Sunday, September 17, 2006

I'm having, like, a totally sucky day

Did you keep a journal when you were younger? Because I did, and let me tell you: these were not the writings of a person brimming over with joie de vivre. Why, when I was glad, would I have wasted one glittering second scrawling away about it? I was out in the sunshine making a daisy chain and just feeling the gladness! So the journal was filled with my ceaseless gloom. My ceaseless and deadly BOYFRIEND gloom, if you must know. In college I dated a Russian major who--how shall I put this?--didn't actually like me. It wasn't just that instead of lighting up a cigarette or whispering honeyed words he lept from bed to scrub briskly at his sex parts with a washcloth; it was that he made me feel like maybe I would have to better familiarize myself with the gloomy poetry of the Russian modernists in order to actualize my girlfriend potential. And so my journal is filled with gloomy entries about this endeavor. "Spent day reading Tsvetaeva (sp??). Tried to read on quad where K. would walk by. K walked by. K. said, 'I like your skirt." He didn't mean it probably. Or did he? He didn't want to get coffee with me after dinner, and then later he said he'd had coffee. (With library girl in the eyelet petticoat?)." Like that. (Aside: God help me if Birdy ever does anything but karate chop the knees off of anyone who makes her feel this way.)

Anyways, I mention this now because this is the impulse that blogging seems to reinvigorate in me. In a column, (there for instance--you knew I was going to plug it somewhere) what with the certain amount of words, and the desire for coherence, I feel like I'm trying to say a little bit about something or other. But here. Here. I am inclined to kvetch in sentence fragments. About Birdy's cold, for example. The school should just add it to the memo. "Your child has been assigned: snack duties for the 4th week, a nature worksheet, the third cubby, and the following viral illness: a common cold" I think how it works is that you get one virus, and then you're supposed to trade it in later for another one that your family has no immunity to. Don't get me wrong--I'll take the gagging mucus cough over any degree of barfing. And we are lucky that these kids get sick and then get better--I do not take this for granted a day of my life. It's just that I forgot to memorize my children's summer faces--the way they look without the snot running down them and drying in patches like crusty, virulent slug tracks. I guess I can wait until June.

p.s. If you "tag" me for a "meme," then I will feel very flattered (Who doesn't like to be picked? Especially people like, you know, certain people, the kind of people who were never picked until somebody finally sighed and rolled his eyes and said, "Fine. But she's not batting and you get her next time.") but also a little uncertain about the whole meme protocol. I am just warming up here, so please be patient with me. (But also: Can I kvetch in sentence fragments in the meme? Because this is the experience I seem to be looking for.)

74 comments:

  1. haha, your teenage journals sound just like mine, what merry souls! Take, for example, the entry where the object of my affection at age 17 went on vacation for 6 weeks. Oh the angst! I couldn't even eat a hotdog because that was his favourite food and the memories were just too, too raw! I still have those journals, all with a note attached saying "burn these when I die." Please continue to kvetch as the urge takes you Catherine, then I don't feel so bad about doing it.

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  2. Yesterday I called a friend to tell her that my 5 year old was barfing all night. She admitted that she gave it to us. I told her that I would consider it a trade, like in baseball - a trade for a virus to be named later. Sometimes when the kids have been sick for a few weeks I scrub there little faces clean - then I look at them an realize that the redness makes it look like they have been in the summer sun for a while. It always brings me back. I suggest doing that and then thawing some of those peaches of yours.

    Also, as soon as I figure out this whole "meme" thing I will tag you. (How can I not know about this?) You can kvetch about anything you want.

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  3. I forgot to mention this part. After suffering through my own "Russian majors" I have spent my short 5 years as a parent drumming into my boys that they will not treat women that way. The result? When I get a new pair of shoes they tell me "Mommy, I love your shoes." When I am sad they ask me why and hug me. When I was preparing for the bar exam they told me I was smart and I would pass. At 5 and 3 they like girls who are sweet, smart and strong. Thank goodness I can prevent other young women from going through what we did.

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  4. I also kept a journal in college. It was a particularly horrible year; my grandfather died and then a couple weeks later I found my boyfriend in bed with my roommate. That journal was so awful, so full of adolescent idiocy, tears and anger that I destroyed it before my kids were born because I never wanted them to find it. Ever! (And frankly, I got really tired of myself while reading it.)

    Catherine, I do enjoy your writing. Thanks so much for all the laughs!

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  5. Oh, I try and try to keep up with you! But, what's a "meme?" I would love to meme I think. My journal sounds like all of the others' journal here, I'm with you, Catherine. I hope Isabel will never give those dumb people the time of day if they don't love her like crazy.

    Oh, and every time you wrote about barfing episodes, all I could think was thank god I'm not the only one with a crazy irrational fear of barfing. Your comment about leaving your sick child while you run outside to catch the next bus comes to mind every time I even think about barfing. Ahh, barf-buddies.

    Anyway, I'm so glad you keep writing and for us 35-somethings, would you post some memeing tips?
    Carolyn

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  6. oh Catherine....you've forced me to type in "What the hell is a meme?" into Google.
    I've just figured out how to add a link....grandma will have to look into this meme tag business.
    If I knew what it was I'd be happy to do it. I swear.

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  7. If I knew what tagging you for a meme even meant (I mean, I know what the actual words mean, it's the concept that's not so clear), I'd absolutely do it. Sorry to hear Birdy's sick already. Can't believe mine aren't. Also glad to hear I wasn't the only pathetic girl in college pining over some asshole. Kvetch anytime.

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  8. Hannah got sick the first week. Kvetch.

    Anyway, when I was a freshman I shared a dorm hallway with a very dashing and brilliant someone who was studying existentialism. He made me feel so smart and innocent at the same time. He was having a crisis because he didn't believe in the afterlife. I was all "la-la-la does it really matter, life is beautiful." I told him, "if there is no meaning, then how can life be meaningless." He told me that was what Nietzche said (or some other guy, I can't remember.) Oh, he made feel smart. But, he was all--"you're just so happy." And I felt like with my happiness I had lost him. He was a friend. He liked me. I thought I loved him. Oh, youth.

    See I can write in fragments, too.

    It really is kind of sweet now, but kind of a heart breaker then.

    I am so weak. I put a little post up today. Oh, what an impulsive creature I am. And still embarassingly too happy for my own good.

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  9. lol... um, if you can explain how to tag you as a "meme" i'll happily tag you... I'm a dorky fan who buys your book for everyone i know who's pregnant, anyone I know who might be pregnant, and anyone I know who says the word pregnant.

    Its funny you should mention the teenage journals, b/c I just found all my high school/early 20's journals in a box when I was cleaning out our storage. I couldn't believe the amount of time I spent bitching about my ex boyfriends and exhusband and what a-holes they were... If I could have a conversation with my younger self, I'd so be saying "Girl, show them where the curb is after you smack them for being jackasses..."

    But please don't stop kvetching!!! It makes the rest of us nuerotics feel more normal. (But could you do it more than once a week? Some of us geeky fans go through withdrawal!)

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  10. A new blog! Hurray! :) I checked not really expecting one to be here. The whole blog thing is different in the way that you don't get an email any time one of your faves makes a new post...you just keep peeking at their blog hoping to see something new. Its a little like Christmas when you find one. :)

    Thankfully no illnesses have ventured home this school year, which is good because it would really cramp our super-fun-therapy-neuro-MRI-feeding clinic-developmental psychologist-doctor-appointment groove we have going on around here.

    I think we all basically have the same journal entries, just with different names and places in the details.

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  11. Hi Catherine,
    I'm 40, so I REALLY have no clue about tagging or "memes"....Oh well, maybe we'll all figure it out together!

    Speaking of college crushes...mine was on a tall, blue-eyed Greek guy named...(you won't believe it)....Yanni! Yeah, it was actually predating the "real" Yanni, but I never got past being one of his admirers. He had SO many girlfriends, I just tried to be his "good friend" instead- to stand out from the rest, of course! He was a good kisser, but completely shallow. We never went past kissing, Thank God!

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  12. I just saw the book Born to Kvetch (...now with more kvetching) at my favorite little bookstore last weekend. What a great title! Kvetching is one of my favourite pastimes, and while my husband and I are pretty well-matched kvetchers, my son is unrivaled in his ability to kvetch about things that would bring most peole pure joy.

    We spent all day drinking juice with chunks of partially fizzy Airborne in it. As I waited in line to pick Jackson up from Kindergarten on Friday I heard his teacher whisper to one of the other mothers, "I think M is coming down with a cold...". Fuuuuuuck. Already? I was just saying to my husband how great it was to not be sick even ONCE all summer. Now one week and we're already sniffing and blowing, clutching our throats and looking for sympathy.

    That's bad enough, BUT! What came home in my son's backpack on the second day of Kindergarten last week? A letter about LICE!!! AAACCCKKK!!! Apparently somebody's got it and now we're all supposed to spend the next month checking our kids' hair for nits. JESUS, just writing that word gives me the willies.

    Not to hijack, but I just have to tell you that I was the example for my ENTIRE elementary school for what to look for when your kid gets head lice. I had it so bad. I sat in a chair in the school office and people filed past to look. I'm really surprised that I wasn't emotionally scarred by that. But it might explain why I HATE the outdoors, hate camping, hate bugs, etc. Fears which I selfishly pass on to my children.

    Kvetching feels so good at the time but I'd hate to see a video of myself complaining. I swear, just yesterday I pulled out my travel journal from the year I spent in Germany with that boy I thought was so interesting. I was hoping to find the name of a beach town south of Barcelona I stayed at but instead there were just pages and pages and pages of horrible swearing and all these angry words about this boy. How mean he was, how horrible I thought Germans were. On and on, it made me feel terrible to read it. Both for myself having felt all that and not just dumping his sorry ass, and also that I didn't write about all the wonderful things I did while I was there.

    I guess writing is such a release, those of us with a lot of whatever it is we have so much of need a way to get rid of it. At least I take a lot of photographs of the things I enjoy in life.

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  13. Catherine, you are irresistable even in fragments (the sentence kind of course)! I love what you said about this blog calling you to unload on this a crappy day. I too journal currently and force myself to put down my daisy chain and write some happy thoughts sometimes instead of the drudgery that fills the pages when I turn to it in my times of need. And seriously someone should really warn you when thinking about a family that the children will get sick. I had no idea what that meant. And as silly as I feel saying this, I have started a blog because you inspired me.

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  14. Week one of pre-school...Kels got the cold Wednesday...me Thursday...Baby Emma Friday...UGH..sniff sniff...cough cough. That bottle of hand sanitizer is just mocking me.

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  15. I'm glad you ended up with Michael instead of the creepy Russian studies guy. I'll bet there haven't been any eyelet skirt girls in *his* life.

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  16. I think it's funny that you are so angsty and how I truly enjoy that...meanwhile I blush to think how positive and saccharine our blog is. I often wonder, what parts do I publish? What parts to I keep secret? What parts does no one want to read about? Essentially our blog is so that family (who all live in other states) can keep up with the kiddos.

    Also what I think makes your columns so wonderful is the way you mix happy wholesome family time with the horrors of our darkest thoughts in a way that makes that feel like balance. You make felt projects, and then horrify yourself with the domestic-ness of it. You long to be zen, then lash out at your darlings. We all do, but the way you put it on the page makes it easier for everyone to bear our own deepest thoughts!

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  17. SusanC1:57 AM

    Oh, God! The journals of my high school, college and even post-college, pre-married years are so frightening, I cringe even thinking of all the riduculous boyfriend crap I obsessed over. The worst are the ramblings over guys I liked, who, sadly--yet clearly--did not share the intensity of my ardor. So, so sad! Oh Catherine, I swear sometimes you live in my head. Or we were childhood friends without ever knowing each other. Something like that.

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  18. Please don't do any of those lame "last 5 things" memes, ok? Because I love and respect you.

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  19. angel8:17 AM

    oh the teenage journals! i like emma's idea of putting a note on them that says "burn these when i die". i am definitely stealing that one. they are beyond embarassing but i can't bear to throw them away, either.

    catherine i'd say post whatever you want here, whenever you can. i love reading what you have to say!

    here's hoping that the little one is over her cold asap.

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  20. Reading this blog is like checking in with your girlfriends...I don't really have any creepy Russian majors, just a clueless German who had no idea that I loved him for like 2 years and had to listen to him talk about my roommate! Talk about your angst!

    My kids started school 3 weeks ago, and my 3 year old is loving going every day, sings getting ready, it's lovely. But, my poor 5 year old has realized that kindergarten is not the happy-go-lucky place that pre-school was. It's heartbreaking to listen to him tell me that he's not going any more and that it's no fun. Here's hoping that it starts getting better for him soon. (He didn't go in today because he was throwing up last night, and when I told him he had to stay home, he got a HUGE grin on his face.) We're hopefully emerging from the house of plague at the moment and I won't have any more middle of the night throwing up sheets to change!

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  21. Kristen V.9:30 AM

    Birdy won't even need to know karate. You can just post something about about the badness of the guy, and throngs of fans will teem to the scene: Birdy can stand there coolly as hundreds of hot-eyed women, all of whom have been caring about Birdy since she was a birdlet in the womb-nest, kick the living crap out of the offending guy.

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  22. Okay, I researched the whole "meme" and "tagging" business (during the process, I gave you a plug on my blog, Catherine), and while I'd love to tag you for a "meme", I haven't gotten one on blogspot.com yet, but when I do, I'll happilly tag you....

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  23. KatherineNaomi10:26 AM

    meme n (mëm): A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. From the Greek mimëma, something imitated, from mimeisthai, to imitate.



    In Blogspeak, a meme is an idea that is shared and passed from blog to blog, like a question posted in one blog and answered in many other blogs.

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  24. I hope you always feel comfortable "kvetching" here! It only reinforces what I've learned from you: it's OK not to be perfect, and not to think life with kids is always going to be a wonderful, magical time, and that's all right!!
    My daughter (and now her 18-month-old brother) is also sick with a cold after her first week of pre-school. So much snot running from little noses- I can't even begin to describe it (not that I especially want to)!

    I hope you do PK's meme -- I'm intersted in hearing your answers -- whether you decide to kvetch in it or not!! ;)

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  25. I loved your column. You captured exactly how I feel on that first crisp day - it's beautiful and invigorating but I get this crazy nostalgia for school uniforms and newborn babies (I had two late summer babies)
    And my high school journals? Were enitrely "cute boy passed me in the hall after history - he waved." Page after page of that. Ugh.

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  26. Tag.
    http://runamokmama.blogspot.com/2006/09/meme-time.html

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  27. Ha! You crack me up! I'm sorry about the kids being sick - and so soon! But that's school, isn't it? They aren't just trading ideas for what all they can do with construction paper and what type of shirt/pants are necessary to be a 'cool' kid. Best of luck to you during poor Birdy's cold! And I'm clicking over...

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  28. PS - I would love to see "100 things" about Catherine. I haven't actually completed it yet, but I'll tag you for that. And here's the link to a book meme I did do-
    Tag!
    http://ascozyasspring.typepad.com/as_cozy_as_spring/2006/08/dawn_tagged_me_.html

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  29. You may kvetch in any capacity you desire! And yes, do teach Birdy the karate chopping skillz.

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  30. I don't post comments to you often, because they always end up being the "me too" variety which surely must get incredibly boring to read. But anyway, Me Too. My seven, four and three year old all started school and got sick within ONE DAY!!! Strep and a common cold. I just finished re-reading Waiting for Birdy...it's the only book I read where I find myself chortling out loud and my husband comes into the room and says "what? oh, that book again" I force him to stay and listen whilst I read out loud the section that made me laugh. Thank you! Keep on blogging - even if it's just the sucky day stuff.

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  31. Anonymous3:45 PM

    Unrelated to your post, I wanted to recommend a children's book to you called More, More, More. There is a story in it with a little girl called Little Bird and I thought your daughter would enjoy it if you haven't already come across it.

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  32. I figure that if we think in fragments we might as well write in them too. What is it about adolescence and young-adulthood that makes us strive to confirm our own inadequacies? Perhaps we should just call them "Rejection Logs" instead of diaries or journals.

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  33. Anyababa4:10 PM

    Oh, but I am having just a totally, totally sucky day, too.

    I am having such a "feel sorry for me please for no good reason" kind of day. (Time of the month? Yes, but that's beside the point.)

    My teenage journal entries from days-gone-by just make me ill to look at them. Oh, I was a cranky gal...

    And what's funny is that these days, I'm usually pretty happy and content--more or less. But not today. Today, your "sucky day" heading really spoke to me.

    I'm in such a transitioney kind of space right now, I just can't stand it. My kids are not babies any more, but a part of me is so over the baby thing anyway--YET a part of me is dying slowly with each day they grow bigger. (which is actually, sadly true if I think about it.)

    My "mommy" friends are all busy driving kids back & forth to school. My single friends don't know what the hay-hay I'm talking about. And my husband thinks I might just be losing my mind...

    I'm feeling so freaking isolated. And it's a different isolated than when they were tiny and I had no time to think. Now I've got time to think (and write endlessly to strangers about it). Not good.

    I'm ready for the next stage, but not quite ready to let this one go. Can anybody say "Adolescence Part II"? I really didn't do well with the first one, and I'm not feeling too good about this one either.

    Pbbbbthhh...

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  34. I just wanted to say I followed you from the parent center site. I was so thrilled when I came across your writting for the first time. I went back and read every entry (maybe 30 of them) in 2 days! It was great.

    Thanks!

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  35. Sad story: I wrote journals from the time I was 8 or so. I was (am?) a very eccentric, dorky kid. At around 14, I BURNED THEM ALL in the fireplace, because I felt if they were ever discovered, I would be doomed to unpopularity for the rest of my life. Then at 16, I realized how lame I was in those early teen years and burned all those journals, too! I would do anything to get those journals back and reread my short stories (one of them called The Adventures Of Tessy Kay, my life written from the perspective of my cat). I have all my journals from 17 on up, but they are all more or less, "Dan says he loves me but he's not INlove with me and that he'll never be inlove again after Jessie. Love is pain, I guess."
    Ugh.
    A quick aside: my journal with Babycenter is up now and ...hmm, I'm shy to say this but I guess I just will... I'd be totally honored if you checked it out since you inspire me. It's nothing great, but, whatever. One could get to it by clicking my name, I think.

    Looking forward to future kvetching and sentence fragments.

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  36. Do you know how popular you are? I was like, "Oh, goody, a new entry!", and now I'm the 36th person to comment and the entry's only been up for an hour!

    Hee hee: I thought you were worried about people thinking you talked about yourself too much; as in "ME. ME." I thought it was some slang I wasn't privy to. Turns out it WAS, only not in the way I imagined. :-)

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  37. Goodness ... I'm so jealous of everyone who is on one or less illnesses for the school year. In the month since mine have been back I have had to deal with two ear infections (same kid, different ears), one asthma attack, one upper respiratory infection, and a funkified eye injury involving a branch.

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  38. Hey, I once found my mom's angsty teenage diary and read it. She was sort of mad at me for reading it but honestly it was a great thing for our relationship...before that I thought my mom had perfect emotional cool, was never angsty, and I thought I was a freak for obsessing about the boy in gym class who thought the patch on the butt of my jeans was cute. Turns out my mom was an emotional angsty wreck too, and also obsessed about boys' comments that might possibly concern her butt. It made her so much more human and easier to identify with. So keep the journal, and leave it around for Birdy to read when she's in the teenage angsty period.

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  39. what is 'tag' with a 'meme'? Sorry to have to ask

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  40. I gotta say I'm not sure sure what a meme is, or how to tag one either, but if I did know, I would tag you.

    Colds stink, but I always tell myself, at least it's not barf! We live in FL, so tend to escape that stuff a little more than you, but believe me, your barf fear is probabably mild compared to mine. God help me when my son gets the barfing flu (4 years I've been spared so far).

    Thanks for you writing and your honesty. I never posted much on babycenter becuase sometimes people could be so critical, but I just love reading everything you write.

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  41. If only I kept a journal during my teenage years, I would love to take a look back. My journal writing came to an abrupt halt after my younger sister found mine and proceeded to read it to all of her friends. That was it for me. I have several started journals from my college years and early twenties. I begin them with such great intentions, but always seem to lose momentum. Then I read Waiting for Birdy when my daughter was a few months old and was inspired to write again. I don't write as often as I'd like, but I'm working on it.

    Catherine, I would just love it if you offered a writers workshop for mothers. Perhaps a weekend event at a lovely little Inn like the one you mentioned in one of your entries. I have a feeling you'd be turning people away.

    I'm off to Wondertime just noticed your new post is up.

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  42. Ha! And I was so proud of myself because I knew what a blog was before my techno-husband did :) Now, I have "meme" to throw at him, thanks to you!!

    Afraid I'm one of those non-writing souls whose high school literature teachers forced journaling on her... Embarassingly, my mom found some of those journals in a box in the basement about 15 years after I graduated, and read them! Not as big an invasion of privacy as you might think, I had a pretty boring life back in high school ;). Good luck with the sniffles and snots! I optimistically gave my little Abby the "make sure you wash your hands as much as you can now that you're in kindergarten so you don't get lots of icky germs" talk just yesterday. Accompanied on her part, of course, by much eye-rolling and sighing. When did 5-year-olds suddenly decide they know more than their Mamas, eh?

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  43. Sorry to hear about Birdy being sick. I think that is just how it works. They start school and they get sick! Both of mine are sick already as well. As for the blog, I think you should use it as a way to talk about your experiences, your views, your opinions. We already have a place to read about your wonderful kids and see that beautiful writing your so capable of, but your blog can be the place for you to, well, just kvetch. I think your fans would read whatever you write, fragmented sentences and all.

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  44. I have been reading you for three years now. I am so excited that you have a real blog now. I feel like I can really get to know the real Catherine. I admire the kind of mother you are, I have a 5 year old boy, and reading those entries on Parent Center has shaped the kind of mother that I am. So thanks

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  45. If it makes you feel any better whatsoever, my teenage journals are just full of quotes from Pat Benetar songs and really, REALLY bad poetry. And hey! Sentence fragments!

    As far as the memes go, other than telling me to knock it off with the demands for meme-iness, you could always do what Jo(e) does, and just make it into whatever you want it to be anyway. With fragments.
    xo

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  46. First, thanks for starting a blog in addition to your new gig at dalaimama! I'm looking forward to your first f-bomb with great anticipation.

    Second, I completely agree with the mother's writing workshop idea! I would go, and I agree that you'd probably be turning people away. I'm sure there's some groovy place in your area that would be thrilled to host you and the many women you inspire to write. Keep us posted.

    Finally, I think you should have a "Share Your Horrid Teenage Prose With the Internet" day, and we can all publish our angsty musings. Perhaps at the Catherine Newman Writers' Workshop, Where the Angst is Free and So Are the Cocktails?

    I'm going to go read my journals and have some chai now.

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  47. OMG, thank you for the newest article. I never knew how to explain that feeling, but wrestling with restlesness is perfect...I can't even begin to count the number of times I've had to force myself to sit and veg with my kiddos instead of jumping up and doing. Thanks for the reminder to live each day.

    I was just struck while writing this, remembering your article about being a "the glass if full, but ready to spill at any moment" type...I told my husband that and he smiled and said "wow, someone else just summed you up perfectly". Again, thank you.
    I'm clueless on the meme, but I think I am getting the idea of it now.

    Kvetch away.

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  48. Catherine - I just read your wondertime article, and I know exactly what you mean. I'm so sorry for the death of your friend, and it does make you want to spend more of your life LIVING. And I'm not talking about bungy jumping, or skydiving (or maybe I am) - I'm talking about listening, and feeling, and - like you said - just plain enjoying the happy moments that surround us every day. I realized this, especially, after my brother died this May. One minute, I'm talking to him on the phone about his day at work, and 45 minutes later, he's gone. Dealing with his death has caused me pain, but I also have a new reason to just be me, and to share it with those around me. Just wanted to let you know that I'm sorry for your loss.

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  49. Anonymous11:44 AM

    http://www.webraw.com/quixtar/archives/2006/01/blogging_101_the_blog_meme.php

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  50. Catherine- I love reading you, wherever you may post, in sentences or fragments! And I love that you used the word "kvetch" several times!

    Seriously, I was going to say that you inspire me to write, bu really, you inspire me to WANT to write....I never actually get around to doing it.

    Perhaps someday!

    And what is meme??

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  51. Anonymous1:30 PM

    Regarding the sick children: Us, too. And my oldest/sickest child is far enough in school that it's a pain to miss some of what he'd miss to stay home, making the keep a child in/send him to school decision a guilty one no matter what.

    Regarding an embarrassing adolescent emotional life: My dad recently brought over a box of correspondance from my college years. Reading these letters from friends as an adult was really embarrassing for me. I saw better with adult eyes how they saw me and felt about me. I was prompted to write a couple of letters to a couple of dear boys (now fine men) who I should have been more careful with in those days. I wasn't ever cruel, per se, just didn't appreciate the moment. These were just nice kids (closer at the time to my SON's current age than to mine... now THAT is some frightening math!) who wanted more of me in their lives and I wasn't interested. I have a great husband now, but why, oh, why did I not realize that the invitation I accepted would be the last one I ever got? Makes me regret that I wasn't kinder and more appreciative of them, their interest, my freedom, my youth. BTW, both guys wrote me back and were extremely gracious and happy to reconnect (appropriately...;)

    Need to write any letters?

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  52. Kvetching in sentence fragments is really a good use of blogging, I swear. And also for memorizing your children's summer faces - post as many pictures in this blog as you want.
    I am so glad I was too airy to keep a journal. I did try occasionally, and the few entries were full of "so-and-so is so wonderful, I bet if I lost 20 pounds he'd love me" and it's so awful I could die. I hate that anyone feels like that, and I hope you teach Birdy that karate chop soon.

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  53. PS - the only memes I know are knitting memes. Do you knit? I'll tag you up one side and down the other.

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  54. this is a MEME....

    TAG!!!

    Learn 50 things about your friends, and let them learn 50 things about you!

    1. How tall are you barefoot?

    2. Have you ever been unfaithful in a relationship?

    3. Do you own a gun?

    4. Have you had a mental disorder?

    5. Why is a raven like a writing desk?

    6. What do you think of hot dogs?

    7. What's your favorite Christmas song?

    8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?

    9. Do you do push-ups?

    10. Have you ever done ecstasy?

    11. Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?

    12. Do you like the rain?

    13. Are you sweet?

    14. Do you have A.D.D.?

    15. Full initials?

    16. Do you like the snow?

    17. Name 4 thoughts at this exact moment.

    18. Name the last 3 things you have bought in the past week:

    19. Have you ever been arrested?

    20. What time did you wake up today?

    21. Can you spell?

    23. Current hate?

    24. Favorite place to be?

    25. Least favorite place to be?

    26. Where would you like to go?

    27. Do you own slippers?

    28. Where do you think you'll be in 10 yrs?

    29. Do you burn or tan?

    30. Yellow or blue?

    31. Would you be a pirate?

    32. When was the last time your phone rang?

    33. What songs do you sing in the shower?

    34. What did you fear was going to get you at night as a child?

    35. What's in your pockets right now?

    36. Last thing that made you laugh?

    37. Best bed sheets you had as a child?

    38. Worst injury you've ever had?

    39. Have you ever crashed a car/truck?

    40. How many TVs do you have in your house?

    41. Would you ever buy an iguana?

    42. Are you attracted to your same sex?

    44. Do you wish on stars?

    45. What is your favorite book?

    46. What song did you last hear?

    47. Do you think Mormons are hot?

    48. What is your favorite cereal?

    49. What were you doing at midnight last night?

    50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up?

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  55. Just read your Dalai Mama...

    So so sorry.

    I'm back to school and I feel the same way about trying to get work done, but really needing the babies smothering me with crazy love at the same time. Your article is beautiful.

    And... you've posted about teenagers before, seeing them walk in front of your car and wondering what kind of teen Ben will be. And now mentioning that you have a favorite teenager. I love that you love teenagers. I teach sophomore English so it's in my best interest to love them. There really aren't a great deal of adults who remember what it was like to be a teenager and still want to spend time with actual teenagers.

    So sad for you right now. So glad to know that that teenager has an amazing, strong, intelligent adult to show him or her the way.

    There're some fragments for ya!

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  56. OK first off..meme? I am lost. But other than that....your diary and mine are exactly the same. Here's the hilarious part--the insensitive teenager I was moaning about back then....19 years later we are still together!! ha ha ha - everyone once in awhile I will pull out my diary and we will read it. I ask him if he worried about any of these issues back then...the reply "nope not at all." Please please let my girls be stronger and wiser than all that teenage girl angst!! I am relievd though because one day "Grease" was on and we were dancing around and my 5 year old asked "why did Sandy have to change before Danny would love her. why does he olny love the yucky smoking Sandy?" Good point! Shame on you Sandy Olsen!

    Sorry to hear about your loss. Keep dancing!

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  57. Catherine,
    I am a first time visitor to your site and way behind all the others because it seems that my parenting newsleters were seen as SPAM and therefore were never read. I went to the site today and read your last entry there. I almost choked up at the mention of "The Lost Boys" and have put that on the list of things I must rent again! So thank you for that.

    Also, love your writing style, will definately be back. And about the Meme--I am never picked either. Mainly because I have no readers other than a few people who accidently stumble upon my site when they search for "cute little girl", yes I know, ewwwwww.

    Sorry to hear about those nasty germs finding their way into your children. My daughter attends daycare and her immune system is super strong from the earlier illnesses that she now brings everything home to us. Lovely of her.

    But anyway, stop by sometime and say hi. I will be back again.

    Lorie

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  58. Carrie3:21 PM

    Your essay about peaches (etc.) put me in mind of one of my favorite poems by Li-Young Lee which I know you will enjoy:

    From Blossoms

    From blossoms comes
    this brown paper bag of peaches
    we bought from the boy
    at the bend in the road where we turned toward
    signs painted Peaches.

    From laden boughs, from hands,
    from sweet fellowship in the bins,
    comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
    peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
    comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

    O, to take what we love inside,
    to carry within us an orchard, to eat
    not only the skin, but the shade,
    not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
    the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
    the round jubilance of peach.

    There are days we live
    as if death were nowhere
    in the background; from joy
    to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
    from blossom to blossom to
    impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

    - Li-Young Lee

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  59. You can always kvetch in fragments. That's what blogging is for.

    Around my house the gagging mucus cough almost always turns into barfing around 3 am. It's okay during the day, just the cough, but at night: the barf.

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  60. Heh. You reminded me: In grade school journals which typically had a soft, pearly finish to them and a lock and heart-shaped key to go with, I always stated who it was I was in love with for the day. Anyone else? It was "I heart Jimmy" from July 11 through August 2, and then inexplicably it became "I heart Sean," who only lasted two days. Very odd.

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  61. Thank you Catherine. Will the learning experiences never cease? My college journals are my secret embarrassment. The state of my tormented soul fills page after page, and the torment continued long after the time for all that self absorption ended, fueled by one little question: What the hell was wrong with me? How liberating to know that I was not alone. Now I can ask: What the hell was wrong with us 20 -something women? And being the mother of two daughters, I can only hope they will find melancholy less entertaining.

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  62. great blog...love reading your posts!

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  63. Rita in Spain6:21 AM

    May I join in in the communal "WHAT is a meme?" I was feeling out of it till I saw everyone else was baffled....

    And oh, Catherine, don´t even get me started on the sickness....My 5 yr old daughter Laura went to school for her 1st day for 2 hours last Friday, then promptly got a 101 fever that night....P.S. , we are at a week later, Friday and today she has finally gone back to school.... we have had to change the antibiotics yada yada yada...the only up side to it all was I got sleep with her all week (she coslept with us til age 3 and I STILL miss it! So now our sleeping tradition is whoever is sick gets to sleep with Mommy!)

    Not that I want her to be sick, duh ...but you know...

    As for diarys (diaries?), I have one from my high school years and I would be extremely embarassed to have my daughter read it...I apparently was over sexed or something...I did not have a sex life per say but I spent alot of time talking about who made out with whom and who I wanted to kiss....my sex life was basically kissing and it seems I kissed quite a bit! OMG! What was I thinking??? 15 or 16 seems way too young to be thinking of lingerie in Victorias Secret?? and for what???? Kissing? Life was BOYS...

    .....I have it tucked away hidden from all eyes....

    Anyways, I hope the kids are feeling better....and yeah fragments are fine...sheez, I THINK in fragments most days! : )

    Adios!

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  64. Anonymous9:42 AM

    Oh thank goodness I am not the only one not having any idea what a meme is, so Catherine you will have to explain. Re kvetching: is it me, or does this happen every Fall as the excitement of the new school year wears off and the reality of the dying season sets in? I don't mean every year for YOU, Catherine. (I could go back and re-read your journal to see if that is true, but much as I love your column I can't justify the time expended). I mean I have always felt like September-October-November is a melancholy season, punctuated by days of crystalline heartbreaking beauty. Maybe its a Northeast thing. Anyway, everyone is writing about past bad boyfriends but I wanted to say I LOVE your description of the wine-tasting game! Not only because of the slight errors made by Ben (i.e., the wine is light because it is white) but because honestly, the wine-tasting experience itself is so earnestly serious and you find yourself trying to taste the apricots, smoke, coffee, spices, etc. you are supposed to be getting. And I do get that, for the first taste, and I can distinguish the first from the second, but after that, my palate is so confused. And I can imagine my two oldest boys playing the same game and it quickly going like this, "And this one has just a hint of Peanut Butter! with honey!And Dog Poo!" followed by uncontrollable giggles.

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  65. Um, I think we dated the same guy, for I too had THE BAD RUSSIAN MAJOR BOYFRIEND! I don't know why I put up with him, either!
    I burned all my diaries. No angst for me, thanks!

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  66. PLEASE do sentence fragments. I'm thoroughly enjoying the "unedited" side of you.

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  67. BTW: My first grader got the "pink eye in the class" note on the SECOND day of school. At the beginning of the second week, she comes home and says to my dh, "Guess what, Daddy? TWO kids in my class threw up today?" And even though you don't know me from Adam, I could FEEL your sympathy through the net.... We skirted those issues--and then at the end of week two, she caught a cold which her younger brother and sister immediately caught. But I'll take the colds over the barfing any day. I'm currently pumping myself full of vitamin C in the slim hope I won't catch it, too.

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  68. I stopped journalling a few years ago because I realised that I was only journalling when I was miserable and I was too blissfully busy to bother when things were good. Ditto for writing poetry. I didn't want the only written record of my life to be pathetic descriptions of all the minutiae of feeling rejected and hurt.

    I shudder to think that some of those journals are still in my parents' basement 5000 kilometres away and that one day I'll have to lay claim to them again. I just hope that my daughter isn't around to read them when I do.

    I, too, went through the usual rounds of dating people who didn't really like me or liked me too much to let me breathe or just didn't like me as much as they thought they did...

    When I met my current partner I remember telling my girlfriends how angry I was that we all felt as though we should settle when we found someone who was "good enough" and we really shouldn't expect anything more from the men in our lives because we were all taught that "boys will be boys". What a load of crap!

    I hope that I never tell my daughter "that's just the way that boys are". And if I have a son I hope that he will be just as thoughtful, courteous, outrageous, outgoing, emotional and nurturing as I hope to teach my daughter to be.

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  69. I wrote lots and lots of journals. My mother read all of them. In a heated argument, she told me she read them. I destroyed them immediately after that. I wish I had them now. I wanted to use them as a reference to write a teen novel in my later years (um, close to these present years). Sigh. I remember that most of mine were filled with angst, but also a page here and there of really super, exciting days. And of course, almost all of it was about boys!

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  70. Catherine-
    I just want to tell you that I have lurked for years reading your column at BabyCenter - at least since I was pregnant with my first and Ben was just a babe himself - and now your blog. I like this blog thing... you're writing is so much freer (is that a word?) here!

    My oldest daughter who is 5, just started Kindergarten this year. By the end of the first week of school, she'd already brought home the green snotties. And since then, we have exchanged them back and forth between her and my youngest daughter (17 mos). I don't think I've had a full week yet this month where I'm not wiping green snot from someone's nose! But, like you said, at least no one is barfing... although we've had some stomach problems of the other sort which I'm starting to think has been caused by a virus and not by something any of us ate.

    Good luck with all the new germs and stock up on Vitamin C! :o) Thanks for sharing your family and your woes and making all us Mom's out here feel completely normal and sane!

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  71. Since you told us to comment here on your wondertime articles...here goes:

    First, Wrestling with Restlessness: I cracked up at Ben's expertise with wine-tasting and thought I'd share a common anecdote with you:

    My dad was visiting last Sunday for one night only, the first time we'd seen him in over a year, and we were having dinner with red wine. We allow our 3-year-old to taste wine and of course he never likes it. True to form, he asks this particular night and in spite of my confusion over how much to care about what my father thinks about anything, I felt a little weird about it and then allowed him his taste. He wrinkled his nose and his dad asked, "Did you like it?" and Mercer said, "No, I like white wine." Oh, of course.

    Secondly, Learning to Worry Less: I'm fighting my tendency to worry over my 3-year-old's uniqueness, the obsession with princess dresses, the complete oblivion to TV or movie characters (since he hasn't seen any), the innocence, the emotional vulnerability that I perceive but really hasn't surfaced in relationships with friends. I do worry less with Henry (17 mos). But I guess, the thing I keep reminding myself of is a conversation I had with one of my husband's friends during an introspective moment of his, when he asked me if my parents made me feel like being popular was the most important thing. And my answer was, "Yes," which alarmed me because it highlighted so many bad choices I made, insecurities I had, etc., etc., etc. I achieved that goal at the expense of so many more important things. I vowed at that moment to never make my kids feel that way. It's so hard when we're still playing some of the same games in the school parking lots. It IS exhausting. Who has the time or energy for that? I'm still working on dropping those habits, the wanting to be everyone's favorite, most admired.

    (As another one of your fans said, see, I too can write in a stream of consciousness, in fragments.)

    Thanks for the columns and for this blog, Catherine. I'm infinitely relieved to still be "in touch" with you!

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  72. catherine, i've just found this blog- so happy to bookmark it and check in for updates! as a fan i have a question for you- i stumbled across your 'bitch in the house' essay and had so much fun reading it, I didn't know you had an article in there. Then the next day i happened to read a family fun article about how you and your husband like to make fun shaped pancakes or something and I just got to wondering what you would say about marriage and monogomy and all of that now? Do you have different ideas than you used to? Are you not allowed to talk about this b/c your publisher forbids it? It's a personal question, but you don't shy away from the personal, so I thought I'd ask. You've always just got such a creative and right-on outlook on things- I'm so curious to know where you're at with that.

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  73. Can I steal "Kvetching in Fragments" if I ever change the name of my blog? The current title is a little silly, especially since I don't normally refer to myself in the third person.

    Most of my post-high school journals were "lost" in the many moves I made after graduation. As in, I just wanted to destroy any evidence of the extent of my stupidity. The elementary-jr high Ramona Quimby diary is adorable. The high school ones are embarassing, but still funny. Heck, teenagers are supposed to be melodramatic and stupid. Unfortunately, I was still stupid and shallow and boy-crazy in college. Ah well.

    Incidentally, I love my students (I teach hs chemistry), but occasionally I have one or two who I know are payback for the drama queen I was back then. How did my parents and teachers not wring my neck?

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  74. Not a meme, but a couple of questions for you here if you have time to stop by. :)

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