The Other Side

It takes us an hour and a half to get there and we spend the whole drive arguing. Because this lane is too slow and why did you go this way, Mom and THAT'S MY BOOK, FABLE.

"No, Archer. It's mine!


"It's mine!"


"No, mine!"

"I'm going to turn this car around if you guys don't cool it!" I say, but it's a lie. I'm not going to turn this car around even if traffic permitted. Even if someone offered up cash monies to do so. Even if fists started flying and cats started meowing and the all the records in the DJ booth stopped.

This is happening.

We are going to the motherfucking fair.



In an hour... or more.

By the time we park, we're all tired. But we're here.

We are here. 

"Come on, you guys. This is supposed to be fun."

We are Womp, Womp and Womp as we drag ourselves from the back of the lot to the front gate. And then, as we step through the metal detectors and into the light, we come alive. We are moths to the fair's flame as the last ninety minutes of traffic and arguments are erased from our memory AND HERE WE ARE. THE WORLD IS OURS! EVERYTHING IS NOW AND NOW IS HAPPENING.

That's the thing about county fairs, they do not change -- it's the same old ferris wheel and goldfish game, slot car races and speedway, lemonade and cotton candy stand, gem shows and lifestock barns.

The kids point to the buckets in the sky and start jumping up and down.

"Let's take it across to the other side to where the kids stuff is."

"Alright! Let's do it!"

I buy the tickets while the kids get in line for SKYRIDE, allowing everyone behind them to skip ahead.

"We're waiting for our mom," I watch them say.

Same tickets. Same rides. Different children saying the same thing to strangers. Don't go changing, County Fair. Don't you ever change. 

I hand Archer and Fable their tickets and we hold hands and wait for the chair to scoop us up and carry us into the sky.

Archer doesn't need to hold my hand because he's not scared.

And Fable doesn't need to hold my hand because she's not scared either.

But I'm scared.

So I hold onto them.

Looking down in the light of day scares me.

In Kidsland, Fable wants to play all of the games and Archer wants to do all the rides.
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"But, Fable," I tell her. "They're all scams. Five dollars for three seconds of squirting the thing with the thing and then it's over."

"But please, Mom."

"I give her five dollars and at the end she turns to me with sad eyes."

"You were right. That was not fun."

And so, we go on a mission to find the ONE game that's actually fair. The one with the fishing poles and the fish with colors on their tails and everyone's a winner, it just depends on the size of the prize..

"This one, you can play. This one isn't a rip off. This one is FAIR."
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The kids each play two games. Fable holds onto her winnings for dear life and Archer puts his in my purse to give to Bo and Revi.

The slides are Archer's favorite and the Line Lady lets me go down, too ("five more tickets, though!") with Fable in my lap. We bury our feet in the burlap sack and scream and hurt our backs and let's do it again, momma!

We do it again.

And again.

Until I have to stop because I'm an old person.

And then I watch from the bottom as the two of them go up together. I watch their mouths move and their bodies climb the ladders, profiles like shadows as they go down one by one. I am here and they are there and they wave from the top before disappearing...
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... emerging at the bottom with "goliath" sized grins.

And then we do something else and they do another ride and another and pretty soon it's almost dark and we've done all of the Kidsland things and they want to move on...

"Can we go across, now, to the other side?" they ask.

"If that's what you want."

"We do."

So we trade our tickets for another ride in the sky except it's getting dark now and in the dark they are less fearless.

We lift off and they bury their heads in my shoulders. I put my arms around them and tell them the story about the time one of my friends dropped a flip flop onto somebody's hamburger.

"You told us that last time, Mom."
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On the other side, the world looks different. We're not in Kidland anymore and the music is loud and the guys at the game booths are practically grabbing us by the arms and dragging us toward their various gambles. The rides are erratic with buzzers and bullhorns and "back to the ground safe and sound..." The air is thick with screams and cigarette smoke and our feet stick to the ground as we make way through the crowd, my hands on the bottoms of their shirts.

It is now completely dark and the lights stripe our eyeballs with neon.

"Let's find something we can actually go on over here, okay?"

But save for the ferris wheel, all of the rides are too fast, too scary...
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"Do you want to go back to the other side?" I ask.

"Mom, no!"

"No way.

So we get in line for the ferris wheel.

It's the only one on this side of the fair we can do.

The line is long and we are surrounded on both sides by teenagers making out. The kind of making out that only teenagers do... the kind that doesn't lead to anything past second base. The kind that I used to do in line for the same ferris wheel when I was their age. Thirteen, maybe? Fourteen? Somewhere in there.

It occurs to me that my kids will be there, soon, even as they turn away and cover their eyes and ask me why everyone is kissing everywhere...

"Someday you will be, too."

"No way. Kissing is GROSS."

"Someday you will not think it's gross. Or maybe you will. We'll see. I did not think it was a gross when I was that age. I was the makey-outiest teenager ever."


"I know. I'm sorry you have to stand in this line with me."

They roll their eyes and we try not to laugh as the make-outs become that much more intense. Like, get a room intense.

"Okay, so I was never like THIS. This is is embarrassing."

"Told you."

When we get on the ride, Archer takes one side and Fable sits practically on my lap. But our hands are together on the bar in the middle, overlapping, clawing each other on accident with nervous fingers. Up here, in the darkness, with a view of both city and sea, we're all afraid of heights. Hundreds of feet above land and lights, we grasp what we can to feel safe. We enjoy the ride and close our eyes and open them.
After this, we'll hit up the Fun House and then Fable will get rainbow glitter hair extensions that will fall out by tomorrow and then Archer will race slot cars and win a giant checkered flag and on the way out we'll ride the carousel with the last of our tickets and grab ice cream.Vanilla for me and chocolate for him and strawberry for her.
On the way home, they fall asleep in the car and I stand in the darkness of my parents' driveway and try to decide how best to wake them. Because that is the only way to get them to their beds, these days. They're too big for me to transfer but too little to wake up on their own, and it's only now occurring to me what that means.

"Open your eyes," I say, nudging them. "Wake up! Hi, wake up."

Archer is the first to wake. He unbuckles and climbs out of his seat, eyes still closed, awake and asleep all at once, skyriding between lands.

"Where are we?" he finally asks.

"We are here."
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...And come next July, through traffic and the like, we'll be back. And we'll keep coming back, year after year and it will look just like tonight because the fair does not change -- the same ferris wheel and goldfish games, slot car races and speedway, lemonade and cotton candy stand ... Don't you ever change. 
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My sister was in town for one day last week and it was awesome, especially because we got to have ourselves a sister date out on the town with one of my old + all-time faves, (Archer's too) The Polyphonic Spree. The last time I saw The Polyphonic Spree was in 2002 and my brain promptly exploded. It was like joining a tripped-out happy-dancey-dance cult for the night. I was hooked. Fast forward to last week, twelve years later and my sister is now friends with half the band because she is in a band with half the band in Dallas, where she lives. So not only were they awesome to watch, they were also awesome to meet and holy shit, Rachel is the coolest. I felt like a crazy fangirl big sister tagging along because that is exactly what I was. Awesome. I will take it, sirs!

I took a couple short videos (see here) but the sound was less than adequate (my iPhone 4s recently died so I had to get a new one and I bought a 5s and I AM SO DISAPPOINTED. The 4s was FAR superior. Ugh ugh womp) so I'll go ahead and post this track from the new-ish Polyphonic Spree record, instead. Such a killer anthem. A download must and as always, they killed it live. Such a fun show. 

Thanks for being my hot date, Rachel. You are the coolest sister of all time.
209. Hold Yourself Up by: The Polyphonic Spree 
(who are currently on tour! GO SEE THEM!)

Places to Go: Chianti Life B&B, Topanga

I just returned from three days and two nights at the Chianti Life Retreat B&B in Topanga Canyon which is where I have decided I want to retire. Not the B&B, of course, but the canyon. On a horse farm. With everyone else in Los Angeles. (I have lived in LA for fifteen years and never done more than drive through Topanga on the way to Malibu. Uh... whut.)

Anyway, the retreat.It was a birthday gift from my parents (my mom found Chianti after searching in Los Angeles)--a getaway for two nights to finish a a pesonal project which I was VERY close to finishing but desperate for some quiet/tranquil/alone time to do so. Which I did. (Hooray!)
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The idea was to finish my work before Saturday night so that Hal could come and meet me. I wrote at a table in the shade, a hammock in the sun and inside at night and it could not have been cozier-- or less ergonomic but, whatever.
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I started working Friday afternoon, finished around 6:00 Saturday evening and Hal arrived soon after. We had dinner out on the bridge, surrounded by trees, as Ciel served us the MOST amazing Italian feast, and we chilled like a couple of people desperate for some quality chill time.
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It was pretty special. Our stay even included live music c/o the neighbors who were singer/songwriter-ing from a tree, I'm not even kidding. (That was not included in the price of admission, mind you. Topanga is just awesome like that. People just make music in trees.)

Chianti also hosts private massage, yoga, acupuncture and meditation sessions. You can read more about all of the awesome, here. (I didn't have time to do any of those wonderful sounding things, although meditating kind of comes with the territory when you're alone in the woods for hours at a time, and writing the words THE END was about as mind/body/spirit/earth/wind/fire as it gets for this girl, especially when it started to rain immediately upon transferring FDX file to PDF.)


The whole weekend was blissed-out magic. Gorgeous gourmet breakfasts every morning... dinner under the stars... sleeping with the windows open and all of the sounds of nature at night. Blasting Bob Dylan and soaking in a giant tub? I mean, come on. We all need us some of that. Not to mention, Ciel, who is the most above and beyond hostess imaginable. (I wanted to move in with her. Obviously.)

Needless to say, perhaps, but I'm going to have to recommend the Chianti Life Retreat B&B with five stars. Best birthday present ever for absolute certain. Thank you, Mom and Dad.
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This candle was a gift from my brother-in-law and it's my favorite. I brought it with me and carried it around with me everywhere like a crazy person. Thanks, Russ.
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It was such a joy to get away for a minute.
(And, because of course, to come home...)
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The Magic Hour & Raising Strong Girls

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Sorry it's been a little on the quiet side, here, this week but I've been sick these last few days... trying to rest up for a weekend away, my first time all alone since... I mean... ten years?  (For my birthday, my parents gave me the gift of a weekend alone to write/finish a project I am very close to finishing at a B&B. So! In a couple of hours, I head for the hills to experience peace, quiet, and (hopefully!) a bolt of inspiration to put me over the hump and finish this draft that has been consuming me for the last... many... years. I'M SO CLOSE, THOUGH! IT'S RIGHT THERE! I CAN FEEL IT! COME AT ME, UNIVERSE!)

In the meantime, I have this week's column to share with you, here. It's about "raising strong girls" as per the most requested in the comments.

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You can read the whole column/or comment, here. Can't wait to hear from you guys on this one... 
photo 3 (96) twp Have a great weekend, everyone.


Eat Well: Summer, Summer, Summer Slaw

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, Mom!
I hope you don’t mind ONE MORE rant about sugar in foods. This week I’m talking about coleslaw —an American summer staple and a food that is FILLED with vitamins and anti-oxidants, but unfortunately is also laden with sugar. Did you know there are about 25 grams of sugar in a cup of coleslaw? UGH!!!So…over the 4th of July weekend, I used my miso salad dressing instead of the traditional sweet mayo dressing because I didn’t want to say to Bo, NO YOU CAN’T EAT THE SALAD! (She LOVES salad and all things vegetable.) We loved it so much (Bo was a BIG fan!) that I have since made it again. It’s so easy to throw together for a party or a picnic, or just keep it in the refrigerator for easy dinner salads as it keeps for several days. (This is one of the reasons I LOVE raw cabbage salads…they don’t get soggy.) It’s best if you make it ahead and let marinate for a couple of hours. I cut down the tahini to one tablespoon, as it is a little thick with two. Double the salad dressing recipe to dress a medium cabbage.

Savory Summer Slaw 

Creamy Miso salad dressing (doubled with half of the tahini called for)
1 medium cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, shredded (optional)
Combine shredded cabbage, carrot, and salad dressing.

(Add more or less salad dressing, depending on your preference and the size of the cabbage.) Mix well. Let marinate a couple of hours for best results.
Last night I served it with another one of my summer favorites, roasted ratatouille over quinoa, made from my garden vegetables…recipe found here.
Slaw also makes a delicious side to one of my all-time summer favorites, chile rellenos!