The Story’s The Thing

January 13, 2009

Here’s the thing about maintaining a personal blog: one sometimes forgets that one is not simply maintaining a diary – albeit a carefully thought-out diary, one that is edited for style and for grammar – but publishing, virtually, a sort of memoir or collection of essays or some combination of these. One forgets, sometimes, that one has made, is making, one’s story public.

I forget this all the time.

The primary danger, here, is not that one might unintentionally reveal something that one might later regret. We most of us hesitate with our cursors hovering over the Publish Post button every time that we write, mentally reviewing what we’ve said and how we’ve said it and worrying over how it might be received. The Publish Post button reminds us, in the crucial moment, that we are in fact publishing, making public, our stories, our rants, our confessions. What the Publish Post button does not remind us, however, is that with every post that we publish we are constructing and furthering a narrative that is followed by tens or dozens of readers, tens or dozens of readers who might well want to know what became of that problem, was that issue resolved, what happens next? They follow a narrative, and our blogging platforms don’t provide tools for reminding us that we’re weaving such narratives as we write. And because we are not reminded, we – I – sometimes forget.

I was reminded – uncomfortably – of this the other day when I wrote a confused, rambling post that was a variation on another post that I’d written a few months ago. I knew that I had already written on the topic – whether or not I wanted to keep open the possibility of having a third child – and was just trying to sort my feelings out further. It was a post that I wrote for myself, not one that was intended to advance my story, such as that story is. And that pissed at least one reader off, a little: she protested that I was just retreading old ground and that it was frustrating and why didn’t I make more of an effort to let readers know what I was doing to prevent what seemed to be my inevitable slide into whiny insanity – for example, what had I done about the sleep issues? Had I taken any readerly advice? – because, seriously, if I kept this up – and certainly if I made the terrible mistake of committing mental suicide by further childbearing – she, for one, was not going to be able to read me anymore. (She later apologized for articulating herself so harshly, and made clear that she was just frustrated because she is a fan of the blog, and I’m totally comfortable with that, so please don’t smack her in comments.) Which: OUCH.

The comment struck a nerve, because a) I’m sensitive about the possibility that this blog can be, you know, angst-ridden at times, and believe me, my angst bores even me, and b) oh, gawd, I like totally can’t maintain the thread on my own stories, can I? But there’re reasons why I don’t always (read: almost never) maintain a narrative thread: because sometimes doing a follow-up on how nothing has changed and how I’m still angsting out over the same old miscellaneous bullshit seems, I don’t know, tiresome, and because – more often than not – I forget. Some other issue comes up – the girl pours canola oil on the living room sofa, or I become obsessed yet again with the finality of vasectomies – and whatever thread I had begun to weave about sleeplessness or feeding baby or finding long lost siblings gets lost.

Which is fine, in a way: this is my story, and if it’s disjointed, so what? But still: I like a coherent narrative thread, and so far as coherence is possible in personal narratives, why not pursue it? I can’t promise that I’ll follow up on every little issue, but I can promise to make an effort to not just abandon cliffhangers (I laugh even as I write this. Who among you was waiting with bated breath to see if Her Bad Mother would ever sleep again, dun dun dun DUN?!?!?) So, to that end: the first of a series of semi-occasional, whenever-the-hell-I-feel-like-it, will-probably-forget-to-do-this-ever-again updates on stories that you probably don’t care about but this blog is a narrative, dammit, and so the story must go on:

1) Did Her Bad Mother ever sleep again? No, she did not, and probably will not again, ever. She has tried most of the suggestions offered and none, so far have worked. She would just give up and look into becoming a vampire, were it not for the fact that she doesn’t want to eat her baby (I don’t care what Stephenie Meyer implied in Breaking Dawn about mother-love overcoming the temptation to sink one’s teeth into buttery baby butt cheeks; if I were a vampire I would totally eat my baby because, my god, the deliciousness), so she’ll just persist in this lovely and only slightly inconvenient sleep-deprived fugue state.

2) Did Her Bad Baby ever take to solid foods? Yes! He did! He does! But only if they’re, you know, solid. As in, able to withstand the clutch of a chunky little fist. Which is to say, hunks of bread or cereal biscuits or meatballs or whole baby carrots or, for some reason, pickles. Anything mushy, anything on a spoon, anything in a bottle (sigh) is rejected with a swat of a chubby hand.

3) Did Her Bad Mother ever find her long lost brother? Has she made any progress? Not so much. Believe me, you’ll hear about it when – WHEN – anything happens.

4) Whatever happened to the Phallic Lovey? He (Christian name: Toadstool) was tossed aside by the girl – who declared herself to be ‘too big for Toady now’ – a few weeks ago. It was like a sad Toy Story 2 sub-plot, really, and Her Bad Mother got a little weepy. Her Bad Husband, however, rejoiced. And then this happened:


And so it goes.

Any other questions on narrative threads that I may have dropped, recently or, like, eons ago? Fire away in the comments, and I’ll follow up them, someday. And tell me, what are the narrative threads that you’ve dropped? I’m not the only one out here who can’t tell a story, am I?

Also, oh, hai: yesterday was Delurking Day, and I missed it. Feel free to make up for that today.

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    { 91 comments }

    Amy January 13, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Okay, I am officially “de-lurking” to say that I so agree on being a vampire and not being able to resist feasting on those beautiful baby cheeks! Man, is he adorable!

    Shannon January 13, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Not a frequent commenter so I’m delurking to say how much I appreciate the stories you share. I really look forward to hearing about your journey.

    Vic January 13, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    I’m with Amy too – I could never understnad how she didn’t eat that child if she was so damn cute!

    Ashley January 13, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    I have a non-sleeping baby girl just his age. Maybe they could hook up and entertain each other while we sleep or drink or whatever.

    April January 13, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    loving the updates :-)

    btw, your daughters hat in the chainsaw videos is awesome.

    Steph January 13, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    That pic is darling. And hilarious.

    SciFi Dad January 13, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    I refer to this as “closing the loop”. Actually, it’s something I haven’t done in a while, so I may borrow the concept over at my place, if there’s anything worth updating… now off to my archives.

    Also? I guess you haven’t posted recent photos of Jasper, because I didn’t realize just how much he looks like Emilia (sp?)

    Amy Jo January 13, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Such is life, eh? I sometimes forget to tell the end of a story when I’m having a live, in person conversation. Having two little ones makes for some interesting, if not always coherent, stories.

    We’ll always be here, so don’t worry about us!

    Lee Laughlin January 13, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    This isn’t so much a dropped thread as a question. In your post about going to Disney, you mentioned you didn’t drive. I didn’t get my license until I was 28 due to visual issues and I was just curious why you don’t drive. Perhaps a post for hte future, another thread to drop eh?

    Gwen January 13, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Lurk. I kinda, sorta like lurking. :) A lot easier than actually making the time to make a coherent and relevant comment.

    Mr Lady January 13, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    I have never once posted a follow up to any of my stories and I doubt I ever will. When they go to college, we can just all assume the 5 of us survived intact.

    pandorican January 13, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I’m not really lurking but I will give you some comment love anyway.

    I don’t know that I’ve written enough to have any threads dropped yet myself. But I’m sure I will. I’m lucky if I can remember to get dressed these days.

    St January 13, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Here’s my delurk…I, uh, like your blog.

    Linda January 13, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Delurking for you. I like your angst. At the very least, it’s excellent birth control for us in these tough economic times.

    Hope you have a fabulous day!

    Kyla January 13, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Well, KayTar is the story and her life is kind of writing itself one day at a time, though I do digress here and there…like when I get stalked at a grocery store or whatever. ;)

    The Panic Room January 13, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I keep hearing about people freaking in the comments section or getting bent out of shape about a post… I have been lucky so far. I just told myself that I was going to do this for fun and as soon as it isn’t a source of relaxation and good vibes or a healthy release I will shut it down. All of it. The entire internet. I can do that.

    anyway I am a new reader here. I like what I am reading.

    Domestic Extraordinaire January 13, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Just sending you a wave!

    Write what you want hon, I am pretty sure I will mostly always listen.

    Major Bedhead January 13, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I was just remembering that The Bug didn’t sleep thru the night until she was about 20 months old. I lived on coffee and snatched cat naps until then, having tried just about anything and everything. There will most likely be a light at the end of the tunnel, but man, the tunnel is a long one.

    And of course, now that The Bug is sleeping thru the night, I’m not. Fun times.

    Sandi January 13, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Those cheeks are meant to be nibbled. As for narrative coherence, I have trouble just writing initial posts let alone follow ups. Write whatever pleases you.

    Karly January 13, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    I’m delurking. And I would also most definitely eat my children, though not so much because they are cute (they are!) but because my god, the WHINING.

    Jen @ Rolling Through Looneyville January 13, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    delurking, kind of. (ive commented before once or twice). I love your posts. maybe that’s in good part because you’re living my life, especially with the little one. mine is two weeks or so older, gave me shredded nipples, hasn’t slept EVER, and is so darn cute I can’t stand it. my oldest is a bit younger than your E. and I’m so freakin’ tired, sleeping in the car in sub zero temps actually sounds appealing.

    oh. and I’m pregnant.

    anyway, I say you should write what you want. there are plenty of people who are going to read, regardless. it’s YOUR blog.

    Dan January 13, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    I’ll delurk today since the internet was down here for most of yesterday.

    Back to lurking.

    Heather January 13, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    My blog is based on my random, scattered thoughts. Yikes! I didn’t know I needed a consistent narrative.

    Lynn (Walking With Scissors) January 13, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Ahahahaha!!! I wasn’t reading back when your daughter was a baby but I have to say that the phallic lovey is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Pure awesome.

    As for the continuity of your stories – I’m sure we’ll all figure it out if you include links to past posts every time you update something that was dropped awhile ago. Just my $0.02

    FishyGirl January 13, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Good God Jasper’s cute. Oy.

    I’m delurking – commenting is usually a luxury for me, what with insanity to the 4th power going on in this house. I always, always read, though, not always the day a post goes up, but not too late thereafter.

    Corina - Down to Earth Mama January 13, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    I don’t have so many blog narratives, but slight tid-bits. I like your narratives and hope that I can find such a voice soon.

    QuJaBaKa January 13, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Delurking to say thanks for the last part of the continued story, I have not laughed so hard as I did when I saw the photo of your little man and the toady!!
    Ah the twenty first birthday stories you will be able to tell about that one!!
    I love that you are here and there, and that you repeat things, because this is about real life, and although as bloggers we do edit, we also still have to live our lives and if things repeat then they do so for a reason.
    Keep up the great blog, I’ll be reading and won’t complain about repeats (partly because my sleep deprived brain can’t remember if I have read it before!) because everytime something repeats its getting closer to closure.
    Hugs
    K

    G Love January 13, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    I will de-lurk, then, to say this. And I promise it isn’t a neener neener neener. My 8 month old son slept from 8pm to 5:45 am last night.

    First. Time. Ever.

    I do not expect this to continue indefinitely, but at least I now know it’s possible. Tonight we’ll be back on the 10pm, 3am wakeups, I’m sure. but – the light. the end of the tunnel. i see them. I hope you reach the end of your sleepless tunnel soon, too!

    Thanks!

    Gillian

    catnip January 13, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    I have virtually no continuity from post to post, and it doesn’t bother me a bit. It’s kind of like how I am in real life anyway!

    Btw, I didn’t think your last post was a repeat of the other. It’s pretty clear you’re still working this out. You write what’s on your mind, and obviously whether or not to have another child is what’s on it. So be it.

    Personally I find your writing so compelling that I always read no matter what the topic.

    Her Bad Mother January 13, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    SciFi Dad – ‘closing the loop’ is a good phrase.

    And, yeah, he does look like Emilia in that picture. In other pictures, not so much, but with the lovey? Yeah.

    Karen (Miscellaneous Mum) January 13, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    I think about this all the time, and was trying to fashion a kind of similar post in my head.

    I do this all the time, and it annoys me as coherent, meaningful narrative articulation is very very important to me (for reasons other than blogging), and yet its something I never feel I achieve on my blog – mostly through lack of time I get to devote to it anymore.

    Most posts I ‘phone in’ now. Not all, I stress. But it happens.

    Mary Helen January 13, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    I don’t think I’m *totally* delurking because I think I’ve commented here before, but I have to admit that I read (here and on Twitter) WAY more than I comment.

    I enjoy your writing (even when you repeat yourself) and it is very comforting to know someone else out there shares the same baby trials that I do. You know, misery loves company and all.

    The Anonymous Asshat January 13, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I can’t help that I’m the kind of person who needs to know. Even if no one else cares if you get any sleep, you know that I do. I patiently await either the post or the tweet that says, “I slept!” and I will rejoice.

    In any case, I’m still here reading, and I am very touched that you wrote this post and gave follow-up. I’m serious.

    Thanks again HBM, and that baby is really, really, unbelievably cute.

    Marit January 13, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Delurking to say I love your blog!

    SP January 13, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Happy Day After Delurking Day!

    Hammy January 13, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    And I think it’s vaguely hilarious that someone should give you grief for not documenting your life in an orderly fashion.

    Like it’s just a work of fiction and you’re holding out on her, due to your busy movie career…or somethin’.
    :)

    Anonymous January 13, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Blogger hates me so this will be anonymous. Delurking! Hurray for updates!
    I read all of your posts and I didn’t have any issues with your narrative, vis the last post. It’s your space, you don’t owe me a narrative. That said, I heart updates, so that’s good. I don’t think you’re very angsty either.
    Good God, this is a big opinion comment. (Thanks for writing)

    Viv January 13, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    I check in with your blog and a couple of others because it is nice to know that I am not the only one. Not the only one with a baby that won’t sleep. Not the only one with a child that can double as a tyrant. Not the only one who has looked for a sibling. It is nice to know that I am not as lonely as I sometimes feel. Keep doing what you’re doing…I enjoy reading about it.

    deb January 13, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    “It was a post that I wrote for myself, not one that was intended to advance my story, such as that story is. And that pissed at least one reader off, a little: she protested that I was just retreading old ground and that it was frustrating and why didn’t I make more of an effort to let readers know what I was doing to prevent what seemed to be my inevitable slide into whiny insanity – for example, what had I done about the sleep issues? Had I taken any readerly advice? – because, seriously, if I kept this up – and certainly if I made the terrible mistake of committing mental suicide by further childbearing – she, for one, was not going to be able to read me anymore.”

    I often go back over and over and over the same old issues because they’re my issues that I’m trying to work out. That’s why I blog, to help me get things outside of my head, to try and make sense of them and you are under no obligation to take anyone’s advice, even if you ask for it.

    So take care.

    clueless but hopeful mama January 13, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    How sad, I’m not even sure if I lurk. I read and I react and I feel and I think and…. I’m not sure if I comment! I blame the pregnancy AND the toddler who WON’T STOP TALKING.

    Love the follow ups and your thoughts on the “online journal” aspects of a blog. I took my journal online in blog form and am slowly realizing that I must censor and review and rethink rather than just expel all my thoughts and feelings without thinking through the ramifications for the friends, family and strangers that read me.

    Elle Bee January 13, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Emilia’s chainsaw videos are amazing.

    Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah January 13, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Toadstool freaks me out.

    Lindsay January 13, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Delurking to say holy CRAP cute kids! As for the sleep issues, I totally know the feeling of “Go to SLEEP or I might do something drastic, but since it can’t be violent I may just kiss you into oblivion” Talk about mixed messages, right?

    Her Bad Mother January 13, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Sarah – Toadstool freaks everyone out.

    Goldfish January 13, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    I kind of like the unresolved-issue bit. Perhaps because I recognize it so well?

    Michelle January 13, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    I never even thought about this issue… hmm… I wonder if I have left readers hanging about anything?

    cheesefairy January 13, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Generally if I want *guaranteed* continuity in my reading, I pick up a novel. Or a memoir. Or something that is otherwise COMPLETE. How can you assess the continuity of the work in progress that is someone’s life? I don’t get it.

    But then, I still think of the Internet as a playground, not as Thanksgiving dinner with my extended family (ie: we go down the slide, we do not harp on each others’ decisions [or lack thereof]) And I am also living the same sleep-deprived, toddler madness that you are so maybe that’s why I would never in a million think to wonder what happened to that story you told 2 weeks ago. I don’t remember 2 weeks ago. I don’t even remember starting this comment.

    Love the blog; keep on keeping on; cute babies; hoorah!

    Momily January 13, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    ok, this just shocks me that someone would complain about what you choose to write/share about your life. it seems so simple to me – your blog, your life, your agenda, your prerogative (cue Bobby Brown!). I know i don’t fully appreciate the politics, the public vs. private, the complexities of narrative in a hypertext world and all the other reasons i did not pursue a master’s in english lit, but come on, this person has no right to bitch you out?! this person has a right to stop reading your blog and that’s about it. For example, i hope you find your brother and hope you choose to share that here when it happens, but it is your business and if you never want to talk about any of that again so be it.

    Also, your blog is so great because it captures this point in time in motherhood so well, so properly and so authentically . . . it’s not a novel with plot devices and convenient characters!

    Eva January 13, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Oh I drop stuff all the time, I am sure. Maybe I’ll go back and look.

    But I did a follow-up post today and, just like you said, it’s basically boring. Some new info but how much do you really need to post about being sore from horseback riding?

    emily January 13, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    I can’t remember how many threads I’ve dropped. I also forget to label my posts. Some are and some aren’t and there’s no rhyme or reason to any of it.

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