Friday, January 23, 2009


I'm troubled tonight. It's come to my attention that -- surprise -- I've offended some people in my community with my blog posts. Namely, this one. Evidently, some people think that my leaving the Catholic school and then posting the reasons why was mean-spirited. Go ahead and read the post yourself and please, tell me if it seems offensive. Or mean-spirited.

I'm an irreverent person at times and often sharp-tongued. Opinionated and strong and stubborn. I get into trouble with my mouth and then have to backpedal in apology. But I don't feel apologetic about this one -- the larger picture is the blog universe in general. What's it for? How to express a story, inspire others, provide support, feel connected to something larger than oneself and create a world that others can read in a language that is sometimes off the cuff and other times carefully crafted.

It's tempting to want to withdraw into a cave (remember this?)

I guess the main problem is that I live in Los Angeles but in a teeny-tiny area that is really like Mayberry. It's close, here, for better and worse. There are people who live to gossip and there are people who think they know just about everything. Who are righteous and small-minded. But like all small communities there are also warm and generous people who would give you the shirts off their backs. It's an extraordinary place in many ways and I'm grateful for the community, given that I live far from my own home and family.

My writing teacher and mentor has told her classes that it's always a mistake to let family read your writing before it's "official." I'm starting to wonder whether this might be true of blogging. And your community.


  1. I thought your post on Catholic schools was pretty objective, although I know family issues and tensions can often run high. Sometimes family will read something into a post (because they know you) that really isn't there for other readers.

    Strangely enough, my own family (huge, 19 cousins, several siblings, lots of aunts & uncles) does not read my blog. I share my poetry with them occasionally, but they tend to feel this is my world & I'm writing from a different perspective. That is, they tend to just say, hey, we all have different interests. Best of luck in healing the rifts.

  2. I remember that post. I totally understood what you were talking about. You could have been talking about any school at all (Montessori, private, or public etc.) I felt that your main focus was your kids and what they needed.

    I hope these misunderstandings get straightened out ....

  3. I, too, remember that post. What I got from it is that you love your kids and you want them to have a good, well-rounded education but that you also want them to be happy. People who want to waste their time and energy finding fault with you ought to find a healthier way to channel their energy. Or maybe just quit reading your blog.

  4. I went back and read the post - I thought it was wonderful. You didn't like the situation your children were in, and instead of shrugging your shoulders and saying, "well, I guess that's the best," you acted.

    I applaud you.

    Private school is not for everyone. Giving you attitude because you made a different decision may mean they don't feel comfortable in their own.

    There's a reason I don't tell many people about my blog - I LOVE your mentor's advice. I think I'm going to have that tatooed somewhere, because it is one huge reason for why I'm scared of writing fiction. "What if they read a character and think it's them!?"

    Ugh. I'm so sorry for the grief.

  5. Totally objective, third party observer and Catholic (for what it's worth!), I found nothing in your post offensive.

    All of us all over blogdom detail what choices we make in life and why we make them, and I didn't think this was handled in any way but matter-of-fact. Plus cute -- with all those pictures of the kids!!

    Sorry you're feeling backlash from your community on this. Sounds like your decision has been hard on them.

  6. As someone who is part of the community you left, I was not the least bit offended!! It gave me food for thought, then once I'd chewed on it for a while, allowed me to reaffirm that we're in the right place...for us. My guess is that at least some of the people who are offended are battling a few doubts and questions themselves, and aren't brave enough to do anything about it, or even admit it. Or maybe they just miss you. :o)

    I didn't think it was mean-spirited at all - it was honest and specific.

  7. Elizabeth, I've read your post on the Catholic school, then reread it in case I missed something. I didn't think it mean-spirited. You had some legitimate objections to the school and you spelled them out. But it wasn't a blanket condemnation of the school--just an explanation of why you removed your sons from it. You didn't even name the school. And yours is not a neighborhood blog. Many, if not most of your readers are not even Angelenos. I identified with it because my family had faced similar issues when we lived in the Chicago area.

    I don't think an apology is in order.

  8. What Julia said. :) (For what that's worth, coming from me, since I'm on the other side of the continent and this is my first visit to your blog!) LOL.

    I have to say though, it's so heart-warming and thrilling to hear that the shift was such a positive change for your boys. I trained to be a teacher, and I homeschool, and I simply LOVE to hear about positive learning experiences. They are inspiring.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Welcome!

  9. as someone who is part of the charter school community you joined, i am glad you are here. we left our fancy, expensive private school the same time you left the catholic school, for very similar reasons. some of my friends in my former community are offended that we left as well. but once we stopped drinking the cool-aide and realized what was best for our youngest daughter, we have never looked back. she is so happy and thinks school is fun again. our oldest is in high school now, and loves it, but wishes she had gone to lcs instead of the fancy pressure cooker.



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