Tag Archives: writing

Loving Lucy’s Identity Crisis

18 Mar

Hello, dear readers!  I know I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus, so I wanted to take this opportunity (while Lucy is taking a hopefully-long afternoon nap) to catch you up on what’s behind the radio silence.  Part of it is logistics: as I’ve mentioned before, Lucy hasn’t been as great of a napper as she used to be, so I just haven’t had the time I had before to plug away at blog posts in the middle of the day.  But the larger issue is that my blog is going through an identity crisis, and to be perfectly honest, so am I.

When I started this blog I saw it as a fun way to document Lucy’s first few months, stretch my writing muscles, and keep my brain from completely turning to a big pile of mush during my maternity leave.  From my perspective, it was great on all three fronts.  But then it started to evolve, and I found I wanted it to be something more than just a forum to discuss naps and breastfeeding and my new-mama struggles.  So I started to explore other topics, and took the leap of unveiling it and sharing it more widely with people I know, and revealing my name. I jumped aboard Twitter, started getting more followers and blog subscribers, and had one of my blogs published on Project Eve.  I was thrilled and excited by the forward momentum of the project.

But then my momentum came to a screeching halt.  Somehow, knowing that people outside of my circle of close friends might actually be reading what I’m writing has given me a serious case of writer’s block.  I want to be writing something thoughtful and meaningful (or at least witty and entertaining) and so, stumped, I write nothing at all.  Is this blog supposed to be a mama blog?  An online diary?  A series of essays?  Humorous, or serious?  I find myself self-conscious about my topics and my tone and so I am silent, which is the complete opposite of what I want for this blog.  My goal, above all, has been to write — something, anything.  

And this struggle, of course, mirrors my own struggle.  For seven plus years I’ve been a lawyer and that’s been a big part of my identity.  Now I’m a mama and that’s where my focus lies.  I am challenged by trying to reconcile all the various aspects of my life: being mama, wife, daughter, lawyer, writer, and my own separate person all at once.

I think getting this off my chest is the first step to breaking through the blockage and starting to write again.  There will be more to come this week on Lucy’s 4-month doctor visit, Lucy’s transition to sleeping in her own room at night (tear!), and Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Lean In.  For now I need to be OK with the fact that — just like me — this blog will remain a work in progress.

Advertisements

The Whatever Works Club

21 Feb

Any of you who are mamas or have mama friends know that there are two main, and diametrically opposed, parenting philosophies: attachment parenting (babywearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding) and…actually i don’t know the name of the other philosophy, but it endorses crying it out among other things.  When I was looking for a Mommy & Me group, I specifically avoided one (even though it is located less than a mile from my house and came highly recommended by a friend of mine) because the description was very attachment parent-y.

Now, don’t get me wrong — I am all in favor of parents doing whatever they want to do, and have absolutely nothing against people sleeping with their babies, wearing them 24 hours a day strapped to their bodies, etc.  (I actually wish Lucy liked being worn, but she seems to feel too constrained.  I hope she’ll change her tune when she’s older and we can forego the infant insert.)  I just don’t want people judging me for my choices, and I get the sense that attachment parenting enthusiasts tend to be more judgy than the average mama bear (is that me being judgy about them being judgy?  Ok, now I’m making my head spin).

I love discussing all things mamahood with my dear friend T. because we don’t ascribe to either of these camps and rather share the same general philosophy, which is a hybrid best described as “whatever the hell works for you.”  Yesterday T. sent me this blog post with the comment, “finally a moms’ club we can join!”  The author shares our viewpoint and eloquently describes her club as the “I think I’m doing this ok but I might be wrong, but that’s ok too and maybe you’d like to join me group.”  I loved this paragraph so I’ll just paste in the whole thing:

Whatever happened to just being a middle-of-the-road mom? Can you try to feed your kid organic food, but still let them have a Nutter Butter? Can you insist on bedtime routines, but occasionally let your kids stay up late and or let them sleep in their superhero costumes? When did the rules become so rigid and extreme? I’d like to start a new club called the “I think I’m doing this ok but I might be wrong, but that’s ok too and maybe you’d like to join me group.” We meet every Wednesday night after the kids are asleep. And if you’re late because your kid was on a sugar high and you caved and read her 10 stories instead of two because you didn’t have the strength to argue, that’s ok. We’ll save some wine for you.

A couple of things:  First, I totally want to have a glass of wine with this author, based on this post alone.  Second, I ended up looking up this author’s bio because her tagline says “Lawyer/Mother,” and I thought, “I’m a lawyer / mother!”  It turns out in addition to having her J.D., she also has an M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies (which explains why she’s qualified to blog for HuffPo and I’m qualified to blog for my enormous audience of 27 followers — no offense, I love all 27 of you, by the way!).  I have a close friend who also blogs for HuffPo (also one of the most impressive people I know), so I think I will try to find out how one gets that kind of gig.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get my crying child and feed her a bottle of pumped milk.  Don’t judge!

A Voice of A Generation

20 Feb

“I’m the voice of my generation. At least I’m a voice. Of a generation.”  — Hannah Horvath, Girls

Image

Whenever I watch Girls — which, if you haven’t seen it, is a funny, often shocking, bitingly well-written show on HBO about four twenty-something girls in New York — I have the following three thoughts, not necessarily in this order:

1.  CRINGE!
2.  I am SO glad I’m not in my 20s (especially my early to mid 20s) anymore!  This is one of the rare times when my age, 33, sounds like the perfect age to me.
3.  Wow, Lena Dunham is a damn good writer.

Lena Dunham is incredibly impressive because while the show (and its predecessor, her film Tiny Furniture, which is like Girls‘ unfunny indie cousin) center on characters played by Dunham that are clearly drawn at least in part from Dunham’s life, Dunham herself is obviously a lot more put together (or at least a lot more focused) than her character Hannah.  If Dunham purports to be confused and struggling twenty-something, then she’s a twenty-something with a Golden Globe and a show directed by Judd Apatow – not too shabby.  I can only imagine how amazing it must feel to have someone, especially someone with so much cache, really “get” the appeal of your voice and your point of view and decide to get on board with it.

I laughed aloud watching this week’s episode where one of the characters, Ray, commented that “when people say they want to be writers they just want to eat and masturbate.”  It suddenly occurred to me (hello, Captain Obvious) how many people are aspiring writers.  Especially in L.A., if you go to a coffee shop I guarantee that among the college kids and grad students with their laptops, you will see at least one dude working on his screenplay.  (I was tempted to write, “You can’t swing a cat without hitting an aspiring screenwriter,” but that expression is kind of gross.  Sorry, Noodles.)  And now that blogging is so easy that anyone can figure it out, people can get their worldview and their writing out there instantaneously.  But among all the ordinary “here’s what I did today” writing out there (guilty as charged!), there are some real standouts, and Dunham is definitely one of them.

I think what Dunham does so incredibly well is just what Hannah Horvath says — she really speaks to and encapsulates the experience of a particular generation (or at least a particular white, New York-dwelling subset).  I think I’m on the young end of the prior generation, so I can’t attest to whether Girls is true to life for today’s twenty-somethings (those crazy kids!  Ok, now I sound old), but it certainly comes across that way.  And maybe that’s what I’m aspiring to do as well.  Maybe I won’t be the voice of my generation, but I can be a voice of a generation, right?

While Dunham’s girls are trying to find jobs, boyfriends and generally figure out what to do with their lives, many of the “girls” in my generation have jobs and/or husbands (and in many cases, kids) and now we’re all trying to figure out how in the world to manage our lives.  What kind of job and work schedule do we have?  Do we work full time, part time, flex time, are we stay at home moms?  If we have kids, what do we do for child care?  How do we focus on our marriages and our partners when we are also so focused on our kids?   Not the sexiest,  most glamorous, or most titillating issues in the world, perhaps, and maybe not the stuff good TV is made of, but these definitely the issues that keep me up at night and I know I’m not alone.

Recently I joined a Facebook group of other moms who attended the same women’s college as I did.  The group has grown to a couple hundred women, all of whom attended sometime in the mid-late 90s to the mid-2000s.  People post questions and get a flurry of responses from moms who have been there before — it’s a really awesome resource and I love reading the posts even if Lucy isn’t experiencing a certain issue yet, to sock away the information for future reference.  Last week one woman posted saying that she’s unhappy with her current work/life balance and wanted to know what other peoples’ work arrangements consisted of.  She received about 40 responses from every variation from full-time work to stay at home moms.  I found it so fascinating what a vast difference of opinion there was with respect to the desire to work outside the home or not, even among women who attended the same school at approximately the same time.  One woman admitted that she finds playing with her kids really boring.  Another said that she couldn’t imagine working outside the home and being away from her three small children.  One woman described herself as a “reluctant” stay at home mom who regretted having left academia when her son was born, and another expressed that she wished she could afford to stay home.

But despite all the differences between these women,  absolutely nobody makes judgy or condescending remarks (which, if you’ve ever looked at any online mom resource, you will know is quite a feat).  I’ve written before that one of my biggest pet peeves — at work, with parenting and in life in general — is when women cut each other down instead of supporting each other, so it’s wonderful to know that I can pose questions in this forum and receive nothing but positive encouragement and advice.

I must say…. if this is my generation, I’d be honored to be a voice of it.

Writing Day

2 Feb

So yesterday, while my parents came over and watched Lucy, I had my first ever Writing Day.  The point was for me to spend 3 interrupted hours (10 am – 1 pm) getting into the flow of writing to enable me to actually make some headway on a short story.

It turned out that I had a phone call for a work committee I’m on from 11 to 12:15, so I didn’t get quite as much writing done as I’d hoped.  But I really did get into the flow between 10 and 11, so much so that I lost track of time and only remembered about the call at 11:05.  

Blogging almost always comes easily to me.  Fiction, on the other hand, is difficult.  I spend a lot more time thinking about the words I’m using.  I struggle with descriptions of people and places — how much detail do I need and when does it become too much?  And for lack of a better expression, I think I basically suck at dialogue.  As a result, while my dream is to write a piece that’s of the caliber of the stories that are published in the New Yorker, what I end up writing sounds more like the excerpts in Glamour or Cosmopolitan.  (Don’t get me wrong — if I could be published anywhere, much less a national magazine, I would be ecstatic.  That’s just the best comparison I could think of for my issues with the tone of my writing.)

Even though it’s hard, I’m still really excited about it.  I’m not exactly quitting my day job just yet, but I am going to continue setting aside chunks of time each week to write.  I’m also going to read as much as I can of the type of writing I inspire to.  And I still think I’d like to take a class at some point in the future.  I bought a book called A Year of Writing Dangerously, and I can’t wait to see what interesting prompts and inspirations I’ll find there.

Fellow writers out there, I’d love your words of wisdom!

My Tiny Muse

27 Jan

 

photo-24

Those of you following my blog over the past couple of weeks are probably wondering by now what the heck is going on.  I started off doing a basic mama blog and now I’m posting poetry and writing about writing and… ????  I guess the best way I can explain it is like this:

When I was younger (starting in elementary school) I wrote all the time — poetry, short stories, journaling, you name it.  My parents love to tell me (and everyone else) that we’d be in the car and I’d ask them for a piece of paper (which would sometimes have to be a brown paper bag) because I’d “feel a poem coming on.”

At some point, around the time I left for college, I mostly stopped.  I would occasionally still feel inspired to pen a poem or a journal entry — in particular, I remember journaling in Spanish during my semester in Madrid — but for the most part I was focused on other things.  (Studying?  Or, more likely, guys and going to parties?  Sigh.)  Then I became a lawyer and I think my lawyer brain just took over my creative brain.  I may have still been using the creative juices somewhat for lawyering, but there wasn’t much energy left to apply them elsewhere.

But now, post-Lucy, I find myself struck with an overwhelming inspiration to write (yes, even poetry!) that I haven’t felt since high school.  I think part of it is being free from school and work and other things that might usually sap my energy and my attention.  And I think part of it is that mamahood is such a hugely intense, emotional experience that in some ways mirrors being younger, when everything is felt so deeply and on such a grand scale.  Drew Barrymore had a daughter, Olive, a couple of months before Lucy was born, and when interviewed she’s said that she feels like she has a crush on her daughter, butterflies and everything.  (I really think Lucy and Olive could be BFFs if only I could arrange a playdate…)  I totally identify with that.  The way I feel about Lucy (and, I’m sure, the way most mamas feel about their babies) is so raw and makes me feel so vulnerable that it’s like being sixteen all over again, when I was constantly experiencing the highs and lows of (what I thought at the time was) love and heartbreak, before I developed a thicker skin.  Maybe it just took my skin getting a little thinner again to get here.

In any event, I recognize that this blog hasn’t quite found its voice or its tone, and it will probably continue to be all over the place.  But I hope that you’ll stick around for the ride!

At the Beginning

27 Jan

Before she had Los Angeles, or even the thought

Of places beyond the next town

There was still the urgency of words and summer nights where

Every moment so many things seemed on the verge of

Happening.

There were drives down Belt Line to feel the rush of travel without distance.

Sometimes I think that girl

Who understood the magic of language and not the weight of adult concerns

Already knew, without knowing, who she was going to be.