iraq)

MadHatterMommy – It’s a Matter of Choice, No?

Team Mimi – Run For It

If I’ve missed anyone, please let me know, and accept my apologies. And, if you’re late to the party and inspired to write a post of your own, don’t hesitate to send in a link – I’ll keep adding links in as I receive them.

Another issue that we should all get behind: it seems that in some of the United States (some 28 of them), it is perfectly legal to question potential employees about their family status (married? with children?) This practice facilitates discrimination against against mothers and, especially, single mothers and sets us back, like, centuries. You may have read about it over at Amalah’s Daily Dose yesterday; you can read more about it HERE. MomsRising is currently organizing a petition to promote the passage of legislation that would make this illegal. Please, go sign this petition.

Phew. Tired now. Am done doing my part to make the world a better place today. Off to bed…
… or not. A Bad Mother’s work is never done. Keep checking the links above, as broken links have been fixed and many new links have been added and are still being added. Keep sending, and I’ll keep adding the links, and eventually the list will end up on my sidebar.

And while you’re thinking about all these posts and how should you maybe write one, too, or write another one, check out my profile of another action post over at UrbanMommy.

Okay. NOW will go celebrate anniversary…

More from the Shameless Whoring Files…

September 19, 2006

EDIT (huzzah!) – a question and new picture added, below…

… because I just cannot get enough of myself, and neither can you…

1) More what-the-fuck-is-up-with-feminism? ranting at SheBytches. If you are offended by my drooling girl love for Gloria Steinem, look away. Otherwise, good times.

2) My own Call to Action post is up. But hey! Not here! I put it up at urbanmoms, where the notion of blog community and the integrity thereof has been under rigorous interrogation.

(Hey! There can’t be community where there’s advertising! Not possible! Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Bad Mother?)

(Ever been to Cuba? The absence of Pepsi ads has secured freedom of speech and open dialogue to an extent hitherto unseen in human history.)

The Call to Action links are being compiled as we speak and that post will go up, in all of its gushy/ranty goodness SOON. I promise.

3) That ‘Loneliness of the Long-Distance Mommy’ post that I wrote the other week? Devra and Aviva over at Parentopia have deconstructed it and de-guiltified it and their work is awesome, not least because they turned my appropriation of Liz’s term Competi-Mommy into the term Emanci-Mommy. Genius.

4) That’s it, for now. What, you’re not tired of my screeching, whorish voice yet? How about a little WonderBaby/INEBG Dancers action to take the edge off?


… to get ahead in life…

… you gotta step on a little frog.


So, um… everyone is all, oh, poor Kermie (and even one cheery I’d rather Fozzie took the foot to the head!), but has no-one noticed that the baby is using Kermie’s head to leverage herself up to the second shelf of our bookshelf unit, the better to pull herself up to the third shelf and turn on the television?

Or is this normal baby behaviour, and I just missed that chapter in What to Expect in the First Year?

Things she didn’t learn at play group, #837: WonderBaby demonstrates how to break out of one’s own house through the living room window…

In Which I Break My Promises Yet Again (or, Hey! It’s My Blog and I’ll Write What I Want To!)

September 17, 2006

I said that I would do my round-up of the call-to-action posts this weekend. Well, I can’t. I’ve gotten completely distracted by other issues and cannot summon the emotional energy to plug my own cause (supporting the organization that’s looking for a way to save my nephew’s life) or to plug-by-link the wonderful posts about all the other ways and means of acting to make the world a better place (because those posts get me all teary. Which is why I’ve been so bad about commenting on them. I get all overwhelmed and can’t think of what to say. Because I am a SUCK.)

And, because of these other issues, I don’t feel that I can make one more reference to Gloria Steinem without a) apologizing for maybe sounding like I’m brandishing my supah-dupah exciting adventures as the Blogger Who Met Gloria Steinem and Shared a Sofa-Bed With Mom-101’s Dog, and b) making some statement about why I keep talking about Gloria Steinem.

So, what of these other issues?

There’s been some skirmishing ’round the momosphere about blog politics. Yes, AGAIN. Whatever. It’s an old topic and one that, frankly, frustrates me or bores me, depending upon how bad a day I’m having. I’m not going to revisit it here; I’ve said enough about it in the past, and in any case, I vented at (and received a comment smack, and then vented some more), if you’re interested.

So “these other issues” don’t really have much to do with that debate. The thing is, in some of the discussion swirling around that debate, there has been occasional reference to Greenstone Media and the possibility that there has been some ‘selling out’ by those involved with Greenstone projects. Some of this has to do with sour grapes about some bloggers getting more attention than others. Others, however, have raised it as a matter of debate (which is always good): is the fact that Greenstone Media is using advertising and thereby selling women as a market as a means of supporting itself undermine, or entirely destroy, its bona fides as a ‘feminist’ project?

(The related question that has been popping up: do bloggers who host advertisers – or profit in any way from blogging – undermine or destroy their blogger bona fides? Does even the merest hint of commercial enterprise undermine the openness and honesty of a blog? I’ll address this later, which is to say, in another post, which is to say, when I feel like it, which I hope will be soon.)

TOMama wrote a provocative piece about the possibility of there being a dark underbelly to Greenstone’s enterprise over at Literary Mama, in which she stated that the fact that Greenstone was treating women, in part, like a market, made her very uncomfortable. Uncomfortable enough to make her doubt that the emergence of Greenstone could really be viewed as a victory for women and/or feminists. Her discomfort was heartily seconded by one commenter, who noted that Gloria Steinem isn’t an appropriate spokesperson for feminism or women’s interests anyways, because she is white and privileged and so it really isn’t surprising, is it, that she’d front a project that is only relevant to privileged white consumers. Right?

Wrong. This is what I said in response:

I think that it’s a stretch to claim that the main purpose of Greenstone is to deliver women to advertisers. As you yourself say, advertising is more or less key to ensuring survival in 21st century media. Women simply won’t have a place to be heard as women (what Greenstone is trying to offer) if we cling to antiquated Marxist notions of what constitutes a ‘pure’ revolution. Media is what it is: it’s largely driven by economic interest, sustained by advertising and/or sales. We might prefer that cultural discourse weren’t so circumscribed by that fact, but that’s the way it is.

And I, for one, don’t see much wrong with it. I live in a capitalist, consumer society, and I accept, even embrace, the terms of that society. If we have a problem with being ‘sold’ to advertisers and/or used as pawns by the capitalist system, that’s another revolution altogether (one that, I should note, has been attempted, and not altogether successfully.) I don’t expect the feminist movement, or any corner of that movement, to take on capitalism full-stop as a condition of its feminism (nor, as a liberal capitalist, would I want it to.)

(After-the-fact edit: Economic inequality, yes. Capitalism as a system, no.)

I simply don’t take it as read that commitment to the feminist movement or efforts toward gender equality require a commitment to anti-capitalist ideals. Capitalism and commerce don’t preclude the free exchange of ideas and promotion of change any more than does the established intelligentsia of a socialist movement (quite the contrary, I’d say). How, exactly, does the presence of advertisers or market researchers in the background of cultural or political discourse fatally impair that discourse? That’s our world, people – all of the messages we receive are mediated (even in personal conversation; we’re products of what social scientists call a knowledge system, and we can never entirely escape that system.) So long as we’re aware of that – and, better, constructively critical of it – what’s the problem?

One of the biggest obstacles to the success of the feminist movement in its many and varied forms is the incidence of in-fighting and unproductive criticism from the very women who claim to support it. So Gloria Steinem is white and able-bodied and privileged and interested in working with advertisers. So what? Does calling her – or her projects – down help the broader feminist cause? To my mind, anything that gets women heard is a good thing. Anything that mainstreams women’s voices is a good thing. Anything that makes women’s voices a discernible part of the din of our culture is a good thing. If we sit around waiting for the perfect utopian solution or for the perfect spokespeople (only disabled lesbian women of colour need apply?) before supporting efforts that promote women, our cause is doomed.

I’m not saying that we must refrain from critical analysis of our actions, but to make any suggestion that some projects might not be worthy because they don’t fit a perfect vision of a transformative movement is, to this feminist, foolhardy. It’s really not all that different from Hirshman saying that only women who remain in the workforce can call themselves feminists, or Flanagan saying that only women who stay at home can call themselves good mothers. Only certain kinds of feminists and feminist projects – those that reject quote-unquote privilege and capitalism and what have you – are good feminists and good feminist projects? Bullshit. This only hurts us, and our cause.

For the sake of full disclosure, I’m one of the those ‘privileged’ bloggers who has been invited to participate in Greenstone. About which I’ll say this: any suggestion (I’m not saying that you’ve done so here; this is emerging elsewhere in the blogosphere) that I’ve sold out for supporting a project that promotes the voices of women offends me deeply as a feminist, and strikes me as evidence of what I’ve said above. We’re calling down women for supporting Gloria fucking Steinem? We’re doomed.

Thus spake Her Bad Mother.

I know, it’s kind of lame to make an entire post out of a comment that you’ve left somewhere else, but the recurring beat of what the fuck what the fuck pounding in my brain is hurting my head and I needed to vent.

And it’s my blog, even if I am some shameless Gloria Steinem-promoting whore. So I’ll write what I want to.

Shocked, shocked to discover that her mother shamelessly whores herself out to aging feminists. Shocked.


As I said, I’ll have more to say about how I think this pertains to the so-called commercialization of blogging later, although you’ve probably guessed how I feel about that. And I’ll be flogging this particular dead feminist horse as a Guest Bytch over at SheBytches on Monday. If the screeching of my ranty voice doesn’t put you off entirely, you might check it out.

Or you could just head to the Basement for a drink or some tea and a chat…

HBM Went to New York and All You Get is This Lousy Post

September 15, 2006

Edited below. Because I wasn’t done when I hit publish.

Number One thing NOT to do in New York: blog.

I caught myself yesterday morning, while I was sitting in a Starbucks in Brooklyn, ‘round the corner from Liz’s place, fingers hovering over the keyboard, all a-tingle at the prospect of blogging about the previous evening’s events. I’d hustled over there, leaving Liz to catch up on real-life work, thinking that it was absolutely necessary that I write a post. I hadn’t posted since Monday, after all, and there was all that exciting Greenstone Media launch stuff to blog about, not to mention gushing about Liz and Nate and Thalia and their adorable dog and demonic cat. How could I not blog?

Well, I couldn’t. I couldn’t blog. Because it occurred to me in that moment that there were umpteen better things to do with one’s time when one has only one day to one’s self in New York City. So I left the Starbucks, abandoned my laptop at Liz’s apartment and went off to amuse myself.

Which, translated into an afternoon in New York, means the following: doing a happy dance in Argosy Books upon finding an illustrated children’s book set of Wagner’s entire Ring cycle, published in 1939 by the Metropolitan Opera Company; searching unsuccessfully for my favorite-but-now-discontinued peony-infused bath oil at Takashimaya but discovering that the violet oil is even lovelier; wandering down Hudson Street from 14th and then over to Bleeker and then down into Soho to see Michel Gondry’s exhibit at Dietch Gallery; going to Pearl River Mart and buying WonderBaby a onesie with ‘I Heart NY’ printed on it in Mandarin; and then heading back to Brooklyn to hang with Liz and eat pizza and watch My Super Sweet Sixteen and Laguna Beach.

And that last bit? The hanging out bit? That was the best part.

There was a lot to be excited about on this trip. Not least was the launch of Greenstone Media, to which Liz and I were not only invited guests, but invited guests who had their names highlighted in pink on the guest list. Invited guests to whom lovely organizer-type women said things like, oh we must get pictures of you with Gloria. Invited guests who slurped green champagne while chatting amiably with Mo Gaffney and Dee Snider and Emme The Plus-Sized Model and staring at the back of Jane Fonda’s head.

Invited guests who only slobbered a very little bit while talking with the incomparable Gloria Steinem, who is absolutely engaging and inspiring and gorgeous. (Seriously. She’s, like, 72 and her un-Botoxed, un-lifted self is better looking than most women a third her age. Let that be a lesson to us all: brains and integrity and passion are the source of all kinds of hotness.)

It was fun (Liz captures this much more effectively in her recap, here.) It was wonderful. But it wasn’t the highlight of the trip.

The highlight was hanging with Liz. Gloria was, as always, inspiring, and it was thrilling to speak with her (stay tuned), but it was just as – perhaps more – inspiring and rewarding to just hang out and talk with Liz for a couple of days. We talked about everything from motherhood (surprise) to food to politics to MTV to blogging to feminism and beyond. It was, like, Our Super Sweet Hanging Out Thing.

It might not have been MTV fodder. It probably wasn’t even Greenstone fodder. It certainly provided a lot of food for thought that will, probably, eventually, be blogged (we discussed at length whether our generation or our daughters’ generations will see the likes of Gloria Steinem and I’m going to obsess over this question for EVER), but that wasn’t the point.

It was friendship fodder. It was friendship, in real time, in real life. And it was better than green champagne and the back of Jane Fonda’s head put together.

It was better, even, than Gloria Steinem. It was better than Gloria because it exemplified both her current mission and the best of the legacy of contemporary feminism. When women have ample space to talk and to air their passions and their ideas in open spaces, they find each other and they empower each and they inspire each other. I’ve written about this before; you know the schtick.

It’s good schtick. And it’s even better in person, with pizza and an hour or two of MTV reality-programming.

… and a WonderBaby soul-sistah, Brooklyn-style…

It was wonderful. It is wonderful.

Thanks, Liz.


The Great Gloria Steinem Blogger Interview is up at Greenstone, if you’re interested. Keep in mind that we were all nervously clutching our telephones in sweaty hands and that some of us (I’m not naming names) were desperately shushing fussy babies. But it’s fun, and if you like listening to awestruck women struggle to remain coherent in the presence of celebrity that has nothing to do with Billboard charts or People’s Sexiest Men Alive, then knock yourselves out.


Gloria Steinem’s response to The Questions are probably going to take a few days, so I’ll be doing the action post round-up early, probably this weekend, after catching up on some blog-cruising… (I’m behind on everything – blog visits, link updates, everything – and am feeling great messy waves of guilt related to neglect of blog and putative neglect of child, so bear with me.)


EDITS – woo hoo! Need more to read? You can find me waxing pissy about recent, recurring debates on blog politics here; you could go check out the Basement, ‘cuz I know that you haven’t done that in a while; or, you could check out Kristen’s efforts to help out another mom by holding a super-awesome contest here.

These Foots Were Made For Walkin’

September 11, 2006

We interrupt this week of spectacular HBM programming (more Gloria Steinem! random crizzap about New York! the long-awaited eros post that will commemorate WonderBaby’s 10-month birthday!) to bring you the following news flash:

WonderBaby walks.


Hell YEAH it’s blurry. She’s moving. Pretty fucking fast, too.

I think that she actually started walking a month ago, but I don’t know know how to evaluate these things. Is it walking when it’s one upright step? Two? Three? When it’s turbo-cruising at high speeds along any available furniture, animal or pant-leg? When it involves scaling walls?

Speed is reduced for purposes of climbing. The faint-hearted mother finds such baby-scale mountaineering nonetheless alarming.

You’d think that witnessing WonderBaby’s dance program would have prepared me for the full extent of her physical determination and prowess. That, and the fact that she’s been scaling her baby gates since 8 and half months.

Sadly, no. I was not prepared.

It all surprises me. Even the things that I think I am expecting – these things surprise me. It all surprises me.

Could someone tell me, please, when it is exactly that motherhood will stop feeling so consistently startling?


I’m expecting Gloria Steinem’s response to our questions (yes! I snuck in more than one!) sometime this week. Likely after the launch of Greenstone Media tomorrow evening, which I am (omigodpinchme!) attending. In New York. City. With Liz. (Yes, you will hear all about it. Don’t you doubt it for a minute.) When I get Gloria’s response to our questions I’ll post that response, along with your other questions, which will, I hope, provoke much stimulating and fist-waving discussion.

Sometime after the weekend I’ll be doing a separate post with a list of all of your Call to Action posts. All of which are beyond wonderful. Please keep sending links. And remember that your calls-to-action needn’t focus upon conventional ’causes:’ if your family is your cause, write about that and about how you feel that makes a difference. If you feel that the best action is the sort that involves always saying please and thank you and being neighborly and helping the elderly across the street, write about that. The idea is to see how well we can demonstrate the force of writing as an impetus or inspiration to action. What that action is, exactly, doesn’t matter so much. If it makes a difference, makes the world a better place, it counts. So do, please, write about it, and tell others why they should consider doing it too.

In the meantime, to see such action in action, please visit the The 2,996 Project – an online tribute to the fallen of 9/11. Truly testament to the power of community and language.


My blog-neighborliness has been sorely lacking lo these last few days, and can be expected to remain lackluster until I get back from NYC at the end of the week. So please forgive me if you haven’t seen me around. I’ll be back on my rounds as soon as my head stops spinning.

Ordinary People

September 8, 2006
I’m not easy to impress.

That sounds pissy and arrogant, I know. But it’s true. Celebrities don’t impress me (which is not to say that I wouldn’t shriek a little bit if I brushed sleeves with Josh Holloway, but that would be more because of his lickability than his impressive acting ability). I’ve encountered enough of them to know that they are usually shorter and uglier and far less pleasant in person than they appear onscreen. And in any case, the ability to stand in front of a camera and look surprised/scared/vague has never struck me as particularly impressive.

Sure, there are many talented and accomplished actors out there, as there are talented and accomplished musicians and athletes and comedians (um, Jon Stewart? Dave Chapelle?) and astrophysicists. Indeed, there are talented men and women in every field imaginable. But they are, still, just ordinary men and women and I’d need a bit more information about them before I could count myself well and truly impressed. Are they thoughtful? Intelligent? Passionate? Do they care about things other than themselves? Do they try to make a meaningful, considered difference in the world? (And no, driving a Prius doesn’t count here.) Are they good people, in the most nuanced and comprehensive sense of that word?

(I should note that I make special exceptions for people who make extraordinary contributions to their field or to world history. Picasso was an ass, Nietzsche was a clapped-out weirdo and Mother Teresa tended to excessive dogmatism – but to say that these individuals were merely impressive would be gross understatement.)

My sense is that the stock of impressiveness of most of the more famous people in the world wouldn’t hold up under such interrogation. But (and I assure you that this is not shameless ass-kissing) many of you ­– my bloggy friends – would. Which is one of the reasons why I’ve become so committed to our little corner of the blogosphere: it’s a space full of intelligent, literate people who love their children deeply and who are passionately committed to doing the best possible job raising those children and to doing what they can to make the world a better place for those children.

It’s revolutionary, as some have already said. And it’s impressive. You are impressive. Really impressive.

And you know what? Gloria Steinem thinks so, too.

She said so. On the telephone.

(I’ll wait while you pick yourselves up off the floor.)

(Oh. Wait. That’s me on the floor. S’cuse me…)

As part of an effort to promote a new media project (Greenstone Media: radio for women by women) that she is involved with, I was invited to participate in a conference call with Ms. Steinem and a handful of other bloggers. She said a number of amazing, insightful, and inspirational things (as one would expect from one of the founders of the contemporary feminist movement) – some of which I’ll try to address in posts over the coming week or two – and she totally knocked my socks off and made me want to be a better feminist.

And by far the coolest thing that she said was this: that she saw the women (and many of the men) of the blogosphere as being at the forefront of a new kind of revolutionary movement. A movement wherein we really talk to one another, and listen to one another. A movement wherein the highest premium is placed on telling the truth, and deriving inspiration and power from the truth. A movement that we further with every post that we write, with every supportive comment that we leave, with every empowering conversation that we spark and fuel and fan to a blaze. A movement that a big cool enterprise like Greenstone Media is committed to promoting. Our movement.

But she also said this: never forget that such a movement, based as it is on dialogue and debate, can only ever be a support for action. It cannot replace action. Don’t cocoon in your blogosphere, she said. Don’t mistake speaking or writing for acting. Don’t just talk: do.

So with that in mind, I have another (yes!) assignment for you: sometime this week, write a post about a cause that you are passionate about. Provide links and information and guidance for people to actually follow up on your post and take some sort of action: where can they make a donation? Sign a petition? Volunteer? How can they help promote your cause? Use this post as a catalyst for action – make it your mission to show, in whatever small way, how the blogosphere can support real action in support of real causes. It doesn’t have to be big – you don’t have a start a fundraising drive from your blog (although that would be cool), you just need to make a stab at showing how writing/speaking/blogging can support action. If you have already promoted a cause through your blog, or do so on an ongoing basis (as I know may of you do), simply provide me with some relevant links and a description of what you’ve been up to in the comments. Ditto if you know of someone else with a cause: do a post or post a comment with links and info. Then, as always, I’ll compile the posts, etc. etc. and we shall be a beacon of light, a chorus of voices – cue choir – and we will have Done Something and will be Doing Something in addition to All This Talk. And we’ll be even more impressive.

And Gloria will be proud.

So will WonderBaby. And she’s tougher to impress.


But wait! There’s more!

Gloria (yes, I call her Gloria now, ahem) has offered to answer one more question from me. In writing. And I, magnanimous lady that I am, have decided to give the question-asking opportunity to YOU. Post your question to Gloria – it can be on any topic – in my comments sometime today or tonight, and I’ll select one (am magnanimous dictator) to forward to her in the morning. I’ll post the question (with credit to person who provides it) and her response and an update on Assignment Take Action (above) early next week.

And you will be forever able to brag that You Asked Gloria Steinem a Question and She Answered You.

(I did it yesterday, and believe me, it’s worth the full caps.)