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Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Girl She Used To Be

I've lost big chunks of this past week to Hannah's fifth grade play. I've been organizing the ticket distribution, plus I attended a rehearsal, and I helped her figure out another portion of her costume and her make up. It was the make up, though, that made me cry.

We did a trial run on Thursday night, and, well, she hated it. I've never put make up on another person before, and my skills were less than perfect. I'm terrible at eye make up--I never wear it myself. We bought brighter colors than one would normally wear, which will work well on stage, but were kind of scary looking in our living room. She'd never worn make up like this before, and it was overwhelming.

I thought she was beautiful.

This year of fifth grade, the last one spent in elementary school, has been going so, so fast. I can't believe the play is almost over, this giant thing she's been looking forward to participating in for so many years. I know there will be more plays, more amazing things ahead, but this is the one that she (and I) have looked towards for the longest time, and there will never be another like that.

I remember the first make up kit she was given, on one of our visits to Cleveland. It was junky kids make up, but after so many mornings sitting on the edge of my bed, handing me various tubes and compacts during my five minute make up routine, she was so excited to have something of her own. She loved that the blush brush was as soft as mine. She took such care in applying all of it.

Three year old Hannah, March 2007
I reapplied her make up on Friday morning, before the dress rehearsal. I had to get to work early, and was already sad to be missing the dress rehearsal. I'll be there for all the other performances, and I know I'm not missing much, but the missing feels more acute now. I already feel the window closing on her childhood, and I'm missing my little girl. Nearly 11 year old Hannah is truly fabulous, and I wouldn't want to go back to her being three and miss out on anything that's happening now. But as I walked to the train that morning, I flashed back to that little girl, who used to sit at her Little Mermaid vanity and dream of wearing make up. Yes, she's mostly wearing it for the stage now, but wow, that all happened so fast.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

When Bloggers Attack, and What We Can Learn

This is a post I've really been wrestling with, but I want to be able to talk about things like these. Identifying details have been removed, because it's not about the individual people or the circumstances, but what we can try to learn from each other.

The other night I found myself wide awake at 3 am, and so I did what any reasonable person wide awake at 3 am would do: I looked at Facebook.

Okay, yea, that's probably the worst idea ever. Don't do that at 3 am. Be better than I am.

I rubbed the bleariness from my eyes and saw the top story in my news feed, an article I'd seen shared by a number of my friends earlier in the day. This time though, it said three of my friends had commented on the post, and there were 40 comments on it at the time. "Oh no," I thought to myself. I knew that this thread was going to be very different from the others I'd read earlier.

The subject of the thread was a magazine article, about a writer and mother I know, on a complicated and difficult topic. This wasn't the first time I'd read details of this story, as I've been following this woman's blog for years. Meeting her at BlogHer13 was like meeting a celebrity for me, since I'd long ago fallen in love with the way she puts words together. We are Facebook friends, and while I don't know her incredibly well, I think very highly of her.

I like this friend. I believe she is a good mom, a good person who was trying to do her best in a situation that I can't begin to comprehend. I was grateful to read her story, to gain some insight into that which is beyond me.

The thread I read at 3 am was initiated by a friend, another blogger I admire and respect greatly, and had the pleasure of meeting at BlogHer14. Two other bloggers and friends of mine commented on the thread, coming from the other side of similar situations in the magazine article. They were all very upset about the story shared in the piece, as well as the tone and some of the specific word choices used. All three of these friends are people I think very highly of, and am honored to know.

I really like these friends. I believe they are all good moms, good people who have tried to their best in situations that I can't begin to comprehend. I am grateful to read their stories, to gain some insight into that which is beyond me.

Though the Internet can seem so big, the blogging world is in fact pretty small. If I were to ever bother classifying people into the lists encouraged by Facebook and Twitter, I'd probably put all four of these women on the same list. But it wasn't until that night, when I was confronted with the hurt comments I saw, some of them attacking my friend, that I realized the four of them were also connected through the tangled threads of this difficult topic.

At 3:15 in the morning, I sent one of them a message, trying to describe how I felt. We talk often, and I knew I could open up to her about how I felt and we could have a discussion. That I thought the article's tone was off, that maybe the circumstances weren't perfect, but that I knew the woman and felt that she tried to do good overall. My friend said she appreciated my reaching out, and in fact, I asked her to pre-read this blog post before I hit publish.

Did I diffuse some of the hurt my friend felt? I doubt it. Maybe a little. But I did learn.

As I have been writing this over the past few days, the world has been reacting to another situation like those we have seen all too often lately, dealing with police and matters of race. I have tried to dip my toe into talking about issues like race, or other complicated topics like depression, over the past few months. I know the power of the written word, and if I'm going to bother contributing to the cacophony, then I at least hope my words are fair, that I try to listen first, that I use this space as a medium for transmitting higher ideals.

While the topic may not be the same, I believe that all four of my blogging friends are trying to use their spaces for the same mission. We are sharing our stories as best as we know how, and hopefully, even through different points of view, we are all able to learn something from each other, and can limit the judgement we cast out towards others. I'm grateful to all of the people in my blogging community who help open my eyes to the complexities of these issues, and who force me to try to do better. I hope that I become a better human being because of your efforts, and that in turn, maybe I help some of you who are reading along, too.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Looks Like We Made It - #NaBloPoMo 30

It seems like just yesterday that I wrote the first post for National Blog Posting Month, full of inspiration and hoping it would pull me out of the rough fall I'd been having. Now that we're at the 31st day of writing every day, I do think it helped some, but perhaps not as much since I lost so much steam in this last week. Hoping to write something worthwhile every day when I'm so far from my usual routine is a huge challenge, and I know that's part of the point, but it didn't mean I did better knowing that it was a challenge. It just meant I could write posts and be okay with not bothering to promote them or care if they were read at all, which is actually ridiculous. Of course I care if people are reading, and to pretend it's worthwhile otherwise is silly.

Part of what made me get through this month was that most of my blogging tribe was doing it with me. Thank you Kimberly, Phyllis, Lisa and Danielle (and Melissa for her encouragement!) for pushing on every day. It's been fun doing this with their support, and it solidified our little group.

This is my 125th post this year, and I'll need to write seven more in December to break last year's record. Fortunately, it looks like I've got an exciting month ahead of me, and I'm sure there will be lots of great things to share with you all. Just not every day. :)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight - #NaBloPoMo 2-freakin'-9!

Greetings from the lovely Dunkirk, New York!

Okay, it's pitch black outside right now, I have no idea how lovely-or-not it is. We're on our way back to Boston, stopping here for the night to gain a bit of a head start for the rest of our trip tomorrow. But I slept some on our way here, and I'm not ready to fall asleep again yet.

We had a really lovely visit to Ohio. This morning we had our annual visit with my high school friend Betsy, her husband Bill and their son Simon, in their new home, and enjoyed a beautiful breakfast together. Then we met my parents, Ryan and Allison, and Allison's parents and brother in Ohio City for a visit to a brewery for lunch and a stop at the West Side Market. The food at the market is so fantastic-looking, it's hard not to buy everything. But I enjoyed a bubble tea and a tiny corner of a piece of maple candy that Max abandoned. Here are a few photos Hannah took--it's fun to get things from her point of view.

Marc and me with a replica lamp from "A Christmas Story"

West Side Market
West Side Market
We capped off the day with pizza from Geraci's, our family favorite, and cannoli and other desserts bought at the market. Hannah sang one of her songs from her upcoming "Seussical" performance, and Max arranged everyone for a family photo...which he then accidentally deleted. But we got a great group selfie with most of us in it instead.

The Pollock-Miller-Stobers, less Max
And then the songs that come up in the car are speaking to me. "Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight" by Amos Lee:

"We all need a place so we can go,
And feel over the rainbow.

But sometimes,
We forget what we got,
Who we are.
Oh who are are not.
I think we gotta chance,
To make it right.
Keep it loose,
Keep it tight.
Keep it tight."

Friday, November 28, 2014

Limping Along - #NaBloPoMo 28

Another puppy photo, this time Max with Truffles. 

Limping along towards the end of my month of writing everyday. I brought my laptop on my trip, but haven't opened it. I have taken two naps. That's a win, I think. Back to better content, most likely in December. :)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! - #NaBloPoMo 27

The Macy's parade has been watched. Turkey, and more importantly, peanut butter ice cream cake, have been consumed. Ryan and Allison are helping Max build a space craft, and Hannah and my mom are cuddled up with the dogs. There's just a bit of snow on the ground. We are warm, safe and happy. 

I hope the same can be said for you. 

Thank you for reading and giving me this platform for sharing who I am. I'm grateful for all of you. Happy Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The View - #NaBloPoMo 26

We left our hotel in Albany, NY, around 7 am this morning. It's now 4 pm and we're finally entering Pennsylvania shortly. The view right now is actually pleasant and pretty. But I'm sick of being in the car. About two more hours to go. 

Safe travels to all of you hitting the road today too.