2012 was no ordinary year.
In fact, I suspect it will go down as my wildest, busiest, craziest, most life-changing year EVER. I really can’t believe that so much has happened over the last 12 months– and I can definitely say I’m a different person now from the person I was one year ago.
Unfortunately, with all that’s been going on, blogging this year often had to wait. That’s been hard for me. Over time, I’ve come to rely on this blog for sharing and self-reflection, and you have listened with a sympathetic ear and offered wonderful advice and commiseration. I feel like I’ve had SO much to tell you over the last 12 months, and no time to tell it.
The upside of my prolonged silences here, though, was that they helped turn this blog back into what it was always meant to be — personal. I never wanted to make a living with this blog. From the beginning, I wanted it to be my home base online, my spot to tell you about my life and give anyone who’s interested an idea of who I am and what I can do. But when mom blogging took off, lots of opportunities started coming my way, opportunities that allowed me to continue staying home with my kids. I gladly took those jobs and did the best I could with them, but I didn’t really feel I could comfortably be myself on this blog anymore, partly because my income was based on this blog, but also because the fact that I was a higher-profile blogger attracted relentless naysayers and outright trolls. I’m pretty thick-skinned, but the mean-spirited can wear you down over time. I realized after a while that I was second guessing almost everything I wrote, all because of a few jerks. That’s not a good feeling.
Today, I’m thrilled to be able to take only the blogging opportunities that really interest me, or that I think you’d like. And I’m REALLY thrilled that without so much going on here, the jerks have all gone away. Those of you who’ve stayed feel like true friends, always willing to listen to my stories and to share your own. This, once again, is my space. Hallelujah.
With that said, here’s a look back at Suburban Turmoil, 2012.
I started January with a bang, fresh off of moderating a forum with Newt Gingrich and a room full of moms. We shared a space with MSNBC, hence the so-not-surreptitious photo of Chris Matthews. Newt at the time was leading in the polls and the fact that we made him cry like a baby made national headlines. SCORE.
January was also the month when the first season of I’ll Take That Dare premiered on YouTube, starting with the infamous (in my own mind, anyway) Ke$ha episode. This was also a HUGE deal for me. I had pitched the show to CafeMom a year earlier, based on a column I was writing at the time for a local magazine. CafeMom got financing for it and produced it, and I’ve had a heavy hand (I’m picturing the production team grimly nodding their heads right now) in every aspect of it ever since, from the episode ideas to the sequencing to the locations to the edits. The day this show premiered (and we’re now in season FOUR!) was a major dream come true for me. And now, 36 episodes later, I’ve got an entire new skill set when it comes to Internet video production and promotion.
Of course, things were happening here at home, too. My 21-year-old stepdaughter moved back in with us. Good times. The kids continued trying to adjust to my new job, which among other things, involved wearing a Forever Lazy in public. I have a feeling some of these videos will come back to haunt me when they’re teenagers.
I moderated a few more forums with presidential candidates, wore a ridiculous hat with ears out on the town, and — highlight of my life– Punky got baptized. As far as I’m concerned, that was the best thing that happened all year.
And then I wrote a little post about lice, which was shared among the teachers at my son’s school about as quickly as the little bugs were jumping from head to head among the students. I can’t even express to you how popular I was there after that!
In February, I wore a wine glass necklace at a bar and lied my way into a very awkward situation. I wore a knitted beard and made lots of people laugh. My husband and I dressed as matching cowboys in downtown Nashville. I pretended to be pregnant in very high heels, and people just thought I was pregnant and drunk. NOT GOOD. And I tattooed my lips. I don’t recommend it.
As if that weren’t enough, I wrote about a bad experience at an upscale consignment sale and got about a zillion Facebook messages and comments from the Franklin mafia, telling me what a good Christian this sale owner was and what a tacky so-called Christian I was for writing anything negative about her sale. Here was my favorite: “You are so ridiculous, its pretty laughable. You WISH you belonged in Williamson Co. but i’m pretty sure writing a “blog” and your weather husband couldn’t afford it. Get a life, sweetie and a real job.”
Seriously? Get a real job? Woman, DID YOU NOT SEE MY LIP TATTOOS?!
In March, I spent a day on Newt Gingrich’s campaign bus, where I was accused of espionage by a Washington Post reporter. I am not even kidding. Crazy just follows me, people. And I followed that up by wearing a fake booty in public and dressing as a Harajuku Girl.
Back at home, I went on probably the most romantic and special date of all time, ever. Don’t hate. My baby boy turned five. I still don’t know how he got so big so fast. And we ended the month with a dream trip to Walt Disney World, which we all absolutely LOVED.
In April… In April… I went to the White House and sat in a meeting on the Affordable Care Act in the Roosevelt Room. Don’t worry- I left the Booty Pop at home. My precious daughter turned eight and I waxed rhapsodic about that. I was poisoned, and lived to tell the tale. I mulled over whether to redshirt my son and got lots of opinions on the subject. I gave my two cents on the Mommy Wars and birth plans, and then I almost got arrested at the Toys R Us. I wrote one of my best posts of the year, I think, about finding myself now in the same shoes as the moms who used to give me the evil eye when I was “the second wife” and “the stepmom.” And I ended the month with a diatribe on gas. The intestinal kind. Clearly, the White House visit made a serious impression on me.
May was pretty much a wash as far as this blog was concerned. I went to New York for a McDonalds product launch, then returned to New York a few days later for a week-long shoot of I’ll Take That Dare, season two. I spent another week here in Nashville shooting I’ll Take That Dare, another week helping with the edit, and then I finished things up with a week at the beach. Amidst all this, Punky finished second grade and Bruiser graduated from preschool! I wrote about that here– The things he had to say about it were pretty freaking adorable. I never properly recapped my summer trips and they were awesome- I might have to do a ‘Travel’ week here on the blog in a few weeks and share all the gory details.
In June, I wrote about my date night at the beach, which ended up being one of the most fun nights I’ve had all year. Next I wrote another of my favorite posts of the year, titled God Doesn’t Want You to Read Fifty Shades of Grey. Need I say more?
I told you about a horrific experience that still makes me feel a little itchy. I attempted Parkour, became a burlesque dancer, and flew on an honest-to-god trapeze. I put my daughter in what has to be one of the worst summer camps in Nashville (when you pay a surprise visit and find that your kid’s counselor doesn’t even know who she is, THAT’S A PROBLEM), and then I pulled her out again.
I went back to New York for a super-secret trip that included a visit to ABC News, where I got to meet the president of ABC and Bob Woodruff, and see my hero, Diane Sawyer, anchor the news.
And then, two days after my return, my stepmother died unexpectedly. And it was awful.
And that was June.
The morning after my stepmother’s funeral, my husband and I left for our 10-year anniversary trip to Quebec. It was amazing (and whale watching on the St. Lawrence River was a MAJOR highlight), and it’s another of those vacations that deserves to be recapped here. And it will! By gobstoppers, IT WILL.
I returned home from that trip and then left again a couple of days later for a two-week road trip through the swing states. That was very hard work, but it was also really fun– I work with fantastic people, and that was made very clear after living and working with them 24/7 for two weeks. We didn’t kill each other. We didn’t even WANT to kill each other. ‘Nuff said.
While it was quiet here on the blog in July, it was definitely NOT quiet on the video front. I performed with nine Broadway dancers on Times Square (another high point of MY ENTIRE LIFE), tried Laughter Yoga, nearly died in a Kangoo class (This was one of my absolute favorite videos- Mario Godiva is a Force, if you can’t tell.) and trained to be a pro-football player. Surprisingly, that didn’t go so well.
We also produced 25 videos from our road trip experience, several of which aired on Headline News. Some of my favorites included a story on student loans, a report on the shocking status of schools in America’s poorest city, the story of a teacher who was fined by the state after simply trying to register her 18 year old students to vote, a campaign stop for President Obama that ended up being the most rousing speech I’ve ever seen him give, and of course… THE BLOOPER REEL. Let’s not forget whom you’re dealing with here.
In August, it was still as the tomb here on Suburban Turmoil. But when that happens, you can be sure there are MAJOR things going on in my life. The kids started school August 1st. August 2nd, I left for BlogHer ’12, where I co-hosted the annual CheeseburgHer Party, interviewed McDonalds CEO Jan Fields for The Stir, and attended a fabulous CafeMom party, where I got to be part of this:
My mom is SO proud.
I returned from BlogHer and began shooting season three of I’ll Take That Dare, finished that and took the kids to visit my dad in Georgia, stopped in Atlanta for an appearance on HLN, then headed to the Republican and Democratic conventions for two weeks, where we shot 48(!!!!) videos for CafeMom and HLN, including this one, which was my favorite:
PLUS? I tried Thai Yoga Massage in what has to be the most awkward I’ll Take That Dare of all time, Aerial Yoga (not for the vertically challenged), and a Zumba spinoff that has women here in the Nashville area dancing like wanna-be fly girls.
I gave a pretty good recap of my summer in this post, complete with pictures and links and all that good stuff.
In September, things calmed down enough for me to write about my Shoes of Sin and tell the story of my stepdaughters’ horrific public high school experience. I also had a run-in with a carful of mosquitoes. Yes, it was a boring month and I NEEDED A BORING MONTH.
By October, I was ready to talk about my stepmother’s death, and the post resonated with many of you. It helped me too- after I wrote that post, it’s amazing how much better I felt. Bottling stuff up inside is never a good thing, although with the summer I had, I didn’t have much of a choice.
October also meant it was time for I’ll Take That Dare: Jobs Edition, which was definitely the toughest season I’ve shot yet. I spent a day working as a trash man, went ghost hunting in a haunted mansion, and played a team mascot at a minor league baseball game (believe it or not, THIS was the hardest job! By far!)
I also made a few more appearances on HLN in advance of Election Day, including a very ill-fated one I shot from home while my kids were there. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!
And I got to spend some time being a SAHM again (not to be confused with a SHAM, which more aptly describes the kind of mom I was over the summer), baking shit and doing crafts and going to school functions like this one, where I broke down shrieking and sobbing and had to be forcibly removed. Almost.
Oh. And this happened. Can’t leave out this:
I also worked as a zookeeper (DISGUSTING. SO DISGUSTING.), a children’s party clown (my kids are still having nightmares about ‘Molly’), a roller derby queen, and? AND? I caught a possum! All by myself!
Season Three of I’ll Take That Dare ended with one of my all-time favorite episodes: I was an auctioneer. And you just have to see it to understand why it was so freaking funny. Unintentionally, which is often the best kind of funny there is.
Also in November, I went to L.A. for a week to shoot season four of I’ll Take That Dare, came home and shot a few more episodes here in Nashville, hosted my parents and grandmother for Thanksgiving, and started getting ready for Christmas.
Oh! And Moms Matter did so well during the election that we decided to keep it going, so I got to shoot this story, which is AMAZING (I’m talking about the subject matter, here people) and deserves to be watched:
I spent the first part of the month planning, traveling, shooting and writing two more stories for Moms Matter. The first was on Hurricane Sandy two months later, and I’m posting it here because it’s another memorable story about a mom who went WAY above and beyond the call to help others after the storm.
The second story will air in January.
Like you, I was thrown into a total tailspin by the Newtown shootings. There are no words, really, to describe the horror of that day, and the powerlessness I felt as a parent in its wake. I wanted to shield my children from the knowledge of what happened, but discovered that that was impossible.
We muddled our way through it, along with the rest of the nation, and probably treasured our Christmas together more than we ever have before.
And that was my year. Not much happened here. It was pretty dull, really.
When I began writing this post and stated that I’m a different person now from whom I was a year ago, I almost deleted it. I wondered if I was being a bit… hyberbolic. But now that I’ve written about 2012 month by month, my statement makes total sense. Of course I’m a different person. How could I not be, after having experienced all of this in such a short period of time?
This week has really been the first chance I’ve had to sit still for a moment and begin to process all that’s happened. I look forward to writing here about some of the changes that have taken place within me over the last year, and I hope I’ll have time to do so. Of course, I also hope I get to do many more extraordinary, exciting, meaningful things in 2013.
Right now, it’s a strange time. I have no idea what 2013 will hold. Exciting things are in the works right now that I hope and plan to be part of, along with intriguing possibilities, wonderful opportunities, and many, many ideas I’d love to pursue– but nothing’s carved in stone yet beyond the next month or two. I kind of like that.
I also find it a little terrifying.
Here’s to 2013 and all it may hold.