Today is a big day in America: Inauguration Day. It marks the changing of the guard in our country, and therefore I will be following suit here on my blog. At 12:00 ET, Old Single Mom will be renamed with a moniker much, much closer to my present truth.
This is a bittersweet moment for me. For you see, I didn’t really make up Old Single Mom: she chose me.
It was the spring of 2013. A long term relationship had recently ended, one that had been dragged around until its skin fell off and was no longer recognizable to either of us. My longtime dream of relocating to LA and pursuing a career writing for TV/film came crashing down, for I suddenly had an “anchor ex.” I wasn’t leaving my kid's side. He wasn’t leaving his pension-eligible job. A move was no longer an option for me: westward no!
(Too bad, really, seeing as I had been accepted into a Masters program for screenwriting. Womp womp. But don't shed any tears. Turns out I wasn't a great screenwriter. Also womp womp )
I decided to turn bitter lemons into bitter lemonade (Is there any other kind?). I would use my time in school to explore my "voice." My MFA program was like a $60,000 wedding: writing and me - 'til death do us part. I would focus on becoming the best writer I could be, regardless of the descriptor on the diploma. I'd play the long game, and just keep writing until I found my place in that world.
About that time I was given the opportunity to participate in Write Club - a friendly pen-to-pen duel here in Chicago. I gave it a good run that night but lost the battle of the words. When Write Club Overlord Ian Belknap put the microphone up to my face and asked me who I was and where people could find me, I blurted out “I’m Old Single Mom.”
Whoa. Where did that even come from?
Who knew? Who cared? It made sense. It was a self-deprecating, ironic jab at my circumstances du jour. And since my dream of the SoCal trek had been dashed, I needed to start where I was - as a part-time single mom in the big city.
I rushed home and quickly created a Facebook page to legitimize the christening that had been delivered at The Hideout that night, though I had no idea what to do with those three words until a couple of weeks later.
I decided to write a blog. I did some research and discovered ChicagoNow, a well-established blog platform for Chicago-based writers that has ties to the Chicago Tribune. Perfect. Sign me up!
(Here’s where it gets all weird and serendipitous and shit.)
It just so happened that on the stage and in the crowd that fateful night at Write Club were I got a Dumpster Family! and Mary Tyler Mom, two other writers in the tribe here at ChicagoNow. I would soon call them friends.
I had been led to the mother ship by the Powers that Be. Old Single Mom the blog was born.
Even so, there were some problems with the new name. For starters, many, many grammatically-challenged men assumed “Old Single Mom” was the name of a dating service for middle aged women.
“You aren’t even old,” people would say, and I would respond: “But someday I will be, so it's ironic before it's true." Then I would fake laugh: "ha ha..."
And honestly I never truly identified as a "mommy blogger." There were others out there who were handling that genre with style and panache. That already over-crowded field didn’t need me, and I felt a bit disingenuous being there. I wanted my Mom-ing and my writing to have separate lives. Marrying the two would only ruin the relationship.
And then in January of 2016, a Nikon D3300 walked into my life. #gamechanger
I’ve often spoken of/remarked upon/complained about/bemoaned my impressive strain of ADD. If I’m not careful, my stream-of-consciousness ramblings can lose their charm pretty quickly, both in conversation and on the page.
Wait, what were we talking about?
Wait, where did this paragraph come from? Have we met that character before?
It’s not clear what you are trying to say, here. I’m not following...
With the help of my new camera, I began to combine images and text and it rocked my world. If my thoughts were wild sheep, the camera became a sheepdog. Pictures began to do some of the heavy lifting for that no-good monkey in my brain. They created boundaries that were easy to see in the dark. If I lost my way on the keyboard, all I had to do was stop and re-focus on the photograph. The image acted as an earbud: the lyrics to the background music set at the perfect volume.
Could I do a photo essay a day? Turns out that I can. I did. I do. On Instagram. But should I follow suit on OSM?
I started posting the galleries here on Mondays, but there was a disconnect. Old Single Mom was more of an “Urban Bombeck” kind of gal. (Hey, that would have been a pretty cool blog name. Too late) She ranted and observed. She didn’t take pictures.
Then the 2016 election happened and I snapped.
And then I snapped some more.
And I kept snapping.
And I have no plans to stop snapping. This Saturday I’m even taking my camera to Washington DC to snap some shots at the Women’s March.
I love it. Photo essays are my jam.
So now I want to bring my new format here to ChicagoNow. I want to post a teeny-tiny photo essay here every day, Monday - Friday, under my new blog name:
When Jenn-Anne Snaps.
(If you are subscribed to Old Single Mom, no worries. You will still receive emails from me per usual.)
So it’s time to say adieu to OSM... for now? For good? Forever? We'll see. It makes me sad to see her go - it's like saying good-bye to an old car that has served you well but seems dated, worn, and a little inefficient. (Good news, everyone! Unintentionally Fascist Pam has agreed to come with me to When Jenn-Anne Snaps)
If you found me though an essay, there will still be essays. If you found me through my pictures, you’re in luck!
And if you are just finding me - welcome and thank you. I always appreciate when anyone takes the time to read my silly words. It truly means the world to me. Carry on.
OSM/When Jenn-Anne Snaps