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    18 posts categorized "What I want to be when I grow up"

    August 11, 2013

    An update on that crazypants bakery idea, oh yes

    Were you wondering about the status of Katie, Formerly Known As The FPC, and Maggie's Mom-Friendly Cafe? (Just say yes.) Well, we're still thinking about it. And talking about it. And not entirely sure what to do next. 

    We've tweaked the vision a tiny bit. Based on the fact that all the play cafes I know about either charge to play or have gone out of business, I suspect it's not a super great way to make money. We are NOT charging to play in our space. The end. Other things we don't want to do: tout our playspace as educational, host child development workshops, look like a preschool, etc. What Katie wants to do is own a bakery. What I want to do is be a welcoming community space. And eat baked goods. 

    So now I'm looking at straight up bakery business plans. A bakery with space to play. It would have to get by on being a bakery, but it would (hopefully) be KNOWN as a great place to go with your kids. I think we're dialing back the cafe aspect - the lunch menu and all that - but ramping up the treats, the special orders, the quality. It might not be as BIG as I once envisioned (I've been looking at rents!) but it would still be a space that obviously and cheerfully welcomes little kids - I'm still hoping for designated play areas, as well as kid-sized tables and chairs, art supplies, books, puzzles, train tables, all that. 

    A lot of the local cafes with designated kid space get their baked goods elsewhere. We would be ALL ABOUT the baked goods. And Katie and I are both surprised at how many local bakeries/cafes don't make an effort to be PRETTY. We would concentrate a lot on display. We aren't into the "adorability" factor, a'la a certain local cupcake shop, but we like their bright cleanliness, their devotion to a Look, the way they get you to pay up to $10 a cupcake (NO LIE) because of the LOOK.

    I'm still mulling over what exactly our brand would be, but something bright, modern, clean, consistent. We'd want people to feel like they're in a special Land of Deliciousness when they step into our store. It's not a cutesy cupcake shop, it's not a froofy vintage storefront where the barista is wearing an Anthropologie apron, it's not a serious coffee Seattle coffee shop, it's not a no-frills all-we-do-is-freaking-amazing-cake shop, it's not a birthday cake orders machine - it's... I want it to be like your best friend who makes amazing creative birthday cakes for her kids and doesn't mind getting out the poster paints. She's classy, busy, on the ball, smart, organized, has excellent taste, her scones are to die for, and she totally doesn't care if your kids destroy her house during a playdate. She WANTS your kids to have a good time. And she wants you to have seconds and pours more coffee while you tell her all about the preschool drama. Do you get the feel I'm shooting for? Yes, that table right there is for your kids to go crazy with stamps and markers and why don't you stick your toddler in this little enclosed area and here's a plate of puffed pastry amazingness and a giant latte because you deserve a break. And why don't you order that baby shower cake while you're at it? (I'm practicing for my business plan. (Ha. Have you looked at business plans? I'm not sure most of the ones I've looked at are even written in English. INTIMIDATING.))

    For locals, I think I want a North Seattle bakery that could easily slide into a U Village retail spot. But won't. Because it loves North Seattle and all its friends live up there. Like, that's how you feel when you walk in. "Oh, this is so cute! AND IT'S NEAR ME!" I THINK. For now. The vision, it is fluid!

    I suppose other people would concentrate on the baked items. That's Katie's department. I'm just sitting here thinking about FEELINGS.

    Also, I suppose all of you are thinking, "THIS is never going to happen!" That's what I think most of the time too. But then sometimes I think WAIT IT JUST MIGHT.

    I am reading an EXCELLENT war book right now. I'll tell you about it later. I have no business reading anyway, seeing as how I have nine million things to do before we (drum roll) get on a plane to Mexico Saturday morning. (And as soon as we get home, like, THE NEXT DAY, we are having long term-ish house guests. Oh dear God. I need to be doing All The Laundry.)

     

     

    May 15, 2013

    When I used to have a job (and dreaded it)

    When I was out doing the kindergarten and preschool rounds this morning my old boss from 10-ish years ago popped up on my cell phone. I worked for him 3? 4? years? I should know this. And when I moved on I stayed in the same industry so I saw him often, plus he was, by then, kind of like your crotchety uncle who is secretly a big fat softie inside and gives you a giant check for high school graduation. 

    It was just him and me and his dog in our tiny downtown office. He was a lobbyist and flew around and talked on the phone; I did absolutely everything else. He once yelled at me (like my DAD yelling at me, which is TERRIBLE) for getting his flight reservations wrong. Like, I was terrified to go to work the next day. He's been suspicious of Phillip ever since he didn't give me an engagement ring (LONG STORY!), but he went to my wedding, has met all my children, writes to me every Christmas, and takes me out to lunch when he's in town. But I haven't talked to him in forever. And he didn't leave a message. And he called TWICE. eep!

    Anyway, when I got home I had an email from him inviting me to an industry lunch we used to go to every year, where I once won a giant television in a raffle (he paid for my raffle tickets). I am at once touched, delighted, and horrified. WHAT? No. I am not going to that lunch. Even as his now mid-thirties all-grown-up-now former assistant who can pay for her own raffle tickets this time, thankyouverymuch. 

    There are just SO MANY THINGS I regret from that time, it would just be SO... I don't know! He implied that most of "the old gang" would be there, so a lot of the Important and Not So Important People I used to work with and talk to and I always felt so SUBSERVIENT to them, so insignificant and dumb and unpretty and a total utter failure at the Schmoozing that happens at those events. 

    I worked super hard. Especially after I messed up those plane tickets, man. I didn't always have a lot to do there (or at my next job), but I tried my absolute hardest to get everything right the first time, to be the quickest, most efficient, most reliable, on-top-of-everything Girl Friday. And I think I succeeded, for the most part. I knew I was lacking in social graces, I knew I was easily intimidated, I knew my looks didn't exactly recommend me (this was an old boys' club, sigh), and I was just SO AWARE of being BELOW everyone else. (This is long before I knew I was a Three on the Enneagram, obvs. IT EXPLAINS SO MUCH!) So I made myself, in every way I knew how, indispensable. Like, that's what was going to make me valuable.

    All of those people were SO kind to me. Some of them wrote me recommendations, some of them got me work other places, many of them gave me advice. The industry, which never interested me, was full of really tremendous, generous (and fun loving) people. When I look back I can see them affirming me, inviting me into their groups, treating me like a grown up, but I don't ever remember thinking I WAS a grown up, equal to them in any way. And to think about seeing all of them again? Errrr...

    No, I think I will go. I think I will go because I love my old boss and it'd be a good time and it's a fundraiser for a great organization and because I know that ultimately all my old insecurities were bigger in my head than they were in real life. I'll go because I think it'd be fun to actually see some of those people again and while they may loom large in my memories I most likely occupy negative space in theirs. 

    Besides, even if I was a very anxious, uptight, all-business 20 something, I like myself much more as a 30 something. I am more than happy in my job. I am more creative, more productive, more comfortable, more ME than I ever was working with that crowd. I have three kids, I have a sense of humor, I know now that I'm worth getting to know. 

    If nothing else, maybe I'll win another TV.

    March 12, 2013

    Leaning in...to something a little different, I think

    All this Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg stuff that's been going on the last month or so has been TOTALLY up my alley and I've read a million different takes (many of those hours spent deep within the Penelope Trunk vault (this was my favorite.)). 

    But as someone who actively chooses to stay home and raise children, I don't feel like I have a lot (or anything?) to add to the debate. I don't have any opinions about it - I haven't tried to be a career mom or the Woman Who Has It All. so what do I know - but I do have THOUGHTS. Lots and lots of thoughts. 

    Mainly my thoughts revolve around: what if I WAS working? What would that be like? Would I be happier? Would I feel more like I am doing what I am supposed to do? Have I lost out on something because I'm not pursuing a career? 

    It's not that I feel "judged" or whatever for staying home, or that I've let the Sisterhood down somehow, or any of those dumb un-feminist things. I actually feel the opposite. But just knowing ME, the kind of person I am, the [vague, silly-ish] dreams I had as a teenager, my potential, my resources, being a Three, even being the oldest (I've started a BIRTH ORDER book you guys, there's your warning!) - did I make the best choice? 

    There's no point in REALLY raking this over the coals, since I think I'm long past the point where I could easily change my mind. We have three kids now, I'm appalled at the cost of daycare, I'd basically be working to pay the daycare bill, and I haven't put any effort into looking for a career that would be WORTH working to pay the daycare bill (with the hope that eventually I'd move up.)

    But I do wonder if that's where I missed out in the first place, the never finding a CAREER that suited me. Well, if I'm being honest, not really LOOKING for a career. It wasn't that I always planned to be a SAHM, I just... well, basically I wanted to earn enough money to travel. Not really Yahoo CEO material right there. 

    Nearly all of my mom friends work, though, and nearly all of them do because they LIKE working and they LIKE their jobs and it adds a wonderful meaningful dimension to their lives. It's not just for the paycheck. Sometimes I feel like I should have worked harder to find that! For a long time I would say, "Oh, but I didn't like my job anyway" and my friend would say, "You never found the RIGHT job." 

    And I'm smart, you know. Well, smart enough. I'm obnoxiously detail-oriented and organized, I'm driven, I love to learn, I follow through, I'm reliable, I get stuff done. I know I COULD succeed at a career, if I ever managed to pick one. I could be good at something other than folding laundry. 

    Then again it's telling, isn't it? That a firstborn Three, a total gets-her-value-from-achievement DIDN'T pursue a career. At times I thought about getting a teaching certificate, pursuing a public policy path, there was my fling with web design. Ultimately nothing felt right. And for so long I've thought that's because the one thing I've always REALLY wanted to do was write. OBVS am supposed to be a writer! You can't get excited about doing PR for the chamber of commerce if you're REALLY supposed to be a middle grades rockstar author. 

    Except now? I'm not even sure if THAT'S true anymore. In this last year I feel like I've lost a lot of my writing mojo. This is good because 1) I haven't written anything since I got pregnant with Emma and 2) I think there's a way that I made Be A Writer into an idol. As in, my parents will be the most proud of me if I become a published writer, my teachers will think the best of me, it's the biggest way to impress my friends, etc. etc. Is it really because *I* want to be a writer? (A Three has to ask herself these things. Pathetic, isn't it?)

    I think I do. But I also think, right now, age 33.5, that I'm okay with NOT being a writer. Or at least not the next Lois Lowry, which was The Dream. I have never admitted that out loud before. I read about these women who apparently have it all, women changing the world, women making heaps of money, women working really super hard, women who get tons of respect and accolades and I wonder if I could be doing what they're doing, but I also feel like: but nooooo. I don't WANT to!

    I actually quite like my life. I mean, as tired and done with parenting as I feel right now on Tuesday afternoon, I'm pretty sure I would not rather be sitting in the CEO office on the phone. And the ideas I have for my time are so NOT career- or profit-oriented ideas. I had to ALLOW myself to HAVE them, simply BECAUSE they so not about achieving success. Maybe adoption or fostering is in my future, maybe one day I'll go back to school to become a SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR! (Ha. The not-churchy people in my life are all "huh?" and the churchy people are all, "Ummmm, I don't quite think that's the right choice for you.") I have this kind of nutty idea to make my house a place of prayer once or twice a month, and that would COST me money because I'm thinking about hiring babysitters and feeding whoever shows up! I'm hoping to go to some conferences in the nearish future that would be "spiritual education", I guess, just for ME. I feel like THAT'S the direction I'm supposed to go. Even this bakery-with-my-sister idea (that I DO keep kicking around) comes from a place of wanting to do something fun that would fill a need in other people's lives - not entrepreneurial ambition. (Don't tell the bank when I ask for my loan.)

    So I salute you, Sheryl Sandberg, and I think you kick major amounts of booty. But I don't share your picture of success - not your personal picture or the perspective you advocate. Lots of women do and more power to them, but for me it's been good to think about changing the world from a different sphere of influence. And to think about power as something I receive through the grace of God, not something I fight for in an office. 

    When I was in college someone told me that they see a lot of women who take a back seat to their husband's career but then powerfully emerge on their own once the kids are mostly grown. Like it was this good thing that I could be happy about. At the time I was super offended by the mere IDEA that that's the lot women were stuck with. How UNFAIR! Now I think: that sounds good. That sounds really good. And I think the experience of being with these kids will inform whatever powerful thing I do in the future. And it WILL be powerful, even if I'm not wielding that power in a conference room or selling it on Amazon.com.

    Perhaps I am even wielding a bit of power right now. ??? I do get to decide when certain people can eat their Curious George fruit snacks. 

     

    January 15, 2013

    When I grow up

    Just so you know, I am still "looking into" this bakery cafe playroom thing and I continue to tell more real life people that I am "looking into" it and that's how you know I am still not in posession of my right mind. FYI. 

    One thing I realized at Urbana was that if I'd gone as a student I would have FUH-REAKED OUT. I didn't have a husband or kids or a mortgage, no responsibilities, just a totally blank (VERY BLANK) future infinitely before me, like a Personal Antarctica or something. I really had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up (still don't, actually) and the myriad possibilities at Urbana, plus the constant invitation to devote a year or two or ten to missions, plus the pressure I would put on my own self to be what Urbana thought I should be (THREEEEEEEEEEE!!!) I would have self-combusted. I had an excellent time, but I'm glad I experienced it as an adult with a husband and three kids and a mortgage and, therefore, way fewer options. This is a GOOD thing. 

    But still, you wonder what you want to be when you grow up. 

    The last several years I have tried very very hard to think of myself as a Mother. I mean, I AM a mother and I am very happy with my SAHM status, but "just being a mom" has never EVER felt like The Only Thing I'm Supposed To Do. It's one reason why I stopped reading a lot of blogs where the author was a religious SAH homeschooling mom-of-many, because there was a way I felt like that was the RIGHT way to do the mom thing, and clearly THAT was not going to happen at Chez Cheung. Like that was the way to make the most of your vocation, you know? And I hope you know I am not disparaging those mothers. I stand in awe of them, I bow down, I salute them. The gifts they have are not my gifts.

    (Can you even IMAGINE if I tried homeschooling Jack? We would need two padded cells within a week.)

    Then again, I've never been the mom who is itching to get back to work or the career, I've never aimed for anything, I am very much an Introspective Slacker, which is obvs how I got into this blogging thing. So it's kind of a weird place to be in, to feel like There Is More To Me Than Being Mom and But Nothing Else Sounds Good/Seems Right. 

    Honestly, a Bakery/Cafe/Playspace does not at ALL sound like The Thing I Am Supposed To Do. I know absolutely NOOOOOOTHING about running a business. Pretty much the only thing I know I'd be good at is 1) cleaning and 2) making sure our business has a social media presence. FPC informs me that that's important, but it doesn't feel like quite the right skillset, you know? 

    I thought I was supposed to be a writer. 

    I thought I was supposed to teach English overseas. 

    I thought maybe I should "just be a Mom". 

    I thought I was maybe supposed to create a lovely home and support my husband's career. 

    I thought I might work for a politician. 

    I definitely thought I would travel. 

    I suppose the right answer is that we do a lot of things in our lives, that everything has a season, that I can't be everything I'm supposed to be in one year, that I'm not even really SUPPOSED to DO anything. I can do all of that, I can do some or none of it. Though that's the stumbling block for a Three: if she isn't DOING anything (and doing it well), she's pointless, a waste of space, not valued, unloved.

    I have an Urbana/prayer/Three/value post in the works. It's hard going, but I'll get it out eventually. What is the thing that I DO? What is the thing that I AM? The end of that post will tell you that right now I'm somehow - miraculously, even - okay with the absence of an answer. 

    Or, rather, I am just beginning to comprehend the actual truthful answer. 

    February 26, 2012

    The Gospel of the Snack

    You guys remember my friend Pancakes, right? Here she is again.

    Photo (51)

    Let us gaze longingly at her namesake:

    Photo (53)

    (Okay, so we also ordered this giant plate of FRUIT along with our Palm Springs pancakes, but the pancakes were really the stars of breakfast.) 

    Anyway. I met Pancakes long long ago, my first week of college when she invited me to an NDCF event. And now, umpteen years later (let us not dwell on how many years), she's, like, THE BOSS of the NDCF. I know! 19-year-old me is TOTALLY JAZZED. (Wait, do people say 'jazzed'? It just felt right. JAZZED. Yes. Right word.)

    So yes, while I am home folding laundry and/or putzing around all day, Pancakes is out Doing Ministry and Making Impacts and Speaking Truth and Organizing Really Amazing Events and OKAY MAYBE I'M A LITTLE JEALOUS. Although Pancakes is gifted in ways I can only dream of, and this was never more real to me than at the NDCF winter retreat we attended this weekend. You guys I am just SO PROUD of her and SO PROUD to know her. 

    (Also, the one time she looked at this website happened to be a day when I was (gasp) CRITICAL of the NDCF, but tonight I am feeling very RAH RAH NDCF! and I am going to EMAIL HER and tell her to LOOK AND SEE THAT I WROTE NICE THINGS.) (WOO!)

    But what I really wanted to say in this space is that one area where Pancakes particularly excels is picking out snacks. Specifically, Snacks That Are New To Her Friend Maggie. 

    I have to say, Internet, I'm not a huge snacker. Wait. Snacking is basically what I do all day long, so that's probably not the best way to say it... I think I'm not big on foods that are marketed and sold as snacks. I'm SUPER big on foods marketed and sold as DESSERT. Which can also be snacks. But, like, my airplane carryon is full of cookies. When I'm feeling snacky in the afternoon I reach for more cookies. (Or peanut butter straight out of the jar. That also works.) 

    But Pancakes stopped at Trader Joe's before she made her way to Portland and her room was stocked with the MOST amazing snacks. Little bits of deliciousness that I seriously could not stop cramming into my piehole all weekend long. Saturday, pretty much directly after eating lunch, Pancakes and I went in search of snacks - we bought smoothies at an Orange Julius, and then, because that was not unhealthy enough, sneaked past the meeting going on in her room to retrieve the Coveted-By-All-The-Volunteers Bag O' Snacks, which we brought to a loungey area by the elevator, in full view of whoever got on and off. We proceeded to gorge ourselves (perhaps this love of gorging is why we are such great friends? YUM.) but we ALSO offered our snacks to anyone passing by, which is how the Gospel of the Snack was spread. We were doing holy work, people.

    My favorite of all the snacks? Trader Joe's Yogurt Pretzels. OMGGGG. You know how the internet loves Trader Joe's? I myself am sort of: eh! Sometimes I go there for prosciutto that does not cost a college education. I have definitely shopped there for wine. And it's true, their aisle of chocolate-covered-things-in-plastic-tubs is to die for. But the snacky things have never really attracted me. That has all changed, of course, due to my newfound devotion to Trader Joe's Yogurt Pretzels. Somehow this one bag made it to Saturday evening. I have no idea how this is possible, seeing as how I was popping a Yogurt Pretzel at every available minute - I bet it was because we were at an NDCF conference and God just wanted to give us a current day application for the loaves and the fishes. There were more than enough Yogurt Pretzels for everyone. 

    But also: chocolate covered potato chips?! HOLY WOW, Trader Joe's! This bag of extra delicious trail mix? (Also populated with chocolate chunks, OBVS.) These little salty puff things? Amazing granola bars? Pretzels with PEANUT BUTTER INSIDE? 

    The sad news is 1) guess how much weight I gained this weekend NO REALLY GUESS and 2) guess what I gave up for Lent NO REALLY YOU'LL NEVER GUESS. 

    The first one I may or may not write about on the weight loss blog. Probably won't. I think I need to skip this week's weigh in for the benefit of my mental health. But the second thing? I GAVE UP CHOCOLATE, INTERNET. I know. At the last second I was all, "No!" and "How about asparagus! Or salad!" but God was all, "No! It must be sacrificial!" and I was all, "WAAAAHHH." At which point I also decided to give up wine.  Heads up: there will be MUCH pain in suffering in this space for the next fortyish days. 

    But the Yogurt Pretzels were on the Approved Lent Foods list and LO, THEY WERE DELICIOUS. 

    Do you have a favorite snack? I need to hear about it. I have been in the Snacking Dark these long thirty-odd years. 

    June 02, 2011

    Leave it to me to go somewhere awesome and come home with angst

    I never figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. As much as I love being a stay at home mom, it's not at all what I wanted to Do (and it's still a surprise, quite frankly, that I'm actually doing it.) And the thought of what I'll do when all my kids are in school frightens me. Sure, I could keep staying home, if we could manage it, and get super involved in their schools and all that stuff. I might do that. But mostly I'm terrified of being thrown back in the What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up pool. I didn't figure it out the first time, and I don't feel all that hopeful for the future. 

    I went to Phillip's "Capstone" project presentation tonight (although I missed the presentation part). It was basically a giant science fair, with posters and snacks and the best punch I've ever had (like an orange creamsicle, only with a big splash of pineapple) and eager beavers dying to talk to you about the thing they've been working on for nine months. I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but I know I didn't expect to come home and feel like such a LOSER. 

    (Seriously, I should be ashamed. 1) I always have to make things about me and 2) why do I always come home from the stupidest randomest things with Existential Crises and enough angst for several blog posts? Why can't I just go SUPPORT MY HUSBAND?)

    AAAANYWAY, you guys, I could TOTALLY do this master's program. I've known that from the beginning, honestly. If I were to go back to school and NOT get a completely un-lucrative Master's in English, I would go to the Information School (yay UW for deciding information is a science!) and get the same degree Phillip will have. I've always been interested in his classes (most of them) and the two of us can totally geek out over things like databases and information sharing platforms. I mean, the one thing I'm really proud of from my stint in the paid workforce was building a database/event management application FROM SCRATCH and totally revamping the way a nonprofit ran its meetings and yearly fundraisers. I feel that this gives me nerd cred. Only a nerd's heart goes pitter pat at the thought of coding form buttons, right? Or redesigning her personal website every four months. Phillip's program is all about managing, streamlining, improving and quickly finding information and this little final project fair was enough to give an anal-retentive the overheated excitement vapors. 

    You don't HAVE to have a technical background, though it helps. I got into a conversation about Drupal with an international student who was, to my satisfaction, overly delighted that I knew what Drupal WAS, and then I found out that he didn't do the actual development himself, he just had the idea and hired out. I COULD DO THAT. Half the projects were ideas for apps - photo management, receipt management, textbook exchanges, how to find hikes and bike trails, several about finding restaurants, Phillip's included. Another chunk were dry and boring library science projects, doing a bunch of organization and cataloging for nonprofits who hadn't organized or cataloged for years. Then there were just people with neat ideas - my favorite was a girl who put a real estate staging company's artwork inventory (for rent or purchase) online, gaining better exposure for the artists and making it easier on the clients to stage their houses. Her poster was pretty awesome too.

    And the guys Phillip worked with were so impressive. Their poster was one of the very best, in my obviously biased opinion, just because one the guys in his group has the right EYE for that kind of thing and the skills to match. The other guy made these awesome app screen shots that they demo'ed on their respective iPads (okay, so THERE'S a piece of the I-School crowd I find a SMIDGE obnoxious), I mean, he must have spent the last several months ear-deep in Photoshop. My adorable husband was the chatty one with the big Oh Yeah I Am Almost Done With This Crap! grin. He gave the presentation and wore the tie and didn't stop smiling the whole time I was there. 

    I wandered around drinking my delicious punch and thinking I could be doing this too.  

    I still don't know what I would DO though. I don't have professional qualifications for anything. My blog probably cancels out a whole lot of things (you know, like that one time I thought I might being a Senate staffer or something. Ha!) And I'm a SAHM and plan to be one for quite a while. I'm having a NEW baby, for goodness' sake! I will be OLD NEWS by the time my kids are in school. I mean, if I'm not updating my Facebook account NOW and still have no idea what Pinterest is, I will be COMPLETELY irrelevant in another five years. 

    I know, really, that I'm afraid. I do not have ambition driving me, or a desire to make a ton of cash. I'm lazy as all get out. I don't have a dream job or a passion in anything that might give me a paycheck. I just like to tinker and efficient-ize and learn stuff, preferably on my own, whether or not I'm paid well and what's the point, really? I don't have to put myself out ANYWHERE right now, and as much as these kids drive me crazy some days, they're my comfort zone. I'm in charge, I know what's what, I answer to me. To do anything else... yeah. Hmm. 

    Oh my gosh, I was totally just reminded of the dream I had the other night where I went to LAW SCHOOL. And that is how I will manage to end this droopy blog post on a note of HIGH HILARITY. Because: HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

     

    October 07, 2010

    Career paths

    In case you are playing along at home, today was better. 

    I also finished what I thought was a WONDERFUL book: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, which won the Newbery this year. I only finished it today, so I haven't really dwelled on it, you know, SAVORED it, but I really liked it. So I emailed Elizabeth, as I do when I am proud of reading a book I'm sure she's already read and she was all, "Meh." Oh the disappointment! And then the full on Project Runway-esque terror re: do I have a TASTE problem? I mean, is Nina Garcia (in this case, Elizabeth) looking at my four- and five-starred books on Good Reads and going, "Maggie is a good READER but I'm not sure her TASTE LEVEL is where it should be." 

    Why this kind of paranoia spurs me to write, I have no idea. But my kids slept freakishly long today and instead of doing any number of my SAHM duties, I sat at my kitchen table and hammered out a 27th version of The Beginning and while it's nothing fabulous, I don't think it's trite or contrived or THAT boring. Hopefully. But now I feel better. Sort of. I read something recently about writing pitfalls and one of them is evaluating and creating at the same time which: GUILTY! This is why NaNoWriMo was so awesome: I wasn't ALLOWED to evaluate! Word count was king. I kept going. I've never ever done that before. 

    I've been doing too much of it recently too, but now that I have a beginning that doesn't feel... well, I guess CONTRIVED was my biggest worry. And possibly I should still be worried about it and I still think I could probably cut out the whole beginning and just begin with the next part and that would be okay too, but at least now I feel like I can go ON. I don't have to keep going back and feeling like this entire stupid story was built on NOTHING. 

    Now just the MIDDLE is made of nothing. Note to my writing group: I'm afraid we may have to disband as I'm starting to think my story contains no plot and no conflict and I'll have nothing to submit whenever I finally get around to calling for submissions because I'll have wiped my hard drive clean with giant magnets. 

    (Can you even do that? Phillip just read that part and put his head in his hands.) 

    Speaking of computery stuff. I was in a... SITUATION yesterday where someone said something like, "People are finding out about our organization through our website!", like it was this completely novel idea and I pretty much wanted to find a gun and shoot myself. BECAUSE DUH! Right? I am so right. So obviously I complained about all of this to Phillip, about how if Organization just sucked it up and dove into the 21st century, we wouldn't be having some of the issues we seem to have and Phillip, because he is a nicer person than I am, basically told me I was being a brat. Or, rather, to suck it up because HE has to deal with that EVERY DAY. 

    Which, okay, fine. BUT STILL. How can you be an Agent For Change when you are pretty sure you're going to have to wait an entire generation before change is made? I feel so POINTLESS! I mean, I don't know a lot, I'm far from some SEO blog-monetizing professional blogger real writer, but I still want to stand up and shriek, "IT TAKES FIVE MINUTES TO MAKE A FACEBOOK FAN PAGE FOR THE LOVE OF GRILLED CHEESE!"

    Ahem. 

    Then we crossed into this whole OTHER conversation (my goodness, the places tonight's post is going!) about What I Would Be Doing If I Didn't Have Kids And Also Knew At 18 What I Know Now. Because while it is well established that I do not want to work for The Man and I am QUITE happy being the kept housewife working on her "novel", I finally did think of a Real Job I might like to do. I think I would really like being a web designer. At my old job I spent a lot of time learning Visual Basic-ish stuff to build databases, all of which I either taught myself or begged my husband to teach me via instant messenger at work. And I took an HTML/CSS class and I've done all my own blog redesigns and yeah, they're nothing fancy, but I totally know how to do this stuff and I can get pretty nerdy about all the coding and it makes my little anal-retentive wannabe-designer heart go pitter pat. 

    Oh, except for the part where you have to work with clients. I probably wouldn't like that part.

    HOWEVER. All the stuff I learned in that class four years ago is, uh, old. I don't know any scripting. I don't know HTML 5. I can still make a website from scratch with Dreamweaver, but it's a crappy one. And this totally feels like a thing that Passed Me By. Like, if I were younger and starting out and could go to school, or if I didn't have kids, or if I really wanted a Full Time Job and wanted to pursue a new career path. But I am none of those things and the next time I tinker with my blog I'll have to hire someone because I'm so tired of relearning everything, especially if I want to switch platforms... 

    ANYWAY. Blah blah blah. Not important. Just stuff I think about... when I should be creating, not evaluating. 

     

    April 13, 2010

    So I went to this reading and came home with a stomachache

    I went to Anne Lamott's reading tonight (at the bookstore down the hill from my house, I walked, not that I'm, you know, BRAGGING or anything). I almost didn't go, though, because I couldn't find anyone to go with me. All the people who'd want to go to that sort of thing were regrettably out of town (how dare you, Friends Of Me) and I couldn't con anyone else into it and I just didn't WANT to go by myself. There's the whole "ooh, I don't know how readings WORK at this bookstore, what if I go to the wrong SECTION, what if I stand there looking STUPID, what if everyone knows what's going on except for ME, how come I SUCK SO MUCH" issue. And then there was the fact that I knew I would be Impacted Somehow and I wouldn't be able to talk about it because no one else would have experienced it and that is just a big fat bummer. 

    But then I was all, "Come on Self. Bird By Bird is what made you think you could pull of NaNoWriMo and YOU DID and you also think Anne Lamott says things in ways that no one else says them and you will kick yourself for God knows how long if you stay home because you're feeling lame and loserish. Also, you can WALK THERE. For shame!"

    So I went. But not without a lot of, "Are you SURE you're okay with the kids? Because I can TOTALLY stay home." 

    Of course none of the lame and loserish things happened, although what I thought was early enough CLEARLY wasn't early enough and I was stuck standing way far in the back. And I knew absolutely nothing about her new book and now I know too much because Anne Lamott stood up there leading a group conversation about destructive teenage behavior, namely drug use and hooking up. 

    SHUDDER. 

    So part of me was all, "Oh dear God. Hello nightmares!" But then I also felt sort of... I don't know. Privileged somehow. Because I think this woman is terribly gifted in talking about things most people don't talk about with giant groups of strangers, or even faceless swaths of anonymous readers. I wanted so badly to hear her say something about writing, but she didn't, not really. She mostly talked about being a good person. Being the kind of grown up your kids wouldn't mind being themselves one day. Living authentically. Knowing your own truths. A lot of blah blah whateverness that sounds like blah blah whateverness coming from other people, but coming from her it just sounds like what she's meant to tell us. 

    When someone asked her about her response to a certain group of people with, shall we say, some rigid thinking and principles, she just sighed. She said that she has a lot of opinions, opinions she knows are RIGHT. She's right about everything! Trust her! But as you get older you realize: no one cares what you think. People are going to believe what they're going to believe. People are ENTITLED to believe what they want to believe. And you can talk about it and argue about it and almost always lose, or you can be happy. And I was all, "Yes! This is why I don't like to write about Controversial Things on my BLAWG! Ooh, I want to know what Anne Lamott thinks about BLAWWWGS!"

    Anyway. I walked home, my head full of writerly thoughts, mostly woe about the cartoonish simpleness of MY teenage characters, who are not doing ANY drugs or ANY hooking up and oh no, if that's what I have to write about if I'm writing about teenagers then I am DOOOOOOMED.

    By the way, I was not one of those teenagers. I think there must be some of us out there. I mean, some of my friends were total potheads, but I pretended not to know about any of that, I mean, HAVE YOU MET MY PARENTS? and I think this what Anne Lamott meant when she said you can't be friends with your kids. I also finally understand why my dad drove us to (at midnight) and from (three in the morning, usually) the discos, quite possibly his LEAST favorite way to spend a Saturday night, with nary a complaint. Well, not that going to an Anne Lamott reading taught me that, I'm just bringing it up. Oh man, you know this Adjusting To The Move thing is killing me with the kids, but maybe someone could hurry up on that Age Preservation thing so I can have an almost-three-year-old forever and never ever have to think about "pharm parties" OMG.

    I need some cake. MEDICINAL cake. Later dudes. 

    February 09, 2010

    Most likely to succeed

    Oh man you guys. I know I'm venturing into First World Problems Happening To Spoiled Has Everything She Could Ever Ask For Annoying Even SHE Can't Believe She's Writing About It Blogger territory here, but SERIOUSLY. I feel like every day has delivered some sort of delicious oh-please-sir-can-I-have-some-more? emotional beating and I want a break. Smothered in hot fudge, preferably. 

    It's not really the mom stuff either. Some of it is my utter impotency when it comes to managing my two-year-old (and if one more person wants to delightedly tell me how three is ten times worse, I will take my sinkful of dirty dishes and chuck it at that person's head.) Some of it is not having any idea what is up with him this last week or two. And yes, some of it comes from the fact that it takes half an hour just to get READY to walk out the door and someone always poops after I've got her coat and shoes on, MOLLY. So sure, the mom stuff isn't exactly a cakewalk lately. 

    But I feel like I've had all these Irritating Situations pop up this week, requiring me to act like a Grown Up. And not, like, Take Responsibility kind of grown upness, but Sticking Up For Yourself grown upness and Fixing Stuff and Advocating and Knowing What's What. I mean, I don't want to talk on the phone with my FRIENDS. Don't tell me I have to explain an issue over the phone with my DENTIST. HORRORS.

    I don't want to call the dentist or the real estate agent or the doctor. I don't want to confront anyone or manage any situation or cause a fuss. Why am I so concerned about all of these people LIKING me? Why am I worried about how I'll come off when I ask a simple question to which I most certainly deserve an answer? Why is it so hard for me to ask for what is mine? Why am I worried about their impression of ME when THEY are the ones who need to sell THEMSELVES? 

    GAH!

    Okay, and maybe it's the mom stuff too. We took the kids up to bed at seven and at nearly nine they are still griping and whining. I've already made myself hoarse with shouting, I've already moved them into separate rooms, what else can I do? At this point I'd settle for Quiet. 

    They are both sick, which is lovely. 

    When I met my old boss for lunch yesterday he kept wanting to know What I Do and it's always a little intimidating talking about this with him, since I always get the feeling he is not so impressed with my stay-at-home-ness. He knows Important People and his wife knows Really Important People and the man can namedrop all day long and am I looking for part time work? and he can hook me up whenever I want and hmm, that kind of writing doesn't sound like REAL writing and am I SURE I'm not interested in this contract gig for so and so? It's fun, you know, and when I worked for him I was fresh out of college and it was just him and me and his dog in the office and it's a little like your dad worrying if you can pay the rent that month and if your boyfriend is treating you nice and all that. So I love him, I do, and I appreciate the fact that if I DID need to find a job he would bend over backwards to help me out. But I don't want one. Not right now.

    THAT SAID. I wipe noses. My husband just told me that he might have class two other nights a week next quarter. I've bitten off all my nails. I get a stomachache before I have to call the dentist to tell them they did something wrong. I can't figure out what's up with my kid. I eat everything remotely sugary in my house, and can't motivate myself to exercise in the afternoons. I told him I wrote a novel, but I haven't, really, and lately I'm embarrassed every time I look at it. This writing ISN'T real writing, is it? And I think I'm just feeling like I need to succeed at something here pretty soon. I think right now I will succeed at finishing off this bag of chocolate chips. 

    December 31, 2009

    Seven Quick Resolutions

    1. I resolve to bake more. I love baking and baking took a decided hit in 2009. This should coincide with my next resolution which is

    2. my resolution to NOT lose weight. I KNOW. I have many many thoughts on the recent fitness/fat internet kerfluffles, all of which shall go unpublished except for: I am in a good place. I am happy and comfortable doing what it takes to be my current size, and while I'm sure there are people out there - including, sometimes, myself - who think I could stand to lose another size or two, I'm ready to prioritize other parts of my life. At the same time

    3. I resolve to not GAIN weight. 2010 shall be the Year of Maintaining!

    4. I resolve to set the table more often. I LOVE setting the table! Funny, since I distinctly remember hating it when my mother asked me to set the table. But I have many pretty dishes and place mats and glassware and I'm not even talking about fancy things that you only use for holidays. Instead of throwing some plates onto a cluttered dirty table when Phillip walks in the door, I resolve to do my best to use my table for showcasing dinner, not showcasing a weeks' worth of mail, an assortment of dirty bibs, toys I've taken away from the kids, phone chargers, cameras, remotes and purses. 

    5. I resolve to write more about the churchy stuff. There. I said it.

    6. I resolve to attempt something professional this year. Yes, I have no idea what this means either. Perhaps it means Submit An Article. Actually, I'm pretty sure that's what it means. But it could also be Get Someone To Pay Me For My Obvious Expertise In Social Media. Or even Learn How To Use Freaking PhotoShop Already. You know, something for the resume.

    7. I resolve, for the gazillionth time, to be a better commenter. Every once in a while I sit down and respond to every single comment on a particular post, but I am crap at commenting on YOUR posts and everyone knows comments are better than emails, especially email responses to comments YOU left (well, I guess that DEPENDS, but in the Public Recognition and Affirmation Of Your Online Presence Department I think comments are the clear choice). 

    I hate resolutions. I can't believe I actually came up with these. Boring! Trite! Who cares! Now I'm off to SET MY TABLE for our much-looked-forward-to New Year's Eve dinner with friends. Happy New Year to YOU! And see you in your comment box. xoxo

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