This blog has been sitting here, gathering dust (and spam) for 1.5 years. Now, watch me try to turn it into a blog that will *attempt* to make money. Let’s see how it goes.
I was listening to the latest Bloggercon (IV)'s podcasts on ZDnet, and they had one called "The emotion (sic) life of bloggers", which featured, among many semi-famous bloggers in the US, Chris Pirillo of Lockergnome fame (who'd led another session called The User Complaint session, which turned out to be another mega-software corp bashing session and didn't make any real sense at all in the end, but that's another story).
And it got me to thinking about why people blog, and why it's just so popular.
Was journal-writing and diary-keeping ever this hot? Is putting your thoughts out there for friends and strangers the reason it's hot? If so, why?
Why do I blog?
Revisiting this topic, it's because I was a journalist, and I'd wanted to write about other things in my life, put stuff out there I otherwise would not have the opportunity to write about, use that creative side of my brain a little. Rant a little. Share info, links, opinions. I started blogs for my girls because I'd wanted them to have something to look back at when they grow up, an accessible, searchable archive of their lives as little babies and kids.
Looking back, blogging rounded out my 'public personality' a little. It used to be that I was this geeky writer who was neither here nor there, writing about games, technology, AND relationships (yea, I'm diverse like that). People, friends and strangers, got to know me as a woman who had relationship problems, who found the love of her life, got married and now living out the rest of her life as a muddled-up mom. It was my way of letting the world know that I existed.
You don't have to climb Mount Everest or swim the English Channel or pose naked for Playboy (well, maybe some still do) to become famous these days. All you need is a computer and a blog account, average writing skills, a nose for what people want to read, and you're in the race to be seen and heard. Even if you're not in it for the money (direct or otherwise) or fame, simply putting your life out there will get you enough attention to make friends out of strangers, and enemies of friends and family members.
After three years of partaking in this pleasure, I've observed three things about blogs and bloggers:
1. If you're just coming into this phenomenon, the best kind of blog to have is an anonymous one. This is odd coming from me because I hate anonymous commenters but I think if you want a blog that gives you the freedom to vent and rant and say what you want without getting fired or get any significant backlash from, you will need to stay anonymous. Assume an alter ego because when you can blog in the knowledge that nobody will ever find out who you really are (with the clever omission of certain personal details and the right software), you will be able to say whatever it is you want to say. The downside is, of course, you can't publicise it as much as you like and as twisted as it may sound, the reason TO blog is that other people, complete strangers, perverts, quite possibly your mom, will read it. Otherwise, you'll keep it offline.
2. There are bloggers and there are writers. That is why journalists and writing in the traditional sense is still necessary. Bloggers like Scoble, I find, are famous not for their ability to write, but for their knowledge of the industry they're in, the status they're in and the resources they have. Bloggers like my friend Karli and so many like her, may not blog about much, but man, can they write the hell out of their otherwise mundane lives. Ordinary people who write extraordinarily about what it is to be human. They may not get a lot of hits and hence, make a lot of money, but if the blogosphere ever wants to be considered seriously for its artistic, emotional and intellectual integrity, it is people like these that will carry the legacy of humanities through to the next generation, not the technology.
3. Podcasting and vlogging are quickly coming into their own as popular platforms to be seen and heard, which sends a very simple message: You don't have to know how to write to blog. You don't have to have a recording contract or movie deal to be a star. And as an audience, we don't have to pay to be entertained anymore (well, except your ISP bill). All you need is the right technology, genuine talent (for stupidity or otherwise), and you're set.
So what happens when most of the world put their lives online, in more ways than one? What happens when you have so many outlets to speak up and be heard? What happens when everyone lives so publicly?
I can hear my father's answer to this question.
"Then noone really is."
So Rae and I were playing restaurant, where poor Skyler is relegated to the job of dishwasher in her play pen. Not that she cares because most of the time, she's just sitting there, checking her diapers out (wonder if I should go check them instead…), when I, the customer, ran out of 'cash' to pay for my fish and broccoli dinner (yuaachh).
"I've run out of cash, baby," I said.
Looking around, I callously picked the first thing that I didn't mind losing, and didn't look dangerous.
"Can I pay you with tape instead?" I asked. As in Scotch tape.
She stared at the miserable piece of plastic I'd just pulled from an old delivery box, a little disappointed.
And then she spotted her play makeup kit on my desk.
"You can pay me with makeup, mommy."
Sometimes, I wonder if she's really my kid.
…turn to Close Second.
Really picked me up this morning.
More than one person from home (one of which is my mother-in-law, who poses the question to me once everytime I call home to check on the old folks) has asked me this past week what my kids and I eat everyday here in the States.
It's as though the US is this big black hole where all manner of edible matter disappears. Or perhaps they don't think much of me as a cook, so keeping my kids and I from the verge of starvation without spending the family fortune on take-out can be quite real a possibility.
Whatever it is, relax guys. I can bang a skillet/wok and a spatula together when I set my mind to it. If you don't believe me, ask my hubby, although I must say his needs are pretty simple to fulfill, Thai Chicken Rice being his only request most of the time. And I don't see my kids complaining. Skyler is skinny not for lack of food, so don't go pinning that on me. She will eat pine chips and plastic tomatoes, so -…
*we interrupt this blog entry with a short message about how cute Jenn's kids are. Again.*
We'd gone to the beach and Rae, my four-year old (omg, she IS four years old!! sigh…) managed to wet her undies so she went up to change herself. Came down with her shorts on backwards.
Mommy: Babe, your panties are on backwards.
Rae: (looks down) Oh! (sheepish smile) Silly me!
Mommy: It's okay, we're at home. You can leave them like that if you want to.
Rae: (looks at me, and then outside through the glass doors, and then back at me again) Did you lock the doors?
…she LOVES my cooking, although that doesn't really make me sound very good.
So what do I eat everyday? I call it kid cuisine.
For breakfast, they have some kind of fruit, usually bananas or oranges, and cheese and usually a sandwich. When Lokes is around, he makes breakfast so I can catch a few more Zs, and he makes eggs most of the time. I've managed to convince the girls cereal is yummy, so yay, since that involves not having to turn on the stove. As for me, I eat whatever is left over on their plates. And of course, coffee. Yes, you can EAT my coffee, yum yum.
Dinner is the main event which I agonise over the night before. Usually we have one meat dish and peas/carrots and/or rice. I've discovered putting a four-cheese-blend on rice is yummy. I make them into little rice balls, sometimes with steamed chicken and veggies. Sometimes I make Chinese-style chicken and potatoes. These days, we have a lot of pasta, which is Rae's flavour of the month. So again, it's kid cuisine, so long as Lokes is travelling 'coz I can't be bothered to cook for me when the kids will no doubt have loads left over.
By the way, you do notice I have a recipes blog. Motivates me to be a bit more adventurous than just Thai-freakin'-Chicken rice.
Hmm. Wonder if I have some Napa cabbage in the fridge?
Since coming to the US, I've learned a LOT about being a good parent.
One of the most admirable things I observe everyday about gwailo parents is how much patience and respect they have for their little ones.
If you are a parent, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. The urge to snap. The propensity to scold. The quick fixes of threat and punishment to get your message across so your kids will just stay still for one damn moment.
In Malaysia, you will often see (or hear) mothers either scolding or screaming after their children in public places when they misbehave. If you stay long enough, you might even witness a few tight slaps before said children are being dragged kicking and screaming through a supermarket aisle or out of a park.
I think in the six months I've been here, I've only seen one mother who was more than stern in trying to keep her boy in line, who had a patch over his eye, which may be saying something. Most of the time, even when a lot of tears and whining are involved, American moms tend to keep their tempers in check very well, rationalising, explaining, soothing all unhappiness away without ever raising their voices up an iota – even when it seems that the child deserves a little more than that. At most, a stern warning of a time-out is issued.
How DO they do it? It seems inbred, this much patience and respect for little kids. Well, not inbred, inbred. Maybe it's all the cheese.
Or maybe, it's tricks like these. Isn't the toy time-out just the thing?
I am happy this positive attitude is rubbing off on me.
Look, kids. Mommy's growing!
It never ceases to amaze me how some people are just meant to write.
Or in this case, blog.
Take Adeline Gong's latest entry, for example, on why we need to dream. Made me wonder if that is why I feel so empty inside sometimes, because I've always dreamt of becoming a writer. I've done that. Lived the dream for 11 years.
And now I'm here.
I spent five minutes thinking about what I want to do with my life now, beyond being a good mother to my kids. This thing, I need to do. What do I want to do? Write a book? Write a play? Write a song?
Honestly, I have no idea. Like what Adeline says, I'm just living my life now, one day at a time, a little dead inside.
I need to dream again.