Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Blog that Turned Five

Holy sweetness, today, this blog turns five! Wheeeeeeee!!

How did it all begin? With this post, Into the Void (wow, love that title). I just reread it, for the first time in at least three years, and yeah, I remember that feeling. I didn't go then into the detail I've since shared numerous times, how I wanted to chronicle my life as a mother, to help me remember, and how I wanted to improve my writing skills and figured a site like this, where I'd have to write (almost) every day, would be a good exercise for me.

I mentioned, too, my choice to stop being anonymous, which was a very big deal back then. It still is, inasmuch as I don't want to associate this site with last names and specific details, but not as much. I care because I'm actually a pretty private person, and I don't like all my crap out there, but the other early issues are gone. My exes still aren't stalking me (and if they are, my, but they're nice about it), and as far as my job -- I'm upfront about this blog with every employer. And since I don't write about work or at work, it's not an issue. At this point, if I feel very protective of the specific details, it's mainly for my son's sake. I want to keep him and his *real* identity protected (and I'm ready to pull the plug here the second that's compromised), and that's made me pull back some (and the divorce, of course), made me think more about ways to write as I'd like to without crossing lines or compromising things.

But back then, this was a big deal to me. There was a big difference to me between writing under a fake name vs. my real one. Maybe I felt more accountable for my words, for the content, for how I crafted it all. There's a degree of nakedness to this, a vulnerability I don't always like but seem drawn to. And the feeling can be freeing, which is neat, but it can also be painful and suffocating.

And five years into this, I wonder still at how it all will turn out. I had no actual plan when I started here, I just wanted to write. I never thought about how long I'd do it, how I'd end it, none of it. Maybe on some level, I thought I'd grow bored, stop, then come back when the mood struck me. I did not think there'd be readers beyond family and close friends, and I certainly could not foresee the turns my life took. In fact, if this blog helped me cope with being a new mom, I figured it'd help me cope with a second child, and then a third, and the life that came with being a fulltime working wife and mother. If I'd been asked in April 2006 what I thought I'd be writing about today, I probably would have said, "about my mixed feelings about having a third child."

But hey, look where we are. My son is going on six and he's it. The older he gets, the less I want another child, for a whole host of reasons, so that third child is more a figment of my imagination than he ever was. Five years into this, what I've had to write about is the end of a marriage, the end of the life I knew, and the new life I've had to create for myself and my boy. And even that, at some point it became difficult to write about, caught up as I've been with craving privacy and simply not having the time to sit and write thoughtfully.

I don't know how this blog will continue to evolve, what stories lie ahead. But I suspect that whatever happens, it'll be shared here.

Thanks for joining me on the journey so far.

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Posted by Tere @ 4/21/2011   | | | links to this post

Saturday, April 09, 2011

This Kid Brought to You by the Makers of Valium

He speaks TV commercial now. If ever I doubted the effects of advertising on kids (I didn't, but whatever), I need not doubt anymore. My child has become a walking, breathing TV commercial.

The other day it was, "mommy, I want to see Hop by the makers of Despicable Me," as I scrambled to get ready for class. A couple of weeks ago he woke me up on a Saturday, sometime between 5:30 and 6 a.m., to breathlessly tell me, "mommy, you know what's in stores now?!" This morning, when I served what was not, in his estimation, enough Fruity Pebbles (the one truly junkie food he's allowed, only on Saturday mornings), he furrowed his brow and pouted, "but mommy, don't you know it's part of a complete breakfast?"

I started out really good, limiting TV to weekend mornings and sometimes Friday evenings. This, after catching myself in a long-standing habit of allowing TV every day, which I honestly have mixed feelings about. I thought it was good that he watched only cartoons, and that, because of his own interests, he wasn't into ones I consider inappropriate for his age. But then, I got lax. He was ready for school and we still had 20 minutes, so o.k., go ahead and watch Scooby Doo. He did his homework and dinner wasn't ready, so o.k., Spongebob. Like this, till I realized it was a daily occurrence.

I swing in my feelings about TV. Part of me doesn't give a crap, because again, it's never more than one or two cartoon episodes, and always stuff I'm o.k. with. Seriously, Tom & Jerry and Max & Ruby don't seem to be messing the kid up. At the same time, it's TV, which, once you become a parent, you're subject to judgment for allowing it, which sucks, and which you quickly realize can be a big bad habit if you don't pay close enough attention to your actions. So I get what's bad about TV, and I think I've been very conscious about limiting my son's exposure to it. I get it enough to not like having the TV on much, to not feeling comfortable with daily TV watching, to being conservative about what's allowed. I live between these two feelings, not caring because of the limits I impose and feeling like a bad parent for slacking off and letting it become a daily habit.

But it was the commercial-speak that jarred me into realizing I'd become too lax, because here was the glaring effect of that. Max by nature easily memorizes random things and spews them back out; it's not just what he hears on TV. But the TV talk has been disturbing to me (o.k., and really funny, too, but disturbing), and so I've realized, slacking off about this is not going to work for us, it's not something I can afford to shrug away, because as he gets older and his interests change, this has the potential to become problematic. Right now, he's parroting what he's memorized. But what happens when he actually understands it?

We've gone back to no TV during the week, only Friday evenings and weekend mornings, a compromise I'm comfortable with (and frankly, something I myself enjoyed as a child). Though that doesn't fully address the commercial-speak (seeing that he did it this morning), I am trying to focus on how I approach the notion of TV in general. Since I can't control other environments, I do my best here to explain to him that everything on TV is make-believe, and show him that TV is just one of many, many things to do, and that at most, it should be considered a treat, not a right.

Ah, yet another part of this work-in-progress and that elusive goal, finding balance....

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Posted by Tere @ 4/09/2011   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Bad Poetry

Looking over the work I've produced over the last two decades, it's become clear to me -- terribly, undeniably clear -- that most of my poems suck. Big time. I'm not as devastated as I worried I would be, mainly because I'm cutting myself boatloads of slack by telling myself things like, "come on, you were a kid when you wrote most of that stuff!" and "at least now you know how to edit properly."

I'm also finding comfort in the fact that the more recent my work is, the better it is. That helps. I take it as a sign that I improved over the years, and maybe that means that if I actually stopped torturing myself (see here for ongoing poetry-related mental torture I've created for myself) and just. wrote., it might be halfway decent.

Anyway, between it being National Poetry Month and regularly reading all the poetry-related things I follow on Twitter, and the fact that for once people in Miami are doing something big and cool and unique around poetry, I feel inspired enough to share.

Except that I'm not going to give up the good stuff. Oh no, I'm going to exorcise old ghosts and share some of my bad, laughable, cringe-inducing poetry. Yeah, we're going there. You just enjoy and be thankful you're not the one who produced this tripe.

This first doozy I wrote in high school, possibly in 1994. It's pretty stupid. I wrote it about an ex-boyfriend, I boy I'd dated and really liked who treated me poorly. I wrote this (a couple of years after the break-up) as some silly sort of way to have a last laugh, imagining that his crappy treatment of me bothered him and he missed me. The thing is, years later, I got a letter from him telling me just that: that he had felt badly all those years for how he had treated me and that he knew I'd been a great girl and wished it had all been different. It's my bad, psychic poem.


You laughed
when I spoke of my desire
to be immortal.
Your logical mind thought —
How could someone
so full of shit like me
ever be immortal?
But my stubborn soul leaves no room
for less of an aspiration.

I spoke of my desire
a lifetime ago.
You did not believe me.
And since then,
we have shared no more thoughts
or words or actions.
But I still plague your mind.
You still look for me in every corner.

Do you believe me now?

I wrote this next one in 1996, when I was trapped (yes, trapped) in a horrible relationship. I actually don't hate this one (in fact, terrible or not, I like it), but still. Capitalizing "solitude"? How melodramatic.

Looking at you,
my Solitude grew endless.
I was alone
in my emptiness,
my nameless, smothering pain.
I was wasted,
and the silence of you
filled my soul
with desolation.

So I sought out
my Solitude,
my wastelands -
plunging in to drown out
your silence.

Finally... I don't know, people, I don't know. It was 1996 (a fruitful poetry year), I was 18, and I was feeling all kinds of yearning and longing. I was trying to express some of that here, but... I don't know. So close... but ultimately, FAIL.

Sun (A Prophecy)

The setting sun glared off her second-story wall,
and to me,
it was gorgeous.
I was at a distance,
in the shade -
it’s the story of my life.

Why wouldn’t the sun glare off me?

It is always within my reach,
yet it has never fully bathed me.

But I am getting closer:
in a moment’s time,
I will be the sun,
and I will spill over to those
in perpetual shade.

Hahahahahaha. Sigh. *facepalm*

p.s., FYI, JIC: all this stuff is copyrighted. Don't go ripping off my crap.

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Posted by Tere @ 4/05/2011   | | | links to this post