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Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Blog Roundup/Show and Tell

A long post ahead: it simply grew and grew and grew. I broke it down with asterisks in case you wanted to read a little now, come back later and read a little more. Think of it like the verbal version of a bag of pretzels; you eat a handful now, you eat a handful later. Or, you're just deeply in the mood for pretzels and you finish the whole bag in one sitting.

Do you remember Show and Tell from elementary school? You agonized each week what to bring to show the class and then ended up grabbing a random He-Man character as you were running for the school bus ("um...this is She-Ra. And she's a friend or something of He-Man. And she comes with this little plastic snake.").

If you didn't have Show and Tell at your school, it was pretty simple: you brought in an object and got up in front of the class and spoke about it for a minute. Then, if you had a nice teacher as I had, the teacher encouraged you to let it be passed around the classroom. Everyone examined your object and then it made its way back to you. And you were the kindergarten equivalent to the Rock-Star-Bat-Mitzvah girl that day.

I'm kicking it old school and reinstating weekly Show and Tell

Here's how it works.

If you would like to join circle time and show something to the class, simply post each Friday (or, since you didn't know this was starting until now, post some time over the weekend this week), hopefully including a picture if possible, and telling us about your item. It can be anything--a photo from a trip, a picture of the dress you bought this week, a random image from an old yearbook showing a person you miss. It doesn't need to contain a picture if you can't get a picture--you can simply tell a story about a single item.

Extra points if you take us down memory lane, teach us something new, or make me cry. Label your post "Show and Tell" each week (Show and Tell may move off the Friday Blog Roundup at some point if the Roundup starts getting too long. it did this week) and then come back here and add the permalink in the comments section below (make sure you don't just comment that you participated: add a link to your blog in your comment so people can click over). You can make your Show and Tell post a separate post or include it as a small section of a larger post. Oh, and then the point is that you click through all of your classmates and see what they are showing this week.

So, classmates, let's begin.

Since books are a huge part of my life, I thought I would begin by showing you my favourite book of all time: The Phantom Tollbooth.

The first time I read it, I was in first grade and I brought the school library's copy to class as a Show and Tell object. I loved this book so much that I always refused to read the last page because I thought that if I didn't read it, the book didn't end. I am terrible with endings.

I think I loved it so much not because I wanted to be like Milo, risking life and limb to save the princesses (okay, so not really life and limb, but the Terrible Trivium was pretty damn scary), but I loved the idea of a world where a random gift could pop up one day in your bedroom. I used to wrap gifts for myself in the morning and will myself to forget about them so I could be surprised in the afternoon. It didn't really work.

This is the book that made me want to be a writer.

What are you showing today?


Pssst. Look over at the right side bar. You see that Gift Monkey ad? It's from a woman who wanted to help U.T.E.R.U.S. But she's doing more for U.T.E.R.U.S. than just bidding on ad space. "Starting when my ad is placed on your blog, and we will run this through the summer time (so ending August 30th) we, The Gift Monkey, will donate back to you 5% of a sale that is $50.00 US dollars thru $99.99. Sales of $100.00 US dollars or more will get a donation of 10%." In other words, buy some gifts this summer through The Gift Monkey and U.T.E.R.U.S. will be able to add a few extra dollars to the pool for Cali (or the recipient at the time). Pretty cool, right?

If you signed up for the listserv, hold tight. First messages coming soon. We're organizing ourselves for a final push to get Cali set for her FET.


And now the blogs:

Click away if my kumbaya-ness makes you sick, because I loved this post by What Wuz I Saying. It boils down to this: "In any case, and no matter whether I am right or wrong, it is still no reason to make others feel bullied and ashamed of their own feelings." And comes back to this perfect conclusion: "So, let's all be there for each other, and not try to comment on the comfort of another's shoes when they clearly don't fit our feet."

I don't think my own kumbaya-ness is a big secret. I think I've been pretty clear from the beginning that I only say what I would be comfortable and think appropriate to say to someone's face. Words of kindness? I'm pretty comfortable being effusive in the face-to-face world so I'm pretty comfortable gushing over here weekly with the Roundup or the Lost & Found. Words of anger? I have them sometimes. But the thing is that I would say everything I wrote in that post to Aliza Shvarts's face. In fact, when we were driving back from the Cape and passing New Haven, I considered asking Josh to pull over so I could check out the local diners and see if I could catch her chowing down on a stack of pancakes so I could have a word with her. But bitching about another person just for the sake of bitching--I do that via email and I do that over the phone. I'm hardly a Pollyanna and I've never been good about the whole lashon hara thing.

Except here.

There used to be a wall at my college in a bathroom where women could write messages about people. The idea probably began with good intentions: warn others. That is a completely acceptable use of lashon hara and I love the part in the wikipedia article that explains the difference: "There are times when a person is obligated to speak out, even though the information is disparaging. Specifically, if a person’s intent in sharing the negative information is for a to’elet, a positive, constructive, and beneficial purpose, the prohibition against lashon hara does not apply. Motzi shem ra, spouting lies and spreading disinformation, is always prohibited. And if the lashon hara serves as a warning against the possibility of future harm, such communication is not only permissible, but, under certain conditions, compulsory." But the wall became a space where people wrote harmful things about others as a way to hurt them emotionally rather than actually warn others and it finally became a space where no one knew what was truth and what was lie and the whole thing ceased to be useful.

And then it was painted over and the last time I visited the campus, it was a simple, clean wall.

Anything you say to your friends via email or the phone can get back to a third party--that's just a fact of life. Anything you place on your blog you must assume will get back to that third party. Even if you don't link, it's a small Internet world and I often stumble across things written about me. Thankfully, most of it is kind and it's nice to be surprised when you click on a friend's blog and see something kind written about you. But, it is also the way I found out that my kumbaya-ness makes one blogger sick.

Some would say that if you can't take the criticism, get out of the blogosphere. But that attitude doesn't really work for me. In a world where there are so many mediums to get all the lashon hara out of your system discreetly (and yes, I am admitting that I am a huge bitch and speak lashon hara all the freakin' time), I don't see the need to post it where the whole world can see--including the person discussed. There are simply too many accidental slights that occur on a daily basis to think that intentional cruelty is okay. And discussing another person negatively so that they can see it is intentionally cruel.

There are people getting hurt--not just a sting for a few minutes while they muse over words like kumbaya-ness, but the words are rocking their world. Perhaps those with thicker skin can't fully grasp what words can do to the thinner skin girls. But as a thinner skin girl, I beg you--there are too many times when we say the wrong thing and affect each other unintentionally. It is hard to read about the times when it is happening intentionally.

If kindness isn't for you--and it may not be--click away. There are plenty of other blogs out there to read. And if my kumbaya-ness makes you feel queasy, then don't spend time over here. And if the Jewish stuff annoys you, there are non-Jewish blogs to read. If you wish I would blog more about the twins then I can point you toward this excellent twin blogroll that Stacie keeps and if you wish I would blog less about the twins then I would point you away from any blogs on that blogroll including my own. The point is that you can't keep everyone happy all the time, which is why haShem invented the computer mouse so we can click away when we start to read something that we wish we weren't reading.

Fuck. I'm getting off my soapbox now and going back to discussing the blogs. I apologize--I do hate getting all Pollyanna on your ass, but I care if there are people out there upset over things written about them (including myself).

Vee at The Sweet Life has a post about infertility and cancer and the order in which they came into their lives. Perhaps it is simply reflective of Vee's enormous heart, but she worries about the newly diagnosed who are thrust into infertility and finds a version of the silver lining: "In some ways I am grateful that we have already dealt with infertility because it would be truly challenging if I had to deal with that now, I really don't think I could have coped. My heart goes out to those that have to deal with both infertility and cancer simultaneously."

B at The Shifty Shadow is in the valley--the 5 days between the birth and death of her daughter, Maya. Today was her birthday. Earlier this week, she had a post called "The Stories They Tell" that affected me deeply. It begins with what they told B before Maya was born to assuage her fears and it continues through the stories that are told after death, the stories that come with IVF and adoption and the world beyond. She writes: "These stories have always given me the shits. It is the unwillingness of the listener to actually listen. They already know the outcome. It happened to a friend of a friend. They have raced ahead to the end of the story, which, they are sure, is a good ending. A few months after Maya died I started telling people how unhelpful their stories were. Which kind of throws people. They think they are giving hope, when in reality they are trying to make the moment more comfortable for themselves. Or else I say 'that's nice for them'." B puts into words what so many people have thought in their hearts.

Lastly, many people have linked to it this week, but I also loved JoySuzanne's post at Trusera. 13 perfect thoughts that you simply want to cut-and-paste and send to everyone in your address book.

The roundup to the Roundup: if I did not drive you away from my blog with my rousing rendition of Kumbaya and if your arms aren't too tired from being wrapped around each other's shoulders, I have brought the figurative milk and cookies and I'm ready for Show and Tell.


bleu said...

I have a saying in our home that I always say to Bliss. I say it two ways. Niceness Matters. Kindness matters. I say it often and he says it often now as well.

I once heard Maya Angelou speak about "right speech" and never speaking ill of others, never gossiping. I am a gossip but not a mean spirited one but it is something I aspire to, to not gossip ever and do as she spoke of.

Your "niceness" or "kumbaya-ness" is one of the things I truly love about you. It is something very special about you and something special about this place I come, this safe haven in the IF world that is your blog and the community you have helped build so beautifully.

Thank you.

Tracy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracy said...

I try to steer clear of negativity. Even if my first impulse is to judge another's words or actions, I remind myself that I will never fully know what it is like to stand in their shoes. And then, if I can't say something nice, I say nothing at all. Usually.

I'm a big supporter of the click somewhere else if you have nothing nice to say.

I've had to defend myself against some comments on my blog that I didn't feel were deserved, and ever since then, I am very careful about the things I say in comments. So much can be misconstrued. Thank you for addressing this.

donna said...

I want to play! I want to play!

Here is my link

I intend to go back and read the rest of the post later today.

Piccinigirl said...

I did show and tell...but I don't know how to add a link because I'm dumb or blonde or something.

I think that the Kumbaya-ness of your blog and your life is one of the things that kept me sane while I was doing treatments and then PG and then on bedrest. IF makes you crazy and your world crazy, it's nice to come here and know someone understands. I am always impressed with how this blog has grown and changed and included EVERYONE that is fighting IF. I feel blessed to be a very very small part of it. I feel lucky to have YOU in the world.

I don't we say it enough but THANK YOU for this space. It means a lot to me.

xavier2001 said...

Mel, I for one love your kumbayaness, it's what brings all of us as IF bloggers together. And I have always lived by what my mom taught me when I was 5 years old, if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything at all, especially when your comments will only cause harm and have no chance of doing good.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you have NO IDEA how much I agree with you. There's a whole situation that I'm really struggling to be the bigger person over, to just let it go, but MAN, I just want to go up to them and say, "Really? That's really what you think of me?"

Sometimes your niceness is the only bright spot in my day. Your "kumbaya-ness" has saved me from the Pit more than I can count. I'm not sure how that can be a bad thing. I certainly appreciate it. Unfortunately, that one direct, negative comment will be the one that spins around in your head as you lay in bed. The good ones never seem to do that, do they?

I'm more than happy to sit here around the campfire and sing Kumbaya and anything else. That was always my favorite part of summer camp!

Spicy Sister said...

Thank you for your kumbaya-ness and for saying what so many of us observing the type of posts you mentioned have trouble finding the words to say ourselves.

In addition to causing harm to the person spoken about, often these posts can cause a great divide in the community, and they leave me feeling caught in the middle of a drama I don't want to be in.

I appreciate your words, your perspective, and your honesty.

Thank you.

Busted said...

I'm all for Kumbaya...

And I want to play Show and Tell! Here is my link:

Pamela said...

I think a lot about what Bleu mentioned -- a tenet of Buddhism is all about 'right speech'... the criticism truly reveals more about the person doing than criticism I think -- and though it's no comfort -- it isn't about you.

You are creative and hopeful and thoughtful...and I was blessed to have found this place, really -- and while the emotional turmoil of IF often has me contemplating my own mind rather than commenting on other blogs -- I always am touched and interested in what is posted here.

serenity said...

I feel like I'm missing a piece of something here. But anyway. I think that the blogosphere NEEDS your kumbaya-ness - it's the reason you've won awards and are mentioned on EVERY.FREAKING. infertility message board to which I belong. Bleu said it best - this blog is a safe haven in the IF world. I am very grateful you do what you do, even if I don't comment as much as I used to (really, no time!).

And I like the idea of Show and Tell. I just posted mine.

Jess said...

I love the show and tell idea. Here is my link-

Michell said...

I love your kumbaya-ness. I started blogging after meeting a group of women on a TTC chat board who were blogging also. At that time, I hadn't even really started TTC yet so I had no idea if it would be a problem or not. Somewhere along the line I stumbled across your blog. And even though I wasn't sure if I belonged you made me feel like I did. I've seen a lot going on lately in blog land and the old TTC board I used to visit that has left me feeling uncomfortable. The whole if you don't agree, can't support, just click away is so true. Thank you Mel for being you.

Sunny said...

All I can say is I LOVE YOU!!!! I loved it when you put the smack down and used some 'adult' words. It made me smile!

Barb said...

I'm not really sure what happened, but I'm sending you hugs b/c I can tell it really upset you.


the Babychaser: said...

Do all colleges have the same bathroom wall, or did we go to the same school? I remember it becoming really controversial when I was there.

It's not just your Kumbaya-ness that people love, Mel. In addition to being a sweet person, you perform a huge service to all of us IF women finding ourself at odds in the blogosphere. So thanks.

Antigone said...

Awesome post.

Now I wouldn't say this to your face but I heart you and your blog. :-)