To top
4 Nov

One Word

her bad wordsThere really aren’t words to describe the awesome that was – that is – Blissdom Canada. Unless that word is, actually, AWESOME, in which case we’re off to a decent start.

We spoke a lot about words over the three days that we spent together, even in sessions that you might not have thought would draw heavily upon the verbal and the literal and the rhetorical. During the closing keynote panel, we discussed personal branding, and our opening keynote speaker’s assertion that we are, all of us, marketing ourselves all the time, and what words have to do with this. Every every time that you put yourself out in the world and participate in social life – he said – every time that you open your mouth (use your words!) or put your fingers on a keyboard (use your words!), you’re marketing yourself. You’re saying: oh, hey! This is who I am! I am THIS guy! I am THAT girl! Which is kind of a crazy way to think about social like and interpersonal relationships, but you know what? It’s kind of totally true. And so by the end of our two days, we wondered what that had to do with the totally over-used and amply abused idea of The Brand, especially in the context of One’s Personal Brand, as in, oh, hey! WHAT’S YOUR BRAND? as the latter-day equivalent of ‘what’s your sign,’ except much less obscure, and, perhaps, slightly creepier if misused.

blissdom canada rocks

The word you’re looking for here is ROCKSTAR.


At some point, I asked my co-panelists if they could summarize their ‘brand’ – which is to say, describe themselves as they see themselves putting those selves out into the world – in five words. “Do it in one!” someone shouted from the audience, and my co-panelists (the divine women that you can see in this video) nodded furiously and said yes, yes and I shook my head and insisted, into the microphone, that I couldn’t do it in one, and everyone shouted back, no, no: ONE WORD, and so I conceded and asked my co-panelists: “what’s your one word?”

4 Oct

You Do The Hokey Pokey And You Write An Elegy

I was mid-way through a rant about Malcolm Gladwell when I saw this tweet from my friend Jenny. “Rest in peace, Nancy W. Kappes,” it said. My heart dropped.

You probably didn’t know Nancy W. Kappes, Paralegal, but your life would have been richer if you did. Nancy was a self-professed ‘bad mom,’ an impious Catholic, a lover of bad jokes and “Judy Garland trail mix” and one of the sweetest and most supportive and laugh-out-loud funny blog readers one could ever hope to have. We met when she sent Jenny and I an email about a post that I’d written at Jenny’s blog, an email in which she shared her own strategies for coping with family politics (“sit back with a trashy book, a tumbler of Grey Goose (when I’m flush-Seagram’s when I’m not) and my huge bottle of assorted pharmaceuticals. (My “Judy Garland Trail Mix.”)“) and colorfully described her ex-husband (“he made the baby Jesus cry.”) I laughed out loud, and saved her message. If emails were made of paper, hers – the hundreds sent over the two years that followed, and the hundreds read and reread and reread again – would have been dog-eared and creased and stained with tears of laughter. I might just have to print them all out, so that they can become exactly that.

She called me Mama Cat, and she had a knack for knowing exactly when I needed to laugh or be flattered or be sternly admonished for being too hard on myself. She rarely commented on the blog itself. She preferred to send long, funny discursions on whatever I had written about. Or, sometimes, on what she hoped I’d write about. Or on the Pope, and goats.

Nancy died this weekend. I feel like I’ve been kicked in the heart, and not by her awesome goat.

30 Sep

From A Distance

lesotho 2010 288I’ve been home, now, for a few of days, and I think – I think – that I’ve recovered from travel fatigue – 28 hours it took me to get home from Lesotho – and jet-lag and the brain fog that comes from traveling halfway around the world and back in less than a week. But I haven’t quite recovered from what I can only describe as soul-lag: the existential exhaustion that settles upon you when you’ve experienced something that changes you so profoundly that your psyche has trouble catching up to your transformed heart and soul.

I have soul lag. It’s getting in the way of writing anything meaningful or informative about everything that I saw, everything that I learned, everything that changed me last week. It’s clouding my mind and tangling my thoughts and every time that I sit down to write I am faced with a screen that demands, now, something better than before, something worthy of the stories that I heard and the stories that I was part of, and as I stare at that screen something inside me sags and crumples. I tell myself that it will all come, in time, as my heart and soul and psyche reconcile themselves to each other and to the clock of my here and now, and as I find the words to do those stories justice, but my self is not entirely convinced. My self is also not a very good listener, but that’s not really the problem here.

20 Jul

Things That Are Not Radical Acts

her bad superheroI had it in mind that I was going to write about it, that thing that happened last week , that thing that was really just so horrible and awful and unpleasant – in a First World Problems! kind of way, sure, but still – that thing that left me feeling so rattled and uncertain and bad. I was going to write about how it all happened – what was said and how I cried and what more was said and how much more I cried and then how I sat, alone, in a room with no clocks, my passport seized, and freaked the hell out – and about how I wondered what it said about the State of the Momosphere in North America circa 2010 that someone could be stopped and interrogated for claiming to be a ‘mom blogger’ – not even mommy blogger! I only said mom! and blogger! – (because I am so not exaggerating when I say that I spent all that time defending the fact that I make a living writing about motherhood and that I often go to conferences – yes, even at places like Yahoo! – to discuss doing so and they reviewed my blog right there and demanded that I explain to them what the hell it was and how it earned me money and I sniffled and gurgled and mumbled stuff about ad networks and marketing and GM Canada and it was only when I pointed to a post that thanked GM Canada for sponsoring an adventure and then another one that they finally relented and let me go) (which, thanks GM!) – and! or! — DEEP BREATH — whether it even meant anything at all, and how maybe this has nothing at all to do with mommyblogging being a radical act and more to do with how there happens to be random Internet-ignorant doofuses (doofii?) working at Homeland Security! Or something! So!

I was going to write something about all that. But now I’m not.

30 Apr

I Shaved My Legs For This

So I spent yesterday being a grown up, which is not to say that I am not a grown up every day, just that I usually don’t feel like one until I put on a bra and clothing that is not made of lycra/spandex and venture out into the world without a diaper bag to talk to other real live grown ups about things not related to the relative merits of Dora versus Angelina Ballerina, the difficulty of finding good babysitters, and the high cost of yoga pants these days. Which is not to say that those aren’t, in certain very important respects, grown-up subjects, but, also, they’re not.

19 Apr

Rock, Meet Hard Place. Hard Place, Meet Naked Astronaut.

I was scared to come back to the Internet this week. I was scared, because I thought that I couldn’t come back unless I explained why I’d had to take a break, and explaining why I’d had to take a break was something that I did not want to do, because it was just too complicated and messy and because it seemed that explaining the complicatedness and messiness would have to involve talking about all the things that I didn’t want to talk about, and the desire to not talk about those things was why I had to take a break in the first place, so.

29 Mar

That Ain’t Working

I can’t write today. I’m not sure why. It’s not that I’m at a loss for words; if anything, it’s the opposite. Too many words, too many thoughts, too much to say but no will to unravel the tangle of verbs and nouns,  opinions and assertions, declarations and reflections and expletives and neologisms and statements of fact and hunches of gut, etc, etc. Blogstipation, after too many head and heart filling meals of roast provocation with a side of mashed emotions and thinky sauce, and also cake.

So this is all you get: one toddler, rocking out, and some links, while I figure out if there exists, somewhere, a laxative for the emotional-intellectual tract.

jib rock

That ain’t working/That’s the way you do it/You get your diapers for nothing and your sippy cups for free.