Thursday, January 29, 2004


Dear Bitch,
I am the sister in the "Sad for Sis" letter. I think you missed the most important sentence written in her letter to you.

When she said my friend had told me in so many words that she was "not interested in doing anything that does not involve her children," she was not paraphrasing my comments. Nor was I paraphrasing my friend when I said this.

This Saturday night we (my friend, her two sisters, her sister-in-law and I - most of my inner circle) are going to have a "girls night out." This is the first time in eight years that my friend has been willing to spend an evening without her daughters, and it was like pulling teeth for her sister-in-law to get her to stay committed to an evening without the girls. We had to change our plans several times to ensure that we could have a "grown-up" evening. She even tried to get us to have dinner and then go back to her house where we would have our girls night and her daughter would just stay in her room.

Now I know your first reaction is to say, "Oh, she doesn't have kids, so she just wants her friend to dump the kids and go gadding about." I'm not asking her to go solo every time we get together. I would love to have one or two times a year when we can hang out and revisit our lost youth.

All of my friends have kids and I love to visit with them. My problem is not the children, my problem is that my friend made a decision that she would not participate in any social functions that excluded her children. ANY.

I spend plenty of time on the telephone with her and my other friends so that we can chat when they have a moment. I visit them on weekend afternoons and evenings and make a number of concessions to fit our time around their kids. They do the same for me, when I have tight deadlines, they generally understand that I can't spend 20+ minutes on the phone at work to chat and we catch up on the weekend. I understand their need to bond and nurture their children, and these kids are my nieces and nephews.

I couldn't love them more if we shared genetic material, but just as I wanted to spend sister time with my sis when her kids were small, I want to spend some sister time with this friend, like I do with my other mommy friends.

There are lots of selfish reasons why I occasionally want to spend adult time with this friend, but there are also unselfish reasons. You named a few of them, kids grow up and it takes them 20 years to appreciate what their parents gladly gave up, the pressures of a society that seems designed to guarantee that all women feel they are failing in some area, etc, etc, etc.

I want her to have an occasional outlet to just be herself - not wife, not mom, just her. I have pressures from family, work, friends, volunteering etc. that all try to force me to be someone else's ideal. I believe it is required and not optional to remember who we are on at least a semi-annual basis. To touch that person inside who could laugh until it hurt, spin in circles until you were so dizzy you fell, sing at the top of your lungs (regardless of your ability) and who KNEW that the world had been waiting for you to grow up and invent, discover and experience EVERYTHING.

Supporter of the Inner Mom

Dear SIM,
Thanks for the additional details. And no, I wasn't really making assumptions about you - only asking.

One of the advantages of being a middle-aged broad is (yes, there are some, despite that chin-whisker thing), you have a much better sense of what's worth your limited time and energy. Keep this in mind as you read.

Your friend, for whatever compulsive and subconscious reason, has decided to aspire to the title of Supermom. She might just as easily have decided to marry someone who beats her, have an affair with the mailman, or hit the crack pipe as soon as the kids leave for school. But no, the Supermom thing is her drug of choice.

I don't use the term lightly. To far too many people these days, parenthood is a drug. Something you use to escape something else.

In your friend's case, the term "sublimation" comes to mind. She's taking an awful lot of her inner self and channeling it into one direction. And what is she avoiding? Sexual energy, probably. Lots and lots of crappy marriages are held together by parents focusing solely on the kids instead of each other. If you don't want to have sex with your mate, you can always run yourself and the kids ragged instead.

In my experience, the best marriages and happiest families are the ones in which the parents communicate this message to the kids: "You know, we love you and you're so important. But you're not the only thing that's important, and we need time for each other, too."

(Another possibility that occurs to me is, she might be one of these people who thinks they've made a bargain with God, and she made a solemn vow to devote herself solely to her children "if only" something else didn't happen. For instance, I knew a woman who believed God gave her child a serious illness to punish her for having an affair. As if! It's always about sex, isn't it? What else do people go to such lengths to hide - or hide from?)

You may be shocked to hear that, as extreme as your friend seems to you, I've seen worse. How about this one? Someone still nursing her six-year-old son, who sleeps in the bed with him every night - and got a job teaching her son's class so she wouldn't have to be separated from him. (Would it surprise you if I told you the father is rather obviously seeking an affair? Dear God, not with a ten-foot pole. Eek.)

I had a close friend who home-schooled. Not all that unusual, and even laudable in many cases. But, as I told her, "I don't think you do it for your kids. I think you do it for you. I think you don't want to have to figure out what you want to do when you grow up."

I remember seeing a story in the local paper about a support group for "empty-nest" parents. (I had a bit of trouble relating to the idea.) Turns out my ex-husband knew the founder. "Well, I'd file that under the category of 'Needs a life,' " I snickered.

"They're just people whose kids are everything to them," he said. "They're not so bad."

"Yeah? Let's ask the kids when they're 40," I suggested. But hey, enough with the snide cracks. Your friend has a very real problem; her life is way out of balance. And there's not a damned thing you can do about it.

You can tell her the way you feel; you probably already have. Keep telling her in that "I-message" way: "Gee, it really makes me sad that we have no time alone together. I really need to stay connected to you, and it's hard when I can't. I miss you." You know the sort of thing. Try to avoid the "you" messages, as in, "What are you, a fucking nut? Jesus Christ, even Mary and Joseph took a break from the kid once in a while."

You don't really have many options, SIM. What I was trying to say in my last answer is that, ultimately, people simply have to go through whatever seemingly crazy phase they're going through. You can't rush it, talk them around it, cajole, threaten or manipulate. You can only take the opportunity to wait for your friend to deal with whatever it is she's trying so hard to avoid.

Trust me. One day, whatever it is will spring off the leash and all hell will break loose. Until then, well, at least you got her to go away for the weekend. Here's hoping she doesn't crap out at the last minute. Let me know how it goes.


Thursday, January 22, 2004

Dear Bitch,
Not that I want to be in competition with you, but how did you start your blog? I want to start a blog. Where does one blog? Does blogging cost much?

I want to force my opinions- er, share my views with unknown others. Do the stars bode well for this adventure? Do you think anyone other than my sister will read it? I have opinions galore and I make my sister listen to them. She needs a break.


Dear Itch,
Gentle reader, I chuckle at the thought. As if anyone could compete with The Bitch.

Blogging is an avocation. It destroys your life, it eats up time and it renders you a mute, quivering mass who begins to dream in HTML.

Other than that, though, it's a lot of fun.

Blogging itself is pretty simple - and free. Go to Blogger.com or Livejournal.com and sign up - they'll walk you through it. All you need to know are a few HTML tags for things like bold, italics and quotations, and how to insert a hyperlink for a reference story. (Suggestion: Pick a name that starts with a letter that's early in the alphabet - if other bloggers link to you, it moves you higher in the list.)

I picked up a lot of this stuff through the kindness of other bloggers. The rest, you learn by doing - and Googling. If you want actual readers, be patient; it takes a while. Please don't send any of those pathetic "Will you PLEASE link to me?" letters. And don't be a link whore, who links to everyone else so they'll link to you. Be selective. (When you want to add your own links, go to Blogrolling.com.)

One last word of advice: If you have a job where your opinions may get you fired, don't blog under your real name.

Just promise me this isn't a blog where you pretend to be your cat. Because I hate those.


Friday, January 09, 2004

Dear Bitch,
My favorite sister (I've got three) has this horrible problem. Her oldest friend (they’re both over 35 and friends since early grade school) is now married, with two children, and a stay-at-home Mom. My sister is a lifelong single, no ankle-biters, and has a high-stress job as a project manager at the corporate office of a national entertainment chain. The friend has told my sister, in so many words, "I'm not interested in doing anything that does not involve my children."

My sister is terribly torn over this issue. She wants so desperately to connect with her friend, and have some 'adults only' time with her.

I've suggested a number of avenues that she could pursue to encourage the friend to spend some 'alone time' with her. My sister is adamant that it is not possible, that the friend will write her off if she persists in approaching her with ideas on how to have some fun without the kiddies. (Birth data included.)

Any ideas?

Sad for Sis

Dear Sad,

Well, yeah, I have a few thoughts. And the first one is, is your sister bad-vibing her friend? I had children when my friends didn't, and as a result, I was ignored, lectured to, or pitied. (From what you know of The Bitch, you can imagine how well that went over.)

Sis is a Libra, and we can be pretty thoughtless because we’re so ultra-logical (the only sign of the zodiac represented by a machine). Plus, she’s got her moon in Sag, which makes her prone to blurting out feelings better left unsaid.

If your sister wants to strengthen the bond with her friend, she needs to accept the limitations that go with the reality of her friend's life - much like having an affair with a married man. Stolen moments, as it were, heavy on phone contact and quiet yearning for what could have been. Either accept it for what it is, or move on. (But that's another letter.)

The phone is a lifeline for moms. I can’t imagine she doesn’t want to talk to your sister – unless Sis makes subtle digs at her for not being efficient enough to make time to see her without the kids. Who needs that aggravation?

As to her friend: I believe, with all my heart, that we pay entirely too much attention to children. That is to say, too much of the wrong kind of attention and not enough of the right kind.

There are so many insidious pressures on parents: Academic, psychological, social. Look at the commercials! If you care about your children, you’re supposed to buy the safest car, take them to Disney World, soccer, martial arts, ballet and pottery class. You have to make them take their Ritalin or they won’t get into the top schools, they won’t get good jobs and it will be ALL YOUR FAULT.

Parents of the world, understand this: It will all be your fault, anyway.

Mothers are especially prone to the pressure; women try harder to fit in, to please. Of course, The Bitch is not one of those women.

I remember a Cub Scout meeting where I was given an assignment: Show up for the next meeting at 5:30 with five dozen cupcakes. I raised my hand and asked, "Why can't we ask the fathers to take care of this?" A shocked silence, then: "Because they work."

"Well, I work, too," I said. "And I don't get home until 5:30. Neither does my husband. I can't do this."

You would have thought I threw a grenade into the room. Because after all, women are supposed to do what they're asked. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I've always had an extremely high resistance to this sort of thing. (Pluto in the 10th house. Apparently I was a man in my last life.)

So your sister's friend is probably dealing with all that, too - on top of the simmering disapproval of her oldest friend.

In light of the national divorce rate, parents are simply insane not to nourish their friendships. (While the spouses may come and go, a friend is forever.) And your grown kids will not be grateful for a life of your abject servitude. They will find the weight of it too heavy for them to carry; they will most certainly resent you for it.

If there were one thing I could say to parents (as someone who raised two, mostly by myself), it would be this: Lighten the fuck up. Take some time for yourself, and if you’re married, for your marriage. Because no matter what you do or don’t do, your kids will still blame you. (Trust me on this. I tell mine, “Well honey, you just take that up with the therapist you can hopefully afford by your thirties.”)

Parents have taken the same dysfunctional focus and perfectionist expectations they used to put into their jobs and aimed it at their poor defenseless kids. Parenting has become just another high-pressure, high-status career track.

As an aside, just let me get this off my chest. I believe one of the worst things you can do to children is get them more familiar with the word “yes” than the word “no.”

“No” is a perfectly respectable parenting tool, to be used liberally. “No, mommy’s on the phone right now. Don’t interrupt.” “No, you may not play another video game until after you finish your homework.” "No, I won't buy that for you." "No, it's bedtime." "No, you can't sign up for any more activities."

And most important of all: “No, we do NOT interrupt Mommy while she’s in the bathroom. Not unless someone is bleeding a whole lot.” I can't believe all these grown women who tell me they can't go to the bathroom by themselves. And bedtime - I had a neighbor who used to say, "You're so lucky! How do you get yours to go to bed?"

"I put them in bed, we read a story, we say prayers and I turn out the lights. It's not as if they have a choice," I told her. "After all, I'm bigger than them."

The thing those “yes” parents can’t admit is, they’re lazy. (I'm lazy, too - that's why I said no. Because I figured it was a lot easier to say it to a two-year-old than a teenager.) It’s a lot easier to say yes and it makes you a hero – for now. But just wait until they finally get that therapist! When you love someone, you set limits. It goes with the turf, and all the Suzuki violin lessons in the world won’t change it.

I feel bad for those parents, but much worse for their kids, because they’re living in a fantasyland that makes them ill suited for polite society. (Or restaurants.) Your parents are supposed to teach you discipline – which is not, as many people think, the ability to follow someone else’s rules. It’s the ability to instill rules in yourself.

Where was I? Oh yes, your sister's friend. Reality, and the acceptance thereof.

It's kind of like this. If your sister's friend was in a car accident, and was confined to a wheelchair as a result, would your sister resent her for not being able to go out clubbing? Probably not. Well, motherhood is kind of like being in a wheelchair. At the very least, you're hobbled for a while.

And good friends understand that. This is an important transition in a friendship, and you don't desert your friend because she can't dance now. She will, eventually - but not now.

Odds are 50/50 that one day, your sister will be the one in the Mommy wheelchair. And then she'll have the benefit of a good friend who understands exactly what it's like.


Thursday, January 08, 2004

Dear Bitch,
The drug companies claim they are just looking out for people’s health by trying to keep unsafe medicines from being brought into this country from other countries.

The big question for the drug companies is: Why is a drug, sold in Canada and costing less, somehow dangerous but the same drug made by the same company and bought in the US is OK? Are they trying to tell us that Pfizer’s Expensomax medicine sold in Canada is hazardous but has better quality control if bought in the US? If I lived in Canada, I’d sure as heck want an explanation.

Cynical Consumer

Dear Consumer,
I asked an honest-to-good industry expert - who wants to remain in the industry, so this is off-the-record. Here's his reply:
There's quality control that over the drug as it's being made (how it's formulated, quality of raw materials, accuracy of the manufacturing process - that's where validation comes into play), then there's quality control over the drug after it's been made (how is it stored and shipped). Where you buy it has no bearing on the former - but could on the latter.

The argument that your poster makes could be supported in theory along the lines that "if this drug is being warehoused in some non-temperature-controlled igloo in Canada, there's a better chance that the drug could lose its efficacy that there would be if it was stored in a 24/7/365 climate-controlled warehouse here in 'merka."

Whether that's true in practice, I dunno. You could draw an analogy to the bad scallions/hepatitis outbreak at Chili's (or ChiChis, forget which) not too long ago. A scallion is a scallion is a scallion, but if the Mexican migrant worker didn't wash his hands after wiping his ass then handled the scallions, I'm more likely to get hepatitis or e. coli than I would be if a so-called "good 'merkun with good 'merkun standards of hygiene" harvested those scallions.

The poster is right, though. The US pharma position tries to posit that any drugs not purchased within the borders of the US are somehow not fit for consumption by good 'merkuns. It insults Canadians as well as everyone else in the world - even where it's justified.

None of it justifies the unfair burden of bearing the costs of pharma R&D, manufacturing and marketing placed on the US consumer.

My opinion: eliminate direct-to-patient marketing completely; that should allow prices to come back down a tad. At least it's a start.
Here's my own two cents, Cynical: If the quality of handling for Canadian drugs is so iffy, how come we're not hearing anything about it from the Canadians?


Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Oh Bitchy One,
I was checking out Google News as a result of a link on your site. I skimmed over an item that leads to this inquiry.

Why, oh why, oh why why why are people so interested in twits like Britney and her marital status, and BenLo and their marital status and the Simple Life simpletons and their mental status?

Do people really go for this crap? I know some of my pursuits can be somewhat trivial, but I just don't understand the interest in them. The only reasons I know anything about them are items that thrust in your face on TV or the newspapers.

Or do the media manipulators manufacture the interest and the reality (I'd like to think) is that people really aren't that interested? I don't understand.... I'm so confused!

Tired of Benbritlosimp

Dear Benbrit,

In my honest opinion (when someone says that, don't you want to slap them and say, "As opposed to the rest of the time, when you're lying through your teeth?"), I think it somehow has to do with a lost sense of community.

Most people who are deeply involved in anything - ham radio, troll dolls, political campaigns - tend to find their lives more satisfying. But not everyone has the time, energy and money to invest in anything other than survival - and for those people, we have People and E!

On the other hand (a favorite Libran phrase), they seem to be a helluva lot better politically informed in England than we are in the U.S. - and they have even more celebrity coverage. (Plus all those royals to keep track of.) Even though Rupert Murdoch heavily influences the British news, he's balanced out by other media outlets.

So let's blame the American media. Why not? They suck, mostly. They're owned by a handful of corporations and heavily influenced by financial connections. So they slant the news for their own interests and they pretty much ignore ours.

Me? I mostly ignore celebrity hijinks, save for honing my skills at postmodern irony. I'm too busy living the lucky ducky life of the unemployed, hunting down another showing of "Buffy" with my remote.

Hope this helps,

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Dear Bitch,
I am a progressive guy in a state run almost entirely by far-right nut cases. I'm talking about Alaska, where the Republican party makes the Taliban look downright liberal. I work in government and it's sometimes hard to hold my tongue. I spent six months unemployed in 2003 because I am a Democrat. Now, I work for the only mildly progressive government body in the state. I have to keep my mouth closed so I don't become unemployed again. I also don't want to move to Oregon, I like Alaska. How can I cope?

Lost in Conservative La-La Land

Dear Lost,
This would be a case of the blind leading the blind, only worse. Whatever my employment situation, I always made it worse by offering my unsolicited opinions. (This last time, I kept my mouth firmly shut but I got canned anyway - although they did ask me to come back and apply for a job as an executive secretary. This, for a person who can't organize a box of Kleenex. I suppose that's progress.)

It's very, very difficult to turn off your opinions. With you, it's even worse. Let me 'splain, Lucy.

You have what astrologers call a stellium, which is an intense grouping of three or more planets in the same sign. (You have six. In Aries, a fire sign.)

Now, in your birth chart, all that energy was concentrated in the 10th house, which rules how we're seen out in the world - career, mostly. When you moved to Alaska, two of those planets moved into the 9th house, which rules spiritual leaning, life philosophy and world view. In fact, these are often influenced by journeys to foreign countries. (I think Alaska qualifies.) With Neptune in the 4th house, you're feeling pretty darned idealistic about your adopted home.

Basically, Lost, Alaska has mellowed you a bit. (Good. I get tired just thinking about your chart.) But you still have a stellium in Aries, known as the infant of the zodiac. You says what you mean, and you means what you says. Ruled so heavily by Mars, the war planet, you not-so-secretly delight in setting off explosions - just to keep yourself amused.

You have several transits this year that will make it harder than usual to bite your tongue. Your brain will be itching something fierce and it will be like trying not to pick at a scab. Take a deep breath and go for a walk. Or something. Just don't say what you're thinking if you want to stay employed. Hang in there for at least a year.

Because you know what? You have Pluto crossing your vertex (point of fate) in 2005 in the 5th house, which means something pretty cool could happen in a big way, either with children or a creative project. So if something's on the back burner, the wait should be worth it.

By the way, one of the things I try to do when working with wingnuts is to see the scared pup within. Rigid people are invariably frightened people, who try to compensate with control. How you handle it depends on whether you want karmic brownie points. Since your Libra moon opposes all that Aries energy, you're certainly capable of empathy. Astrology aside, it'll make it easier on you if you can find some common humanity in your tormentors.


Saturday, January 03, 2004

Dear Bitch,
I decided when I started blogging, I would not blogroll promiscuously. Like Pulitzers, they would cover the great and the merely well-done+original, but not everything. And certainly not anything that was merely a set of links to other blogs with almost no original commentary (what I call A Fluster Cluck). So I have but nine links, and two are dedicated to people who are very bright and who I owe big honking favors to and who write intelligently and insightfully about irrelevant topics, so there was the Camel's Nose.

To the point finally: Many people have chosen to point to my weblog, some of them very flattering and encouraging ("Go read this one regularly, it's brilliant"), others with their little Fluster Cluck comments ("I read this yesterday. It's about X"). A few have asked me to point back at them, and while some of their blogs are acceptable, some of them are just a waste of electrons. Worse, I get e-mail from strangers asking me to point at them.

So far, I just pretend they didn't ask. I engage them on a different topic. I don't want to have a diluted blogroll filled with plaque. I don't want to pretend noteworthy the work of perfectly fine people who have chosen to add nothing.

So, Itch-Bay, what's the etiquette of this situation? Am I a snobbish ingrate? A censor channeling John Ashcroft after he's snapped and inhaled deeply a couple of poppers? Can I add a few links to things of marginal value without offending the almost-marginal-but-I-had-to-draw-the-line-somewhere?

Cowed by Courtesy

Dear Cowed,
Blog linking is like smoking - frankly, it's better that you never start in the first place. For God's sake, stand your ground, man!

Many, many links are the result of a momentary indiscretion, a quick fumble in the dark after a few too many martinis that fog the heretofore laser-like precision of our judgment. Others are the blogging equivalent of a pity fuck, the throwing of a bone to literary canines. And somewhere, diamonds hidden in those bloated rolls of loosely-linked cubic zirconium, are true soul mates.

I can honestly say I've read something brilliant at least once on every link to which I refer. But "once" can be a fluke, like that one mad night of passion "but darling, you and I both know something this special isn't meant to survive out in the world. So we'll always have our memories."

So to those of you who are still in a relatively virginial state, repeat this mantra: "Linking without emotional commitment is shallow and meaningless."

If you're going to blogroll, it should count. Because here's the other tawdry little secret, Cowed: Watch what happens when you try to break up with - er, I mean remove someone's link. You thought Iraq was a mess? Hah!

As I mentioned previously, scratch a blogger and find an emotional wreck. Remove that link, and you've ripped off a scab that will gush past personal history. The time in the lunchroom when everyone tittered at your hair, the spiraling shame of a giant zit on Photo Day, the failure to maintain an erection for someone who was, shall we say, less than understanding. ("Honey, I swear, I didn't mean to laugh. It's just that it looks so ... small and cute like that...")

You don't want to be a link whore. I mean, we've all done it (I mention no names, but the Peter Travers of Blogdom knows who I mean), but it's hopefully just a phase and you learn from your mistakes.

Some people separate their links into "Every Day," "Once In A While" and "Occasionally." How very tactful. I don't know how to get Blogroll to do that; I suspect it involves a paid upgrade and this homey don't pay.

When someone starts blogging, they desperately want readers. And no matter how fabulous their writing, insight and wit might be, the mountain will not come to Mohammed. There is little alternative but to "put it on the street," so to speak. Hence, those tentative little emails: "I'm a huge fan, please take a look at my site."

Well, since we're all masses of seething insecurities, we relate. We want to help. So we link. And so the cycle begins. (In defense of the linkless, Cowed, let us not forget one important fact: The Pulitzer finalists are self-nominated.)

Here's the deal, neophytes. Listen up: Unless you have some fabulous, unique insight - or something that's funny as hell - don't send those letters to the top-ranked blogging dogs. Start out small. One way to get known is to post in the comments section for the bigger blogs. If what you have to say is interesting, people will click back to your site to read more.

There IS one major drawback, though, to quality control: Everyone will link to the same 30 blogs and that's as boring as the other extreme.

Maybe what we need is a Bloglink Amnesty Month, when we can remove all blogroll links and start over, based on consistent quality and readership. No one would be singled out for removal, thus mitigating that messy suicide thing.

Until that blessed day, Cowed, hold fast to your ideals. I salute you.


Friday, January 02, 2004

Dear Bitch,
If you run across a blog written by someone you know, and you start reading it regularly, are you expected to inform the writer that you're doing so?


Dear Wondering,
There are people who will think this is a stupid question. Most of those people would probably be men, who tend to think in a rather linear manner and would impatiently respond, "What the hell are you talking about? It's a BLOG. They're PUBLIC, you expect people to read it. Why is this even a question? What about the computer model that picked the college football rankings? Now, THAT'S a problem."

Excuse me while I bemusedly shake my golden curls. There. Now, as those of us who are lovers of etiquette know, the answer to your question depends mostly on the context.

For your basic teen angst blog, I'd strongly suggest ignoring it. If you're the parent of said teen, that's a quandry. If your 14-year-old is getting laid, smoking weed, flunking out and feeling a tad suicidal, chances are, he/she will blog about it. And even though a public blog is hardly the way to keep these matters confidential, I think you have to respect the kid's privacy.

Sort of.

Me, I'd read it. But only occasionally. And if I saw anything that worried me, I'd keep a close eye on the kid. (Remember that kids do make shit up and the thing could be a bunch of bravado.)

But I'd never, ever admit to reading their blog unless I was trapped - and I'm far too devious to be trapped. (Five planets in Scorpio.) The fact is, you can tighten up on anything that worries you without giving them a reason, and why should you? You're the parent, after all.

But I sense we're talking about grownups here, and that answer probably varies as much as the blogging population.

I have a love/hate relationship with my own writing. Even while I wrote for a decent-sized newspaper, there was part of me that wanted to believe no one actually read what I wrote. Because in order to write well, I had to remove certain walls most people won't let down in polite company.

But it still makes me intensely uncomfortable to know someone's reading my work. Doesn't quite make sense, does it? They ran a picture with my column, and sometimes people recognized me. "You're that girl who writes that column." I fell back on the John Lennon response from "A Hard Day's Night": "I get that a lot, but I'm not her."

I'm most comfortable when someone says they read me "once in a while" and mentions a particular post they liked - preferably at least a month old, so there's some distance. (Unless you're my mother, and it's about how I posited the dearth of blowjobs as the reason why Republicans are so angry, and why oral sex builds strong families... But I digress.)

I hate feeling like I should censor my thoughts because someone I know well might take offense - or accumulate evidence against me to be used later. As a general rule of thumb, I try not to write about my REALLY personal "personal life," all the while giving the illusion I'm an open book. I'm not. (But I really do seem like it, don't I? Now, that's good writing.)

If a blogger writes about politics, they want an audience. But chances are, they despise that thing in themselves that craves the attention and so are tied up in a huge muscle spasm of contradiction when someone says, "I read you ALL THE TIME!!!"

A few months ago, I met a bunch of high-powered political activist types and introduced myself by name. A few minutes later, someone came over: "Aren't you the Suburban Guerrilla?"

"Actually, no. That's just the name of my blog." (Unfortunately, it also happens to be a link on the Democratic National Committee blog, which they all read religiously.)

It was already enough to change the dynamic. I was no longer a person, I was A Celebrity. (As if.)

I recently had a discussion with a Very Famous Blogger, who agreed with me that most bloggers are painfully shy - in a horribly extroverted kind of way.

In other words, Wondering, you can't win. We're a horrible, dysfunctional cohort of control freaks and anything you do will make us nervous. So do whatever you want - nicely.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?