in which i have a new blog layout (but not a new name)

The conversations goes like this:

Some random person at a cocktail party: Great name for a blog, Manhattanmamma.

Me, trying to be patient: No.  It’s Mannahatta, not Manhattan.

Random stranger, uncomprehending: Um…yeah. ‘Scuse me, I need to [get a drink, pee, leave this conversation].

No one hears that funny little “a” in my blog title. And probably, if someone hadn’t grabbed manhattanmamma as a domain name before I got around to it, that would be the name of this blog.

When I started this blog, back in the dark days of 2008, just after the Republican National Convention unleashed Sarah Palin on the world, I wanted a name that would be “New Yorky” but not too cute.

Husband, bless his English professor’s soul, reminded me about Walt Whitman, and there it was: “Mannahatta:”

“I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city, whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name!/Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane, unruly, musical, self-sufficient; I see that the word of my city is that word up there.”

Those are the opening lines of Whitman’s poem. I loved that his description from the mid-nineteenth century seemed still appropriate to my 21st-century city: contradictory, beautiful, specific unto itself.  Plus I figured that “professor” is one of the many hats I wear, in addition to writer, wife, mother, sister, practitioner of wobbly yoga, and so forth–so it seemed like a nice touch to have a “literary” touch, even though I had no plans to use this blog to write about anything “academic.”

Fast forward four years and lo! here I am living on another island, a half-world away: “numberless crowded streets…tides swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown…the summer air, the bright sun shining…the city of hurried and sparkling waters, the city of spires and masts…”  These lines are also about Mannahatta, but they could also describe Abu Dhabi, surrounded by water, filled with the spires of mosques and the masts of ships in the port.

In four years of writing, I’ve stayed as non-commercial as ol’Walt himeself: once I made fifty bucks for writing about cereal, and once I got a kitchen ninja blender-thing as a promo. But that’s it.  I suppose you could say that I’ve stayed true to the real roots of interwebs and am writing just for the love of writing.

Or you could say that I’m an utter ninny who needs to figure out the difference between page views and page visits, become fluent in SEO-speak, and just generally get my blogging shit together.  When this blog was reviewed by blog-bash in January, the fabulous Alexis-and-Erica said as much (although they were very nice about it) – and they wanted me to change the blog name because they said it was hard to remember.

They’re right…but I resisted. What you’re seeing here, however, is the me getting smart enough to hire the yeahwrite team of Erica-and-Jeffrey (Erica also wears lots & lots of hats). They developed this beautiful header, which combines the NYC skyline and Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque; designed the new layout; and answered my endless questions, without ever once saying “good lord woman how long have you been blogging and you don’t know THAT?”  Please, dear reader, take special note of the lovely buttons on the nav bar (that’s computer-designer-speak for the thing across the top of the page that has buttons that link to different categories); the nifty box at the bottom of the page with links to different posts; and my newly updated Amazon book box!  Those were all aspects of the re-design that took lots of back-and-forth tweaking and tinkering.

Working with Erica and Jeffrey has been a great experience–and this redesign is beautiful solely as a result of their hard work and patience.  Thanks, guys–and now you can take down the dart board that has this blog site’s picture as the bulls-eye.

In Abu Dhabi today, it’s Sunday, the beginning of the work week. In other parts of the world, it’s Passover and Easter Sunday–would it be wrong to say something here about the “rebirth” of my blog?

Yeah. That would probably be in rather poor taste.

Fine then. I’ll just make introductions: blog page, please meet my readers.  Readers, please meet my redesigned blog page. Click around and see what’s here – perhaps consider “liking” this page on Facebook or subscribing to the RSS feed. Then you won’t have to remember that pesky extra “a.”

Whitman and I would both be grateful.