KELLY HOGABOOM IS TOTALLY TRYING TO BUY SOMETHING FANCY

i am totally serious





I have been working hard lately. I’ve been writing like a frenzy, and cooking, and raising my kids, and half-raising a few other people’s kids, and sewing, and cleaning up after pets and washing veggies and chopping them and cooking up food and delivering it to people and wiping down the fridge and mending clothes and scrubbing toilets and I haven’t had a cigarette in a few days.

And today I was thinking about the car repairs we need. It’s been five months now since one of our cars threw the crankshaft pulley. We’re a one-car family now (and we spent a couple months as a NO car family because we couldn’t get the other car fixed for a bit). My point is, the next bit of real scratch we get to spare (after groceries rent utilities food food food), it’s going into that car. And that’s fine. Really. That’s how it is.

When I could I’ve squirrelled away little waitress bits of money on fabric for the kids’ clothes and last time I sold a half-decent car I bought my husband a bike (which he uses for his work commute) but the fact is I have no money of my “own”. Kind of ever.

Without any fanfare whatsoever I’m opening up an Etsy shop with some of the custom sewing I’d love to do for a few lucky customers.

I have a specific goal I want to earn toward.

I need about $400 to $500 to buy my kids each a little Netbook, which is the very next thing I’ve decided they need. Then I’ll close the shop and feel grateful and amazed and happy I provided something with my own hands (and my lovely patrons). & after however that goes, I’ll think about my next step.

I’m also accepting donations which is why you’re seeing this annoying sidebar or page or whatever. I’ve been writing for about eight years and I’ve had tons of readers and I’ve helped a lot of people and delivered recipes and gifted tons of content – well over a half million words, and that’s not including answering emails and giving advice and support and comment moderation et al. If there’s anyone reading who feels moved to give, bring it on. But if you’re not particularly interested in supporting a laptop for my kiddos, I totally get it too.

Any amount from large or small to my Paypal account at kelly.hogaboom.org, or checks or money orders or half-assed hidden cash to 814 1st Street Hoquiam, WA 98550 will receive my eternal thanks and my kids’ thanks too I’d imagine, because I know they are going to love these gifts I’ve formulated in my mind, since one of the amazing benefits of being around my kids so much is I know exactly what they will love more than anything.

And I’m going to tell myself if I don’t make it and can’t earn what I need to do this thing, that it’s no reflection on the quality of my writing or my sewing. I’m going to tell myself this. And you know, this is the hardest part. Truly.

(Photo credit: [Svartisen, Nordland, Norway; between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900] via Flickr’s Commons)

so i’m at least not a horrific goblin, or at least not all of the time, despite my occasional lapses into Suck

I received two emails today, hard upon the heels of one another. They read, in part, as follows:

you happy? For the week following your email, I haven’t been able to do a lick of email work – AND IT’S YOUR FAULT. Engrossed as I’ve been with reading your stuff, I’ve kept wondering if there is an end to this wonderful tunnel of love & freedom. Lovit, lovit, lovit! Where did you get the devotion-to-kids, the insights, the compassion, the courage to be so open and vulnerable and brave the brickbats that are inevitably visited upon anyone as free? I’ve worked on it for more than the last half of my life (I’m 81), and I just get stronger and more dedicated. But then, I’m a trained Buddhist (Bodhisattva), with 40 years of daily meditation practice, so slings and arrows are just slings and arrows, nothing personal, nothing more.

I believe I love you. (So much for training in detachment.)

and then:

I am writing because I want to say thank you. There is no way for you to know how much you have inspired and uplifted me simply by being you and sharing it. I love to read your blog. At first, it was just out of curiosity. A friend or another directed me to it. I honestly don’t remember where, how or even who. (As a former Hoquiamite myself it could have been any number of people.)

I was deeply impacted by the realness, the simple beauty of life through your expressions. It has helped me challenge myself to be a better person. I find myself re thinking so many things because of your perspective. Thank you for putting yourself out there. For sharing pieces of your heart and soul. It has made a difference in my life. I just wanted you to know. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

Yeah.  So, there’s no downside to these missives. Thank you, readers – those who write, yes, but also those who read here and in any way find themselves helped, or pleased, or laugh. I know I can be so terribly dark-sided and I am glad to know that is not the only thing people find in me.

So, thank you Universe.

My daughter has been a solitary animal of late, little satisfied with her lot in life despite our (for the most part) compassionate acceptance of her difficulties.  She is quick to disappear into a book, sitting out in my mother’s old pickup truck in the afternoon sunshine.  I am both sad for her sufferings and impressed by her ability to be alone with herself, her autonomy.  She comes in a half hour later and is calmed; she seeks me out.  During the day, as busy as I get I try to lay down or sit down and, like our male cat, she comes to find me and be next to me. This is when she opens up, when she heals from whatever has been hurting her.  We lay in bed together and I feel her hands gently patting at me and I smell her hair (sweet or creepy? you decide!) and I know she is finding something in me that helps her find her way.

Mi Niña Sophita Y Yo

I am seriously so glad my kids got their looks from Ralph, or someone else.  Seriously, it’s no big deal being homely.  Just, it’s boring.  Come on, you know what I’m talking about.

Oh, and don’t be all commenting that I’m pretty or whatever. Or I will roll my eyes so hard you’ll hear them clicking.

balls. part deux. (also: trolls)

I got my first anonymous hater today:

Wow. So artfully self-aggrandizing and self-effacing, yet so ANGRY, defensive. Root emotion: anger = FEAR. What are you so afraid of? Your smart readers must do so only to shake their heads. So sad. I’ll be looking for your caustic, derisive response.

The person who wrote this formspring query had emailed me previously – a much more level-headed criticism – but apparently didn’t like my response. Instead of moving herself on to read other blogs, she felt she’d take me down a peg.

Not to be a downer on formspring, but I thought I would post this to let people know that anonymity can often foster hateful language. Those of us who write online – and attach our own names to our writing – get this sort of thing now and then.

Anecdotally: I’ve always thought the root emotion of anger is hurt, not fear. But I’m open to other opinions!

OK, of course, I know what several of you smarties are thinking: “That doesn’t deserve a response!” And goddamn it, you’re probably right!  And yet, this formspring flame is a timely one for me and is touching on something that’s been on my mind:

In the handful of months since I’ve opened comments on my blog, I have been receiving good comments fostering lively discussion – and, behind the scenes: private picking-at-me emails and, now, my first anonymous hate-mail (um, yay?).

This is truly incredible and I’d like to give you a minute to think about this.

People have been reaching out to talk to me since I’ve been blogging – six years.  Before I opened comments I received DMs, IMs, emails, Facebook responses, snail mail letters, people stopping me in the street and phone calls from across the country.  These communications have often been supportive, grateful, and complimentary;  many asked for my advice or my perspective.  Occasionally these communications directly challenged my assertions or writings (this is a sensitive-New-Age way of saying: people would argue with me).  And always, always these experiences have been worthwhile to engage in.  Every single one.

Things have changed.

Yes, I know who wrote the formspring snark*; if I chose, could email this person and say, “Hey dude, not cool”, or ignore this person or write them and their opinions off, or whatever (I do think a focused post about my ANGRY would be good – although of course, I pretty much happily trot the subject out often enough).  But let me stay on point for now:

I have a lot of readers at this point, a number that has grown over the years. I have many lurkers – that is, people who read and never comment, never email, never let me know they’re there (or who perhaps eventually reveal they’ve been there, for years). I figure it makes sense that eventually I’d get a couple readers who read me and discover they don’t like me, yet – and this is the icky part – keep reading.  I know this could be true, in part because I myself have hate-lurked on a blog, chewing myself up inside about someone whose life, for whatever reason, got on my tits because it was too preachy or too consumerist or too slutty or whatever.  I’m not proud that I did this or that I had these feelings.  I’ve moved on from reading specific publications because I realized it was toxic for me to stay; I was unable to engage the author in a productive, dialogue-inducing way and keep my mind open to who they are; I was both intolerant of and tormented by our differences.  Until I self-corrected I would hate, obsess, chew over why the person or author was wrong or gross or whatever.  I’ve never made a secret out of my own Hater tendencies, because they are a part of me.

What sucks for me is that I don’t publicize my blog as a prescriptive worldview nor a direct communication to specific parties. This is my journal.

So, for instance, my recent personal litany on what people so often say to me about having kids out of school was not a dogmatic denouncement of public or private schools for all parties; the social construction of education is one I am not well-versed in – yet – and I have not been asked to weigh in on by anyone, ever. (If you do wonder what I believe about the vast majority of standard education, and how my life fits into the world at large, I’d direct you to this jaw-droppingly amazing article by Eva Swindler; she’s an actual authority writing professional copy by the way).  I am a human being and you are seeing me in all my humanness; I keep very little private from this journal.

Yeah, I’m aware my thought processes challenge people.  Maybe, reader, you don’t feel particularly challenged, but I want to tell you I get told this all the time; in fact, I’ve often been told this is one of the best things about knowing me (other reasons: my compassion, my cooking, my breasts).  Seriously, in the last week this is what I’ve heard about my writing from about a half dozen parties: “amazing writer”, “on another level”, “hard to follow”, “witty and fast”, “jumps around a lot”, “perfection” (ego-zing! on that last one). Even being handed the shit-sandwich from formspring I know, in theory anyway, that someone who makes character attacks and says I’m “so sad” is, in fact, likely very threatened by what I say, which means hey, maybe I’m saying something worth saying.

Yet, of course, if anyone out there sets me up as Enlightened (or, alternatively, SO SAD AND ANGRY), they are using my very human expression against me to insist I’m not fully human.  This feels like infringement – in both cases.

Because I am not at some “level” of awesome (holy shit, do you even READ here?) or, alternatively, someone who is JUST a sad, frightened, judgy person (duh).  I am just as insecure and brittle and flawed and shitty as the next person.  Writing has been the sole tool I’ve used to know myself.

Oh my god, that reminds me: writing.  When some people say “such-and-such has saved my life”?  This is writing, for me.  And not writing some nicey-pants stuff nor trying-to-say-the-least-(or most!)-offensive-thing. Or like, “I saw my kids playing by the pond today and I realized, this is Life, like seeing a newborn kitten in a sunset” stuff.  I have been trying to say the Me, trying to express myself and I am getting pretty good at it.  Expressing myself.  My best ever writing is when I feel I have really told you who I am, what I think, how I behaved. And I know it’s not always pretty (although sometimes, it’s sublime).  In fact, I love keeping my journal so much I will never stop as long as I’m able.

So getting another I think you should be careful with your language because you are saying things I don’t like email, then a few “I don’t always agree with everything you say” prefaces (from people who asked me to open comments, but have never used the comment function), then “you’re sad, caustic, derisive” – well, it just starts feeling a bit frustrating.  And assy.  Because, you know, fuck off.  This is my diary.  It really is.  I am terribly sorry if at any point I gave the impression this is Life Lessons from Kelly Who-Gives-An-Arse Hogaboom (incidentally: this site is not my diary and would likely be the closest I’d come to claiming “professional” copy, although P.S., I don’t get paid for shit, ever).  Because, you know, it isn’t.

So, yeah, comments.  I know if I close comments things will shift back to where they are more comfortable for me; indeed, my closest loved ones have suggested this.  But the majority of the comments here on my blog have been edifying and delightful.  And I’m not sure I should do things to make myself more comfortable (although yes, I hear you – this really is my space to do whatever I want).

Oh and! Because seriously, everyone tells me I’m smart and intimidating and “rock-solid” and it seems nothing hurts me?  (No seriously, I have been told this three times by three different women this week).  Just to be clear: anonymous hate and snark directed at me, personally?

Yes, it hurts.  Like, upon reading the words on the screen my chest constricted and I felt flushed and Terrible as a Person and like I wanted to Make It Go Away, for several minutes.  I felt Wrong in everything I said and Hated and so pathetic and somehow it’s right I should be hated on, because I have a public blog and write about my life (of course, as a lady I really do “deserve it”), and I have opinions and show my ass and stuff.

Funny thing.  Writing this all out helped.  Huh.

* I’m not sure why people don’t know that first of all they use some of the same phraseology, grammatical errors, figures of speech, and the same tone; secondly, I can “see” people when they are online so thus when a query or comment pops up it isn’t as if I hadn’t seen their recent tweet, or IM status, or whatever; thirdly, that as popular as I am to read it is rare the EXACT ONE SUBJECT gets up the ass of two separate people in the same exact way, so if someone already emailed me then followed up with an anonymous formspring post, well. Yeah.  I know it’s you.

ralph is playing the album “yoshimi battles the pink robots” and it’s making me nostalgic and wanting to cry

“I just want you to know, she has the best manners ever.”  The woman behind the ice cream counter is talking about my daughter. “I mean, lots of grownups come in here and aren’t so respectful,” she continues.  “She is just great.”

(P.S. comments like these make up for the fact today Nels went out in the world with eyes he’d blackened by my eyeshadow and his Halloween costume spotted with ketchup and Sophie’s black, glittery Mary Janes which he used to stomp in puddles)

I know it to be true; the other day at lunch in a busy restaurant Sophie had leaned past my mother and said, “Excuse me, may I have a refill of water please?” to our waitress in the most clear, direct manner.  I credit myself, just a bit. In fact my children’s manners and forthrightness have only improved since I’ve stopped constantly prompting them and highly-socializing their every move.  Sophie in particular blossoms when I am quiet, supportive, and present and I wait until later to remind her of something she might have tried differently.  It’s not always easy to walk the line of providing assistance to children but not hounding them; I was raised by a prompting mother and I have some very bad habits of doing the same.

Our son is equally forthright and direct; he doesn’t always attach a “please”.  I trust the modeling of Ralph, myself – and now Sophie – will help with time.  Nels is kind of infuriatingly able to stick up for himself – it’s come naturally to him since the get-go.  Today at this rather pathetic little swap meet shop we came away with a tiny Fiesta-esque tea set and miniscule wire hanger for $1.50 (Nels and Ralph are building a dollhouse; my son’s latest obsession is furnishing the thing).  As we left the shop Nels kept pestering me: “Why didn’t we take the [equally ridiculously miniscule plastic goblet-style] glass too?” and I was saying, “Well, I only wanted to purchase one thing for you,” and my son said, “It was free, there was no dollars on it,” (meaning a price tag) and I said, “Well you can’t just ask for stuff for free,” and Nels said calmly, “Of course you can,” and I realized, ker-thump, actually he’s right, and all that junk in that place was going to be packed up or thrown out soon anyway since the business was closing in a day or two and the damn tiny piece of plastic would have been dearly loved by my boy.

Maybe this is what makes us old. At a certain point our kids are just right about so much more than we are.

Maybe this is what makes us young: at a certain point we get to be kids again.  Yesterday – our last dryer-free day – I took my mom’s car to haul some wet laundry.  She has a satellite radio service and as is my wont I flipped to the 80s station; soon The Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men” came on and I turned it up, laughing.  The kids asked what we were listening to.  “It’s a really good song,” I said, realizing the moment I said it that – as campy and silly and as many times as I’d heard it, I really did like it.  And my kids – raised in the home of a rock star – listened intently and thoroughly to the entire song without, of course, a cracked smile at the exaggerated, bawdy content.  It is so weird to see someone experience something that feels mundane or old or whatever – for the first time.  I could see the little gears in their head whirring as they cocked an ear and took it all in.

It’s been an odd night. An odd day!  The kids dressed in their Max costumes before going out to swim team and then dinner; this evening I receive a record-number of comments from people at the YMCA, restaurant, ice cream parlor, on the street.  While we eat our ice cream a two year old girl spots my son and begins pointing and babbling to her parents, “It’s Max, it’s Max!” The wee tot is more into Nels than her ice cream; she can’t take her eyes off him as I try to talk to her.  Her parents tell me the movie version of Where The Wild Things Are is her hands-down favorite.  After a bit of chat and some more costume admiration I tell them, “You should give me your number.  When he grows out of the costume I’d love to give it to her, if she’s still into it.  Sometimes I don’t end up with someone to give costumes to so I just donate them.” I’m thinking of last Halloween and Ralph’s Wonder Woman digs which I couldn’t get packed up and out of the house fast enough, given it was a quickie sewing job I wasn’t too proud of (incidentally my Drowned Prom Queen costume ended up being mailed to a friend who will be recycling elements into Old Gregg – awesome!).  The family seems happy at the costume promise and my son benignly accepting of his occasional celebrityhood.  As things should be.

***

Today (the few minutes left of it) was Official Delurker Day 2010 (nevermind the sexual assault-inspired logo, gag, I still like the premise).  It made me think about the many lurkers on my blog (which I’m fine with!) and those who hounded me (for years!) to enable comments yet never commented and how I felt in my years before comments and how I’m feeling now. And I know this is all winding up for me to say something really elegant and essential about keeping one’s diary online so here it is:

“I’m not sure it’s good to think back to my childhood memories, because I end up feeling happy and sad at the same time, and that gives me a weird ‘neutral’ feeling.”

"Clothes are never a frivolity: they always mean something."

Last night I told my husband I was so hurt about something I simply didn’t want to discuss it anymore. Somehow our roles had become reversed: he wanted to talk, talk, talk it out, and I didn’t. This wasn’t because I didn’t have the verbiage to offer. In fact I felt like we’d discussed the subject much over the last year – at least. I was done. I didn’t know what I was going to do, and I didn’t know what he was going to do. But I’d said my piece, I’d heard his, and I simply needed a break.

The issue? Clothing. My clothing. Currently, at this juncture in my life, my largest frustration. For weeks as this chewed on me more and more I’d felt shallow for my little obsession. But a few days ago I came to the realization: food, shelter, clothing. Basic needs. I think even the cavemen with their depleted frontal lobes had that shit down tight.

Now my family, we have food. We have shelter. My husband hustles at his job in large part pursuing these things; food and housing are our largest expenses as a one-income family of four (39.5% of our take-home pay). Our clothing allowance in our spending plan is currently at 0%, modeled to come out of an “everything else” fund (that would include road trips, fundraising efforts for our childrens preschool, technology for the house, late-night runs for cough syrup or flea medicine, gifts for friends and family, you name it).

I am responsible for the acquisition of, laundering, care for, and inventory of my family’s clothing. At any given point I can tell you how many pair of shoes the members of my family have, what I’ve set aside for consignment earnings, what items are going to the Salvation Army for donation. I mend, I grift, I sew (when I’m not cleaning, cooking, or writing). I have begged and borrowed to supply my children with good winter coats and shoes. I spend a significant portion of my daily chores laying out the wool socks by the fire and folding every t-shirt of my husband’s to its proper place and making sure my kids don’t leave their coats out in the wild.

You can predict where this is going, right? Because as it turns out the lack of formal acknowledgment of the fiscal burden of clothing coupled with the de facto assignation to myself of the practical elements has left me: dead last out of four, wearing holey jeans, my husband’s socks, and (this is the worst, the absolute most demeaning) broken, cheap bras that work so ill my breasts actually ache.

This month it started raining in earnest.

And then a few days ago my husband, beneficiary of a small financial windfall, tells me he is going to buy himself a guitar.

Now, I want to be very careful here. My husband has the right to his guitar. First of all, this is his money. Secondly, he is a songwriter, a good one. His artistic endeavors are as important as, well I don’t know as clothing, but they’re damned important. It isn’t that he’s buying a guitar, or the rain is setting in, or that when it comes to clothes (and clothes alone) at this point I carry a huge crazy-person backlog and a skewed perception of poverty. It’s my fault, entirely, for letting the backlog reach this point. But the guitar: that point where the codependent machinations of intimate relationships threaten to overcome my more logical, Buddhist spiritual mindset. I find myself at first reeling in the grips of the former: the fact he could even think to buy a guitar when I don’t own a coat without holes! I am wearing shoes I bought when last pregnant – approximately one hundred thousand million years ago! A mental picture: I’m outside, kicking the hell out of my car’s passenger-side radial, and shouting, “F*cking, stupid, asinine, selfish a*%hole!”

But, I am incorrect. And I don’t allow myself more than a few tortured mental moments imagining my husband as this monster. And I don’t kid myself: the situation is, in large part, my own fault (he is left on his own to figure out his responsibility). And if he’s reading this and decides not to buy the guitar, after what we’ve discussed since on the subject, I will punch him directly in the nuts.

I typically don’t find the need to justify our financial sacrifices for the life we want to live. And I am not a clothing princess (as I type this I’m ill-attired in my husband’s pants, a pair of panties from Ross’ bargain bin, and a free t-shirt). The point is, my values are not being expressed in my clothing. This trap is entirely of my own making. I can speak of the tell-tale numbers of our financial plan all I like, but the truth is up until now I myself have been out of alignment.

What, then, is my proposed plan? After our conversation resumed last night (and this morning), my husband and I have a plan to recommit financial resources to the family’s clothes. I feel defeated by the lag of what I need (raingear, for instance, for bike-riding the kids about in the rainforest in which we live. I still feel stung at my husband’s lack of practical support coupled with what has felt like an expectation of impossible frugality. And most baffling I feel – and this is the laughable part – I will betray my own self and find myself, months or years hence, as starved, frustrated, out of sync.

Ask me in a couple months when I have a modicum of waterproofing, at least one sweater, and a pair of shoes that don’t leak. Perhaps my perspective will have cleared and the real and true will have emerged, leaving the parts of the martyr (a role I do not play well) left behind.

Our clothes are too much a part of us for most of us to ever be entirely indifferent to their condition: it is as though the fabric were indeed a natural extension of the body, or even of the soul. – Quentin Bell