Tuesday, January 30, 2007

keeping a readable pulse

It's funny how things work. I started this blog on August 19, 2004 almost as a joke. I came up with the title in about five seconds while talking to a friend on the phone. Here I am, the working mom turned SAHM, trying to find a way to still publish my writing on a daily basis the way I used to when I was a reporter. How about....Adventures of a Domestic Engineer? That'll work as well as anything.

I sat right down and started writing a post about registering my second son for preschool:

I believe miracles can happen to anyone if the expectations are low.

A penny in the street is a miracle if you're willing to be grateful for the happenstance of cheap currency. These are the tenets on which I build my faith and hope in humanity. If I go to the grocery store and my youngest son doesn't do a strip tease in the canned goods aisle, throwing his tank top into the face of a random shopper, I find myself relieved and grateful.

I am a mom. I wasn't always a mother. I was once a creative, inspired person who slept in until 10 a.m. and radiated beatific peace and joy to all who knew me...

I got my first comment on my third post by a person who spoke English as a second language. I couldn't believe anyone was even reading it.

And thus was Adventures of A Domestic Engineer born.

I found that writing a blog is a lot like falling in love. For a while it's an exhilarating sense of connection. It consumes your attention and the excitement is almost enough to bounce upon when you walk down the street. You feel enraptured; liberated; you want to talk about anything, everything! It's as if doors open and the world gets even bigger.

It's fun. It's new and it's fun.

I found that writing a blog is frightening and painful. I started reading other blogs and re-examining my own with a twinge of awkward self-consciousness. I'd measure myself with a brutally unforgiving yardstick and come up far short of the ideal. The day I found Woulda Shoulda I had an overwhelming temptation to plunge into the dashboard and hit the Delete Blog button fast before I embarassed myself any further. Because I was totally intimidated by what was already out there. What did I think I was doing?

Who crawls into the new millenium without even knowing what blogs are, anyway?

I got hate mail, too. That was suprising. Not a lot of it, not a great amount, but just like in reporting, there is always that element of the population that will find you repulsive on every level. The praise was more palatable than the scorn and it was a bitter meal to sit down to, but after a while I had to remind myself that whether you're being paid for your opinion or not, all critical attention has the same flavor after a while. It comes along with putting yourself out there. Having a blog doesn't ensure any more immunity from that than the byline did.

So I had to get on with it.

The more you write the more you get a sense of what it is people want to read about really. Not that it should matter, but we all know it does. People want good writing, they want funny or entertaining writing, they want to laugh or at least think more about something or other.

They don't always want to hear about kids. If any thorn stuck in my side more than another, it was this:

People with children just don't seem to get that people without children aren't necessarily interested in hearing about them.

That came up a lot during the course of the blog, as might be expected for a site with the tagline, "The day-to-day travails of a sleep-deprived mother of three." It came up a whole lot. More than I'd even care to mention.

In fact, it came up once in conversation when I was out and about: someone said to me, "Your writing is so good that I actually find myself wanting to read about someone else's kids," and everyone around burst into appreciative, agreeable laughter, as if reading about someone else's kids is a task akin to measuring the daily fecal output of a tsetse fly.

And I didn't get that. It was like being complimented for injecting sodium pentathol without making anyone scream.

I found that writing a blog is like going into therapy. You start to examine things you'd forgotten all about. Sometimes in the middle of a post I'd chance upon an evident truth and feel like I just found my car keys at the bottom of the toy chest.

I found it a useful medium for scrying my own thoughts.

I made friends -- another unexpected benefit. I certainly didn't look for that going into it. I got to know my own friends and family better, too.

Still, there comes a point when the simple declaration I read your blog can fill the ribcage with inordinate alarm. Oh that. Really? Well? Do you hate it, or what? Why are you telling me this?

In walks paranoia, on high heels and carrying a stiletto with one of those little long brown cigarettes you always see the chic people smoking. I can say that's what paranoia looks like. Because I've seen it. Shook hands with it, even.

Oh, well, the blog. The blog, the blog, the blog blog blog. Then there comes a stage in blogging -- after so much scar tissue-- where you're just jaded and so over it all. You almost feel like you've said everything there is to say, you've met all the new people there are to meet, you don't really need anything more out of it. It's kind of, you know. Yawn. Been there, done that.

And yet, you keep doing it anyway. Just because. You started it. Now it seems cruel to end it, like there's a whole euthanasia issue that has to be addressed. Is this really the kind of person you are? Squeezing the juice out of it as if it's some kind of orange, and then tossing the dehydrated half-moon pulp into the trash can liner?

(You slut. You attention-seeking, egomaniac slut.)

So now I can't kill it. I can't even resign myself to leaving it lie there like an abandoned signpost pointing to the east side of Germany.

I'll just have to let it live. Even though I've started a spanky new blog with a freshly ironed sidebar and about 35 categories ranging from anesthesia to the pimple on my chin.

So you can find me here, or you can find me there. Either way, I'll be around. Older but wiser. Wiser but still blogging. Blogging but in more place than one. I don't die but replicate, like the Tribbles in episode #42.

Remember that.