Frequently Asked Questions

Once upon a time I asked blog readers what THEY wanted to know about me.  They bravely took me up on my challenge and asked me all sorts of questions!  AND I ANSWERED THEM ALL (Gold Star for ME!)!  Here follows their questions and my answers.

Lori (my friend from Texas who CLAIMS to be a lurker but has made her presence known before) asks:

ok, so speaking of lurking, what blog(s) are YOU a lurker on?
Why do you blog?
What famous celebrity do you hope to someday see at Trader Joe’s?
Coke or Pepsi?
Favorite books to read?

All right, lurking.  Once upon a time I lurked on one blog in particular: Not that you asked….
I still to this day have no idea how I stumbled across Emily’s blog but
I’m so glad I did.  It really helps that she’s one literal step ahead
of me in life in every way so she always has tons of his of helpful
things to say about husbands and babies and toddlers and whatnot (check
out her hospital packing list
… AMAZING).  Also?  She’s hilarious and just instantly seemed to be a
genuine person who just told it like it was.  After a month of
blog-stalking her (and basically reading ALL her archives and noticing
that our dogs are pretty much twins) I finally worked up the courage to
leave her a comment, which is not a big deal because she gets millions
of comments.  But then GUESS WHAT?  She commented back.  It was pretty
much the coolest thing EVER.  Somehow we started exchanging the
occasional email and then like, sent each other stuff in the mail and
now, dare I say?  We are kinda buddies?  Well, at least I like to think
that we are (as all nerdy kids think the coolest kids in school are
buddies with them, sigh). 

Former stalkees now include: Mighty Maggie, Whoorl, Anne Nahm and Nothing But Bonfires but I have made contact with all on some level so they know I’m out there reading.

Currently I lurk on Matt, Liz, and Madeline and Dooce
I’ve never commented on Matt’s blog because?  Not really sure what I
can say that wouldn’t sound cliched.  You know?  I do secretly hope to
run into him one day to tell him that I read … my heart just goes out
to him.  Dooce is just, well, Dooce.  I emailed her once but I felt SO
DUMB.  Anyway.  Nowadays I try to comment on interesting posts. 
Comments are just, well, the greatest.  And if you never comment on
anyone’s blog how can you ever get comments back?  SEE THE LOGIC?  🙂 (Here’s a complete list of the blogs/sites I currently read)

Why do I blog?  Mostly because I like to
pretend that I’m still a writer.  This whole blogging thing started off
when my younger sister made me get a Xanga account because she and her
cool friends in college were all starting blogs.  I was in graduate
school writing a book of short stories then (I know, it’s a short drop
isn’t it?) and didn’t really blog much but I liked spying on my sister
and her friends (particularly Anna and Laura). 
It took a couple years, but once I began a short-lived but illustrious
career as a substitute teacher, I was hooked.  I remember one classroom
where I had internet access — marine biology where the assignment ALL
DAY was crossword puzzles … OH BLESS THE SICK TEACHER — and I
updated my blog every class period.  It was awesome.  Then my mom
started reading blogs (namely my sister’s
and mine) and demanded updates so she didn’t have to “call us all the
time to find out what’s going on.”  Being a submissive wimp really is
the reason here people, let me just come out and say it.

What celebrity do I hope to see at Trader Joe’s? 
Really, I’m not too particular about this one.  I just want to SEE a
celebrity and recognize them in the moment.  On Saturday at the airport
John started yelling (in the terminal, yes, while pushing a baby in a
stroller, two bags strapped on him and while ON HIS PHONE), “I JUST SAW
DAVID DUCHOVNY!!  DID YOU SEE HIM!  LOOK MANDA!! THERE’S THE BACK OF
HIM!” And I still do not believe him because my husband tends to not
have the best facial recognition and the back of the guy DID NOT look
at all like David Duchovny and I SHOULD KNOW because SOMEONE made me
sit through ALL NINE seasons of the X-Files once.  Ahem.

Coke or Pepsi?  I’m a Diet Coke girl.  I
miss regular Diet Coke so I survive on Caffeine Free Diet Coke which we
all know is for grandmas.  Luckily, grandmas are the bomb.

Favorite books to read? Anything by
Cormac McCarthy.  Books of short stories.  I have a few books of poetry
that I read over and over again and they never get old, particularly this one that John gave to me long ago.  A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.  And also, weirdly, cook books.  I could read cook books all day long.

“Okay… for starters, where did you grow up?  Where did
you go to college?  How did you meet your hubby?  How long have you
been married?”

Here we go.  I was born in Roanoke, VA.  My mother and
father both basically grew up there and all my grandparents and
extended family lived there.  When I was three months old my family
relocated to Raleigh, NC, where my sister was born and where we lived
until I was about 12 years old.  After 5th grade, my family once again
relocated to the west suburbs of Chicago (where my mother still lives)
so when you ask “where I grew up” I would say suburban Chicago, but my
family is from Virginia.

I went to college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
I double majored in English and Rhetoric and then went on to get a
Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.  I hope you can sorta
tell?  RIGHT?!

During the end of my junior year I met John, and the first
time I met him I never thought in a million years we would end up
married.  The story is LONG and SORDID (not really), but when I met him
he was teaching at U of I.  At first I didn’t know that … I thought
he was a graduate student (him being only 26 at the time – and looking
like he was 22 – didn’t help much).  He was auditing a class I was
taking (NOT TEACHING IT, as my mother would like to put it because
according to her it’s much, much more interesting that way.  She also
likes to end that story with “You’d better believe she got an ‘A’ in
THAT class, heh heh heh!”).  Anyway, sometime during the end of the
year we struck up a polite TOTALLY PLATONIC friendship and exchanged
addresses.  I went off to be a camp counselor in Maine (WORST JOB EVER
IN MY LIFE) and he went off to Texas to work in the teaching program he
worked for every summer. 

At some point I was writing postcards to everyone I knew
because a) there was no internet at this stupid, ridiculous, awful
place where I worked; b) I didn’t have a cell phone because I went to
college BEFORE the time when everyone and their brother had a cell
phone OH MY GOSH I AM SO OLD; and c) I was super lonely and was pretty
sure that the guy I was dating at the time (not John, by the way) was
cheating on me while I was away (AND HE WAS).  Anyway I had this big
stack of postcards and I had written one to everyone I could think of
because I was desperate for someone to write back and I had one left. 
I sat there on my top bunk flipping through my address book and there
was John’s name and address.  I thought to myself “What the heck?” and
wrote him a very generic “Hey how are you, it’s beautiful here, hope
you’re doing great in Texas” kind of note, mailed it, and forgot all
about it. 

About a week later there was a huge, fat envelope waiting
for me on my bed.  Inside was a ten-page letter about everything that
was going on in Texas with this guy I kinda knew.  It was water on dry
soil.  I wrote him back a ten-pager of my own about how AWFUL
everything was in Maine, and then he wrote me back AGAIN.  For the rest
of the summer we wrote letters … we basically told each other our
life stories and exchanged song lyrics and poems that had changed our
lives and in the process TOTALLY FELL IN LOVE. 

When I got back to school we planned to meet up and I was
SO nervous to see him again because I totally had feelings for him and
had no idea if he felt the same way about me.  We hung out one night –
basically drove around in his pickup truck – and played each other all
the songs we had written each other about.  And … he asked to hold my
hand.  Goosebumps, people, you have NO IDEA.  The next night we
kissed.  And then basically decided that we couldn’t date because he
worked for the department that I was a student in and even though he
WAS NOT MY TEACHER AND NEVER WAS, that kind of thing was frowned upon
and we were both Christians and wanted to live with integrity.  What
followed was the hardest and craziest and most wonderful year of my
life.  John and I became best friends, fell off the wagon and smooched
many times, cried, talked on the phone for hours on end, fought, drank
gallons of coffee, spent weeks without talking or seeing each other
until we couldn’t stand it anymore, didn’t date other people, and then
FINALLY when I graduated, gave it – legitimate out-in-the-open dating –
a shot.  Two years later we were married.  That was in 2004.

That is honestly the shortest version of the story I can
tell.  Sometimes when people ask “How did you and John meet?” I just
say the standard “Oh, we met in college” thing but really, it’s much
better than that.  🙂


A reader, C. asked once “[P]regnancy
question:  my husband very recently told me something he thought I knew
already.  Apparently sometimes during birth the doctor will have to cut
you… down there… ugh… to help get the baby out.  Is that really
true?!  Why has no one ever told me this before?!?!?  I’m so scared
now.  (I’m not pregnant.  Just very excited about that time in my
life.  Or… I WAS.)

P.S.  I’m not talking c-section.  I’m talking further… down there.”

Since I have
a Ph.D. in KICKING ASS after spending ten months pregnant and then 21
hours in labor, I feel totally qualified to help.  The procedure your
dear husband is scaring the crap out of you with is called an episiotomy (click
on the word for a link to a full article all about it).  The short
answer to your question is yes, it’s true.  Sometimes it does happen. 
In my case, my baby was too big to even bother trying an episiotomy! 
After 2.5 hours of pushing I had to have a c-section.  Women and
doctors all have different opinions about whether or not to get one or
whether it’s even necessary, but my advice to you is this:  First,
punch your husband in the arm HARD and then polish that off with a
purple nurple.  Then when he whines about it yell, “WELL I’M THE ONE
WHO HAS TO HAVE THE BABIES SO SHUT UP!”  Then, consider this: I was
absolutely freaked out too … mostly because people love to torture
young wives with their war stories.  I won’t lie, childbirth is a crazy
experience!  So I guess in a way you’re lucky no one told you about
that lovely angle sooner!  What is your husband THINKING?  Does he NOT
want kids or something?!

However it happens, you blow out your lady parts to get
the baby out and THAT, my friend, is intimidating.  But don’t let it
stop you from procreating.  Billions of women have done it and survived
(most of them without drugs and modern technology) and so can you.  I
have absolutely no pain tolerance whatsoever and I still want more kids!  Hope that bolsters your nerves a bit.  Also?  There’s drugs at the hospital.  Lots of them.

And when it’s over, you get one of these:

IMG_0633  

Have more questions?  Ask them here and I’ll be glad to answer them on the blog!

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