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


What I Should Do

Coley Gallagher


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.


How are your boys?


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:


That’s what you get with three boys.

I’ve seen pictures.

They’re beautiful.


(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:


Why do you hate me so much?


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.’


You don’t?


(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.’


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


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

Get that baby off your cellphone!


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.