Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mommy blogs

The St. Paul Pioneer Press has its own "mommy blog," surrounded by its new site. This whole "mommy blogging" phenomenon is fascinating to me, particularly because women have talked like this with each other for years, using whatever technology was available to us.

I wrote gobs of letters to my best girlfriends in high school. We talked incessantly on the phone (the kind with cords, horror of horrors) in college and when our kids were young; one of my 30-something neighbors saved me from toddler insanity with daily naptime phone calls and the knowledge that she, too, was still in her pajamas and had not brushed her teeth yet. Now the only way we can get hold of each other is via e-mail (one of my friends travels for work all the time, another's kids are of the age that seals her butt to the driver's seat around the clock, one works night shifts in her nursing job) and blogs. Whatever way works, I say. We crave connection. It's a girl thing, my husband would observe. He's not being sexist here. Women are the glue that hold the world together. If no one nurtured relationships and communication on this earth, we'd have blown ourselves up long ago. But I digress.

Even the national media are taking notice of "mommy bloggers."'s Heather Armstrong showed up on the Today Show recently.

What puzzles me about the "mommy blog" label, though, is the kind of packaging that other media appear to be imposing on women who blog and the audiences who read their work. Traditional media try to create their own versions of these blogs and fail miserably. You'll note that MinnMoms, for example, has topical areas, most having to do with children. OK, that's because it's a site for mothers. But it's odd that I find nothing on the elections or economics or other national issues that must concern mothers. I was hoping to find out if Minnesota mothers are gunning for Hillary because she's one of them, if they find Obama more appealing or if McCain's trophy wife speaks (sorry, Republican friends). I'm wondering how the moms in Hugo are managing to find their kids' school clothes. I'm pondering how the women affected by China's terrible earthquake are managing to get out of bed in the morning, their only children gone.

Because in the real "mommy blogs" (if we should call them that at all), these subjects do, indeed, come up. Women of all ages and stages do more than cook, shop and care for kids. We think, pray, philosophize. We've been doing it, I think, since the beginning of time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My kind of nerds

OK, if I were ever going to be a revolutionary, I'd join these guys, profiled in the May 21 Chicago Tribune:
Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson have not wasted their lives.They fight a losing battle, an unyielding tide of misplaced apostrophes and poor spelling. But still, they fight. Why, you ask. Because, they say. Because, they must.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Springtime streams of consciousness

When I first graduated from college, I had a corporate job for a national retailer, Donaldson's. For those of you too young to remember "the Little D" (the "Big D" was Dayton's), the department store was headquartered right across the Nicollet Mall from its bigger, classier sister. I toiled in the basement, right next to the loss-prevention guys who acted furtive and tough like CIA agents. I, on the other hand, was a sales trainer and part-time employee publications editor for HR, one of a first wave of female corporate-support employees who weren't secretaries. On my $5 an hour salary, I could barely afford the clothes it took to work there.

When spring and summertime came to Nicollet Mall, it was as if something in the downtown stores and office buildings sprang a leak. People flooded onto the sidewalks and plazas on their lunch hours, lolling anywhere green after months of being trapped in the skyways or of scurrying quickly to their cars, hunching into their collars, chins to chests, against the winter winds. It felt a little like it did on campus in the spring, minus the Frisbees flying and the couples making out on the quad. The whole world cried, "ahhhh!" and breathed a collective sigh of relief.

That's how I feel today, the last day of the university's academic year. Commencement is tomorrow. The campus is lush with new grass and well-tended flowers. I love the sound of lawn mowers and the smell of freshly cut grass, and I enjoy watching students pick up their caps and gowns, giddy and terrified at the same time.

After tomorrow, there will be three whole months where I won't be racing to work to nab a last-available parking spot, when the phone won't ring incessantly, and when the deadlines relax a bit. It's a time when I have a nice little cushion in most days. Although I'm working, it's less frantic. Because most students are away during the summer months, news surrounding their escapades slows down, too. (That's good, because we've spent most of the year in media hot water for one reason or another.) I will get the flowers planted. I will spend most weekends at the lake.

Tomorrow, my oldest daughter will be awarded a master's degree in art history -- a pretty awesome achievement, considering her twins are just 3 years old. Last weekend, my future daughter-in-law graduated with her bachelor's in nursing. Next week, my son has some job interviews scheduled in the Twin Cities and is moving home until he and Sara get settled and employment becomes gainful. Last week, my dearest uncle died at 77. Wednesday is my mother's 80th birthday, which I can hardly fathom. And yesterday, my good friend told me that she was finally marrying the guy I set her up with 25 years ago. It's a time of transitions, of celebrating pasts and futures. Transitions used to scare me a bit, and now I welcome them. I've come to realize that the dips and turns of this roller coaster -- which sometimes raise my stomach to my throat -- are good for the soul and make me realize just how adaptable we are. Rather than growing more set in my ways with age, I aim to savor sponanaeity. What are we celebrating next? I'm in ... .

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

In the merry month of May

Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful? This is my grandniece Annalise (hey, that rhymes!), wearing her "Sweet Pea" outfit that I bought her in Vero Beach, Fla. Mike and I had dinner at Vero's Ocean Grill one magical night last January; the attached gift shop, where I JUST HAD TO BUY something, has all kinds of cool stuff (I highly recommend the purses ... fabulous!), but I digress.

Miss A is almost six months old and is charming as all getout, don'tcha think? We also got her some yellow sunglasses to match, but somehow I think that little moonface has outgrown them. Couldn't you just smoooooosh those checks?