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On Being Outed, or Please Let Me Bore You With More Politics, the Rolling Stones and the Statue of Liberty, all in one package

September 28th, 2007

I started my blog two and a half years ago, on Valentine’s Day. Because I’m sweet like candy. Here’s my first post. I shared my daughter’s song (“…ask yourself/why is my mommy/so wacky/why is my mommy so wacky?”)and my parenting mantra (“All the credit, none of the guilt” – I suggest you adopt this one right away, it’s a winner.) I also promised to keep it anonymous. To protect the guilty and the innocent.

I started getting a few regular commenters, here and there, and that thrilled me. (I would like to stop right here and tell everyone who’s reading this — thanks for reading my writing. It means a lot to me. Or maybe you’re just fond of the cussing and the recipes, I have no idea. Or maybe you’re thinking She never gets it right, and you enjoy a perverse sense of superiority over me. Whatever your reasons, welcome. OK, getting choked up, must move along.)

My husband started a blog a year later — also anonymous. We decided not to run pictures of our kids or ourselves. Life tends to not go the way you think it’s going to go, isn’t that true? It’s true for us, anyway. The only thing we’ve stayed consistent about is no kid pix.

We started branching out from domestic advice and hockey talk and diving into school politics. Because, you know, we wanted to bore people and lose readers. We’re in Portland, Ore., and the Portland Public School District is kind of a mess. I would go into details, but it’s boring if you don’t know about PPS and it’s more boring if you do know PPS. (If you’re interested, you can go look through our archives, or read the online archives of the newspapers in town, who were reporting some — but not much — of what we were writing about, only in a less lively fashion, with much less swearing.)

We started asking, where did the grant money go? How was it spent? Why did a bunch get taken away? Why don’t the drinking fountains work at the schools? Or the toilets? (Although my “conspiracy theory” regarding these two questions has always been: no water = no need to go pee-pee.) What about the school district’s radical transfer policy, and the chaos it has caused? (The well-to-do schools are bursting at the seams and rich; the low-income schools are losing students, being closed, and have been hit the hardest — no surprise there.) (And where do you think my kids go to school? I’ll give you a hint — the drinking fountains don’t work.) Also, it’s not just the low-income schools that are suffering, it’s the neighborhoods throughout the city. With people transferring their kids hither and yon, many of us don’t know our neighbors. In a two-block radius, in the seven years we’ve lived on this street, I did a headcount of kids, including babies who aren’t even in school yet and kids who are now in their early twenties. I counted twenty kids total (just the kids who I know by name, not the other kids who I know by face or don’t know at all — I just know they have kids or run a daycare because of toys in the yard).

Twenty kids and guess how many schools? Fourteen.

This is not exactly scientific — understatement — as I lumped all the kids together, big and little. (I know where the Nekkid Neighbors are sending their baby, so I added her in the mix; the other baby I didn’t add in cuz his parents are waiting to decide.) I didn’t factor in what grade schools the big kids went to (although I think that a few of them went to grade school together). And I didn’t factor in the transfers — some of the younger kids (including my daughter, who started out at our neighborhood school and is now (with her brother) attending school in the next neighborhood over from us).

That just seemed a little cuckoo to me — 20 kids/14 schools.

Is this boring? Are you confused? Am I baffling you here? I’m sorry. But if you’re still with me, know this — even if you don’t have kids, even if you’re some curmudgeonly old coot, “Those durn kids! No one paid taxes so I could go to school! I built my own schoolhouse! From rough-hewn logs! I was my own g.d. teacher, too!” etc. Even if you are that guy, please hear me out. Schools = community. Kids going to school together = kids know each other. Grown-ups know all the kids from their neighborhood, when mostly everyone (or everyone) is in school together. So if you see a kid breaking a window or egging a house, instead of saying, “Oooooooooh, probably gang-related activity! I must call policeman!” maybe you’ll say, “Jasper/Quinn/Megan, you are so busted, I’m calling your mom.”

When we’re in the car, driving hither and yon, we’re not getting to know each other. Instead we’re thinking, that beoyotch just cut me off, grrrrrr…

So my husband and I started writing about all this, and a surprising thing happened. Well. I should say, what we thought would happen didn’t happen. We didn’t lose readers, we gained them. More surprisingly (to me, anyway), a lot of you out there — teachers, parents, community members — agree with us. Some don’t. I don’t care, honestly. If someone’s mind is made up, I don’t feel like getting in some screaming match on the playground.

(As my girlfriend put it, in such a befuddled fashion, as she was flying off to join the Peace Corps: “How can I teach them that their way is wrong and my way is right?” That technique will not take you far, my friend.) I am a passionate, sometimes out of control writer, activist, wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. But I have more important things to do than bitch at you and try to make you feel ashamed. I will get nowhere doing that. And sometimes I have to speak up. This blog has been a good spot for me to do that, and man, is it cool finding out how other people do things in different parts of our world, this country, this city, my neighborhood. It can go from huge to tiny and tiny to huge in 60 seconds and that to me is the best part about the Internet. Once in awhile you get a kook fight going. OK, not you, personally, I mean you in general. I will not lie, I mean you Hockey God. The man loves scrapping!

But everyone has kept the discussion going, other bloggers, posters, and there’s lot of energy and drive out there. Maybe we’ll even — all of us — manage to make some changes. We’ll see. It’s been gratifying for me, having the newspapers call Hockey God and me for quotes and ideas. I’m like, “Hello, dinosaur. Tar pits over there — don’t fall in. Yes, we can talk.”

For those of you who are new here, I blog about a bunch of personal stuff, too, not just politics. I’ve written about how much my contractors drive me crazy; how breastfeeding did not come naturally for me, but eventually worked; I write about my kids, and our neighbors, the Nekkids (for the record, the Nekkid Neighbors know about my blog and think it’s funny — at least they say they think it’s funny; the others, to the best of my knowledge, either do not know about the blog or do not care.). (Once again, thanks to the Internet for laughing with me. Or at me. I don’t care which it is, as long as you’re laughing.)

I write about how happy my husband makes me between the sheets.

I blog about goofy stuff — cooky and playdough recipes, my love for mojitos, my unabashed adoration of General Hospital. And serious things, too — that depression runs on both sides of my family; I worry about The Crazeee; I worry about my family’s history of suicide (no, I’m not walking through that door, but I worry about my kids and pray that mental illness will pass them by). And I hate the fall-out in my own life, the trauma from my extended family “issues,” how it affects my kids and my husband, because it affects me. It is too much sometimes. Then I watch “Big Love” and I think, eh, this is nothing, what I’m dealing with.

I’ve written a lot about my late dog, Wacky Dog. How much work he was, how much I loved him, how much I miss him. How it wasn’t until he died that I fully realized: When my dad committed suicide, he took our family dog with him. I don’t know how comfortable I am having people know that this is truly me, all of this writing. The real me. When you Google by my name, my real name, you didn’t used to come across Wacky Mommy. Now that has changed. The media may soon come by to peer at the Nekkid Neighbors, they may have to start wearing underwear, I have no idea. Anything could happen.

We. Are. Outed.

First a few of the bloggers started referring to us by name on their blogs. First by just our first names, then our last. Then came the local media, interested in my husband’s writing about the school district, mainly. (It figures.) (I mean, really. Doesn’t it just figure?) Specifically, they are intrigued by the way he can put data, numbers and dollars together, in layman’s terms. Then we started going to more meetings and events. And we were already going to a fair amount of meetings. More than one person should attend in two years, that’s how many we attend in a two- or three-week period.

So my husband and I talked, blogger to blogger, wife to husband — where are we going with all this? It’s critical, the political work he and I are doing — his numbers, my passion, his logical mind, my innate distrust — we’re a good team. We decided we would be out. (We’d already been outed on the blogs and in our neighborhood community, a lot of our friends and family read our blogs, but we hadn’t talked to the print media on the record.) He talked with the print media. On the record. I talked with the print media. On the record.

Our real names, our real urls, together, for the first time in history.


I’m wondering:

* Will the neighbors find our blogs now?

* Will they know it’s them I’m talking about?

* How about our extended families?

* What about the doctor I fired and blogged about?

* What about references to sex toys, dirty jokes, ribs (mostly good-natured, but sometimes not) at others? People we know, people we don’t?

* What about the Rolling Stones? Will they retire because I told them to? Am I drunk with power? Yes! (Ha. No.) (Ha. Not yet, anyway…)

* Do I care about any of this? Not really. Yes, absolutely. Sometimes. Possibly. I care about what we write about, but I’ve also been known to change my mind. I care about what we write about, but I don’t really care what people think, is what I mean.

So, out we go.

I don’t know, just yet, what to think of all this, but my husband and I want to work for the greater good. I don’t mean to sound like some lofty asshole, because I’m not. I do not mean to come off as holier-than-thou. I’m way more of a witch than you, believe me. I ain’t a-woofin’ on that one. (People who have met me in person, in unison: “She really is not kidding.”) That’s why I have to try harder, to fight this part of myself that is contentious, that is bitter and wants to knock heads together.

I hate this whole mentality we’ve gotten into in this country — “I’m grabbing my family, my little piece of the pie, we’re going over here and no, you’re not invited to sit with us.”

What we’re telling people, by being racist, classist jerks, by abandoning the schoolchildren, the elderly, the sick, the uninsured, the Earth we live on, what we’re telling everyone is, “I don’t give a shit about you — you’re on your own.”

That’s why I teach Sunday school; that’s why we’ve helped build two playgrounds in our neighborhood; that’s why we volunteer constantly at our neighborhood schools; and that, it turns out, is why our blogs are no longer anonymous.

How do I feel about losing my anonymity?


You know what it comes back to? I love the Statue of Liberty. It is abnormal how much I love the Statue of Liberty, and what she means to me. I mean, I have been crazy in love with her since I was a little, little kid. Maybe it’s because I read all those Norma Klein and Judy Blume books set in New York. Maybe I saw Planet of the Apes about ten times too many. I didn’t even lay eyes on the statue itself, in person, until I was 22. If I had a tattoo, it would be the Statue of Liberty all across my back.

She’s what we’re supposed to be all about here, right? So what happened to this?

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

That’s what I’m asking.


  1. Daisy says

    I’m all for the neighborhood school concept — or I was until I taught in my own neighborhood and got a rock through my front window. Now I teach in a different neighborhood, just far enough away that my students don’t ride their bikes past my front door on their way to school each day.

    September 29th, 2007 | #

  2. Betsy says

    Welcome to the world of outness! Yep, there are times when you feel as if you’re standing naked in a 30 mile per hour wind outside and your front door is locked and you don’t have any keys and you CANNOT get in and everyone’s staring at you – but it’s mostly good.

    September 29th, 2007 | #

  3. edj says

    Great post! Yeah it’s scary, but it’s important too. We all have to stand up for what we believe in.

    September 29th, 2007 | #

  4. MamaToo says

    I hope your readership continues to grow – it is good to say what you believe, and even better because I know your sincerity. Yours is a voice that should be heard.

    October 9th, 2007 | #

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