avoidance  n 1. the act of keeping away from or preventing from happening.

Lord knows: These last few months have been full of so many surprises. Enough to last a lifetime or 4. But last week, here came a new one:

 I couldn’t bring myself to open up my laptop and work on GuestWomb.  After months and months of setting aside the hours for thinking and writing…suddenly there wasn’t room in my day. Not even 15 minutes.

 God knows it’s been a crazy busy time, and that was a legitimate excuse. And when those rationalizations ran short, I found a dozen other things to do.

 And wouldn’t you know this would come about just at the time things are getting REALLY interesting. We’re about four weeks away from the end of this voyage. I should be spending MORE time on the keyboard documenting the home stretch, not less…or none.

This little episode I’m experience only deepens my appreciation of the TRUE writers out there in the world. The guys and gals who toil in their 9-to-5 jobs and yet always find time for that blog entry, or another page in the great American novel to be. I admire their discipline and drive. Their need to express themselves.

I’m not in their class. Not by a longshot. But it’s something to aim for.

And here’s hoping that this post will break the ice.

 
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The fact of the matter is — we can see the finish line. Yeah, it’s still 13 weeks off, but the days are flying by. (Well, they are for me. Michelle might have a slightly different take).

I’ve always been the kind of person who looks downstream, straining to see what’s around the next bend. Is it rapids? Is it a long slow shallow. Or is that faint yet growing roar going to Niagra Falls!

My eyes stray to the horizon not because I’m bored or unhappy with where I’m at. It’s usually just the opposite, as it is now. Michelle’s journey has been rewarding in a surprising number of ways and we’ve focused on making the most of this challenge. Dare I say I’ll be sad when it’s over? Maybe.

No, I just like to know what’s next — and what are my options?  I’m a world-class ‘muller’, and you can usually find me sifting dozens of things over in my noggin in the background.

In fact, let’s take a current inventory of the things that are churning in the sub-routines of my mind while most of my brain is engaged elsewhere:

I know I can lose that 25 lbs. and do an old guys basketball league next fall….like I’ve vowed to do the last 10 years. (Back when it was 10 lbs. and it was a not-so-old league).

If I move my spatula fast enough, could I really make scrambled eggs on the BBQ?

That useless dog. Why can’t I train him to run out and get the newspaper in the morning? Yeah, if the paper came wrapped in bacon.

And why are all my subconscious thoughts revolving around FOOD in some way? Stupid company weight loss challenge.

In fact about the only non-food related thought crossed my mind lately is this: What come after GuestWomb.com? When all the contracting-pushing-beathing-screaming-it’s-a-baby-boy-crying is all through…. what’s next?

Do I really try to package this amazing story into a book? Backfill it with more content from the IPs — which we haven’t explored in any detail here. Add back in all the really juicy content that would make a book sales zoom. (WAS TIGER WOODS REALLY THE FATHER?!?!) Find an editor who could hold his/her nose and really whip it into shape? And then trawl for a publisher who might want to take a risk on a promising, not so young writer?

Or am I content to simply leave this wonderful tale on this cyber platform, add any postscripts this summer that might give it closer and then just let it float in the ether.

The one thing I’m sure won’t happen after GuestWomb — to become a fulltime surrogacy commentator. I’ve encountered some simply amazing people in the blogosphere who have made surrogacy issues practically their life’s work. My hat is off to them — they’re performing a great service to those wanting to explore this world. But when this kid is safely launched into the world….I’m done with this topic.

As you can tell on your first glance at GuestWomb, this blog is ANYTHING but a ‘how-to’ guide to this journey. It’s much more of a “OH MY FUCKING GOD WHAT HAS SHE GONE AND DONE PLEASE HELP ME” kind of narrative.

Or will THIS blog spur me on to write something that doesn’t involve Michelle’s private parts. Maybe even blogs that go something like this.

I don’t know just yet. But if you see a faraway look in my eyes during a meeting — or heaven forbid during tomorrow morning’s rush hour — you’ll know that I’ll be thinking about the possibilities.

Or pondering this eternal question:

What doesn’t go well with bacon?


My regular GuestWomb readers — waving at my Mom and Dad. Hi, Libel lawyer. Howdy Mr. IRS agent  — may have noticed a few gaps between posts. I’ve set a pretty fast pace — 55 posts in 4 months — to launch this blog, and the last couple of weeks have been a needed break.

And it’s a good thing that I’m rested and ready to hit the keyboard. Because there’s a lot going on. It seems this surrogacy thing isn’t exactly the easy, slam dunk, done deal, no sweat, smooth sailing (insert cliche of your choice here) problem-free voyage that I had conjured up in my mind.

There’s a scene in one of Michelle’s favorite movie that comes to mind. It’s called Parenthood (ha…it just occured to me this very minute how ludicrous this is: A Gestional Surrogate’s favorite movie is Parenthood). Actors Steve Martin and Mary Steenbergen are experiencing more than the usual trials and tribulations of family life. Near the end of the movie, Martin’s elderly grandmother goes off on a riff about experiencing life in the allegory of an amusement park.

Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
Martinl: Oh?
Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
Martin: What a great story.
Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it. 

God I hope this ride doesn’t have those upside down, stomach twisting, loop-de-loops.

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After inviting a tiny piece of the planet to learn about our little secret, I took a much-needed break from the blog.

The last couple of weeks has reminded me of buying our first house. Before we could even take a deep breath and relax…we were eager to show it off to friends and family.  Sure, lets add some more stress on top of stress. A lot of cleaning, some touch up paint, making sure that everything looks just right. And then you throw open the doors and invite everybody in.

And you wonder what people think. Did they really like the place? Were they just being polite? Even more stress on top of stress.

I’m not sure what kind of reaction I was looking for. A round of applause? A huge influx of traffic to the site? Angry emails from pissed off family members? A call from Barack Obama?

Well I got most of the above. Alas, the President was unavailable; must have been playing a lot of pick up hoop games lately.

But the comments were nice. Surprisingly so and I’m thankful to those of you who have gone out of their way to discuss the blog with me. And a huge thank you to the dozens that have already subscribed to it! I hope I’ll be able to continue to earn your attention, and to entertain and educate.

Speaking of educate: that’s what we’ve been doing with our own families in the past week. I burned through a cell phone battery trying to explain to my Mom why it was important to share the news. Electronic publishing…blogs…RSS feeds…it’s not part of her world. And neither is an open discussion of the subject of surrogacy. I think that’s what bothers my parents the most. It’s not that they object to what Michelle is doing. It’s our willingness to let other people in and experience this with us via GuestWomb. It’s a completely foreign concept to them, and it’s probably an area where we’ll agree to disagree.

As for Michelle’s family, well I’ve certainly given them something for them all to talk about! I drew some pretty sharp protests from a couple of them who insisted they did not share what I perceived to be a family-held view — she’s doing it for the $$. Lesson learned, I made some bad assumptions and edits have been made.

And it triggered a lot of phone calls and emails, back and forth between Michelle and the rest of her family. And frankly, I’m glad. Not that I may have caused some hurt feelings — that’s not my intent. But that it allowed Michelle yet another opportunity to explain the ‘why’ in her decision.

This flurry of communication even extended to our IPs. Michelle shared some of her family’s lack of understanding about her motives. And B and M responded with a moving, emotion-laden note for Michelle to send back to her family.

Will her family ever really get it? Will my own family feel comfortable with sharing this amazing journey with the rest of the world?

Will Obama ever bookmark this blog?

Stay tuned, please.

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ENO Pagliacci 3 c Robert Workman

The house lights have dimmed. The opening overture has died out. The director gives a nod and the curtain goes up.

GuestWomb goes public.

After hemming and hawing. Tweaking. Fine tuning. And…alright…stalling, plain and simple: It’s time to open this blog up to other eyeballs besides mine.

I’ve been dreading and anticipating this moment at the same time. Opening this blog up is like opening myself up — never an easy thing. And yet I’m proud of what I’ve written. I’m even more proud of what Michelle is doing. And it will be nice to let others – a lot of them – in on our little secret.

I’ve only shown a few bits and pieces to Michelle. I’ve read entries to my daughters. But for the most part, this has been my own private domain. That all ends on Friday, Oct. 23 at 4 p.m. I’m going to send a series of emails out to family, friends and work colleagues, announcing the existence of this blog.

Most people on this email list have no idea abut Michelle’s big adventure. I’m sure there will be a lot of ‘WTF’s and ‘OMG’s in the reactions. (And that’s just from my Mom : )  Yeah, they haven’t seen it yet either.)

And maybe a few: ‘So that’s why Steven’s looked so stressed the last few weeks’. Ha. As if I’m the one under any stress or duress.

But I think I’m really going to get a lot of “WOWs!” and “How wonderful for her!” I’m sure I’m going to be bombed with a lot of questions and reaction over the weekend. What I’m really hoping is that more than a few folks subscribe to either an RSS feed or an email chain. Meaning they want to follow this saga, and watch this story unfold over the next eight months.

Meanwhile, the next part of my master blog plan begins to unfold. With the help of webmaster Dan, we’re going to make this visible in search engines using some of the most common key words. I’m going to be sending out link requests to the top 50 surrogacy sites. I might even spend a few coins on pay-per-click ads and banners on Google.

Because if I’m letting in other eyeballs besides my own….might as well get as many as I can.


Blogging about blogging. Yawn. I can’t think of a more boring topic. It’s as if every single new blogger feels the need to celebrate his or her ascention to the blogosphere. (In fact, they have to use that word — blogosphere — just to demonstrate they’ve reached a kind of club status).

These newly minted authors seem to obligated to gush their enthusiasm about the limitless freedom of expression, marvel at the ease and access into this world of would-be authors, speculate on cosmic implications of a connected global village, yak, yak, yak………

Double yawn. And yet here I am, dutifully contemplating my version of that standard entry. I promise to try not to be so trite. But I am having a singluar thought on the subject of online publishing that I need to share:

I’m very intimidated.

As part of this project, I’ve devoted hours to viewing some of the amazing sites out there — and I’ve only sample a mere handful even though I’ve probably viewed a thousand or more. Beautiful words. Incredible design. Rich, meaningful, thoughtful content. And then I compare the meager 15 posts I’ve rapped out so far. And my stomach lurches.

If a wonkette.com, a daily kos.com, or a deadspin.com is the Major Leagues of Blogging, my little old GuestWomb is down in Single A Ball. A dusty outpost, far down the foodchain of wordsmithers, trying to learn the basics of the game. Learning to run the bases with my writing style. Hitting the cutoff man with my choice of art.

To be sure, I’d say GW is already a step up above the Rookie League entries. (Because as impressed as I am about hundreds of blogs I’ve survey, there are more than a few truly awful ones too. They shall, for now, remain nameless.)

To keep the baseball analogy going, I’m actually comforted by this fact: I’m not in their league. Nor am I expected to be. I’m sure that wonkette was pretty crappy, 15 posts in. The same with waiterrant.com, deadspin, all of them.

Probably the worst thing I could do right now is to try to copy any of them. I need to develop my own style and rythum. Decide what is blog worthy and what is not. Write what I would want to read, first and foremost.

I already know what the hardest part of GuestWomb is going to be: Opening up. I’m a pretty private guy down deep. I keep my — and my family’s — dirty laundry stored as far away from prying eyes as I can. But if I don’t share anything but a sanitized of myself…of us….I’m not being honest. I think I would be doing this blog a disservice by sterilizing everything about our lives.

And then there are some places we’re just not going to go. I was viewing one blog today — it dealt with a related subject matter of surrogacy and infertility. And the author spoke about the mental pressure of dealing with fertility treatments, and how she and her partner decided to get away from it all for a few days. And then she went on to describe in detail her ‘hot tent sex’ in pretty vivid detail.

Dear Reader: There will not be any excerpts about sex, tent-related or otherwise.

What will there be? We’ll see. I only hope Post #115 will be a lot better than Post #15.

On second thought, maybe there is one thing that would be even worse (Worser?): Not writing at all.


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If Michelle’s project is a journey…well so is this blog. I know the blog heroine is going to face the twists, turns, surprises and delights that make an unfamiliar trip so satisfying.

Will GuestWomb take this same interesting route. I hope so. But so far? Well, it’s been way too much like driving Interstate 5 through northern California. Painfully straight for mile after mile. Not nearly enough curves.

Curves and turns, dips and hills — that’s what I call interesting terrain. When people start sifting through these words, they might find it a little flat. So far these first 20 posts are mostly explanations, facts, storylines, and introductions. And while perhaps necessary to give context to the reason we’re all here…..well, this was not my intention at all.

I saw GuestWomb being much more commentary and observations, and less of a calendar or guide. Anyone who’s involved in this crazy surrogacy business could do a journal full of facts, figures and whatever else would fill a DIY Surrogacy site. That’s not for me. GuestWomb is intended to be a place where I share some of the more absurd, wonderous and just plain ass wacky aspects of our new, temporary lives.

Yeah, I’ll cut away from the funny stuff to present some of the more poignant moments that will undoubtably occur over the next nine months. But mostly I want the end product to be Dave Barry meets Maureen Dowd, seasoned liberally with some Ken Burns to taste. My dream would be to leave behind a rich jumble of words, phrases and sentences that will mean something to lot of different people.

People who desperately want to have a child and are searching for answers. Any answers.
Women considering following in Michelle’s footsteps.
Gay couples who feel the unmistakable calling to add to their families.
And maybe — just maybe — people who are interested in a good, rich and slightly bizarre family saga.

We’re only 20 posts into to my first-ever serious writing project in 25 years. I’m still confident that things will begin to lighten up as we get past these necessary first information laden chapters. I’ve been penning this stuff to provide context that’s been for my sense of organization and order.

But I think we’re about finished with that.

Warning: Curves ahead.