Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Navel gazing, and at great length

First, I'd like to thank everyone who commented on yesterday's post on sleeping: I was so scared to write about what was going on, and you were all so kind and careful and understanding, and, ultimately, I feel a little stronger in my own choices now. And Miss Baby slept through the night again, and woke up happy--with a giant poopie fouling up the air on the whole second floor. Yikes. Tonight, she went down with no crying.

Second, Mad Hatter tagged me for a meme, a blogging-about-blogging sorta exercise, and she knows what she's getting into: in My Off-Blog Life, I am a theorist of new media, and um, just wrote a book chapter on blogging for a big-deal reference book. So it's like worlds colliding to blog about what blogging is about. Shiver. Slap me if I get pedantic.

1. Do you like the look and the contents of your blog?

I love polka dots (as do, apparently, Mad Hatter and Kittenpie, at the very least), so I like this Blogger template, but I was sad to browse the Interweb and discover I'm not the only one who uses it :-)

As for the contents, well, sometimes I really like what I've written, and sometimes I'm not happy. No matter what I do, I second-guess myself: should have more/less baby, be more/less funny, more/less intellectual, more/less grammatically abstruse ...

2-Does your family know about your blog?

Nope! It's a big secret. Just me and Pynchon (well, and you, gentle reader) know about the blog. 'Mimi' is a kind of me that I choose to construct and reveal in the blogosphere, and while it shares a life and set of experiences with the Real World Me, the information is portioned out differently: not everything I write here is fit for family consumption (cf, post about alcoholic dads) in the sense that I'm reflecting on my family with my friends/readers. So in a way there's more of me here than I generally care to make known.

3-Can you tell your friends about your blog?

Don't wanna. I don't mind if my friends find me online: that would mean they were invested in the momosphere, were likely bloggers themselves, and interested in the topic and genre. However, I would feel weird inviting them online to see me.

I think blogging takes a certain commitment, mentally and emotionally, and the real benefit for me comes from the relationships and interactions I am developing within this space: there is reciprocity, or at least a clear set of expectations, in only-blogger or otherwise-a-stranger audiences. I write, and if you're interested, you read. We build from there. Offline friends come with history and other kinds of expectations. I would feel at once like I was hogging their attention but also making myself very vulnerable to them.

I am careful, though, to write as though they might find me: nothing mean or unfair or very private about anyone who hasn't consented (Miss Baby excepted, of course). I protect my anonymity but poorly (pictures of my living room, many incriminating details about myself, a pretty clear Sitemeter-identifiable address), so I figure I'd better post as though the world I know were listening.

I was on an 'expert panel' on blogging at a book fair in September, and I was asked if I had a blog. I said "Sure I do. It's a mommyblog, but I'm not going to tell you where it is, because that's a different part of my life from this. If you ever find it in the course of your travels though, I'm happy for you to read it." Does that separation make sense?

4-Do you just read the blogs of those who comment on your blog?

I would say it's about half and half. I keep finding great blogs in other people's blogrolls, and then read them voraciously, and then forget the names. Gotta make me a blogroll. I do get kinda sad when I find a blog I really like, try to make some interesting comments, and never even get a visit from the blogger ... I want writers I like to come and like my writing too! Those who comment on my blog are at the top of my visit-while-pumping-breastmilk-at-my-desk list. Pretty selfish, eh?

I read probably 15 or so mommyblogs nearly daily, and another 15 or so sporadically in my blogroll travels. Then I read three or four other kinds of blogs: one on language use and abuse, one by a professor on the tenure track, an interesting one in my own field. I never comment on any of these.

5-Did your blog positively affect your mind?

Yes, yes, yes. I feel saner and calmer and better about myself for participating in this mom community. I was feeling very isolated before. Also, I'm a writer, and this forum allows me to write ... in addition to providing me with social interaction, free baby advice, lots of laughs, and something to do while I'm pumping at work.

6-What does the number of visitors to your blog mean?

It means you like me, you really like me. (JOKE!) Or you were Google-searching for: "lamposts", "cousin eddie tight pants", or "Bombay Sapphire gift pak".

On the one hand, frequent and repeat visitors mean I am more likely to post regularly. On the other hand, I am wary of defining myself by the audience I pull in: far far fewer readers than those my readers seem to pull in, judging by comments.

7-Do you imagine what other bloggers look like?

Maybe I'm synaesthetic, but I imagine bloggers as a combination of personality characterisics based on the content of their writings, of course, but also their site design, and banner. So I don't see 'people' but I see an aura. Then you put up pictures of yourselves, and I'm always surprised.

I told you I love polka dots

8-Do you think blogging has any real benefit?

Real-shmeal. What does that mean? For me the benefit is the enjoyment I derive from reading and writing. Is that enough? I know others have been more involved in the Just Post business, and Her Bad Auction, and that's great. But I don't think we should underestimate the real attraction of blogging in and of itself.

9-Do you think that the blogosphere is a stand alone community separated from the real world?

Ha! Well I guess for me it mostly is, as my blog is secret. But then no, because I talk about you guys all the time (in glowing terms of course) to Pynchon, and sometimes to other new moms.

10-Do some political blogs scare you? Do you avoid them?

No, and yes. I read a lot of these when researching my book chapter, and when supervising an undergraduate thesis last year. The attraction of blogging for political partisans is that they can be as partisan as they like: there is no need to aim for 'fair and balanced' outside of revenue-chasing mass media, and so like congregates with like, and the tone can get really heated and such. I'm just not interested. I'd rather read the newspaper.

Of course, over here, we are also as partisan as we like, and like congregate with like. We should ask political blogs if they're scared of the momosphere!

11-Do you think that criticizing your blog is useful?

No. It's like this friend I have, with whom I speak in French -- she's a French professor, and her spoken and written language kicks my ass in every possible way. But she never corrects me. Because even if my grammar/gender/idiom are not perfect, she still can understand what I'm trying to say. And isn't that better than awkward interruptions for lectures?

12-Have you ever thought about what would happen to your blog in case you died?

Oh geez. Not until now ...

13-Which blogger had the greatest impression on you?

Uh-oh. I am impressed and impressed and impressed all the more with more and more bloggers the longer I am online (copout!).

But the greatest impression, I guess, would have to be Her Bad Mother, because it was through her blog (mentionned in a Globe and Mail article on mommyhood being boring) that I found the momosphere at all. And what a great way in! Another angsty longwinded insecure but rebellious and independent woman academic with an infant (this is a compliment, if you're reading this HBM)! I thought from that reading experience that maybe I could get into this whole blogging thing.

14-Which blogger do you think is the most similar to you?

Urrrr, I actually don't know. I seem to share common ground with most people who comment here, and whom I read.

15-Name a song you want to listen to?

I want to hear the Tom Waits version of 'I don't wanna grow up' because I can't get a really crappy/sappy version done by Holly Cole out of my head. I loves me some Tom Waits.

Phew! If you stuck with me this long, thank you for your patience! I think I'm not going to tag anyone, cause I just sent a meme around last week, and this one is blazing through the web.


Alpha Dogma said...

Mad Hatter tagged me the same meme!
Love your photo! You look much like I expected: lovely, smart, skinny (after all I've seen a photo of your navel) and lots of fun.
I'm dreading Scarlet Johannson's forthcoming cover album of Tom Waits songs. It is going to suck. There is just no way it can be anything positive.

Mad Hatter said...

re the poop: welcome to solids. It just gets stinkier and stinkier from here. We have a song in our house called the Big Poop Tantrum Blues.

As for the rest: ask an academic a simple question...

Seriously, good answers. I love this meme.

cinnamon gurl said...

Oh dear, now I'm all insecure in the presence of some kind of uber expert on blogging. ;)

Great answers... especially the one about imagining what bloggers look like. That's what I was trying to say but couldn't. I love it when people articulate things for me.

I also love Tom Waits, though not in a I have every (any) album(s)... more in a I like the songs people have given me on mixed tapes and what I've downloaded...

Beck said...

Good grief! Everyone is better looking than I am!
I LIKE the polka dotted blog - it suggests "playful", but tastefully so. And your answers are really interesting! Why ARE all Tom Waits covers so DIRE?

Her Bad Mother said...

Yeah, I'll take that as a compliment, for sure - especially coming from my own kind (like attracts like, no?)

(Tho' I don't look as good as you in polka dots, I don't think. :))

ewe are here said...

So glad the sleep thing is starting to work itself out.

Kind of hard to not notice when Mr Stinkybottom's been busy either. Sigh. I'd say I'm looking forward to his toilet training, but with another one on the way, well, it's going to be diapers for a looong time at this end.

NotSoSage said...

Here from Mad's blog.

Great answers. I'd be interested to read the book chapter...

Cin tagged me for the music meme that's going around and I was crossing my fingers hoping that song would come up. I'd just forced Joe to load all of our Tom Waits onto the iPod the week before (it was part of the "driving in the car with jill" playlist). If only I could somehow attach that tune to a comment. I haven't heard Holly Cole's version, but it would probably drive me nuts.

cinnamon gurl said...

Hey, Mimi... seems like it's been awhile... you ok? Now I'm worried my comment was offensive and not funny...

Hope everything's ok...