It all started with an article published in January of 2011 about a children’s art show at the local community center. My co-writer Katherine Shirer’s son had his art photographed in the article, and so the article was emailed to all Katherine's friends and family. And that was how I first ever heard about Dunedin Patch and Patch.com.
I want to write for Patch.com, I thought, filled with jealousy at some lady named Katie Dolac who was getting her work published there. A week later Katherine suggested we propose to this very same Katie Dolac — no, not marriage — but a parenting column called Pen Name Jane.
And so marks the one-year anniversary of the very existence of Pen Name Jane. To celebrate, we are getting a little nostalgic.
We picked my piece to run first. Katherine came up with the title, and I think that’s what made it so good: Honestly I never expected my husband to ever read my writing, so I didn’t worry about telling everyone that he’s in a physically abusive relationship:
During one heated argument with my husband, I tried walking out, but took my son with me. It took me 20 minutes to leave … wrestling a few clothes on (my son), carrying him out to the car and buckling him in the car seat. Then I had to quickly run back into the house to throw a plastic baby pool at my husband's head.
In Katherine’s first, she took us through the confusing loss of an ectopic pregnancy. She had an outpouring of personal emails from women who had similar experiences thanking her for writing the article:
I wanted to say to her mother, “Don’t you wish you could … capture some of that open heart of hers in a little bottle and cork it up real tight, so that you could give it to her later? … She could breathe in the air from the place of long ago … and her heart would open again just a little bit, and she would hear the singing from her soul?”
Even though I thought the title was so boring, in my second article, , I revealed the first rule to good parenting:
All good behavior exhibited by your child is due to your brilliant and suave parenting skills, and all negative behavior is a direct result of your child’s genetic makeup (from your in-laws) and therefore cannot be changed by any means.
In Katherine’s second article, she explains about choosing to have her second child at home:
The baby emerged into my hands and then my husband’s. We lifted her and gazed at her little body. She was beautiful and quiet and peaceful. The three of us, there on the ground on our knees, amazed over this new life. I looked back and forth into their faces, feeling the joy and energy of the moment swirling amongst us, as if we were the only people in the world.
OK, I got better at writing titles, with: and and the latter one went a little viral (A little is defined as: three nonlocal polygamists read it) and although I was just trying to be funny, you can still find it on a couple pro-polygamy websites.
In her next pieces Katherine implores Tina Fey to put the realities of mothers with young kids onto television in and wonders how we teach our daughter to value themselves for more than just looks in And she gets us motivated about putting more women in politics in: . This last article was spread by women from the 2012 Project and got great feedback.
And my poor husband? Well, he still is the brunt of most of my articles, but seriously some of this stuff is too good to not publish:
One time I asked my husband (since he was up and I was in the middle of dinner) if he would put the sheets in the dryer. “Sure,” he says. Then he stood, staring at the washer and dryer, sort of pushing things around on the shelf above them. “I don’t see any sheets,” he finally said.
Katherine and I hope we can continue to make you think and make you laugh for a long, long time to come, and we would like to say thank you to each and every person who has read our articles, commented on them and shared them. We also thank all the Patch editors who support us and Jason Bartolone for editing us every week.
Tell us in the comments what your favorite articles were or what you would like to see a column on.
Chris Sansbury and Katherine Shirer
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