14 December 2009

The Great Interview Experiment: So-So Stephanie

So we're doing something different here at Growing Up Kaitlyn. As part of a great project called The Great Interview Experiment, I've been given the opportunity to talk with Stephanie Gresham, author of the blog So-So Stephanie.

Me: OK, so I'm planning to do this thing one question at a time to get some give-take action going. I mean, I could just send you a list of questions and have you answer them, but that's just no fun.

So I've read So-So Stephanie. Like, the whole thing in one sitting, with some obvious breaks for coffee and taking the dog out to pee. Before I get all Nietzsche on you, give me your view on So-So Stephanie and how you started it.

So-So Stephanie: I kept journals and diaries long before the internet ever made it cool. I love the idea of having something to remind you of your life at it's so many various stages. And I'm no good at photo albums. I like to read them years later and get a good laugh or a good cry out of the entries and memories they dredge up.

As for my newest writing endeavor... I found Blogger was a super alternative to the hugely popular forums that showcase a person in photos and witty one liners. I have tried them all and really prefer the open space for writing a blog has to offer. I petered out on twitter before getting many twits to tweet me. Or something.

Motherhood is an odd place for me to have settled. I'm constantly feeling like someone just hired me without reading my resume. Not qualified for motherhood. I do things however they work best for us. Sometimes those ways clash with the "norm", but more often than not it makes for a funny post.

It started off being a place for me to flex the writer muscle. Now I sometimes wonder if I'm still writing it for myself or for the people who read it {as if they are just dying to hear about my gynecologist visits}. Sometimes I want to say things my mother in law or neighbors won't approve of. Like the eff word.

In any case, it's a good place to vent about a bad day or talk crap about my mom when I'm mad at her. She can only seem to figure out the internet when she wants to win a rooster salt and pepper shaker set on ebay. I like blogging. And although I have less time to devote to it since becoming a mother of two, it's there even when i neglected it for weeks at a time. Unlike any of the plants on my back patio.

Me: Don't laugh, but I totally dig your trips to Dr. Bajingo. Not in a creepy way, but, well, you get the drift.

You mentioned writing for your peeps, who play a very important role in So-So Stephanie. I have to get this off my chest: When you write about your father, it's almost perfect prose. When I read Part Damn One for the first time, I was speechless, which for me is quite an accomplishment.

As your blog has progressed, you've opened up more about your childhood and family. Hell, I didn't even know Husband wasn't Ladybug's father until going through a year's worth of posts (look at me talking like a So-So Steph insider). And it seemed to have started with Part Damn One. What made you finally decide to open up that part of your life to the readers?

So-So Stephanie: Wow. I'm floored. I think in the whole time I've been doing this stuff, that is the best compliment I've ever received. I'm more than flattered.

In the beginning of my blog I wrote mostly about my daughter and the silly stuff she said or did. She is such a grown-up six year old and I really want to remember what I can about these parts of her life. I didn't really make any sort of decision to write about my dad. I sat down and just started typing. Like most of my posts, I didn't have much of an idea what was going to come out.

But once I started, I was surprised at how hard it was to keep the truth inside. Or to "tweak it", like I sometimes find myself doing to save face in front of my readers. I would type a sentence and read it and think, "that's not right at all". Even if it was the truth, it didn't sound right. You know? So. I just flipped the edit switch to the off position, took a deep breath and continued. It felt good. I haven't really talked about that part of my life with anyone. It occurred to me that I hadn't even been honest with myself until I sat down and started to type.

That's really it. I'm glad I did it. I don't read those posts much. Some of the funnier ones I like to re-read when I get bored or need a blogger pep-talk. Those, I hardly touch. Maybe it's because I know they are perfect just how they are. Or maybe I want to save a tree's worth of tissues.

Thanks very much for asking.

Me: Now that we've gotten the serious stuff out of the way:

Where did that URL (unicornbutterflies) come from? I mean, when I first read that I thought, "Great, she probably has a bumper sticker touting her honor roll student, too."

So-So Stephanie: Haha. No bumper stickers here, but if I did have one it would say "if you smile pretty enough, nobody will notice your socks are ugly". Something my mom said to me once. {those socks were god-awful}.

Since the blog was originally just going to be tidbits of writing inspired by my little girl, I let her help me name the URL. It's as simple as that. You should've seen my header before a friend helped me make the existing one. Let's just say there were flying horses, rainbows, and cupcakes on it. My very good friend took one peek and said, "that's awful". And she was right. It wasn't going to be "by Ladybug" but about her. So. That's that.

Me: I would so buy one of those bumper stickers.

Now, as the parent of a little girl who doesn't seem to have any sort of major problems (besides the lice, which we can totally blame on another parent who doesn't know how to groom their child properly), what advice do you have to pass on for someone like me who's just about to hit those terrible twos? I mean, I'm pretty surprised I haven't killed her yet, but it's only been 23 months.

So-So Stephanie: You're hilarious. At about this milestone birthday I remember thanking my lucky stars she survived so long. I can't believe we're six years in and our only problem has been lice. Who, by the way, prefer clean kids to the dirty kind. When your girl approaches the school-aged years keep in mind hairspray is your best weapon against head-bugs.

My advice...hmmm. I really find it baffling anyone would ask me for advice, but I will do my best. How about a list?

1. don't try to be perfect. right from the get-go i was using this rule of thumb. you'll never get there no matter how hard you try, so why even bother aiming so high? i get by every day doing my best for that particular day. that's all kids ask for. your best effort. and gum. like every five minutes.

2. self-medicate. i don't, by any means condone drinking copious amounts of Jack Daniels or popping pills to get you through until they start school. rather, do something good for yourself more often than you think you deserve. i'm not going to lie, i feel like ripping off her arm and beating her with the bloody stump after about the gazillionth time she asks me for dessert DURING dinner. instead, i let my husband listen to it because he has the patience of a person who talks to adults all day. and i go outside and walk the dog or shower or something. those few minutes alone really charge up my kid-handling battery. i can come back inside and finish the evening without risking lives {nor limbs}.

3. choose your battles. this is a cliche. but in parenting {especially a toddler}, you're going to be faced with an ass-load of battles. sometimes my kid goes out in ensembles even cindi lauper would've laughed at. and that's okay with me if it means i don't have to fight and everyone remains calm and happy. every situation needs to be weighed and processed before approached. before you get into it with your little girl think to yourself, what's the worst that could happen? and if you can live with the consequences, why not give them one more thing to be happy about? save the disappointment for their teenaged years. when you can actually enjoy being the bad guy...

4. hug 'em while they can sit still long enough to be hugged. occasionally a night goes by when i am kissing Ladybug goodnight and I think, this is the first time today i have "loved" on her. and i'm trying to remember how important it is to hug and kiss her. before i know it, she'll be a teen and motherly public displays of affection will be out of the question.

I hope those weren't too corny. I'm pretty much just playing it by ear and keeping my fingers crossed. And my toes. I can use all the help I can get.

I also wanted to say that I am really enjoying your blog.

I have only one cookie recipe that comes out delicious/edible. And the last time I made them, I added an extra half stick of butter by accident. That put the butter tally up to three sticks. Yes. Three. Fortunately, they were delicious because butter makes everything better. {do i smell a new bumper sticker idea???}

But i'm considering changing the name from "ultimate chocolate chip cookies" to "tiny heart-attacks with a little chocolate inside".

Me: A couple things:

1) Flattery will get you everywhere, especially with me. I'll also be sure to tell my wife you are game for the "Give my kid a cookie that tastes like rock candy" methodology.

2) I think we're on to a new career for you: Bumper Sticker writer.

3) I can see your point about staying away from the "special" treats. I've been indulging in a little too much Mother's Cure since 14 months and it's probably the reason I'm still semi-retired.

Back to the interview: What's it like to squirt yourself in the face with breast milk? I mean, did you forget to buy creamer for the coffee or something?

So-So Stephanie: Um. It was just something I was curious about. {how much comes out? how fast? etc}. Knowing what I now know about the force and consistency of the stuff, I would not look again directly down the um... "barrel of the gun".

That's really all I'd like to say concerning that topic.

Me: I have to say, I thought you were ending this interview after that question, considering you hadn't responded with your usual expediency. Glad I haven't scared you away. Yet.

You mentioned your less than enthusiastic stance on social media. That's not really the blogger way, you know. But I did notice you still have a MySpace page. That's pretty scary stuff there, Triple S. There's a question in there somewhere.

So-So Stephanie: I wonder what the date of the last time I logged into that account. I can't recall my password for it, but may be able to do some guessing if I needed to. My MySpace page is only still open because the email account I used to open it ages ago is no longer in existence and they want me to jump through some firey hoops to have it deleted. Really. I think I was supposed to take a photo of myself holding a hand-written sign saying my screen name and that I wanted to close my account. Upload it, email it....zzzzzzzzzz. So I just don't use it. It's out there. I just pretend it isn't.

Facebook, on the other hand, is fun. Mostly because my husband is fond of starting fan clubs of stuff like chicken pieces. And he also joins fan clubs for Ewoks and NOT PLAYING FARMVILLE. I like Facebook. And I'm not dissing all forums. I just don't have time to keep up with most of them. And Twitter looked like a total time-suck for me. So. I have tried many of them. Most of them are still out there. I just am finding I have to prioritize my internet time these days with two kids. And I'd much rather be writing a blog or stalking other blogs. Or pining for the stuff posted on Apartment Therapy. Stuffffffff.

Hope that's not all ya got...

Me: Not even close to done! Well, actually we're getting close to the end, but not for a lack of talking. You see, we've got to wrap this up sooner or later. Besides, I have to apparently stalk my interviewer, since they never contacted me. Douche.

Anyway, you mentioned the second rugrat. How is life with Sam going? And how's Ladybug dealing with being second fiddle?

So-So Stephanie: Too bad we can't interview each other. The blogger I am interviewing is about as much fun and excitement as a xanax with a gin chaser. I had a hard enough time reading through her archive and now it's even harder coming up with questions that don't include me asking why she is so boring.

Onto your answer. Ladybug is smitten with Sam. She is protective of him almost to a fault. She yelled at the pediatrician for giving him a shot, "he doesn't like that" and she was up and on that doctor like white on rice.

She's yet to voice any jealousy about playing second fiddle, but JG and I try our best to divvy the parenting up during those chaotic parts of the day when everyone seems so needy. Bedtime is a bittersweet time. {I sometimes struggle with getting everyone ready for bed without making it seem like I'm in a hurry to be kid-free.}

Ladybug is a great sister. Sam is a lucky kid.

ps- i changed my blog header and slapped one of my bumper sticker slogans on as the subheading. thanks for the vote of confidence!

Me: Yeah, I saw the new blog. Very chic. And thanks for the stalker nod.

Well, I guess it's getting time to wrap this up, which makes me a little sad because I've enjoyed this tremendously. What does the future hold for So-So Stephanie? I mean, my wife is trying to get me to write a book because, well, I'm semi-retired and all and she wants to see some cash coming from this blogging experiment.

So-So Stephanie: Haha. You're a brave one to consider writing a book. What would it be about? Do you write any fiction or are you a memoirs type of guy? I'm so curious what sort of mindset you have to be in to take on such a project. I'm not even going to pretend I'm ready for any of that yet. I'll stick to my insane episodes on blogger for now.

Let's see. As for so-so stephanie... I think I plan on maybe getting a little more serious about it. It's all too easy for me to get carried away doing the whole mom thing all day long and use that as an excuse to neglect the internet for days or weeks at a time. But I really hope to become a better writer. I am constantly picking up books on writing and whizzing through them only to find myself blinking, dumbfounded at the cursor mocking me when I take matters into my own hands.

I'm dwarfed by the mountains of bloggers out there who are so good at it that they are drowning in followers. I'm humbled by those people who do write books. Who make it happen. How on earth could I possibly write something anyone would want to read, not to mention pay for?? I don't know who dumped out my glass, but it's half-empty when I open the dashboard and click NEW POST. I just kind of cross my toes and wing it. Maybe someday I'll be bold enough to try and "do something with it". The writing stuff, I mean.

Until then, all I can hope for is a little inspiration every day to get me on the computer and onto the next ridiculous thing I throw out there for people to gawk at.

Thanks, James, for your superlative interview. I'd read any book you write. Unless it's about math. *gag.

1 comment:

  1. Good one on Growing Up Kaitlyn - it helps a lot!

    We clearly share similar parenting experiences and views.
    I've been reading one that I'm hooked on -
    I have a feeling you'd get a lot out of it.

    Incredible job on your blog; keep it up.