Interview with Melissa Summers / Suburban Bliss
Melissa Summers feels like she just might communicate better in writing than speaking. She is married to a robot affectionately named Logan and has a couple of kids who are pretty dang cute. In her blog she talks about the full gamut of subjects including her feelings regarding weight, specifically hers, and raising kids, specifically hers, and is honest enough to admit when she might have made a mistake. She’s been quoted/mocked by the New York Times and writes for Blogging Baby. She was invited to Amsterdam and frequently mixes kids and alcohol. I ask you, what is not to Love?
Why do you blog?
One day I’ll come up with a nice answer for this question. I blog because it’s what any writer wants, an audience to read what they have to say. Only I don’t have to beg a publication to display my message.
And so, I write because I have something I want to say. The fact that sometimes I can say something in a way that makes a feeling or a point of view make sense to someone else. It’s an amazing feeling to be understood and to help people understand even themselves sometimes.
What do you talk about?
Since I started writing for Blogging Baby I’m writing a lot less about my kids at Suburban Bliss. I’m feeling myself tripping into the mundane and that needs to change. Stat.
What don’t you talk about? Why?
I’m not supposed to mention my in laws, but even saying that violates that policy. Oops! Prepare for vehement hate mail Leah.
I try very hard not to talk about arguments my husband and I have and any not as nice traits he has. It’s not fair and it’s unkind. On the other hand, I’ve given my readers (and some hate mailers) the idea that my husband is perfect. He’s perfect for me, but he is far from perfect.
Worst/best experience regarding something you wrote in your blog or put out on the net?
I’ve said things about my in laws which did bite me in the ass but I don’t feel badly about those things, except that it caused my husband pain. All the things I wrote, I’d said to them face to face so none of it came as a shock. I had nothing to lose in writing about what happened between us.
However, I made fun of a family member’s new baby’s name. It was when my site was just 5 months old and I had 50 readers. I didn’t think they’d ever see it, but they did (as people ALWAYS will. They ALWAYS will. Always.). I find it hard to believe they didn’t know their son’s name would get them some ribbing but I would never, ever make fun of someone’s child’s name to their face and therefore I should never have done it on the internet. Lesson learned.
The best thing has been, God so many things. Last year was really hard for us financially and people were so kind while I talked my way through it and figured my way out of it. Along the way people even helped, like Crouching Hamster who gave me a free plane ticket to Blogher. That conference was a really good experience for me.
Favorite/worst thing about living where you live?
I love being close to family and good friends. I love living near our little downtown, a couple of blocks from the library and the Farmer’s Market. One block further to our favorite brew pub. Eight blocks from the zoo. It’s not a bad place to raise kids, I just wish our particular neighborhood had more families and a few less homeless people roaming. I thought the suburbs didn’t have homeless people?
I love having seasons, but I wish spring and fall were the longest seasons here. The thing I hate most about living here is the fact that the entire economy is supported by the auto industry. As the industry fails everything else fails in a trickle down effect. I want to leave, Logan wants to stay.
If you were president of the US:
Worst case scenario: something very bad would happen. Otherwise, not very much would happen because I’ve always been able to see both sides and I think that can be crippling as a leader.
What actor would play you in the movie of your life?
Pam Grier because I’d really like to see her challenge herself as a character actress and win an Oscar.
What is it about your husband that makes him a robot?
It’s the titanium cladding and the lithium battery.
I had a very difficult childhood, more difficult than I’ve ever been able to express in writing. When difficult things come up, I throw my hands up and count myself out. Unfortunately, pretty much all of life is difficult when you have no ability to endure left in you.
I am constantly amazed at my husband’s ability to plow through the hard stuff. This manifests itself in big things like postpartum depression (mine, not his…robots don’t get depressed). Physically challenging things, like marathons. And small things like sleeping 3 hours after a night out and then going to the zoo with the kids for 5 hours.
I really like brown with blue right now.
I love all food. I’m glad I’m not dating because I’d sound like a behemoth. At this moment I could really go for some peanut chicken on noodles.
When you were 10, what did you want to do when you grew up?
An interior designer or kindergarten teacher.
I started in both those programs at school. The interior design thing was scrapped when I realized I had no imagination. The kindergarten teacher thing, it would have been a crime against humanity to put me in charge of a room full of 5 year olds.
What do you hate?
People who warm their car up outside my house with the radio blaring when they’re not even in the car.
What do you love?
What do you want to tell other bloggers, if anything?
There’s this ‘popular blogger’ debate I keep hearing. All blogs have value if they have 4 readers or 4,000. You just have to keep writing what you love and the people who are supposed to be reading it and the people who are important to you will find it.
Astounding facts about you:
In the third grade I designed a Girl Scout patch for our region’s big camping event. All the campers from Southeastern Michigan voted on which should be manufactured and mine was picked.
Guess where it is now? No really guess, because I have no idea and would like to find it.
Are you Windows or Mac? Why?
I really think Macs are sexy and I realize that’s me falling for all the Apple advertising, but when I get into bed and look over at that little lit up apple on the iBook….all that other stuff just melts away.
Really, Logan is a creative in an ad agency (which means they get ice cream and a ping pong table) and has only ever had Macs and would divorce me if I brought a Windows machine into our marriage.
We have a similar agreement protecting him from pickled produce and mayonnaise, all things he hates with equal passion.
What stuff does he agree to protect you from?
I think he believes he’s protecting me from the pickled produce as well.
But he’s wrong.
Tell me about how much you love being called a mommy blogger and what it means to you.
I don’t like anyone but my children to call me Mommy and even then it gets old now that they’re 5 and 7. When Logan wants to make me gouge his eyeballs out he calls me Mommy.
I’m dreading sitting through the topic at Blogher because I’ve heard all the arguments for being called a “mommy blogger” and why we should stick it to the man by walking around calling ourselves Mommy.
To me the term, even if people try to change it’s meaning by showing that the “Mommies” have important voices, is still a verbal pat on the head. On the other hand, it’s probably like Chick Lit and will remain forever and ever.
Who knows maybe next year I’ll be referring to myself as Mommy in the third person.
What kind of stuff do you sell in your shoppe? And why does it need the extra pe?
We did some notepads Logan came up with like some he made me for Valentine’s day the year before. I tease him that he’s not a funny writer but he came up with some funny tag lines for those pads. He wants to do more things but between his career and his freelance work, what he really means is he wants me to do more stuff.
The extra -pe is because I wish I was Canadian. If Canadians don’t actually put the -pe on shoppe, don’t tell me.
How would your husband describe you? How about your kids?
I think Logan would say, “I think sometimes I love her more than she loves herself.” Sadly, that may be true. Must work on that but for now at least one of us thinks I’m awesome.
Max would say, “My mom has soft skin and smells great” which is sort of what I’d want to say about him.
Madison is just beginning to realize how imperfect I am and I am sad about this because I thought I had until she was 10 or 11. She’s very smart intellectually but she’s a genius emotionally. She would say, “She’s way less fun than Dad.” Which is also very true, but he’s a robot so whatever.
What are you working on right now?
I’m trying to decide if I even want to pursue publishing off the internet. Part of me feels like maybe this is enough and maybe this is what I’m good at, why force something else?
But then every time someone asks me to write something for them off the internet I begin pummeling my brain again with the option.
What will you being doing next year?
It’s hard to say right now. Someone told me that the internet functions in light years, and so far I’ve found that to be true. Things happen so fast.
Next year though the kids are both going to be in school everyday for at least a half a day and I’m even debating sending Max for the full day version. I have to stop writing about it because the joy is too much.
Oh ya. By the way. How was Amsterdam?
I spent the first 3 days spinning in circles saying, “Holy Shit I can’t believe I’m here!” over and over. Then I spent the last two days racing around trying to absorb as much as I could, which meant I got lost. A lot.
I can’t wait to go back with Logan. He needs to be there.
Tell me a secret?
I hate secrets so the only secrets I have are the ones which must remain secrets. For now at least.
What do you wish I had asked you that I didn’t?
I wish you’d asked me who my favorite dad bloggers are.