“Promise me one thing,” my best friend told me approximately six years ago when I told her I was going to start blogging. “Just please never write about 'your process' or about not knowing what to write about.”
Mostly, I hope, I've kept that promise. (My “process,” by the way, is really boring. My beloved late aunt, a smoker for 40-plus years (who successfully quit), used to describe her method for finally breaking the habit, which she sometimes said she should patent, thus: “Step 1: Throw your cigarettes in the trash. Step 2: Leave them there.” My writing process is very similar in its stark simplicity: Step 1: Procrastinate by any and all means available to me. Step 2: Sit down and write.)
Over the years, I have had, for better or worse, no dearth of subject material in my personal life, but beyond that, anyone who can't find something to write about in New Orleans isn't really trying. In fact, just now, while procrastinating, I felt an urgent need to go to the nearby drugstore for cheap wine, acne medicine and a Toblerone bar that I ate in the parking lot because I didn't feel like sharing it with my kids. (This is not what I thought my mid-30s would look like, but I guess I can live with it.) The cashier called me “baby doll,” and I overheard a woman on her cell phone say, “Like, you wake up one morning and they expect you to just build an empire. And you say, 'Um, OK, but I don't even know where my pants are.'”
I have plenty to write about; no worries there. But what I think is most amazing about the stuff I've written over the years is the way I can chronicle Ruby's childhood so far through her understanding of what it means for me to write these weekly blog posts, about me, about her, about her sister, about our city and our family.
When she was 2, I actually told her, “Ruby, please go watch TV and leave Mommy alone so that she can write about parenting you.” I was joking, kind of, but also kind of not, and I still recall her cocking her head at me and toddling off to go watch Tinkerbell while I sat a few feet away frantically typing up something cute she had said.
When she was about 4, she told me she was “a very private person.”
“Really?” I said.
“Yes,” she said. “Aren't you?”
“Ah, no,” I told her. “I write a blog about a lot of personal things in my life on the Internet for anyone to read.”
“No, you don't,” she said. “Wait, do you? I thought … I thought you taught people how to make cupcakes for a living.”
While I do make excellent cupcakes (especially strawberry), I don't have any idea where she got that notion.
By the time she was 6, she was used to it, though. “You write about me, don't you?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said. “Sometimes.”
“Do you get paid?”
“Can I have the money whenever you write about me?”
“I spend all my money on you anyway, kid.”
“Oh. OK. True.”
And now that she's 8, she really gets it. I am careful now, more so than ever before, to not write anything embarrassing about her or that I would hate for her to read. Sometimes, depending on subject matter and/or deadlines, I let her vet my posts that concern her directly. We've gone back and read some of the older ones together, and she thinks they're cute, that she's cute . “Awww, did I really say that?” she asks. “I was such an adorable kid way back then.”
She is on spring break this week, so I took her to my office for the morning, and she immediately climbed into my office chair, started pounding on the keyboard, and said, “I'm Moooooom! Look at me: I'm blogging!”
And although she claims she wants nothing to do with the world of words, although her highest grades are in math and science, although she insists that she's going to be a pediatrician or maybe an astronaut – I do hope she tries her hand at writing. She might say she's a private person (she truly isn't, as the ice cream scooper who heard all about her hangnail can attest), but I do think hers is a voice worth hearing.
(As is Georgia's, of course, but right now, I can't even guess at her stated ambitions.)
I've been quoting both of them since they were barely old enough to talk, and I can't wait to hear everything they're going to say in the future.