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Breakfast with Liz

You may not be looking for a new best friend, but after you read this week’s Breakfast installment you’re going to want one — and you’re going to want her to be Liz Hum. She’s a writer, designer, mother, and the blogger behind My Other Car is a Tardis. Liz is smart, funny, and plain old nice. Plus she’s a FOL. (Friend of Lisa. As in Damian and Guidarini.) Eggs Benedict for everyone! (Just make mine with veggie ham, please.)

CC: Please give us an intro to who you are, what you do, and your family headcount.
My name is Liz Hum and I will be 30 years old next month. I am the proud mama of (so far) two wild and brilliant daughters, ages 4 and 1 1/2, and wife of the best man that could ever have happened to me, my beloved Viking, with his long red beard that stretches nearly to his navel. (I’m married to that too — by now it is practically like having another family member.) I am a writer, photographer, filmmaker, editor, designer, painter…a jack of most arts, really. But, being a stay-at-home mom, I find so often that I am a master of none.

CC: Tell us about your creative endeavors.
: Right now, I have a side business, Lotus Pictures. I put together video slideshows, and documentaries and design books that center around personal tributes. I cut together demo reels and things like that. I also have done design work and invitations for weddings. I belong to the Algonquin Area Writer’s Group, serving as the Membership Coordinator, where I collaborate with the other members, like your own Lisa Damian, to think of new ways to keep our writers motivated and creative. I’m also supposed to be working on a novel and a children’s book, and I am if you consider surfing the net and beating myself up about wasting time “working.”

CC: What prompted you to start a blog? What keeps you going?
I started my blog for two reasons: One, being that I desperately needed to talk to someone. I used to work for a video production company in the city before I had my eldest and I missed talking to the diverse, intelligent, funny, and sometimes plain crazy people that came in and out of the office. They used to joke that I needed my own soapbox-inspired show, because I could often be heard saying, “Let me tell you about that…” to some hapless sap waiting in the reception area. Or to anyone else who happened to be passing time by my desk, be it the FedEx guy or a local celebrity. Reason number two is that I wanted to record some anecdotes of family history for my daughters. Every year, I create a yearbook where I print every blog post from that calendar year and intermingle them with family photos so that one day the girls can look back and laugh. This way, too, if I drop dead, I have shared my stories and my thoughts with my children who will one day be hungry for them. (Not to imply that I am not doing everything I can to prevent myself from dropping dead in the meantime.) Recording our history and having a sense of community with other bloggers keeps me going.

CC: I’ve found women who are most satisfied with their creative lives watch little or no television. You are an unapologetic fan of TV, and also seem to be highly productive. How do you avoid the brain-drain byproducts of TV that sap many tired mothers at the end of a long day?
DVR, my dear Miranda. DVR! This fabulous invention allows you to record shows and watch them at your leisure, sans commercials. It is the only way to fly. No, but seriously, we save our TV viewing until after the tots go to bed. We don’t watch many brain-draining type shows, so Darin and I are always engaged. Most nights we end up laughing about something, discussing plot points or conjuring up wild fan fiction or hilarious crossovers. If one of us is motivated to create, we save our shows for another day or we just say to ourselves, “Meh. I don’t need to watch Real World verses Road Rules, anyway.” If Darin wants to watch a show that I am not interested in, I go to the computer to work on my writing…and surf the net instead and beat myself up about wasting time. THAT is what I have to work on avoiding…getting sucked into the brain-draining BS on the net.

CC: Where do you do your creative work?
I have no personal space. My writing, editing, and book design work is done at our shared computer and my fine arts and crafts are done wherever I can keep them out of prying hands, usually the dining room table or a fold-out banquet table. My only true creative space is in my head.

CC: Do you have a schedule for your creative work?
Schedules: Do you mean those things that I keep making and having to crumple up and toss out the window because the kids aren’t cooperating, my husband got sick, and the laundry won’t wash itself?

CC: How has motherhood changed you creatively?
I had to hone the ability to tune out a lot of noise. Before I had kids, I would crank up my stereo and dance around my apartment in my underwear while painting. I had long silent spaces to think coherent thoughts and write them down. Now, it’s like being constantly under assault, with the yapping and the squealing and the toys being thrown over the gate we have erected around the perimeter of the computer desk. I think in fragments and rarely have the time to write them down. So I put on my “tune out” helmet and now find I can Zen-out amidst chaos…most of the time.

CC: What do you struggle with most?
Guilt. The guilt of not creating when I try to be a mom. The guilt of not being a mom when I’m trying to create. The guilt of feeling like a crappy artist when I try to rush through a creative project just to get it done. Not to mention the guilt I feel for not being able to be all things at once. Marketing makes it look easy to “have it all,” doesn’t it? We can wear our babies to the coffee shop after yoga class where we can bang out another chapter on our novel, take them to the park, whip up an optimally nutritious meal, teach our children some brilliant skill or new language and then have them delightfully fingerpaint on the floor next to us as we finish our own masterpiece? Did I mention we’re supposed to be cool and stylish at all times as well? I’m in awe of creative moms who can crochet a sweater while breastfeeding or create their crafts while rattling off their kid’s math problems, but I don’t know if I have fully forgiven myself for not being one of them.

CC: Where do you find inspiration?
: When I see women older than me actively involved in life. Anytime I see a mom with kids say she just finished her novel, or went back to school. It reminds me to slow down and take the toddler years slowly. Creative life is not over after kids. It just takes a backseat for awhile.

CC: What are your top 5 favorite blogs?
Most of the blogs I keep up with are personal blogs of family and friends. I always check the Algonquin Area Writer’s Group, Damian Daily, (thanks again for the nod, hon!), and Bluestalking Reader (the latter two are Creative Construction participants and members and heads of the AAWG). For a laugh, and a little guilty pleasure, I check out What Would Tyler Durden Do too — he makes fun of celebrities. True or not — who cares. It’s often hilarious.

CC: What is your greatest indulgence?
I always (by always, I mean once a week) buy a few bottles of 2-buck Chuck Shiraz and a chocolate truffle bar at Trader Joe’s.

CC: What are you reading right now?
I am reading Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert to offset the emotional damage I sustained while reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. My book club’s November selection is The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.

CC: What advice would you offer to other mothers struggling to find the time and means to be more creative?
Give yourself a break. When you find you have free time, go for it! But you know what? If you don’t, don’t sweat it — you will. If you live in the present instead of fretting about all the projects and dinners you’re trying to juggle, you’ll start enjoying your time with your kids more and you’ll be able to recognize and utilize your pockets of free time. Sometimes you have to put your art on the back burner and take care of your kids while they need you. Baby & Toddlerhood is a temporary condition, mommas, remember that. They’ll all be in school soon, right? And we’ll have a few hours every day in which to get to know ourselves again. Eyes on the prize, ladies…eyes on the prize.

CC: Wonderful advice, Liz. Thank you.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. very nice to meet ya, liz! you have a great outlook on life. i enjoyed reading the obit you wrote on your father on your blog and i think he said it right! “never stop playing the game you love”. i’m very sorry for your recent loss.

    October 24, 2008
  2. cathy #

    hi liz, my name is cathy, can we be friends? lol! miranda is right in her intro.

    i agree with kelly, you seem to have great perspective, i especially like your approach to schedules.

    good luck reading satanic verses. i had an original hardcover british edition for about 15yrs which acted more often as a door stop or step stool than a book to read. somehow it disappeared in one of my many moves or rare bookshelf clearings. sometimes i go looking for it, like i’ll tackle that now, but i’m usually more grateful than not when i don’t find it.

    October 24, 2008
  3. Liz #

    Hi Ladies! You can never have too many friends! Lovely to meet you both.

    Kelly – he is my Grandpa, not my Dad (phew! that would have been A LOT tougher.) Thank you for your words.

    Cathy – I have to be honest. I am NOT getting through the Satanic Verses. There is no way it is happening, esp. with NaNo coming up and it’s due back at the library on Thursday! It’s not a bad book so far, just a very verbose book – like an excited Indian guy going on and on about everything and talking your ear off. That’s how I feel about it. Oh well, thank god for Wikipedia, right? ha ha!

    October 24, 2008
  4. cathy #

    doorstop! and if you’re short like me? stepstool.

    October 24, 2008
  5. Liz, you are a great friend, a creative inspiration, and one hot amazing Mama! I am so honored to call you my friend. You have saved me from boredom and complacency in the suburbs.

    And ladies in the greater Chicago area who would like to get to know Liz and her work better, she is the guest speaker for our next Algonquin Area Writers’ Group workshop in November. Everyone is welcome!

    I can totally relate to the guilt you mentioned, although I think that it’s something we should strive to and deserve to overcome. We can be good Moms, creative spirits, and role models to our kids at the same time.

    October 26, 2008

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