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Sticking it to the Mouse

November 15, 2011

So apparently Disney has bought Babble.com, though my divorce blog does not seem to have been part of the deal. Yesterday I got several emails from friends who were exercised about the matter, both the buying and the de-blogging, neither of which I’d noticed on my own. (When I went back to check, my blog DID seem to be there, buried under a pile of dust, patiently awaiting an end to what is not a terribly interesting story in the long run–certainly hardly worthy of a two month wait.  But my profile and anything that would enable a casual Disney fan/Babble reader to find my blog has been deleted.)  It may be a glitch, or it may be my just reward for never updating, or it may be an intentional snub–but whatever it is, I sense the bell tolls for Divorced With Kids.

I’m not outraged. I’m actually relieved–I have been waiting for an excuse to bail on the Babble blog for quite a while. Having two websites means I write less on each of them than I would if I just had one.  And the Babble blog has been an irk since the beginning–I never felt I quite hit my stride, and I hated having to promote it. Hated, and also failed miserably at whatever half-assed promotion attempts I made, because I am not a nimble salesperson.  And besides, how do you really promote an anonymous blog?

The Babble blog was originally meant to tell the story of my divorce in chronological order.  When that proved too hard, I decided just to write about whatever I felt like, with an eye toward a bigger audience.  But not knowing one’s audience (or sensing that one’s audience is skewed in a particular direction) changes the way you write.  No matter how hands-off the Babble website was (and they were totally hands-off–so hands-off, in fact, that no one could ever find Divorced With Kids), writing for them always felt different than writing here.  Even the mandatory publish-with-a-picture format bugged me a bit.  What the hell was I supposed to be photographing? I disliked the stock images they’d use, but mine weren’t much better. And I tend to go on and on, while Babble posts are meant to be short and snappy.

I never got the hang of search engine optimization. I linked the Babble blog to an email address I rarely check–whoops–so I invariably missed important updates from Babble’s editorial staff. And then, when Steve Jobs died and everyone in the world was writing about him, I spoke to an editor at Babble about writing a quick piece about my brush with Apple (Jobs bought my ex-husband’s and my first house, when our older son was still a baby, back in the late nineties).

I’ve told the story a million times at dinner parties and the like–our fifteen minutes of Silicon Valley fame!–so I thought I’d simply dash it off.  The Babble editor urged me to put a “parenting” spin on it, which, when I thought about it, was already there. Piece of cake.  I took a pen and my notebook outside, and sat in the sun for a while. My older son, who had a half-day, came home and commenced talking. It was a beautiful afternoon. The story was due the following day. The essay I was writing suddenly got serious, and became about all manner of things–marriage, parents, children, divorce, estrangement. It was about six times over word count and still not finished.

My other son came home.  They wanted to go for a walk. I was in full swivet by this point–what was I thinking? I couldn’t write an essay in 24 hours on a specific topic with children around! I gave up, went for a walk, made supper, put the children to bed, swiveted a bit more, wrote a bit more, then gave up.

In other words, I finked.

The editor was–quite justifiably–pissed off.  I slunk around shamed for a while, both because I’d failed to finish the essay to my satisfaction, and because I couldn’t even say “Well, what do they expect, with such a short deadline?” because the whole thing had been my idea. What’s more, I realized that the Steve Jobs essay was exactly the kind of thing I write for this website–and that if I hadn’t had an editor, and a deadline, I probably would have finished it that night.  Writing here is easier and more pleasant and completely different than writing anywhere else. I have no idea why, but not even blogging for an unedited website feels the same. I thought, somehow, that writing for Babble would be just like writing here.  Getting paid was icing on the cake.  In the end, however, neither the ease nor the money was as great as I’d anticipated.

I sent an email to the Babble people this morning, asking what exactly was going on. If they permit me back online at all, I’ll wrap up the story I started in September, and then say farewell to DWK.  I whore my writing talents, such as they are, as much as I can–I make a living whoring them–so don’t mistake me for someone with noble ideals.  I’m just a bad combination of venal and lazy.

In other news, I applied for a temporary teaching job at my older son’s school, which I didn’t get, alas. A sparrow got stuck in the suet compartment of the bird feeder and seems to have died an excruciating death.  And the cat spent yesterday afternoon shitting, copiously and repeatedly, all over my younger son’s bed and comforter. Vengeful corporate deity, or complete coincidence?  You be the judge.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. November 15, 2011 1:43 pm

    Oh man, if cats shitting or vomiting on beds is a measure of some god’s anger then my family is really really in trouble.

    Looking forward to the end of the story on Babble. Sorry that didn’t work out, but I’m glad you have somewhere to write that is fun for you.

    And I’d really like to hear the Steve Jobs story, you know, if you’re taking requests.

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      November 15, 2011 8:05 pm

      Seriously, is that a THING? The shitting on the bed? Dogs are more trouble than cats, but at least none of the dogs I’ve known ever shit on anyone’s bed.

  2. Ellie permalink
    November 15, 2011 2:11 pm

    What Karen said – I am glad I found you here, yes, from Babble! And that I found your excellent blogroll. I can think of other blogs I don’t even find anymore, but I don’t see the issue with yours. There are not many blogs with older children for obvious reason, so the fact that you are anonymous is great for me.

  3. November 15, 2011 2:57 pm

    I can believe anything of Disney, up to and including bed-shitting!

    I’m just happy to read, wherever you post, and whatever you write (Moar writing! :@]) because you is just GOOD, lady.

  4. November 15, 2011 4:24 pm

    Yeah I am really not sure why you weren’t added to the ”parenting older kids” (read: not toddlers) section because your blog is great (here & there). But they did INDEED make it a challenge to even find it (and no idea why they make subscribing to individual blogs almost impossible).

  5. irretrievablybroken permalink*
    November 15, 2011 4:41 pm

    It amazes me that anyone found this blog via Babble, but I’m very happy to hear from those who did–makes it seem as if I didn’t waste a bunch of time and energy writing there. Shannon, I think–though I’m not sure–that if someone subscribes to your blog you lose hits, as the rss feed delivers the material directly to the subscriber. Babble wants lots of hits–hence the slideshows, hence the mandatory “after the jump”, etc. And that’s why they pay the bloggers by the hit, too.

  6. November 15, 2011 6:14 pm

    Disney is the Illuminati. Sorry the Babble blog didn’t work out. xo

  7. November 15, 2011 8:49 pm

    This post might have your best title so far. It might have the best post title of all time ever in the blogosphere.

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      November 15, 2011 8:54 pm

      That’s pretty amazing, coming from you, since you are Queen of Good Titles. Actually, consoling-windows friend started it off by asking me, “What’s the matter? Don’t want to work for the Mouse?” So it’s really HER title.

  8. November 15, 2011 11:42 pm

    Well, words can’t adequately express how glad I am to have found this blog and your writing and you through Babble, so there’s that. I wish I had a blogroll to add you to!

  9. November 16, 2011 9:06 am

    Ditto all the condolences that Babble didn’t make you squeak* with joy. Glad however if it means more Irretrievably Broken posts. Cats really are just the most vengeful things; you obviously slighted her in some unintended way**. Suggest you beg her mercy with with cream and smoked salmon, or it could get worse.
    (*note the Mouse reference…)
    (**in my wayward youth, I once puked on my cat (drunken, middle of the night, what was she doing lurking outside my bedroom window anyway?) She repaid me with nightly visits bearing dead / half-dead mice for TWO WEEKS. THen it suddenly stopped and we were friends again. From then on I slept with a basin by my bed.)

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      November 16, 2011 11:53 am

      I’m adding that to my bucket (get it?) list: Puke On Cat. You rule.

  10. November 16, 2011 9:57 am

    Oh dear, I’m sorry to hear that but it does sound like you’re relieved to again be captain of your own ship.

    And my dog was *that* dog. I never got to the bottom of it (no pun etc) but she went through a phase of bed pooing. It was embarrassing (understatement or what) and I had to be vigilant about closed doors when we visited friends.

  11. November 16, 2011 5:36 pm

    I’m with ol’ Wibby World: fantastic title. You’re an editorial goddess. And, yes, the cat puking on the comforter is definitely a thing. Can’t believe you got this far without knowing that.

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      November 16, 2011 5:45 pm

      Shitting! Not puking. You mean there’s ANOTHER thing???

  12. November 17, 2011 11:32 am

    Sorry it did not work out – but, you have to do what works best for you as a writer. If/when you write somewhere else, please let us know!

    And it is supremely frustrating about not being able to “subscribe” to Babble blogs. Some of my other favorite bloggers write there and it is nearly impossible to ‘find’ them. In my opinion they LOSE website hits by making blogs hard to find.

    And I second the comment about the Steve Jobs story, we’d love to hear it!

  13. November 17, 2011 4:06 pm

    I will read you always, wherever and whenever you write.
    It’s Babble’s loss, most definitely.

  14. November 18, 2011 2:06 am

    sorry about the Babble deal. i love your style of writing! and am so happy i found your blog. you’ve given me so much that i’ll never be able to repay! so thank you!!

  15. kath permalink
    November 18, 2011 2:50 pm

    i’m with geralyn! please don’t ever leave here! disney usually makes the moms go away…it’s an ongoing “thing” with them. xo

  16. November 22, 2011 10:43 am

    Do you feel more authentic here than you did at Babble? I mean, you know you have readers but you’re also at complete liberty to tell them all to fuck off if they don’t like what you write because this is your turf, which I imagine you could not comfortably do to your editors, and perhaps that was the difference. I think your writing there was more polished than your writing here, which isn’t good or bad, just a difference. I love your writing here and am looking forward to DAILY posting because obviously now you have scads of free time to fill. Hope your cat is okay. Hope you offer up your Steve Jobs story.

  17. irretrievablybroken permalink*
    November 22, 2011 2:23 pm

    Andi–no one touched a word of the Babble blog (I doubt any of the editors even read it, honestly) but it did feel different writing there. I don’t know precisely why. One thing I didn’t like about writing there was the nagging feeling that I should always be writing more and flogging it more. I felt like a jerk trying to entice people to click click click and read read read. I prefer here, not because I’m at liberty to tell my readers to fuck off, but rather because THEY can tell ME to fuck off (or they can just quietly go away) and it doesn’t matter. If I write it and you guys like it, you will come. Or something like that. It is nice to have a place where I write not for money, not for an editor, not for a specific magazine, but just for myself, and for those of you who are kind enough to read.

    Steve Jobs is the carrot on the stick to distract everyone from the half-finished story I still have to wrap up at Babble before I officially call it quits (I think I’ll post the second half of that story here, however….)

  18. November 22, 2011 5:42 pm

    Be grateful it’s not urine – if it were, you’d have to trash that comforter!

    Has a fecal exam been done for parasites? (sorry, can’t help that reflexive q)

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