On Blogging, Readers and Stats

Blogs are increasingly interesting to me, from a sociological point of view. Writing has never taken such an intimate, immediate and responsive form before. Writers used to be “Writers” as in, someone far away, who could maybe write about what it was like to be you, but surely they weren’t actually like you. Surely a Writer must be a far more amazing person to be able to succinctly gather humanity’s collective thoughts and emotions and lay them out in such polished fashion. Surely they sit at their clean desk, surrounded by subtle yet challenging art, drinking straight black tea while they produce those smooth gems of verbalized consciousness.

Overall, I would say blogging is no different. In fact in some ways the medium provides an even better way to lure the reader towards fantasies of perfection. It’s what most people want after all, to soothe their own chaos with Other People’s calm (whether or not that calm has any basis in reality). But I’ve realized over time that blogging has so much potential. Not to replace literature by any means, I do adore books and the expansive feeling of high-quality that is only possible when the writer works over the same piece for months. But I believe blogs could provide a different kind of depth, a true intimacy never possible with books.

Erica at Northwest Edible talked recently about her “health keystone” being sleep, and how could she re-arrange her life to get more of it. I wrote her a teasingly admonishing email about blogging too much. I guess that hit a chord because her next post explained that she would not be blogging on Fridays anymore, in an attempt to take better care of herself. This is all great, I’m so proud of her, except that– doesn’t it seem strange that she should have to explain at all? Where does this expectation for bloggers to deliver the goods come from?

I mean, we are not (for the most part) getting paid. Erica runs a slightly more commercial blog than mine, but she also puts a shit ton more time into it, and I don’t believe she’s making anything remotely resembling a wage. We do this because we want to, because we love it, because we can’t help ourselves. But I have seen and felt this expectation before– if you want a good readership you have to blog often and consistently. If you take a break from blogging, or get patchy, your numbers will suffer. Do you as readers even know that this exists? Do you know that we otherwise self-respecting bloggers check our stats like little junkies?

I myself have been incredibly patchy. I come on strong for a few weeks and then disappear for a month. I try to post at least once/week, but sometimes even that falls away. Because I am a real person. With a real life. That is sometimes smooth and sometimes ridiculous. Not only a real person, but a real mother! My babies sleep or don’t sleep, nap or don’t nap, go through phases of fits, dvd addiction, and even occasionally happy independent play. Sometimes I get in a funk, and even though I have the time, I don’t give a shit about blogging, it seems trite and useless. Other times my absences here mean I’m busy living my life and enjoying it. And yes, my numbers have suffered.

But overall I have been impressed at how, despite the big unspoken threat of inconsistent blogging, so many people do in fact continue to read! You, dear remaining readers, you have stuck with me through these ups and downs like real life friends. I like to think that, in a way, it deepens your experience here– knowing that my occasionally eloquent words come out of a very banal tide of chaos. My readership may be very small, by big blog standards, but I dare to think that those of you who willingly suffer the inconsistency and foul language are unusually loyal.

I love NW Edible Life. I love her range of topics, I love her candor and humor, I love her absurdly type A efficiency fixation so much like my own (if better realized). I would love it if she would post every single day, alternating in depth how-to’s and enlightening social commentary. But in this life, at any given moment, you can either do or write. Or sleep. More than reading her entertaining posts every day, I want Erica to get enough sleep and still have time to actually be the person she writes about. If that means she has to blog less, so be it.

As for me, I feel a bender coming on. I have six or seven posts going in my head as we speak. If only I can carve some calm out of my chaos.

Screen Time for Ludites

You may have noticed I’ve been posting quite a lot lately, especially considering my ages ago decision to write only on Saturdays. Slowly, over the almost year since that cleansing fast, I’ve crawled back off the wagon into the deliciously wicked addiction of The Blogger. Oh, but isn’t it glorious down here in the dirt!

I have lately given myself reprieve though. After many months of fighting, not just the writing addiction, but also what I can only describe as an addiction to myself, I have given in. I survived a year of incredibly intense mothering, the lips above water kind. Now, things have evened out a bit. My job is still crazy hard, don’t get me wrong. But I am not losing my mind. My Man can sometimes look me in the eye when he gets home from work and still want to ask how my day was.

And as life has become more possible, survival more definite, I have found myself sometimes becoming bored. The typical desperate housewife syndrome I guess. Where is the me outside of the mother? What do I have to show for myself? Where is the space that is mine? All the same regular bullshit.

What of my grand epiphanies? My submission to the noble cause of motherhood, my neo-feminist punk housewifery? Wendell Berry’s pride of home economics; frugality and responsible action and the independent spirit; the garden, the kitchen, the homemade laundry soap? Kids swirling in my undertow, me the brave heroine, brandishing my homegrown parsley.

Despite all that very good stuff, I’m bored.

Fuck. I hate it when I find I am suffering from the same pedestrian maladies as the general population, which I apparently thought I was better than. But there it is.

I am not in my homeplace. In case you are new here, we are in New Orleans for My Man to go to school. Next year we’ll return to Alaska, our little blip of a town in the enormous maw of coastal wilderness. There I have much more to do, much more to focus on, much more that belongs to me. It is my element, the life I spent the other 32 of my years learning how to live. I wouldn’t say that I’ve been desperately homesick, in fact I’ve just recently started to feel homesick at all. This move has been wonderful in many ways and if life were rewound, I would choose it again unhesitantly.

But considering this is a time in life when women are classically groping for what of themselves is left after the tsunami of small children, being out of my homeplace is a bit extra extra.

I realized recently that, for better or for worse, writing has stepped into that place for me. Given me a thing to do that is mine own, and it’s no wonder I find it devilishly addictive.

I am a person who needs an all encompassing project, a kernal to fold my life around. I am happiest in the midst of an Obsession. And mothering… It’s all encompassing for certain, and my life is quite origami-ed around it. But it’s not like it’s my project. The work is very challenging on all levels, but the outcome does not belong to me.

I think that’s what we need as mamas, an outcome we can own. Maybe it’s self-indulgent. Maybe we would be better spending that time meditating, releasing our grip on ego, submitting to the universe. Not to belittle spiritual practice, but friends, if I couldn’t meditate in my 20s– alone in the woods— that shit just ain’t gonna happen with two kids under 5.

So. Outcome it is.

And with that in mind, I have lately given myself permission to write more.

Accepting that my obsessive alone habit involves staring at a computer screen has been hard enough. I spent the majority of my 20s living without electricity, quite passionately in fact. I am a Ludite by nature, skeptical of anything with a cord or battery pack, but especially scorning of what I consider The Era of the iBrain.

But if that’s hard to answer to, here’s the next question. Where do you think a mama of two littles can find the many hours required to indulge in an outcome based activity such as blogging? Some mornings I get 30 minutes or more in the wee hours to glom my face onto a screen, all alone in a quiet room. But other than that, I have to steal my time from my 4yo’s brain, by plugging her into her very own screen during the Babe’s nap.

Just typing that out hurt. Because unlike the more reasonable opinion of most parents, I do think that any little bit of screen time, on a regular basis, is bad for developing brains. I never, ever thought I would have kids who watched tv. I mean, we don’t actually have tv, we have dvds, so that cuts out my biggest beef– commercials. And of course I try to cherry pick from the enormous onslaught of hideously bad children’s programing. But, that still adds up to my daughter’s face slack jawed in front of a glowing screen.

For… (deep breath)… an average of… (deep breath)… 1.5 hours per day.

Wow, is that hard to admit.

I spent a long time fighting it. Really I’ve been fighting from the beginning– when I was 6 months pregnant, packing up our entire house for a move across country, and my MIL sent some childrens’ books on dvd which I found would hold the (no longer napping) 2yo in one place long enough that I could slide my eyes closed for 15 or 20 minutes. I fought it, but then– I did it. So, not a very strong fight I guess. The fight was all in my own heart, and has continued to wage right there. Her mid-day dvd watching became a daily thing and over time an almost unshakable habit, my internal wars notwithstanding.

What is the difference between submission and giving in? How do you know when to fight and when to let go?

This parenting job is tough, and I don’t believe our world is set up to support us right now. I want to choose some moral high ground, to make The Right Decision for my kids. I want to practice no compromise ethics. But this is not a single variable equation. If my girl stares at a screen for 1.5 hours of her day and has a happier mama for it, where is the moral high ground?

I am rolling over that old submission a lot lately, like a pea under my mattress. Sometimes I feel like I tried and failed to submit to motherhood. But really what happened is that I did it, and it really helped for some time, my hardest time. Now I have moved on, we are in a new phase. My job as mother is (perhaps imperceptibly) loosening, and I am looking around, taking a breath. There is a little space for me now, not much, and I can’t help but want to run in there and muscle it open. It’s intoxicating, and confusing.

If I were a better mother, perhaps I would take this opportunity to ween my 4yo off of the afternoon movie. We could spend that time on the floor inventing elaborate pretend play, and she would lap it up like a puppy. I wish I were that mother sometimes, that I could annihilate my ego, truly and absolutely. Become Budhamama.

But here I am, so very human. So very pedestrian. Instead of seeking motherhood nirvana, I think I will leave the housework undone and get in my own 1.5 hours a day.

Here’s to us humans.

A Love Letter to New Mamas

Dear you,

I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately.

I’ve been thinking about how crazy our broken up lives are, all separate and sequestered behind our closed doors. I’ve been thinking about my first year as a mama, how isolated and confused I felt. And I’ve been thinking about you out there, alone behind your door.

The world you used to inhabit has fallen into pieces at your feet, like so many mismatched socks. The friends you used to spend days lazing in the sun with, plotting the overthrow of The Man or a hike in the mountains with equal fervor. The friends who now kindly tolerate the drastically downscaled walks, the baby fussing during potlucks, the constantly interrupted conversations. And then go back to their quiet, own homes and self-structured lives.

You try to explain what your life is like now. Why you feel so dragged out. But it always comes out like bitching.

You don’t mean to be bitching. About your tiny, beautiful unfurling flesh of flesh. If it’s difficult to explain how hard this new life has made your own, explaining the surge of devotion for it is all but impossible.

You search for a new friend. A mama. Someone who understands the caged feeling that strangles you daily, the guilt that crushes, the fury that lights in you sometimes like wildfire, and terrifies you no less. Someone who understands as well the spiking joy. The immeasurable sweetness of that tiny new soul birthed from your body, taking shape in the world. The quaking in your heart when she stares wide open into your eyes. The way her body yields to yours, trusts you entire.

Someone who understands the roller coaster that is your life.

But everyone else seems to be doing fine. The other moms have their shit together. They play with their kids, clean the house, make dinner, all with a smile. Don’t they? Or are you just recalling movie moms? I myself look back and try to count the moms I’ve actually known in my life, on a personal level.

Two.

Did they have babies when I knew them?

No.

You feel the rug ripping from under you, and wonder suddenly how you can be 30 years old and have no idea what babies or their mamas are like.

In your loneliness you look to the Wide World. You nurse your baby to sleep in your lap while staring into that glowing screen of possibility.

If real life is peopled by mamas who appear to be surviving so much better than you, the cyberworld is full of super-heroines. Blog after blog, written by cool, green mamas. They wake in the morning perky and fresh. They craft colorful happy things out of wool before the children wake up. They prepare healthful homemade breakfasts. They take their kids on walks in natural landscapes, which they photograph in macro. They sew their own cloth diapers. Make their own whole grain breads. That they never scream at their kids is a given. Never fight with their man about money. Never swear. Never forget their reusable cloth grocery bags.

These super-mamas are a curse and a blessing. You’re addicted to the fantasy they peddle. But, this is your first baby, you don’t know yet that it’s a fantasy. You think it’s just you that’s failing. Just you who screams at the baby at 2 AM to go the fuck to sleep. Just you who bread dough won’t rise for. Just you who can never for the life of you remember to bring the goddamned grocery bags.

I have three very important things to tell you, dear new mama.

1. It is fantasy. It’s a tale we blogstresses spin, for ourselves as much as anyone else. In the cyberworld you can choose your character. You can construct just the person you always wanted to be, and carefully photograph your proof. Anyone would want to show their best self to the world. To focus on the positive, turn toward their sweetness.
But the outcome of our selective presentation is that we all look to one another and see nothing like the tangled ball of dark threads inside our own secret heart. And the rift grows.
I call our bluffs! All of them! I speak brazenly for all bloggers, who carry closets full of everything. We are you. We try and fail daily, hourly. We are doing what we can with what we have.

2. The insanity eases. Motherhood is a slow stretching– of what you know to be true, of what you think yourself capable– and the beginning can be the most painful. No matter how much you think you might be drowning, you’ll be okay. You’ll make it. Babies grow. It will get easier.

3. Cut yourself some slack. A lot of slack. However much slack you need. If you are just now awakening to the green, DIY revolution in homemaking that I champion herein, cut yourself several extra fathoms. If you lived a passionately self-made life full of responsible action before, understand that you will slip– possibly all the way back down– for awhile. That’s okay. There’ll be time later to build or re-build. Babies need you so completely at first. Surrender yourself for now.

And in the meantime. Read all the inspiring, edited stories of mamas who kick ass. Enjoy them for what they are– a celebration of the good parts. Know that in private they fall short, several times a day. Just like you. They are discouraged and disillusioned and ravaged by guilt sometimes. They soar on the ecstasy of motherhood sometimes. They do it all with a smile. They say fuck the world from under the covers and order out pizza for dinner.

Their life is a roller coaster.

Our lives are a roller coaster.

Here’s your ticket.

Out From Under the Floorboards

I realized awhile back that my email address isn’t in the sidebar. It used to be, but after some reupholstering months ago, it must have slipped between the cracks. This is not because I want to remain a contact-less voice in the ether. On the contrary, so long as you’re not spamming me or otherwise being nasty, I love to hear from my readers! I used to take the time to write a quick hello to anyone I had seen in the comments more than a few times, but that was back when I was a wanton blog-aholic, checking my stats 5-10 times a day, and yelling at the Toddler to go back to her movie. I’ve progressed.

So, in case any of y’all have been dying to contact me personally to glow on and on about how much you love Apron Strings and how you can hardly get out of bed on the days I don’t post, you can now find me email address just over to your right, in that handy sidebar thingy.

If on the other hand, you can’t stand my smug facade of supposedly raw reporting from the self-righteously crafty mama underground, you can get fucked.

Speaking of blog stats, where the hell did you all just come from? What I mean to say is, errr, welcome new readers! My numbers jumped off the charts yesterday, and are still up today, triple my average. That’s awesomely exciting. Like any junkie, I love me some hits. But I am ravenously curious to know where you all came from. Do tell!

A Virtual Garden Party

I’ve been meaning to update the Readers’ Blogs list for ages. I just had an extra half hour, with nothing else in particular to do (!!!) so, I finally got to it.

I like the idea that we all keep up with each other a little bit, in this weird virtual community. Even though I’ve had my issues with computers and their inherent addiction problems, it has sure helped me to find you all and feel like– if not close by then at least somewhere in the Wide, Wide World– there are some folks like me! We gotta stick together y’all!

If you write a blog, please scroll down and see if it’s there in the sidebar. Did I spell your title correctly? Click it to make sure I entered the link right, and please let me know if it doesn’t work. If you don’t see your blog in there with the Readers’ Blogs list, it could be because you haven’t commented recently (I only went back a few months) or worse, haven’t commented at all! Comment you!

Then, let’s all get cozy with some tea and talk shop.

 

Submission

My one year anniversary for this blog came and went sometime in September. Looking over Apron Strings with a critical eye, I noticed my sidebar explanation is a bit… overzealous. Written from the vantage point of only one kid. Whilst I aspire to having my daily life be divided among ”digging dirt, tending vegetables, dumpster diving, punk sewing projects, making all our own bread, household fix-its, and salvage construction” I seem to be mainly (and occasionally entirely) overtaken by just the “raising up little ruffians.”

As I mulled over the feeling of shortcoming, I had an epiphany.

We neo-feminist punk housewives have started to bring back some respect for the lost arts of homemaking, but it suddenly hit me that even still we are leaving the most basic female art in a dusty corner, covered by a pile of moldering towels. Making and raising babies has not experienced any of the fad-ish comeback. Canning? Oh yeah, it’s hot. Baking, ditto. Knitting, don’t even get me started. There’s a blessed wealth of new energy in the sustainable living, urban homesteading fields. Thanks largely to Shannon Hayes, we can tentatively start to call ourselves homemakers in public again.

But you’d better have something to show for it. You’d better have your house littered with DIY projects and several kinds of ferments. You’d better have a big shiny blog detailing your obsessive late night crafting and cooking exploits.

What? You’re too busy peeling small people off your legs and circumventing disasters of flour and paint to can up that 20 lb box of farmer’s market peaches? How gouche. Get a babysitter.

Because really, raising babies into mature, adjusted, respectful, independant, happy people? Where’s the glory in that? Nothing to prove yourself at the end of the day. No beasts slain or monuments erected. It’s women’s work.

Suddenly the absurdity of it hit me. Sure I am bucking the social norm by forgoing the career world and choosing to make a home and a family instead, thereby honoring the female in my own neo-feminist way. But in the end I am buying right back into the patriarchal paradigm by disregarding the humbling and dirty mama work for more glorious objectives.

I am assuming the above paragraphs rings as true in your cultural ear. But, seriously? How in the hell did we get to think that birthing and raising human beings is anything short of monumental. Suppose there were a laboratory scientist who under microscope inseminated human eggs, grew fetuses in an artificial womb, then provided just the right environment for physical and mental growth into a mature human specimen. I can only suspect this would be lauded as the highest post in the scientific realm. Heady stuff. Playing God, it sounds.

But no. It’s just playing Mom.

Because birthing and raising kids is commonplace does not mean it is anything less than absolutely extraordinary work. The highest post in the human realm (to risk making enemies). Worthy not just of respect, but outright worship. And I don’t mean I expect anyone else to bow down, but that I myself need to bow down before my own power. Yank it out from under those dank towels and worship my mothering self.

Which brings me to the kernal my life has been folding around for the last year. What is worthy of worship is worthy of Submission.

We are not taught to respect submission. Domination, that’s our bag. But I will dare to speak against the grain again and say that we whatever-we-are kind of feminists might want to reconsider. Submission in it’s pure form, shed of the baggage of polar duality, is beautiful, useful, and essentially female.

Now, don’t get yer panties in a bunch. By “female” I don’t mean only for women, or that only women naturally submit. I mean that it is the female in all of us that submits, and the male in all of us that dominates. I think we are all of us twisted up combinations of male and female qualities.

Before I get off track, let me explain further what I mean by submission. Such a dangerous word merits definition.

Because I do not mean submission to a god, or submission to your husband, or father, or priest, or pope or any of that. I mean submission to your chosen path, a gracious yielding to something beyond self. It’s what marriage means to me, and why I wanted to be married. Submission not to My Man, but to the union of Us we have chosen to make. Submitting makes it so much easier. You can let go the constant questioning, the wondering, the judging. You can stop re-examining your relationship every time you have an argument and put that energy instead into solving the conflict.

I started ruminating on submission regarding motherhood when I was visiting with a friend back home. We were talking about a woman we both knew, a mama who has given herself over entirely to being a mama. I couldn’t help but feel disdain. My friend swore this woman was happy, blissful even. I narrowed my eyes,

“But don’t you think that in some secret dark part of herself she’s all locked up and screaming?”

“No. No, I really don’t.”

I felt blind-sided.

“Maybe that’s what true submission means. Really, actually, honestly letting go of all your shit.”

I’m still not convinced that some bitter poison of stifled self will not leach in later years. Nevertheless, this shard of possibility which rubbed so wrong at first has been gathering like a pearl ever since. I feel there is something I’m missing. A keyhole empty.

I have always harshly judged the chic, city “accessory mom” who wants kids because they look good with her Saturday leisure outfit, and certainly would never let parenting get in the way of her career. Yet at some point recently I realized that I had shockingly similar expectations, just with a drastically different looking “career.” I also expected child-raising to fit into the corners of my otherwise me life. I would just keep at my illustrious Woodsy DIY Career whilst my babies played quietly with sticks and rocks in the corner, right?

When the truthing point arrived three years ago, in the form of an angelic and opinionated infant, the hardest part for me was lowering my expectations of production. I understood I had to give some things up, but it was only through gritted teeth. I was relenting. I was not gracious.

Enter the second. A seeming clone of the first. Not the “easy second child” I’ve heard tell about. Another beautifully spirited, curious, passionate and yes, opinionated baby. It’s amazing how early their little opinions exert themselves on your world. Size is not relative, let me tell you.

Two kids is a world away from one. It’s almost hard for me to really get a mama of one now. They seem so spry, so peppy, like fireworks compared to the dragged out way I feel. I’ve heard that this close spacing will pay off later, but so far all I can say is that having a newborn and a two year old at the same time was complete insanity.

Submission in the loosest sense of the word is inevitable. There is no escape hatch, no side halls, and the ground you walk over disappears as you pass. The only way is forward. But the spirit with which you go is everything. No hour passes slower than an hour of gritted teeth. To resist with your mind what you are in body doing wastes precious energy.

I am continually surprised by how pregnancy and, especially, birth prepare us for motherhood. Did you read the hippie birthing books? Submission, man. It’s all about submission. I can’t remember if they actually use that word, but that’s the concept behind pages and volumes of birthing books. Fight the pain and the baby will stick in there like a barb. Let go your fear, release yourself into the pain.

This is of course a fuck of a lot harder than it sounds. And I’m not sure I did such a keen job of it, which might be why my first labor lasted for three days. Obviously this is my special little lesson.

In labor you learn, above all else, that you are capable of completely impossible shit. In fact, it seems impossible and then the pain doubles. And then doubles again. And then, if you’re like me, when it gets to the pushing part the double double impossible is suddenly dwarfed by a mind boggling infinity of un-fucking-believable.

Which is good in a way. Because you come out the other end understanding that you are capable of feats as yet un-dreamed. If you can push a baby out of your vagina, mothering is all downhill from there.

We can do it. It’s the hardest job I know, and maybe it doesn’t offer immediate and tangible rewards like the more glamorous homey arts. Maybe you have nothing to show for the end of another hardest day of your life. Nothing to tally, nothing to photograph in macro, nothing to blag about, but we’re making mother fucking people. Beat that sister.

Here, But Gone

As I suspected might happen, my vacation from the computer has left me wary. We got back Saturday night. Sunday I just luxuriated in being home, having a husband/papa, and not feeling edgy every time my kids fussed. It was bliss. By Monday morning I was all geared up for a splurgy computer blow out, I thought. Excited to read all of y’alls blog accumulation, and even get started on scribing down the Epic Saga that was our trip.

It didn’t take my little blogland fantasy long to get squashed. About 5 minutes in, when both kids started fussing, I remembered. Maybe I had just woken up on the wrong side of the bed. But my whole day got a sour start, and it wasn’t anyone’s fault really but my own. And this damn screen.

It’s the way it makes me into a junkie. I’m always looking for a way to sneak off and get high, and when I don’t get my fix I’m bitchy.

It’s not okay.

Being away–clean for three weeks– then delving for a moment back into it was the clarity I needed. I was a pretty great mama for those three weeks, if I do say so myself. I had some breakdowns, don’t get me wrong, but considering the circumstances, I was remarkably patient and compassionate. When my MamaRage rushed back in, second day home, I had to stop and think.

Partly I had been holding it all in, because true emotional response was not really an option on our trip. Somebody had to keep their shit together, and since I was 29 years the senior, I figured it had better be me.

But at least as important was the fact that I had accepted and submitted. I knew what I had to do, I knew there wouldn’t be time for Me. I was mentally and emotionally prepared for the task at hand. Once back home however, I went right back to thinking I ought to get something. It’s only fair.

We’ve been over this. It’s not that I don’t think mama’s should take time/energy for themselves. But I can tell you that this internet/blog world sucks my time up at an alarming rate. If I have an hour to myself, and I use to sniff blogs, my hour’s up in a blink and all I want is moremoremore.

The past few days I have instead read and tinkered in my precious morning time, and I feel so much more restored. 30 minutes of reading feels like a lot. 30 minutes of blogging feels like nothing.

Fear not. I am not swearing you off for all and always. I do truly enjoy writing and sharing with all you fabulous ladies (and winsome fellows), and I hope to keep it up. Maybe at a once every week or two rate. I think if I have a specific day that I am allowed to blog, I can keep myself in check.

We shall see.

The trip was great by the way, if ever so challenging. What a crazy bunch of work and stress, I’ll tell you about someday.

But for now– I need a vacation.

Of Comments, Readers and Gratitudes

Writing this blog, as I’ve mentioned before, is a purely selfish addiction. I can’t stop myself now. I need this outlet to digest my day to day. I think of post ideas constantly (like 2 or 3 a day!), and write volumes in my head while I’m pressure-washing puke out of carseats.

Several of you have mentioned that my blog reads like a letter from a friend. Well, that’s about how it writes too. And let me assure you it is often eerie writing an intimate letter to a nameless number of (mostly) strangers. It’s a leap of faith to wrench your heart onto a keyboard and then send it flying into the Unknown.

Do you remember the best part about writing a letter? (Back from the days when people did such things…) Oh yes, the best part was opening your mailbox to find a reply!

I am a comment junkie. I check my comments at least twice a day. My heart jumps at compliments like a little lost puppy, and suggestions for practical things are often trialed that very day.

I don’t know what the protocol is for comments. Am I supposed to respond to every one? Or only when a question or specific point has been raised? I guess it doesn’t really matter what the protocol is anyway, because the fact is that I only have so much time, and it usually comes down to that I could respond to comments, or write a post. And I pretty much choose writing a post.

But! This does not mean I don’t read and treasure each comment. Truly! I want to make sure you all know how grateful I am for each and every comment. They validate my time here. They make the walls of this dark cave a bit less echoey. They remind me that I am among company, and inspire me to write more.

I especially love long comments. The longer the better! Tell me all about who you are, why you read, what you had for dinner. Write me a letter back. Don’t be shy. I’m not some big famous blogger with 57 comments to each post. There’s a small, cozy readership here. If you comment more than once, I will probably recognize your name. If you tell me something about yourself, I will remember. If you want to write me a real letter– well, as real as it gets these days– my email address is scarletfevir at yahoo.

Please do not think that because I don’t respond to your comments I’m not reading them with rapture. Thank you for taking the time to read at all. Thank you especially for your letters back, big and small.

Thanks for coming by. Don’t be a stranger.