Jeez, technology scares me.

I am 57 years old.

That’s getting up there, you know?

I remember when new technology meant that TV had more than three channels.  The cool kids were able to watch those awesome UHF channels!  Wow……

I remember when new technology meant 8 Track tapes.

Please stop laughing. I am not kidding.

I am old.

So very, very old.

I’ve done my best, though, to stay up to date and in the know.  I have a laptop (thank you school!) and I know how to use it (thank you, professional development program!)

I use Facebook. (How else can I track my kids’ every move?)

I have used Skype.  (OK, it was 5 years ago, but still….)

I have a Twitter account. (Well, I got it when Twitter was new and I was curious. It doesn’t really work without a smart phone, so……..)

And….as you know doubt know by now…..I have a BLOG!!  On WORDPRESS!  This no doubt makes me so tech savvy that I am just about ready to get myself an IT job.

At school, I am considered to be one of the more technologically adept teachers. I use Google Drive, Wikis, Educreations, Evernote, iBooks, Collaborize Classroom and Glogster.

I rock.

The thing about technology, though, is that no matter what you learn, no matter what you master, you will continuously be reminded that you are, at heart, an idiot.

Case in point:

As a very hip, up to date, cutting edge technology user, I follow a lot of blogs these days.  One of them is written by a guy named Alexey, at Inside My Glitching Mind.  This blog features incredible photos of all manner of interesting things from around the world.  One of the cool features is a collection of photos of fences.  Fences from all over the world.

What an intriguing idea!

I happen to have two very interesting fence photos myself!  Both were taken in Newport, Rhode Island, along the famous Cliff Walk.  We were on the outside (poor people) side of the fences, looking in at the glamorous (rich people) side.

“I like these photos”, I though to myself. “I will send them on to Alexey!”


In order for my photos to be used on his blog, they have to be a certain size.  Um.   OK?  I looked at my photos on iPhoto, but couldn’t figure out how to change the size.  I asked my friend, the IT person at school, and she sent me the directions.

I was SO proud of myself when I made my photos nice and small!  Yay!!  I couldn’t wait to see MY pictures on that great site!  I wrote a nice email to Alexey and hit “send”.

Very quickly, I got a reply.  “You forgot to attach your photos”, it said.    Hehehe……

I attached and resent.

Another quick reply. “Your pics are too small. They need to be 680 pixels to fit the blog theme.”

Oh, right.


I prepared to give up.

“You could upload them to your blog”, came the ever patient Alexey’s reply, “And I can get them from there.”

So, here they are.  What do you think?

God only knows if they have enough pixels in them.

This kind of shows the greed, and bad grammar, of the very rich.

This kind of shows the greed, and bad grammar, of the very rich.

This shows a lovely, welcoming gazebo, just beyond the "Keep out" fence.

This shows a lovely, welcoming gazebo, just beyond the “Keep out” fence.

No swelled head here!

Well, my goodness.  This whole blogging thing can certainly lead a person to delusions of grandeur.

A while ago I posted a piece about how I wanted to come back in my next life as a duck, so that everything would just roll off my back.  I thought it was a mildly amusing little thing, but mostly I wrote it that night because I was feeling a little down. It was therapy!  Since I have been trying to jazz things up a bit here on Postdepartum, I looked for some images to insert.  I picked a nice, generic, not-trademarked picture of a mallard, and I put it into the post.  Clicked on ‘publish’ and that was that.

A week or so after that, I pulled together a few of what I think are my better posts about the empty nest, and I sent them with a query letter to a few literary agents.  I know, I know, delusions of grandeur for sure!  But I did it after being urged to try it out, to see if I could get published.  A couple of friends suggested it, and my blogging friend, Embattled Farmers, gave me a nudge.  So I sent out the queries.


Please tell me that you guys check your stats, too.  I try not to check them too often (is every five minutes too often?)  Usually, I just look, see that I have 20 hits for the day, and call it done.  But about five or six days ago, I noticed that I was getting closer to 80 hits a day.

Yay, me!!!  They like me, they really like me!!!  After I stopped skipping around the living room, I checked to see what posts they liked so much.   Huh.  70 out of 80 hits were on “I want to be a duck”.  I wondered why?

Over the next couple of days, the hits kept climbing, over 80! Over 90!  120!  150! Oh, my goodness!  Could it be that, perhaps, one or two of those literary agents were impressed with my wit and wisdom, and were out there reading my blog?!   I could practically see that Pulitzer Prize!!!!

Funny thing, though; it seemed like almost every hit was on that duck post.  When I checked the search terms, I saw “duck”, “duck photo”, “duck image” and “mallard”.  Odd…… I figured that I would have to use a duck image as the cover of my book when it came out.

And, hey!  Look at that!  People are reading my blog all around the world!  France! Germany! Saudi Arabia! Malawi….? Really?

Finally, I got suspicious. Or, as my fifth grade teacher used to say, “Light dawned on marble head.”

I finally googled “duck image”.

Holy Cow.  I mean, holy duck!  Off to the right, where the featured image is kept, I saw my mallard image, and it was titled,

Gulp!   All those people were out there in Thailand and Uganda just trying to find a nice duck photo, and they were stumbling on my blog!  No agent, no book, no instant fame and fortune.

Just a huge belly laugh at myself, and a golden opportunity to hop on here and tell all (5) of you about my swelled head!

Kindly note: there is no image in this post!!

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

It’s elemental

I have just come back from two blessed and glorious days in Newport, Rhode Island. We stayed at a very nice hotel, ate at lovely little restaurants, walked through countless clever and adorable shops.  And none of that was what reached into my soul or touched my heart.

Newport is famous for its opulent and outrageous mansions, of course.  We ventured along the “cliff walk”, where chain link fences separated us from the .01%.  We gazed like indentured servants at cold stone estates that to me resembled sand castles without the charm.  I felt no desire to either come any closer or to join that set of elite residents.  What must it be like, we wondered, to live in a place where nature is so filled with glory, yet to struggle each and every day to keep that glory to yourself, and to keep out your fellow man?  One particular stretch of fencing along the “cliff walk” was marked every six feet with the following sign, which made me feel simultaneously ashamed and filled with mirth.  I mean, seriously?

Are they warning us about the dog, or calling us a "dog"?  Who knows!

Were they warning us that they owned a “bad dog” or referring to those of us among the riffraff as “bad dogs”?  Who knows!!

What did fill me with joy and peace, though, was the time that we spent simply sitting and gazing out to sea.  Newport has absolutely glorious, wild beaches, where a person of limited means can relax on a bench or a craggy rock or a stretch of broken shale and watch the waves roll in.

When I can see the endless view of water that is the Atlantic Ocean, I am immediately at peace.  When I can sit in perfect silence and listen to the whisper and call of the waves as they roll in one after another, I am filled with calm.

And when I can stand chest deep in the ocean, and lift my earth bound feet to float above the anchoring soil, I am a part of something as elemental as the universe.  And I don’t know why this is true for me, when I know that the same is not true for everyone that I love.

For me, to stand surrounded by the feel and smell and sound and taste of the ocean is to be back in touch with whatever it is that gives animation to my being.  For me, if there is a god, he lives deep in the sea.

I wonder if some people, people like me, feel a tide in our blood. I wonder if my heart and my brain are made of a salty, briny water that makes me one with the gulls and the seastars and the mermaid tales from days gone by.

All I know is this: I don’t yearn for a mansion, or a fence or a castle to keep me safe.  What I yearn for is a place where I could lay my head down every night and still hear and smell and feel the constant murmuring movement of the sea.

Figuring it out



I’m truly enjoying my new adventures in blogland.  (oops, I think I’m supposed to say “blogosphere”, but that sounds sort of pretentious.  Is it pretentious?)  I have found unexpected support at times when it has been needed. I have found laughter when my spirits were low, allies when I have felt alone, great ideas when I have found myself in a rut.  And let’s not forget the great recipes…..!

I love the feeling of belonging that I get when I refer to myself as a “blogger” or when I casually mention, in a conversation with friends or family, “a fellow blogger wrote….”  It feels so good to belong to a group of people who you admire, doesn’t it?  Hooray for me; I have cool friends!

But I find that I am worrying quite a bit about the etiquette of the whole thing. I want to get it right!  I want to follow the rules and be a good girl. (Are they really rules?  Should I say “expectations” instead, like I do in my classroom?)  I am a woman; we generally aim to please.  I am the oldest girl in a family of six children; we definitely aim to please.  And I’m a teacher; I can’t help trying to do everything the right way. I can’t help hoping that everyone will like me and no one will ever be offended by anything I say, do or write.  So I want to be a popular blogger. Not “popular” as in “my stats are going up”!  I mean “popular” as in, “She seems nice.” (Um…am I allowed to refer to my “stats”, or is that vulgar?)

I don’t know how to behave out here.  For example, after I had been writing for several months, I suddenly started to accumulate some “followers”.  This was wildly exciting for me, of course, and I immediately clicked on everyone and “followed” them back. I also “followed” everyone who made a comment on any of my posts. So much fun!!  But…..after a while I realized that my ‘in box’ was always full of enticing new posts and I wasn’t doing any of my slightly less pleasant chores (like correcting math papers or grocery shopping). What would a nice, well behaved blogger do about such a situation?  I mean, do you ignore new posts, do you “unfollow” (will the blogger be told that I did that? Oh, man, that would be horrible!!!) How do you manage this?

And what do you do about commenting back to people?  I am very chatty; I tend to comment constantly!  Is that OK? I find myself wondering if other bloggers are happy to see my name out there, or if people think, “Oh, jeez. Here she goes again……”  And how long are comments supposed to be?  And are they always supposed to include a compliment, or will people realize that since I follow them and reply constantly to every single thing they post, it’s pretty obvious that I admire the way they write?  Do I seem too eager, or too pushy?

There are millions of little etiquette issues like this! Am I expected to put in more photos? Am I allowed to mention personal information that would let people know where I live? Am I allowed to ask my new blogging friends where they live, or is that prying? Does it sound insincere when I reply to every comment on my posts with “Thanks for commenting!”, even though I really do mean it from the bottom of my heart?  Gah!! I’m giving myself a migraine……


This whole situation is reminding me a lot of my students. (I know. Everything in my life makes me think about school. What can I say?) 

It has reminded me of how hard it is for many kids to figure out the unwritten rules of classroom social life.  Rules that some kids, like some bloggers, seem to infer and internalize without effort.  Rules about when to make a joke and when to stay silent, where to sit at meeting without seeming either aggressive or pitiful, when to share and when to keep what is yours.  There are a million invisible and unspoken requirements for “popularity”, and some children never fully grasp them, no matter how hard they try. There are facial expressions to master, shoe brands to memorize, games and jokes and songs and books. There are even trendy words that change from month to month. How often should you raise your hand in class without seeming too eager to be the teacher’s pet?  What is the exactly perfect timing to make a funny comment during a lesson without making the teacher mad?

It’s all very confusing and potentially overwhelming.  Fitting in, pleasing the crowd and learning how to be accepted.  These are the skills and struggles that often define the lives of children and adolescents in school. These are the little things that are tripping me up as I venture into the world of internet writing.

I will try to follow the advice that I give to my students.  I will try to be observant.  I will try to always be kind.  I’ll think before I speak (or post). And if I know I have done all that, I’ll try my hardest to stop worrying and just relax and enjoy the ride.  

Happy blogging, everyone! I’d share my snack with you guys any time.