Beth Conny writes about the publish or perish phenomenon for her sites Write Directions and Lifenicity.

Publish or perish — A 2nd-grader’s perspective

Beth Conny writes about the publish or perish phenomenon for her sites Write Directions and Lifenicity.

2nd grade

One day while reading my 2nd grade Weekly Reader, I came across an article about a 6-year-old girl who had published a book of poetry. Because she didn’t know how, literally, to write, she dictated the poems to her mother. (“Yo, mom, take down this sonnet!) Voila! — she became a published author.

I don’t remember the girl’s name, I do remember thinking: “Oh no! I’m seven and I still haven’t published!”

Embarrassingly, I continued to utter those words well into my late-20s, when I began publishing steadily. Even today, I utter a variation of them: “Oh no! I’m in my middle years and still haven’t written the Great American Novel!”

If you’re a writer, I bet similar words have slipped into the conversations you have with yourself and others. Such words belong to the universal language of writers — to all creative people, for that matter. We are all waiting for deliverance.

But universal as these words may be, there is no strength in number. Ultimately, we writers stand — and sit — alone.

Sitting down to write is key. It is the only way to quiet the Muzak looping through our minds:

La-di-da. Publish. Perish. La-di-da. Perish. Publish. La-di-da.

And so I’ve learned to sit, to let the sound of my keyboard block the Muzak. And when that fails, as it sometimes will, I will stand, stretch … and sit again.


Beth Mende Conny's humorous parents quizz on guilt.

Not guilty!

Beth Mende Conny's humorous parents quizz on guilt.Guilt. To be a mother is to suffer from it. But how much suffering is enough?

Take this quiz and find out. Simply the circle the responses that best apply to you.

Question #1 — While shopping at the mall, you and your child decide to split a Mrs. Fields cookie. You break it in two, but one half is bigger than the other. You:

a)  keep the bigger half because he’s not quite old enough to notice he’s gotten shortchanged; besides, you’re the one who paid for it.

b)   give him the bigger half, telling yourself you don’t need the extra calories.

c)  give him the whole cookie to make up for the fact that you even thought of giving him the smaller piece.

Question #2 — Your daughter comes home from preschool with yet another painting. She insists you hang it on the refrigerator beside her other artwork, but there’s simply no more room. You:

a)  take down one of her older paintings and mail it to her grandparents.

b)  hang the latest picture on the inside of your refrigerator.

c)  buy a second refrigerator.

Question #3 — You’re at an aerobics class, only your son won’t stay with the gym’s playroom baby-sitter. You:

a)  tell him he can stand in the back and watch—if he promises not to laugh.

b)  include him in the class by using him as a free weight during the arm exercises.

c)  leave the class, telling yourself that taut and gorgeous bodies are symptomatic of flabby, superficial minds.

Time’s up! The quiz is over. Look over your responses and determine in which of the following categories you belong:

If most of your responses were “A”s: Go seek help immediately! You have zero guilt, and as everyone knows, mentally stable women cannot be mothers. Tsk, tsk.

 If most of your responses were “B”s: Congratulations! You’re worthy of calling yourself a mom. You’ve got just enough guilt to make you lose occasional sleep but not enough to turn you into an insomniac.

If most of your responses were “C”s: You’re too far gone. There’s nothing you can do to appease your guilt but hang on until your kids leave home. Even then, expect your guilt feelings to linger. You can, however, take consolation in knowing that one day, when your children become parents, they too will experience guilt.

And who says there isn’t justice in the world


Into the silence

Beth Mende Conny reflects on the patience required for introspection.We cry out from the get-go. It is our very first act of being. We go from fluid warm darkness into a bright, sharp world filled with sounds and smells and warm hands on bodies we do not yet know are ours. We cry out because that is what we, as babies, do. Our cries make others turn their heads and try to decipher. What, Sweet Pea, do you need?

It will be a long time, however, perhaps a lifetime, before we are able to weave our cries into words, words that give shape to our souls. But most people don’t have the patience to wait for us. Their hearts no longer strain to hear. Life has become too complicated, time too scarce. There are too many voices vying for attention. They want a quick fix, the Cliff Notes version of understanding. They want to understand their own lives.

Still we cry out, only this time into the silence. It is what we, as people, do.

My makeup makeover

Beth Mende Conny gets a makeover with Jenna Conny at Sephora.So here I am  at the cosmetics store Sephora with my 20-year-old daughter, Jenna, who has brought me here to get a new look. “What’s wrong with my look?” I want to ask, but I know better because she’ll tell me.

I’m here because there is something hopeful about getting a new look. Perhaps it will give me a new outlook, too. I am at an age when I see, not so much my age, but aging. My boobs are heading south while my hips are heading east and west. Up north, gray is slipping in. I look in the mirror and both my reflection and I do a double-take, wondering who the other is.

Actually, it’s not that bad, at least not every day. Sometimes I look and see someone who looks good, not just at her age but at any age.

Anyway, here we are, surrounded by vials, tubes, bottles and other elixirs. A salesgirl approaches. “Need help?” she asks.

“My daughter says I need a new look,” I say.

The salesgirl and Jenna exchange glances and smile. They’re members of a secret society dedicated to getting mothers to be less embarrassing in public.

Jenna makes some suggestions. To begin: foundation, concealer, primer, all of which makes me think we’d be better off at Home Depot. The salesgirl adds to the list — eye shadow, blush, mascara and lipstick — but all I really hear her say is ka-ching, ka-ching.

The salesgirl begins with foundation. She puts two dabs of tan liquid onto the back of my hand, rubs them into my skin and asks me which color I prefer. Beats me. They’re darker than pantyhose and will plug my pores with toxins.

I turn to my daughter. “What do you think?” She and the salesgirl confab. They make a decision and I smile. From herein I will appoint Jenna my proxy. Read more

A typical day in my life

Beth Mende Conny writes about her day, which includes activities like losing her memory and glasses, having hot flashes, crying jags and other middle-age endeavors.

The beginnings of my fun-filled day!

8:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Search for glasses

11:30 – 11:33
Hot flash

11:33 – 11:35
Change shirt

11:35 – noon
Eat breakfast

Noon – 1:15 p.m.
Search for glasses

1:15 – 1:16
Pretend to work

1:16 – 2:30
Check email, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, YouTube cat videos

Call Verizon about billing problem

2:30 – 3:30
Wait on hold; check email, Facebook; knit sweater

3:30 – 4:15
Explain problem to Verizon sales rep in Papua New Guinea

Give up

4:16 – 4:45
Eat lunch

4:45 – 5:15
Search for glasses, hot flash, change shirt

5:15 – 5:30
Micowave dinner

5:30 – 5:35
Eat dinner, converse with husband

5:35  – 7
Hang up on telemarketers

7  – 7:02
Turn on living room TV, walk to couch, sit on my glasses   

7:03 – 7:30

7:30 – 8
Open window, creep onto ledge, cry some more

8 – 9
Wipe tears, return to living room, watch “Dancing with the Stars”

9 – 10
Nap in front of TV

10 – 10:40
Roam house without glasses to find bedroom

10:40 – 50
Prepare for bed, brush teeth with hairbrush, apply anti-aging cream to face, boobs and thighs

Go to bed

10:50 – 11
Hot flash, change pajamas, sheets

11:00 – 1:30 a.m.
Elbow snoring husband

1:30 – 2:30

2:30 – 2:35
Go to bathroom

2:35 – 2:40

2:40 – 2:45
Go to bathroom

2:45 – 3

3 – 4:30
Hot flash, elbow husband, go to bathroom, cry, climb onto ledge, go back to bed

4:30 – 7

7:30 – 8
Search for shower, brush teeth, mistake husband’s shaving cream for toothpaste

8 – 8:20
Eat breakfast

Call optometrist

8:20 – 8:30
Begin search for car keys, cry








Black and white

Beth Mende Conny shares a photo of an ice storm and how it makes the world look black and white.Somedays the world really is in black and white. Like today.

I opened my bedroom window expecting color, but last night’s ice storm left a limited palette. More snow is on the way.

Getting through winter, I realize, is an act of faith. Faith that spring will come and I’ll once again see green.

Will nuclear winter affect the way you tan?

Nuclear warfare and parenting. Beth Conny connects the two in this humorous piece for Lifenicity. friend Maddie called the other night and we had the following conversation:

Maddie: Brad and I are thinking of having a baby, but I’m worried about it affecting our relationship. Do you think it will?

Me: That’s like asking me if I think nuclear winter will affect the way you tan.

Maddie:  Does that mean yes?

Me: But, of course.

Maddie: How so?

Me: Why don’t you ask me something easier, like “how does having a kid not change your life?”

Maddie: Oh come one and humor me.  Tell me how motherhood has changed you. Read more