Thank you, readers, for letting me know that the comments are not working on the Polly Pagenhart interview below. I haven't heard back from the fix-it crew at Typepad, so please leave any thoughts about the interview with Polly HERE. Sorry for the comment snafu. Achoo.
PP: My kids call me Baba, also Babi (I choose to mentally spell it that way, otherwise it's the youngest kid from the Brady Bunch, and I wasn't prepared for that). In our familial bunch we have living: me, my partner, a daughter, a son, a kitty named Mrs. Mooney. (Do you know the musical Sweeny Todd? "Mrs. Mooney had a pie shop" goes the first half of the line. Then there's more ("popping pussies into pies" is another refrain. It's kind of about reclaiming one's power.) In the ether, and always always in my heart: Maxi, the dog that helped me back from the coldest place I've known.
RR: In a good interview, readers find out things about you that they can't find out on your website. To that end,
I must ask: what's best snack ever?
PP: Hmm. I'll have to think about that. A friend plops salsa in a bowl with cottage cheese, and then scoops it up w/ tortilla chips. That works pretty nicely. With more time, a quesadilla with just about anything in it (in the cheese and vegetable dept) is always a hit. My mom made a dip with cream cheese and chutney, and so that, scooped with Wheat Thins, reminds me of her. Making it a heavy duty contender for "best."
RR: Could you talk about a few favorite books or authors?
PP: Gosh. I've read so little since the kids came along that many of these will be people I came to love before becoming a parent. Joan Didion got me to fall in love with the sentence, the essay, the mind as it weaves itself around the task of conveying essential truths with the written word. Thereafter also, authors I love, in no particular order: Virginia Woolf. Paule Marshall. Sarah Schulman. Audre Lorde. Adrienne Rich. Pablo Neruda. Mary Oliver. David Gutterson. If I started trying to name favorite books I'm afraid I'd get myself in trouble. Though I do want to say that Adrienne Rich's "Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying" is an enormous gift. As is most of her poetry. Audre Lorde's essays account for most of my proper awareness of the world. Sarah Schulman, in Rat Bohemia, accomplished something amazing. I think if every family member of every LGBTQ person read it, lots would be different. Or could be. What can one say about Didion? Except when poet Gary Soto asked me to read her Slouching Towards Bethlehem in a high school enrichment class, it changed my life.
PP: Dear me. Too much of it, I fear. Or maybe just enough. In college (UC Berkeley) I majored in English (minored in Ethnic Studies) and tutored writing and led writing workshops. In grad school (Minnesota), I taught composition as well as Women's Studies and American Studies. The original idea was to get me a Ph.D. in American Studies (Feminist Studies minor) and become a professor somewhere, but plans kind of shifted (that's a whole interview in itself). I did leave with an M.A. and a life partner, though. Not too shabby.
RR: When you first started the blog Lesbian Dad what was your mission and how has it changed over time? What do you hope to deliver to your audience?
PP: Great question! Initially, I wanted to work out some ideas about what a "lesbian fatherhood" might be, if indeed there was one. At the least, I wanted to find company in the fairly specific parental place I felt I existed: a lesbian co-parent who was socially & not biologically connected to her kids (where the partner was bio), and one who chafed at "mother," for a host of reasons, most of which gender identity-related. A blog provided a venue in which to think out loud about these things and gather people around me who knew better and could school me (and anyone who listened). I actually first thought it would be a kind of a discussion forum that I would merely moderate, but I soon discovered that -- news to me -- it's fairly easy to launch a solo blog, and people who wanted to talk a LOT about the subject of their parenthoods tend start their own blogs. I didn't have the energy or the time at the outset to begin as a group project, and that might have made a difference, too. Also, I discovered that many other people prefer to converse and comment in response to another's catalyst, and are happy with that degree of contribution.
PP: Great question! (I suspect I'll preface all my answers to these questions this way.) It's like my epistolary voice (!), but public. Which makes it some kind of cross between my most informal, breezy writing in letters to friends and a polished essay. Probably both writerly voices appear (formal and informal), depending on the subject matter. Blogging is unusual, for certain, in the degree to which it is public, instantaneously, and a dialog as well. I've written in some public venues (academic essays for journals or anthologies, op-ed pieces, a personal essay in Confessions), but feedback on that stuff comes so slowly. And it's not even really part of the form, that it anticipate dialog from readers. At most, I'd bump into someone at an academic conference, say, and hear they were using an essay of mine in a class. Or find, after the advent of the World Wide Internet, that someone was referring to an essay.
of course with blogs, the impact is instant. Most exciting is that it
is for the most part supposed to be a conversation! A blog is a DIALOG,
not a MONOLOG. ALL CAPS, BABY. That is a thrill, and what so much
writing (tacitly) aspires to. Or rather, I'll say that I would always
want my own writing to spark some kind of dialog. It's a privilege to
be able to hear that dialog going on, and even be a part of it.
RR: What are your favorite children's books (yours and opposed to our kids')?
PP: Hmmm. There's a crop of books that touched me as a kid, and then some that I like as a parent. From my own childhood, I'd still say Winnie the Pooh is a sentimental favorite. The kids aren't old enough for Harriet the Spy yet, but I can't wait. A number of more obscure ones just happen to touch cords of memory, like Tico and the Golden Wing, for example.
that's an interesting one. Mmmm. Well I'm not sure this is as strange
as it is interesting to me. I've realized that I am connected to so
very many very different people, by virtue of our common parenthood.
The simple fact that we both are parents to children provides a point
of contact that would never otherwise have been there. Experiencing
that has been really a phenomenal, fairly unexpected part of becoming a
parent. Totally didn't anticipate that, and -- other than the
incredible experience of witnessing the development/ self-realization
of two different human beings -- it may well be the best thing about
RR: You've won a number of awards for Lesbian Dad. What do you think the blog offers its readers?
I would have had a harder time answering this question if I'd have
responded before the results from my reader survey came rolling in, or
before I went to BlogHer and got a wider sense of women's communities
online. But now I can do more than speculate. I
would have initially thought that a blog like Lesbian Dad might keep people
like me company -- offering the betwixt/between gals an example of
someone else who was parenting from this gendered standpoint
(both/and) and doing just fine. I might have hoped that it would also
offer straight readers an opportunity to listen in on our
I've been very pleasantly surprised that a lot of folks just like good
writing for its own sake. Great news, eh? For its own sake. Gives
us all something to strive for.
RR: Would you like to add a question that I haven't asked?
PP: What fun! Gosh. Well, the first thing that occurs to me is a question that I asked folks in the survey I did in a recent survey of readers, which was essentially: What do you get from the online communities of which you are a part? To which I'd answer: so much, and so much more than I would have expected! I feel like I've had the opportunity to learn how many commonalities there are across lesbian and lesbian parenting experiences in different countries (in the UK at least, and Australia).
Also, I've come to consider that we really can help one another a great deal using this medium. Being able to carry on a conversation across such distances and so many differences, all mediated not by publishing conglomerates, or limited by physical logistics (how long it takes to get a letter from here to there, much less gather multiple voices into it). We're still limited by human emotion -- the ease with which we can misunderstand each other, peoples' tendencies to gather into clumps of like groups. And online spaces are definitely communities, governed by etiquette and expectations and so on. It's easy to only learn these things after inadvertently stepping on toes. But what we can do with and for each other in this realm is so worth it. I think the community building you do is probably the best example of that.
Today over at Queer Blogs they are featuring (yes, you guessed it) The Other Mother. Many thanks to Katerina and Company!
Thank you for reading this blog. I appreciate your dedication and perseverance. You have endured more than I care to admit:
You have indulged me in all sorts of projects and ideas. I do appreciate it.
Thanks for sharing your experiences and wisdom in response to all my questions. Thanks for your emails and comments. You have been a true community, and I am happy to engage in this dialogue daily. I've truly enjoyed writing for this blog over four years. So thanks for making this conversation interesting. Thanks for being there.
(poor quality picture in place of poor quality video- learning curve a little steep for me - vlog rain check issued)
A number of these bloggers are giving away prizes and free stuff today. And of course, there are wonderful posts all over the place. If you have posted an appreciation piece on your blog, please add your link in the comment field, and I will continue to update this list until everyone is included. Thanks!
I'm excited about all the enthusiasm about Blog Reader Appreciation Day. I'm compiling a list of different kinds of posts and activities that bloggers have planned. I'll update this list, as your suggestions continue.
Over on the WITS blog, the poem of the day is a love poem from a child to her mom.
My thoughts on Blog Reader Appreciation Day are sharpening ever so slightly. Since it's coming up soon--this Wednesday, April 16th, and only two days away, I will just share my thoughts and hope that you will kindly fill in the blanks. I am thinking about
Madonna. You guessed it!
Do you remember a thank-you spot that Madonna did on MTV in the 90s? She listed some of her foibles and mistakes and shortcomings, saying, "You loved me when I wore ___. You loved me when I was fat. You even loved me...."
I tried to find this clip on YouTube but the sketchiness of my memory was prohibitive. If you can find it, please leave me the link.
So the idea for this post on Wednesday is to thank the readers for sticking with you even when you....
It would be fun to vlog it, but I may not be up for that myself!
Let me know how this sounds to you.
Update: Thanks, Elsa, for finding this! The part that I (mis)remembered is near the end of the clip.
Tell me what you think of this idea, bloggers. What if we celebrate our wonderful blog readers with a special Reader Appreciation Day? I'm still cogitating about how it will work, but maybe you could help me figure out the details.
But we need a date. How about next Wednesday, April 16. The tax filing will be behind us, and we can pour on the love.
Blog Reader Appreciation Day 2008. Who's in?
I decided I'd like to do a series of short interviews of some of the bloggers I admire most, and brave Dana Rudolph of Mombian stepped up, willing to be the first, as she often does.
Dana started Mombian nearly 3 years ago. She and her partner Helen have a four-year-old son and two cats. Her interests (besides her family) include history, fencing, taekwondo, rock climbing, and the Red Sox.
RR: Tell us a bit about your background.
DR: I have over a decade of experience in the online industry, at both the startup and corporate levels. Most recently, I was a vice president at Merrill Lynch, developing marketing and business strategies for several key online initiatives. I was also the first leader of the firm's global LGBT employee network. Prior to the business world, I was on an academic track, doing graduate work towards a career as a medieval historian. (No, I didn't dress up as someone from the Middle Ages; I dressed in jeans and spent time in stuffy old libraries.) In some ways, however, blogging combines my previous disparate endeavors: I get to write and do research like an academic, while marketing and maintaining my Web site.
RR: When you first started MOMBIAN what was your mission and how has it changed over time? What do you hope to deliver to your audience?
DR: From the start, I knew I didn't want to write a diary-type blog. There were already many good ones like that, and I didn't think my own family life was interesting enough to keep people coming back. (My writing background, a mix of marketing and academia, may also have influenced this choice. See next question.) I also noticed that most of the existing parenting sites didn't often include lesbians, and most of the lesbian sites didn't often include parents. I therefore decided to make Mombian a site for news and information of interest to lesbian moms and other LGBT parents.
I think that mission has pretty much stayed the same. I hope to deliver posts that are both informative and entertaining, that look at LGBT news and culture with a parent's eye, and at parenting topics with an LGBT eye. I cover everything from politics to entertainment—but I'm not trying to cover all politics, like, say, PageOneQ, or all entertainment, like After Ellen. I want to extract what's of interest to parents and try to make connections that others may have missed. Of course, since I'm the publisher, I sometimes break my own rules and post about something random that catches my attention, but I try to keep it to a minimum.
DR: The closest predecessor to my blogging was a weekly update I used to compile at Merrill Lynch, summarizing news in online financial services. It went out by e-mail to over 150 executives at the firm, and was similar in style to the Weekly Political Roundup I do on Mombian.
Some of the marketing material I used to write has helped me in promoting my site, but not in creating the actual posts. Likewise, my academic work gave me a foundation for some of my longer pieces that require research, but they are not a perfect analogy. Blog posts have to be shorter and punchier, more like newspaper articles than research papers.
DR: The constant high point is the number of friendly and interesting people I've met—bloggers, commenters, and others who have reached out to connect in some way. I'm also proud of the growing success of Blogging for LGBT Families Day, which had over 150 participants last June. The diversity of people and experiences always amazes me. (It will be held again this year on June 2.)
RR: What's the strangest thing that's happened to you since you became a parent?
DR: Becoming a parent was pretty strange in itself. I'm one of those for whom the parenting urge came late; I wasn't against it when I was younger, but it wasn't a burning priority for me as it is for some people.
It's also been very strange being the stay-at-home mom. Both my partner Helen and I have done stints as the SAHM. She gave birth to our son (using my egg and donor sperm), and started out at home, but some changes at the company I worked for led us both to throw our resumes into the ring. She got the better offer, and so we switched roles. We'll probably stick it out this way now until our son is older; going back and forth too much probably wouldn't be good for him. It wasn't something I was expecting, though, even when we started on the road to parenthood. Not that I'm complaining; as I tell Helen, my boss is a lot cuter than hers.
My crazy pal Hahn has sent another wild, sly meme my way: summarize your entire life in six words. Well, perhaps this is cheating but I refer you back to the six word memoir we (trend setters that we are) did back in December 2006 as part of our holiday newsletter. It went (and I quote):
Dear World—almost is close enough.
That was when we were feeling overwhelmed. Of course, we still feel that way so why revise it?
For those of you who wish to play this game, the rules are below. But I would like to specifically tag the following very lucky people:
The Six Word Memoir rules are:
1. Write your own six word memoir.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post.
4. Tag five more blogs with links.
5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!
[photo by ruby dust via flickr]
Thanks to everyone, readers and writers alike, for participating in my first blog carnival, Some/thing. The response was much greater than I'd expected, and I enjoyed reading everybody's posts stemming from the simple prompt: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. First I'll recommend 2 moving posts on Freedom to Marry Week that came out of this project--one by Beren DeMotier, the other by Polly a.k.a. LesbianDad.
In the description of the project I requested surprises and got them! Here are a few of the posts from last week, organized by topic.
For a complete list of the participants, click here.
If you are playing along, please add your blog address as a comment, and I will add you to the list directly.
These February days can really lull me. Have you felt it too? Here's my idea to beat the blogging blahs this week. I mentioned last week that I wanted to throw a blog party, carnival, or harmonic convergence. Here's the idea. It's easy and quick. If everyone does it, it might be a lot of fun.
I'm not big on weddings. Never had one, except for this little bit of blogging. For the rest of the week, if you're game, follow this theme:
Tuesday 2/12 Something old
Wednesday 2/13 Something new
Thursday 2/14 Something borrowed
Friday 2!4 Something blue
You can post a photo, memory, poem, music, or a combination. Try to surprise us. And once you're done, if you leave a link in the comment section here, everyone will be able to check out what you've done. Feel free to link to here, using the "Something" badge. If you're not a blogger, you can still participate by leaving a comment.
Is it tomorrow yet?
Bop, bop, doobie doo waaaaaah.
The New York conference and trip went well. I came home with slinkies (TM) for the girls. They are over their flu and back at preschool today. Marcia is excited about turning 40 next week. Life is good.
I've been experiencing the winter blogging blahs lately and want to DO SOMETHING. I've noticed so many great new blogs linking to mine, and maybe it's because I've been out of town, but I'm even behind in reading my old favorites. (In blog years, 3 is considered old.) I thought it might be fun to throw a blog party or carnival that would bring us all together, perhaps under the colorful umbrella of a topic or question. I'll keep thinking. Let me know if you think you might like to play.
It's that time again. You can nominate/vote for the best lesbian blog of 2007 at TLL today. (It's an unusual process in that there is no distinction between nominating and voting.) The voting will continue up until February 15th.
Thanks to everyone who responded to my informal Reader Survey last week. I really appreciate your help. All of the responses were extremely positive and encouraging. I appreciate your vote of confidence. Here are a few suggestions that I gleaned from the response. Let me know if these sound right to you.
How do these ideas sound to you?
According to my sources, today, August 31, is officially BlogDay. The purpose is help us move beyond the blogs we already know and love and find a few new ones. Anyone can play. If you don't have a blog, feel free to list your fab five as comments below. Here are the official rules:
So without further adieu, here are five blogs that I've discovered recently:
I just started reading Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Veganism with a Vengeance this week. Who knew veganism could be so hip, so now, so fun? PPK is her website.
Michele Martin offers up ideas and conversation about the issues that nonprofit leaders like myself think about a lot. Topics include technology, professional development, and marketing. She manages to keep it very human, very real.
Lori cracks me up. Somehow I felt that she and I were friends the first time I read her blog.
Okay I'm cheating. This blog is not new to me at all, but I am continually so impressed, interested, and inspired by what Polly has to say, that I snuck it into my list. Rules are for breaking, right?
For me, this blog is analogous to magazines you might read in the doctor's waiting room or on the exercise bike, but I find it reassuring. True Confession!
That's my five. Choosing them was harder than I expected!
Dear Reader, I'm trying to do some DIY improvements around here. I wonder if you would be willing to provide some feedback about my blog, The Other Mother. If you don't mind, I'd be interested in learning:
Feel free to leave comments or send your thoughts via email. Thanks in advance, Robin/Baba