Take a Hike – Acts of Resistance in a So-Called “Increasingly Violent” World

There is still peace in the world, but it's not on your iphone.


Is it possible to mourn a tragedy, fight for gun control and mental health access, and manage our own fears and terror without concluding the world is a dangerous place and passing that fear on to our kids?  Yes.  And as parents, we have no choice.  We have to find that balance.  Otherwise, we are the ones creating that terrible, dangerous world.  Our kids are looking to us to understand what is dangerous and what isn’t, and to teach them to determine when to take risks and when to be cautious.  If we teach them that the world is full of evil people seeking to harm them, we are not only giving them false information, we are robbing them of a full life.

A horrific, unfathomable tragedy occurred in Newtown, Connecticut this month.  For me, when those children go through my mind, they all have the faces of my precious twins.   My maternal instinct tells me to lock the doors, close the shades, batten down the hatches, and teach my children to be afraid.  That is the world we live in, right?  Don’t talk to strangers, stay inside, don’t touch that, you can’t go in there, you never know, use hand sanitizer, abstinence only, better safe than sorry.

I can’t say how frequently I hear parents musing longingly about how they used to play outside all day from morning until night, left to their own devices to manage relationships with other kids, explore, solve problems, and make their own fun without parental supervision.  When I hear these things I’m always puzzled.  If these parents know how good this was for them, why don’t they let their children do the same?  But before I can even respond, I hear the inevitable, “But this is a different world… you just can’t do that anymore.”   Where did we get this idea, and who is benefitting from it?  Certainly not our kids.

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Facebook Fail – Outed by Mark Zuckerberg and The Huffington Post

I learned some lessons this week about blogging “anonymously” while “technologically challenged.”  A few weeks ago, I asked the few friends who actually know about Undercover in the Suburbs to “like” a post of mine that appeared on RoleReboot.org.  I foolishly did not realize this would appear in their news feeds.  I found out this week that my friend’s colleague, mother-in-law, and husband all read my post after Facebook announced she had read it.  The first two don’t know me, but of course her husband put two and two together and found my blog.  Outed.  Fail.

The next day, I was checking traffic to my blog and noticed a very pronounced spike.  When I checked to see how all these people were finding my site, I saw the words Huffington Post in several of the referring links.  My heart stopped and raced all at once.  Could it be?  I clicked on the link, and there was my article!!  I was thrilled and horrified all at once.  MY article on HuffPo!  Ah, but did it have to be my article questioning compulsory monogamy, and on the “weddings” page no less?  As I read through the comments I felt ill.  I came home from work that night in quite a state.  “Are all these people right about me?” I questioned Seth.  The comments triggered my deepest fears that my writing and self-exploration is a selfish pursuit that’s going to harm my family.  After reading through the comments, Seth assured me I was only attending to the most negative comments and that most of them were perfectly benign.  Still, I had had no preparation for exposure to such a mixed audience.  I was used to respectful debate, not personal attack.

“This woman is a certifiable loon.”

 “This post is a break in the emotional intimacy of your marriage.”

 “This article is me, me, me…”

 “She needs a shrink, oh I forgot, she is one… I guess I would not go to her for help.”

 “She might need a whole gaggle of shrinks to fix what’s broke.”

 “No mention of the husband of kids, they are collateral damage to her mental weakness it seems.”

 “Sounds like she wants some beaver on the side, and Seth isn’t going for it.”  (Have to give this one credit for being humorous, albeit offensively so)

 “Maybe it’s just me, but this lady seems selfish and immature.”

One of the things therapists often helps folks with is distinguishing between thought and behavior.  It may seem obvious, but at times the two can become quite entangled.  There is a difference between questioning the societal norms that lead people to marriage and monogamy, and actually straying from your marriage (assuming monogamy is the agreement between you and your partner).  I guess using myself as an example in the post runs the risk of eliciting reactions to me as a person.  Of course, if you take the post literally and not as a personal essay questioning a societal script, you would be concerned about my husband and children.  However, I also have to ask myself how much of the reactions relate back to the expectation that women/mothers be focused on their families and completely satisfied with that focus.  My husband and children are my #1 priority, but they are not my only priority, and I believe as a woman I should be able to write many articles which don’t consider their perspective at all.

Later this week I received an ominous email from a friend.  It was innocuous enough, asking if we needed him to babysit on a certain day – except – it referred to me as “Lyla.”  Not knowing where he had seen this, or who else knew, I panicked.  I wrote back demanding he reveal the source of the leak.  This time The Huffington Post and Facebook had conspired to out me.  I had simply loaded the (Huffington Post page) where my piece was published.  Later, I saw reported in my Facebook news feed that I had read it.  I deleted that from my feed, but it was too late.  There was a hole in the dyke (no pun intended).  I simply clicked on a page, and I was outed.  I feel like Facebook knows where I am and what I’m doing at all times.  If I don’t tell them someone else does.  Damn you Zuckerberg!  He knows and sees all, and reports on it to random high school classmates, my very Catholic, republican cousins, my mother’s friends, my ex co-workers, my DAD.  Who else saw that post on my news feed and found my blog?  Dad, are you there?  I’ll never know.  My brother says I gave HuffPo permission to post that on my news feed.  When?  How?   I feel like I’m going to look at my news feed one of these days and see “Lyla Cicero masturbated.  9:30 a.m.”  Jeez!

Okay reader, I know what you’re thinking.  First of all, ‘seriously, you don’t know these things can end up in your news feed?’  And secondly, ‘you have broadcast your personal thoughts all over the internet, and you expect no one to find out?’  The truth is I am quite conflicted about being open about many of the things I talk about here.  On the one hand, I’m thrilled and amazed that people want to publish my writing, and that people resonate with the topics and can relate to my experiences.  On the other hand, I’m feeling like what started as a pin prick could turn into a gushing wound with no way to stop the bleeding.

What’s done on the internet is done.  Just by publishing that piece suggesting people consider polyamory before marriage could create limitations for me in the future.  One need not look far to see the ways in which prior statements and opinions can impact folks later in life.  And then there are my conflicts about coming out.  Here I am writing about how invisible and unseen I feel, and yet, the idea of friends and family finding out scares me.  I mean anyone could be reading this right now, even my great aunt the nun.  She already picks fights with me about gay marriage.

So as all this was happening I realized I need to thicken my skin.  I need to be able to stand behind what I’m doing and practice what I preach.  And besides, if I’m putting all this stuff out there I must want people to know.  I do want to be seen.  Making an anonymous blog and trying to get posts published elsewhere is like leaving my journal out and then being mad that my parents found it even though I secretly wanted them to.  I have to ask myself, isn’t there a part of me that wants to not be “undercover.”  Then I can just know once and for all what the reactions will be.  If folks will be disgusted by the things I think about, the way I identify, and think I’m a horrible wife and mother, so be it.  And who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised at how many are accepting.  After all, Zuckerberg, some of the people in my life know me a little better this week due to your not-so-subtle attempts at world domination.

Besides, I have already encountered some amazing people through blogging who are enriching my life, in some cases in person, and in others from thousands of miles away.

Just a small sample:

Fellow twin mom Deborah Siegal writes “Note to Self:  Must Meet Lyla Cicero one of these days,” and links to my post on her blog.

Made-in-Italy writes on Tumblr in a post about “coming out as a feminist mamma” stating, “Lyla Cicero, who blogs at Undercover in the Suburbs, has nailed how I feel as a feminist mother living in Italy in this post at Offbeat Mama.”  She goes on to quote my article, ending her post with “I’m with you sister!”

Another reader writes in an email “I feel like you give voice to many of my thoughts and feelings in very articulate, mindful ways (and this from a man).”

Kate the Great writes on offbeat mama, “I could have written this myself.  But now I don’t have to, because you said it so well.  Thank-you.”

Being undercover is risky, but for now, it is worth-it.

Copyright 2012 undercoverinthesuburbs.com, All Rights Reserved.



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Why Should You Care? Confessions of an Anti-Blogger…

Okay, full disclosure time.  In addition to being technologically challenged and still grappling with concepts such as the internet (but what IS it exactly?), I used to think blogging was really kind of self-indulgent.  It seemed everybody had a blog, could we all really be that interesting?

I still find myself perplexed by the post-modern predicament in which we are all able to access each other infinitely.  With reality television and social networking and youtube and twitter (#whatevertheheckthatis,) and the like, we find ourselves spewing everything from the most inane to the most intimate aspects of or lives, communicating endlessly and to the point where communication loses all meaning.

I find myself wishing to God that I did not have to know that you went for a run this morning with your dog, that you have an ingrown toenail, and that you’re thinking about trying a new recipe tonight, a link to which I’m also subjected to.  And yet I find myself checking and checking and reading and waiting for that one critical post that I just wouldn’t be able to stand missing.

And just because that’s what I do, I take such experiences to their logical conclusions in my mind.  I envision a world in which we will all be utterly and irrevocably interconnected and my brain will simply broadcast into yours and yours into mine until at some point I won’t know if, in fact, I’m the one with the ingrown toenail.

It’s hard enough figuring out who the heck I am without experiencing this techno mind-meld with the rest of humanity!  And yet, here I sit writing a blog, after asking myself so many times why you should care. How many of us really are that interesting that we have something worthy of being read or shown on tv or listened to, etc.?

When I was in college (there’ll be lots of these) I spent a lot of time walking, by myself.  I didn’t have a car, so I wandered around and often found myself pondering the fact that no one knew where I was.  Of course I’d see this person here or that person there, but there was no one to witness the big picture.

I was in that vacuum of known-ness -between parental supervision and partner-hood, where hours, even days can pass and no one will wonder about you.  I understand the desire to be “followed,” through a blog, on twitter, anywhere.  To have a witness.  As Ani DiFranco put it, “What if no one’s watching?”

We all want to know someone’s watching… and the truth is, I’m no different.

So why should you care?  The sad fact is you probably shouldn’t.  What do I have to offer you?  A willingness to say what others won’t or wouldn’t think to, a depth you may be craving, a snarky sense of humor, a perspective on the world that’s a little different?

I guess I could hope that perhaps my words will help someone.  That you will read this blog and feel understood and somehow your life will be better.  But, truth be told, I think that’s unlikely.  I think one could argue all writing is a selfish enterprise, all art, for that matter.

So for now, I’m going to allow myself that indulgence.  So maybe this whole blogosphere thing is really about quid pro quo.  I need a witness, you need a witness, so we’re not all just wandering around for days and years with no one really seeing us.

Copyright 2011-2012 undercoverinthesuburbs.com. All Rights Reserved.


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