Tuesday, July 14, 2015

blogging is weird

Ladies and that one guy:

I want to apologize for being sort of lackadaisical this last while. I even missed my two-year "blogiversary" (May 31)! I can't believe I've been rambling that long and nobody's pulled me off the stage with a hook yet! I don't have a great excuse for being kind of MIA. Just life. Things got busy with the book and then I got surgery and people were dying and all the while I was busting my ass at work, staying late and taking on extra projects in attempts to get a promotion. But, that's apparently not happening, like, ever, so now I can return to regularly scheduled programming. I'm just kidding. I still don't really feel like blogging all that much :) I don't know what it is. I have lots of things in my mind. It just seems like a lot of work to get them out on "paper" at the moment. And one thing I know is that it's not worth posting just because I feel like I "should." Those posts sound just like what they are: forced.

You know something else about blogging? I never know what's going to hit, and what isn't. For example, I'll post something that I think is just hysterical, and people are like, Meh. But then I'll write a post and sit on it for months because I think it's totally so-so (e.g., The Text That Almost Ended in Divorce), and I'll finally post it because it's been 2 weeks and I feel anxious about neglecting all 7 of my adoring fans, and then it totally goes off like gangbusters (and by gangbusters I mean 77 people read it instead of 7 ;))

Blogging is a very strange phenomenon. When I Still Just Want to Pee Alone came out, I finally came clean to my pops about the blog (he didn't have any idea about it before), and I was trying to explain what, exactly, a blog is and I was at a total loss. Me: "It's kind of like a personal website, sort of?" Dad: "And a lot of people do this?" Me: "Millions." Dad: "What do you write about?" Me: "Just random stuff. Life. Whatever." Dad: "And people actually read it?" Me: "Sometimes." And I'm in a continual state of awe that people do. Even my husband! He reads every word (well, most of the words), even though he never reads anything but legal stuff, and he says I'm only "funny for a girl." Which is why I feel bad when I slack, because I feel like people are counting on me, even if it's only a handful. I have so much love for you all. I don't want to let you down. But I also don't want to feed you bullshit fluff. And let's be honest, you'll probably survive without me ;)

And another thing - just FYI - if you're going to write an anonymous blog, you should ACTUALLY BE ANONYMOUS, or, alternatively, give zero fucks about whether or not people get ruffled tail feathers and/or chronic butt-hurt-itis (that's the medical term), because when people know who you are and you wish to stay married/friends/employed/a member of the family/out of jail, the list of topics from which you may comfortably choose is quite short. What I'm saying is, I can't share the good shit! Maybe I'll write it all down in some secret diary for my husband to publish posthumously. I apologize in advance for any butt-hurt-itis caused by the bestselling memoir published after my death.

Here are some other observations about blogging that I've made in the past 2 years:

1. Readers feel a certain ... ownership over you. Some feel entitled to regular, hilarious/poingnant/on-point content. And I can understand that. It's like how I feel when a favorite show ends or a favorite author hasn't written a new book in ages... personally let down. But it's this same reason that I sometimes get a little squeamish about pouring my heart and mind out on the internet. Once I put my thoughts out there, they're not really mine anymore. They become public property. And from time to time I have an almost physical sensation that I am giving away tiny little slivers of my soul. AND NOT EVEN GETTING PAID FOR IT. That's the real kicker. I would happily SELL my soul to the highest bidder. But this giving it away like spare change to the hungry homeless panhandler that is the internet, well, that's a different story ;) < Winky face to denote sarcasm. (Which reminds me of this great post by Renegade Mothering: People who can't read sarcasm are the antichrist.)

2. This ownership comes with expectations. This doesn't really happen to me very often or to a serious degree, because not that many people actually read what I write and the ones that do either agree with me, or are super gracious and don't disagree with me publicly, or disagree with me but don't care enough to say so. But now that I have some "famous" blogger friends I see it happen all the time - people are like, "Oh my God, how COULD you?!" Or "I thought you were better than this!" Or "I came here to see THIS sort of content, not THAT sort of content! Fall in!" And so on and so forth. I guess it happens when you have any sort of celebrity, no matter how large or small. And people seem to think it's justified - like, "You put yourself out there, so you should expect to get called names on the internet." Pretty sure Grandma and her Golden Rule would find some fault in that logic but whatever.

This reminds me of something I shared on Facebook recently - a post from Erin Brown by way of Pink Sky Serendipity in which she admits to hiding annoying Facebook posts (and friends) "liberally and happily." Nobody is pinning your eyeballs open and making you read this shit. As I said, I know we're not supposed to live in echo chambers, and I don't mean to discourage discursive exploration of important subjects, but sometimes you just have to shut the front door on that crazy ass jiggery pokery applesauce, for the love of god, my blood pressure, and everything that is holy. As Brown writes, "Do you. Whatever that looks like. Hold space for others to do the same. And if it bothers you, hide away. Sometimes good fences make good neighbors."

3. People believe that their opinions should have some bearing on your life. Listen, I (usually) like hearing what other people have to say, just for shits and giggles if nothing else. But I am not actually going to use a Facebook poll to determine whether or not to redshirt my son for kindergarten, or any other deeply personal decisions. Hey, thanks for playing, though!

4. People that don't know you think they do. I guess it doesn't take a world renowned psychiatrist to figure out why one creates a false sense of intimacy by over-sharing with complete strangers on the internet. But still. Dude. You don't even know my name. Well. Except the entire town of Calabasas and anyone who asks me three times.

5. People that do know you confuse The Real You with your online identity. Now, I'm pretty straightforward and honest in what I write, but I certainly hyperbolize for comic effect. And lately I've noticed that even people who do actually know me project the traits of Mackenzie Cheeseman onto The Real Me. So, let me just dispel some myths for you (ones that I may have helped to create):

* I do actually like a majority of vegetables. I mean, I'd rather eat bread, cheese, or fried tequila, but I don't trust anyone who wouldn't rather eat those things. I eat roasted root vegetables for lunch on a regular basis, and I only cry about it a tiny bit. And the tears are mainly just for the added salt. This whole joke came about because I DESPISE the two main vegetables that all vegetarians are supposed to love: Eggplant (“Hey, can I get a tiny purple pumpkin in the shape of human kidney that tastes like dirt?” ) and Portobello mushrooms (it's like a slimy fossilized chicken cutlet). Go to any wedding, or restaurant between California and New York, ask for the vegetarian entree, and what do you get? A kebab of viscous vegetables that taste like soil. Gag. Oh. And spaghetti squash. Hell no.

By the way. Today I ate a salad (of my own free will) and I didn't even finish the miniscule cuplet of dressing that was served on the side. But that last part's not a good example because The Real Me would never do that and I think I might be suffering from some mysterious blunt force trauma to my prefrontal cortex.

* I am not the worst cook in the world. I mean, I still abhor it with the strength of a thousand suns, make that a million suns since I had to start feeding tiny angry little food critics every night. And I am not a natural in the kitchen by any stretch of the imagination. But I am capable of preparing at least 5 different meals that will not cause severe gastric distress or get me banned from future potlucks.

* I do not sit rocking in the corner in social situations. Yes, I suffer from crippling anxiety leading up to any and all social events, but they are always way less stressful than I envision. Yes, I would rather pluck my eyelashes out one by one than engage in small talk with strangers at the park, but nobody but my closest loved ones (not even including my dad), and, well, all 7 of you, are aware of this. I have actual friends who don't just hang with me out of pity or as part of some sociological experiment (I think). And despite my little sister's assertion that I likely have Asperger's, people don't walk away from social interactions with me thinking, "Somebody get Temple Grandin her hug box." (No offense to Temple Grandin or anyone else on the spectrum, including my beloved nephew.) I may well have Asperger's. But I am extremely adept at pretending to be "normal."

* I claim to not like people, but I am actually quite nice. Like, too nice. Like, even when I don't want to be nice, accidental niceness bursts forth from my face like Athena, forceful and fully grown, from Zeus's forehead. "Omigod, I am so glad you finally got out of prison! That's such a bummer about the meth! Of course you can stay with us while you attempt in vain to pull your shit together! We've actually been looking for a new babysitter!" I'm exaggerating. This did not happen. But it totally could/would. However, I must admit, I probably reserve the least amount of patience and kindness for the ones I love the best. Sadly, isn't that always the way?

* I do not completely suck at life. Not to toot my own horn, but I'm probably more on top of it than most. This is not humble bragging. It's basically just plain bragging. But it is in the spirit of full disclosure and being real. I am an excellent friend. I am an above-average wife and mother. I am damn good at my job, such as it is. I get shit done. Sometimes. Granted, as I have lamented here before, motherhood has been an extended exercise in lowering my standards. But even still, I am at least 63% perfect Pinterest bitch. I plan over-the-top birthday parties, gift bags, soccer snacks, and teacher gifts. I just made jam and fruit-infused vodka from plums from our garden, for chrissakes.

I am THAT MOM. If you DID know The Real Me, you would probably hate me. (Or at least, you would want to, if I weren't so. damn. nice. ;))

The other day a friend wrote to me, "How do you do all this shit? And be a mom? And work? Tell me your secret, or I'm going to assume it's methamphetamines." The thing is, I'm really good at some things at the expense of others. I will spend hours, days even, painstakingly creating a scrapbook for a friend celebrating the impending arrival of a baby, or the loss of a loved one, but I have not gotten my teeth cleaned in 18 months. I write actual letters, religiously send thank you's, and make birthday cards by hand, but I have 20 unheard voicemails. I have completely designed and decorated my imaginary Mediterranean villa on Houzz, but I will leave towering piles of non-imaginary folded laundry in my garage for a month. I read for hours before bed, but I can't possibly find the time to pack lunches or meal plan ahead of time. I will cook an elaborate meal for someone in need, and feed my own kids chicken nuggets vaguely shaped like dinosaurs. I don't remember the last time I went to the market for anything other than a harried emergency run. Themed cupcakes and Oreo pops for every gathering? Hand-painted holiday mani/pedis? Absolutely! Regular excercise? Are you crazy?! Ain't nobody got time for that! I also SUPER SUCK at sleep, which is actually somewhat useful in the getting shit done department.

Anyway. At the end of the day, my priorities are FUBAR. And that's all there is to say about that.

One thing that is NOT a myth - I can't write something short and sweet to save my life.

not actually me, or my life, unfortunately.
Like this post? Then you'll love my essay in I Still Just Want to Pee Alone. Buy it HERE!


  1. Haha! I love this! Blogging is indeed a weird thing. I've let mine slip lately too with all the craziness life has thrown at me lately, and I've totally felt that nagging feeling that I'm letting people down by not posting on a perfectly timed schedule. I also feel you on the anxiety, it's always worse before an event than during! And the priorities...I also have mine all out of whack in the same ways. Sleep? Who needs that? I have scrapbooks to make and blog posts to write! It's good to know I'm not alone in all these things!