An American Love Affair

I didn’t get my license until I was over 21. In fact, I had already celebrated my first wedding anniversary before I was licensed to drive.

My children are curiously part of the millennials who don’t look forward to driving at ALL. Except for the youngest, she is chomping at the bit to be licensed. I love her for it. (even though part of me goes “her brain is not developed enough! Wait for 18!”, though there will be no waiting.

Ever since my first highway driving alone, I’ve loved it. Today, I had to drop Denise off to pick up her car. We technically have two cars, but only ever really drive her car–except now I am driving the car Santa gave to Ava that Ava has NEVER driven after she got her license.  I only get to do that for short errands. We live a city life. There is no highway driving in our lives really.

On the way home though, she got out of the car. I sat behind the wheel of the nice blue Dodge (aka Fun House Car) with a REAL engine and great seats. (yeah yeah the Prius makes more sense but whatever) It even has a nice sound system. Thunder Road started to play as I pulled on to the access road. 40 miles per hour and clear road. That is blasting fast roadway around here. I rolled down the window just a bit. Bruce Springsteen told me to let the wind blow back my hair. I accelerated and lost myself back into the strange meditation that is driving a strong car all by myself. The only particular place to go was home. I took the long way and enjoyed every minute. (even as the strange DJ said Pearl Jam was like as old as Buddy Holly)

Denise beat me home. She thought I had gotten lost or was dead in a ditch or something. I wasn’t. I was just being a girl who loves the road, who loves a car that loves the road.

No, the Dodge isn’t environmentally friendly. (though it does pass emissions tests with flying colors) It isn’t beautiful. It does have quirks and is old. But, it thrums with power, life, and music.

I love Rock and Roll…and Women

As we planned our weekend in Cleveland to visit our Freshman College Girl, we decided to skip “Parents’ Weekend” activities. I want to see the library from the inside but other than that–breakfast with the President of the college isn’t high on my list. I prefer breakfast with my baby.

Denise was in agreement about this as was College Girl. She then read up on Cleveland and made plans. I said I wanted to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Denise was slightly surprised about this but I explained “I’ve never been. I’ve never even actually been to Cleveland.”(other than to drive through/by) After saying that, I didn’t really inquire into our plans though.

Day 1 was a flurry of typical Denise trip places–she planned well for the vegan daughter, the quirky us, and of course, herself. I figured, ok–rock will have to wait. Then I learned we would be going on Sunday. I groaned because “Time! It will take all day!” and I didn’t want to be getting back late at night. But, ok. We invited one of College Girl’s roommates (her parents were in CA and couldn’t make it for the weekend and hey, what is one more stray. I made sure to let her know she was welcome to come home with RJ if there were breaks she didn’t have somewhere to go.) Off we went. First we stopped at a vegetarian breakfast place. (where RJ ate something that looked like dinner in my book) Roommate had to be back at the school by 2 for some study thing with someone.

Then we were off to Rock. Ok, we were off to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I was in love from the time we walked in. I COULD have spent all day there. There were movies that we missed. We certainly couldn’t read every single thing on every single sign. It reminded me of the Smithsonian Museum of American History in that way. But, here is where I get grumpy. I am pretty sure there are more First Ladies than women artists showcased in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

That isn’t to say I wasn’t entranced. I mean–OMG Rock and Roll. I’d certainly go back again and again and again. And if you are a music person who wants to buy music in a non-digital way–it looked like they had a good selection. But, when I ended up in the gift shop–blah. If I had a tot I wanted to blanket in Rock propaganda–I was good. If I was a guy-sure. If I was a woman (and I am) I was limited to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame version of oh, I was going to say “Legos for Girls” but really–not even that. I was irked. I mean point me at a gift shop and I can find something that intrigues me. But really, there? I wandered through and then double checked, then left.

Not only do they need a better representation as a whole in the museum of women who rock–but also consider that women might want something more than a pink glittery tshirt saying I heart the rock and roll hall of fame.

Falling in Love…

Today because of some news, I pm’d a friend a mine that I had questioned last week about something. I wanted to reassure her that no, it had nothing to do with the news at all. She understood and had never thought that, but I am me.

I then babbled about Denise, and offhandedly mentioned that I fell in love with her community skills, before I fell in love with her. I then promised to tell that tale at some point. I forget that it has been a long time. I forget that many of the first hand observers are still forged in our relationship, in some cases stray children who were old enough not to know they were stray until they had us as mommies, in some cases the yoda like advisors who talked me down from the ceiling and talked me into a crazy mushroom dish. Some of you just keep popping into our lives, as Internet grows, changes, and stays the same.

This will be a WAYYYYYYYYYY back story though. You see, when I worked for iVillage, I sometimes got sent on projects codenamed in my house “Siberia” –officially called a competitive set. Usually this coincided with me having too many questions, opinions, or being just generally useful at this thing called Internet Community. In the very beginning, it was mostly the last. I could go look at a community and give a read on it, write a report, and hit all the right points. So, I would wander our competition and check out their communities. Women.com was one of them. (No state secret there) I would go and poke around and look at their numbers. I would open their message boards. I would analyze what was going on.

I would duly pan their message board layout. I would talk about their numbers. Then I would add in that they had a great community moderator whose message boards just sang. They were lively, had great numbers, and really connected. It was beautiful community. That moderator was Denise. I was still better and had a bigger empire (in my mind) but wow. What a catch she would be and Women.com was lucky to have her.

Things happened. Women.com got sold to iVillage. Denise had left the company, I don’t remember those details. Then she showed up on iVillage as a CL. (volunteer community leader–they were the lifeblood of iVillage IMO) At that time, I was the Message Board Coordinator at iVillage. (or as some said “Message Board Godddess) I tended boards. I did major flame war management. I took over difficult boards. I turned around slow boards. I taught the CLs how to do the same. I did great work. I loved it. But, I was the only game in town really. At that time the world was small for community management.  But this upstart cl caught my attention. I saw her taking over and getting great numbers from boards that were…slow. I started talking about her in the weekly phone meetings. “Have you seen this CL-Smiely?”(we all had weird names then.) Maybe we can find a job for her. Then she showed up on my behind the scenes coaching board for message board cls. Suddenly the board blossomed. And it blossomed with a lot of competition from the two of us. Not the ugly kind, but the challenging each other was stimulating to me. (no more coasting with Denise saying “so why don’t you…”) And I became ever more desperate to get her a job ANYWHERE in iVillage or somewhere else, before someone noticed that not only was she good, she was maybe better than me. Or maybe, just because she would be an asset in any online community.
WebMD came along and gave her a cool job there. She did amazing things with that community.

Then Lisa Stone came calling and after much crazy decision making, Denise became the Community Manager at BlogHer. She was worried on her first day that she wouldn’t find enough to do. She did…and has for the past 7.5 years. In the past 14 and a bit years, I have watched her work. I have seen her flow with changes. I have seen her make things that looked unworkable–work great. And still I am in awe of her work. Every damn day. Because…she is better at it than me. I could be better than her…but I am not. I am not the only one that thinks so. I can’t really tell you how many people have come up to me and gushed about how great it is to work with Denise, how smart she is, how patient, how intuitive, and more. I agree.

Hi There

After August 18 and a good run in August…something happened, ok a lot of things happened. Pippin and Jenn and the rest of the family and some friends were here. Other things happened that left me a bit trauma struck. Then it was a lot of stuff. Plain STUFF. Complicated STUFF. Now it is November 1 and of course everyone is either writing the great American novel or blog this month so there is peer pressure. So, I will try again.

I was thinking about doing a month of cranberries but didn’t think about it at the supermarket this morning. So…that is out.

For now, hi there! How are you doing?