Imitation Motherhood

When I was seventeen years old, straining as hard as I could too see over the horizon and figure out my fortune, I determined that I should have ten children. After all, for sure I knew that as a woman I would have to be a wife and mother. If that was what I was going to do, I was going to be the best at it. I knew people who had 8 children, but no family had ten. I’d go for the record!

But as the reality of motherhood came closer, I discovered a couple other things I could aspire to. I saw how being a mom could swallow up a woman and leave a shell.

That scared me.

I still wanted it. I carefully planned and fit in other things first. And then it came.

A friend recommended a book to me, Mother Styles. It talks about the different Myers-Briggs personality types as they pertain to mothers. The author talks about how women should respect their personality strengths and give themselves room to be themselves. If you are an introvert, get away and be alone every day. If you are a person that experiences the world through your senses make sure to include beauty in your life. Honor your uniqueness, and don’t just assume that others are doing it “right.” There is nothing wrong with needing those things.

It is really really really easy to fall into that sarcophagus, the hollow self-immolating shell of perfection.

Virginia Woolf talked about it in a way I can never forget. She was haunted by the Victorian female Ideal:

You who come of a younger and happier generation may not have heard of her–you may not know what I mean by the Angel in the House. I will describe her as shortly as I can. She was intensely sympathetic. She was immensely charming. She was utterly unselfish. She excelled in the difficult arts of family life. She sacrificed herself daily. If there was chicken, she took the leg; if there was a draught she sat in it–in short she was so constituted that she never had a mind or a wish of her own, but preferred to sympathize always with the minds and wishes of others.

Are you shuddering?

Before I lose the attention of all my readers, this isn’t only about moms. Yes, motherhood can take over a person’s life just about as much as a woman will cooperate with.

There are a lot of things that will do the same.

Conformity to expectations can roll over any of us and take us away from ourselves before we know it. Sinclair Lewis’s novel Babbitt tells the parody story of a middle class man, who seems to be following his own way. He even leaves his family to be a rebel. But when it comes down to it, he realizes he’s only been following the well-worn groove that all the people just like him are nosing though. When his son bucks his wishes and leaves to follow his own career, Babbitt realizes “I’ve never done a single thing I’ve wanted to in my whole life! I don’t know ’s I’ve accomplished anything except just get along.”

Virginia Woolf talks about how she had to kill The Angel in the House in order to be an author. And Lewis throws up a parody example of how easy it is to fool ourselves into thinking we are using our own minds when we are only following the herd. That comparison, that conformity, is there for any of us to fall into and fool ourselves into thinking we are doing the right thing.

It’s vitally important to me to find my own self-expression. Emerson said it: “Imitation is suicide.”

He and his buddies were called the transcendentalists because they were going to move past the basics. Conforming, or imitating, felt like deathly betrayal to him. He was fine tuned to his own note.

That is not how everyone feels, but I understand it like a grip around my neck. I struggle to find my own uniqueness in this life and especially motherhood.

In the rack of Mother’s Day hallmark cards, I don’t think there is going to be one for me. That’s the way I want it.

Two Essential Reasons I Eat Ridiculous Meals

I once worked at a place where lunch was by far the biggest event of the day.

One designated person would take everyone’s orders and go pick up lunch. The discussion and the decision would last for hours if it were slow. What shall we choose today? What did we choose yesterday?

Oh yes, and we will never forget the time we once chose this to eat. Or the other time we chose something different…

I watched in awe. I found the time and attention given to something as inconsequential as lunch take-out a huge waste of time.

Don’ get me wrong. I can enjoy a good meal. But a working lunch?

I envied the pleasure my co-workers got out of their lunch ritual. And I also came to terms with what I really wanted out of a lunch meal.

The only thing I want out of that is enough energy to stay awake and get my work done.

What I want most about food is the feeling of having already eaten it. The tasting, chewing and swallowing can be skipped over, as far as I’m concerned.

They have a lunch like that. Just add water.

So I found the powdered mixes that met my spec. Easily mixes with water, high protein for energy, texture and taste such that it did not activate the gag reflex.

The gag thing turned out to be the hardest.

But I worked it out. My favorite is Raw Meal Spiced Vanilla Chai. Super healthy and it gets it done.I find myself able to concentrate and keep moving. Water, powder, give my water bottle a shake and down she goes.

It’s a great solution. Lunch and other work-time nutritional needs are met.

Then I find that it is creeping. I don’t have time for chewing in my life.

When I get home from work now my daughter has already eaten and she wants to be with me. Leisurely dinner is not part of the plan.

I’m trying out  harder powers mixes. Straight up protein. Soy. Pea. it’s less viscous than the more nutritionally varied Raw Meal.



I don’t have that kind of time. There is kindergarten homework to supervise and invented games to participate in.

Those are my two reasons:

Working lunch and working dinner.

Chewing is for chumps.


yeah, I’ve heard it. And i agree.

We need divesity, Having people from different walks of life and different backgrounds makes a more interesting and stronger base.

But i’m sick to death of cookie cutter diversity.

Perhaps the latina woman, black man, homosexual man and asian woman panel for diversity day is not as played out as I feel it is.

Maybe there really is a need for more of that, maybe other people have not gained what they can from it.

But I think that the usual suspect have given their time.

Can’t we be a little more diverse in our diversity? I would like to see an orthodox jew talk about his or her high holy days. I’d like to have an armenian on the microphone to talk about the genocide.

Maybe a muslim? A hindu person to talk about what to bring to a potluck.

and you want to know what else? White people getting real about what makes them not as ordinary as they look.

The panels of the same old diversity candidates is starting to reinforce stereotypes. The opposite of their intent, I think.

One place i worked at was celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s day. MLK is a remarkable man. They were holding a food drive. 

As I handed them my cans of food, I said, “I can’t help but think. Isn’t this rather condescending? Martin Luther King was a heroic figure that championed the rights of African Americans. When people think of commemorating him, naturally they think of African Americans. And holding a food drive on his day is kind of like saying African Americans are poor and need food.”

The organizer sputtered and said that King had a lot to say about service, and…and…and

I caught the eye of a young African American man helping the organizer. “Yeah…” he said. “I see what you mean. It doesn’t look good.”

“Wouldn’t it be better to find people who were similar to King, and were making a difference in their communities? People of any background?” I said.

It woudl be a lot harder to organize that kind of meaningful tribute. It’s easier to stick to the agreed-upon definition of diversity.

Diversity is here. It’s now, in every group. What do each of us have to offer each other?

We have to start seeing each other.

All of each other.

I feel kinda dirty

so I used a website that critiqued my headline for the weekly wonder today.

Back to the idea of tryign to get over my ookiness for martketing.

I have this idea that my ideal reader is more sophisticated then perhaps she is. He is.

But I know I have this idea that *I* am more sophisticated than I am.

THis website says that a headline is what grabs people and makes them click.

My usual free form headlines are just whatever. I dont’ put a lot of thoguth into them.

But maybe if I did, and tuned them to be attention grabbers, it’s worht it.

One weird trick that beats all

or some other cliche

I guess clishe’s work.

I’m trying it. I feel kind of dirty.

I’m gonna go chekc and see if anyone clicked.

Crossing the Blue Yonder

As long as I’ve been hanging around with nerds, which is long before it’s been cool, we’ve gone through a pecking-order ritual of saying when  each one of us first got on the internet.

Young nerds would not have been old enough to experience the internet before it became the World Wide Web. I got on it when it was the pure and true ascii waste land. I talk about it a little here.

Before our phones held pictures, they carried our words. The internet found a way to carry data using modems. 14.4 and 28.8 and 56K before we got our broadband sorted out.

I am thinking back a little further though. Do you remember what the two T’s in AT&T stand for? Telephone and TELEGRAPH.

Back in the reign of Queen Victoria some engineers started stringing wires. It’s still called ‘laying cable.’ Before these wires connected the far reaches of this island nation, carrying coded messages (dah dit dah) the fastest way people sent messages was through signal fires.

Signal fires. Like in the Lord of the Rings. It was not that long ago. It was so recently that we were so far apart.

But the telecommunications technology of signal fires couldn’t reach as far as America. My home country was separated from England. People had to carry letters on ships and trust that they would get there in time or at all.


(and it happened faster than it had a right to)

The hyper fast communication of telegraphs became so important that the Victorian engineers were compelled to find a way to connect it across the oceans.

We revere our engineers now. Bill Gates is a celebrity, and the whole world knows and mourns Steve Jobs. The ones who brought our friends and family as close as our pockets, these we honor and admire.

The Victorians revered their engineering visionaries too. For basically the same reasons. Friends were down the street, with the telegraph.

So the fantastic inventors and engineers that made the railways and ships and telecommunication systems were respected and listened to.

It was kind of an accident that the ship which lay the first successful transatlantic cable was used. Isambard Brunel, the one responsible for it, did not start out as a ship biuilder.

He build railways. HIS way. He started the Great Western railway company, after riding on the railways then available in Britain. He declared the standard gauge rail was too cramped. In visionary engineer style, he re-engineered it to double in width.

Nerds know what I mean: PROPRIETARY STANDARDS.

So he had to create his own train locomotives and cars and tracks. But he did it. The Great Western was very popular even with it’s limited range.

Having conquered the railways, he wanted to conquer shipbuilding. He built…

(what else?)

The Great Western ship, the largest ship of it’s time, steam AND sail powered, to get to America and back.

Then he had to do it again, making a ship that was bigger still, the Great Eastern, which was meant to travel all the way to Australia without refueling.

It was the end of Brunel, literally. He died right after it was done. Young, like Steve Jobs.

The Great Eastern was not a success as a passenger ship. It would not be interesting to me if it had been.

In the end, this largest of all ships laid cable. It laid the first successful transatlantic cable. It was slow painstaking work to drop a thick cable down to the bottom of the ocean so that in the end it would carry a circuit, and more importantly, an intelligible morse code signal.

-.-. — -.. .

That is a giant step for humankind. Thanks, Brunel. Even if that’s not what you meant to happen.

sadness friday

Her friend betrayed her on Friday.

“Mommy, Amelia wouldn’t play with me. She decided that should would play with Sophia. Max told me.”

This is bad. Amelia had been her best for the last several weeks.

“Did she tell you why?”

“She wouldn’t talk to me. Max told me. So I went over to her and sang her a song.”

“You sang to her?”

“It was a very long song, filled with all the sadness that was in my heart. She tipped my bucket.”

Tipping her bucket means that her heart was broken.

“Then I asked her if she heard my song. She said she didn’t, and that she was going to play with Sophia now.”

I suspect that Veronica sang an impromptu song with all her thoughts and feelings sung in it. I suspect she was near but not close to her former best friend, and that she was not singing very loudly.

I love this girl, who chooses to sing her broken heart like a solo greek chorus on the playground.

She did not cry, she did not hit or get angry.

She sang her a song filled with all the sadness in her heart.

After dinner Mother’s Day

We had dinner at judy’s house and then decided to walk the dogs.

Of course Veronica wanted to go on all the lawns and investigate everywhere.


I told her to stay on the sidewalk.

She fell behind in a funk. After a moment she came up to me to say “mommy I know you think you’re a queen but it’s no fun only walk on the sidewalk I don’t think that’s right at all.

After a moment she came up to me to say “mommy I know you think you’re a queen but it’s no fun only walk on the sidewalk I don’t think that’s right at all.

“Do you think daddy would agree with you?”

!yes I do

Because People Need to Know

On the Russian American School of Tomorrow Blog:

I just heard a wise man say:

There are people right now who don’t know you exist. But if you do the work to share your work with them, they will be so grateful.

I know there are people who need to read The Russian American School of Tomorrow. I know this is a life changing book. I hope to find a way to share this book with as much love as I put into writing it.






THis is not the time to shy away from the top of the mountain. There is no way out but through.

So I better get to work.

out from obscurity

I wonder if all memoirists have this? Some people from my past have read my book and now we have to really go over it.

I talked about it. In The Russian American School of Tomorrow I talked about what was happening in a real way.

I didn’t talk about it then, Not while it was happening. And never to people I was casually aquainted with.

But now, I am opening myself to go over it. With the people who know the names of the names I changed in the story.

It’s uncomfortable.

But it’s good I think. And maybe I will have more good friends by the end than I had at the beginning.

out of control

I read book about it.

Aisha Tyler talks about self-inflicted wounds.

And I’m not willing. I do not walk up to that chance. I skirt and plan and avoid.

I don’t want to get hurt. I don’t want to be out of control. I want to be sure of every step before I take it.

And then.

Someone asked me, “Are you willing to be out of control?”

That’s an easy form of risk. And risk is where the reward happens.

I wonder if I can draw my eyes away from the memory of the scene of the accident.

It was a long time ago. And maybe this time there will not be an accident, but only a miracle.

Yeah. Peter had to step out of the boat.

That was a lot of crazy.

How crazy am I willing to be?

maybe i’ll start with a little. And work my way up.