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QUICKIE Q&A: KAREN SOMMERFELD (aka JUNE GARDENS) ON HER BLOG BYE BYE, PIE!

June Gardens

Oh, no. Bye Bye, Pie! is going buh-bye.

In the past, I wasn’t much of a blog reader. I drifted in the internet tide, momentarily attaching myself to a social media site then floating wherever Google took me. One day my friend Kit Rodenbough told me about Bye Bye, Pie! “It’s written by a woman in Greensboro,” she said. (North Carolina, where I reside.) “Her blog name is June Gardens, but everything is true and she puts her photo up, so it isn't like she's pretending to be someone else. She has millions of readers and often gets over a hundred comments a day. I’m hooked.”

Millions? And over a hundred comments a day? I only received 80 when an essay I wrote was on the freakin’ home page of AOL. (Would it be tacky to link to it here? ... let me think about that.)

I checked out Bye Bye, Pie! and was quickly hooked, too. I know! (You have to read it to get I know!). True, someone sharing the nuances and crises of their life is not unusual in this wacky privacy-free world, but someone who does it with such rhythmic skill, wit, and charm 365 times a year (and she's gifted in petspeak) is rare. Recently voted best blogger in the Triad by Yes! Weekly, her fans spread far beyond central North Carolina. One reader sent her a first class plane ticket to Hawaii. Others showed up at the Atlanta airport to meet her friend Hulk who was stuck on a layover. That is huge fandom.

I can see it now, a publicist telling The View talent booker:  “She’s like a classier, smarter Chelsea Handler, which means she’s the new David Sedaris.”

Wait. Not so fast. May 31, 2012, she says, will be her last blog.

June Gardens/Karen Sommerfeld kindly answered my Q&A before this announcement and we've talked about it since. She's already missing not writing her blog. But she missed her husband too (sometimes) after he moved out and they still got divorced. We'll see what the future holds. Meanwhile...

1. You explained here why your blog is called Bye Bye, Pie! Let’s just say that in 2008 you moved to North Carolina from Los Angeles with your husband. A lot happened in “Greens-boring” you never expected, like divorcing your husband of 15 years (read April 12, 2012 post and June 25, 2012) and writing a wildly successful blog. What other surprises, good and bad, have you encountered since moving here?

My then-husband and I first moved to Wadesboro, NC, population 3,000. We went from a town of 3 million to a town of 3,000. This was what you'd call jarring. My point is, a year later we got to Greensboro and the culture shock from LA was lessened by our time in a town with one traffic light and no movie theater. 

I like it here, though. I liked Wadesboro, and I like Greensboro. Southern people are friendly, and maybe sometimes they don't mean it, but I still prefer it to the Midwest reserve I grew up with. Also, who knew the springs could be so lovely? For every Confederate flag, you got your ham biscuit and you got the springs here. The South does its best to even things out. 

2. Why the name June Gardens?

When I first started blogging and it was the no-spending blog (Bye Bye Buy!), my name was June Cutoff Cash and Marvin was Marvin Gardens. When we stopped not spending, I just morphed into the married name June Gardens. I suppose I should get a maiden name.

3. How do you write such great posts every day? Each one is hilarious yet tender, and often tear-inducing. Does the gift run in your family? Did you always write?

My father is funny but never writes. My mother is supposedly also funny--I say this because her friends are always saying, "Oh! You're funny like your mother!" But the mother I know is kind of stern and mom-like. I never meet this Shecky Greene everyone speaks of. And yeah. Writing about my day is kind of the only thing I can do relatively well. I am pretty much always writing my blog in my head, but before I had one, I was always writing a description of whatever I was doing in my head, to tell someone at some point.

4.  Is your family shocked or not surprised at all by your blog? Does anyone read it you wish didn’t?

No one who knows me is shocked by me, I don't think. Once you've met all this, you get jaded. Meeting me is like moving to New York for a year. Nothing gets to you after. Truthfully, I wish certain people from my old life wouldn't read it. It feels...intrusive now.

5: Tell us what's in your make-up arsenal. What can't you live without?

Obsessed with makeup. OBSESSED. My father says I should be the makeup whisperer. Love Chanel products and love Smashbox primer. They discontinued their damn foundation and I RESENT THAT, SMASHBOX! That said, no makeup holds a candle to my Latisse and my Botox.

6. You’re internet dating. Any “dos and don’ts” advice?

Show a photo of your whole body. Don't show photos of your pets--trust me. Did that. Looked crazy. Don't go out with anyone who wants to meet six minutes after the first email. And I tell the truth about my age. Otherwise someone will go, "God, what a hideous 35-year-old." 

7. These are questions from one of your fans who is now a Facebook friend of mine (many of June's comment-givers have become friends with each other). What are two things your readers would be surprised to learn about you? And what is the best/worst part of blogging?

I think I have pretty much revealed the whole me at this point. Oh, I know. I am kind of an introvert. The best part/worst part of blogging? The attention and the attention. And now my hand hurts, so can I be done?

Bye Bye, Pie

June 2012 ALERT: Karen/June continues her blog! Explanatory post.  What she said to the News & Record about it and other hot BBP topics.

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