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NOW

A blog about writing, relationships, society, parenting and being human.

 

What Linkedin Cannot Possibly Tell You About Me

Coley Gallagher

Search for me on Linked-in and you’ll see a flattering photo of me and general, unsatisfying information about what I’ve done with myself over the last number of years. I come off as a little evasive. I keep meaning to add my publication credits so people will take me more seriously. As inauspicious as some of the pubs may be, I hear having them at all is a thing.

I could fill a post with things you can’t know about me from Linkedin. There’s my…

Samples of my 99 Facebook profile pics

Samples of my 99 Facebook profile pics

Constancy

I floss every night. Every blasted night.

Persistence

There is a pyramid of balled up drafts spilling out over the rim of my trash can. A couple times a week I have to stomp the crumpled balls back into the basket until I can make one of my sons to empty the trash.

Timeliness

I inadvertently trained my kids to freak about being places on time, i.e., 15 minutes early.

Affability

More than one friend has told me she will leave her husband if I will leave my husband and marry her. I’d say I am well liked.

Judgment

Have you met my husband?

Reach

Right now all my Twitter followers may be blood relatives or neighbors, however, I have a big extended family and we plan to move after our littlest graduates high school.

Relevance

My oldest son just informed me that “get coffee” is code for sex. “The new Netflix and chill,” he explained. Teenagers keep me current.

Originality

I am a tea drinker.

Grit

My childhood. Just trust me until I finish my memoir.

Miscellaneous

Despite my allegiance to hard work, I have a maddening inability to walk past a penny on heads.

Crybaby

Coley Gallagher

View from my study floor.

View from my study floor.

I just had the most satisfying cry. To be fair, I cry most Monday mornings, but my recent cry was definitely a post-holiday-weekend cry, the usual emotions and sensations that get stoppered in my body most weekends made more intense by Thanksgiving.

- For one, Jill, who has been gone nearly three years, wasn’t there. I didn’t want to dwell on this fact with her kids around, but I missed her badly. When I counted and realized we had 13 people at dinner I knew she had insinuated herself into Thanksgiving after all — 13 being her favorite number. Then I dreamt of her Thanksgiving night. In one dream she was wearing porcelain high heels. They were white and delicate and appeared somewhat painful. She was unable to walk in them so couldn’t descend a set of stairs, although I awaited her at the bottom. In another dream, she left an event we both planned to attend before I even arrived. I didn’t find out she’d been and gone until I’d waited on her all day.

- Add to this the fact that, after all these years, I might still be a little afraid of my sister.

- The above notwithstanding, I cried today, in part, because I watched far too much football over the last four days. I saw too many men smashing into other men, their bodies bending in unnatural ways, guys ripped off their feet. While watching these hours of football, I was inundated with commercials to buy things I don’t need, enticed to get stuff for people, who, likewise, don’t need any more stuff. Question: do people really buy Lexuses for Christmas? Then, early this morning before I’d had a cup of strong tea, the paper noted that “low-income people feeling flush” had spurred the weekend’s holiday spending. Despite feeling pretty excellent after finding out my children did not have a snow day, and the article’s attempt to cast a positive light on poor people spending lots of money on holiday shopping, I was like, ut oh. This can’t end well.

- It probably also had to do with my husband leaving early for his trip, flying out ahead of last night’s “blizzard.” I drove him to the airport. It took us 27 minutes to offload at the O’Hare exit. Waiting in dead-stopped traffic I checked my email and found a rejection from an editor. It was a nice one, the best kind, rejection + invitation: “Though this piece does not fit us at this time, I enjoyed your writing, and I’d encourage you to submit other works in the future.”

These sort of notes are always heartening.

Still.

Rejection is rejection.

Can’t a woman get a few minutes to boohoo?

Once taken, onward.

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What I Should Do

Coley Gallagher

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Once a week or so, I panic about how little I’m blogging (hardly ever/almost never). I should be posting more, tweeting more, every day, multiple times a day. If I want editors to fancy me, I need a presence, a following, fans. I need numnbers in the thousands.

I should be weighing in constantly, or often, or, at least, here and there. I should provide thoughtful or humorous commentary, bestow insight or inspiration, contribute something original, or better yet, interrupt the conversation all together, upend the whole blasted thing. I should start my own conversation — be the conversation — although I’m not especially motivated to conversate while I toil away on a memoir.

An excerpt from my memoir.

Someone visited every day. No one called ahead or received an invitation. People just showed up. Somehow weekday visitors knew to come around the time we finished chores, but before Days of Our Lives started. On Saturday, visits spanned the entire day. My enjoyment of these visits was directly proportionate to the visitor’s age, in descending order, old people being the least enjoyable, these would be my great aunts and uncles, and my cousins, both children and teenagers, being the best, best, best! Everyone else was in between.

Weekdays, one of Grandma’s sisters often stopped in, toting some horrid pastry, rectangular super market danishes with sweet, glistening cheese or filled with the only two fruits I disliked - apricot, lemon. My great aunts took offense when I left my danish on the dish, one bite missing, complaining to Grandma that I got away with murder.

This beauty’s going to take me a while. In the meantime, to be current, relevant, get much-needed clicks, it’d serve me to offer writing that is immediate, pithy, digital. I probably could manage this if, when not pecking away at my memoir, I wasn’t accidentally, concurrently, writing an essay collection.

An excerpt from a recent essay that worked better disguised as a one act play.

STEPFATHER

How are your boys?


WOMAN

I had a newborn and two preschoolers. All boys.

(Into phone) They’re good. Getting big. The baby’s asleep and the big ones are playing out back. Those two are wild.

(To audience) He laughed, then said:

STEPFATHER

That’s what you get with three boys.

I’ve seen pictures.

They’re beautiful.

WOMAN

(Into phone) Thank you.

(To audience) He started sobbing.

I sat there and listened to him cry, unable to speak. After a moment he asked:

STEPFATHER

Why do you hate me so much?

WOMAN

That question split me open. I started bawling, too, so hard I couldn’t talk. We both cried on the phone for entire minutes. I cried some of that stuff that got stored in my body right out of me.

After a while, I was able to say, (Into phone) ‘I don’t.’

STEPFATHER

You don’t?

WOMAN

(Laughs/cries into phone) No.

(To audience) I didn’t. At certain points in my life I had, but right then, I did not. I said, (Into phone) ‘I don’t hate you. It’s just. Well. It’s just hard for me to be around you.’

STEPFATHER

You always were sensitive.

I suppose I could populate my near-abandoned blog with my essays or parts of them. Then again, if I do, they’d be disqualified from submission to literary journals where editors I’m hoping to woo with better metrics work long hours for very little compensation.

I know I should chime in more, yet when the spirit moves me to do so, it rarely come from the best place. For instance, I want to post right away in the rare circumstance that someone has taken a good photo of me. After all I’ve learned, I still want you to think I’m pretty.

Along those same lines, I have to guard against wanting people to think I’m cool. I usually feel a tug to post/tweet/share when I’ve got something self-serving or indirectly boastful to report, my possession of 2019 Women’s World Cup Finals tickets or how I sat only meters from George Saunders at the Chicago Humanities Festival two weeks back. I also want you to think I’m raising my kids particularly well. I’d like credit — to be admired — for precocious things my youngest comes out with, when it’s probable Calvin and Hobbes have had more influence over his spin on things than I have.

Could have posted Saturday morning:

Sam said, “Mom, I’ve been thinking. It makes more sense for God to be female.

Me: You think so? Why?

Sam continued, “Well, females carry the babies. They do more to make them; actually grow them inside their bodies. Then the female usually takes care of them. All the male has to do is swim.”

Me: You have a point.

Sam said, “I mean, the male has to swim really fast. Sperm swim, like, 1,000 miles an hour, don’t they?”

Me: We’ll have to google it.

That exchange was charming, thought provoking, and fairly typical for us. Problem is, sharing it would give you an incomplete picture of him, me, of our relationship, even our Saturday. Posting it would have felt disingenuous. I suppose it would have been fine to post our exchange as long as, later in the day, I’d posted a follow-up after he sassed me royally in a room full of people.

Could have posted this follow-up Saturday evening:

It is all I can do not to bloody my child.

I coulda, woulda, shoulda posted again, but when? You heard: I’m raising a quick-talking, diminutive middle schooler. He has two large, unpredictable brothers, both in high school. I’ve got to nurture and feed these boys, supervise their half-assed completion of chores, chores I could do better myself, without having to listen to complaints and in a fraction of the time. I’m also trying to keep fit so I can beat other women to through-balls or cut off through-balls altogether. And a couple times a week it’s nice to have an uninterrupted conversation with my husband.

Considering my analog priorities, I’m not sure I have what it takes to be relevant. Maybe I need to change. If I dig really, really deep, maybe I can. I have a feeling it might get ugly, despite any becoming photos.

Yesterday morning I could have posted:

The people listening to NPR on speaker while they walk on the lakefront need to invest in some headphones

#therestofuscanhearyourbleepingphone

Later, in the grocery store, which, conveniently, has wifi, I could have posted:

Get that baby off your cellphone!

#ruininganentiregeneration

I could chide or give canny advice all the day long. Then I could probably hit decent traffic numbers. It’d mean contributing more negativity and incivility to our polarized, snark-saturated discourse. I could do it, but it’d be awfully hard on everyone, not to mention the toll it’d take on my soul. I’m not sure decent numbers are worth that to me.

Perhaps it’d be best if I keep blogging when called to, when a scintilla of time opens up. Until then, if you’d like to know what’s happening, hear my thoughts on any manner of topics, feel free to call, text, email or message me. I also check the mail every single afternoon, praying someone, anyone, might have sent me a letter.

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Some Items Remembered From Summer

Coley Gallagher

    My children returned to school today. Sort of. One had a half day, morning only. The oldest attends class in the afternoon. Mercifully, the youngest will be held at the middle school for the entire day.
    We’ve had a pretty outstanding summer so far. Loads of company, sunshine, play time and relaxation. Admittedly, the World Cup and hosting houseguests put me on my heels, but I bounced back. I'm surprisingly tan. Not surprisingly, I wrote little, however, I kept mental notes on any insights and discoveries I wanted or needed to share with you. They are in thematic and, it turns out, mostly chronological, order:

There is such a thing as watching too much soccer.

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The corners of my 20 year-old Keith Haring mousepad are peeling.

I prefer watching Wild Wild Country during the 4th Of July Block Party and only going outside for dinner.

Much as I mean to, I'm never going to read your Twitter feed. Or anyone else's.

I need never visit another amusement park.

I would go broke running a B&B.

Watching television during the day might not hasten the end times, but it makes me feel lousy, and by lousy, I mean fat.

People who watch TV during the day buy a lot of medication.

I wish the Queer Eyes boys were my friends.

I may be addicted to peaches.

Taking a walk makes anything better.

My middle son doesn't realize how uncool it is to sit on my lap.

We don’t pay teachers enough.

We should build them houses. Nice ones.

And cut their lawns.

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Mrs. President

Coley Gallagher

Among the reasons women make formidable leaders: an understanding that most times there can only be one winner.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic comforts player Luka Modric after Croatia's World Cup Final loss to France.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic comforts player Luka Modric after Croatia's World Cup Final loss to France.

Walk The Walk

Coley Gallagher

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        A month into summer vacation, the best way to convey my state of mind is to report how I want to punch the read-walker. As her nickname suggests, the read-walker reads while she walks, or walks while she reads, usually a book, hardcover, no doubt procured from the Evanston Public Library. I met her once, a number of years back, although I cannot remember her name. She is the seventy-something mother of an acquaintance. The read-walker looks much younger than she is, whip-thin, very tanned, often attired in a tank top and workout shorts, frosted blue eye shadow shimmering beneath her tortoise shell specs. Truth be told, I have long nursed a grudge against this person since she drives with her little dog on her lap, its teeny forepaws balanced on the steering wheel.
        And now, every few days, as I shuttle five clamoring boys to sports camp, I spot read-walker chugging down Ridge Avenue, a book held at the level of her nose.
        When I see her, I want to stop my car, run over and punch her.
    Problem: the woman reads while she walks. She would not see me coming. I’d prefer not to sucker punch her as my whole gripe against the read-walker is her not being where she is, not drinking in the glorious summer morning.
        No, I would insist on having the read-walker’s attention.
        First, I’d politely ask her to lower her book, then I’d punch her. In the face or her flat stomach. The stomach option might prove more symbolic, since she’d most likely drop her book. Once she did, I’d kick it into the grass. Backing away, I’d say, “Let that be a lesson to you.”
        As her hand rises to her stinging face (or aching gut), we’d lock eyes. It would seem like we were staring at each other a long time, but would be only seconds — fractions of a second — before the boys in my car would erupt, hooting and cheering although they’d know not why I slugged the read walker.
    This would be my Second Problem. Busted, I'd need to go, fast. Jogging back to my car, I’d lecture the read-walker. Waving my arms to indicate everything and nothing specific, I’d gaze imploringly into her stunned eyes and say, “Look around! Look what you’re missing.”
        Still holding her cheek or ribs, the read-walker’s eyes would travel where my arms are indicating, then right back to mine.
        I’d say, “You missed the summer sky, fickle and ever-changing. You missed the trees, dense, full green, every flower in raucous bloom. You missed the jowly babies, up for hours by now, not to mention any chubby toddlers who may have wobbled past.”
        For some reason this toddler part would really choke me up. Not wanting to cry, I’d hurry to my car. Then, when almost to the driver’s door, I’d realize that the read-walker is about to turn onto Lake Street and read-walk right past the fragrant, bejeweled Rose Garden. Outraged now, I’d shout, “You miss beauty. Connection. Inspiration. Contemplation!” I’d shake my head, tell her, “I guarantee every single time you read-walk, you miss a wondrous surprise meant specially for you.”
        I’d close the car door, burning to send her off by shouting something snide and succinct out the window, something like, “Cut that shit out.” Or, “No book is that good,” which would, of course, be a lie. Instead, I’d just drive away, the male children in the back as loud as bombs, a blitzkrieg of shouted questions: simultaneous, consecutive, seemingly without end.
        In short, one month into summer, I could use a quiet, destinationless walk, ideally past the Rose Garden.

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