Pimping this British Thing For All It's Worth

I now have a completely legitimate excuse to work phrases like "what a wanker!" and "it's the dog's bollocks" and "PONCE!" into my bloggy lexicon, because the kind folks at MamaPop have asked me to be a contributing writer at their place.

Yes please, guv'na!

Head on over to read the first of my installments of Pop Britannia and be wowed by how artfully I can work that cor blimey factor into deliciously trivial pop-culture news from across the pond. (It would be awfully, awfully nice of you, chaps)

(bloomin' heck. i'm making m'self nauseous already. I'm laying it on thicker than Madge!)


Vast, ungainly whale of a man seeks petite women 25-35 who taste of pizza. Box FE8093

Yes. I know I have three more Unmet Goals to laboriously recount to you. The reason for my tardiness? Goal #3, actually do some real work at my real job for a real change.

So, I have been working at my real job. Has it been real work? Sadly, I don't think so. (deep sigh...)

See also, Goal # 4: Write deeply fascinating and revelatory post on either

a) Moving Back to England
b) Becoming A U.S. Citizen
c) Wanting to move back to England, and seriously thinking about it, but at the same time being scared shitless by the prospect, and thinking we'll stay put, and so thinking it would be nice to be able to vote the next election....so I think I might become a citizen.

Yeah. It's total inner turmoil of the mindfuck variety, and not something I seem to be able to grasp mentally, let alone write about. But I'm working on it.

Meanwhile, this lovely lady makes me hanker for Old Blighty all the more. Have you read Antonia of Whoopee? You must.

I discovered the The Framley Examiner through her. It's like The Onion but with liberal usage of the word "bollocks." The best section by far is The Personals.

Ladies with hemorrhoids, stretch marks, and possibly a touch of constipation right now, this one’s for you….

Liz, Tammie, and Christina are all great with child, and several lovely ladies are throwing them a baby shower. Wheeeeee!

Right. So first we are to offer the best ass-vice offered as a new parent.

Let’s see. How about the old “Sleep when the baby sleeps” adage. Excellent in theory but reliant on several crucial variables.

A) that your baby actually sleeps

B) that if your baby sleeps you don’t have anything else you might be needing to do to, you know, actually function in life. Like having a shower, taking a shit, or (ehem) blogging.

C) that if your baby sleeps and you do lay down for a rest, you won’t be laying there tensely attempting to sleep and getting increasingly pissed off because goddamit I am exhausted and why I can’t I just sleep already…

D) you won’t need to sleep because you’re getting plenty of rest at night, thankyouverymuch, because you’re babywise and the baby sleeps all through the night (if it knows what’s good for it). (*snort*)

And next, the best advice offered:

Remember the baby hasn’t read the books, so stop killing yourself and acting like a freak… (thanks, Mum)


When Ira Glass is my Boyfriend

[Part Two of the "Name Five Goals You Have Largely Ignored" meme Slouching Mom tagged me for. Part One below.]

Another Life Goal I have on my mental back-burner as "something I must really get to some day because it would be brilliant if I do say so myself" is to:

Make a short radio documentary on breast-pumping. This would no doubt bring me instant fame and fortune via the This American Life lineup. A reproductive Sarah Vowell, if you will.

Wouldn't it be brilliant? I have it all mapped out and organized already (in my mind).

America's Secret...Millions of Women Are Exposing Themselves in the Workplace, and Doing It With Style...." (or something).

Radio would be the perfect medium for this subject matter. We could sidestep all the full-frontal censorship issues that would annoyingly arise, and so also avoid having our audience visually distracted by the alarming level of equipment involved. The focus would be on the stories.

And, of course, lot could be connoted through ambient sound (ladies who pump--you know what I'm talking about here) and personal anecdotes from various women about "my first time," or "why I opted for the black leather," or "what I did when the Boss walked in" or " "don't tell anyone, but my keyboard is sticky..." and "why does this seem slightly shameful?"

For me the culture of pumping is fascinating because it is so private, so underground, so taboo. All us women sharing the same experience, but sitting (hiding?) in splendid isolation at our desks (or wherever the hell else has been designated a pumping zone) while we pour forth our bounty. So much to talk about. I'd love to produce something that places pumping in its historical and cultural context. I'm envisioning something funny, poignant, and political. I'm envisioning a Pulitzer, dammit!

Yes. This is a goal I would love to get to one of these days. I've been chewing on it ever since I unravelled the tubes and adjusted the flanges for that first tearful session, and my father (Yes, he was there. At this stage in my life I had no sense of personal boundary) said "I am reminded of Barbarella." (Yes Dad. If Barbarella had chapped nipples, "production issues," and a pump that resembled like a nineteenth century combustion engine, that is....)

But stay tuned for the next three installments, where I list all the other fudding Life Goals I need to get to first.


How I manage to keep myself awake at night (Or. Five Goals I've largely ignored). PART ONE

Slouching Mom has tagged me for this meme: "What five goals have you largely ignored?"

Allow me to rephrase that:

"So, Joy, what keeps you awake at night? Are you happy? Do you consider yourself a fulfilled person? How do you fail on a monthly, weekly, nay, daily basis? Do tell"

Thanks for the mindfuck, SM.
UH. TOTALLY. (heh)

I should state up front that there is no goal that I have largely ignored as much as Done Nothing About It Whatsoever (Except to Fret Over Having Done Nothing About it Whatsoever).

Goal 1: Lose twenty pounds by summer.


Remember earlier in the year, when I was all, like, "here's a post where I casually reference that I am going to the gym! Hey! And here's another one! I am SOOOO energetic and crazy fit! Whoop-de-whoooo! GOODBYE PREGNANCY POUNDS!!!"

So. I've not been the the gym in about 5 weeks, and the fleshly hula-hula skirt is still a swingin'. Oh. And I might be the only postpartum woman alive who actually loses the weight after 10 weeks, and then slowly but surely piles it back on again. And surely the milk-bag titties only account for 10lbs (each) of that weight???? Right????

I also have several false starts in sparkpeople.com where I obsess over their calorie counter. I became QUEEN of the calorie counter. For a week. And then comes the weekend of binge eating and (cough) drinking, and uh, who wants to actually write that stuff down and see it all in print, y'know? So, uh, let's forgeddaboutit. Forever.

This week is the week though. I have roped in a friend, and we're having weekly weigh ins. We are both horribly shallow and unmotivated, and so need some sort of accountability--i.e. Monday Morning Email of Shame. To use her phrase. "I've got to do something. My stomach is trying to reach out and touch someone.." It's trying to reach out and touch mine, Jen. In fact. I think they were making out on Saturday night. (How was it for you?)

And for the record. I am not a freak about this. I simply want to approximate 150lbs and have a size twelve fit comfortably. I also plan to keep enjoying my food with my accustomed gluttony, uh, I mean gusto. And no one is taking my wine. (Bitch).

I just think I could do without standing in the kitchen mindlessly chowing down the Boy's Easter basket. I mean, I have succumbed to binge-eating Brach's candy, forchrissakes. BRACHS!!! WHERE DID MY STANDARDS GO????

(for the record, Yanks. Your candy is for shit. There. I've said it.)

(OK. Except for Jelly Bellies)

(Oh. And Good N Plenty)

(Dove's not too bad either)

(Not that I eat those things)

Anyhooo. Moving on. I am supposed to do five. But I cannot sustain the freakish pace I've established for myself.

Part Deux tomorrow....


I need to get my drink on.....

In case you're the only person alive who's not seen this one already:

Because seriously. Drunken, swearing toddlers. What's not freaking hilarious about that? I'm just wondering why it's never occured to me to get the video camera out and tape that shit before.

Oh. and while I am up for Parent of the Year award, you might want to pop over and check out my review of Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten over here.

But before you do that, check this farting baby.
It's a baby. Farting. It's AWESOME!!!!!


Hi. I'm not here right now...

But you can catch me at some burlesque blogging at Her Bad Mother's...


Letting Go...

He is four years old. Though he still clings to me at times, demanding mommy love and protection, he is slowly finding his own way. My hand is no longer automatically sought after when we approach a street; my company is not immediately required for bedtime rituals and upset tummies. He can choose his own clothes and ride the bus to Kindergarten all by himself… And I notice that his cheeks are losing some of their sweet roundness, his face taking on an angularity that suggests his father.

At the airport I watch awkward teens accompany their parents on spring break trips. Slumped and hooded, absorbed in their iPods and Consoles. All adam’s apple and acne.

When August brings the freshmen to campus, I watch the parents with new interest. Letting go. Cars crammed with lamps and laundry baskets, unloading at the side of the dorm. Photos and kisses and I love you, Honey.

Then the quiet drive home with them gone.

Today it is hard not to be preoccupied with what has happened at Virginia Tech. It’s hard to listen to the news accounts without imagining the unspeakable experiences of those parents whose children died or were in danger, without imagining what it would be like to receive that petrified call from your child in peril, and knowing you can do nothing whatsoever about it except to reassure them that there’s nothing to worry about… Mommy and Daddy are here to keep you safe...

I'm so sorry...


And this one's about my dog. Yeah. That's right.

Since February, when I announced that our vet recommended an Ostrich and Rutabaga diet for our faithful lab, my email In Box has been flooded with inquiries as to her health and well being.* We have been touched by your concern, and would like to share with you this official update on The Dog's progress.

You'll remember, of course, that before we were forced to completely lose our nuts and start shopping for roadkill in Australia or wherever-the-hell Ostriches (or Emu) happen to be in cheap and plentiful supply, we were first given the option of feeding her an allergen-free food called Your Child's College Fund (YCCF).
Well, YCCF is apparently not price high enough for whatever malodorous pestilence has descended on our pooch, now positively riddled with yeast and bacteria, a nasty ear infection, and smelling, quite unpleasantly, of Dorritos. She was pronounced as "diseased" by the specialist vet the Husband took her too this week. Nice. And apparently we can't give her away for medical experiments, so we're faced with Plan Not-Quite B.

So yesterday, I found myself on the phone to several Meats Suppliers (that's "Meats" and not "Meat." Just so you know) inquiring as to where I can score me some "Low grade Lamb meat, for stewing. Cheap..." I am pleased to report that I managed to negotiate quite a deal with a certain "Dr. Beef," no questions asked, and the Husband had the pleasure of hauling the hacked up carcass home.

At this very moment, he is boiling up great vats of it on our stove, periodically skimming off the fat as the vet instructed. The whole process, apparently, is "revolting." Hopefully revolting enough to actually work; the poor dog is in misery and right now we're looking at several hundred bucks a month in meats alone.... We are told this is just a temporary measure for now, but we could end up having to do this for the rest of The Dog's life.

We shall, of course, keep you apprised as to her progress. Thank you for your kind wishes in this challenging time.

(And if any of you folks have dealt with something similar with your dog, TELL ME. Jokes aside, this is too expensive. Too expensive to be funny, really. But we're not on the Ostrich yet, so I should probably shut up).

*No one wrote to inquire actually. I think this is cold. Bastard People.


Yes. This Is A Post About the Weather.... Well F*^^% You Too!

A couple of weeks ago, here in Michigan we enjoyed a spate of balmy weather topping out into the 80s. Spring's early arrival triggered the annual en masse exposure of flesh that only a Midwestern campus town can know, and in my own neighborhood small children once more tore around the block on their bikes while their parents gently chatted over fences. People came together to revel in warm and open spaces and to admire one another's bulb gardens.

Except me. I was freaked out. Freaked out by this sudden onset of warmth and clamminess. The lack of appropriate clothes. The realization that my legs still wore their customary winter shag and my feet in serious need of a pedicure (or at least some de-gnarling). And then there is that pressure to Be Outside Enjoying It While You Can. And to Make Sure the Children Get Plenty of Fresh Air.

I am not an Outdoorsy Person. I think you could safely describe me as an Indoorsy Person. When August fades into Fall and that first cold snap hits the air, I love the anticipation of hunkering down and become positively giddy as I sit on the couch and watch my Husband lug in several tons of logs for the fire. I even like it when it gets dark earlier, and we are safely coccooned in our living room enjoying that blaze while I watch endless hours of television and blog and stuff my face knit and do jigsaw puzzles with my son. I'm English. We dig gloomy weather.

But Holy Fuck. I can't take any more of this. I'm sorry already, ok? Days and days of snow and wind and wrestling my boys into padded garments. The daffodils are fucked and my son is asking if this means it's Christmas soon...


Is it too late to bring civility to the Web? Wrong Question.

Yesterday's NYTs article on the so-called "conversational free-for-all" that was making The Blogosphere such a "prickly and unpleasant place" poses this question to its readers. "Is it too late to bring civility to the Web?"

Well. First, define civility. And then define The Web. (I'm not being facetious. Just bear with me a sec).

There are dozens of conversations going on about the whole Kathy Sierra online harassment case, and Tim O'Reilly's subsequent Call for a Blogger's Code of Conduct. The Call has prompted, unsurprisingly, a lot of knee-jerk reactions concerning censorship. For instance, O'Reilly suggests, among other things, that bloggers "own" not only their own words, but also the "tone that you allow on any blog or forum you control" and this includes inflammatory comments, which he suggests be removed. He also suggests that bloggers disallow anonymous comments and to employ the "Don't say anything online that you wouldn't say in person" mantra. Instead, "imagine you're talking to your mother." (A very telling analogy, if you ask me, but I'll hold my tongue on that one for now. OK, except to say that wouldn't many of us perhaps less "innocent" mothers be utterly fucked if we had to live to this rule?)

I'm not about to take on the whole Freedom of Speech can of worms that is opened up here. (Holy Shit!). I do have very mixed feelings on this, and this is partly about the concept of "ownership" and the Broadcast model O'Reilly uses to characterize the way that the blogging medium works. On a personal level, much of what O'Reilly states makes sense to me, even if its a little overwrought and heavily reliant on notions of snazzy badges to mark one's tolerance level for abusive comments. (If you ask me, there is nothing that would bring on the trolls more than if I posted a big Good Behavior Badge on my site that says something along the lines of Stop In the Name of the Blog Law! I Will Not Accept Your Abuse! Go'Way... As far as I'm concerned it would just function as a big fat label that tells my readers that I am automatically suspicious of them. And a touch paranoid. En Guarde!)

What does interest me in all of this is how the mainstream media, and even O'Reilly to an extent, use this social concept of The Blogosphere or The Web in such relatively uncomplicated ways. As if The Blogosphere is one homogeneous (if rather unruly and uncivil) "society" that needs, at best, a good telling off, and at worst, a system of rules and procedures for accountability. In this vision there are the Good Blog Citizens who abide the rules and then there are the Nameless Trolls who threaten to spoil it all. Not that there aren't trolls or pretty foul people out there who seem to have some serious psychological issues to deal with, but the examples we've seen discussed in the media have been pretty extreme. When I think about adopting a Blogger's Code of Conduct, I'm really not sure who I am protecting (if anyone).

So. Define "Civil." I've already mentioned that the "Don't say anything you wouldn't say to your mother" rules out a lot writing that occurs in our often deeply personal and confessional spaces. Does this make us uncivil? Of course not (and I don't think O'Reilly would make that claim either). What this does show is that any attempts to establish codes of conduct or policing whatever we want to call it cannot adequately take into account the myriad of contexts and communities that make up this messy thing we're calling the blogosphere. What might be perfectly acceptable within one community would be utterly inappropriate in another--including what counts as "civility." (A point that BlogHer's Lisa Stone made to the NYT reporter, but which did not manage to find its way into the final print of the "Nasty Blogs" article)

This is all to say that I don't believe that there is such a thing as The Web as a discrete place in which to be civil. As I stated in a comment over at BlogHer, "The Blogosphere" is made up of innumerable, smaller communities of practice, each defining itself and its norms in very different ways. The various communities that make up the "mommasphere" are certainly prime examples. And its these communities, those which do not fit in the Broadcast or Author/Reader model so comfortably, that are less in need of some sort of protective Code (presuming anyone actually is). These communities--according to their own often implicit and intuited rules--are policing themselves very effectively.

An all-encompassing concept of The Blogosphere is not really very useful any more, especially in these types of debates, where it removes from the equation the diverse range of contexts in which we are all blogging, interacting, and being. We're only beginning to scrape at the surface of what these contexts are, and how these communities of practice actually work, but this, for me, is an essential starting point of we're going to start asking questions about online conduct.


Kitchen Conversations of the Delusional

Me: You know. We really should start thinking about keeping these little jars that the First Foods come in. They could be useful [goes about screwing and unscrewing babyfood jar lid as if to demonstrate "usefulness"]

Him: Define "useful."

Me: Weeeeelll. For instance. We could use these jars to put Homemade Baby Food in. You know. Stuff we make ourselves. I mean, how hard can it be? To puree some carrots and stuff.

I have a thing. For pureeing....

Him: [stares intently at this Strange Woman]


Me: Sling these chicken nuggets in the microwave will you?

Sedaris Gem...

David Sedaris pontificates on the perfect Male Accessory. If you've not watched this, you must....


MyBlogLog My Self?

It all started earlier this year. Around January or so I started seeing more and more instances of that intriguing little widget so many bloggy types are plopping their right navs. See? To the Right there? My Recent Readers? (Are you there, my gentle one?) Being the pursuer of all shiny objects that I am, I got myself the widget and became quite obsessed with it for a while. I even made it orange. For style.

2007 has been the year of the profile image for me. Did you notice? Gingajoy is connoted by mere citrus fruit no more. Instead I decided that an honest-to-god photo was the way to go. This stems in part from all those "how do communities work?" "how do we represent identity?" type questions I've been asking lately. I had resisted a photo, at first for the sake of anonymity, which became less of a concern, and then because I was not sure if I wanted to personalize or stamp the blog in this way. I wanted the writing to speak for itself... (shuddup).

Oh, and I also did not want to distract you with my dazzling beauty.

Photos give us a sense of intimacy and connection. How much is this false or any less "authentic" than the personae we create for F2F communications? Who are we seeing in those tiny snapshots? Who do we want to see? Why is there a certain pleasure in looking at those faces in your sidebar? This are some Big Questions. And if I attempt to answer them here, this post is never going to make it. So let me spew out some of my initial and sketchy thoughts on the MyBlogLog tools and see what you others think.
Who's with me??

(and let me say up front these are my thoughts only--anything vaguely suspect or reprehensible in the following can be attributed to me, and me alone)

MyBlogLog confessions

When I first got the widget, I found myself automatically drawn to other MyBlogLoggers, because I could go and stamp my face on their site. No commenting required... They knew I'd been. They felt the love.

This is great for me on many levels because I can show support without summoning up something terribly clever or insightful to place in the comments section. In this way, it's a bit like drive-by commenting. You can very swiftly stop by a place, deposit your mark (there's that metaphor again) and the obligation to comment is considerably diminished.

And...if there is no comment there is a nice picture of that face, which, depending on readership, can remain in that nav, smiling beneficently, for quite some time. "I simply must drop by Ginga's place" you think to yourself....

In this way and others MBL's a networking tool par excellence, and (perhaps) more to the point it's a great way to bring traffic to your site. For instance if you go into your MBL communities you can immediately see who "belongs" to certain sites you love. You can then go and visit these foreign-types and go get your face on their blogs (and, uhm, maybe they'll return the favor...). It's a tool that breeds community spontaneously and efficiently.

And yes. It can get a little mercenary. Maybe?

I will admit, there have been quite a few times when I've looked at my own widget and been pleasantly surprised to see some newbies there, especially when that person falls outside my usual crowd. In fact those faces invariably look like quite a different group compared to those who fill up my comments section, and I've come across several fab bloggers as a result. I think there are many positive advantages to tools like MyBlogLog and I certainly enjoy having a more tangible sense of community.

Lurkers are Made of People....

And now even if they are not commenting (which is cool with me) they are at least embodied somewhat.

But. I do wonder sometimes about how the tool can be exploited. (Spammers are already having some fun with it--which is inevitable. I was quite disappointed when I realized that this pretty boy to the right was only interested in me as a potential visitor to his e-card sites. Clever, though, using that face to get me to check out his ass. Totally worked).

How much can a face, a "quick popping my head in for a visit," supplant a written comment? Does it matter if it does? How much is this immediately gratifying sense of community, a posse in your right nav, actually very superficial--like a race to get as many friends as possible into your Facebook Profile, and activity which certainly preoccupies a lot of my student's time?

I don't have answers to these questions at all--there aren't any clean ones (and nor should there be). But as we increasingly live online lives, and rank our worth in terms of comments and links and communities of faces, I think it's definitely worth thinking about.

Any thoughts?

Edited to Add: Case in point. Without MyBlogLog, I would not have realized that Jean Luc Picard had a blog. Sir. If you are reading this, I would be honored if you'd stamp my blog with your stunning visage.


Veni, Vidi, PeePee (edited with postscript)

We Came. We Saw. We peed on territory...

We're back! We did it. We're exhausted. We're Rock Stars.

A synopsis of this weekend:

"Blah blah blahBlogmommmymommymommymommyblogblogblogBlah blah blah mommmymommymommymommyblogblogblogblogblogblogBlah blah blahblogblogblogblogblogblogBlah blah blahmommmymommymommymommy

blogblogblogBlah blah blahblogblogblogblogblogblogBlah blah mommmymommymommymommyblahblogblogblogblogblogblogblogblogblog"

Blah blah Communications.
Blah blah Online Communities.
Blah blah Facebook.
Blah blah Constructed Self.
Blah Blah. More wine please.
Blah Blah. I'll have a margarita
Blah Blah. Issmybirfday. I's celebratin...
Blah Blah. I need coffee.

Forgive me if I cannot string together a coherent thought in this here post. But suffice it to say for now, I think that between us Her Bad Mother , Bub and Pie , m'old pal Paula and I now have enough for a very thick book on the subject of women, mothers and blogging (along with all of you who have written those fabulous metaposts). And, in the sage words of HBM, we have taken that first vital step towards "peeing on territory." Which, in many ways, is what all this academic conferencing tends to be about. We have descended on Kentucky and one chunk of the Communications Research Profession, left our stinky mark, and promptly quit town.

(and a heartfelt Thank You to all those of you who contributed to this work. A post on the future of BlogRhet to come--but we might well be enlisting any willing bloggers to help us build on this project)

Other highlights that are sure to make for some interesting blogfodder here and elsewhere (eventually illustrated with a smattering of the one billion photos HBM took, I hope):

Swarms, and I mean literally swarms of Mary Kay Ladies who went around Louisville Downtown in well-groomed packs as they attended their Annual Conventions. Imagine groups of 10-15 women, all in black suits with red or pink accessories (including the odd hot pink feather boa) and enormous make-up totes, all stomping around town in stilettos in search of umbrella drinks and bar snacks after a long day of listening to inspirational speakers. One nice lady rode with us on the elevator and boy she knew how to work it. We were very nearly whisked up to her room for complete makeovers (the disappointment on HBM and Paula's face when we couldn't swing it.....tragic....) We did converse with the Mary Kay Lady long enough though to provide a quick explanation of what a blog was and why she should totally think about getting one for her Mary Kay Marketing..... She seemed intrigued. You heard it here first folks!

Swarms, and I mean literally swarms of Hard Core Mulletted Bow Archers attending the National Field Archery Association, stalking about town with bows slung over their backs and quivers slotted casually into their back pockets (or their children's strollers). And this at the very same convention center as the Mary Kay Ladies. It was the stuff that arsy academics interested in the performativity of gender norms dream of. It was also highly entertaining. The indoor archery competition--which, let's face it, could have gone horribly horribly wrong as about 200 people competed at one time in an enclosed space--functioned like a well-oiled machine. Props to indoor archers and the men and women who risk their lives to let them compete...

A very fun way to spend one's 36th birthday (and thanks soooo much to all those of you who emailed me. That alone is worth joining Maya's Mom for, m'ladies. They send nice little reminders to your online pals: "Today is Joy's Birthday! Tell her Happy Birthday! Do it! DO IT YOU HEARTLESS BITCH!!!! Or something along those lines....)

Pics to come folks. Pics to come....

Bub and Pie's post captures the talkingtalkingtalking aspect perfectly. And she's inspired me to add this postscript.

Only one thing is better than spending several days away from home with women you hugely admire, and that is Coming Home. A belated birthday greeting, handdrawn cards, framed art by Big Boy, cards and gifts from friends and family, a sparklingly clean house and laundry all done and put away, fireplace aglow (God. I am almost nauseating myself here, but it's the God's Honest Truth!)

Baby Boy made a great (and noisy) display of demonstrating how he had missed The Boobs, and Big Boy was a frenzy of giddy excitement galloping around me and constantly grabbing my hand to plant sloppy kisses on it. (Mamma, I missed you!!!!1).

And my dear Old Man grinning and pouring me a fat glass of Cab Sav, and informing me that three nights of being solo with Baby Boy had made him feel like he "now knew the operator's manual much much better..."