Exactly four million earth years ago, I received an email from one Ms. Ayun Halliday, asking if I'd consider participating in one of those blog book tour things that those author kids are so fond of these days. I've gotten similar emails before and have always declined, not because I have anything against the author or the book or the idea of blog book tours or even that they called my incredibly important journal a blawwwg, but because I figured I would probably suck at writing book reviews.
But I agreed to participate in Ayun's. Mostly because I'd heard incredibly good things about the book itself, and also because her email told me to give her a cyber yawp at my earliest convenience if I was interested. Cyber yawp. I liked that. I am easily amused.
And thus I was swayed! On with the suckage!
She also included a long list of cool ideas for the entry -- podcasts! husband-bashing! intellectual discourse between like minds! -- and my choice of dates. And everybody knows when it comes to Picking Your Own Deadline, you pick the one farthest away, because that means it will NEVER EVER COME. August 25th? Are you kidding me? That's like, decades away.
Which is how I ended up here, today, as one of the very last stops on the Mamalamadingdong virtual book tour, feeling like:
Ha! I am kidding. Sort of.
All month, I carted around a prematurely dog-eared copy of Mamalamadingdong. It went from the coffee table to my nightstand to the diaper bag. It's been to Starbucks, Chipotle and the pediatrician's office. I've read a chapter here and there -- a few stolen pages during Blue's Clues or before falling asleep to dreamily drool on the table of contents. The book has been yanked out of my hands by an impatient semi-toddler and been lost for days at a time in the sofa cushions. (Dear Ayun, Please notice, however, that your book did not get pooped on, which around these parts is an honor reserved only for my Coach bags and perhaps the good china.)
It felt so damn good to read a damn book again that I didn't even really notice when I never unfolded the corner of page 54 and accidentally re-read that chapter three times.
(Honestly, I have read exactly two books since Noah was born, unless you count 7,621 readings of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? or Dukes Tails: Duke Finds a Home, which was a gift from my advertisers and pretty much the best book you'll read this year about a man being buried alive in a silo of beans.)
(SPOILER ALERT! He is totally rescued by his dog.)
(It's actually pretty cute and charming, and Duke is a good dog and he needed a good home and I am NOT SNIFFLING, IT IS DUSTY, GO GET ME SOME BAKED BEANS.)
While this fractured reading style took nothing away from enjoying the book itself -- it's a breezy and oddly-blog-like personal memoir of someone Way Cooler Than You -- it's not really great for someone who needs to Write Things about the book. Especially someone who wants to Write Things that sound smart and cool and avoid stupid fucking adjectives like "breezy."
So I went back to Ayun's original email and all those great ideas that included dumping a fair amount of the work back on her lap. I envisioned a hilarious interview -- me asking her goofy off-the-wall questions and her responses would be smart and well-punctuated enough for me to just cut-and-paste. By the end of the interview, we would be best friends.
Of course, the main problem with this approach was that I needed to think of some goofy off-the-wall questions.
This was the only one I could think of:
Amy: So. Your zine, The East Village Inky, is incredibly hilarious. Yet the words are written very, very small and I have to dig out my reading glasses in order to read it, which makes me feel very, very old, and I want to know if you actually draw and write it that small or if you shrink it down later for printing?
And then maybe I would lean in, all serious-like, as if I were confronting Ashlee Simpson about her nose job, and ask Ayun to come clean about getting LASIK surgery, because seriously. The words are that tiny.
At this point, you may notice that I have not included any smart and well-punctuated responses from Ayun. That is because I again, totally procrastinated and didn't send her any questions, goofy or otherwise, in time before she went out of town this whole week.
It's really unbelievable to think about all the unexpected ways motherhood has changed my life. There's all the obvious ones that people like to whine about -- less sleep, more bodily functions, more plastic crap strewn around your house than you'll ever fully be able to comprehend -- but then there are the changes that you don't even realize have occurred...until you try to read a book about all the unexpected ways motherhood has changed another woman's life and it takes you two fucking months to do so.
At one point in my life I would have read the whole thing in an afternoon and considered it a day well spent . Now I am at a different point in my life, a point where everything is broken up into 15-minute chunks of time, but every 15-minute chunk I devoted to reading Mamalamadingdong I considered to be a chunk well spent.
And I have a feeling Ayun, a fellow mother, would completely understand what a high compliment that actually is.