This is A Measure of Success with Jenny Isenman. Jenny is a humorist, writer, Generation X expert, wife, and mother. She writes for The Huffington Post and iVillage, but is better known for her charming and hilarious personal blog, Jenny from the Blog at TheSuburbanJungle.com. As a blogger, Jenny manages to maintain a sharp sense of humor that people adore. With Jenny Isenman, there is a never a dull moment. In this interview, she shares advice on motherhood, life as a successful blogger, and best of all, she reminds us of how important it is to find the humor in every facet of our lives.
IGM: How long have you been blogging for? What propelled you to start a blog—is there a good story there?
Jenny: I’ve been blogging since 2008, but I’ve been journaling humorous stories since middle school, which was like 2002. I started the blog after joining Facebook and realizing I had a ton of people, many of whom I barely remember, that I could guilt into reading my stuff.
IGM: Are you a full-time blogger (in other words, would you consider blogging your career)? How did you get to that point?
Jenny: I’m full time in that I spend as much time on the blog as I would on a better paying job. To get here, I whored myself out to a lot of blogs, for little or no pay, while trying to make a name for myself. Now, it’s those people who do what I did that make it really hard for me to get paid. I guess we all go through that time when we’re not sure of what we deserve.
I just wish I whored myself out for better things, like a Chanel bag or Louboutin stilettos. If peeps from Chanel or Louboutin are reading this, just know, I would NEVER do that now, but call me so I can tell you how much I mean those words! Seriously, call me!
IGM: Most people would consider you a mommy blogger, but you are more satirical and humorous that most. Do you like the label ‘mommy blogger’? What type of blogger do you consider yourself to be?
Jenny: I prefer, “Brilliant writer who influences cool moms by writing about her kids, lack of sex with her hubby, and her cellulite,” but, admittedly, that’s a long title.
IGM: Most of your blogs are very humorous. Have you always been funny? Do you find that it is difficult to portray humor through words?
Jenny: I’m not sure, though my mom tells a story about how I was doing Priest/Rabbi jokes in the hospital nursery. Frankly, I find that hard to believe. I rarely use religious humor.
I like to write how I would speak. To be honest, I think sometimes it comes out funnier when written. I don’t have the chance to “ummm” or stutter when typing, unless it’s for effect or I’m having a muscle spasm.
IGM: What is your writing process like? Do you edit and re-write or usually just publish your first draft? Is there a specific time of day/place that you like to write?
Jenny: For you to ask if I simply publish my first draft, I fear that you’ve read my work and I’m clearly slacking! I edit and re-edit. Then I get lazy, and tell my husband that I’ve been editing all day, but not to forget that I have a rare grammar disorder and would he please understand that it unfortunately can’t be medicated, therefore, the least he can do is edit my stuff for me… without pointing out spelling errors and run on sentences (like this one), as I also have a fragile ego disorder. Yep, no meds for that either. “Now, please correct my work without judgment and tell me this article doesn’t make my butt look fat!”
I write best in my office, AKA the Starbucks at a nearby strip mall. I buy a coffee at 9am and then I squat at a table for the next 4 to 5 hours. People love that.
Before the strip mall, I used to go to a strippers mall, but the sound of Velcro was distracting.
IGM: Where do you get the inspiration for your blog? What blogs do you follow?
Jenny: I’m inspired by EVERYTHING. The women in the carpool lane, who stop and talk to the teachers while the line of 500 cars stagnates behind them. The wives who say hi to their husbands before their children, WTF? The parents who yell at the coaches for not putting their unathletic kids at center, or shortstop, or quarterback.
IGM: I love the e-cards and the graphics that you use on your blog. Where do you get those?
Jenny: Anyone can make their own. I go to Someecards.com and do “create your own.” They’re the one liners I think of while driving, showering, peeing and listening to people talk about their kids to the point of utter boredom.
IGM: How do you find the balance between being a mother, a wife, and blogging?
Jenny: I LOVE being a mother, first and foremost. I think that’s why people relate to the blog. It’s real. I write about experiencing mommyhood, marriage, aging etc because I’m experiencing it to the fullest. Also, I’m driven by guilt and self loathing, which helps.
IGM: You recently wrote a humorous blog post on turning 40. If you could go back in time and tell something to your 20-year-old self, what would it be?
Jenny: Find a programmer and invent a thing called Facebook. Also, have a few one night stands, you won’t get to when you’re older. It’s frowned upon.
IGM: Any motherhood advice that you can share? Any advice for mothers that want to start a blog? What should they avoid doing at all costs?
Jenny: Play when your kids want to play because eventually they’ll go to middle school and may not want to play with you anymore… and then they may not want you to lie with them at night… and then they may not want you to hug them in public… and then you may actually be an embarrassment to them… and then all you’ll have is your happy memories of playing, which will ultimately make you sad — until they’re old enough to like you again. Then hopefully, they’ll remember all the fun times they had with you growing up, and maybe they’ll choose to go to your house for Thanksgiving instead of their spouse’s parents!
-Couples who want to swing. That never works out.
-Moms who drink during 3 o’clock play-dates – that’s a sign of serious issues that you will most definitely end up getting an earful of.
-Moms who run things like the PTA or yearbook, because they will always want more from you than you’d like to give… and they will guilt you into doing it. Unless, you prove you’re totally unreliable from the onset of your friendship, and then they’re fine.
If you want to start a blog, just go for it. Don’t put it off until you have the perfect story, the perfect timing, the perfect site design. Frankly, no one likes to see perfection – it makes them feel worse about themselves.